Light Heals

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I remember the first time I told my real story out loud to a friend. I was shaking. I was crying. I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t want to say it out loud. I didn’t want anyone to know that I had had an abortion and hid it from everyone in my life, including my husband. I didn’t want to accept this part of me and saying it out loud, would mean I somehow would have to accept it.

I didn’t want to bring it out into the light; I could manage it better in the darkness.

But I did.

I said it.

I said the words.

I let it out.

I brought it into the light.

I can still remember that moment, huddled in my friend’s apartment after our women’s small group, rocking my little daughter in her infant car seat while my toddler son played quietly. I can still remember coming home that night and sitting on the bed in our Naval Base house, waiting for my husband to get home from flight training and saying the words again. I can still remember him holding me and telling me how grateful he was that I had finally let him in.

I can still remember what it felt like the next day when I woke up, the light that cracked into our bedroom window and the light that finally cracked into my heart, beginning the path that set me free.

It was a long road of healing from there, and much for me wasn’t about a hidden abortion but the countless things tangled up with it—family pain, faith struggles, insecurities and doubts, and a whole host of other human conditions. But that’s the day I began my journey toward greater and greater freedom.

I truly believe it wouldn’t have happened, that I wouldn’t be where I am today, had I not just said it.

Just said it.

Confessed it.

Let it out of the dark.

Since then I have come to realize that most of us have something hidden inside that we are afraid to say. Past shame, current struggles, scary or ugly thoughts, or even hopes or dreams that are hard to say without fear of rejection, abandonment, scripturizing or being misperceived.

Yet over and over again I have seen what happens when men and women of all ages, shapes, sizes, life experiences, theologies, backgrounds, political persuasions, economic realities, personality types and everything in between tell the truth—really tell the truth—in a safe place.

Oh my goodness, it is the most beautiful thing!

Like make-me-want-to-weep beautiful.

Yeah, light heals.

This is why I’m a nut case for creating little pockets of love, because the likelihood of honesty and vulnerability exponentially increase inside these kinds of relationships.

We desperately need more sacred and brave spaces for confession, for bringing what is in the dark out into light.

We need more safe men and women who can listen and hold these tender truths with honor and respect—not only in the moment, but over the long haul.

We need more small ways to practice, so it becomes more natural and we don’t have to drop truth bombs out of the blue or dive into the deep end when we don’t even know how to swim.

We also need more honesty about how confession is only the first step in the process of healing (often times many church systems expect that right after confession comes forgetting-and-moving-on-and-never-thinking-about-it-again-because-that’s-what-trusting-in-Jesus-means.)

And as much as I value confession, we also need to be wise about it. As Brene Brown says, “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: ‘Who has earned the right to hear my story?'” We don’t have to go around telling everyone everything or wear signs around our neck.

I also don’t think we should use that as an excuse to push down all our struggles—past and present—into the deepest darkest places of our experience, because we believe no one can be trusted with it.

Plenty of people can be trusted with it—therapists, close friends, recovery groups and other safe (the key word) places where the emphasis isn’t on head knowledge, but on heart healing and transformation.

We’ve got to start somewhere.

We all must walk the road of confession in our own unique way. But we all can ask some of these questions to guide us on our way.

  • What is in the dark that needs to come into the light? What makes us feel breath-y and weird, tight in our chest, or sick to our stomach when we think about saying it out loud?
  • Who comes to mind that might be able to hold this?
  • When might the right time be?
  • Why are we afraid of honesty, what’s holding us back (past experiences, rejection, fixing, being misunderstood?)
  • What do we need or want from God?

Even as I wrote this, after over two decades of sharing my story, I found myself thinking a familiar thought, “Geez, Kathy, you just talked about this last month at SheLoves. Why do you have to keep bringing it up?”

Then I remember this is exactly why.

Because there’s someone reading right now who knows what it feels like to hide.

To stuff pain and shame and struggle and desire into the deepest crevices and hope the feelings eventually go away.

To be terrified to speak the truth and make ourselves that vulnerable.

To risk our hearts to someone else.

I know the feeling well.

But I also know this—when things are finally in the light, they can heal.

It seems to be the weird, beautiful, mysterious way God works.

SheLovelys, my hope for me, for us, is that we would be brave, bold People of Confession—willing to share our own struggles and hold the stories of others, because we know that Light heals.

 

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Kathy Escobar
Kathy Escobar co-pastors The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver. A trained spiritual director, speaker, and advocate, she also blogs regularly about life and faith at kathyescobar.com and is the author of Faith Shift and Down We Go—Living out the Wild Ways of Jesus. A mom of 5 young adults and teens, she is married to Jose and lives in Arvada, Colorado.
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  • Stacy

    So so good. Coming into the light has changed all.the.things. Have needed some clinical strength UV-ray emotional shades, but I have to believe it has been worth it.Thanks for paving the way in so many ways. It’s not easy, but the rumor is that it is worth it. 😉 #mostdaysido #purplelooksbetterinthelighttoo

  • Beautiful and balanced — healing comes with the bold sharing, but only with those who have earned the right to share in our life story. Thank you for daring to bring your story into the light.

    • thanks, michele! yes, that part is so important. we definitely don’t need to wear signs around our necks 🙂

  • Helene Burns

    Kathy… I want every person in the world to read your words! They create a roadmap, crafted from your hard earned wisdom teaching people how to journey from darkness into a place of light where healing can flow. Thank you for your brave and liberating words today. SO much gold. xo

    • thanks, helene. may more and more healing flow….

  • This is such a beautiful truth. Healing is hard, confession is hard. But we must begin somewhere and bringing our dark little truths to light begins that process. This is so wonderful, Kathy. I’ll be sharing for others to be blessed!

  • “when things are finally in the light, they can heal.” This is so true! I have found that bringing my junk that I’ve hidden out into the light releases the hold it has over me. No matter how much it sucks saying stuff out loud that I swore to myself I would keep hidden forever, it’s better to get it out in the open than leave it in the dark festering. And, I have found that when I share my stuff, I find other people who have done/experienced much of the same thing, and in those moments, we realize we are not alone. Because even as a child of God, knowing that I am not ever really alone, I know that we are made for community, and feeling different/less than/inferior sucks life out of you and people around you. For people like me, that’s when we turn to things outside of ourselves to make is feel “normal” like drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, food, etc. But like you said, there is someone – always – who needs to hear our stories. To know they are not alone, and that someone has been there, understands, and cares.

    • thank for sharing. i love the reminder that when we share it opens up the space for others to share, too, and oh, there’s so much out there that needs healing and a safe space to come into the light. hiding our pain through all of the things you listed is actually “normal” and would love to change that, one story at a time 🙂

  • oddznns

    Light. Ummm. Lovely.

  • Your honesty is beautiful! I completely agree that when we share our stories, we can truly find healing. Such a great image, bringing our stories into the light. Thank you for this encouragement!

  • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

    Love this! Thank you for sharing so bravely and for leading others to this courageous path – with wisdom.

    • thanks, nichole! glad you are here at sheloves!

  • Ganise C.

    Magnificent. Thank you.

  • So true and right. When things are said out loud and confessed they stop holding so much power over us. It is as if you can feel the chains falling off. I am teaching my son this. He will want to say something, then think it might be silly or not the right thing or to messy to say. Just say it, I encourage, get it out. And he does and he feels so much better and sometimes we even have a good laugh over it after he has worked through it and talked about it. I wish someone had taught me this as a child.

    • thanks, theresa. it’s so beautiful to teach your kids this at an early age. it will make a big difference in the future and far less to untangle 🙂 love hearing this.