How do you recover from broken trust? Especially when you are a deep feeler? How do you recover from hurt that goes all the way in to your soul? What do you do when you doubt others and you doubt yourself? Broken trust is a kick in the stomach when it was supposed to be a hug. It’s knowing that things are never going to be like they used to be, and it’s grieving that loss. The grief doesn’t end in a night, or a week, or a year. It pops up at inconvenient moments, and makes you realize that you’re not nearly as healed as you thought you were. It’s seeing minor irritations as large life problems. Who is right, and who is wrong, and does it even really matter?
Answer: I don’t know. And even if I did know, my feelings probably wouldn’t cooperate with the logic. What is forgiveness, really? And how does it play out in real life? Sometimes, the answers are there, but the application is terribly difficult. And the answers aren’t the same for every situation, either.
A person who used to be your everything turns out to be someone that you don’t really know anymore. A relationship that was getting better suddenly gets worse. Someone pretends to be someone who doesn’t even exist. Dreams don’t work out. You dread being around certain people. And with Pilate, you wonder, “What is truth?”
So you distance yourself. You allow yourself to become busy with other pursuits. You surround yourself with other people. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t take much to reveal the bruises on your heart. And you cry-again.
And then things get even worse. And you cry even more. You don’t know where to begin to heal.
Step One. Drink coffee, so much coffee. We won’t talk about how often I’ve been to a coffee shop lately.
Step Two. Eat ice cream, great tubs of it. But maybe exercise moderation, or you will begin to look like a tub of ice cream, and then you’ll just add to your mental problems.
But really, those are simply coping mechanisms. They don’t ultimately heal.
Step Three. Cry. Seriously, this one helps. Tears heal. Accept the fact that there will be times when you look less than presentable. Lots of times. Even in public.
Step Four. Surround yourself with good people. Don’t spend excessive amounts of time alone. You need community. You need hugs- many, many hugs. Find people who make you laugh. Go to church, and feel the love of Jesus through His people. Let the body of Christ pray for you. You’re not required to be strong right now. Let others be strong for you.
Step Five. Listen to Ellie Holcomb. I think she may be my new favorite artist. Her songs are honest, and speak to pain.
Step Six. Pray. This one is hard. I don’t pray nearly enough, and most of the time I don’t feel like it. But God wants to hear my heart, even though He already knows it.
Step Seven. Buy a gift for someone. It seems counter-intuitive, but when you’re struggling, it helps to reach out to someone else. Show your appreciation for those who stand beside you. Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way speaks of this kind of healing.
Step Eight. Intentionally process your pain. Face it. Talk about it with a mentor. I need to seriously revisit the book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, by Lysa TerKeurst. When there is hurt involved in your situation, forgiveness is necessary, but oh, so hard. I strongly recommend this book; Lysa understands firsthand what it’s like to forgive the really, really hard things.
Step Nine. Find a new normal. Normal is no longer an option, but a new normal is. There is hope. “There is always hope.” This scene from Lord of the Rings is so incredibly powerful. Things may appear to be completely hopeless; things may feel completely hopeless, but hope remains. I haven’t felt very hopeful lately, but just because I’m not feeling it, doesn’t make it any less important or true.
Of course you will not be healed in ten steps. But maybe, just maybe, some of these ideas might help you to get through the day. And perhaps bring you a little joy. So, a final suggestion: Step Ten. Paint your toenails. Or light a candle. Or read a book… Or- fill in the blank. You know.