I have a client who lost her baby in the womb. They were going to name her Evangeline, which means “bearer of good news”. Except, there was no good news delivered at the hospital when the doctors determined little Evangeline had died inside her mom.
She and her husband had already set up the baby’s room, spending their weekends together painting the walls a soft pastel yellow sprinkled with delicate pink and purple butterflies fluttering to the ceiling, and a gorgeous wooden hand-carved crib by a master artisan carpenter.
After years of longing and trying, they were finally blessed with the miracle of conception and were giddily excited for the arrival of their first child.
But this is not a miracle story. There’s no against-all-odds come-back-from-the-brink-of-death feel good message of faith here.
There is a message, nevertheless. One of cold, hard reality colliding against faith like 50 foot behemoth waves crashing against palm tree lined luxury resorts during a tropical storm and leveling the earth, and how, sometimes, it takes a similar wrath inside you to truly know God.
I started working with Jessie (not her real name) two months ago, on the fifth anniversary of the day the doctors cut little lifeless Evangeline out of her. Evangeline wasn’t the only one who died that day. That was also the day Jessie died inside too. She lost her faith, her will to live and her spirit.
She didn’t come to me to help her regain her faith and trust in God. She was done with God, she said. She came to me to help her let go of her grief and to get back to some semblance of the “fun Jessie” she had lost the day her daughter died. She told me she knew she’d never fully be happy again, but she yearned to at least climb out from under the heavy darkness that consumed her.
During our work together, I intentionally avoided the subject of God. I didn’t fill her with empty, insensitive generalities of how her daughter’s in Heaven, happy and free with God now, and how God works in mysterious ways for the good of all of us, and how we need to keep trusting His will and let go of our own.
None of that means anything when your dead baby is cut out of your stomach. To tell her all that, even though it’s true, would be to dismiss the gaping, raw and bloody wound in her heart and to dishonor her pain.
So we worked on her heart-wounds caused by the death of her baby instead. As an emotional healing coach, I go deep with my clients. We sit down together, roll up our sleeves and dig in to the muck, the darkness, the ugly places no one wants to go and everyone avoids like their life depended on it.
But in this, and almost all cases, my client’s very life depends on facing it, not denying, avoiding or running from it.
THE HEALING POWER OF SITTING WITH YOUR PAIN IN THE DARKNESS
For the past 5 years, she hadn’t been living. She was a muted, hollow, empty shell of what once used to be a vibrant, playful and energetic woman. The life inside her was so dim that when she first reached out to me, she wrote, “I don’t even know why I’m emailing you. I don’t need or want your help. I don’t want to live and I don’t care that I don’t want to live. But I just need someone to sit with me in this darkness for a while, like you did with the massage lady.”
She had read my article, The Most Powerful Way to Help Someone Through Emotional Pain, on TinyBuddha, and understood too well the pain of the massage lady mentioned in the article.
Two months later, we sat together over Zoom, her in her navy blue pajamas in bed, and me in my home office, two thousand miles away. We don’t talk much during our sessions. There’s a little talk, to get things out, but mostly, we sit together and FEEL. I do my energy work, and she does her best to breathe, release and allow anything that comes up.
Three weeks into our sessions, she expressed an interest in healing, and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of letting go of the darkness. Six weeks into our sessions, she told me she wanted to find her fun self again.
Two months into our sessions, she sat on her bed and I in my home office, feeling together in silence.
But this session was different from the others. There was a primordial kind of energy emerging from her. I’d felt it coming, had sensed we would head in its direction at some point in our journey together but allowed it to unfold when it was ready, if ever.
She’d had a bad day and just before our session began, she and her husband had a fight. He wanted to repaint the baby’s room, turn it into a guest room for their out-of-state parents. She hadn’t allowed the room to be touched in 5 years. The crib, the butterflies, the yellow… all still there, as if waiting for a baby to miraculously appear and fall asleep in the new, 5-year-old soft cotton bedding that still lined the bottom of the crib.
