“In choosing not to forgive, a person’s risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, mental illness and other debilitating illnesses are increased.”
ARE YOU IN HIDING?
Has your heart become ‘locked down’ due to past hurts, rejection and painful experiences? If so, Gladys Famoriyo shares how you can move forward by learning to love and forgive
When you have been hurt by others, how do you react? Like many, you might say, “I just move on,” but the harsh reality for many is that they remain stuck. On the surface, they might look OK, but underneath lies a heart scarred with deep, oozing wounds.
In a bid to stop the ‘hurter’ or potential ‘hurters’ wounding us, we construct barriers around ourselves. Then, when we look at life through the tinted lenses of our hurts, trusting people – and even God – becomes a real issue, even when they pose no threat to us. We bolt up the doors to our hearts, and put up a sign that says ‘No entry’.
Hence, we find ourselves in hiding. It’s not that we relocate to planet Mars or flee to a secluded island; we still live in society but, while here in body, our heart is disengaged. Not only do we do our utmost to avoid any situations where we might get hurt, but also we no longer connect emotionally with others, or make ourselves vulnerable in any way. Adopting this approach can have a detrimental effect on your physical, emotional and spiritual health.
When We Choose Not To Forgive
In my new book, Quit Hiding, Start Living! How Women Can Free Themselves From Past Hurts, I share story after story of how hiding patterns, rooted in hurt and unforgiveness, affect women. One of those areas affected is our physical wellbeing. Research has long since established the mind-body link. For example, in choosing not to forgive, a person’s risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, mental illness and other debilitating illnesses are increased. And so, God is no kill-joy when He encourages us time and time again to forgive.
What’s Your Story?
In my search for proof that internalised, unresolved past hurts can be harmful, I came across Professor Nick Read’s insightful book, Sick and Tired: Healing the Diseases Doctors Cannot Cure. As a doctor and a qualified psychotherapist, he took a novel approach in dealing with his patients who presented real symptoms that baffled GPs/Consultants. His approach was to ask them their ‘story’ and, as each one shared their experiences (past/present), it became evident what was causing the problem. You guessed right – their hurts!
In his book, Forgive to Live – How Forgiveness Can Save Your Life, Dr Dick Tibbits believes that every one of us has what he refers to as ‘a grievance story’ – where we have all been hurt or rejected by someone who mattered to us. He reckons that, all too often, it has led to negative emotions – such as anger – that linger for years.
Conduct Your Own Heart Test
In the book, Quit Hiding, Start Living!, I encourage people to conduct what I refer to as a ‘Heart Test’. The aim is to reveal the true state of your heart by considering the motives behind your actions. Are you motivated by love, hate, unforgiveness, anger, rejection, etc? As I write, I am reminded of the story of Lola, who I mention in the book. She is a successful 45-year-old businesswoman who, after being dumped by her fiancé with no real explanation (the latest in a string of failed relationships), she decides to focus squarely on her career and charity work. Now, on the surface, it can seem a laudable decision. However, take a peek into her ‘grievance story’ and you see a lady battling with years of rejection from all the male figures in her life, starting with her father. Can Lola move on? Absolutely, with God’s help and that of others, after which she may decide that the right guy for her is still out there, or she may choose to stay single – but this time, for all the right reasons.
Remove The ‘No Entry’ Sign AND Install Gates!
We are compelled by the Bible to forgive, love our enemies, and such like. But if the truth be told, this can be hard to do, especially when you are faced with the scars of the past. But you don’t have to travel this journey alone, for we have God’s awesome power, through the Holy Spirit, to help us each step of the way.
And so your first step must be to want to experience freedom from your hurt. Next, if you have not already done so, allow God into the situation. You need His love, compassion, help, direction, comfort and grace on this journey. (Trust me!) And as He aids you in taking your first step on the ladder of forgiveness, take baby steps in allowing others back into your life, ie. by opening the doors to your heart. (I go into great detail about this in the book.)
And whatever you do, PLEASE put in place healthy boundaries. Don’t allow just anyone access to your heart. In the same way as we have front doors with locks, security chains and peepholes to safeguard us from hurtful people, prayerfully consider who should have access to you, and what level of access they should have.
In closing, remember that to forgive and love others again does not mean we throw wisdom out of the window!
Gladys Famoriyo is Author of ‘Quit Hiding, Start Living!’, ‘Healing A Discouraged Heart’ and ‘Overcoming Emotional Baggage’. Visit www.gladysf.com or call +44(0)870 750 1969 for more details.