I think we all have a tendency to feel the need to show a perfect front. But time and time again what I am learning that it's not the perfect mask that makes a difference in others lives. It is the real person, with real emotions through every life experience, relying on the power of our Almighty God. That is what speaks volumes and becomes inspiring to the core.
Hanneke from the depths of my heart as a woman, a wife and a mother, I am absolutely blessed by your writing. It brought tears to my eyes and a huge revelation. I felt God's hand all over this post. Abundant blessings on you and your family. I pray continuous healing in all areas and that you find rest and peace and a overwhelmingly joyful season ahead of you!!! Thank you so dearly for your words.
By Hanneke Verbeek
Today I am going to tackle a topic that is not easy, or frequently talked about.....emotional pain. Society tries to give us many messages about emotional or mental pain. Many people experiencing emotional pain often have to deal with negative pressure reinforced by society, resulting in overwhelming feelings; denial, fear, hopelessness, shame, mental torment, and the list goes on. Emotional pain is often viewed as a sign of personal weakness, but is it really? Christ experienced heart-wrenching emotional pain in the garden of Gethsemane and when he cried out on the cross, feeling totally forsaken.
I have been there....feeling totally forsaken, wondering how I would get up the next morning, with my life falling apart around me. During my childhood I experienced tremendous emotional pain as a result of sexual abuse. This pain turned into denial and shame – to accept or to let someone know what had really happened to me, would mean I was utterly worthless. I was determined no one would find out or know about my pain. God was very aware of my pain and the rivers of tears I had shed.....and revealed that He too, had shed many tears for me. I maintained a very happy facade, but could not carry it on forever. Gently I started peeling away at the layers of protection in which I had securely encased my heart....some days I didn’t know how I was going to survive. Countless hours of support from my husband, a few close friends, intense prayer, and counselling, helped me deal with the effects of the abuse.
Years later, I felt as though pain would nearly engulf me- I stared death in the face as my husband lay grey, lifeless, drifting in and out of consciousness before me, while experiencing a heart attack. Though I sensed God with me, there were numerous moments I felt totally alone, and the pain seemed unbearable. How was I going to get through this with four young children? Was my husband going to live? I was in shock and automatically went into “function” mode. I felt nothing and went through the steps necessary to get him on the road to healing and help my children through their painful new reality. I leaned on God to get me from one day to the next. I wrote, spoke about our ordeal , and even inspired people.
A year and a half later however, life became dark. I didn’t know why I was alive, I wanted my “old” husband and my “old” life back, I didn’t know what my purpose was, why I couldn’t identify my feelings, and often woke during the night with heart palpitations, sweats, and vivid dreams. To make matters worse well meaning people said things like; “Ian’s alive, be happy!” , “What is wrong with you, his heart attack was 1.5 years ago,”or “Just pray and everything will be fine,” and the list goes on. These comments made me feel even more like burying and denying my pain. When daily activities became increasingly difficult, I sought the support of an amazing, highly respected, counsellor. Through her understanding, support, and guidance, I felt God hold my heart in His hands and quietly whisper to me that it was ok. to experience, talk about, and show signs of emotional pain, and that no matter what anyone else said or thought, I and my children had experienced a life changing trauma that needed to be dealt with. Releasing the pain out of places I didn’t even know existed -is how God ultimately healed me to the core. Now there was room for God’s healing to flood my heart.
Fast forward a year later.....I am busy studying for my Masters of Divinity in Counselling : Marriage and Family Therapy. I have always had great compassion for others and my journey has made pain, healing, and the battle that at times continues to rear it’s ugly head, very real for me- allowing me to have some understanding where others are coming from. Hallelujah, that I serve a God who redeems and restores! He has redeemed the pain in my life so that I can support and help others through their pain. Only by God ‘s grace has this journey been possible. Do I still struggle with how to work through emotional pain? Most definitely! Three weeks ago while laying on the operating table because two growths that looked “concerning” were going to be removed, I felt God’s peace fill me. A few days later however, the battle for my mind ensued. What if the biopsy results are not what I expect and my family and I experience more pain? First, I do not have the answers but I know that my family and I are in God’s hands. Second, I refuse to deny my reality and that emotional pain is sometimes just part of life. I know emotional pain is not a sign of weakness. My tears are merely a reflection of my heart expressing what is deep inside my soul, that I have found no words for.
What is important to remember, is that everyone has a story! So, before you judge someone’s life, their past, or their character; STOP and THINK of what it would be like to walk in their shoes, walk the path they have travelled, live their sorrows, their doubts, their fears, and their pain.
Last and saved until the end to leave you with an important message.....If you are experiencing emotional pain, please do not deny it, hide it, or be ashamed of it. The reality is, all of us have pain some time in our lives, whether we want to admit it or not. Seek the help of a friend, counsellor or pastor. If you are in pain, and have no one to connect with, message me on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/hanneke.verbeek.39). I would be more than happy to support you in figuring out what you need, to help you through your pain , or direct you to someone who can provide you with guidance and a listening ear. No one should feel like they have to hide their pain, or go through it alone!