For When You Get Stuck

This is 31 Conversations from the front porch day 19… you can find the rest of the series here.

31 conversations from the front porch with jkmcguire

Day 19: For When You Get Stuck in the Land of Remembering

It can happen when you least expect it… you are looking backwards more than forwards and OOPs you are suddenly stuck in the land of remembering. That is a painful place to dwell in for long.

It is one of the reasons I have had a difficult time finishing my book – it is not productive to bring back up again the healed places. And it is even more excruciating to take a look again at the places you can not change or fix, those fractured places where your voice is not heard and the YOU you have become can not step into and resolve.

There is no way of going back – so how do I as a writer process the old painful places without getting stuck in the land of remembering?

There was one particularly painful experience where I have found healing that I do not like to give much thought to anymore, but for this exercise it might be helpful. Here we go:

Someone did not show up. Actually it was a group of someone’s -they did not show up the way we had hoped and when they finally arrived that gathering of people walked in owning the joint and nitpicking our moment and pushing back hard because they felt threatened and jealous and excluded that while they were busy not showing up – life had happened.

People who did show up to stand and bear witness with us were overflowing into that moment with love and presence and excitement  – and that whole other group had missed it.

They resented us for doing this event differently then they had done. They walked in and were not included in the same ways those who were present had been able to participate.

It wasn’t like we had not tried to include them. But they had other things and other ways of doing things.They pushed back hard with blaming and ridicule during and after, but the celebration had happened without them.

It was painfully obvious and there was nothing to be done that could take back that holy moment for them.

I couldn’t fix it. We couldn’t fix it.

In their single-mindedness they tore into one of our holy ground moments painfully and we were left wounded.

On the anniversary of that event for years I felt that rush of hurt again. I felt my hopes dashed and the pain on faces, the dashed hopes, and the flooding over to suffocation that had been such a part of those years for us.

begin to ask God where were you jkmcguire

And then one year I sat down with God and we had it out.

I asked him, “Where were you?”

When all the hurt and rejection and envious-yuckies came into threaten that day – where exactly were you?

Then I sat in that question for a while waiting for him to answer. And He did:

  • He showed me how it would have looked if I had gotten what I had hoped and expected.
  • He showed me what it would have looked like for those who stood with us.
  • He showed numerous other examples of what it looked like to include.
  • The event never could have happened as a holy ground moment if the flooding suffocating places had been present with us in that moment.

For everyone who was present the memories of that day would have been vastly different and tainted.

And I finally understood.
I got flat on my face on the living room and I apologized for being so shortsighted, and fixated and wrong.
And I thanked him for his provision – even when that provision was hurtful and painful at the time.

I think that is one of the best questions you can ask of God – or the universe – or whoever it is you pray to: “Where were you?”
And then sit silently for a while so that the Divine can show you the answer.

When you finally get a clearer picture of what was happening – the things you did not originally see or understand then be still in that knowledge. If you feel the need then apologize for seeing it all through such a narrow lens.
And finally let the hurt go.

Step back and away from the land of remembering because you do not need to dwell there anymore
You no longer need to remember the anniversaries…
You no longer have to hold tightly to the pain of what was…
You can allow yourself to grow up into that new understanding.
And forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know until you knew it.

forgive yourself for not knowing

Thoughts: One of the hardest things about painful memories is giving God permission to redeem it for you. And then after he has redeemed it – learning to forgive not only those who have harmed you, but also learning to forgive yourself.


  • Are you hard on yourself? Do you give yourself the benefit of the doubt?
  • What is a memory or an anniversary of an event that you still fixate on even years later?
  • Take a moment today and ask, “God, where were you?”
  • What answers do you uncover?
  • What does he speak or show you that opens up a place of healing in that darkness?
  • It only takes a little light to break forth into the hidden, broken places.
  • Now let the anniversary of things go.
Want to Celebrate?
Join Me ON the Front Porch

Never miss an update! Sign up for a biweekly newsletter of exclusive content and weekly blog updates sent directly to your inbox.
Join me?