Into the Waves – Healing

But Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.

Matthew 14:27-29

Something that has been on my heart lately is the story of Jesus and how Peter walked on water to meet Jesus in the middle of the storm.  I feel like lately, my life has been in the middle of some pretty big storms.  I would go so far to say that probably everyone you and I know are in the midst of storms too.  COVID-19 has definitely thrown all of our lives out of their normal patterns and any plans we’ve had have probably been cancelled or largely readjusted. We’ve had months of pretty much sitting alone.  The distractions we’ve been using to numb out uncomfortable feelings or situations are no longer as readily available.  I mean, sure, we still have Netflix and Insta, but you probably can’t get to the gym or a bar as easily as you could last summer.  There’s nothing really to do but actually sit and discover who you are.  Which for me, is absolutely terrifying.  I DO NOT like to sit alone with my feelings or thoughts. Mostly because my thoughts are all over the place and unpredictable, but also, because I’m healing some heavy stuff. 

This time of the year is usually not my favorite because while it’s the anniversary of America’s independence from Britain, it’s also the anniversary of my first assault. I used to be able to distract myself with parties on the 4th or at the very least, people.  This year though, with the combination of COVID19 and the atrocities by those in power, I don’t really feel like there’s much to celebrate.  So, I’m sitting here writing out something I never thought I’d openly admit to people that I don’t really know, or those who I do know, but not that well. 

I think a lot of the reason I lost my sense of self over the past few years is because of how I wanted to disassociate who I am with unpleasant things that have happened to me.  I HATE being in the victim mentality.  I found really unhealthy ways to cope with certain events and was telling myself that I was fine.  And I was fine, but I wasn’t who I was created to be; my light was dimmed.  I convinced myself I was smarter than putting myself in dangerous positions and that certain things didn’t really happen. So here I am, years and months later, finally trying to rebuild from some difficult storms.

Quarantine has forced me to reflect on who I am and where I want to go with my life.  As much as I’ve hated staying inside, it’s been the kick in the rear that I’ve needed to really start my journey of healing.  Honestly, it scared me, but you can’t allow yourself to stay paralyzed and stuck in the fear as my mom likes to tell me.  It’s so easy to tell someone else this, but it’s completely something else to truly take action on it yourself.

If you know me, you know I really, really avoid my own messy feelings at all costs.  It is so much easier to avoid the messier parts of life and go numb to them.  But then you also run the risk of being completely numb.  That’s one of the greatest tricks of the enemy.  If you become numb to one part of life, who’s to say you won’t eventually go numb to it all?  And then if all you can feel is numb, you won’t be able to experience all of the good there is and you won’t be able to love others as God calls each of us to.  As my pastor says, Jesus invites us to meet others where they are, and most of the time it is in a mess.  If I’m going to enter into someone else’s messiness, I don’t want to bring my own into it, so I need to start healing.  I decided that I’d much rather feel everything than nothing.  I don’t intend to miss out on any more of my life because of fear.

The biggest part of healing, and I think just navigating life, is having people you trust to support and love you.  Also, as a general rule, it is pretty much impossible to heal in the same places that hurt you. For me, that included finding a new therapist, which was super scary because I don’t tend to really open up to people until I feel that I can trust them. And that’s a real challenge for my trauma-centered brain, which is one of the issues I’m healing.  Something that helped me find someone was my university’s mental health resource center, which I HIGHLY suggest any of my fellow college students to reach out to as well.  It is a free resource and they helped me figure out what kind of help I needed, and provided me with a list of potential mental health professionals. The work of calling and connecting with therapists was on me though, and it’ll be on you too. Honestly, it seems silly, but the idea of calling a stranger on the phone is horrifying to me because I don’t know who is going to be on the other side.  I think that stems from probably my trust issues, but I know it’s a huge issue with other 20-somethings too.  I’m just going to let you know it is TRULY not as terrifying as the story in our brains tells us it’s going to be. The reward FAR outweighs the cost in this instance. 

