We all carry both psychological and spiritual wounds that affect our motives, our reactions to other people’s behavior, and the deeper reasons we fear or avoid certain things.
Here are five steps that have assisted me find true interior freedom and peace.
Healing can’t occur with a closed or hardened heart. When we are wounded, it’s a natural response for us to close ourselves off from receiving love or taking the risk in loving others. We’re afraid of betrayal or rejection. But if we truly desire deep inner healing, we need to pray for a heart that is meek.
Meekness is the beatitude that comprises sensitivity, receptivity, and gentleness. It is the entire opposite of callousness. Once your heart softens, you will notice a sincere desire for amending your life. Repentance means you are well on your way to healing.
Renunciation means that you reject sin. When you renounce something you did, you are declaring full knowledge that it was wrong and that you have every intention of avoiding it in the future.
Once you reject sin, you strengthen your will and are more capable of cooperating with God’s grace in times of temptation.
The sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is essential to healing our wounds. The grace we receive through this act of self-abasement gives us clarity, insight, and wisdom so that we are better able to recognize our weaknesses and defects. If you make an effort to confess your sins often (about once a month), your heart will be less fearful of God and others and more apt to give love without condition.
Penance, as a sacrament, is really the basics of our journey toward healing. In short, combined with frequent reception of the Eucharist, these are called sacraments of healing for a reason. It’s because they build us up, repair what’s broken in us, and draw us into a life centered around courage and hope.
It’s not enough to merely say the words, “I’m sorry” or “What I did was wrong” and then move on with one’s life. The remnants of sin will linger in your heart and create further pain if you do not make a conscious effort toward reparation for your sin.
What does this mean exactly? It’s not as if God withholds his grace or love from you unless you make it up to him somehow. Reparation is for your own good. It’s a sacrifice or mortification of your own choosing that is done out of genuine love for God. Reparation is a way you can show to God by action that you deeply regret your sin.
Reciting a Chaplet to the Precious Blood of Jesus every Friday helps in reparation for sins. It’s a way to meditate on the mysteries of Christ’s love for while also setting aside extra time in my day out of love for him.
Most Importantly, God wants us to be completely restored to wholeness. The more he repairs the patches and holes in our hearts, the more our lives reflect him. And we become more closely united to God as we progress in holiness through wholeness. Restoration is the process by which God prunes and purifies us, and sometimes this hurts before it heals. The hurt is caused by the chiseling of our poor attitudes, negative behavior patterns, and deeply entrenched vices.
Pruning feels like harsh punishment, but it is the merciful discipline of a Father who longs to restore us to our original beauty. We must permit him the time and space to do with our hearts and lives whatever is essential for that restoration to happen. In the end, we become the masterpiece we were always intended to be.