Finding a New Way To Live When Life Brings You Down - Guest Post by Jolene Underwood
There are a few people in this world who “get” you —whose heart instinctively beats like yours for healing —emotional and spiritual. Jolene Underwood is one of those people. She understands the healing journey. She has walked it herself and she has devoted herself to helping other people find the healing for which they long. I am so excited to have her share here today with you guys and my prayer is that you would find support and encouragement for your healing journey! Blessings to each of you this week!
Sometimes, it takes the most challenging of circumstances to bring awareness to the most stubborn of people.
I’m one of them.
Only, I didn’t know it. Not until challenging circumstances became the norm for so long, I collapsed in utter exhaustion.
That’s the sneaky thing about denial. It creeps in and holds you back and you don’t even realize it’s there. Not until reality lays down in front of you and you simply can’t go back. Nor can you do what you’ve done before.
On the last day of school in 2013, our family returned home from living on a ranch where we fostered multiple children. We lived on 150 acres owned by a foster agency and had up to twelve children at a time.
That last day of school in May, just six years ago, felt utterly unlivable. I had no energy left, yet we packed the last of our belongings and moved out while the owners brought in cleaners and agency workers, and one son was reunited with his mom. That one wild day reminds me of many more, filled with activity beyond what I felt bearable.
In twenty-four hours, we went from fourteen in our home, to thirteen, to twelve, to eleven. A couple months later we were down to only four. So much drastic change occurred when we moved there and when we returned home.
Fourteen months before, we were bright-eyed and ready to take on the world. Now, I could barely get out of bed.
As much as I enjoyed the quiet, I wonder now if my body went into shock. I couldn’t think any more. I was sad all the time. I stayed in bed until noon, moved slowly for a few hours, then lay back down.
My mind was the muddiest it had ever been.
My husband and I were both impacted by trauma. We triggered each other as we wrestled through our unsettled selves. I still had kids that needed me, but thankfully I had less responsibility on my shoulders than I’d had for so long.
With what little brain power I had left, I knew something had to change. But, a different kind of change than moving to the front-lines of foster care and back. This kind of change needed to be internal. Emotional, spiritual, even physiological.
“If I don’t do something to move towards healing, I’ll miss the benefits of all God’s done in the first few decades of life.”
I didn’t want that.
Finding New Life: Stepping Into The Healing Journey
Even though the journey prompted more pain, it was a journey I was willing to take. I wanted something different than I’d known before. This kind of pain was temporary and redemptive.
Living a new kind of life, because of Christ working deeper within me, brought hope for what life ahead could like.
The often-quoted phrase, “It gets worse before it gets better,” showed up often. I still experience it. Bouts of crying, screaming, pleading, and wrestling with anxiety are less now, but those incredibly hard times often preceded a new layer of healing.
I’m not sure why, but it seems God holds me as my heart ruptures. Actually, I know He does. He keeps reminding me to receive the comfort He offers. After the tears and anger surface, I’ve found a safe place to be. It’s right back near His heart and it looks different every time.
Sometimes it comes through the listening ear of a therapist or a friend. Sometimes through healing processes, like EMDR, counseling, inner healing ministries, and Unleash: Heart & Soul Care Sheets.Sometimes through a program like Celebrate Recovery.
Finding New Life: Being ‘All-In"‘
However God brings another layer of healing, I’m in. I know what it’s like to taste sweeter fruit in life than I knew existed. Even though I may shake and shudder, or take two steps forward with one and three-quarters back, I want His LIFE sustaining me. And my life serving Him. CLICK TO TWEET
When I started this healing journey, I read a couple of books that talked about suffering and trusting God when life hurts. It validated my journey and gave me insights that this wouldn’t last forever. Also, I didn’t feel like I had to have it all together. If there was ever a time to admit I never will, it was when I couldn’t fool anyone. My body language, my words, my actions, they revealed a struggling soul.
I thought I needed to deal with the most recent events when I first sought help, but God kept bringing me farther back, to painful moments from childhood.
Pain had entered in with disapproving looks, words used, rejection faced, and various traumatic events. Memories, feelings, and beliefs got stuck inside and I couldn’t let them go. Those painful moments built a repertoire of unhealthy beliefs and unhealed hurts. By not facing these, I learned to master unconfessed sin too.
This tangled up mess inside kept me from living whole.
Finding New Life: Living Outside The Lies
Lies surfaced which had ruled far too long. I wouldn’t have admitted I thought this, but these premises formed how I lived.
• I need to protect God from those who don’t honor Him.
• Everyone else is more likely to be right than me.
Two gnarly roots crept in everywhere. Removing them isn’t as simple as we make it seem.
We can’t just tell ourselves the right thing to think and expect overnight change. We need to renew our minds, but a renewed life doesn’t just happen with the thoughts we think. It happens as God changes the way we think, and the experiences tied to those thoughts.
At least, that’s what I’ve experienced.
My journey included willingness to do what it takes, and what it took was far more than I expected. It included willingness to let others speak into my life when I wished the pain was over and done with. To find trustworthy people who could walk alongside of me in the junk of my journey.
It meant going places inside my heart and soul I didn’t want to face. He showed up in the pain, even though sometimes all I could do was mumble his name. CLICK TO TWEET
All too often we’re waiting around for God to do what He’s inviting us to do as we step forward with him. God showed me this clearly when I cried out one day, wishing he’d step in and fix things the way I wanted them. He didn’t take away the hard,instead I heard him tell me to move forward with what He’d already given me.
We need more than prayer for whole healing and each one of us has our own journey to take.
The challenges we face may have similar labels or not, but the way they got there, and the way God brings about healing is likely different.
Choosing to move forward. Choosing to trust what you can’t yet see, while facing the truth of what is hard to see now, it’s a place of tension. It’s also the birthplace of growth. CLICK TO TWEET
Where ever you are today, whatever you’re facing, your God knows exactly what you need. His Spirit is available to give you guidance and comfort. May you sense His presence today. May you move forward with His grace sustaining you.
Jolene Underwood is an emotional health warrior, and soul care mentor. She writes from a place of compassion for wounded Christians to encourage and equip them in a life of spiritual growth with emotional health. She draws upon her personal experiences, her psychology background, and a passion for Christian counseling to help others cultivate a life well-lived no matter the circumstance.
Jolene writes regularly at JoleneUnderwood.com. She also leads a community of writers called Rise Up Writers. Her tool, Unleash : Heart and Soul Care Sheets, has helped hundreds experience greater freedom. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her enjoying the journey by laughing with loved ones or adding to her collection of vintage glassware with a 70s flair.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’ve created several extensive tools to help you learn more and begin your journey towards healing!
LISA’S MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
About This Community
Don't we all want a little peace? My heart for this community is to provide just that - a needed refuge from all the burdens that weigh us down, some encouragement and inspiration to keep us weary travelers moving forward on our journeys, and some practical advice to help each of us navigate the challenges of life and relationships. Whether in our parenting, our marriages, our faith, or the broken places in our hearts, this place is for anyone who dares to reach beyond the hopelessness that surrounds us and embrace a lifestyle of emotional abundance and peace!
About Peace for a Lifetime
In my book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I've discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with myself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com.
Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/155392891