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Healing from the inside out will last for an eternity. That’s a comforting thought, isn’t it?
Many movies or TV shows involved characters being locked up in a prison. When a prisoner misbehaves, they can be sent to solitary confinement. They might be left alone with no human contact for days, weeks, or in extreme cases a few months.
Solitary confinement is not only a physically deprived environment, but it’s also an emotionally and mentally deprived one too. God made us to need social interaction. But it’s unlikely you’ll receive love exactly the way you want it and exactly when you want it.
Healing Through Connection
Healthy relationships have significant amounts of closeness and separation. Both extremes end up being obstacles to emotional growth. Too much closeness is just as bad as too little closeness. If you lack boundaries, that sense of who you are, you are vulnerable to taking on other’s emotions as if they were your own. A healthy person develops a sense of identity so they can function independently of others.
However, too much separation is no good either. With thick walls, a person won’t feel hurt by someone else. Unfortunately, the walls can become like a prison that fosters loneliness among other negative consequences.
Imagine you are in a room all alone. There are no windows or doors. It’s completely dark. No one can get in to hurt you, but neither can anyone get in to help. This is actually a good analogy for learning how to receive help.
The people on the outside have little, if any, control over what happens on the inside. All they can see is the wall you’ve put up. No one can “fix” another person without their cooperation.
On the inside, it’s possible to make a door and even open it. Any openings you allow can only be locked from the inside. You can lock others out, but they can’t lock you in. You can unlock the door, but they can’t.
Healing When You’ve Lost The Key
What happens though if you lose the key to your door? That makes healing more complicated. Perhaps your “door” has been locked so long that you don’t remember how to connect with others. Then, fearing the unknown, you are reluctant to bother to look for the key.
People on the outside might sense your struggle, but there’s no way for them to unlock the door. You want out, but you don’t know how to unlock the door. You’re so confused you don’t remember how to open up. Or, perhaps, you don’t even want to open up because your fear and shame are too intense.
When you’re trapped inside–that’s mental illness. That’s hopelessness that leads to even more severe depression and anxiety.
How much do you identify with feeling trapped like this? How long have you suffered from loneliness? It’s so easy to be trapped in a double bind. It doesn’t feel safe to stay locked up, but neither does it feel safe to open up. You desperately need help but help feels too intrusive.
Even in this situation, there is hope. God only needs your permission, then He can get inside without a key or even a door. God can bring order to the chaos inside of you. God can bring clarity. God brings understanding. God can help you open a window.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.Revelation 3:20 NIV
God waits with His healing touch for us to desire to let Him in. Healing can only happen from the inside out. But a window lets light through both ways.
You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.Psalm 18:28 NIV
Ask Jesus to help you open the door of your heart so others’ lights can encourage you and your light can encourage them.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.