“Hurt is a treasure, locked in a dungeon, guarded by a dragon,” the author said in a podcast I was listening to.
We see hurt as a negative thing. Who likes hurt: physically, emotionally, spiritually? No one does. But, after hearing the author’s words I asked myself, “What if we viewed hurt as something positive?
“You don’t get it, Ashley,” you might be thinking. “I’ve been struggling with a lot.” And that’s okay. I have too.
A Series of Problems
In the past three years I’ve experienced numerous struggles: a close family member battling cancer, a death of a friend, being victimized by a traumatic situation, betrayal, plans going wrong and completely falling apart, personal let downs, and spiritual break downs for what reasons only God can answer.
Trust me, I really do get it and would have loved to deny the hurt each situation delivered, except throwing it under the rug creates a lumpy carpet. It does not go away.
So I decided to do something extremely courageous:
I gave myself permission to become angry, to ask God, “Why?” and “How?” and cried. I did what every brave human ought to do: acknowledge the pain we are tempted to dismiss.
Uh…that’s your “courageous plan?”
Yes, the only way to encounter authentic, life-changing healing is by permitting yourself to feel pain. It’s in experiencing those yucky, upsetting emotions that we are able to build strength.
You don’t have to deny yourself that you aren’t a little broken, or downplay what you’ve gone through. You can allow yourself to be fully human by shedding tears, getting upset, becoming frustrated, questioning a person and situation. Then, once you have reacted, grant yourself the greater freedom of deliberately choosing to be happy, and releasing the “negative” emotions consuming you.
Grant yourself the freedom of choosing to be happy.
I say “negative” because although it’s emotions you’d rather not feel, it’s completely OK for you to be hurt by whatever you are going through. There is healing in the hurt (as crazy as it sounds).
How? Think of it as a broken ankle…
One time I messed up my knee pretty badly. I couldn’t walk without a limp and my leg was almost stuck at a funky 45 degree angle. I had lost the ability to stand up tall because I couldn’t straighten my leg without feeling excruciating pain.
As much as it hurt to, the physical therapist told me to practice straightening it. Trying to escape the pain by not exercising my leg risked allowing my knee to be permanently damaged.
I had to work through the pain — and experience the hurt — in order to reach my healing.
It was process, yes. More times than not the pain felt unbearable. By giving myself permission to feel the hurt by exercising, it lessened and my knee began to repair itself.
The old adage says, “Healing takes time.” I don’t refute that, but healing requires more than time. It requires us to accept discomfort in the process to recovery.
Reflecting on the past several years I can say I am glad I decided to deal with each emotion that hit me. I’m glad I never dismissed what happened. Not only has it developed better mental health by granting me to be human, but it aided me in growing stronger as I exercised building joy, peace, resilience, learning to trust others and even trusting God more.
There’s a reward to follow
Similarly to physical exercise, with time and consent, discomfort can help us develop strength. Therefore, don’t be discouraged. There is healing in your pain. Face your “dragons” may they be fear or shame, acceptance of your weakness, and the list can go on. And once you slay it — because you will — your precious treasure of healing and life afterward will await you.