Have you ever purchased a child’s climbing toy? I mean a large one? The monstrosity is delivered in a manageable box, albeit heavy as heck, and it always has a large flashy picture showing the finished product, put together perfectly, with happy children playing on it. It looks something like this:
And as a parent, and a purchaser of such a fun and amazing product, you begin to picture how happy your child will be when he is playing on that climbing toy. Your child, upon seeing the box, is quite beside himself. He, too, pictures himself playing for hours on that toy. It’s a win for all.
Until you open the box!
Just one peek and you find hundreds of pieces that must be put together meticulously along with an instruction booklet the size of a novella….and as if that’s not bad enough, some of it is written in a foreign language you are not familiar with. At all.
The project appears to be too much. You actually consider sending the package back. But then you look into the eyes of that little guy who was so excited to play on that toy. You consider the dreams you had about the memories he’d make on that toy. And you decide the final product will be worth the work and effort the task will require.
But the first step is opening that box and facing what is inside of it.
It’s a simplistic analogy, but the same is true when we are facing trauma, tragedy, loss, despair, conflict, abandonment, abuse, and shock. To deal with it…to get through it…we must first open up the pain and look inside.
- The words that were said
- The diagnosis given
- The people who left you
- The physical or mental violation
- The details of the accident
That type of brokenness might seem overwhelming at first, but it is simply a box filled with pieces that can, if given time, fit together again. Your first step is to look at those pieces. Take them out of the box, lay them out, and look at them.
“It’s too much to bear,” you cry.
No, it’s only pieces. Take them out one at a time. Pace yourself; take it slow. This isn’t a race and there is no time limit.
“I can’t build this; it’s too much!”
Yes you can. To build or to re-build only requires that you begin and you don’t stop. You can even pause and take a break. Get angry, bang a few of the pieces around. Cry. Be silent. Feel whatever you need to feel. But stick with it; your life will come back together.
“Am I crazy for wanting to chuck the whole thing?”
No. That part is very normal. It might, in fact, be the most normal part of the whole process. And that fact that you recognize it, means you are anything but crazy.
So the pieces are laid out in front of you. There are so many, aren’t there? You see your past hopes and dreams piled up on one side, but on the other side is just as large of a pile…and it is that thing you are trying to work through. Each detail is waiting on you to pick it up and to hold it in your hands. There are nuts and bolts, which will be vital to making the new structure strong again. But it’s not time to deal with those yet, so let’s leave them in the plastic package, bound up for a later time.
Right now, just look at each piece. Own it. Those are your pieces.
Now, when you feel ready, one piece at a time, pick them up. You may need to hold onto some pieces longer than others. That’s alright. Some pieces may make you feel stronger emotions than others. That’s alright too.
Feel however YOU need to feel.
Occasionally, though, close your eyes to remember the picture on that box. The one that is still there, even though you’ve taken all the pieces out. Recall the dreams you had when you saw that picture. Remember the eyes that joined you in looking at that picture, anticipating the memories you would make.
Hold onto that.
You opened the box!
You took ownership of the pieces!
Praise God! You opened the box!
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…but every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” (Ephesians 6:12 / 1 John 5:4)