Has your heart ever been broken?
Has your spirit ever been crushed?
We’ve all been there. We’ve all had an experience (or more than one) that caused us to feel emotional pain. An experience that made our hearts ache. An experience that made us feel like we were kicked in the stomach and had the wind knocked out of us.
Whether we’ve experienced the loss of a loved one; end of a romantic relationship; betrayal of a significant other, friend or family member; or something similar, we can probably remember how much it hurt.
When we go through painful situations, do we try to deal with them on our own or do we turn to the Lord for help? When we go through painful situations, do we believe God is somewhere off in the distance or right there with us?
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit. ~ Psalm 34:18
I’d like to show the truth of these words by sharing a personal story.
When I was younger, I feared being emotionally hurt and tried to “protect” myself at all costs. Even though I was sensitive and had strong emotions, I kept everything inside. I developed a hard shell and didn’t allow myself to be vulnerable with anyone.
In my early twenties, something happened that caused me to feel deep emotional pain. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. My heart hurt. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I felt completely alone.
An Unusual Decision
I didn’t know how to deal with the emotions and the pain, but I tried anyway. I felt angry, resentful and lonely. I was holding a grudge, which I normally did when I felt hurt, and didn’t know how to forgive. I felt like I was in an emotional prison. I decided I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I wanted to be free.
After a short time of trying to deal with it on my own, I decided to go to Confession. This was an unusual decision because I wasn’t seriously practicing my faith at the time; I didn’t understand much about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, particularly what it means and how important it is; and I hadn’t received the sacrament in years!
I remember talking to the priest and telling him that I was struggling to forgive. After receiving the sacrament, I didn’t notice anything different right away. There were no visibly dramatic moments, no flashes of light or opening of the heavens…
Lessons and Healing
Even though I wasn’t aware of it then, that day was life-changing. I encountered God’s grace, mercy and love, and He began to make dramatic changes within me.
Slowly and gradually my heart began to soften and heal. The pain subsided. The anger and resentment I felt was transformed into forgiveness and peace.
I thought the experience was about forgiving one person, but it was about much more than that. It was about letting God into my heart and soul and begin to heal my wounds. I realized that I was actually hurting myself, others and God by being proud and afraid!
By asking for and receiving God’s mercy, I learned how to be merciful. By encountering God’s love, I learned how to love. By letting God into my heart, I learned how to let others in.
The Lord is Near
The emotional pain of that situation led me back to Confession, which began my reversion to God and the Church. (It was a “reversion” rather than a “conversion” because I was already Catholic but not living as I am meant to.)
The Lord was calling and waiting for me with open arms. He never stopped loving me, even when I ignored and disobeyed Him. He was guiding and supporting me through every moment, and I didn’t even know it. He helped me through a painful situation and brought more good out of it than I could have ever imagined.
And guess what? He’s here to do the same for you!
For most of us, God works slowly. He’s always working in our lives, but we can’t always see it. Sometimes we see it after days, weeks or years have passed. Sometimes God allows us to see the purpose of certain events. Other times we must have faith that there’s a reason for everything and He can bring good out of even the most painful situations.
I chose to share this personal story for several reasons:
- To remind each of us to bring our emotional pain and wounds to God. He is always present and wants to share in every moment of our lives. We never have to suffer on our own. We’re never alone, even if it feels like we are.
- To give an example of an emotional wound healed by God. Only He can truly heal us. The healing process can be gradual and occur in unexpected ways. We must be patient and let God work in His time.
- To reveal the importance of forgiveness. It can be difficult to forgive, but holding a grudge harms ourselves and others. Anger and resentment keep us trapped, while forgiveness sets us free. The Lord is always merciful; we must follow His example and strive to be merciful towards others.
- To demonstrate the transformative power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is a Sacrament of Healing. It removes our sins and gives our souls comfort and peace. (I’ll write more about this in a future post.)
He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds. ~ Psalm 147:3