Mental Health and Healing

Why I’m Still Looking Back

I’m writing! It feels so good.

Believe it or not, I’m over a quarter of the way finished with the first draft of The Called Life!  It may not sound very impressive, but for me, it’s further than I’ve ever gotten with any other project! (Except a book called “Unpublished” which will forever remain unpublished. haha)

I’ve been tempted through these first several thousand words to keep it impersonal – more instructive, less narrative. But that’s not me. And I don’t want to tell you what to do. That’s not my style. 😉

So I’m getting real, my friends. I’m reaching deeply into my heart – into experiences that I’ve never written about before. I’m finding it important to take breaks so I can stay present with my kiddos and not become emotionally overwhelmed.

I’m so confident, though, that it is going to be for a good purpose. I promised God, if He let me live the healing journey, I would let Him use the story for whatever purpose He pleased. (I didn’t realize I would be the one trying to escape the “deal.”) And I’m seeing more and more the importance of looking back, at times. I’m reminded of a post I wrote more than 2 years ago, and I want to share part of it with you here:

Originally posted on March 31, 2014. Revised.

In order to survive the trauma of my childhood, I tucked the memories, beliefs, and emotions deep within my mind. Whenever something bad would happen to me, I mentally fled the scene, retreating into the safety of denial and numbness. I ran from anything that would remind me of that pain, and in my running I missed out on authentic relationship, real trust, and genuine emotion. The sad part about burying the pain is, the mind is not as selective as we would hope. In numbing myself against the heartache, I also numbed myself against the experience of true joy. In order to protect myself from further betrayal, I also protected myself from receiving love.

As God began to reveal His desire to heal these places in my heart, He asked me to go back and face the things I had been running from for so long. He wanted me to acknowledge the truth of my history, so He could show me His hand in the midst. God asked me to open my heart up to feel the heartbreak so that I could also feel the radiant love He has for me. This is the healing process. Through processing sessions with an amazing Christian therapist, through prayer and journaling and art and music, God reveals to me areas of my heart that I am still withholding – places I still consider too painful to let Him see.


Having the opportunity to lead worship has strengthened my heart more than I think I realize at this point…


Throughout this journey, many, many well-meaning people advised me to “leave the past behind”. Quoting Philippians 3:13, they would encourage me to look ahead and “forget what is behind.”

For a long time, I worried it was wrong for me to be remembering the pain in my past. Every time new memories would come to the surface, I would berate and criticize myself for my apparent lack of faith. When the sadness from my past overtook me, I would plaster on a smile and pretend that I was fine. After all, aren’t Christians supposed to be filled with the joy of the Lord?

It took a revelation in my heart for me to understand that looking back for the sake of healing is just as biblical as moving forward. God wants more and more of our hearts, even the pieces we wish we could throw away. It takes real faith and courage to step out of the boat of comfort and denial and status-quo and give ourselves radically to God’s healing touch. Acknowledging that truth allowed me to open up and share a little bit more of my heart with those around me. At this point, I am blessed to be surrounded by a loving and grace-filled community who understand that past hurts do not disappear because we will it to be so. They understand the courage it takes to release these hidden places of my heart to God. They encourage me and pray for me and support me in the most simple and profound ways.

Obviously there is wisdom in seeking good counsel. Once God reveals and heals a part of my past, I do not go digging it up every chance I get. But, when He controls the journey and there is true healing, the “moving on” happens naturally. Like all grief, the pain is acute, but then it wanes. The emotion rises again at the most random times, but less and less frequently until the triggers have lost their hold and there is real strength where a wound used to live.

This is part of my process in serving God. Living my life for Christ means looking back sometimes. And, I know, the more of my heart I give to Him, the more He can work through me.

Maybe someone else needed to hear that it’s ok to look back…


7 thoughts on “Why I’m Still Looking Back”

  1. Sweet Emily, you always encourage and inspire and challenge and comfort me with your faith and your words! Thank you dear heart! Xo ems

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Emily,
    I just love your passion and your quirky writing style. It is refreshing. I have loved reading here for some time now. If you are game… I’d love to interview you on my blog sometime. Your ministry and heart for people is absolutely wonderful and amazing and fascinating… othedlr would love to here about it. If this sounds ok to you I’d love to have your email so I chat with you more and get your thoughts.
    At Widow’s Manna


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