We sat together in her anger toward her husband mixed with her sense of desperation, and I guided her to breathe deeper into her emotions, to feel it from her gut, not from the surface level of her chest or from the rantings of wrongdoings in her mind.
After a few minutes of silence, I felt her energy sink.
It made me angry. In fact, so incredibly angry I had to remind myself who I was and recenter into my higher Self. After grounding myself, tears streamed down my cheeks and I broke the silence saying gently, “is there something you want to say?”
A muffled “no” came out of my screen.
The anger I had felt moments ago rose up in me and I demanded, “there’s something you want to say, say it!”
All my clients will tell you I’m pretty calm and soft most of the time. But sometimes, I surprise them (and myself) with a moment of harshness like a sword slicing through a silk cloth, and always, according to their testimony, it was exactly what they needed.
“Say it!” I repeated.
She was crying now. “I can’t,” she begged.
I suddenly didn’t care. Soft, sensitive Tree went away and it was no longer about holding gentle loving space for her grief, sadness or feelings of loss that we’d been working on for the past 2 months. I instinctively knew that everything in this moment boiled down to her release of the words she didn’t want to say, and that her life depended on saying them.
Finally, the words shot out like machine gun rapid fire.
“YOU KILLED MY BABY AND RIPPED HER OUT OF ME! YOU FUCKING MOTHER FUCKER! I HATE YOU! I FUCKING HATE YOU!”
I knew this wasn’t directed toward her husband. He was merely an avenue through which her deep pain would be triggered, so that it could be brought into the light and healed.
She carried on, yelling, cursing and sobbing in full, all out, shameless, fearless, wreckless abandon wrath against God.
EMBRACING OUR WRATH AGAINST GOD
Many people, especially religious people, would tell me I did wrong. It’s not good to be angry with God, we’re supposed to love, honor and respect His will and His ways, we’re supposed to accept what He gives us and be grateful for it. I shouldn’t have encouraged her, I should’ve worked to build her faith, not let her tear it down, they would say.
If you’ve read my writings, you’ll know I’m not a religious person. I don’t follow church rules or comply with indoctrinated teachings. I listen only to God. Period.
And one thing I know for sure, from my own personal outcries of wrath against God, that God wants us to be completely open and honest with Him, even if that means telling Him we hate Him. He didn’t give us free will to hate Him only to judge or condemn us for it. He gave us free will to choose, and regardless of whether we choose to love or hate, His love for us is pure and unconditional.
Imagine being in a relationship with a partner who you were afraid to share your true feelings with, who you had to pretend that everything was okay when you’re hurting, when you feel disappointed, or when things go wrong. Imagine you felt like you had to settle for less than what you want and humbly accept all the things that go wrong because you were afraid your partner would punish you, hurt you, or worse, abandon you. You felt shame for wanting what you want because after all, your partner does so much for you already, you’re being ungrateful, entitled and selfish. Imagine your partner continues to disappoint you year after year, breaking his or her promises constantly, and yet you still feel that you’re not entitled to be disappointed and that it’s about something you’re doing wrong or something you’re not understanding, and you feel guilty for doubting and not trusting your partner. This makes you feel worse about yourself, as if you’re not worthy of your partner’s love at this point since you’re such a bad, untrusting and ungrateful person. But you can’t even talk to your partner about that, so you keep everything bottled up inside.
This is what it feels like to be in a fear-based, emotionally toxic relationship.
This is unfortunately how most people feel about God.
Now, imagine being in a relationship with a partner who you felt completely comfortable sharing your deepest, darkest and most painful thoughts and feelings with. Someone who you could be your authentic self around without fear of judgement, condemnation or retaliation. If things went wrong or you became disappointed, you could express your disappointment and hurt safely, knowing that they wouldn’t consider you ungrateful, entitled, demanding or selfish, that they would hear you and accept your full range of feelings with unconditional love, compassion and caring. Imagine your partner knows you through and through, all your mistakes, weaknesses, wrong doings and worst thoughts and yet they still love and cherish you deeply, holding you in the light of goodness and absolute worthiness.
