dealing with trials spiritual

Dealing with Emotional Hoarding (Part 3 of 3)

12:43 PMHeather

When I was a freshmen in college, I was deeply wounded by a boy I had been dating. I shall spare you the details, but needless to say, I felt humiliated and rejected the entire six hour drive back to my college after taking a weekend to visit him. In a rare moment of solidarity, my freshmen roommate pulled a prank to gauge his level of concern for me. She called him to say I had not made it home. He dismissed her and hung up.

Fast forward eight months. The phone in my mother's apartment had been ringing off the wall, and my sister grabbed it when it rang again. I was surprised when she said it was for me and even more surprised when I heard his voice. I wondered how on earth he had already gotten the news that my father had died just a few hours earlier. He actually did not know but was finally calling to apologize.

In that moment, it didn't matter. The painful ordeal from those months prior, once looming huge in my broken heart, bore no weight or significance any longer. In the face of bigger losses, the sting was gone and the baggage from that situation became weightless.

Photo courtesy of Lizzie Guilbert via the Unsplash website

That's what happens sometimes in the midst of a trial. In the face of great hardship, we gain an insight that guides us toward a clearer reality of things that once felt heavy. This is an unexpected gift in the midst of a fire or wilderness. I believe that in the middle of our hardships, God calls us to look with gratitude toward clearer perspectives. This change in mindset is God's bounty for us within our storms. 
 
Clearing the baggage. When it comes to facing our emotional hoarding from times of trial, we must turn our eyes and redirect our focus to what really matters. In Jonah 2 and again in Acts 27, we see both Jonah and the apostle Paul in the middle of dangerous storms while aboard a ship. In both instances, the reaction to the danger was to begin to toss the cargo overboard. What was once carried carefully onto the ships suddenly became worthless as it was tossed into the raging ocean waves.

Likewise, when the storms of life come, they can reveal what needs to be tossed in our own lives. We can gain insight into things that need to be released. We can train ourselves to consider what baggage, emotional hoarding, sin habits, and idols need to be thrown overboard. 

To do so, we must pray for eyes to see these things.  We must ask for a willing heart to let the Lord give perspective on lightening the load in our heart and mind.

Maybe you struggle to release the burden of past wounds. Like those eight months as a teenager when I harbored bitterness against that boy. Only in the face of bigger trials was I released from the weight of it because I came to realize how petty it was. 

The truth is that tossing hurts overboard goes against our human nature. We tend to coddle them like comfort items, hoarding up this emotional baggage deep in the attic of our heart. 

Let me share a motivating kick in the pants that I received regarding the issue of emotional hoarding from my pastor, JR Vassar:
 
If you have trouble extending grace to the ones who wounded you, then you have a problem understanding the grace extended to you. You have a GRACE issue. And you need to take a good, hard look at the cross.

Remembering the cross in our woundings. Ouch. Yes. The truth of this statement stung with the painful cut of conviction. Never before had I heard this particularly pointed truth regarding our call to give grace to others. While it hurt, it also brought an encouragement to my soul because it challenged me to expand my understanding of the grace that I have received through the cross. Because of the cross, I am freed from every sin and wrongdoing. I am completely covered by the righteousness of Christ because he paid the ultimate price to redeem me from the pit of my sin.

Likewise, wrongs done TO us are all actually nailed to the cross. The truth is that because of the cross, I am no longer condemned. The standard, then, is that I no longer condemn others who wrong me because God has provided a way for forgiveness for all of us.

When I hang on to bitterness and old wounds and allow them to poison my thinking and embitter my soul, I am devaluing the work of the cross. When I refuse to forgive and release wounds caused by sins that Jesus actually already died for, then I am saying the cross was not enough. The incredible miracle of the cross is that the gospel is a message of healing. As Pastor JR so eloquently says, the gospel can heal the deepest wounds and bridge the greatest divides.

That is the power of the cross.

This does not mean that God intends for us to be a door mat. It means that we can allow the great grace of God to bring healing. It means we can run hard with all our wounds to the One who made us and ask him to help us with them all. It means that when the old junk rears its ugly head, with all its powerful lies, we can run to the truth that God will defend our cause and he will bring wholeness to our hearts. It means we can seek to believe the reconciliation that the gospel story preaches. We can dive deeply into the grace shown to us, and ask him to pour out and equip us with grace to cover our hurts that they might have no power over us.

Yes, we live in a fallen world with broken people. We daily tend to hurt other people and be hurt by them. In the struggles that come, we must fall hard on this overarching truth.

This world is not our home. 

"Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

As your eyes well with tears from the things that cause pain and wounding, do not lose heart. Yes, it is hard to put all our hopes on an unseen God and an invisible kingdom. It is hard to believe that what weighs so heavily on us now will actually vanish when we look at our Savior face-to-face.

But here is my big spoiler alert. Here is my heart's cry for every hurting heart out there. 

God's glory WILL be revealed fully. 

And when it is... as we stand in the glow of his presence and we are humbled to our knees, we will be overjoyed to have even been counted worthy of participating in his sufferings. Suddenly, it will all become clear when we look into the eyes of the One rejected by the people he came he save and brutally killed by taunting men. We will be awed as we finally see with our eyes the One who never faced decay because death lost its sting.

The weight of all of our burdens will not compare to the WEIGHT of God's glory. 

Oh, dear bloggy friends, when the day comes that we are welcomed into the arms of Jesus, the scales will tip so far in favor of God's glory, that all of this-- all of this pain and hardship and wounding and trial-- it will fade into oblivion and carry no weight or memory.

Let's hang on. Let's preach this truth to our pain over and over and over again. 

Let's call to mind the grace of God, the glory of God, and the power of God to release us from bondage and baggage.

That we may all clearly see the clutter that takes up space in our minds and our hearts. And take it in prayer to the One who has released us from the approval and favor and rejection of man. 

For we are his. And he is worth our effort to rest long and hard in the grace of the cross.

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