The Layers of Healing

I have healed, I am healing, and I will continue to heal. One of the most hopeful truths I have learned is that healing happens in layers. I have found such relief since I finally embraced that reality. Prior to that, I would get so frustrated with myself for what I considered to be setbacks in my healing. I would “do the work” of processing, grieving, skills-building, and strengthening and even see emotional growth and progress…and then get blind-sided by a situation or a memory. Suddenly I was questioning myself, my process, my choices, and all the “progress” I thought I had made. Was it all a waste? Were my trauma and grief too much? Was my situation hopeless? Should I resign myself to just getting by? Were thriving and living abundantly out of my reach? Was my effort not enough? Was I not enough?

The hard truth is that healing even at its very best is messy. It often feels incomplete, which can be discouraging and even overwhelming. At times, the reality that I can’t “finish” healing and check it off my list has led me to despair. Despair is the feeling that tomorrow will look just like today, tomorrow will hurt just like today. Oh, sweet friend! I have beautiful news for you…that is not true! God has a future and a hope for you, a GOOD future full of hope! That is as true for you as it is for me. When new pain, sorrow, or raw feelings pop up, I gradually, slowly, gently have learned that all the growth I have made is real, valid, and valuable; I’ve just hit a new layer that needs compassionate attention. I find freedom – and hope – in understanding that.

Let this statement sink in: it’s not a setback, it a new layer. That is not a cliché. It’s not a catchy statement to try to make you feel better. It’s the truth about healing. Healing happens in layers, so when you reach a new, raw layer that needs healing that’s ok. You’ve grown and healed before, and you will keep growing and healing. You have skills and resources that have helped in the past. You’ve done hard things before. And let me be gently honest: could you really face everything at once? Thank God healing happens in layers! He is patiently and tenderly with you as you address each new layer.

You can be proactive and intentional in your healing, but you really can’t rush it. Your emotional capacity has a limit. Your energy level has a limit. Your nervous system has a limit. These are all protections from God, so receive them rather than pushing against them. Celebrate your growth, acknowledge your present internal work, and gently receive your future work. Pace yourself – healing is a lifestyle, not a crash course. I hope that encourages you today to keep healing. Nothing will be wasted. Keep bringing your pain, your trauma, your grief to God and allow yourself to experience healing, layer by layer.

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