How wounds become wisdom
“While I gasp for breath, they yell at the top of their lungs.” This is how I described in my journal the painful experience of reading the most despicable and ugly things about me, plastered all over social media. It was bullying at its finest, but by grown adults, choosing to connect in conversations with one another and inviting the world to join in publicly attacking me.
In another entry, written a few weeks later, I said, “I don’t understand how people can be so cruel – how they can rejoice when others fail.”
This chapter in my life was one of the lowest. Not only was I losing all of the expectations of my future, but also in my mind, I was losing a battle to fight for my good name. My character was at stake, and this was, quite possibly, the most painful part of it all.
We have all been there. Pain can be physical, of course, but emotional pain is just as real and equally intense. Words cut deep. Defamation and slander is cruel, ugly and readily accessible. What once required time and money to take out an ad in the newspaper or book a time slot on television or radio now demands little more than a small handheld device, ten seconds of your time, and the intent to harm. People hide behind fake screen names and anonymous posts, and each of us can be easily targeted and exposed to the world – true or false.
We boldly speak of the bullying that our children face on social media. And we should. Protecting the simple and innocent hearts of our children is of utmost importance. However, no one speaks of the fact that adults experience this, as well. And although we might be decades older than our children, words, whether written or spoken, can quickly demoralize and deflate even the strongest-minded adult.
It is in times like these that relationships with life givers are key to our healing. Here are some ways to use relationships to fight through the pain:
God: In the deepest intersections of pain and heart, I would cling to the fact that Christ understands betrayal. He understands being wrongly accused. I took comfort in the fact that He understood and I had immediate access at any time, any day through prayer, to One who not only knows the whole story, but also knows the truth and loves me unconditionally. I found so much hope in this truth!
Family and friends: I moved closer to those that truly knew me and would dare to consistently speak truth into my life. Sometimes that bold truth would tell me to stop listening to the ugliness being said. Once I chose to quit participating in the pain by controlling what I allowed into my mind, I found that I could gain ground over the pain. Only one month after I had recorded the thoughts I shared above, I wrote this: “I’ve stopped looking at the garbage they are saying about me, and that has dramatically helped me lift up my head and complete the work at hand.” Let your friends act as a minister to you in your pain – a hug, a meal, a sweet word at the appropriate time is medicine to your soul! It is so easy to withdraw when we are in pain. Trust me, there was a time I was physically curled up on the couch. I felt like I was in the corner of a room, curled up in a ball, while my critics repeatedly kicked me while I was down. It took the loving encouragement of my husband to take my hand, literally, and tell me we needed to get out of the house, that I had to get up, that I could do this, and that together we had this!
Pay attention to those who have your ear – are they constructive or destructive? You have the power to listen, and you also have the power to dismiss. My advice: Listen to the truth of those that know you, love you, and have the courage to speak the truth to your face. Draw on the power of relationships to move through your pain, one day at a time.