Pain and restoration seem to be things that do not go together as the goal of restoration is to be healed from pain. Yet I’ve come to know that pain and restoration actually hold hands until they do eventually depart from one another. A lot of us continue to experience growing pain because we actually run from it but running away only makes it worse. We must fight our natural tendency of running away to deal with the issues that has caused us to run away from the beginning.
But I get it though! To revisit painful memories in our past do not fill us up with hope but in fact can recreate things in the present that we wished to have forgotten but like a bone that is healing awkwardly from a break, we will only reap catastrophic and long term effects if we ignore the improper healing. To properly heal that bone, we must face the facts that rebreaking the bone, setting it right,will only bring proper healing.
When we don’t deal with the issues of our past and confront pain in it’s ugly face, we will only begin to spill over the negative effects from those moments to the people we love by letting the bitterness, hatred, sadness, and all other negative effects affect all our present relationships.
To share a story from my past, I was actually given an assignment to ask the Holy Spirit to revisit my past to heal me of anything that is affecting the way I live my life now. My first reaction was one of annoyance as I felt that something like this was not needed nor there was anything that I needed to be healed from but when we come up with those reasons, more often times than not we are only running away from something that is lodged deep within our hearts.
I slotted out time in the evening when I finished my work to do this exercise and I sat there asking the Holy Spirit to reveal unto me anything that He wanted to address. At first there was just the blackness of the void created by my closed eyes but like a movie screen that came to life, a series of images were being played before me as if I was watching something on a screen. I was in elementary and standing outside on the curb of the house that I grew up in and seeing my mom and my brother at the entrance of the house. At that very moment I knew exactly what I was watching: the sensations of the summer evening heat, the tree to my left that stood in front of my house that I climbed frequently as a child, and the glaring fury of my mother staring back at me. To give context, the night before I was punished by my grandmother for laughing too much while she had guests and upon coming home the following day, I expected my mother to comfort me as I was now brandishing a brand new cut on my face from the bamboo stick of “justice.” YET something quite the opposite occurred as my mother scolded me for getting in trouble and went back into the house. The image that was left was me standing on the street by myself utterly confused as to what happened and why I was alone; my expectations of comfort turned to abandonment and unfulfilled desires as the screen of my mind turned to black.
This was an event that occurred over ten years ago at the time of me doing this exercise and I realized that God wanted to go back to this painful memory that I suppressed from my conscious mind but was spilling all over through my behavior and actions. How was I spilling over? I was an effective killer of emotions and especially the number one emotion on that hit list, which was joy because I processed as a child that joy was bad, laughter was bad, and being happy was bad so to be accepted I had to be quiet. As I was pushing this fake version of myself, I realize the many years of how I not only robbed myself of joy but the people around me who needed my joy and thus God in His timing took me back to pain to bring me back to contagious joy. It was painful, I didn’t want to do it, I had to kill my pride but it gave me a new life.
In Jeremiah 16:14-15, God is saying to Jeremiah that He is going to do a restorative work that will be on a grander scale than the restoration from slavery that He did during the Exodus. This is a big deal because Exodus was one of the most if not the most important event in Israel’s history but God is saying that what He is doing to do to heal His people from their sin will be the talk of the town!
But before God gets there he has to deal with the sin that got Israel in this sorry state to begin with. Before God brings the restoration, He has to punish them for their sin first. True restoration cannot happen until what was made wrong is corrected first. God’s discipline, His refinement is meant to be the spark that starts restoration. Restoration is not all feel good and joy but often times has much pain in the process because it deals with the broken areas of our lives.
There is a saying that I read where a man was chasing the sunrise by constantly moving west but until he moved east into the darkness was he able to finally see the sun rise. Likewise, the discipline of the LORD will spark the need to address the brokenness in all of us and it will be a dark season but the sun will rise again at the end of it. Let His discipline, let his restoration process, and let His will be done in our lives so that we may finally move from brokenness to wholeness.