I sat with a pillow hugged against my chest, shielding myself from all the things that hurt after my unexpected and unwanted divorce.
“Just tell me how to heal. Like a 1-2-3 kind of plan. I’m a really good student—I don’t want to brag but I did win the Teacher’s Pet award my senior year of high school, so like, I know I can do it. Just tell me how to heal.”
“It doesn’t work like that” replied my now-not-so-favorite therapist. She continued, “Healing is a mysterious journey. You just have to trust the process.”
My immediate response:
“Trust? Did that once and here we are. No thanks.
A journey? That’s code for messy, hard and unpredictable. Also no thanks.
Mysterious? Nope. I would like concrete and clear-as-day thank you very much. So the 1-2-3 plan, please?”
Three years later and my therapist knew a thing or two. Healing is a mysterious journey that requires trusting the process. It’s not always easy to see the progress because it’s so small and inconspicuous most days, but here are five ways you can tell you’re healing:
5 Signs You’re Healing
1. You lead with your wound less often.
For a long time I found it necessary to let every person I talked to—and I mean every person—know that I am a divorced single mom of three. I didn’t just blurt it out but I did make sure it came up somehow. Like when the eye doctor asked if I was fatigued I replied with, “Yeah, I’m a single mom! Of course I’m fatigued!” A simple ‘yes’ would have sufficed. You know you’re healing when your wound is a part of your story but not your front page story.
2. You have dreams.
Not only do you have dreams for the future, but you’re excited about them. They seem attainable. When you’re stuck, dreams feel insurmountable and may even cause despair. When you’re healing, dreams bring hope and life and give you purpose.
3. You change your language.
After I became a single mom, all I could think about was all that was lost and all that I couldn’t do easily anymore. Vacations? Yeah right. Going to a class at the gym? Nope. Taking all three kids anywhere? Not gonna happen. As you heal, not only does your language change, but so does the desire to even use that language. It’s no longer about what you can’t do, but how you’re going to figure it out.
4. You are content.
Being content is a choice—a fierce choice to show up for the life you’ve been given and find the silver linings in any circumstance. It is rooted in a belief that God is good, his plans are good, and his promises are true, even when your circumstances may look otherwise. Contentment is letting go of how it should be and instead trusting the process and the timing of your life.
5. You own your stuff.
After a loss or disappointment, specifically when it involves a relationship, it’s really normal to focus on how the other person hurt you. In the beginning it is unbearable and even soul-crushing to admit that you played any part in the fallout. I don’t know every story so I can’t speak for everyone, but I knew I was healing when I was able to own my stuff. It was heavy and filled with deep remorse, but it wasn’t soul crushing. When you trust the timing of your healing, it all unfolds as it should, and things are brought to your attention when your heart can handle it. You know you are healing when can talk about your stuff with a heart of humility.
It’s easy to put our personal needs aside to care for others, but our own journey of healing will directly affect those around us. We can only give away what we have received, so if we want to be influential people, healing needs to be a priority. Every good thing about my life is because of Jesus and his amazing grace. He is always willing and more than able to give us what we need—and that most definitely includes our healing.
This article originally appeared here.