By Sammie Gallo, Creator of Abundant Life: You Were Made for More
I was remembering when I tore my MCL while training for a half-marathon while I was in college. I still really wanted to run that race, and with a few months to go, I decided to push through the pain of physical therapy with the goal of rehabilitating myself enough to be able to run.
I remember a distinct moment when my physical therapist gave me a new exercise and I couldn’t do it. Not only because it hurt, but because my knee wouldn’t flex or bend enough to let me step forward. I was frustrated. Was it mental? No. My ligaments, tendons and surrounding tissue are still healing. My range of motion is limited. But as my therapist reminded me, the pain of the exercises isn’t going to cause further harm. It’s going to bring healing. But if I avoid my therapy just because it hurts, I’ll be stuck with a limited range of motion.
And so it is with heart healing. If you avoid, ignore or refuse to press into the wounded, painful parts of your story, you’ll be stuck with a limited range of emotion.
I spent most of my life thinking a limited range of emotion was a good thing. Too much emotion scared me. Too much of anything felt out of control, unstable, unpredictable and unwanted. So I learned to control my emotions, and eventually, I worked pretty hard to control my life.
But over time, I’ve learned that a limited range of emotions isn’t the way I want to live. I’m not even sure you can really call that living. I don’t want to shove down my feelings because I’ve learned that my capacity to feel joy is directly related to my capacity to feel pain.
A mentor of mine once told me to push through the pain. At the time, I thought it was kind of insensitive, but as I’ve matured and gotten older, as I’ve reflected on those moments like my torn MCL rehabilitation, and especially as I’ve come to know God more, I realize that the advice she gave me was actually a gift.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”James 4:8a NKJV
Have you ever felt like the heartbreak in your life is trying to break you – or like you can’t push through the pain?
If the answer is yes, I understand. I’ve been in that place where the pain of heartbreak hits with such sudden and sharp force that it feels like it cuts through skin and bone. It’s the kind of pain that leaves us wondering if we’ll ever be able to function like a “normal” person again, or if we’ll ever be able to do “normal” things without the grief and pain hitting us suddenly.
But God has been tenderly reminding me that pain itself is not the enemy. Pain is the indicator that brokenness exists. Pain is the gift that motivates us to fight with brave tenacity and fierce determination, knowing there’s healing on the other side.
And in the in-between? In that desperate place where we aren’t quite on the other side of it all yet, and our heart still feels quite raw?
Pain is the invitation for God to move in and replace our faltering strength with His. I’m not writing that to throw out spiritual platitudes that sound good; I write it from the depth of a heart that knows it’s the only way.
We must invite God into our pain to help us survive the desperate in-between.
The only other choice is to run from the pain by using some method of numbing. But numbing the pain — with food, achievements, drugs, alcohol or sex — never goes to the source of the real issue to make us healthier. It only silences our screaming need for help.
We think we are freeing ourselves from the pain when, in reality, what numbs us imprisons us. If we avoid the hurt, the hurt creates a void in us. It slowly kills the potential for our hearts to fully feel, fully connect, fully love again. It even steals the best in our relationship with God.
So how do we get this new strength? How do we stop ourselves from chasing what will numb us when the deepest parts of us scream for some relief? How do we stop the piercing pain of this minute, this hour?
We invite God’s closeness. We pray. We look to Scripture when our words feel flat to guide our prayers. We look to His promises to help us seek healing. We draw near to him to seek rest. We draw near to him to seek peace in the midst of our grief.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”Psalm 91:1 NIV
And lastly, I want to share this with you – that no matter what season you’re in (single, dating, engaged married) – pain does not make you inadequate. Pain does not make it impossible to experience God’s love and healing. Pain does not make you unworthy of being loved. Pain does not mean that you are broken.
Push through the pain knowing that on the other side there is healing, a full life, and a God who wants to walk with you through it all.
Sammie graduated from Robert Morris University in 2017 with a background in biology and psychology and started working with Anglicans for Life (AFL) shortly after. In addition to her work with AFL, she spends time pouring into high school students in her community and is a full-time nursing student, hoping to work in the labor and delivery unit upon her graduation in December 2022.
Sammie married her best friend, Juan Gallo, in May 2019. During her free time, she cares for their sweet baby girl, Ofelia, who joined their family in August 2020.
Sammie spends her day-to-day making sure that every person hears and believes the words: “you were made for more.” You can follow Sammie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! She’d love to get to know you!