My body is healing from a car accident a few weeks ago, and yesterday was particularly painful after making really good progress in the days before. It would have been easy to say that I was actually getting worse, not better, except that I had been anticipating a dip in the trajectory. That made it easier to remember that yesterday’s pain was a temporary, not an indicator that the healing process was a complete failure.
In any healing journey there are times when we say “Geez! I thought I was done with that part!” It is frustrating and discouraging. Sometimes, we even think we’re not making any progress at all. I’ve said it and I’ve counseled with people who were in that place, especially in situations related to abuse, broken relationships, and divorce.
That is when it is important to look at the whole journey and be grateful for changes, even small ones. And, we need to be objective when we look. It is so easy to generalize, being caught up in the drama. We say things to ourselves like “I’m never going to get any better!” or “My life will always suck!” Generalities like these just keep us stuck; they snuff out hope, and keep us from moving forward.
Reading over one of my journal entries from June 2012 reminded me of HOPE. I wrote it after a HUGE breakthrough, one where the answer to a question that had plagued me for years was finally able to be seen. In the months immediately before the breakthrough I had been in deep despair, sure that I was a standstill in healing and would never be able to go any further. Once the breakthrough happened, I was able to see things differently.
Let me share it with you:
Healing and renewal are the words that are big in life right now, and gratitude.
I feel as though I have been reborn, [with all of the counseling work and prayer] and reimaging the child in the crib being rescued, cleaned and comforted by Christ.
I am constantly reminding myself that the lies that ______ told me are just that, lies. God considers me lovely; he has invested much in bringing me to this point in ministry and will do even more as I answer this call.
I am beginning to see Christ as the gentle one who picked up this soiled, fetid, wailing, inconsolable baby, soothed her first, then cleaned her up and presented her to the angels saying: "This is my daughter, isn't she beautiful? This is MY girl!" And the angels agreed, and God said that I would do great things in his name. He calls me lovely, and takes care of all of my needs.
Truth be told, there have been many more days of progress and regress, ups and downs in the last year. My sporadic journaling bears witness to both the abyss of despair and the apex of joy. But this entry was a reminder that being down, depressed, and hopeless does not mean that we stay that way. The important thing is to keep moving forward.
As one of my friends says “We may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but we are not pitching a tent.”
“ Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.” Psalm 23: 4 (MSG)