“Fake it till you make it.” That’s what they say when it’s time to power through, to push through, to walk the hot coals till you get to the coolness of shade, or to pretend it’s all good when it’s all a hot mess. I’m not buying it anymore. Something of the fakery bottles the soul to the point of implosion – and it’s not healthy, at least for me it’s not. I’ve learned over the last few years I cannot ignore the pangs of hurt when they come. I cannot pretend ache doesn’t matter. I cannot ignore the whisper of hurt to speak up. Acknowledging pain is both healthy and freeing.
Today I tell myself “don’t skirt the hurt.” I can’t walk around it, over it, or under it. I have to walk through it. Yes, it is a choice and not the easiest one. To walk through adversity or trial is to look pain in the face and declare “I will not be overcome. I will lean in. I will get through this.” Maybe that getting through is messy, perhaps even gory; but isn’t that just like life? None of us makes it out unscathed. Those messy moments of walking through the agonies have secret ways of singeing pretense, of building our ability to persevere, and of strengthening our feeble knees.
There is something strange, however, that I am learning about the process. If I rest in the process, I find my heart and spirit less constrained by the push and pull of adversity. I am less likely to be overwhelmed by it. It seems an odd partnership, as though to say, I’m resting in the fact that I am human and sometimes frail. I rest in the notion that my inability to be strong is compensated for by the grace of God. I find that when I rest in the process of walking through difficult things, the struggle no longer chokes the life or hope out of me. If anything, I gain a new perspective. I can reassess what is and is not true. I can give myself permission to be broken and yet made whole again. I can reframe the circumstance in ways that build my faith.
I know it might be a strange thing to say, but learning to lean in to dealing with hurt empowers and enables me to live truthfully and more freely. It’s not even that I’m resting in myself. It’s more that I am resting in the peace of God knowing the storm will not overtake me. For even in the valley of the shadow, God is with me – His light piercing the darkness. If I’m fighting not to feel, then I cannot know that kind of peace. If I’m skirting hurt, then I’m not flexing the overcoming-adversity-muscles. If I’m silencing the aches of the soul, I cannot experience healing. I can no longer live that way.
My hope for me and for you is that we give ourselves the gracious space to be messy as Christ binds our wounds. I pray we learn to speak up, to speak out, to say what grieves our hearts, to whisper of our brokenness, and to be met with empathy, comfort, the “me too,” and love. Because really, the only way out of our pain, is to walk through it. I’m walking. I might be bruised and tender, but I’m walking through. I’m resting by leaning into life even when it’s prickly. In doing so I overcome discomfort, find grace, and unearth strength to stand.
How about you? I’d love to hear your stories of overcoming. Tell us in the comments, share your Real Talk story via word or art or song, and join us on Facebook.