Have you ever been through something, whether it caused you physical pain or emotional pain or both, that made you retreat inward?
I have a tendency to do this.
When I get overwhelmed by pain, I retreat. I see my bedroom as a sanctuary. I just want to be alone.
There is nothing wrong with needing some solitude. However, when one day turns into a few more and the retreat turns into a total avoidance, there is a problem. Whether it is anxiety, depression, or you are convinced that being reclusive is your best option to endure, there is a problem.
Pain is a difficult thing. And when you are the person suffering, it is easy to convince yourself that no one can help. Then the enemy takes advantage of your vulnerable state to convince you of even more…that you are inadequate, a burden, that you are in some way being punished by God, or that you are unworthy of being healed. These are lies! There are a ton of things he will try to whisper in your ear to get you to sink lower and to keep the light of the truth far from your heart.
I know because this was recently happening to me.
During the first few weeks of my postpartum recovery I was experiencing some physical pain. I say some, but it was awful. I was being challenged every day, not just to try and take care of myself, but also to care for my newborn. I began to retreat. I stayed in my bedroom as much as I could to avoid the other realities in my life. The world that kept spinning. My other two kids, my husband, my family who were in town visiting, friends who wanted to stop by.
I was consumed by what I was facing and my focus remained inward.
I didn’t realize I was retreating. At one point my husband asked me why I haven’t leaned on him for emotional support. I guess I even stopped sharing with him what I was facing. He asked me if I reached out to any of my girlfriends for help…and my response…
He tried to encourage me, “Babe, why don’t you let them know what you are going through so they can help?”
And I replied,
I don’t understand how they can help me.”
“You don’t need to understand,” he said, “Just let them help however they decide to.”
I believed there was nothing my friends could do to help me. I thought that because it was my physical body that hurt, I believed no amount of “help” could fix or cure what I was experiencing. I was blinded to the way the body of Christ could come in and use the gifts God has given them to alleviate my stress, anxiety, pain, responsibilities, any of it.
It wasn’t until I heard my husband say that I didn’t need to understand how they can help that my heart was softened and I was able to ask for help.
I group texted a handful of close friends and I told them. I told them I was having a difficult time with nursing and postpartum. I told them I was sorry for avoiding letting them in. I told them that it felt like there is this imaginary boundary, a small circle around me, where only me and the baby fit. In my text I told them…
I kept telling myself it’s just the pain and after I’m healed I’ll be ok. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was struggling sooner. I’m sorry I didn’t trust you to help me even though I struggle to understand how anyone can really help. I’m really weak right now.”