Her words stung. I sat listening silently, feeling sicker by the minute as she continued telling me what she thought of me. I thought I knew her, and that she knew me. I was in shock that her view of me was so far from who I knew myself to be. I was unable to eat the salad in front of me, and could barely contain my hurt and outrage. When she had finished and I attempted to respond, I could tell that she had no interest in hearing what I had to say. We parted ways and I entered into a dark spiral of anger, hurt, doubt, and confusion.
Over the next several months, God patiently accompanied me on my path of hurt and anger. At night when I couldn’t sleep, I talked to Him about it, asking for His heart for her. Sometimes I would replay the conversation in my mind, unable to let it go. More often than not, I looked for ways to ease the pain, trying to figure out a way to change things, to defend myself, to prove her wrong, to respond in a way that would vindicate me.
One thing I didn’t do was to try and escape my feelings as I’d done most of my life. I learned to sit with God, feeling them deeply, welcoming the powerful emotions and experiencing the fullness of my humanity. I wrote letters I knew I would never send, spewing my hurt feelings across the pages, railing against her accusations, and writing words that I wished I could say to her face. God continued to extend grace to me, a loving Father patiently watching His beloved daughter throw a tantrum as I worked through my feelings.
As time went on, I realized her words had hit a huge inner wound. She hadn’t created the wound, she had merely touched it. A wound that had been hidden for years, that had subtly affected the way I lived and responded to life around me. A wound that only God knew was there. A wound that He wanted to heal and the only way it could be healed was to bring it to the surface.
The healing began through what seemed to be a simple practice: the Welcoming Prayer.
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome
I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment
because I know it is for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions,
persons, situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval, and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire to change any
situation, condition, person, or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God
and the healing action and grace within.
At first glance, it was a beautiful prayer inviting God into my circumstances. I began praying it and sharing it with others. I introduced it to a contemplative small group I facilitate and we dove into it, spending three separate meetings walking through each of the three steps:
- Feeling and sinking into your emotions.
- Welcoming the emotions.
- Letting go.
With each session, we went deeper, beginning to see the power of welcoming our emotions with God and letting go of the desires for security, approval, and control.
As I researched the use of the Welcoming Prayer I discovered a quote that gave me fresh understanding:
“We are not being asked to let go of security, affection, and control. We are being asked to let go of the desire for, the attachment to or even the addictive character that has encrusted around these natural and necessary energies. One sign of this attachment or addiction is that when we do not have them, we act and feel as if our world is falling apart. Put another way, we have in our lives addictions and preferences. When we are addicted to security, affection, and control, addicted to the point that if they are not part of our lives “all hell breaks loose,” then this is what we are letting go of — the addictive-ness.”
I began to see that, just as the quote stated, my need for approval had been dominating my thoughts and actions. As I practiced letting go of the attachment, I began to experience peace. Something was shifting. Day by day the pain and anger was dissipating.
Despite the change, however, I sensed that there was something more I was to do. God was asking me to not only let go of the attachment to approval but also to the friend. To let her go and trust God with her brokenness and her process. He directed me to release her into His hands every time she came to mind. Instead of feeling the hurt and anger, I was slowly filled with compassion and forgiveness, God’s heart instead of mine.
Praise God for His faithfulness to walk through the processes and life lessons with us! It is never easy to uncover wounds and see the ugliness below the surface, but God’s heart is not one of condemnation or judgment. As the Welcoming Prayer so aptly concludes, “I open to the love and presence of God and the healing action and grace within.”
Things to consider:
- As you read the Welcoming Prayer, is there one of the desires you resonate with more than the others?
- Ask God to show you where this desire has control in your life and for His grace to bring you to greater healing and freedom.