Thursday, May 5, 2016


In my last entry, I finished it up with a lengthy quote from the book “Hungry” by Dr. Robin L. Smith. So, you don’t have to go look it up, I’m going to copy it again here. You can skip past it if you read the last entry recently, although repetitive reading of such deep and powerful words usually can’t hurt.

“It’s a real challenge to find people in our lives who are willing to speak the truth. Not to overstep their bounds, but also not to collude by going along with situations that are destructive without compassionately reflecting what they see. Are you willing to speak the truth in that way—to yourself and those you love? Speaking truth with tenderness and compassion is the only real way to create genuine and intimate connections with ourselves and others. Unfortunately, most of us are not taught to responsibly or respectfully speak the truth. In fact, we are taught exact opposite. Most of us learn to nurse our lies the way you would an evening cocktail you’ve craved all day long. . . . 

“‘You shall know the truth and it shall set you free.’ I remind people that the promise of those words isn’t that the truth will make us happy (although sometimes it does). The promise is that truth will make us free. Truth is freedom. Truth is love. Truth allows us to grow and heal. Light and darkness are needed for growth. We need both day and night, waking and sleep, work and play, speaking and silence, giving and receiving. Truth abides in all.

“When we know ourselves, trust ourselves, and surround ourselves with loving, healthy, and honest support, we are able to create the life we are worthy of living. There is something almost intoxicating about being in the presence of compassionate truth-seeking and -speaking people. It’s an incubator for growth, healing, and wholeness.” 

To help you understand the impact of this principle to me, allow me to share a great discovery about myself that I was guided to a few years ago, and the timing of being led to this book exactly when I needed the strength and validation it gave me.

I came to understand years ago that the trials of life are often meant to teach us lessons about ourselves so that we can become better people if we choose to seek out the lesson and apply it. Through years of physical suffering and other intense life challenges, I have actively looked to God to show me the lessons He would have me learn so that I could be able to put certain trials behind me. I’ve certainly learned a great deal, and I will continue to strive to become better, whether the trials relent or not. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not a simple equation of learning equals deliverance. It’s more that a continued trust in God equals peace no matter what’s happening. But that’s a different conversation. 

Anyway, as I was diligently asking to be shown what God might want me to learn, I had a number of different experiences. One of them I will refer to as discovering “The Wound.” I had heard the concept that each person has “a wound” deep inside that is the core of their personal issues, their unhappiness, their struggles with life and relationships; that in many cases, most problems in a person’s life are symptoms of “the wound,” and that many or most of their problems are tentacles that branch off of “the wound.” I kept thinking about the idea, as if it were clinging to my brain by some power beyond my own; it was as if God were trying to tell me that if I could figure out my own personal “wound” I could truly start to unravel the great mystery of me and why I am the way I am—for better or worse. 

I was astonished with a startling reminder that God really is there, He really is listening, and He really cares about me as an individual when the answer came to me (after much time and prayer and pondering) with clarity and strength. The truth filled my every cell, and it was shocking by the way it shook me emotionally to the core. Evidence of the truthfulness of this personal revelation came in the way that I could look back through my life and see how my “wound” had impacted my decisions, my relationships, my career, and certainly the way I saw myself—which was greatly distorted due to the nature of the “wound” and how it had tainted my view on the world around me and my place in it. This process took many months; in fact I really don’t know how long, but it seems like a very long time. And in truth I’m still learning how to deal with it, but I’ve learned a great deal about what it means and what I need to do to overcome it. Knowing and doing are dramatically different, however, and changing half a century of seeing life through the wrong lens is no easy undertaking.

Getting back to the point, I realized that my “wound” was the absence of my voice. I had been robbed of my voice. Of course, that needs some explanation in order to make any sense at all. I can physically speak, obviously. And it seems strange that a writer and public speaker would be a person who had trouble using her voice. Truthfully, to become a writer and public speaker was a long, hard battle that was all a part of trying to claim my voice; I just didn’t consciously realize exactly what was happening while I was in the heat of that battle. 

