That was all anyone seemed to tell me.
When it’s raining so hard you can’t see. When the thunder is hitting and the wind is pushing you to your knees. When the tough little muscle in your chest is aching with every beat. When it hurts to breathe.
That advice used to infuriate me. It used to defeat me.
I felt like the people I loved, the people I trusted with my pain, simply used that as an excuse to skimp out on their effort to help me. I believed that my pain was an exhaustive, demanding problem that they were tired of solving.
I didn’t realize that, at the time, I was wrongly expecting them to have a solution. To miraculously stop the rain. To fix it instantly.
And I didn’t realize that, the whole time, they were right.
“Let yourself be.”
Our minds and bodies are wired to avoid pain. At a deep, primal level. Our instinctual reactions are to protect ourselves, to keep ourselves safe.
So what happens when our pain is an emotional, heart kind of pain? What happens when the solution to our heart pain is not only counter-intuitive, it’s against our very nature?
What if the only way to get through the storm, is to walk through the rain?
What if the only way to heal the pain, is to feel the pain?
The thing is, throughout my life, I’ve found endless ways to numb pain. I’ve experienced plenty of happiness by boxing up my hurt and locking it into a closet in the furthest place of my brain. I’ve had good days, laughed, seen romance, gotten to do things I was passionate about.
But through all of that, I never experienced joy, I never experienced freedom, and I never experienced that deeply rooted contentment that I was stubbornly insisting was possible. And, inevitably, I always returned to the hurt. I always returned to emptiness, to longing, to the deeply rooted dissatisfaction. To the shame-driven belief that something was wrong with me, that I would never be good enough or satisfied, that I was not worthy of the things I desired.
I believed that disappointment was my destiny. That pain was my promised future.
It wasn’t until I started being honest with myself, being real about my pain, feeling the things that I had been burying for years, and grieving the losses I had been denying, that I started to actually find healing.
Our bodies may be instinctively wired to avoid pain, but our hearts are instinctively wired and divinely intended to feel.
To feel everything.
To cry out for our hurt, to mourn for our loss, to act on behalf of what angers us.
We’re cultured to believe that feelings are the enemy. That life should be breezy and smooth, that nothing should “get to us.” That anger is destructive, that sadness is burdening, that loneliness is weakness. But that is so far from true. Our feelings point us to what we care about, to the life we’re desperate for, to what we’re willing to fight for.
But let’s be honest: facing our feelings is some scary stuff.
It’s scary to walk down that bumpy, dark, slippery path that you’ve never been down before. You don’t know what ghosts are hiding there or what buried secrets might come up. You don’t know how you’ll handle it when they do.
Sometimes it’s easier to run than to face our fears.
But I challenge you to change that.
I dare you.
I dare you to walk into the storm, open your hands, and let the rain hit your skin.
I dare you to cry, to yell, to feel.
Because I absolutely promise, it will not rain forever. It will not drown you. And the healing will be worth the pain.
You may not be able to stop rain from falling, stop pain from hitting, but you can choose how you respond once it does. You may not be able to change what’s been done to you, get back what was taken from you. But you can choose to be brave today. You can choose to walk through the rain. You can choose to believe in the hope of a sunnier day that’s coming soon.
The way “out” is not to leave this earth.
The way “out” is not to numb yourself.
You will shake in your skin.
You will be more terrified than you’ve ever been.
But you will be brave.
And you will be okay.
The way out is not to run from the rain.
The only way out is through.