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The Path to Healing Starts with Confronting Hidden Problems

The Path to Healing Starts with Confronting Hidden Problems

Editor’s note: It can feel like brokenness is the title of our stories. Or the ending. But, with God, we can face what we’ve been through, work through it, and truly have abundant life in Him (John 10:10). Enjoy this piece from Get Past Your Past by Jason VanRuler.


Something I learned early on about remodeling a home is you have to fix even the stuff other people can’t see.

This fact became evident when I was faced with a gross basement wall in a house we were remodeling. The wall looked quite dirty. Normally a perfectionist, this time I reckoned that the best thing to do would be to slap some paint on it and call it good. So that’s what I did. The dirty wall was now “clean.”

This method worked. For a while. The basement was dark, so I just assumed the paint had covered the rough spot and everything was fine. Until the day I walked by the wall and saw that the spot I’d painted over had come through the paint and was as ugly as ever.

What?! I painted over that spot! The problem was that the dirty spot was not just dirty. It was moldy and mildewy. Without my having cleaned the spot first, the paint couldn’t solve the problem. It just covered it up for a while.

Multiplying Problems

A lot of us go through life like this. We see a dirty spot and figure that if we just throw some paint on it or avoid that area of the house, things will be fine. When this doesn’t work, we now have two problems: the original problem and this new problem created by our avoidance.

What I learned from the moldy-wall experience is that you have to solve the problem the first time. Throwing some paint on our issues doesn’t help in the long run. And that’s good, because the problem is important and worthy of our attention.

When I examine my life, I realize how much time I’ve spent afraid and running away from my issues. I think that sometimes when I check out, I’m probably not checking out so much as running away from a scary situation or an unwanted feeling.

While I’m running from fear, I typically find myself lost and alone the way I had felt as a child. It might be oversimplifying things, but I think that at the heart of this fear is a faith issue.

I want to show that inner child that he is protected and that I am an adult now.

I want to change my relationship with fear. I don’t want to keep running away from or slapping a coat of paint over my problems and calling it good.

But maybe it isn’t bad to be afraid.

When I think about it, checking out and running away feels a lot like the night someone tried to break into our house.

A Childhood Trauma

When I was a young kid before my parents’ divorce, we lived in a ranch-style house in a decent area of town. In those first years of my life, I felt safe and protected. Until that one night.

I woke up to yelling and screaming and the sounds of my father running down to the basement. My mother was yelling that someone was trying to break in through a window. Having no concept of what was happening, I felt confused and terrified.

My father eventually came up from the basement brandishing a baseball bat and ran outside to chase the would-be intruder through the neighborhood until he got away.

After that night, my life changed in many ways, but I never slept the same again. I’d wake up terrified, having to check the doors and windows even when I lived on the sixteenth floor of an apartment building.

What’s funny is that I never even saw the person who was trying to break into our house. Nothing happened to me. My father saved the day by chasing him away. Nonetheless, fear followed me. I remained terrified.

I now know that this response is called trauma, but before I learned that concept, I just thought I had lost my mind. It was like being afraid of a ghost that I had never seen. It bothered me for years.

So many of us have experiences that are similar to or worse than this. Something happens that changes us, but instead of seeking healing, we seek comfort, which often isolates us. Every time I checked a window or door at night, it made me feel better only in that moment. It didn’t address my underlying fear or offer any type of healing.

  • After trauma, healthiness requires healing.

Otherwise we go through our lives spending tremendous amounts of thought and energy trying to protect ourselves, even when it’s unnecessary.

Maybe you check a lot of doors and windows in your life because of a legitimate wound, but is that helping you? Or do you need to go back and heal instead? Most of the time healing is what needs to happen. 

The good news is that our heavenly Father can handle the protection part if we let Him.

Excerpted with permission from Get Past Your Past: How Facing Your Broken Places Leads to True Connection by Jason VanRuler, copyright Jason VanRuler.

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Your Turn

If we don’t open up the messes of our past with the Lord, that will seep right into our present and future. It doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus came to give us abundant life, freedom from our sins and those done to us, and joy. Giving Him access to every part of our lives will lead us there! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily