(Adapted from Jimmy’s newest book, When Life Hurts)
Whenever I speak about “the hurt pocket,” I almost always ask the audience a simple question: “How many of you would say you’ve experienced an event in your life that was emotionally devastating? Something so wounding that it actually altered your personality—maybe even your future?”
Without exception, almost every hand is raised.
I then ask a follow-up question: “How many would say this painful issue has been resolved?” Now, the response is entirely different. A few hands might lift, but the vast majority of those in attendance remain completely silent.
It’s unscientific, but this evidence convinces me of two things. First, life hurts. We are all touched by heartache, and in some cases the pain is so devastating that it redirects the course of our lives.
Secondly, our pain is seldom resolved. Few of us are equipped to properly process our hurts, so they remain buried deep within us. These wounds impact every area of our lives: our families, friends, marriage, children, faith, and even our relationship with God.
Wounds must be tended. A cut must be cleaned out and protected to avoid infection. We douse injuries in alcohol and antibiotic. We apply bandages to help wounds heal.
It’s much harder to deal with inner wounds. That pain may be just as destructive, but because we can’t always see the injury, we don’t know how to treat it. Often we ignore the wound and pretend it doesn’t exist.That’s a mistake. The wound festers. An infection spreads, and before we know it, this toxic emotional pain has scarred and damaged us. So instead of treating the wound, we make inner vows to help us avoid further pain. These are unhealthy promises we make to comfort ourselves in times of frustration or difficulty:
- No one will ever treat me like that again.
- I’ll never let myself be poor.
- I’ll never force my children to go to church.
- I’ll never let anyone break my heart like that again.
Inner vows cause us to overreact, and they can become the guiding force of our lives. They don’t just undermine our emotional stability. They also damage our relationships—including our relationship with God—and cause us to act out in unhealthy, irrational ways. Inner vows are sinful.
They create in us a heart of stone. But through the prophet Ezekiel, God tells us this: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26).
God can remove the hardness from our hearts if we allow Him. God promises a new heart and a new spirit. He promises freedom. We find it when we surrender our inner vows to God. We give Him complete and total access to those painful parts of ourselves and ask Him to perform a miracle in our heart and spirit.
I know He can do it, because He’s done it for me. He can heal you, too.