I’ve come to realize that I approach my blogging like I approach exercise…I can never find time to do it. I guess anything that is good for me is work, and I tend to overlook my down time, seeing it as my time to unwind, relax, and engage in mindless activity. I remember finishing up a semester at graduate school where I took two courses in a summer semester, and on the last day of school, I announced in one of my classes that I purposely intended to watch a full week of trash TV. The other students laughed, understanding that our minds had been overworked that summer, and mindless activity was a well-deserved reward.
So I have been off for a while now, from blogging. The end of the semester approached, and I had 60+ essays to grade, along with final exams and journals. From the end of April to the end of May, I was flooded with arguments of animal welfare, equal education, minimum wage increase, etc. And this was the first semester where I actually had to hold back tears as I saw my students off for their summer break, never to teach them again as they move up the collegiate rungs toward graduation with the exception of an occasional wave and pleasant, “How have you been?” as we rush across the stone walkways to our next classes. Though I have had a harsh personal battle this year, it has been a fruitful and strengthening 6 months.
All has not been lost, though. I did work on chapter 5 immediately after finishing chapter 4, but it has taken me a long time to reflect on “Family Dynamics”. The goal of chapter 5 is to examine past and present relationships, identify if they are draining or fulfilling, examine the positive and negative things that each family member has taught me about life and about myself. I didn’t want to do it. I did not want to dig up old wounds, past hurts, which tends to fuel the anger inside me toward my family members, my life, and God. But I did it, and God continued to point out that I needed to forgive.
So I had to work on that for several weeks. I continually confessed, “I forgive _______,” even if I still felt some resentment. There is power in words, so I knew that by speaking it, it would soon enough have an effect. But I also confessed it to others, my mom, and a few friends at church. Talking about it helped greatly, and I have come to release the situation to God. I had been carrying a heavy chain around my neck for thirty years, and I didn’t even know it. I knew when my anger took root, but I just did not know the damage it would cause. And because I got used to that weight, I forgot it was there. It became the elephant in the room.
Another mistake I made over the years is believing that once I forgive someone, I am immediately healed. That is so far from the truth. Sometimes, the offenses committed against us can be forgiven and forgotten almost immediately, but often times we fool ourselves into believing that what works in one situation will work for all. And, unfortunately, we don’t realize until much later that it never worked, it never healed, and we are left struggling with our past…often not able to pinpoint the start of our destruction. Take, for example, a superficial wound. I cut my hand while chopping onions because I was distracted. “Ouch! That hurt.” I acknowledge the cut and care for it. I wash my hand, apply a bandaid, and take care not to upset the wound for a few days. As it scabs over, I can finally remove the bandaid, but it is still sore, and I take care not to hit it against anything that might intensify the pain or break open the scab. Now, if the cut was small and not too deep, the wound will heal without leaving a scar. But if the knife sliced in a bit too far, a scar will remain for life. And if I do not take care to wash the wound and keep the wound clean, infection will develop beneath the scar.
Maybe a better illustration is when I had my first child. I had to go in for an emergency C-section, and when done, the doctor had put staples on my abdomen to close up the wound. I was in the hospital for four days, and upon discharge, the nurse told me to go to the doctor in a week to get the staples removed. After four days, I was in severe pain, and I felt extremely depressed, sad, and tired. I called my doctor, and the nurse said I should have had the staples removed one or two days before. So they had me come in. The doctor explained that my wound got infected, and he prescribed an antibiotic. He said I would feel better within two days. He was right. That infection began to destroy, not only my body, but my whole state of being. Once it was diagnosed and treated internally, I finally began to experience healing. Now, had the doctor just diagnosed the problem but not treated it, I would not have healed and would have withered away.
Just like forgiveness, we acknowledge the hurt, the cut, but we still need to treat it. Some wounds are so deep that they cause infection…distrust, anger, resentment, fear, sorrow, anguish. We can say, “I forgive,” but we still need to experience healing. It took a while for that wound to heal, but the scar on my abdomen is still there. It doesn’t hurt, but it is unattractive. But I see what some would call an ugly scar as a thing of beauty. I was young and inexperienced when I had my first child. The scar reminds me of my growth as a woman, a mother, and a wife. And had I not treated that infection, I would not be here today. That infection would have slowed my journey, stunting my growth, and possibly destroying my life. Forgiveness is only the first step to healing. The treatment for full healing can be short or long, but painful nevertheless.
So, how do we heal from past hurts, especially when we thought we’d already let it go? There’s no easy answer. For me, I had to talk about it and write about it. I also had to pray about it. I had to give it over to God. I admitted that I could not do it on my own, and I allowed God in that secret part of my life that I kept hidden for so long. He knew it was there, but as gentle as He always is, He never forces me to do anything…He just brings it to my attention. So this time, I did not ignore His voice, and I let Him in to do whatever He needed to do, like an antibiotic, working internally and invisibly.
That healing took place about 4 weeks ago, and I have to say, I have not experienced a depressive episode since. I want to believe that my depression is gone, but I am still going to finish this book. I am sure, no, I know that there are areas of my life and self image that need improvement, but I am confident that I am on the road to healing.