This is what it feels like to be in an honest, love-based relationship with God.
Most people don’t experience this because they are stuck in their fear, afraid of what they’ve been conditioned to believe is the wrath of God and fitting themselves in the mold of someone else’s misperceptions of what a “good child of God” should and shouldn’t be.
My relationship with God shifted from toxic and fear-based to whole and love-based the moment I freely unleashed my wrath upon God the day I found out my father was dying of leukemia in 2013. I was so broken, I didn’t care about being a “good child of God” anymore. I let go of all pretenses and succumbed to the immense pain burning a hole inside my heart, letting out years of pent up anger, disappointment, misunderstandings and hurt in the name of being “good”.
It wasn’t until then that I fully FELT God in me, down to the marrow in my bones. I felt His loving, supportive presence urging me on, even as I was lashing out violently at Him. And it was in those moments that I finally understood His unconditional love for me, not as a nice concept in my mind but as a real, raw, visceral feeling in my entire being… and I knew that no matter how “bad” I was, no matter how awful my thoughts were, I was still loved. Deeply. Profoundly.
THE POWER OF GOD’S HEALING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF WRATH
After Jessie’s outburst, I reassured her that all was well, knowing that she had become afraid and ashamed now that she was no longer lost in the rage. We breathed and worked together through the swirling emotions of hurt, shame, guilt and her utter surprise and horror of what just came out of her. She told me she didn’t even know she had been angry at God, and that it wasn’t just the death of her daughter that started it, she had been angry for a long time. For many reasons, stacked up over the years and pushed down, disappointments and setbacks, unfulfilled dreams and closed doors, broken hearts, betrayals and breakups.
I gave her some processes to work through the emotions until our next session the following week. But the next day, I called her to check in.
She was a different person. She answered the phone with a jingle in her voice as if she’d woken up from a 5 year coma and discovered she could sing. She had felt exhausted and drained after our session ended the night before so she slept the rest of the evening and through the night.
That morning, she’d woken up and noticed, for the first time in five years, the light dancing through the sheer curtains in her bedroom. She remembered loving the sun peeking into her bedroom every morning as if to entice her to wake from her slumber with its warm embrace. The last time she noticed it, she was rushed to the hospital with incredibly harsh stomach pains, and after she came back, babyless, she never noticed it again.
She didn’t know if it’s because the sun stopped peeking in or if she stopped looking.
In either case, she woke up happy. She felt lighter, freer and somehow, more forgiving of herself, though she didn’t know she wanted or even needed forgiveness. Nevertheless, there was a love inside her that felt special, divine and holy.
We talked for a few minutes and then she had to go. She and her husband were repainting the room, she said, and she was excited to get started.
GOD WORKS WHEN YOU WORK
To be completely honest, I don’t know how my work works. I don’t take any credit for helping Jessie, I merely did as she asked and sat with her in the darkness for a while. I didn’t push her to come out, I didn’t urge her to move on, let go, have faith or try again, I did nothing except offer a safe place for her to be, fully, in pain or not in pain. I became an open loving container for her to experience and express whatever was happening inside her.
This was her journey and she needed to do the work. I simply held the space for her to do it.
To be sure, this was impossibly difficult for her. It’s easy to sit around, yearning, hoping and praying to a God outside ourselves for healing. And it’s easy to give up, like Jessie did for five years. It’s harder to dig deep into the emotionally dark places and find God within us, who was there all along, loving us from the very center of the shameful places we hid from Him and ourselves.
Jessie’s internal work is just beginning, but she now has a strong, trusting and pure relationship with God, one that she can turn to over and over again every time she feels overwhelmed. She no longer has to bear the emotional burden and pain alone and she can start rediscovering “fun Jessie” again.