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I remember years ago seeing a picture of Princess Diana walking through an abandoned mine field that had just been cleared. Instead of a diamond tiara, she wore a flak jacket and a helmet for protection, just in case. Though Angola’s bitter civil war had ended, millions of mines still littered the landscape, making a simple walk down the road potentially lethal. She wanted to bring awareness to the important cause of removing leftover mines so people could live safely and flourish once again without fear.

I have learned I have my own mine fields—undetected, undetonated pockets of hurt and fear buried deep within the rugged landscape of my heart. I have no idea where they are, no concept of what might actually trigger one to explode. But when someone or something steps on one, I know it immediately. It’s the strong anger I feel over a comment that was pretty innocent, or the fear that grips me over something that doesn’t warrant quite that degree of fear. It’s the time I assume the absolute worse of someone’s motives when they’ve never given me a reason to, or the strong reaction I have to a suggestion or idea, far stronger than is normal. I may not exactly understand why, but I definitely feel the intensity of it within.

Just like in real life, I do have choices when someone steps on a mine in my heart. I can blow up, blasting and yelling or crying and withdrawing my way through it, causing a lot of collateral damage in my wake. Or I can stop, pause and realize something much deeper within me has just been triggered, something I don’t fully understand. Like stepping on a real mine, it will take some thought and determination on my part to safely dig the mine out, but taking the time to dig is part of what will help me move safely forward on my life’s journey.

We are taught in Proverbs 20:5, “the real motives come from deep within a person—as from deep waters—but a discerning person is able to draw them up and expose them.” I have been blessed to have great people around me, my Wise Advisors, that are able to help me delve into and deal with the minefields of my heart. They have been invaluable on my journey! But by far the one who has most helped me to discover those deep wounds and heal them one by one has been my Father Jesus. When I know something within me is being triggered, I pray and He’s right there, helping me explore my emotions and the drivers behind them. Or He’ll bring things to the surface during our time together that I didn’t even know to look at, let alone realize it was an unexplored issue, sometimes through a scripture, sometimes as I step back to receive from Him what He would share with me.

Through it all, I have learned the value of catching myself in the middle of reacting (versus continuing to explode or implode) to stop and pray. Sometimes I’m nudged to take a step back from a situation, even if others tease me about it, so I can grab some fresh air and fresh perspective. At other times, I’ve simply acknowledged that I’m over-reacting, that I’m not sure why, and I either work it out with the person I’m with, or come back to the issue later with God so He can begin digging the hurt and anger out of my heart. Either way, that simple act of prayerfully acknowledging my reaction with my Father has probably helped me to heal and grow more than just about any other spiritual practice I’ve learned.