The list

Do you look in the mirror and pain stares back at you?

Pain is a cruel roommate. It finds your wound and pours in the salt. It sniffs out bruises and pokes relentlessly at them. It seeks out a broken heart and laughs as we curl up in our own heartache.

But pain is also the catalyst to healing.

It exposes our insecurities and brings to the surface our deepest emotional abrasions. It traces the insecurity in our lives and defines our deepest scars. It sums up all of the hurt we have experienced and bundles it in an emotion that is a constant reminder of our darkest days.

And once we can recognize the elements of our pain—once we can put a finger on them—we can start the process of healing.

I remember heading into one of my counseling sessions with a piece of paper in my purse, hesitating as I walked through the door. “Today I want to go over a very hard list,” I announced to my counselor. She had helped me muster up enough courage to get to this place of literally facing my deepest pain and insecurities head-on.

What I brought with me that day was the registry of things my FH (former husband) had shared with me as we prepared for divorce. I had somehow talked myself in to writing them down after a very difficult conversation. Pecking away on my keyboard, I recalled the words that were shared and let me tell you, it was not easy to review and document. But somehow I knew this list would someday need to be addressed. And it would be stepping stone in my healing.

That day had come.

I pulled the piece of paper out of my purse as my eyes started to water. “It’s embarrassing to read this to you,” I confessed. It’s as if I had brought my guts with me in a bucket and was about to spill them out all over the table.

I broke down through the entire session. My voice shook as I read the words, line by line. After each one, I fessed up to what I believed was true about what was said. I faced my fears that day and intentionally sought truth in some very difficult words. And I realized these things:

I had not always been a loving wife

I had shut down emotionally and lacked affection

I wore a caretaker hat more than I wore a wife hat

I was disappointed in my marriage and behaved as a disappointed wife

I started to learn that day how to own my stuff. But I also learned how to discard the untruths. People say things that hurt us and yes, we can look for whatever truth there may be for us. But we can also give back the things that don’t resonate. And I did that in my counseling session that day—I left some things in that office and walked away, no looking back.

Has someone given you a list? Or have you made a list in your mind of what you think someone would say about you or the way you think people perceive you? I would encourage you to write it down in a journal and ask God to show you the truths and the untruths. Let it marinate for a few days and write about it as He helps you figure out what you should keep and address, and what you should give back.

I try to look within on a daily basis and ask myself these questions:

  • What do I need to own today?
  • What do I need to receive today?
  • What do I need to let go of today?

I think it’s appropriate to end with a quote from Marie Kondo, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” We can’t give everything back because some of it is ours to keep (and owning it is a powerful tool to healing and growth). But we also shouldn’t hold on to everything because some of it doesn’t belong to us.

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If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need or want to hear. 

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