When Our Hearts Are Overwhelmed

This year has been a roller coaster of emotions for many. Unprecedented changes hard to accept, violence and injustices hard to stomach, losses in so many various ways that are so hard to process.

Friends, I am so tired. Physically, emotionally, mentally… The storms around me and within me are driving me to deeper layers of pain I dismissed as not as important as others’ pain. I am becoming more aware that I lack compassion for myself and my own pain, the same compassion God has shown me and given me for others who are hurting.

I’m too often white-knuckling my way through life. I easily conform to others’ preferences or try to live up to their expectations rather than acknowledging my own preferences or needs out of fear of their anger, their disappointment, or their rejection. I can’t get past this fear of being hurt again without facing it head on and processing the deep reasons why my body sometimes tightens up and my stomach clenches and my mind says, “Run for your life.” I especially get anxiety, dread, and feel shame heaped on me in situations and around people who dismiss the deep pain abuse victims go through, who don’t support or validate them, and who even heap more false guilt on them, including myself.

“From the ends of the earth,
I cry to You for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for You are my safe refuge,
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in Your sanctuary,
safe beneath the shelter of Your wings!”

Psalm 61:2-4 NLT

I have decided I need a longer break from blogging to acknowledge and process this mess of emotions storming and overwhelming my soul. I need to pause and allow God to help me heal more deeply. I just know God wants me to step back and allow Him to lead my heart and my life wherever He chooses, even if it means the way will be even more difficult. It fills me with anxiety and fear, but I feel God is nudging me to step past the wall I build around myself and take the risk, trusting He is my ever-present Rock of Safety, my Safe Refuge, and my Shelter.

I don’t know how long I’ll be pausing from posting. And it may be that I will still sporadically post. I’m just so filled with uncertainty right now. But I wanted to let you know. Thank you for your love, caring, and support.

I commit each of you to Jesus who knows infinitely better what we need than we know ourselves. And remember, even if your abuser or others you love don’t believe you or support you, it doesn’t eliminate the truth of your story. And even if others don’t understand why you can’t just “get over it already,” God does understand. He knows the truth and He cries with you and loves you so much.

My Prayer For You

by Alisa Turner

“For anyone who’s prayed a thousand prayers
And still can’t find the answer anywhere
Fighting off the lie that no one cares
For anyone who’s out there losing hope
Feeling you’re forsaken and alone
Clinging to the last strands of your rope
May God give you eyes to see, He’s still greater
Courage to rise and believe He’s able
May God be your peace in the fire you’re walking through
This is my prayer now
This is my prayer for you…”

Do We Say We’re Fine When We’re Not?

“I say, ‘I’m fine, yeah, I’m fine,
oh, I’m fine, hey, I’m fine’

But I’m not, I’m broken”
(“Truth Be Told” by Matthew West)

When someone asks you how you are, do you say you’re fine when you’re not? I do. It just pops out like an auto response.

Do you ever wonder why we do that?

After hearing a song by Matthew West, I’ve been trying to dig deeper within myself.

As a pastor’s son, Matthew West grew up feeling he needed to put on an outward appearance that he’s fine. Even when he felt broken inside. Even when things felt out of control.

He learned there were two lies in his life:

  1. We’re supposed to have it all together, so we should put on a smile.
  2. Everybody’s life is perfect except ours, so we should keep our messes, wounds, and secrets safe within us behind closed doors.

As I examine my own heart, I know I often hide behind a smile. Even though I’m aching inside. I’m so tired of following what was deeply rooted in me as a child from church and home that I should keep messes, wounds, and secrets buried in my heart.

Probably the biggest reason I often feel silenced is fear of being judged, rejected, and slandered again. When I told the truth about a minister who abused me, I was not believed in the church and many people heaped me with guilt and shame. When I told who I thought would be lifetime friends the truth, they rejected my truth and abandoned me. Bible verses have been taken out of context and flung at me to tell me how sinful I am.

Another big reason is that I feel my truth doesn’t matter, because I don’t matter. In the church we grew up in, children were not valued as Jesus values them. And because of some abuse at home, too, I felt like I didn’t matter and I was never good enough. God has helped me to learn this is a lie, but it still rears up at unexpected moments when I’m feeling vulnerable.

In his song, Matthew voices that some churches are lacking in welcoming and supporting the hurting. There may be signs to come as we are, but if we lived like that was true, the pews would be crowded.

Jesus wants churches to be places of refuge and safety, not places where we hide our messes and wounds out of fear of judgment and rejection. Not places where hurting people’s burdens are made heavier with shame and guilt.

“Stoop down and reach out
to those who are oppressed.
Share their burdens,
and so complete Christ’s law.”
Galatians 6:2 MSG

Not only in churches, but in various social circles, we’re often afraid to let our truth be told. What will people think? Will they judge me? Will I be hurt again?

The reality is not everyone wants to hear our messes or wounds. Not everyone will care or understand. Not everyone will believe or support us. But that doesn’t make our stories any less true or important.

It has often been my comfort over the years that there is One who already knows the deepest secrets, messes, and wounds of our hearts. He is a faithful Friend, a compassionate Savior, and a caring Supporter who will always understand. There is no failure, no fall, no sin, no deep wound that will ever turn Him away or keep Him from loving us.

“But everyone my Father has given to Me,
they will come. And all who come to Me,
I will embrace and will never turn them away.”
John 6:37 TPT

Are you feeling broken, but don’t dare to share your story? When we leave it behind closed doors, it subconsciously festers and harms ourselves and others. It may not be easy, especially when we meet with resistance and rejection, but through Christ and His strength, we can learn to take the risk anyway. And even if our stories aren’t received by all, there just may be someone who needs to hear it and will feel less alone and more understood.

Truth Be Told
by Matthew West

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