First, you should realize that feeling hurt, grief and distraught by your circumstance is part of the human experience. In other words, you should in no sense feel strange or weak because you are hurting. Allow yourself to hurt. Work through the grief. We are never instructed to shun grief but to learn how to grieve well. Your inner strength is in no way diminished merely because you are hurting. No one has ever healed without first feeling the pain.
Second, just because one person failed you does not mean that everyone else in the world will fail you. You are not the lone ranger. You still need people even though you may not at this time want to be around people. By shutting people out of your life you are denying yourself a healthy avenue toward your own healing. Do not deprive yourself of the very element that can bring about your progress toward healing and wholeness and well-being.
Third, God has not failed you, even though this person failed you and betrayed your trust. "Why does God allow these situations?" Well, what exactly would we have God do -- control all of us like robots, always doing what we should do, not from the heart but because God is manipulating our every decision? He does not work like that. He allows each of us to render our own decisions, meaning that we are each responsible for those decisions, and He will hold us each accountable for our decisions. So He allows people to hurt us, betray us, and desert us.
You are most uncomfortable in this state of mind because you are vulnerable. Do not fear your vulnerability. As a matter of fact, by embracing your vulnerability -- your weaknesses, flaws, challenges, bad habits, and inner struggles -- you are actually gaining the upper hand in your particular situation. Only when you fear your weaknesses do you lose control to them. You do not want to be controlled by your grief and challenges. You want to control them, make them serve you, mold you into a better man. You do this by embracing them. What does that mean?
That means that you acknowledge and own your fears, your flaws, your deficiencies. You do not deny them, reject them, or deflect their reality by distracting yourself from their presence. You look them squarely in the eye and confess: "That's right, you belong to me as part of my flawed nature, but you will not control my life. You will not have the last say. I, by God's help and grace, will make healthy choices for my life, not detached from you, but with you by my side." Too many people try to deny and reject their weaknesses, their pain, their vulnerability. That leads to further failure, further problems, and a more powerful grip of fear over their life.
More importantly, in the words and thoughts of Henri Nouwen, you must learn not to live your life by the standards of fickle people. You have to live this life God gave you, not someone else's life, not by someone else's opinions for your life. You have to firmly grasp the wine of life already given to you and drink it to the last drop. You have to be bold enough to say:
This is my life, the life that is given to me, and it is this life that I have to live, as well as I can. My life is unique. Nobody else will ever live it. I have my own history, my own family, my own body, my own character, my own friends, my own way of thinking, speaking, and acting -- yes, I have my own life to live. No one else has the same challenge. I am alone, because I am unique. Many people can help me to live my life, but after all is said and done, I have to make my own choices about how to live. (1)
Even now you sense a glimmer of hope, though it startles you a bit, and you are not sure you are ready for a new beginning. That is fine. Take your time. Healing takes time. Growing takes time. You have to live in order to heal, to grow, to gain a new perspective for a new way of living. But do not fear a new way of living. You have a new normal into which you must now trust yourself and the Lord to live, day to day, trusting that His hand will, by some mysterious way, guide you.
When painful memories visit you -- and they will -- do not push them away. "You have to live through your pain gradually and thus deprive it of its power over you." (2) The more you push that pain away the longer your healing will take and the more power it will have over you. You might sense that grieving or crying is not healthy. Just the opposite is true. You have to learn to grieve in a healthy manner. Do not resist grieving.
This grief feels like a death and in certain ways it is like a death. Some wonderful life-experiences that you had gained have been taken away from you. Refusing to grieve makes you feel strong, like "a real man," but it is actually weakening you further. Do not fear the place of grief. "You are so afraid of that place that you think of it as a place of death. Your instinct for survival makes you run away and go looking for something else that can give you a sense of at-homeness, even though you know full well that it can't be found out in the world." (3) But perhaps the real issue here is that the grief reminds you that the pain is so very real.
Yes, you are still alive, and so is the pain. "You cannot mourn something that has not died. Still, the old pains, attachments, and desires that once meant so much to you need to be buried." That in itself is painful. "You have to weep over your lost pains so that they can gradually leave you and you can become free to live fully in the new place without melancholy or homesickness." (4) This you fear, as well.
Know this: you hurt and you grieve because something that was once alive is now gone, dead, not returning. Though you must grieve, you must also learn to let go, and to do so without bitterness and anger. These elements can destroy you. Take the reality you have been dealt and absorb it into your being. Make it serve you; form it into a tool that can help you, strengthen you, both now and for the future. Whatever seems blurry now will become crystal clear later.
(1) Henri J.M. Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup? (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2008), 31-32.
(2) Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom(New York: Image Books, 1998), 26.
(4) Ibid., 27.
This post was written by WW Birch. You can find his original post with comments at: http://jacobarminius.blogspot.com/2015/05/to-broken-male-heart.html