Friend, Press into the Pain

I woke up with a nasty headache. The kind that originates from a pulled neck muscle overnight and claws its way slowly up behind my eyeball.

I tried to be nice to it, gentle, so that it would let loose, but ibuprofen, an ice-pack, and a scorching soak in the tub did little to relieve my agony.

The only thing that seemed to help was pressing and working the muscle as hard as I could, kneading the pain point back and forth between my fingers. It was not a one-and-done massage either. I had to keep repeating this action until my fingers cramped and my nerve endings could hardly take it anymore.

Pressing into the pain was not relaxing or enjoyable. It hurt.

But it reminded me of something.

How often there is emotional pain in my life that I need to press into in order to get relief. Ignoring it doesn’t work. Neither does bubble-wrapping it and hiding it in a dark box somewhere.

Denial is really just prolonged, chronic disillusion that festers and rots my insides. Mentally and physically. There is no salvation in that.

I only get relief from my emotional pain when I peel away the protective layers over it, grip it, examine it, and even press on it.

It hurts. It is excruciating actually. The acute pain leaves no more room for denial.

I have encountered many emotional injuries along my life’s path that I tried to ignore, until the fractures were so compounded that I didn’t know where the first originated.

I was just a walking pile of brokenness.

I had to stop walking. Stop ignoring.

Stop bubble-wrapping the pain and deal with it.

Friends, I wish I could tell you that pressing on the pain brings quick relief. It doesn’t. It takes much kneading, so much so that your soul will be bruised and your cries will have no more tears to expel.

But oh my goodness, it will be worth it.

Once you’ve walked through that pain, once you’ve stared long and hard at it, once you’ve found the source and pressed on it with as much force as you can muster, you will ever so slowly begin to heal.

That is the place redemption is found.

One day you will look back on it and that pain you ignored for so long, well, that pain will make you smile.

Because that will be the thing that ultimately leads to your transformation.

A changed life.

-MELISSA NEEB

-Faith in the Mess by Melissa Neeb

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An Unexpected Angel

The moment I walked through the double doors of a local church for my first Celebrate Recovery meeting, I was greeted by an angel.

Not a wispy, transparent one. An angel in the flesh.

She smiled huge and squeezed my neck in a giant hug, like we were long-lost best friends. I felt seen, welcomed, instantly loved. I was tethered to her warmth and authenticity, bound to her in some inexplicable, anointed way.

God aligned our lives perfectly. We met at the exact point in time that He designed: the exact century, decade, year, minute, and moment that He needed to fulfill His purpose.

And to fill a deep well in me that was achingly dry.

She showed me how to be emotionally present, how to work through past trauma with grace and forgiveness, how to be strong at my weakest points, how to always show up, how to truly listen to people’s pain and give freely of myself.

She showed up for me in a thousand ways, sporting her “Y’all Need Jesus” shirt and a grin that could melt the Arctic. She radiated light from every pore.

No wonder she was my angel.

God had a purpose for us; plans we never could’ve concocted in our wildest dreams. Plans that a pandemic and a move to another state couldn’t interrupt. The miles couldn’t dislodge us, wouldn’t break our soul connection.

God’s plans and partnerships cannot be thwarted. He is so good.

I didn’t expect to walk into that church and find a living, breathing angel. Sometimes God answers our prayers bigger and bolder than we even dare to ask. He sure did for me that day.

Even as we are separated physically, my angel Krista is never far from me.

Because the best angels are always

only a heart whisper away.

Melissa neeb

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