Panelbeating for the Heart

Hi everyone, Rob here.

Our car had a new dent added to it the other day. My wife had a small accident to add to the dent from another small accident a while back and another one before that (that was mine!). The car is still fully functioning and it would be easy to let the dents remain as theycar-85320_640 are, especially since we will have to pay the excess! But in the long term those dents are no good for the car. They threaten the structural integrity of the car as well as providing a source for rust to get in. They need to be fixed. Our lives are a lot like our car. We take some hits. We tell ourselves it’s ok, we’re still functioning, but eventually the hits catch up with us and cause us a great deal of trouble. Our wounds need to be healed.

One of the hardest things for us is to recognise that we are wounded. One way is to take note when there are repeated negatives in your life. I noticed that I kept getting angry about the same things over and over again. My wife would have a certain tone or a certain phrase and it would set me off. What made it repeat wasn’t her doing; it was my unhealed wound that would respond to her. A lot of men get stuck in pornography. There’s often an unhealed wound there around a lack of validation from their fathers that would set that off. Sometimes it’s not acts of sin but repeated failure in your life. You never land a job or get a date or get through to your children. It could be that you have a relational style that is coming out of a wounded place that is causing these failures to recur.

So what do we do when we notice these repeat sins, failures or attitudes? The first step is to name them. This can be done between you and God initially. Come before him, remind yourself that he loves you and then write down what you see, know and suspect about your life. This is not a beat-up exercise! It’s an honest inventory about your life done before the God of life who loves you and wants to counsel you through this by his Spirit. Once you’ve done that share it with a trusted other. Ask them if they see the same things. What do they see differently?

Once you have your list look for a pattern. You may notice that your anger gets triggered by certain things or people. You may see that you turn to drink or other small pleasures (or medications) when you are stressed. You may notice a fight or flight tendency in your life. Ask yourself how long that pattern’s existed. Often the wound that we’re after lies at the beginning of that pattern emerging.

By this stage you may be seeing a counsellor and that’s good. You need trusted others to talk to as you go through this and it may not be your spouse or circle of friends. they may be too close or not have the maturity necessary to deal with the journey well. Generally the person or people you need are those who have gone through this journey themselves.

Once the wound is located, and it could be located anywhere from being bullied as a kid to a traumatic event to a lack of emotional engagement from your parents, then we invite Jesus to come for us. While friends and counsellors can help it is still our choice to invite Jesus into our unhealed places. We ask him to speak his words over what happened, to replace lies with truth, to bring life into dead places and love into places of hatred. We then need to choose to believe his words and not the words of the wound.

This is no way comprehensive or universal. It can all happen in a different order but I find that this way of dealing with the hits of life gives Jesus an opening into our hearts and stops them from growing hard and cold. It has helped me to make peace with my past and move forward with purpose and hope. May it do the same for you.

Blessings.

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