A note from Kelly King: I’ll confess I’m not very good at letting others know my pain. I don’t mean physical pain; I mean the pain that comes from regrets, unfulfilled expectations, and the disappointment I often feel because of other people’s decisions. I would much rather “escape” than “engage” as Kaye points out today. Slowly, but with small steps, I’m learning that before I can lead others, I must navigate and name my own hurt.
Chicagoland has been my home now for 15 years. Let me rephrase that: it’s been my home now for 15 winters. I’d like to say I’ve learned to embrace low temperatures, gusting winds, and gray days, but I have not. Like many others, I have Seasonal Affect Disorder or “the winter blues.” So when my daughter says, “It’s 75 in Maui; let’s go!” everything in me wants to say, “Let’s do it!” Why? I want to escape. I want to escape what is uncomfortable for me about winter, and I want to avoid the pain and suffering of it. I’m not too hard on myself for feeling that way. After all, we are hard-wired with eternity in us—hard-wired for pain-free and happily ever after. Don’t be too hard on yourself either.
The truth is we have become escape artists. The hurting women in our lives (ourselves included) have become masters at blaming, hiding, and escaping pain. Sadly, the things we do to escape and avoid hurting often leads to more pain, more suffering, and more hurt.
So, what can we do to help? How can we help others and ourselves move from destructive patterns of escaping hurt to helpful patterns of engaging hurt?
Here are three ways to help:
1. Name it. It may seem like an obvious first step, but sometimes the obvious eludes us. Take the time to listen to another person’s story. Ask her questions. Help her uncover the hurt and pain beneath the “cover story.” Help her to name her pain. A doctor can’t prescribe medication to an issue without first a diagnosis; similarly, we can’t prescribe healing for a wound without naming it first.
2. Normalize it. Part of the fear of naming our wound, pain, or sin is the fear that we are the only ones struggling. The enemy loves for us to remain in isolation in our pain, and he uses shame and fear to keep us from saying it. We can help women by reminding them that their story matters to us and to God and that their pain is welcome with us.
3. Navigate it. This is by far the hardest part and where most of us, and the women we are helping, give up. It reminds me of the story in John 5:6 where Jesus says to the invalid, “Do you want to get well?” It’s not a silly question. In fact, it’s a great “navigate” question. I love the instruction Jesus gives the man in verse 8, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” We see it throughout Scripture. Our deliverance quite often requires our participation. In order for us to participate in our own healing, we have to move from escaping our hurt to engaging our hurt, but we need help to navigate that road.
As I finish writing, it’s snowing, it’s gray, it’s cold, and it’s still 75 in Maui! Instead of making a plan to escape what is painful, I choose today to engage with it. One thing is certain, I am not able to navigate this on my own, and friend, neither are you. If you lead a team, remember that leaders go first. Invite your team into your own struggles and pain. Be transparent and authentic with your own journey. We don’t just minister to hurting women, we ARE hurting women. I know I am.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.