Proverbs 27:5 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.”
Not talking about strong feelings doesn’t make them go away; in fact, they become more pronounced in our attempts to live as though they don’t exist. The two people in this kind of relationship try to get along by skirting issues, their emotions, and ultimately their deep love for each other, and they end up with a shell of a relationship. (Quote from Cloud and Townsend).
Let us learn to have caring confrontation and emphatic conversation in your marriage, parenting, and friendships, so that your relationships can heal, grow, and be even more intimate. Relationships can heal.
Philippians 2:12-13. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
There is a saying, “Time heals all.” Time doesn’t heal all. It heals some but buries most. As it states in the verse above, we must actively work out our issues as in doing physical therapy for an injury. The word salvation in this verse could mean both salvation as in going to heaven or ‘salvation’ as in healing from our life’s hurts and problems. God saves us not only for our future glorious eternal life, but He also saves us in this present life on earth by healing in our minds and hearts.
When physical injuries come, to heal completely we need physical therapy. Leaving the injury alone, we will not fully heal. Instead, it will only result in stiffening the joints and muscles. When emotional injuries happen, to heal we too must have emotional growth therapy and resolve the internal conflicts. If not, our emotional “joints and muscles” will stiffen and it will be even more painful when we need to use those emotional “joints and muscles” in the future. This emotional stiffening could be a reason why some find it harder to face anxieties, worries, fears, anger, sadness, and other unpleasant emotions. By avoiding, burying, or over-controlling these feelings and emotional pains, rather than resolving them, we make them inflexible. Thus, the pain remains.
Some ideas for our emotional workout for healing:
- Be willing to have the pain. Let go of the struggle to avoid or control your pain.
- Have a healthy emotional diet of daily bible study and prayer. Let God heal your heart.
- Find a safe group that you can feel loved and accepted in, where you can be vulnerable about your pain. We need healthy relationships to help us heal.
- Have a weekly routine to get the emotional help you need.
- Have a spiritual mentor who can guide you through this process.
- Don’t rush the process. This is where time comes in. We need to let time along with your active growth work heal your heart.
To listen – Audio link: https://archive.org/details/TimeHealsAll .
Conflicts happen. Misunderstandings occur. Situations that trigger our painful emotions arise. Unfortunately, we as human beings tend to do things to control or avoid facing these emotional situations. We get angry. We comply unwillingly. We detach and sooth ourselves with harmful behaviours. We avoid dealing with our conflicts in fear of more conflicts. As a result, we end up exasperating ourselves more and add more frustration in our relationships with others.
This Emotional Honesty Workshop will teach us how to be vulnerable with ourselves and others so that we can reduce conflicts, draw closer, and be more honest with those who are important to us in life.
Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
When you feel emotional pain, it is because you care. We do not hurt about things or people that are not important to us. So when you do things to shut down or avoid your pain, you will slowly shut down what your heart desires. Take a moment, and listen to your pain. What is it telling you that you desire? Listen to it carefully or you might miss something important for you.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
John already had a bad week last week – his business project was not doing well and he had an unresolved fight with his wife.
He woke up late, didn’t want to wake up because he was moody. So he was in a rush, anxious that he will be late for work. He was afraid of being scolded by his boss again. So he decided to skip his time with God. He rationalized that he will pray later when he is free.
His wife prepared a nice breakfast to try to make up with John. But John was anxious to rush to leave. His wife felt unappreciated and became angry with him for not eating her breakfast that she specially prepared for him. They had a heated argument in the kitchen. With the conflict still unresolved, John left the house in a frustration.
He went down to his car but his car had a flat tyre. He became more frustrated and kicked the tyre. Now because of his flat tyre he is definitely going to be late to work.
He arrived at work, 30 minutes late. He tried to explain to his boss but his boss only corrected him more. He felt depressed and not understood.
At work, the whole day he couldn’t fully concentrate at his job because he was still angry towards his wife, his car, and his boss. His subordinate came to discuss the project with him. But his subordinate forgot to finish the presentation for the project that is to be presented later that afternoon. Already filled with stress and bitterness from the morning argument with his wife, flat tire, and being scolded by his boss, he lashed out and yelled at his subordinates that she is lazy and stupid. His subordinate went away crying because of his harsh criticism. Later that day, after he got his composure, he felt guilty for making his subordinate cry. He apologized but he felt shameful for what he had done.
