tall trees with shade of light

What Healing Looks Like

Healing isn’t for the faint of heart.

Not if it’s genuine. Not if you delve deep into the core where all that is ugly and wicked and broken has had time to take root and fester.

Real healing is not all about finding sunny days and happy times. Maybe those are on the other side of your journey. But before then …

You will be brought to your knees, humiliated, embarrassed, ashamed of what you once were, the things you did to the people who matter. You’ll get back up and think that was the worst of it.

You’re wrong.

You’ll be back on your knees again. Many, many times.

Everything you thought you knew, everything you thought you believed, all your most brilliant insights about life and its purpose, all the Truths you’ve built your life on, all the work you’ve done, all the things you held closest … it can all crumble in a heap at your feet.

You will have no warning.

Worse, that heap might carry the remains of those you thought would be with you until the end, their shattered carcasses unrecognizable to your tear-blurred eyes.

You will be knocked down and arise once again to start over … again and again and again.

And again.

(Did I mention that healing isn’t for the faint of heart?)

Oh, to be sure … you will have moments of ecstasy and revelation. You will hold joy in your hand and understand its importance. You will laugh sometimes. Of course you will.

But you’ll also be asked to walk knowingly into the open mouth of the darkest cave with no torch, no flashlight, no hope — alone — to come face to face with your darkest fears, to confront the most unlovable creatures, and you’ll learn those creatures are parts of you.

You will step into pools of sadness that seem to have no bottom and you will realize those pools are not made up of water but of all the tears that have been shed by you, over you, because of you. You will add to the depths of those pools while you’re struggling to breathe — bitter, cold, lonely air.

You will climb out but instead of relief you’ll feel anger, deep raging anger at anything and everything — the friends who have gone, the parents who tried but failed, your silent God, the ones who you needed who never arrived.

You will tremble in fear at the thought that some days seem to never end or that the only way they might end is with your own demise. You’ll struggle to breathe and you’ll flail as you search for something solid upon which to build a foundation.

And you’ll find it. You will.

You’ll start clearing a path and take tentative steps forward and gain some momentum and believe that this is it! This is it! This is finally it!

You’ll pick up speed and confidence and walk with confidence and strength toward your bright new future.

Then you’ll take a look around and realize you’re right back where you started.

You’ll curse the journey, you’ll lament having ever given an ounce of effort for trying, you’ll believe that it would have been better if you’d just stayed where you were, if you’d never tried to heal, never set foot inside that pitch-black cave, never shaken hands with every nasty thing that has grown in the dank, dark places.

Quit.

Stop.

Give up.

Give in.

Stay down.

But you won’t.

You are healing.

Of course you are.

You are doing the hard thing. You are trying. You are continuing. You are searching. In the dark night of the soul, you are reaching, trying on clothes you can’t see, discarding what doesn’t fit, feeling your way through a process that has no instruction booklet or YouTube video or helpline.

You are traveling back in time, getting back to the wild, shedding fear, learning how to get through life by feel instead of with that big mixed-up brain of yours.

It’s rarely easy. It’s never peaceful. What you thought might provide comfort — your faith, your memories, your dreams, your goals — they all turn out to be different from what you imagined they might be, what you were told they were or should be.

You are becoming … you.

How do you know you’re almost there? You are a warrior god for the genuine, unable to tolerate the bullshit and the fake. There are tears — oh, so many tears — for all that should be but isn’t, but there is laughter for all that actually is.

There’s you — a you you are comfortable with. Not a perfect you. Far from it. A completely imperfect you who is perfect in all the imperfection.

The dreams you had before have imploded. You have not. The ever-present fear and guilt and doubt and shame may still be your companions, but you are bigger than them now.

In your bigness, you realize how small you are. You understand the vastness of the universe, your insignificant size, your insignificant place, all the happenstance that brought you to where you are — and precisely because of that, you hold the whole universe in the palm of your hand.

The darkest, loneliest places are now safe. You are the one who bring the light. You bring the joy. You are what draws others out of the shadows.

Love! Oh, my! The love you see, the love you find, the love you bring!

Where once you felt abandoned by life, now you know there are things so much larger than you that have supported you through all of this, that helped you catch a glimpse of the path when you thought there was none.

And yet, you fall. You hurt. You ache. You cry. You long for so much more. So what! You grieve for all that once was, all the could have been had you just found this destination sooner. So what! Those tears are good! It might have taken you longer than you would have liked, but you’ve arrived … right on time!

So you get back up … like you always do … and you find your footing once again. It’s easier this time. It comes quicker. You walk on.

Truth is, my friend, you are the path. You can never lose it. Every step you’ve taken has been a step in that path. Every step you will take will lead you to where you are supposed to go.

And because of your journey, there are others coming behind you. Do you see them? The broken? The lost? The ones in the midst of the dark night of their own souls? You are what is leading them out. You!

Go get them. Don’t wait. You know what this journey is like. You have a mission now.

Now that you have healed.


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