In one of my favorite books, The Critical Journey, the authors talk about stages of faith. One stage, the wall, is a significant part of our spiritual transformation. People who come to Regeneration are often either facing the wall, in the wall or coming out of the wall. It is a sacred and dark place that takes courage to go through, and we’re often here to encourage and accompany people in these hard places. In my life, going through the wall on several occasions has been painful, but life-changing.
We tend to arrive at the wall because of some significant emotional, relational, or sexual issue that is affecting our lives in such a way that we are having trouble coping or trusting God. Sometimes it’s a difficult life circumstance: an illness, a relationship crisis, or the need to face an addiction, to name a few. At the wall, we’re called to integrate our spiritual selves with the rest of us.
All the scaffolding we have hung on to, all the things we have trusted and relied on for our well-being, fall away so we can find out the truth: what we need most is God. We begin to let go of seeking people’s approval, finding comfort in things like food or drink, and defining ourselves through what we do or what we have because these things have kept us from fully knowing and trusting Him.
One of the powerful outcomes of going to the wall is that we learn to accept our stories. Many of us carry a lot of guilt, shame, anger, and bitterness toward our pasts, events, and people in our lives. At the wall, we identify the wounds we’ve received in our lives. We feel the pain of those experiences, and find a healthier way to think about them.
For myself and many others, part of going through the wall means forgiving others and allowing God to heal us. We also learn how to love without clinging and without fear. Through this process, I began to understand that God wants to heal and free me from many hurtful childhood experiences. Praying, practicing spiritual disciplines, and meeting with a spiritual coach/director or counselor have all helped me heal and grow.
At the end of the book, the author writes this:
The paradox I live with now is that I would never have become the woman I am today…if it weren’t for all the experiences I have had. I can take responsibility for my part in these experiences and, at the same time, express gratitude for what they have meant in my life.
God continues to reveal to me places where I am stuck, and habitual unhealthy thoughts I struggle with. As God heals those areas, I realize that I would not have as much empathy for others if I hadn’t been through the wall myself. Because I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed and fearful, I can better come alongside others in that place. It’s all part of the spiritual process…painful and beautiful.
Have you experienced the wall? Are you willing to go through it or are you afraid of what you might find there?
– Kit Elmer