Learning to “Try Softer” and Grow in Self-Compassion (Aundi Kolber)

Do you have trouble showing yourself compassion like Jesus does to you?  Are you your greatest critic? Do you feel like you’re being selfish or wasting time and energy to be kind to yourself? Do you live from the template that you’re not enough and you’re unlovable? Do you acknowledge your experiences are valid or do you minimize or numb the pain?

When I first read about a book called Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, I knew I needed to read it, especially when I read:

“I want you to begin to develop a new awareness of your story and your wounds so you can attend to your pain with the same tenderness God does.”

To be honest, I don’t treat myself with the tenderness and compassion God does. Do you?

Aundi Kolber, a trauma therapist, discovered she never really learned how to hold the pain of others without internalizing it, because she had never really processed her own trauma. She just kept white-knuckling her way through, leaving herself exhausted and overwhelmed.

Trying softer means to become more attentive to our bodies, minds, and spirits so we can give each of these parts what it needs to heal. Trying hard to dismiss or deny our trauma will only have detrimental effects to ourselves and others. It’s in acknowledging the reality of our pain and learning to process our stories that we become more of who God designed us to be.

Aundi helps us to understand the complexity of our God-created brains and how God designed our bodies and minds to work together to process our stories. She equips, empowers, and encourages us to connect to our truest self, to move out of anxiety, stress, and survival mode into a life of connection and joy.

“In Try Softer, you’ll learn how to:

  • Know and set emotional and relational boundaries
  • Make sense of the difficult experiences you’ve had
  • Identify your attachment style―and how that affects your relationships today
  • Move through emotions rather than get stuck by them
  • Grow in self-compassion and talk back to your inner critic

Trying softer is sacred work. And while it won’t be perfect or easy, it will be worth it. Because this is what we were made for: a living, breathing, moving, feeling, connected, beautifully incarnational life.”

I’m only into the fourth chapter of this book as I have to take it slowly, so I can process all I’m learning. And sometimes I need to put it aside for a while, because it’s not always easy to discover deep, buried layers that still need more healing. At the same time, I am fascinated by how God has wired our brains to process trauma.

Some of my favorite quotes so far are:

“There are truly times when the best, healthiest, most productive thing we can do is not to try harder, but rather to try softer: to compassionately listen to our needs so we can move through pain – and ultimately life – with more gentleness and resilience.”

“Like the ever-elusive quick fix, ignoring, pretending, or numbing something doesn’t usually resolve our pain.”

“When we deny the reality of our experiences, we don’t become more of who God designed us to be, but less.”

“When I understand why my brain is reacting the way it is, I become empowered to validate the underlying need and then work on changing the situation.”

“We are not defined by our best days or our worst days. We are His beloved.”

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
You have recorded each one in Your book.”
Psalm 56:8
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all He has made.”
Psalm 145:8-9

He Knows My Name
by The McRaes

Jesus’ Suffering Became Our Healing

“But He was hurt because of us; He suffered so.
Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed Him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole.
The injuries He suffered became our healing.”
Isaiah 53:5 Voice

Have you been hurt in your life? Is your pain so deep it takes your breath away? Do you feel like you’ll never climb out of the dungeon of darkness? Hopeless. Helpless. Alone.

Abuse of any kind can cause deep pain and devastation in our hearts and lives. We can even wonder where God was or is. It can take a lifetime of healing.

I was confused and distrustful of God for many years. But now I know and believe He would never, ever hurt us like that. He would never, ever abuse us in the name of love. He would never, ever steal our voices and grind the very essence of who we are into the dirt as if we are a good-for-nothing.

The older I get and the deeper He heals me, I see how He held me through it even when I didn’t see it at the time. The more He fills me with His love and grace, the more I see He values me. My identity is not in past abuse but in Jesus. And He alone practices the true meaning of love, because He is love Himself.

When people don’t believe us and slander us, God knows the truth and He will never, ever turn away from us. When people reject us and ostracize us, God will never, ever abandon us. When people judge and condemn us, God will never, ever condemn us.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:28

Who has hurt you in your life? Who has treated you with disrespect and disdain? Who has ground your voice and the essence of who you are into the dirt?

God knows. God cares. God understands.

There is no one who has been wronged more than Jesus. There is not one thing we have suffered in life that He hasn’t experienced Himself. Can you see Jesus suffering under the load of our sin and the sin of those who have hurt us? The staff hammering down and piercing the crown of thorns into His head, the whip slashing open his skin, the slander, the mocking, the desertion of those He loves, the stripping and nakedness for all to see, the stretching of His body against the nails pounded into His hands and feet, forsaken by His Father, descended into hell. And oh, so much more than we can ever put in words. We can’t begin to describe the pain He endured. If we put the suffering of all mankind together, it would not even be a drop in the bottomless ocean of suffering He endured. And He did it for us!

