“If people want us to ‘get over it’ they have to first allow us the room to grieve, get angry, and feel the full range of emotions that come with healing. The very things they think mean we aren’t ‘over it’ are the exact things we NEED to do.” Jennifer Lynne Stuck
I more often have heard the well-meaning “let it go and let God” or “move forward and stop letting it hold you back” or, “think positive thoughts.” I’ve also had the nasty comments of “get over it” or “stop holding grudges” and “get out of the past” but far less than the loving responses from people who genuinely cared and wanted me to feel better. I’ve tried all of these things thinking there must be something wrong with me that I can’t just think positively and change my thoughts, that I’m still dealing with these things after 16 years, maybe I really am holding a grudge… yet I’ve not fully allowed myself to process what was done to me in order to get beyond where I was because of my refusal to look at the truth of what I was feeling. And I’m finally seeing the importance of being real about where I’m at so I can get to that healthy and whole place I believe is awaiting me.
God created us as emotional beings, so our emotions matter. Even when they are not based on truth – it’s feeling those emotions that allows us to get to the truth. I can lie to myself and everyone around me and say I’m not hurting, I’m not angry, I’m not wounded or broken… but I can’t lie to God. And it’s God Who continues to bring me back to the truth of what I’m feeling so I face it and feel it and get through it to the truth of who I can be, where I can go, and what I can do.
The healing process isn’t always comfortable for people to watch and witness – but it’s valuable. For the one healing and for the one watching. The one watching is learning to be uncomfortable in their compassion to act. A kind word, a hug, a “I’m so sorry you’re going through this”, a bit of self-reflection and evaluation, etc. When we see something hard to see like a homeless person, a bereaved parent, a rape victim, etc…. these should all move us to compassion! Instead, many in our society don’t want to think of that happening; many in our society don’t want to believe that things can be so painful that thinking positively isn’t always enough.
The Bible teaches, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 and yet, we forget that compassion is what is honorable, true, and just. We forget that while someone has a beautiful life, they are still living in this world and because of that, sorrows are present. Therefore, sitting with them and loving on them IS lovely, IS commendable, IS praiseworthy!
Encouraging someone to be positive isn’t. It’s not helpful and in many cases it invalidates what they are going through and it hurts them more because they don’t want to be struggling. They want to be happy, whole, and empowered. The only way for them to feel happy, whole, and empowered is the love of Jesus and one way that comes through is by the compassion of His people.