I love gardening. I’m far from good at it, but I love it nonetheless. This year, I tried to be lazy and take shortcuts when I had to pull weeds. I didn’t really feel like getting down there and pulling the weeds because it was just too much work. Instead, I just pulled a few of the weeds and cut the rest down really low. I was so proud of myself. The yard looked immaculate. Two weeks later, I had more weeds than I did before. If I had just put in the work of pulling up the weeds by their roots instead of trying to just make it look nice quickly, I wouldn’t have a little shop of horrors growing in my backyard that I now don’t know what to do with. It’s always best to start working on our problems at their roots, otherwise they will take us over.
When we lose someone that is close to us (death, breakup, divorce, close friend, etc.), it can be too hard of a burden for us to bear. Sometimes that pain is so heavy to carry that we choose not to deal with it at all. We push it off “just for a little while,” we say, until we have filled our minds and lives with so many other things that we never actually get around to addressing our feelings. This seems like it would be a nice distraction, and it is short term, but it's just denial. Continuing to stay in denial is a sure way to set yourself up for even tougher problems.
We tend to sit in denial for so long because we have a fear of hurting, and we need to protect ourselves from that pain. Willingly staying in denial gives us a false sense of control, and it buys us time until we are actually ready to deal with those feelings. I say a “false sense of control,” because we never really are in control of anything. We often feel lost or out of touch with reality when we go through traumatic experiences, which then gives us the feeling that we’re losing control.
Imagine ignoring a toothache for a while because you’re afraid of the dentist. You deal with the pain on your own because it’s manageable and a couple aspirin eases your pain. Then one day, you wake up in excruciating pain and you go to the dentist and beg him to do whatever he needs to do to make this pain stop! After the dentist is done doing their work, you’re nice and numb looking like the cutest chipmunk there ever was. This is when the dentist will ask you, “Why’d it take you so long to come and see me?” Do you think that God sometimes asks us that same question?
We spend so much time trying to do things on our own. We end up exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. Meanwhile, Jesus is there with his arms wide open, screaming, “Come to me, bro!” Ok, he didn’t actually say that, what he said was,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).
We do not have to go through this trauma alone. Furthermore, God doesn’t want us to, because he is the bearer of our burdens and he wants to be our comfort. God has blessed us with so many different resources to help us with these struggles as well. One resource is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They offer help that will guide us on what to do if we find ourselves in a crisis, taking care of ourselves, and other support. If you could us some support, the phone number is 1-800-950-NAMI(6264).
Rev. Deb Koster