Another thing I think our society doesn’t talk about when advocating for mental health is that it might take a few tries to find the right person for you.  Just like with ice cream, you’re not always going to like every flavor and you’ll have a favorite flavor too (mine’s mint chocolate chip).  I think it’s also important that your counselor understands the importance of a timeline for healing.  Yes, we can’t always plan specifically for our futures, but we can have an idea of where we’d like to be by a said time.  For example, when you’re working out, you’ll start to see your own progress around 2 months in if you’ve been consistent, and others will notice around 3 months.  It’s the same way with mental health.  We are trying for 3 months to heal certain situations that caused my PTSD and create coping mechanisms that will work after our time together is finished. 

A huge part of my own healing is figuring out who I am outside of my trauma.  What’s important to me? What are my values?  How do I feel safe in certain situations again?  How do I forgive others, but more importantly, how do I forgive myself? What coping skills are healthy and which aren’t?  I think a lot of these questions can probably be applied to you and your healing too. You can’t heal what you don’t know, so get to know yourself!

Some of my healthier coping skills are exercising, eating well, journaling, and praying.  My huge life change during quarantine came when I decided to dive into my relationship with Jesus. After I fully admitted that I can’t do this (life, healing, etc) alone, I was given the strength I needed to seek out my healing.  Which goes back to what I said at the beginning of this post; Jesus meets us in the storm, but we have to be willing to walk into the waves.  The only time Peter started to sink was when he took his eyes off of Jesus and was paralyzed in fear because of the circumstances outside of his control.  If we keep our eyes on what’s important, healing, we will make it out of the storms relatively unscathed. 

A lot of my issues stem from broken relationships, and I need to fix the relationship I have with myself first.  I think this is the case for most people. I have seen a change in who I am since quarantine began, and a lot of that, all of it, has to do with seeking out a relationship with Jesus.  And basing my worth off of who He says I am, not what others or even what I think of me. 

I am nowhere near completely healed yet, but the progress I have made has been truly incredible.  I’ll have a list of sermons, podcasts, and books that have helped me heal too.  I think that healing is multifaceted.  You don’t just put a band aid on when you’ve had a heart attack.  You’ll need a whole lifestyle adjustment, and probably surgery.  Recovery isn’t just eating better, it’s living better.  Healing is about creating better, lasting habits to change your lifestyle!  That’s what I’ve been doing and some days are MUCH easier than others, but overall, I feel lighter and more at peace.  And the moments I am the most at peace are when I am with Jesus and with friends who love like He does.  

Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2:4-5

This morning, my devotion was about how Jesus heals us through our friends sometimes.  In the story where Jesus healed the paralyzed man whose friends lowered him through a roof.  Crazy stuff.  But it came from a place of crazy love.  Like I said earlier, you can’t heal in the same places where you were hurt, and that includes who’s around you.  My previous blog about toxicity goes into this a little bit more in depth, so I suggest reading it! You need people who will give you that crazy love and support in moments when you can’t give it to yourself.  Cause there will be those moments.  Obviously, there is a limit to how much you can lean on other people for support, but surround yourself with the ones who are learning to love like Jesus does is a great place to start! 

Bottom line is that Jesus wants a relationship with you, no matter how messy you may think you are.  The Creator of the universe wants you to see yourself as He does, and that includes healing some of the messiness!  You just have to be willing to step out into those waves.

Keep picking those daisies!

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Questions to ask yourself for rediscovery of self (Who am I?):

  1. What is important to me? 
  2. What are my values?
  3. How healthy are my boundaries?
  4. How do I create healthier boundaries?
  5. How do I feel safe in certain situations again?
  6. How do I forgive others, and more importantly, how do I forgive myself?
  7. What coping skills are healthy and which are not?

Mental Health Resources:

CURRENT RECOMMENDATIONS!!!

Blogs: 

Books: 

Podcasts: 

Sermons:

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