When Life Stops Working

I first met Lisa in September 2009 as a recovery ministry leader. I had just recently moved to the United Kingdom from the US for work and graduate school. Lisa was exceptionally quiet and reserved. For the first three to four weeks of facilitating the group, she never spoke a word. Quite frankly, she held the body posture that said rather loudly, "Lord, please let me simply disappear." As she started to open up one sentence at a time, it was evident that this young lady had been through some traumatic experiences as a child that she continues to carry on her shoulders as an adult. When she began to get comfortable, the stories tumbled out and some of them were horrific. They were things no child should have had to suffer. Her life had stopped working. She was broken and feared she would never be made whole again.

As time wore on, I had just two questions for her: "How is holding on to all this pain working for you? What is the pay-off you're getting from carrying this burden?" She seemed taken aback by my line of questioning. She didn't have an immediate response but wrote the questions down and promised to return with answers to share with the group in the coming week.

Many of us carry pretty heavy loads around from disappointing experiences that continually wear us down but subconsciously we have refused to set the burdens down. Eric Hoffer said it well with this quote: "People will cling to an unsatisfactory way of life rather than change in order to get something better for fear of getting something worse." Often times we are afraid of what's on the other side of letting go. We fear that we would lose all our excuses for failing to be effective with the life we have if we release the disappointments from the past completely. We don't know who we truly are or what's possible without the pain. But to move forward, we have to stop looking back.

If your life appears to have stopped working because of past trauma, I ask you the same set of questions: "How is holding on to all this pain working for you? What is the pay-off you're getting from carrying this burden?" Let it all go and cross over to the other side. On the other side lies freedom, growth, strength, the ability to start over and a brand new life.

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