I hold on to the moments that hurt. I will never forget:
- How it felt to be the little girl who was so easy to be discarded by my father, like I wasn’t worth the fight.
- How it felt when the boy in 8th grade asked me if my whole family was fat because I weighed 125 pounds and had curves.
- How hollow I felt in college when I did whatever it took to feel wanted by a boy, only to have him act like he didn’t know me the next day.
- How it felt when I realized that no matter how hard I tried to be the “perfect” wife, it wasn’t enough to overcompensate for my husband’s decisions to medicate his brokenness.
As our faces begin to age, so do our hearts. As a way to protect ourselves, we build high walls disguised as strength and control. We know just how far to let someone in, as well as the tactics to keep them out.
Forgiveness, or the lack thereof, comes in many forms:
- Those who recognize their actions, but you still can’t forgive them. You have exchanged amends and even feel like you’ve moved on, but there always seems to be a trigger. You keep going back. The familiarity of a particular surrounding, a glance into their life while browsing on social media, or a long buried memory all quickly take us back to the hurt. The events play out in our minds like a movie reel. We wonder if the thoughts will ever really go away.
- Those who don’t even realize or take ownership of their actions. They have caused you to feel so badly, yet they continue on living their “normal” lives. All the while you feel like the blow of the experience will actually break your heart some days. You can’t even think about that person without a twinge of the deep ache coming to the surface.
- Then there is the worst kind of unforgiveness, when we struggle to forgive ourselves. This is the worst shame trap of all. It is an unknowing cage in which we live. It creates a low standard of joy. Trapped inside, we constantly need to do something in order not to feel it. It causes us to compromise and act in ways that reduce us down to an anxious manager of pain.
I will admit that I have carried all three kinds of unforgiveness in my life. It is a terrible weight to bear. Unfortunately, when we try to ignore the presence of the hurt, our bodies will continually grieve it up to the surface in other forms.
What if there was a different story to be told?
There is something that we can’t see over the walls we build, and that is the beauty of our true selves and purpose in our stories. What you will find behind the wall is freedom. Many of the bricks in our walls have memories written on them reminding us often of why they are there.
The good news is: It’s your wall, so you can change it.
Your hurt and unforgiveness doesn’t disqualify you from freedom and purpose. You are more qualified to do great things because it makes you real. It allows your story to reach people who are walking in the same shoes like someone else who has never experienced the pain or the wall ever could.
You can do it. Start by putting a new name to each brick in your wall. Call it out and take it down. Be patient with yourself, as some bricks may take more time than others to pull away.
Pain can equal progress, if you will let it. You are no longer a prisoner to your walls. You might get worried and upset about too many things along the way, but only ONE thing is needed — trust the process.
Friends, let’s demolish these long-standing walls in our lives. Maybe you put them there as a way to cope and survive a time long ago? It kept you alive then and has gotten you here, which is something to celebrate. Together, let’s walk beyond this place.
What would it look like for you to move your bricks?