I participated in an incredibly educational, enlightening, and energizing seminar on Friday. The event was “Responding to Trauma, Addiction, and Mental Illness.” Considering where I am on my learning journey, this event couldn’t have come at a better time.
I don’t know specifically where you are on your journey. If you are like most people reading these blogs, you’re probably living in some state of brokenness or chaos. You may be feeling beaten, lost, or confused, struggling to navigate a substance abuse issue in your life. I know I have had some incredible, confounding lows on my addiction journey and on my own personal journey relative to my personal goals and aspirations.
The reality is, life presents us with our beaten and broken moments. Though difficult and challenging, it is normal. Everyone experiences it and everyone struggles through it. How we respond to it and grow from it really defines the balance of our lives and our influence in the lives of those we love.
Pastor Dan Steffen opened the conference with three perspective regarding our struggles:
- It’s okay not to be okay
- It’s not okay to pretend it’s okay
- It’s not okay to stay that way
(The following thoughts are not a summary of Pastor Dan’s comments; rather, they are a compilation of my own reflections over my life and from subsequent information shared at this conference.)
It’s okay not to be okay. You may be hurting or broken right now; or, you may be struggling with something in your life which you just cannot seem to get ahead of. You are not alone. You are not the only one. Most important, your pain and your struggle are not the result of something wrong with you. What you are experiencing may be unique to you; but, everyone is experiencing something in their life which is, for them, a very similar, real struggle. Let go of the shame and guilt you are experiencing for you are not alone. And, do what you can to begin to embrace the confidence it will pass.
It’s not okay to pretend it’s okay. Everyone has been, or is in a struggle. To pretend you are not, to bravely wear a mask and act as though everything is okay, is not healthy or authentic. There is no healing in wearing the mask. While we may fear the responses of others to the truths in our struggle, hiding from it is not the answer. I have personally experienced greater healing, freedom, love and hope in the authenticity of my struggles than any other mask bearing behavior. When others experience your willingness to be authentic and vulnerable, it gives them permission to go there, as well. It also frees them to love, encourage, and support you where you are and with what you are struggling with. Surround yourself with people who will love you where you are and in the space of what you need from them. If they cannot give this to you, find a new community, these are not your peeps.
It’s not okay to stay that way. Once the mask comes off and you realize you are not alone, you become empowered to move forward and grow from the struggle. The most important activity you can engage in is work on healing what is hurting in you. I know many of you have become fixated on healing the brokenness in someone else’s life. Unfortunately, we cannot be the healer in another person’s life until we first heal ourselves. “Be the change we want to see in others” is a powerful call to action along these lines. You cannot show the way through another person’s pain, if you don’t know the way through yours. Your healing journey facilitates the potential for others to begin theirs. However, you cannot be a healer until you heal yourself, first.
These three perspectives on life’s difficult times are incredibly powerful. They free us to be authentic in our struggle and to release this need to protect ourselves from criticism, judgement and shame. I will share more on these ideas later this week on the “Inside the Blog” podcast. In the meantime, please share with me where you are and what you are going through. I am here to help your find your way through the chaos and the confusion. I can be reached at dave@100Pedals.com.
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I would love to hear from you.
What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help. Please let me know if you need more: dave@100Pedals.com.