Health has been on everyone's agenda these days. What if we didn't just take good care of our bodies, but also our hearts?
Our hearts are the parts of us we can't see, yet it impacts every aspect of our lives. When our hearts are healthy, our lives are full, and we can begin to experience meaningful relationships with God and others.
When our hearts are broken, we walk around with heavy spirits and we can begin to lose hope. We might isolate ourselves, afraid that we'll be hurt again. We may even overcompensate for this brokenness by developing coping mechanisms that leave us feeling emptier than ever.
I know first-hand that wounds caused by the people in our inner-circle – especially our family – can take the longest to heal. Sometimes, the process seems nearly impossible.
Last year, I was carrying a big load of emotional baggage, but I refused to admit it.
One day, I went to a Christian conference where I volunteered to pray for anyone who needed it. The thing is, no one came to me for prayer! Everyone was lining up to get prayer from other volunteers! I knew this wasn't something to take personally. Still, I was a teensy bit annoyed and wondered if I had made a mistake for volunteering in the first place.
With my eyes closed, I asked God to help me not feel this way. In my heart, I heard God speaking:
Jasmine, before you can pray for others to be healed, I want to heal you first.
I thought God wanted to heal me of the sharp pain in my lower back, something I had for many weeks!
But suddenly, I saw a vivid vision (God's way of communicating to people using powerful imagery) in my mind:
I saw a large open wound on my thigh that looked fresh. It was painful and bleeding. I felt God standing right next to me in the vision, but I immediately hid the wound from Him.
I found myself crying as I said to Him, "I don't want you to see this…"
I knew this wound was symbolic of the hurt I had been carrying in my heart for quite some time, and to see it up close was overwhelming. I felt so ashamed to admit to God I was still hurting because the painful experience had happened so long ago. "Why am I not 'over it' by now?" I thought hopelessly.
But God gently spoke to my heart, "Jasmine, when you hurt, I hurt. You don't have to be afraid to show me your heart. I already know about this wound. I want to heal you."
His voice was so kind and tender, and despite my reluctance, I ultimately knew I could trust Him. Slowly, I lifted up my pant-leg (again, this is all in my vision) and exposed this fleshy wound to God. I saw His loving hands dressing my wound, gently caring for it. Then the vision was over.
God used this vision to show me that I had a deep wound in my heart I was running away from. If I didn't seek His help, the wound would only get worse, partially crippling me from moving forward with the rest of my life.
Since that day, I've felt so much lighter. There are days, however, when my heart still aches from fresh disappointments. But this week, I spoke with a woman who told me God's been healing her emotionally from built-up pain she's experienced from her family for the past 35 years! She said it so cheerfully, not at all phased by the length of her healing process.
She reminded me that while God can heal us instantly, healing can also look like a journey to recovery.
If you're hurting, I encourage you to continue reading. I've included a prayer with each section because I know how difficult it can be to express our pain out loud, especially to God. These have been my own prayers. I encourage you to say them out-loud and wait for God's response after each prayer. He wants to speak to you personally, whether it's with a gentle word, vision, or thought. He is closer to you than you know.
Know that Jesus fully understands.
When we look at the cross, we think of physical pain, but Jesus actually endured untold suffering in his heart: He was rejected by the people He loved and came to save. Knowing that the most perfect human being on this earth experienced great rejection and heartbreak means you are not suffering alone. God empathizes with you on a deep level and is compassionate towards you.
My prayer: Jesus, You understand how I'm feeling right now, even if no one else doesn't. You are close to my heart.
Acknowledge that Jesus wants to heal you.
People say time heals all things. Time may help you to forget, but the sting of a painful experience may still be deeply rooted in your heart. Without Jesus, that open wound draws "bacteria:" anger, bitterness, resentment, thoughts of revenge, or even jealousy of those who seem to have their lives together.
Jesus hates the pain that is holding you back from living an abundant life, and He wants to carry you on His shoulders through life's darkest seasons.
My prayer: Jesus, my heart really hurts right now, but I believe that You came to heal my heart and set me free.
Ask Jesus to replace your pain with His truth.
The true root of our pain does not come from the people who hurt us, but rather how they made us feel. Things like rejection, judgment, and loss are often the painful side-effects of the hurtful words or actions done or spoken to us by others, intentionally or unintentionally. I can often feel like a victim if I forget that in Jesus, I am unconditionally loved, accepted, and provided for.
My prayer: Jesus, help me to meditate on your love, acceptance, and provision for me!
Enjoy simple living as you rest in Jesus.
Once you have grieved in a healthy way, start enjoying the simple things that have always brought you joy. For me, this looks like going on walks in the morning, spending quality time with people, talking to God, and finding a cozy café where I can sip a latte slowly and read Genesis, my favorite book in the Bible.
See Jesus enjoying these things with you!
My prayer: Jesus, I want to enjoy life again! Let my heart find rest in Your love as I go about my day.
Depend on Jesus to stay healed.
The temptation of revisiting old hurts is a real one. Remember: picking at a scab only leaves a scar. When you feel this temptation rising, talk about it with Jesus and with people you look up to and trust. They will help you to see how far you've come on this journey to recovery and the beautiful future that lies ahead of you.
My prayer: Jesus, thank You for healing me! In You, old things have passed away, and all things have become new!
Going through this process has been revolutionary for me. In the past, I would pretend I was fine and try to avoid the people who hurt me. Sometimes I even imagined taking revenge, not realizing that this was a downward spiral that caused my heart to become more wounded along the way. Because of Jesus, I have been able to fully recover, forgive, and move on without old pain haunting me or holding me back from truly enjoying my life! Jesus has been my refuge in very dark times, and I pray you will also find comfort and safety under His wings.