I attended a lovely women’s fellowship this past weekend. It was a close, intimate gathering of women from all walks of life from the younger generation to senior women.
One thing that stood out to me – the common thread — the common theme uniting every woman in attendance that Saturday morning was this:
That behind every smile and every persona was pain.
Regardless of how she appeared to be when I first saw her sitting there…
Regardless of how she appeared to be when I saw her standing, talking, smiling walking around…
Regardless of her presentation there was some level of emotional pain or a hidden burden that she was carrying.
She could be your sister, your mother, your aunt, your grandmother, your cousin, your friend.
She could be and is very well likely – you.
The reality is that regardless of someone’s social media profile and pictures, you really don’t know what they are carrying. You don’t know the pain behind that smile. You don’t know what it cost them to smile for that picture.
And on the flip side of that, you don’t know the power and the strength that someone carries either.
None of this can be discerned by mere outward appearances.
This weekend just reinforced for me the following:
- When one woman opens up, is willing to be vulnerable and share her raw truth it opens the door and creates a safe space for other women to share. When that door is opened, the other women feel safe. Sadly, many go months and years without saying anything to anybody. Especially our senior women who have carried burdens for years.
- When women (or men for that matter) go too long carrying unprocessed pain and not speaking truth they become functionally dysfunctional.
In other words, as long as they are functioning they think they are fine. However, when something big happens to rock their world or when they are exposed to another woman’s pain, all of a sudden their pain comes rising to the surface.
We default to a state of quiet pain, often because we feel like we have no choice. We must survive and keep going. We can’t afford to fall apart. Our children and others are depending upon us to show up. Sometimes we are unaware of what is really going on inside of us and choose to live on the surface of our lives. We keep a certain wall or mask up because the pain is so deep and we do not want to touch it or expose it.
Toure’ Roberts, in his book Wholeness describes this as being in a state of “functional dysfunction”:
“What makes our brokenness even harder to detect is that we have learned to function with dysfunction. It’s like using a crutch for a broken foot; as long as you have the crutch, you can still get around. That doesn’t mean your foot is any less broken, but you might convince yourself that it’s fine because, hey, you’re still getting from one place to another, right? But the more functional we are with our dysfunction, the greater our self-deception. Why? Because we equate being functional with being fine. That may work for a while, but not forever. One day, the painful truth that all is not well will bring everything to a screeching halt…”
Just because you are functional with your broken heart, your wounds, the painful relationship situation, the desire of your heart that still has not yet manifested, the mother/father hurts or pains, previous abuse, abandonment, betrayal, or infidelity…just because you can smile, work, laugh, serve, show up and look good at it — doesn’t mean that you are whole.
For us to heal and become whole from the various things that happen in our lives requires that we do one foundational thing first:
Speak your truth. Tell it. Raw. Honest. Ugly. The Real.
It is the truth that sets us free.
Truth and honesty with one’s self about the pain and the burden is the key to personal wholeness. Wholeness and integrity go hand in hand. Integrity is taken from the word “INTEGER” which means a whole number – not a fraction or decimal. To be whole means to first be integrous from the within and it all starts with self-awareness.
Self-awareness starts with having the courage and honesty to face the pain instead of repressing or avoiding it. It begins with saying no to the lesser things (running and rushing about, partying, sexing, churching, busy work, drugs, alcohol) and saying yes to yourself and God. It begins with letting go over spiritualizing, denying or minimizing the pain (“I’m so over him/it/the thing, “I’m fine”, I’m healed already”).
When we choose to live in denial, it is similar to sweeping the dirt under the rug. I heard Minister Sam Blakes say one time – “What’s swept under the rug, is still in the house.” We can sweep and hide our pain under our so-called rugs of being busy, staying all caught up, addictions and mindless activities, but it is still sitting right there in the house of our souls.
We cannot cure what we keep covered. And a tiny little spiritual band-aid of a few prayers here and there won’t do it either. As in the natural, so in the spiritual. Wounds must be exposed to heal correctly.
Self-Compassion is the key. Allowing yourself feel difficult feelings so that you can heal right is crucial. It is not compassionate to yourself to try not to cry when you know you need to cry; to be hard; to keep your guard up; to always be in control so that you are not vulnerable.
Instead of making you open to God’s love, the love of others and healing, lack of self-compassion and acknowledging your humanity only makes you hard-hearted. Hard hearts cannot receive love.
Feeling your feelings but not staying stuck in them or making decisions from is the most compassionate, wise and loving thing that you can do for yourself.
And when you are healthy and whole, then everything else in your life tends to flow better.
I encourage you this week to become more aware of what is going on inside of you without pushing it away or distracting yourself. Make a commitment to self-compassion.
Let’s walk wholehearted, healthy and free. No more functional dysfunction!