In my pursuit for growth I have often had moments when I have had a realisation of some of my dark sides, these moments are sometimes breathtakingly painful. If you are serious about developing yourself and the art of self leadership you would have had these moments too. It might be a random conversation, an article, a post or a friend calling you out. (Picture by artofkleyn.co.za)
In that moment you have a choice. What do you do with that stinging truth as you feel the shame of it wash over you? Do you bat the pain away, do you explain it away? Do you seek counsel from someone you know will push it aside and tell you it’s not true or do you let it sink in and sit in it for a moment longer and get curious?
As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Men stumble over the truth from time to time but most pick themselves up as if nothing had happened.” As human beings we are pain averse, we will do everything we can to avoid suffering in anyway. We will even avoid things that are really good for us if it means we have to suffer a little, just think exercise…
I remember many years ago getting some hard feedback from friends over a cup of coffee. While they were pointing out this blindspot I actually received it and was humbled by it. I knew that they were totally on point and they did it so lovingly that it was actually a really tender and powerful moment. I remember thanking them and feeling so grateful that they loved me enough to take that brave step to tell me.
Then I got in the car to travel home and the pain and discomfort hit me really hard as I realised the repercussions of this blindspot. The shame and regret washed over me and it almost felt too much to bare. In that moment of overwhelm I suddenly became very angry at that couple. I went from grateful to “how dare they?” and by the time I got home I was in full blown offence. I had armoured up and I was denying, deflecting and defending my behaviour and playing the victim.
Fortunately, as I stopped the car, a loving and firm thought crashed through the armour. “Let the truth set you free!” and I broke down and wept. I let the guilt and regret do it’s full work and I surrendered to the fact that God always knew this about me and still loved me and this was a lovely opportunity to be free of it. We cannot overcome what we do not have an awareness of.
As I realised the full truth and received it, I also knew what I needed to do to replace that behaviour with a new behaviour. Suddenly there was a shaft of hope shining the way forward and out from that dark place.
If we want to embrace growth in our life, we have to learn to embrace pain. Pain is a process that informs us that there is something that needs our attention. We must run to our pain and not away. I truly believe that as we run to our pain and lean into our discomfort we actually move towards our destiny.
We have an enemy of our soul, who once he realises what our gifting is, will take advantage of opportunities for hurt and distraction in the very place that he knows we would have the biggest impact. I know that I am called to speak to encourage others, and yet the message I received all though most of my young life is “shut up Tracey”, “tone it down” and the sad part is this wasn’t necessarily the intended message, but it was the twisted version I chose to believe and it has kept me silent for too long.
So I want to encourage you today, to be brave and pull up a chair to that pain you have been avoiding, lean in to the discomfort and get curious and let your loving Heavenly Father lead you to awareness and freedom.
Written by Tracey Olivier. Tracey is a wife and mother of 3 talented men, a leadership and team coach and facilitator, business woman and author. South African born but blessed to be living in New Zealand for 4 years now.