The Counterintuitive Healer...

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
— Carl Rogers

There's one thought that I hear over and over from my clients when they are suffering - "I am alone in my pain."  This feeling comes in many forms.  We say things to ourselves like, "Everyone else is fine" ... "Nobody will understand what I'm going through"..."I'm too much of a burden"..."She only loves me because she doesn't really know me"..."I won't be enough"..."I'll be too much." etc.   

These thoughts are so destructive because they tend to keep us alone in the place we need to heal.  This type of healing only comes in relationship with others as we allow them into the darkness of our pain.   But there is a certain shame that comes with allowing others into that darkness.  It seems to cry out, "don't let them to see you in pain!"  Shame wants to do one thing - hide. 

Many of us hide in our worst pain.  Maybe we force a smile to keep others at bay because we feel they'd reject us if they were to stumbled across what's really going on inside.  In doing so, we avoid the one thing that can really heal - love and acceptance.  We can neither receive love or give it when we hide.  We want to believe we can heal by ourselves, or that time heals all wounds.  We can't.  It doesn't.  The pain turns to suffering as it is multiplied by shame and isolation.

We need a reality check!  We all feel these things from time to time.  Everyone you run into today is broken or hurting in a different way - even if they aren't presently dealing with the hurt.  We have a tendency to clean ourselves up on the outside and hide the disaster on the inside - perpetuating the myth: I'm the only one hurting.  But to be hurt is part of what it is to be human.  As my professor used to say, "when healthy people are cut, they bleed."  The minute we stop feeling the need to hide our humanity is the minute we can emerge in the freedom and joy of our true selves. 

For me, this is what is so beautiful about Jesus.  He knows all about my brokenness. There is no need to hide my darker parts in shame because these are the very parts He came to love and heal.  I am free in the knowledge that I am simultaneously broken and yet perfectly accepted by Him.

Jesus solves the alone syndrome because He wants the parts of us that we reject.  It is only when we hide, and hold on to these parts in fear and shame that our aloneness wins.  He simply asks that we give the dark and broken parts to Him so that He can heal them through His love and acceptance.  This is an ongoing process because our shame runs deep.  Thankfully, it is only a drop in the ocean of His love.

 

Josh Grover MA, LMHC

Abundant Life Counseling