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We’ve all heard the phrase “Time heals all wounds”, and while time can be helpful, the process of healing our hearts requires more. I’m going to be honest with you, my sports knowledge doesn’t span very far, but I do know this; You wouldn’t tell a football player who has been injured on the field to “get back out there” before they’ve made a full recovery. Why? Because it would not only disrupt and delay the healing that needs to take place but would also risk further damage, deepening the wound… and well, bleeding on the other players. The same concept applies in dating – when we don’t heal from what hurt us, we’ll bleed on people who never cut us.

When we talk about healing with regard to relationships, we’re not just talking about wounds from past romantic relationships, we’re also talking about friendships, upbringing, and past trauma that can all create deep-rooted emotional wounds that present themselves in our relationships. When we enter a relationship from a place of brokenness, our lens can be skewed and our ability to evaluate the nature of the relationship may be compromised. When we carry deep-rooted emotional wounds with us from one relationship to the next, with the hope that the other person will fix us or erase the damage, not only are we subjecting ourselves to more pain than necessary, but there’s a very good chance that we’ll hurt the other person too. Dating from a place of destiny and wholeness cannot happen with a heart that isn’t healed. A wounded heart is not a healthy heart. A wounded heart will seek to be filled but a healed heart will operate from a place of wholeness.

Healing can be a painful and messy process and what we don’t heal, we will carry into the next relationship. The reason healing isn’t easy is because it requires us to revisit those painful places and re-experience the hurts that we had hidden away, in order to resolve them. When we attempt to heal with time alone, we are essentially putting a band-aid over an injury that requires surgery. Over time, we may talk about our wounds a little less, or maybe we’ll distract ourselves from the pain and tell ourselves that we’re handling it. When we enter into a new relationship, however, we may project our unresolved pain onto the other person or overreact to difficult situations that may arise. When we invite God into our healing process, we’re allowing Him to clean out our wounds and restore what is broken, so that when we do enter into a new relationship, we can be aware of the things that have hurt us in the past without projecting our pain onto someone who didn’t cause it. This is a promise God gives us in His word;

He heals the wounds of every shattered heart” (Psalm 147:3)

When God is part of our healing process, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It’s still going to be all things painful, even messy, but we won’t be doing it alone. There are so many things that I love about God, but one of my personal favorites is that He’s not afraid to sit in the mess with us.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

God is going to get down in the trenches of your wounds and crawl alongside you.

One of the most important steps in healing is forgiveness. This is another reason why healing can be so difficult. While we may have the desire to be healed, without forgiveness, releasing and moving forward isn’t going to happen. A heart full of unforgiveness is a heart full of bitterness – that’s a heavy load to carry. For many years I thought that forgiveness meant that I was letting the other person off the hook or excusing the hurt that was caused. This is absolutely not true. Forgiveness doesn’t let the other person off the hook. Forgiveness lets YOU off the hook from being hurt over and over again. Forgiveness actually provides us the freedom to begin our healing process, and eventually experience relationships unhindered by the past. With forgiveness also comes the undoing of shame, and the discovery of grace. I wish I could say that healing is a straightforward process, but it’s not. You may encounter situations that cause you to re-expose wounds that you thought were healed, pushing you back a few steps in your process. That’s okay. Instead of measuring your healing by how unphased you are by a situation, measure your healing by how you respond when a situation threatens your peace.

When we try to protect ourselves from hurt by building walls, we’re not guarding our hearts in a way that is healthy… We’re operating out of a place of fear and defensiveness rather than allowing ourselves to be truly known. When we better understand what it looks like to date from a healed place, we can better gauge our readiness. Be patient with yourself in the process, because there is no timeline for your healing.