“I am more than my scars” – Andrew Davidson
Whenever I think of layers I tend to think of things like clothing or eating fruit and vegetables. Both are essential for obvious reasons, and both have unique reasons for being important towards our daily lives. Layers can provide protection, warmth, comfort and quite possibly a level of safety in some occasions, but happens when our layers cease to be organic, essential parts of our lives? What happens when what was once a natural means of protection and safety becomes something more (or less)? Something that deflects what is good for you, something that isolates you from becoming your very best or something that is dark? Like all fruit, we all have a skin that is designed to protect us. We also can create walls (layers if you will) that can hinder our growth or ability to move forward after being subject to some sort of pain. These walls have names like unforgiveness, bitterness, distrust, envy, hatred, racism and the list goes on.
We all have a story, one that possibly describes deep pain and hurt that we have experienced due to the actions of another, usually someone who we cared for deeply. So once our hearts have been bruised, our human responses are to go into self-preservation mode. Rightly so, we consider or own needs and possibly isolate ourselves from others for a while. For a season this may be the right move, but for many that season ceases to end and in the interim that bruise becomes a scar of stone. Impenetrable and ultimately our own prison of delusion, isolation and self-inflicted pain.
So how do we really remove layers that hinder us? I have a few ideas based on my own life story, so let me start with a perspective of my story first, then a few things I had to own, being on both sides of the street as the perpetrator as well as the victim.
I won’t go into detail about the story, assuming you should have got that after reading my previous post or at minimum the “About Me” page or my “Home” page.
As one that has inflicted pain it was never intentional. Even with the best intentions we all fall short and hurt the people we love. What was true for me was my unresolved past and inability to truly understand the core reasons for my actions. My need to search my soul for what was true for me occurred after I was involved in the relationship unfortunately. As much as I wanted to believe I had finally arrived at a place of peace, I had not. Therefore, someone I loved suffered because of this. But what is important to state is I did not stop there. I grew stronger and began to understand more about my propensities, therefore I began to make better decisions sooner.
So what is critical to understand here is even the perpetrator can grow and change. Men who have made poor choices in relationships don’t necessarily remain in that place, but if your layers of bitterness and pain remain what purpose is that serving? It can only hinder the possibilities you have yet to experience. Living in a cloud painted with disappointment only leads to more disappointment. We can only treat our next opportunities for love or a better situation with discontent when we remain living within the walls of bitterness from a tormented past. Every guy or situation does not necessarily have to be like the last, but when your mind is cluttered with unnecessary layers from your past it becomes impossible to recognize when someone or something authentic comes your way. However when we are able to decipher the parts and pieces and how they all came together, we equip ourselves with opportunities for hope. These are the steps towards removing the layers that hinder.
1. Acknowledge the pain of loss – Quite honestly it sucks, however so many times we all want to act as if nothing hurts us, so we grit and bear, suck it up, move to the next, medicate or inebriate ourselves to dull or avoid the pain. But pain is like a warning light in the dashboard of our cars. It is trying to alert us to a greater problem that is potentially going to occur. When we choose to ignore the warning signs is when we find ourselves in trouble. For a season dulling our emotions may feel just right, however long-term it adds no value to our growth. As a child I always saying, “That didn’t hurt” when honestly it did. Being tough is allegedly honorable, I get it, but does being tough mean I don’t feel pain? Only when I made the decision to own the feelings of the emotional pain I was experiencing was I able to heal. It was not magical or by osmosis that my healing occurred, but it was by my commitment to myself to be better and do better and to realize that my past does not have to define my future. First I had to acknowledge where I was, grieve and press on.
2. Get your heart in check – Before that internal voice of negativity begins to overwhelm your brain and your friends and family begin to infiltrate your heart with hopelessness and anger, resolve to go to your own quiet place to pray and allow yourself to see clearly. Remember that it is always easier for someone else to leave your relationship or situation, because they have no real tie to it, and although their advice may be just what the doctor ordered, it is still imperative that you own the feelings as well. Never make a decision out of anger or hurt. Typically it will come back to bite you in the form of regret. That said, learn the art of sitting still prior to making decisions. Talk to trustworthy friends, counselors, pastors, God and then listen. Allow some time to pass while going through this stage and the answers will come like the rising of the sun on a new morning.
3. Press the play button back on your life – One of the hardest things to do is to get back in the game. I mean this figuratively as well as literally. As children we were always told to never give up. Try again and again, because failure is a part of life. We must learn to apply these words to our adulthood failures, whether relationally or professionally. I remember a dear friend of mine that was married twice, swore God did not mean for her to be married. For her it became overrated, so she settled with having friends. Now if that is your choice, I’m not hear to judge, but I will say her decisions were based on fear versus her truth. Key is we need to discover the truth, our truth, and live that truth out with our whole hearts. Anything less is living a lie and defeats the purposes of who you are.
We were all blessed with layers to protect us or shield us from potential harm. When we allow unresolved issues to manifest in forms of inorganic layers is where the problems lie. Choose to make the distinctions and live your life freely.