Have you ever been through something, whether it caused you physical pain or emotional pain or both, that made you retreat inward?
I have a tendency to do this.
When I get overwhelmed by pain, I retreat. I see my bedroom as a sanctuary. I just want to be alone.
There is nothing wrong with needing some solitude. However, when one day turns into a few more and the retreat turns into a total avoidance, there is a problem. Whether it is anxiety, depression, or you are convinced that being reclusive is your best option to endure, there is a problem.
Pain is a difficult thing. And when you are the person suffering, it is easy to convince yourself that no one can help. Then the enemy takes advantage of your vulnerable state to convince you of even more…that you are inadequate, a burden, that you are in some way being punished by God, or that you are unworthy of being healed. These are lies! There are a ton of things he will try to whisper in your ear to get you to sink lower and to keep the light of the truth far from your heart.
I know because this was recently happening to me.
During the first few weeks of my postpartum recovery I was experiencing some physical pain. I say some, but it was awful. I was being challenged every day, not just to try and take care of myself, but also to care for my newborn. I began to retreat. I stayed in my bedroom as much as I could to avoid the other realities in my life. The world that kept spinning. My other two kids, my husband, my family who were in town visiting, friends who wanted to stop by.
I was consumed by what I was facing and my focus remained inward.
I didn’t realize I was retreating. At one point my husband asked me why I haven’t leaned on him for emotional support. I guess I even stopped sharing with him what I was facing. He asked me if I reached out to any of my girlfriends for help…and my response…
He tried to encourage me, “Babe, why don’t you let them know what you are going through so they can help?”
And I replied,
I don’t understand how they can help me.”
“You don’t need to understand,” he said, “Just let them help however they decide to.”
I believed there was nothing my friends could do to help me. I thought that because it was my physical body that hurt, I believed no amount of “help” could fix or cure what I was experiencing. I was blinded to the way the body of Christ could come in and use the gifts God has given them to alleviate my stress, anxiety, pain, responsibilities, any of it.
It wasn’t until I heard my husband say that I didn’t need to understand how they can help that my heart was softened and I was able to ask for help.
I group texted a handful of close friends and I told them. I told them I was having a difficult time with nursing and postpartum. I told them I was sorry for avoiding letting them in. I told them that it felt like there is this imaginary boundary, a small circle around me, where only me and the baby fit. In my text I told them…
I kept telling myself it’s just the pain and after I’m healed I’ll be ok. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was struggling sooner. I’m sorry I didn’t trust you to help me even though I struggle to understand how anyone can really help. I’m really weak right now.”
Text after text came through of encouragement, of advice, of days they were going to take turns dropping off meals for our family, and days they would take the bigger kids so we could have time to rest as a couple and connect. It was beautiful to see the way community can step in and help, even when we lack understanding.
That week they helped us, I noticed a huge turn in my recovery. I experienced healing. And I am praising God for it.
This is when I was reminded that the body of Christ has been given many different gifts. Sometimes we don’t see what gifts people have or understand how God will use them, until we let them in and we let them help.
We don’t have to understand how they will help, we just have to let them in and trust them.
I know this isn’t easy. It is not always convenient either. Sometimes it is messy and awkward and hard. But it is good. Allowing our community, the people closest to us, to help us in our weakness is a good thing. It requires humility. It requires open and honest communication. It requires vulnerability. But it is good.
Their encouraging words and prayers gave me hope to endure what I was going through. The added helping hands made my responsibilities seem lighter. And I got the rest I needed to heal. And the advice I needed to heal.
I want to encourage you today, if you are experiencing pain or anxiety or depression, or a season of difficult…please let others know so they can help. Especially let your spouse know what you are dealing with. Open and honest conversation can be a huge game changer!
When my husband and I struggled with our intimacy issues in the beginning of our marriage, this was another difficult time that I avoided getting help because I was embarrassed and felt inadequate as a wife. I even pulled away from my husband and avoided emotional intimacy because of our issues. This was not helpful at all. Instead it added to our issues and we became isolated. I share this with you to know that especially in marriage, we need to be able to share with our spouse and connect with them regardless of what we are going through. We need to stop convincing ourselves that being alone is going to help anything and we need to allow our spouse to help us.
Don’t convince yourself that you are better if you are alone. Don’t listen to the lies that it is too embarrassing to let them know you are weak. And don’t wrestle with trying to understand how someone could possibly help you in your situation. Leave that up to the way God wants to move through His body of believers to help You. This requires that you trust Him.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” – Romans 12: 3-8