This last week was tender for me. And I don't know about you, but I know for me, I don't exactly desire to be in a “tender state.” Not only is it emotional, it is incredibly uncomfortable.
Let me explain.
Last week I released a blog post about the sexual violence I was exposed to - at age three. (If you didn't get a chance to read it, you can read it here) I’ve bounced back and forth between bouts of shame over struggling with sexual identity and unworthiness over my tendency to hide; especially from my husband. I’ve wanted to bury it, fake it, and pretend everything is ok. Plus this one post, was just one of many sexually violent situations I have endured that was met with silence. And although exposure is part of the healing process, it doesn't negate the emotions.
Then on Saturday, another trauma hit our nation in Charlottesville. Agony and anger have run rampant over America. I felt a twinge of shame for my racial ancestry as a “white german-american” while I watched the injustice unfold over the weekend. I became overwhelmed as I thought about the collective stories we hold as a nation. Stories full of slavery, oppression, and dehumanization - stories steeped in degradation.
I cried as I thought about the beauty in the diverse ancestry I experienced growing up - African-American, Polynesian, Asian, Puertro-Rican, Native; these were some of my best friends and are some of my family. These are people who have showed me kindness, acceptance, and grace - these are people I love.
No, I have not experienced much racial violence (although I have experienced some), but I have experienced sexual violence. No, they are definitely not the same, but their effects induce a conglomerate of calamities filled with fear and contempt.
Violence of any form demeans humanity. Silence of any form spreads it.
I know intimately well what both of those feel like - Pride and privilege impacting whom it effects so profoundly, it alters their existence. I speak from experience.
Emotions… lots of emotions.
With all of these emotions, injustices, and uncomfortable pains, my inherent inclination is to drown my sorrow with self-medicating ways. Im inclined to self-medicate through pints of ice cream and lipstick. But there are a vast area of ways we self-medicate. Substances (drugs & alcohol), sustenance (food & drinks), shopping (materials & things), success (work & popularity), sex (pleasure & pornography), supremacy (pride & privilege) - numbing our pain so we don't have to face it; is multi-faceted.
Maybe you can relate
Maybe you are in a place of needing to self-medicate. I get it. But I have discovered that indulging in these numbing practices, over time, only intensifies what we mean to sedate. Sedation is not the answer to pain.
Connection is; to the divine & the divine-natured.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. My Father examines every branch in Me and cuts away those who do not bear fruit. He leaves those bearing fruit and carefully prunes them so that they will bear more fruit; already you are clean because you have heard My voice. Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, and neither will you if you are not connected to Me. - John 15.
I have discovered this scripture to be true. Without daily connection to Jesus, I will not bear fruit. And fruit isn't just limited to seeing salvations and serving on selflessly on Sundays. Fruit is also the transformation of character. Standing strong in courage, being brave in heartbreak, and owning up to imperfections.
Fruit means we run to Jesus instead of the bottle.
Fruit means we choose to be brave instead of shrink in shame.
Fruit means we open ourselves up to be hurt because we loved.
Fruit means we speak out against injustice and violence.
Fruit means we withhold the capacity to have compassion on both the hurt and hurting.
Fruit means we are desperate for relationship, not dominated by religion.
But fruit only comes through intimate connection. By daily abiding in God’s unmerited favor towards who we are - not what we do. And accepting that same favor from others. For when we are daily filled with love, we aren't as inclined to self-medicate our “stuff.”
There is power in this practice. I’ll admit I haven't been the most faithful at it and it wasn't until recently - when I had my “awakening” - that I witnessed how imperative it was to my healing. Now I consider it my "vital enjoyment." It is vital for me to actually enjoy my life. Connecting with Jesus looks different for everyone. Some connect at night, some in their car, some hiding in their closest from their kids. For me, I like to arise for the sunrise. My babies are sleeping and I get to cozy up on the couch with my bathrobe and coffee en tote. This is the place I experience grace and truth that transforms my current state, instilling in me the daily capacity to show up and relate. In the midst of tender places and internal pain, I found that being connected to the author and finisher of my faith is what makes me brave.
Brave enough to expose my dark sides.
Courageous enough to show up in uncertainty.
Bold enough to speak out against injustice.
Daring enough to look foolish.
Undaunted by those who are critics and cynics.
Tenacious enough to love and be loved.
Strong enough to face each day.
Because trust me I get it, sometimes all we can handle is just today.
You might find yourself desiring to self-medicate your misfortune. I want to challenge you. Connection is the answer to heal our pain.
Connect to Jesus.
Connect with those whom are safe.
It doesn't have to be for hours; it just has to be wholehearted. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be present.