If you were to ask me to describe emotional healing in one word, I would say it is a journey. I looked up the word journey in the dictionary and Webster defines it as; something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another. I want to invite you to take a glimpse into my healing journey.
In my journey of emotional healing, I was told that I could travel away from the valley of chronic despair, self-hate, rage, anxiety, and fear. I was told that I could enter a world where my primary color was more than black.
I was promised that I could arrive at a place of joy, hope, self-acceptance, peace, love, and lots of vivid colors. Yes, the color black would still exist but it would no longer be as dark and the primary color of my world. I was warned that this journey was going to be long and difficult but that the effort would be worth the price of the pain and suffering that still lay before me.
Before I even took my first step on this long journey, I had to be willing to look at what an emotional mess I was and to see how it impacted my world and the ones who were closest to me. I had to see how self-destruction was my primary companion. When I accepted that I was damaging to myself and all those around me, I hesitantly but willingly accepted to take the journey before me.
As I stood in the valley, I looked up the mountain to see how long my journey would be but I could not see the end of the trail at the top of the mountain. I had no idea how far I had to go but the hope of vivid colors and new emotions was appealing and in the deepest part of my soul, I longed for that.
At first, I tried to journey on this trail by myself, just by recounting the counsel I had been given. My wise counselors told me what to look out for. Since I had always had to look out for myself, I started on my journey with an air of independence. The trail started out fairly flat and easy. It wasn’t until I came upon the foggy mist that hung heavy in the air did I realize how blinded I was. I couldn’t see where I was going and I quickly saw my need for more guidance. In my desperate fear, panic, and anxiety, I loudly called out to anyone who could hear me. The Trail Master, who was waiting to guide me all along, stepped beside me and, I shamefully and gratefully asked Him to walk along with me.
My Trail Master told me that He was going to carry all my essentials to help me along the way. He carried the water and nutrition that was going to sustain me along the trail. He saw that my backpack was already so full of shame, despair, self-hatred, and the heavy blackness that existed in my world. He knew that my burden was so heavy that there would be no room for anything else.
We continued on the journey together. He took my hand and led me through the dense fog until the air cleared and there were glimpses of sunlight. I was blinded by these small rays of sunlight and He already knew I would need protection. He handed me a pair of special glasses that enabled me to see the path that lay ahead.
So many times on the trail, I experienced exhausting obstacles. There were boulders that needed to be scaled, there were large crevices that needed to be jumped over, logs that needed to be climbed over, and rivers that needed to be forded. Throughout my journey there were external and internal storms that I had to endure. During these times of hardship, there were many tears that I shed. My Trail Master carefully caught each one in a large special bottle; He never let one teardrop to the ground. It was as if He cherished every one and He held them close to His heart. Each time I had an enormous obstacle to tackle, He was there to help and guide me. He would instruct me where to put my feet and how to traverse over or around the obstacle before me. I began trusting my Trail Master so much that I never wanted Him out of my sight. I saw how my independence had been a detriment throughout my journey which only invited me to be more dependent on Him. As long as I kept my eyes on my Trail Master instead of the trail, I moved forward with more assurance than I ever thought possible.
Time passed, I could not tell you how long, maybe weeks, months, or years. It didn’t matter anymore because I saw colors that I had never seen before, I saw beautiful plants and flowers that I never knew existed and the air was fragrant, not putrid, musty and stale like it once was. My senses became alive, and for the first time, I was aware of emotions that were new and light.
One thing, however, that was noticeably different was that the fragrant air was hard to breathe in and I was exhausted from trying. I wanted to breathe deeply but it didn’t seem as though I could. I looked over to my Trail Master with fear in my eyes and He asked me to hand Him my backpack. I had carried this heavy backpack from the trailhead until now. It had become like an old companion and I had no idea how to live without it. He reminded me what was in it, shame, despair, self-hatred, and many more burdens, along with the color black. He told me that I could not carry these items to the place where we were going. I had to hand them over and let Him carry them. I fought within myself trying to figure out a way to hang on to my possessions but in the end, I handed them over to Him.
Amazingly, my next steps were lighter, and I found I could breathe more deeply. I sucked the air into my lungs and I felt rejuvenated and a sense of hope that I had not ever experienced before. After letting go of my backpack of burdens, I took a look ahead of me and saw something that I thought I would never see. I saw the top of the mountain, I saw bright colors ahead of me, I experienced the brightness and warmth of the sunlight that I had never felt before. I felt hope and renewed strength as we continued on towards the top with Him carrying my burdens as well as my sustenance.
When we finally arrived at the top, I stood in awe. Awe of what I saw below me. Some places of beauty and other places of barrenness. I was so far up, I could not even see where we had started. I knelt in gratitude to my Trail Master and to His beauty surrounding me.
To say that this was the end of the journey would be a lie. But my journey is so much different now. The black I use to see is now different shades of gray. I see vivid colors most times and my Trial Master continues to walk beside me. We commune on a daily basis, discussing my fears, and other negative emotions that infrequently surface. He always responds with compassion and hope.
One day I noticed that He was no longer carrying my backpack. I asked Him where it went and that is when He told me that He threw it over the side of a cliff. He observed that I wasn’t wanting these burdens anymore and He knew, with Himself by my side, I would no longer need them.
My journey has consisted of more mountains to climb but they are more doable and mixed with emotions of hope. All I need to do is look back and see how my Trail Master has continued to help me along the way. His faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and perfect compassion has been my source of strength. His strength and attributes give me the impetus to carry on. He is my shield, my strength, and my fortress.
Dear friend, are you on a journey of emotional healing? Are you trying to walk the trail independently or have you asked for help from the Trail Master? I pray you have handed Him your backpack of black, dark burdens and emotions. You will be relieved you did. Press on, my friends, it is worth it despite the difficult terrain.
Ginger Taddeo, was a victim of childhood sexual and physical abuse for ten years. She now writes and speaks sharing hope with others who have suffered. Ginger is also involved with the ministry Freedom Challenge which is an organization that rescues women and children from human trafficking. She has been married for 35 years and has two grown, married children.