In my life, I have experienced a fair share of emotional pain. Not unlike many of you. Family dysfunction, divorce, fear, financial stress, everyone generally has a list similar to this. What I have found over the years is that pain comes and trouble comes. It is not selective, it just is. I may not have control over that, but I do have control over my response to it. There are generally two responses to life’s pain. We harden and numb ourselves to it, or we embrace it and walk through it.

I hardened myself to the pain because I did not want to feel it

When I was 26 years old I had a realization that I was, in fact, a grown up. I know, I’m a little slow sometimes. My whole life, I had held a secret longing for the Father/Daughter relationships that the Hallmark movies depicted. Sappy? Yes, but it was a girlhood dream. So, I’m a 26 year old mother of two and I suddenly realize that I’m am passed the age of Daddy/Daughter dances and Valentine’s dates. What followed this truth was an immense amount of heart pain and disappointment. My response to this was to “be strong”, and “shake it off”. I decided that I never needed that anyway. I hardened myself to the pain because I did not want to feel it.

Hardness of heart is impossible to localize in one area

The thing about hardness of heart is that it is impossible to localize in one area. Over the next several years I found myself becoming increasingly hard hearted toward my husband, my children, the people around me, and to God. Hardness of heart is a slow growing disease. You think you’re fine, but years go by and then one day, you wake up empty and emotionless. This my friends, is how the cycles of dysfunction in families continue from generation to generation. God, in His goodness helped me to see that this was not the life that I wanted or needed. I asked Him for help, and there began a great journey for my poor little hard heart and me. He is so good, gentle and unhurried. He walked with me over time helping me to thaw.

The results were excruciating in some ways

Recently, I was again confronted with this issue of an orphan heart and pain in my life. This time, however, my response was to tell Jesus that I wanted to feel it all. I wanted to walk through it with Him. The results were excruciating in some ways, and relieving in others. Honestly, it was similar to giving birth. So much pain, but the work of pushing into it brings relief. I had a friend tell me that she could see in my character tenderness and sweetness. What? I know now, that allowing myself to walk through life’s pain with Jesus has caused my heart to become tender. That tenderness then allows me to also love. It is in this place where we can love fully and be whole. This is the place where cycles of dysfunction stop and healthy family is born. And friends, God is in the business of using healthy family to change the world. We can truly change the world around us just by choosing the right response to the trouble that life brings us. In John 33:16 Jesus says, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is how He overcomes the world! He does it through us, walking out life daily with Him.

He will walk with you through the valley of the shadow

Will you be brave and allow Him to help you? He is good and kind, loving and patient. He will walk with you through the valley of the shadow, coming out on the other side in wholeness. I promise it’s worth it!!!