Beginning the Healing Work

Many of us have some level of awareness that there are areas of our life that need addressing. For many, these times of awareness come and go. We may even have experiences in our life that bring these areas of need to the forefront with a strong conviction to finally address them. Yet often, with the passage of time, these moments of zeal for change begin to fade. The experiences that bring these moments may have been in the form of interpersonal conflict or a disproportionate reaction we had to something or someone. Perhaps they are born from becoming weary with chronic feelings of sadness, loss, and shame. Shame is living with the chronic and pervasive feeling that we are not worthy. This is not to be confused with humility. Shame is feeling and believing on a very deep level that we are not worthy of the love of others or of God and therefore cannot accept that love. We may live with chronic feelings that we are being punished. We may also be tired of living in state of being on edge, unable to relax, focused on some feared scenario in the future, or paralyzed by fears and the avoidance born from those fears. Finally, we may reach a point where we realize the same negative interactions keep repeating in relationships. In these experiences we may start to become aware that our unresolved past is leaking into the present and disrupting our present life. All of these areas of struggle or need can hinder our spiritual growth. They hinder or prevent our ability to be in the present moment, to have successful relationships, and to be able to show and receive love and affirmation from others and from God.

Starting off on this path of resolving and overcoming these struggles can be intimidating and daunting to some of us. We might even not know where the starting point is to begin this work.  These are all normal feelings and perceptions. The starting point is the desire for change, the realization we can’t stay in our present state, and the resolve to move forward. We also will need to commit to being humble and embracing the negative or not so pretty aspects of ourselves. We embrace these negative aspects of ourselves because the mere realization of them is a starting point. The area of work has been marked. It is helpful to begin a journal in which we will log and record the areas of work that we have identified, where they might be coming from, and the work we will need to do to resolve the unresolved experience so it no longer disrupts the present. We will also want to record all of our many insights that we will achieve along the way.  This path or journey we set out upon will be filled with insights, increased self-awareness, sources of humility, times of grief, expressions of anger, forgiveness, resorting and reprocessing past events, and making changes in our behavior. When this process is engaged in consistently and with determination, we will not get stuck, we will keep moving. We address the past only to the extent that it affects the present. We soon discover that this healing path is ascetical in nature. It is filled with self-denial in that we have to let go of the distorted perceptions of ourselves and others that we have clung onto for so long- whether it be of thinking we had more control than we do, seeing ourselves as perfect or as never being at fault, or believing that everyone else is always at fault.  As we progress on this path, we grow spiritually as emotional and spiritual resources are freed up. We engage the present without the baggage of the past. We become vessels of joy, peace, and light-heartedness. Finally, we are able to love more perfectly and without fear; to accept love from God and others.

About Fr. Joshua Makoul

Fr. Joshua Makoul has been serving as the Dean of St. George Cathedral in Pittsburgh since 2012. Before that time, Fr. Joshua worked in the Counseling Field for 16 years. This involved work in a family-based, school-based, and an outpatient setting. Fr. Joshua received two years of training in family therapy at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center and completed a one year certificate course in Cognitive Behavior Therapy at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. During his last six years working in a small outpatient group, he was supervised by Dr. Jesus Salas who supervises at the Beck Institute in Philadelphia. Fr. Joshua received his Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and his Bachelors in Psychology from Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. He is licensed in the state of Pennsylvania for counseling. For seminary he attended Holy Cross Seminary in Boston and received an M.Div.

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