Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4 ESV
I have heard it said that the likely places where my deepest passions to help others are founded in the worst of my painful experiences. That those secret caves, while they may contain the most excruciating times of my life — can yet also hold the nuggets that can be useful for someone else’s healing.
Question is: “Do I want to go there and dig them out?”
To relive something that I’ve thought to have ‘been dealt with’ and can now be banished to the far corners of the universe, never to be spoken of or revisited in thought — to exhume the dead, dried and lifeless bones of skeletons that often haunt my memories — for the sake of those whom are strangers to my life … paralyzes me with fear.
We all have experienced pain — if you are alive and breathing, reading this, you know what pain feels like, smells like, tastes like and looks like. Some of us can detect it with our radar as it makes its slow descent upon our quiet lives. No matter how well we try to set up the protective barriers and board up the windows of our heart, pain still finds us and attacks us in our vulnerable spots.
For some of us, it is the painful memories of childhood where we were emotionally bullied on the playground of innocence and made to feel less than loved (if at all). Maybe with no one to recognize our pain, we shut out the rest of the world and chose to inoculate our feelings with an immunity and inability to develop friendships. You continue to struggle with relationships today, but manage to camouflage it by your ‘extrovert’ persona.
Maybe you’ve buried the shame of having developed an illicit relationship with another person that started out as mere acquaintance but somehow got out of hand and billowed into a full blown affair. As it tornadoed its way into your safe sphere of home and haven, you found yourself overwhelmed with no place to escape. You survived the aftermath of the devastation and have chosen to remain on the straight and narrow, but the hauntings of your poor decisions and behavior have never truly healed.
Those early college years when you were partying and playing (of course in between studying) led to that unexpected pregnancy and ultimately the abortion which no one in your family has ever heard about. You managed to conceal it so well that you would have never been suspect of such a cruel act on another human being. You destroyed all the paperwork and evidence that may have led to you being discovered — not even your closest of friends ever knew; at best, you were recovering from a bad flu. You’ve kept this so well beneath your other layers of pain, that you sometimes forget it happened more than once. When the topic of abortion surfaces in conversation, you are sure to keep a low-key and remain neutral to avoid being ‘found out.’
Betrayed by someone close to you has left you with trust issues in your adult life. Abused and used by a confidante, they shattered your world by divulging all of your shared secrets. You entrusted your thoughts, feelings and dreams to someone who pledged to always have your back, but when the chips were down, so was their support. You were left standing in the cold like the quarterback with no offensive line to defend you. Exposed and alone you vowed to no longer seek out intimacy in relationships for fear of being vulnerable. But you manage to also hide behind the guise of being amiable and friendly — as you maintain your distance.
Girlfriend, the list is endless. Here’s your first step of faith. In the privacy of where you now sit, will you take a walk with me towards your cave and begin the process of excavating with the intent to move towards healing?
When you set foot into your cave, what is the first ‘burial site’ you encounter? Name it here: _______________________________________. “Here lies _____________________________________ that I have relegated to the deepest recesses of my existence, having vowed never to dig it back up.” As you uncover the layers of soil and maybe leaves that have fallen onto it, you sense the putrid odor of awful memories — the sights, sounds and circumstances begin to dance around in your head like a bad dream. Lord, it was such a tumultuous time in my life. I was confused and misguided … how could I have let this happen? Wipe the tears and keep walking, Sister …
Taking a few steps further, you can start to see footsteps alongside of your own. Courage allows you to move forward towards the next burial site and you find: (name it here) _______________________________. “This is when ___________________________________ occurred, and I promised never to touch this with a 10-foot pole.” Maybe you chose to try to forget this even happened, but as you brush back the cobwebs, the tears stream down your face and the memory is as real as yesterday. God, what was I thinking that I got involved with this mess? And He is listening intently …
Deeper into your cave, you now notice that there are several pairs of footprints all around you. Your view is that of several burial sites, some of which look quite ‘fresh.’ Name those here:
The multitude of footprints are those of Heaven’s Angels that protected you as you walked through your horrific experiences. They spared you from yourself in your greatest moment of despair and guided you out of your cave to see a new day. Because you were designed for a heavenly purpose and if you let Him, GOD will turn your mess into a message that only you can deliver.
The single set of footprints that you saw next to you as you first entered your cave were those of The Lord Himself. And He hasn’t left you.
Praise the LORD, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack. In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the LORD! But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help. Psalm 31:21-22 NLT
Sister, I have been there in that valley of pain. Maybe not in your same exact pain and sorrow, but I do know what that anguish feels like, and what the torment of isolation does to the human spirit. Sometimes we think we’ve allowed GOD to heal us regarding that incident, but in actuality we have only walked away from the burial site of our secret cave. Could this possibly be your turning point to truly let Him have His Way with your painful memories and genuinely restore you to wholeness like you’ve never imagined?
The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy. Proverbs 28:13 HCSB
If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins — make a clean breast of them — he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God — make a liar out of him. A claim like that only show off our ignorance of God. 1 John 1:8-10 MSG
Brave Sister, stick with me here just a bit longer …
If the GOD of all creation can raise Christ from the dead, can He not also breathe resurrection life into the dead and lifeless painful memories of your yesterday and transform them into life for the sake of those who are presently dying today?
Consider all these dry bones and skeletons. If The Lord of Heaven’s Armies could heal someone in pain — by using your pain — would you be willing to be that instrument of peace and comfort? I’m not suggesting that you uncover to the world all of your sacred places — wisdom from above will guide you. But if you were called upon to grant a ‘cup of cold water’ to one hurting soul who is puffy-eyed and exhausted from running in the desert to find her cave, would you be willing to be used for the glory of GOD?
I think that sometimes we grab our blessings and go, without giving thought to those who are coming up behind us seeking relief from a similar woeful experience. And while it may be as distasteful as all get out, she is reaching out and seeking out a sister, a mentor, a friend — to comfort and embrace her.
Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead. Hebrews 12:12-13 HCSB.
Girlfriend, if this feels like a challenge to you this day — if your heart is beating unusually fast — the Holy Spirit may be stirring your spirit to respond on behalf of a tender soul in agony and pain.
If you have responded here with your own experiences or unearthed burial sites, I pray that you will continue to pray for the ones walking up behind you. And then turn around and listen for her footsteps — she’s not far away.
I’d love to hear from you if this has helped you. Of course, there is no substitution for professional help, and I encourage you to seek that gift of GOD if He is leading you in that direction for complete healing. But do start your journey and talk to someone.
I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary
LInda, Thanks for sharing your heart in the form of this devotion. You definitely have a way with words. It was a good reminder that everyone has pain and we should us it to help others instead of keeping it buried in the cave. Yikes!!! That could be painful and oh so uncomfortable but surrender it all!! Denise
You’re a Blessing, Denise — sharing here in response is equally challenging, as it taps in on those places where only GOD has been with us. Thank you for reading!