“You cannot heal what you do not acknowledge, and what you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control of you from within, festering and destroying you and those around you.” — Richard Rohr

What wound are you ignoring, burying deep within? What lie are you telling yourself? What hurt are you working hard to convince yourself no longer affects you? What unhealthy habit are you unwilling to admit is polluting your life?

In a recent conversation, my counselor asked me a very pointed question. The question was not a surprise. Based on my life circumstances, it is a question I anticipated he or someone else would ask me. Internally, I was asking and evaluating that question myself. Over the last year, I formed my answer. When he asked, I answered based on what I had convinced myself of. Three days later his question was still going through my mind.

Through the gentle love and leadership of the Holy Spirit I realized I was lying to myself. I was protecting myself from the pain of acknowledgement. As I chose to ignore the issue, I was unable to move forward in a healthy, healing path.

In Luke 15 we read a powerful story about a prodigal son. The son finds himself lonely, hungry, broke and homeless after squandering his wealth in wild living. He goes to work for a farmer. He is feeding pigs and is so hungry that he wants to eat some of the slop, but no one gives him that opportunity. His emptiness went far beyond his stomach. It represented the condition of his soul.

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Pain can permit progress. It can also promote progress. Sometimes we are unwilling to change until the pain of staying the same becomes too great. That is where the prodigal son found himself. He hit rock bottom.

Luke wrote that the prodigal son “came to his senses,” “got up,” and “went to his father.” When returning to his father “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Jesus said this is how our Father in heaven, our divine Creator, looks at us and receives us when we return to him.

As humans we face hurt, discouragement, difficulties, pandemics, broken relationships, crushed dreams, and other situations we are tempted to minimize or ignore, convincing ourselves they do not affect us. What if, today, we came to our senses and acknowledged the pain, got up and returned to our heavenly Father? What if this column serves as a wake-up call for you?

Two weeks ago, on the day I stopped lying to myself and acknowledged my pain, God received me with open arms. His love led me to take two action steps. One step returned no results. The other step opened multiple doors I could not have imagined. I am now on an exciting path of healing and strategic re-building, ordering my life God’s way. I am starting a yearlong one-on-one mentoring process I have wanted to do for years. I am working on a new project with a friend. I am grateful.

Do you need to return to your Father? He is ready to receive, guide and heal you.

Hauser is a pastor and leadership coach and can be reached at jon@growingforwardtoday.com