I have a tendency to hold on to my pain. Some call it wallowing. Me, I think of it as nursing, the way that you nurse a cup of coffee — it is both bitter and sweet, acidic and somehow comforting (Barney’s Cool Cafe Blues is an atypical coffee here, which I love, but that is beside the point). However, what I’m coming to understand now, many years late, is that while our emotions are instructive, not all emotions should be given free reign. For example, irritation. Is it really the best course of action for me to vent how annoyed I am by little stupid things (“It’s the little things that kill”), or should I somehow, strive to master my own irritation, to look past it, to release that emotion’s grip upon me?

Release — that is a great word. To purposefully let go, to stand down, to fall back into the arms of the One who is greater, to turn it free, to release.

I find that I feel better only when I let my pain go, when I decide to not clutch it tightly to me. I am discovering, again, many years late, that all the things that we usually do to assuage our pain really don’t help us in getting past it. They may make us feel justified (yeah, that character did that — I wish I could! Yeah, that character felt that way; I can so relate), but really we’re just hiding in someone else’s fiction. And why did they write that song or that story or that show? To deal with their own problems! Often times, we’re just perpetuating the wound.

So to heal, we must first stop hiding, and two, release our pain and sorrow. When I stop hiding from the voice of conviction, then I have no more reason to run. I receive grace like rain, drink in love, and stop holding on to the hurting thing because whatever comfort it gives me is eclipsed by the peace that Christ offers. I seek reconciliation with God and man, and then I am freed and can engage with the world’s problems. Until then, everything but my own pain is simply overwhelming, and all I can do is hide some more, whether it be in TV, movies, games, music, whatever — it is all just hiding.

Like Jesus said to the man by the pool who had been blind for 30+ years — do you really want to get well? That is the fundamental question we need to ask ourselves when we are hurt. Do we really want to get well? I’ve found myself asking God to “Just let me hide here for a while,” and “Just let me enjoy this lie for a little while.” Mercifully, He rips off that false band-aid, and leaves me with the only way for me to be healed — to ask for forgiveness from him, and then, to forgive others. As I release my hurt and sorrow, I am released from its grip and I am made whole again.

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