Healing is a choice. You can either decide to wallow or you decide to get up and press forward.
For years, I defined myself as a “child of divorce” and then eventually as “the girl that got dumped”. Let me tell you, this took it’s toll on my attitude and thus, my life.. I was 19 when my mom left my dad and though I saw the signs, this left me shattered. For 4 years I watched my mom becoming more and more emotionally, physically, and mentally distant from my father and I watched as my father desperately tried to save his marriage. Finally, it happened. October 19, 2012 my dad received a restraining order against him from my mom. I won’t go into details, but it wasn’t good. At this time, I was dating a young man who I thought was just the coolest guy ever. I came to learn later that he really wasn’t that cool and he was not a good person for me to be with. I became very distant from my family to avoid getting in the middle of the drama and I latched on to him. Bad move, Emily. Bad move. I became dependent and planned my life around him. If he had the day off and I had to work, I would call in sick. If he and his family had plans for the holidays, I would skip out on my family get-togethers for his. All of this just to be with this guy who was doing me no good. I was addicted to him and he… Well, he tolerated me. He was my everything. Super healthy, right? I think a better word is “toxic”. That relationship ended and I had to start over.
I spent a lot of time alone and I hated it. The only company I had was my own and I hated my own company because I hated who I had become. I craved ANYONE’S company but my own. Yet there I was. Just me. In a room. Left alone with my thoughts. Little did I know then that this was the beginning.
There are many things I’ve had to learn along the road to self-discovery, and there are still many things I know I need to learn. The most crucial and ground-breaking lesson I have learned thus far is this: Learning how to love myself and learning to enjoy my own company. Especially after a bad breakup. I can’t tell you the date or time or even where I was, but I distinctly remember hearing God’s voice during this time of loneliness. “Love yourself, Emily. I love you, so you must love you too.” It was not an easy journey, guys, that’s for sure. But along the way, God revealed to me the steps needed to become who He designed me to be so that I may finally and truly love myself. And in turn, when my love for a lifetime finds me, I’ll be the woman he deserves.
- “Dive deeper in My Word”. I was weak and Satan knew this very well. He sent his demons after me and I was taking punches left and right. I felt defeated. What can you do in that situation? What can you do to protect yourself? You read, mesmerize, and KNOW God’s word. Arm yourself! Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on the Armor of God: Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness, feet prepared with the Gospel of Peace, Shield of Faith, Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit. The only way to do this is to read God’s Word and keep it. Satan will strike every chance he gets and your best weapon is the Word of God.
- “Pray for others before yourself”. When you take a step back and pray for others before you pray for yourself, you’d be amazed at how your perspective can change. I believe in living for JOY (Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third). So shouldn’t we pray that way too? Thank the Lord for all He has done and all that He is. Worship His great name and revel in His majesty. Next, pray for your family, friends, church, political leaders, etc. They need God just as much as you do. Lastly, pray for yourself. When you pray like this, your change in perspective will astound you, I promise.
- “Pray boldly”. Don’t be afraid to tell God how you feel and don’t be afraid to be angry with Him either. He already knows and, believe me, He can handle it. I truly believe that God wants our genuine hearts all the time. If our hearts are happy, He wants our happy hearts. If our hearts are sad, He wants our sad hearts. If our hearts are angry, He wants our angry hearts. Get the picture? Tell Him everything you’re feeling, tell Him of every thought, of every desire. You can’t scare God away.
- “Take risks!”. Now, I know taking risks is not easy and it can be very scary… But that’s all part of this amazing journey we call life! God calls us to trust Him and that requires taking a risk on our part. When He tells us to jump and we have no idea what’s down there, we must take that risk and jump. Taking risks leads to learning. “Okay, self, that was a bad decision. Note to self: don’t ever do that again” OR “Hey, self, that wasn’t so bad. Actually, it was kind of great! Note to self: be braver more often!” Risks lead to learning. Learning leads to wisdom. Wisdom leads to an overall better quality of life.
- “Go out into My creation”. I don’t know how it is for everyone else, but there is something magnificent about the way God speaks through nature. I wish my words could justify my feelings. After my breakup, I spent a lot of time at my friends’ farm watching and working with the horses and I would often find my self simply admiring what beautiful creatures God created. I went for a lot of walks in the woods and while I was working at camp, I went for a run every night under the light of the moon and the stars. Whenever it’s possible, I go lay in my hammock; strung up in the perfect spot where I can overlook the land and adore what God has made. His creation puts my perspective in its proper place and makes me love Him all the more.
- “Be still. Be silent”. 1 Kings 19: 11-12 “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” Very seldom have I felt God’s overwhelming presence in a loud or exciting moment. When I feel Him the most is when I’m silently still. Whether it’s lying on the ground or standing on top of a mountain, when I’m still and I am silent, God speaks. Not in audible words that I can hear, but in the gentle breeze that caresses my cheeks; in the birds that sing; in the flowers that sway; in the waves rolling through the wheat fields. Get what I’m saying here? Take time and shut everything down. God is speaking to you all the time, we just don’t listen.
- “Speak kindly to and of others”. How you speak to others reveals the state of your heart. So, if you find yourself often speaking perhaps not so kindly to/of others, something needs to change. I often caught myself doing this. I wasn’t being mean, per say, but I wasn’t exactly kind either. One day I read online of a group of young adults asking their parents, friends, teachers, etc. how they (the youth) could make their (parents, friends, etc.) day better. After reading this, I decided to give it a shot. Why not, right? Well let me tell you, I noticed a difference in my attitude real quick. Seeing how my kind words were affecting people’s moods in a positive way made me feel like I accomplished something. And it was something good.
- “Speak kindly to and of YOURSELF”. This one was tough. When you don’t like yourself, you just don’t like yourself. So why would you speak nicely of someone you don’t like, even when its you, right? Well… Knock it off! How do you want others to speak to/of you? With kindness and respect, right? So, if others can speak to/of you with kindness and respect and you can speak to/of others with the same regard, why, oh why aren’t you doing the same for yourself? Find a mirror and look at yourself dead in the eye. Tell yourself that you are great, you are important, you are loved, you are powerful, you are awesome! Do this as often as you need to until you begin to believe it!
- Finally…….”Live a joyful life!” Better late than never, but it took me almost a whole year to realize this simple truth: In everything you do, there is joy. Even in the worst of times, joy can be found. And you know what the best part is? I can look back now and see that there was joy even when I felt things were completely hopeless and I can see how these steps made me a happier, wiser, and all around better person.
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All it takes is a choice. Will you choose to stay stuck, or will you choose to heal and live the life that is meant for you?