Life is a puzzle. The pieces (tools) we discover along the way are tools to help us navigate the process of living life.
Have you ever spoken a word and inside of yourself had an unexpected and anxious emotional reaction? I have that reaction to the word “process.” One definition of process is “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.” Pretty innocuous right? When I hear the word or find myself speaking it out loud it feels like a negative word. My perception of it is something that takes a lot of time or it can be very painstaking to work through. When in fact, just a tiny adjustment in my own thinking paved the way to a breakthrough in my life.
A tiny adjustment can bring huge benefits. When we give value to what we learn about ourselves in every circumstance we reap the benefit of a platform of growth to build on. The past month or so I was in a process so didn’t do much writing on the blog. I’ll share a little bit with you about an experience I had which became a key step to healing and letting go of the past.
The experience I had was one of painful memories that would surface in my thoughts which made an impact on my emotions. There was sadness about the situation, impatience with the process of dealing with the emotions caused by the memories, frustration, and anger.
I would feel myself stuck in the memory and not be able to fix what happened or let go of the emotions I was feeling. I would start to move forward and believe I had put stuff behind me, only to draw back again. It wasn’t so much the memory that would cause problems, it was the emotions attached to the memory that would cause my progress to stall. It was on one of those days I was praying and asking God how to deal with both when He gave me the first of 4 pieces of the puzzle. This tool was one I could use to deal with the past but was also one I could use in any situation I would encounter in the future.
The first puzzle piece is:
One definition of the word reframe is “to frame or express (words or a concept or plan) differently.”
I took on one of the most painful memories and began to write down the feelings; how I felt about myself and others; and how I felt about the situation. I wrote about the anger, the helplessness, my frustration, etcetera. The purpose wasn’t to dredge up new memories but to give voice to what I had refused to acknowledge for such a long time (my feelings, my helplessness, my anger). The Bible says to take every thought captive and in order to take something captive you must acknowledge it is there. If we don’t acknowledge it is there and bury it, at times we begin to search for more destructive ways to cope. The truth is, these unresolved memories or thoughts, if you will, had been right below the surface for a very long time and kept me from fully living life. What I refused to deal with and stuffed down on the inside, kept resurfacing time and time again. It wasn’t necessarily the memory that kept me stuck, it was the unforgiveness, the frustration at myself and others and the refusal to identify and express those emotions that continued to impact me and surrender them to God so that I could heal.
The purpose for most introspection is to find some level of understanding, comfort, justification or control over why something happened. When that fails to produce answers, there is a sense of failed justice. Why didn’t they have to face the consequences of their actions toward me? Why did this happen to me?
These types of questions, when we are trying to find answers about the actions of other people are pointless because we are not in their shoes, we can’t decipher why they did what they did. The questioning put me in a perpetual loop of seeing myself as a victim. One morning while I was in prayer, I heard up on the inside “You are asking the wrong questions.” Suddenly I felt a little anxious and asked, “What do you mean?” “What question should I ask?” Once again, I heard you should ask “What have you learned about yourself from this experience?”
This gave me pause because it switched the focus from what someone else had done to me to what I had learned about myself in the situation. If the question was, “What have I learned about others?” it could go negative very quickly. In that one question, God showed me how to take the focus off other’s actions which I can’t change anyway and look for the positive in negative experiences. I don’t deny what happened to me, and I don’t have to like it either. However, when I can take away something good in a situation that could have destroyed me, I win. I can extend forgiveness as an act of my will and obedience to God. In that place where I’ve discovered forgiveness and something positive about myself, I can release the person who hurt me and move forward with new insight. God wins as I forgive, and I reap the benefit of no longer being stuck in the past.
The result I got from walking through this step is the memory sits in the past where it belongs. The emotions I was able to identify and sift through led to forgiveness of others and healing for myself. Forgiveness should be the sub-key to the reframing process because without it, you can find yourself doing the work all over again.
In future blogs I will go through a few more keys:
- Unravel to Align
- Time to Rebuild
Father I pray for those reading this blog, that they would draw closer in their relationship with You. It is in you that we find freedom. Where there is confusion I pray for clarity and where there is uncertainty, I pray for an understanding of the unending love you have for them.