I spend most Fridays working from my couch where I can control the temperature and noise level, unlike in my beloved coffee shops. My coffee maker is close by where I can go for seconds and quickly continue typing away for hours until it’s time to reap the rewards of my labor—rest and an exciting meal. Sometimes I’m out with others for this and sometimes I’m in. This time, I’d be in.

It was one of those nights when I intentionally didn’t make plans with anyone. I knew I needed to be alone with my thoughts this time. Something was simmering in me and I had to decide whether I was going to open the pot or let it boil over.

I head out for sushi from a new favorite place in my new city, intensely excited to choose from their literally labeled “I don’t like raw stuff” menu and return to my couch, my thoughts, and my bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

When it’s time for me to one day get rid of this couch, it might be a bit harder than it should be since a sentimental tie has developed. It’s just a couch, but it moved with me to Charlotte, North Carolina into my first apartment of my own and then came with me to Georgia. I’ve laughed with friends, written thousands of words, and cried many tears of desperation on this couch. On this couch, I experienced true bliss a few times and became intimate with the feeling of despair at others.

When I returned to it with my cooked sushi and glass of red, I knew I was in the right place for a heart examination to take place. I had to sit, I had to pray, I had to seek, I had to ask myself a few painful questions—namely, why the things that bother me still do.

I’m the type to refer to dark times as “a little dim” and try to put a bandaid over a stab wound. I’ll move on before the scar tissue even begins to form, cut all ties without a second thought and, therefore, bury the pain alive. It’s easier for me to call what’s actually a knife in my back a “bump in the road.” But when the wise, licensed ones have called it traumatic, I start to see that my natural tendencies to downplay do no good and my unreasonable solutions stunt the hope of recovery.

Changing the Narrative

That’s what brought me here, to ask questions and make decisions. I don’t have a title for this chapter of my life yet but I know this is the part where I’m tasked with choosing the path that’s holy but feels unnatural. Choosing the narrative that honors God the most is the new storyline presented now, although it’s not the way I would’ve written it. I can’t let pain speak for me.

I prayed for a made-up mind and got an open heart. Rejecting the world’s solutions for dealing and healing, I begin to brush off advice (“Stop forgiving people who aren’t sorry”) and ideas (“The friend of my enemy is my enemy”) that seem to satisfy my discomfort but don’t match the Word and ways I believe in.

Have I been misplacing my anger all this time and misidentifying my enemy? Has the grace I’ve given been proof of the grace I’ve received?

If it prevents me from loving all as I ought to (and as I’m commanded to), it has to be squeezed out of my heart. Any ideas that leave my soul unguarded, fertile ground for bitterness to grow are banned from every crevice of my mind. What feeds self-justification and starves godliness is being left behind in favor of God’s alternative—renewing the mind, living by the Spirit, walking in love.

This thinking of myself and how everyone’s actions relate to me is pride in disguise. That’s why we fight for the right to keep our anger perched on our shoulder, after all: we love ourselves too much. The excuses say I’m protecting others by keeping the fingers pointed at what the offenders have done, but keeping that record of wrongs is an effort to protect and preserve myself. It’s not them anymore, it’s me, remembering the 7 times and 70 ways it hurt—but if I’m counting, I’m not loving (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

The Hard Questions

What if changing the narrative doesn’t mean the wound wasn’t real, but that it gets to start healing properly now? If I accept that God is sovereign, the way I profess to believing He is, wouldn’t I accept this as His will? If I know that everything works for His divine purposes, anyone who does anything would merely be the tools He chose to use? This is the way God wrote it.

What if what I thought I wanted wasn’t what this world needed or what would glorify God the most? Could it be that it’s possible to be like-minded with Christ even when you’ve been genuinely and deeply hurt? Could it be that my only task today is choosing the right way without knowing what it looks like down the road? Could it be that—because God is in control and I finally know that I’m not—I don’t need to know?

I can eat sushi, make steady progress, remain in relationships, and everything else in peace now, the peace that God gives when we walk where His will is. I can take a satisfied sip of wine tonight, content that, although there are layers to unfold and still work to be done, all that has happened up to this point is over and what’s done is done. God has a purpose for it somewhere and He’ll be glorified through it in some way. There’s nothing else for me to control. There never was.

The search of my heart, the absolving of blame, the questioning of my motives opened life’s windows to a brighter day. The destination isn’t clear but the command is. Desperate, thankful prayers will still be cried out on this couch, to praise for a new page to turn, to ask for strength to release what I’ve been holding.