I adore my friend Ashlynn. You may have already guessed that because she’s on here a lot. 🙂 She’s one of the biggest influences in my life and a constant source of encouragement and joy. Seriously, life is so much better with her in it. She lives her life in a way that inspires me to pursue the dreams in my heart and do the work it’s going to take to get there. She doesn’t just talk this stuff but she really lives it. I’m so excited to have her guest posting on her own experience of “Doing the Work“. I hope her honesty, vulnerability and hard-won wisdom will inspire you to take the next step in your life as well.
A few years ago, I went through a pretty intense break-up. I did the typical girl thing; I spent a weekend watching sappy movies, I cried over it with friends, I even cut 7 inches off my hair (why do we do that??) One thing that was not so typical was that I couldn’t stop crying.
I cried every morning and every evening before I went to bed for 6 months.
I’m not over exaggerating, I even woke myself up in the middle of the night because I had been crying in my sleep.
Something really sad and really dark had settled into my heart.
Now, those of you who know me know that I am a generally happy person. I love to laugh and I love FUN! I’m a sanguine-phlegmatic ENFP party-animal. I don’t like being sad, I don’t even like watching sad movies or sad commercials. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the break-up had opened up an old deep wound in my heart that was demanding attention.
I ignored that demand for the next 4 years.
Well, wouldn’t you know – in true wound-fashion – that little sucker didn’t go away! Oh, sure, I got it be quiet for a little bit while I distracted myself with a myriad of other activities. But, any time I was quiet, still, not frantically running from thing to thing – I could feel it, and it was dark.
I finally got to a place where I couldn’t handle it any longer, that wound had festered into all-out-controlling-scary-sad burden. It was coloring everything I loved a sad depressing gray-beige; friendships, church, my family, cooking, long walks by the water . . .everything! With a few nudges from friends and my mom I decided I was going to confront this hairy monster and get to the bottom of it . . .and I was TERRIFIED.
My heart felt like a deep, dark, swirly, murky, bottomless pit – I didn’t want to touch that thing with a 10 foot pole! I knew there was pain there, pain that had been there for a very, very, very long time. There were memories that I had swept up in a box and put on a shelf and never wanted to revisit again. Ever.
But I took that first step, I took that first step SCARED.
Here are some things I learned when I took that first step:
1. Don’t wait until you’re ready – because you never will be ready.
Like Nike says “Just Do It”, seriously, put on your big-girl panties and get to work. Yep, its going to hurt for a little bit, but only for a little bit. Let me tell you something – FREEDOM IS WORTH IT.
“Caring for our own hearts isn’t selfishness; its how we begin to love.”
Waking the Dead
2. Prioritize your healing.
You must. There are 5 million things that are vying for your attention – none of them are more important than your healing. There is an enemy that does NOT want you free – you will have to fight for this. But, honestly what is more important than the wholeness of your heart?
“When it comes to the whole subject of loving others, you must know this: how you handle your own heart is how you will handle theirs.”
Waking the Dead
3. Get ahold of God.
For me, part of why I had avoided that dark scary monster in my heart was because I was mad at God. I wasn’t fully conscious of it at the time, but somewhere deep down I was mad at Him and I didn’t really believe He could heal me. Let me tell you guys – you CANNOT do this without Him. Go there, invite Him into it. It can be as simple as this prayer:
Jesus, I invite you into this broken place within me (this wound, this memory.) I give you total access to my heart. Reveal all that is going on here.
4. Resource yourself.
Find a Christian counselor, read books, get healing prayer – I’ve done all 3. One book that radically affected my healing was “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge. Eldredge walks you through the scary places of your heart, all the while showing you how much God loves and cares for the wholeness of your heart. In addition to that I highly, highly recommend the audio series “The 4 Streams of Healing” also by Eldredge. It is a bit more in depth look at how Jesus ministered to people while he was on the earth and how we can walk in that same healing. Powerful, ya’ll.
You can do it.
God is with you.
You are brave.
p.s. Did you see this? Our friend Eileen wrote about this same topic on her blog last week. Check it out! I love it when you’re on the same page. So fun!