What if all of life’s problems stem from relationships?
Emotional wounds left unhealed often produce walls and isolation, preferences, fear, and lack of the ability to hear God clearly.
Enlarged emotions that grow out of proportion in relation to the situation at hand is a huge clue to an emotional wound. Shutting down and retreating, as well as getting large and louder both are symptoms of emotional wounds still festering.
It’s the kindness of the Lord to keep bringing opportunities for healing; because freedom is so good. An example of such an opportunity would be working with someone who has the same personality as the first person who hurt you at the time of your wounding. If we listen to our bodies and notice when our negative emotions and coping mechanisms kick in, the first clues to the puzzle become apparent.
If health looks like being able to love, be peaceful, and connect relationally; then the absence of health looks like harmful cycles.
Here is an example of an emotional wound leading to a cycle void of health: fear leads to isolation, which leads to loneliness, which leads to the need for relief. Relief from the cycle can take the form of a coping mechanism that can easily become an addiction: TV binging, romance movies, alcohol, and drugs, displaced anger, cutting and self-harm, or fantasizing, rather than living present.
Coping mechanisms may be necessary for a time, but over a lifetime they are harmful. Emotional wounds never reach the surface of our lives to be healed completely if the heart is never checked-in on. People with emotional wounds will respond to the age they received that wound when triggered. A lot of people will say they feel like an adolescent when in a confrontation.
Everyone is walking wounded
In loving a wounded friend well and trying to help him/her get healthy, the person’s community needs compassion; and to realize they are dealing with someone with filters, and a landscape unique to them, because of trauma in their life. Thankfully, most problems are relatable; but it is easy to forget there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Even Jesus related uniquely to the wounded he encountered.
Wounds and Self Harm
Within the context of the classroom, my heart aches every time I encounter a girl whose skill seems to be blending-in. This person usually won’t speak up in class, hates any kind of presentation or direct question, avoids eye contact, and answers homework questions without any personal reflections or details; yet in the hall is always surrounded by friends. I double over when I see that girl's sleeves’ slip, and see the white scars and red irritated scratch marks up her arms and wrists.
I ache because I know there is more going on in that story, and I think, “who will intervene?”
Self–injury is a coping mechanism for intense anger, emotional pain, and or mental, physical or sexual abuse. Self–injury happens in all races and economic backgrounds. Self–injurers use objects to shock or carve their skin and sometimes insert objects into their skin. Self-harm becomes increasingly common between the ages of 12 and 15 years old. A common factor in self-harmers is a lack of communication and safety in the home.
Here’s the deal: there are multiple environmental connecting points (including family, peers, school, church, clubs, and neighborhood) that might function as protective health assets against self-harming behavior during adolescence. At every one of them are chances to bring change, to be a voice and to break unhealthy cycles.
Yet, the crisis perpetuates itself.
There are so few people who have experienced freedom from emotional wounds operating at these connecting points. Universally good, willing people need to be there all the same...but moreover, we need them free.
We all know what it’s like to be given advise with no power or authority in it. It feels like a blanket statement being thrown over a wound to cover it up and the recipient leaves the conversation feeling like there is no answer and like they must summon the will to just keep moving.
This isn’t freeing! There is no peace, power, or change in these exchanges.
How many young kids do we encounter daily that don’t have to live the life we’ve lived or battle the things we’ve battled? How many adults have lived to great ages and never let go of emotional baggage?
My plea is this, whether you are positioned for influence or not, let's put aside advice and bible verses and examine our own hearts. Together, let us end all the busyness and the coping mechanisms and get alone with our hearts. Let old emotional wounds surface, bleed out, form scar tissue, and heal. Let Jesus take the painful emotions out of the soul and exchange them for his peace.
Then we will be power-filled difference makers able to stand in those connection points through relationships our hearts are whole in.
Truth is more than just a specific phrase needed to replace a lie. Truth is protective, assertive, and kind. All the right words come when yielding and listening to the Holy Spirit.
Kalli Hendrickson is a Press Service International young writer from Brisbane and now in the USA.
Kalli was born in the beautiful State of Montana, USA. She works doing freelance Graphic Design, and is a teacher studying to gain school counseling licensure.