To put it simply, I was raised in a home where I was not allowed to express my own thoughts and feelings, therefore I was raised to subconsciously believe I did not have a voice. I show no disrespect to my parents in making this statement. They were both good-hearted and amazing people, who have now passed on, and I absolutely know I was loved and cared for and they did the best they knew in raising their children. The problem was that when it came to raising children I believe they were mostly just reacting subconsciously according to the way they’d been raised, and so it had gone for many generations. In my upbringing I learned no problem-solving skills, no communication skills, and since both of my parents had their own brand of insecurity and poor self-esteem, I learned that by example as well as by behavior. These behaviors were perpetuated by other family members, and of course I was drawn to people who subconsciously validated my lack of voice. Hence, a young gullible, naive, insecure woman entered adulthood with a complete inability to speak up. People with stronger personalities seemed to be drawn to me because I wouldn’t contradict them, no matter what my instincts were telling me. As the Spirit brought clearly to my remembrance dozens—perhaps hundreds—of encounters in my life where I had remained quiet when something inside of me was screaming in protest, I realized how much I had ALLOWED myself to be mistreated and misunderstood. That was it. That was my big “wound.” I had been robbed of my voice. 

Of course, you can’t fix something if you don’t know about it. But once you know about it, you have to take responsibility and do something about it. Well . . . you could go into denial and shove it down deeper, but that’s certainly not going to help if you’re sincerely striving to become a better person. In acknowledging and identifying the “wound” I was confronted with an onslaught of grief. I couldn’t regret what I couldn’t go back and change, but I was horrified to look at how messed up my life was as a result of my “wound,” and I had to grieve for the possibilities of what might have been different. Of course, we’re all wounded, and we all just eventually have to grow up and get over it. I had to forgive all the people who had unintentionally hurt me. I could only think of maybe two or three people in my entire life who might have actually intended to hurt me, having a conscious recognition of my weaknesses. The rest was all truly unintentional. But it was my responsibility to forgive everyone. And perhaps most importantly, to forgive myself. 

I’m still learning how to find my voice and use it, how to acknowledge when my feelings and instincts are alerting me to the need to speak. Or—as I have learned—the need to stay silent. Sometimes remaining silent is the most powerful choice, but it’s important to acknowledge that it’s a conscious choice, to understand that silence is the right thing, not the weak thing; that silence is sometimes a courageous choice, not a cowardly one. 

The “wound” is still healing, and it requires much nurturing and a vast retraining of the deepest parts of my psyche. But I’m working on it. Hence I go back to the quote at the beginning of this entry. I am seeking people and situations in my life where I can speak truth and stand in truth and allow truth to be my foundation. I’ve been told—and I believe—that the truth will set me free. I’m moving forward with that belief.

Here’s to the truth, the real truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Anita


John and Jan Sherman said...

Sister Stansfield, this comment has nothing to do with this post BUT I have been wanting to tell you how much I love your words about your health challenges. I too am similarly sick. Starting with migraines and still trying to find help at my pain clinic. Well I do not absorb food . About 2 yrs ago we had spent our summer at our home in MI until I weighed 81 lbs. I have a j tube and a peg.. I have been fed right into my veins until I had had so many life threatening septic infections. My story is so much like yours. I have always gone to my meetings and my calling, cared for my 4 sons and worked when it became time to sent our first son out to BYU. I was an Air Force Officers wife for 20 years. Now I claim to be a retired -------. Like you, I have been to church about three times in three years. I know everyone thinks I am very inactive with no testimony. I am like you with brain fog. I just can not manage scripture study but I am faithful. Sunday morning I always watch the amazing never aging Brother Pinegar. God bless him!! Now to my point. Thank you for sharing. I gained so much strength from your words. You, my aging Dad, and my husband might be the only people who understand .
Sister J. Sherman

Unknown said...

Your blogs are such revelations and prompting moments for me. I feel the truth, the real truth, the whole truth in what you are saying, and I thank you for it. It has prompted me to wonder about what the original wound could have possibly been in me that could lead to such strange combinations of pain all through my life.

I sometimes think life is pain. And sometimes I think life is joy. Sometimes both within the space of a single day, even hour. As I write to you now I hear crying in the house, a common sound, which will prompt me to cry and wonder why life is so filled with pain. But if I wait an hour, it's possible there will be a tender mercy, and those who were crying, myself included, will be hugging someone and saying I love you or sorry.

I wish I saw the lesson in this pain. It feels like pain for pain's sake.

Unknown said...

I've always valued honesty.

I may see the world as a glass half-full kind of girl most of the time, and I try to tell people like it is but people aren't always open to the truth. And the more I talk in truth the more power I have.

You may have "Lost your voice" back in the day, and may not know how to express it in your personal relationships, but this new voice has power and commands my attention. Every time I open my inbox and your name appears on an email. I drop everything to hear what you have to say.

Thank you for your honesty and I hope your journey is healing. Your message and a guide to me.