He was broken so we could be healed. Isn’t that amazing?! If He didn’t count us as valuable treasures, He wouldn’t have done this for us. If He hadn’t done this, there would be no love. No grace. No hope. Ever.

It takes a fathomless love to suffer unspeakable agony like He endured. Not for Himself, but for us. Because of Him and what He suffered, there will always be hope for the hopeless. Healing for the broken. Strength for the helpless.

The Lord
who made you
knows just what you need.
The Lord
who heals you
knows just where you hurt.
The Lord
who loves you
knows just what to do.

(From the front of a greeting card)

“When Life Gets Broken”
by Sandi Patty

Healing From Abuse Is a Painful Process


broken-to-beauty

After writing the post that celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, such joy and peace flooded the depths of my soul. It was confirmed to my heart that Jesus is truly alive yet today, He is always with us, and He will get us through anything. I felt that with my God I could level mountains.

Then one night I woke up with such vivid memories of my abuser. The scene was so real. Frightening emotions overwhelmed me. I cried, “Why, Lord? What is triggering this now?”

Then I realized it was probably because I was thinking of going to church again. I had felt so bolstered up by the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, I figured it would be a breeze. It had been almost a year ago since I last tried, only to end up staying home at the last minute. And now the more I thought about trying it again, the more fear and anxiety grew in me.

The next day I was telling my husband about it, and he said as he has before, “That man has ruined your life.”

And as before, I quickly replied, “No, he hasn’t. Jesus is with me and has helped me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Him.”

I’ve been pondering this, and I wonder – Even though it’s been over 40 years since a pastor abused me, why do I still so easily deny that he ruined my life? Is it because I think it would be an insult to all the love and care Jesus has shown me?

Every time my husband has told me this, I don’t think I have ever said, “Yes, he did ruin my life.”

It’s true. He has. My life has never been the same, and it’s okay for me to admit how much damage he has inflicted to every part of my being. And even though I have come a long way on this healing journey, I still have a long way to go.

If someone has abused you, he or she did ruin your life. It’s okay to acknowledge the extent of devastation our abusers have caused us. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to admit the three D’s abuse victims often carry with them haunts our lives, too. Dirty. Damaged. Different.

Abuse damages the soul, the very essence of one’s being. The deeper the damage, the longer the healing process takes. Often a lifetime.

I often forget it’s a process. Sometimes I think I should be past it by now. And I heap self-condemnation on myself that if I would have more faith, I would be totally free by now. And the negative voices again taunt me like a stuck record in my brain – “You’re not enough. Not enough. Not enough…”

Then the uplifting truth of Jesus’ resurrection becomes elusive. I can’t capture it again. I know it in my head, but my heart doesn’t grasp it.

It is true what I told my husband though about how I would not be where I am today without Jesus. He suffered unspeakable cruelty. Devastation ravaged every part of His being – body, soul, and spirit. No one ever has or ever will suffer like He did. He took upon Himself all our sins and the sins committed against us. And He conquered. He gained the victory. Even death could not hold Him. Because He wants us to have life in Him. He wants us to be healed in Him. He wants to take all the ugly, shattered pieces of our soul and restore them to beauty in Him.

Restoration may not happen immediately or even in this lifetime, but some day when we may be with Jesus, we will be fully restored. Radiant in beauty. Forever rescued from all painful memory triggers. Meanwhile, Jesus has promised to be with us through the process, and He always keeps His promises. And every time we go through a rough spot, we can come out stronger when we lean into Him.

So let’s take His hand and let Him lead us on our journey of healing. And let’s support and strengthen each other in this battle of life. Because of His unfailing love, we will survive and gain the victory.

“Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.
Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
I am sick at heart.
How long, O Lord, until You restore me?
Return, O Lord, and rescue me.
Save me because of Your unfailing love.”
Psalm 6:2-4

“For I will restore health to you
And I will heal your wounds, says the Lord,
Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
This is Zion; no one seeks her and no one cares for her.”
Jeremiah 30:17 AMP

“And provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of His splendor.”
Isaiah 61:3

A Child's Trust

“Healing Hand of God”
by Jeremy Camp

“I have seen the many faces of fear and of pain
I have watched the tears fall plenty from heartache and strain
So if life’s journey has you weary and afraid
There’s rest in the shadow of His wings…”

Jesus