Hello, dear one! Instead of my usual blog post, I'd like to open my heart to you as I share my testimony. There is no better way to get to know one another than to tell our story....
What does it mean to be healthy, balanced and whole – not just in body and mind but in spirit? What does love and hope look like? What does it feel like? Will anything I do ever be enough? I am a good person, but will I ever be good enough?
If God is a God of mercy, compassion, love and forgiveness, why is my life a struggle? I suppose I deserved the abuse. I deserved to be sexually violated. I deserved all the painful experiences. Every hurtful and negative word spoken to me and about me. Rejection. Lies. Humiliation. False accusations. Anger. Judging. Hate. Separation. Avoidance. Divorce. I deserved it all, right? Even after God rescued me from those nightmares and incredibly traumatic experiences, why am I still so broken? Isn’t my life worth anything? Nothing matters any more, does it? Who am I God? Is anyone listening? Does anyone care? God, are you there?
This was the condition of my heart during the Summer of 2008. I was at the deepest and darkest season of my life. I was bound by shame, sorrow, anguish, fear and my own sinful state of mind. I was depressed, lonely, scared and trapped in a pit of self-condemnation that slowly exposed itself as instability, pride and arrogance. I was defensive. I was always trying to justify my actions, my reactions and my words. I lost valuable friendships. I was not only struggling with shadows of my past; I was in a battle with myself. I was in a spiritual battle. I was fighting for my life and for my own soul.
In 2005 my life was beginning to turn upside down and fall apart around me and within me. I was in the midst of a very emotionally abusive, unstable, unhealthy marriage that opened unhealed wounds of a bittersweet turbulent childhood. One year later, my husband and I separated. When we separated. Eventually, I found a part time job and soon I was working a second job. In 2008, my daughters and I relocated to down-size, yet the struggles didn’t ease up. I was raising two teen girls on my own in a new town on one income. I was driving a car that was always breaking down. I had a mortgage, rising finances and many responsibilities dependent solely on me.
For the first time, my daughters were spending the weekends and holidays away from me with their father. I found myself completely alone in a house that wasn’t yet a home. All of us were struggling to make the transition. My heart ached deeply. I felt I failed my daughters and God. I couldn’t let my daughters see me cry. I had to be strong for them, so I held in my tears until they were away. Eventually, I could no longer carry the heaviness. I cried when they were home. I cried in the solitude of my cubicle at work and in my car at lunchtime. I cried in the middle of the long dark nights.
My tears didn’t stop. My doctor prescribed depression medication. Soon, however, I was in the ER with adverse reactions to the meds. At the same time, I had a chronic viral infection similar to mono which kept me homebound for days. I had no energy and very little resistance. With every ounce of hope I had left in me just to make it through to the end of each day, I prayed for one simple thing – for God to take my heart into His hands and let Him do as He wills. I knew my heart was no longer safe in my own hands. I continued to pray, especially when negative thoughts, loneliness or memories entered my mind. Prayer was beginning to shift my focus to the power of God’s hands over my own – the power of the Sovereignty of His authority over my thoughts, my body, my heart, my life.
I began to seek God in His Word. I’ve read and even taught His Word before, but I knew this time, my search for Him and understanding of Him would be different. The Book of Psalms immediately drew me into the embrace of His heart and His promise to never leave me. I was beginning to see Him and know Him as my God and my Savior through the clouded image of me. I hungered for more. The more I hungered, the more God fed me. His Word was chipping away at the walls that surrounded my heart. It gave me hope. It gave me peace. Negative emotions, fear, thoughts and false beliefs about myself were being uprooted and replaced with truth. It gave me joy. I was beginning to heal from the inside-out. Although it was a slow progression, I was growing in my journey and in my relationship with God. I was experiencing a breath of life in me and around me beyond what I have ever allowed myself to experience. I was losing my fear of close-knit bonds with others. Avenues to love and to be loved were opening all around me and within me.
Months moved forward quietly and uneventful. Then I came to a season when pain-filled memories and fear about an uncertain future knocked at my heart’s door, challenging me to let them back in. Again, I found myself on my knees, not out of fear but out of my inability and need to gain control of the shadows before they gained control of me. God impressed in me: My child, when you placed your heart in the palm of my hands, I placed my own heart in the palm of your spirit. Nothing. No one can ever take that away. Look to me instead of to your past which is gone. Let it go and look to me. I will complete you. I AM your way through. I AM and always will be.
When I truly grasped the truth about His presence in me, all of a sudden, I was aware of how complete and balanced I have become because He is my sustenance, my whole, my all. Without Him, I have nothing. I am nothing. I no longer consider myself a good person in and of myself, yet I am called righteous because He is that righteousness within me. Because He is and because of His love for me and how He revealed His love in me and through me and even more, through His sacrifice, I can no longer waste any time sorrowing over shadows of my past. I can no longer grieve over sins which no longer exist. New thinking, new perspective, new heart.
From that moment forward I had no doubt who I belonged to, forever. I was finally at peace with who I am and whose I am for the first time in my life. I realized I am not a victim but a victor. I am His redeemed and precious child. I am loved. I am valuable to God. My value and my worth is not about me. It’s not about anything I or anyone can do or any title we can attach to our name. It’s about who God is in me, who God is in my Sister or Brother, who God is period.
Since I’ve given my life to God, He abundantly blessed me with vision to see the blessing of all things from the seemingly simplest to the grandest. Like me, my daughters have also found joy in daily living. My house has become a home. My beater car has since been replaced. I have a steady job. I also received training and certification as a Christian Life Coach and volunteer as a mentor to women at a local prison. God is opening more doors of blessed opportunity for me to serve Him as I move forward in my journey. It is my joy to serve God!
Some days I wonder what the specifics of this will look like later, but I’ve learned to just let it all go and trust in Him with each step I take and live in the abundance of Him, right now and in every season we find ourselves in. Praise in all seasons not only glorifies God; praise is like a powerful melody that breaks down obstacles that keeps us in bondage. So, raise the praise, and let His glory shine!
Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Blessings on you dear one, and glory to God!