On his way home, he stopped by a park to think and rest. Tired as he was, he then tried to pray remembering that he missed his quiet time that morning and he had to fulfil his daily commitment time with God. He had to be a good Christian. But his thoughts kept drifting away to all the burdens and troubles that he had and created. He just couldn’t feel connected with God. After less than a few minutes, he gave up trying to pray, and went away feeling even more guilty and burdened.
Little did he know, all day long, God was waiting and walking by John’s side for John to “Come to Him, give Him all John’s worries and burdens, and God will give John rest. God is gentle and humble in heart, and God wants John and you to find rest for your soul.”
I want something that will revive my soul. Something that can refresh my weary and lethargic body. Something that can be trusted to work. There are just too many jazzed up products that claim to be helpful but are not. Products that cost too much money that don’t live up to their claims. Pretensions! Pretensions! The whole lot of them.
I just want to be happy. A product that will fill my heart with joy. A product that will lighten me and make me radiant. A product that I hope can last a long time. A product that is desirable, precious, and perhaps even sweeter than honey. A product that will return me a great reward when I invest into it.
I think I found it.
Check out Psalm 19:7-11 for this mysterious and precious product. A product that is more valuable than gold.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
4 The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning.
While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure. (NASB)
Tears have the power to mend our afflicted heart. The healing power comes not when we are in tears by ourselves, but when we are in sorrow in the comfort of others. Notice that the tear duct is located in the eye. Not anywhere else but the eye. Our eyes are meant for seeing. And when we grieve, we need to see someone else’s eyes. The other eyes that grieves with us. The other eyes that understand our sorrow. The other eyes that reflect tenderness in our time of weakness.
And when you grieve, who will you let into that grief, that tender moment of pain and sadness?
Romans 15:7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
In the English Standard Version, the word “accept” is interestingly translated to the word “welcome”. This word “accept” comes from the greek word “προσλαμβάνω” proslambanō (strong g4355), which means “to take to oneself.” Strong’s dictionary further explains the common usage of the word “accept” in the bible as “to take as one’s companion”, “to take by the hand to lead”, “to receive into one’s home with kindness”, “to grant access into one’s heart for friendship” and “to take into one self as taking in food.”
Wow! A whole new idea explodes in my mind. Acceptance is not merely acceptance. Jesus did not just merely accept us as who we are with all our good and bad. He did not accept us with the attitude of casualness, as in he doesn’t mind being with us even though he doesn’t like the way we dress or the way we color our hair. Nor did he merely accept and forgive us of all our debts and let us be.
Acceptance is more than that to Jesus. Acceptance means that he wants us to be his friend and companion. He wants to take us home to live with him. He desires to walk side by side with us and lead us by the hand as a mother leads her child closely by holding his hand in love and security. He wishes for us to know him through and through by granting access into his heart. And he wants to fully hold us in his heart as a man romantically relishes his loved one obsessively.
This is what it means when Jesus accepts us – “I want to take you into my heart, live with me, and be my friend and companion forever. Welcome to my life”
What will protect us from sins and help us heal? Embrace sufferings (healthy pain) while doing what is hard, righteous, and good. As Peter said, “arm yourselves also with the same attitude (as Jesus), because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin” 1 Peter 4:1-2.
It is hard to forgive someone who has hurt us deeply because we want to be revengeful and lash out. It is hard to wait in patience and self-control to not buy or invest into something when we don’t have enough funds but our greedy desires demandingly push us to buy it. It is hard to be vulnerable and confess our sins when we have done what is wrong because our ‘image’ wants us to look good. It is hard to say sorry when we have wronged someone because our ego stops us. It is hard to be assertive and lovingly confront people whom we are close to because our fears of being rejected and abandoned show up. It is hard to be diligent to plan and try when we have failed numerous times and are afraid to fail again. It is hard to let go of anxiety and trust God in our prayers when we fear the unknown possible outcome.
It is painful to do what is hard and right. Paradoxical as it is, Jesus showed us by his example that when we are willing to embrace the healthy pain of good sufferings, we will end up overcoming and healed.