Heeding the Call to Healing: When God Calls Us to Recovery

I have tricked myself into believing that I had dealt with my childhood trauma.

 

I believed that because I could admit to myself and others that I had been sexually abused and abandoned by both my parents either emotionally or physically, that I must have dealt with the residual side effects.  In the last year God has used my circumstances, books and beautifully broken women around me to open my eyes and reveal that I still have so much work to do on my path to recovery.

 

 

God has been strategically drawing me closer to Him so that he can show me where he wants me to focus my energy.  He has been leading me toward the realization that I have never processed or dealt with the scars that were left by my mother’s addiction, my father’s inability to be a father at the age of 16 or the man who forever changed how I see the world.  God is making it clear that I have some deep, ugly scar tissue that is encasing my heart, keeping me from fully experiencing life or his unconditional love and provision.

 

The life that I have been leading is nothing but a dim shadow of the life God envisions for me.  I must first do the painstaking hard work down in the trenches of my past so that I can live a full and abundant life in Christ.

 

Once I realized that I hadn’t in fact dealt with my childhood trauma I came up with every excuse and every reason why I couldn’t step back into counseling.  I didn’t have the time, or what if I completely fell apart?  How could I take care of my family if I couldn’t even take care of myself?  God had been telling me that I needed to address my trauma and the residual effects that it was causing and I just wasn’t willing to trust Him.

 

As he does on a regular basis God used circumstances around me to reveal where I had been going wrong.  He used a sermon series being taught at our church inspired by “Experiencing God: How to know and Do the Will of God” to meet me right where I was at.  There is this beautifully written statement made by Henry and Richard Blackaby that stopped me in my tracks:  “God doesn’t make suggestions.  He speaks with the full determination to see that what He has said will come to fruition.”  When God tells us to do something, he expects that we follow through!

 

 

As I read this it is impossible not to see such a perfect correlation in my daily life.

 

One morning a few weeks ago my oldest, Landon, refused to go to school.  Have you ever had one of those mornings, where no matter how much Holy Spirit fueled patience you have, no matter how kind and gentle you are, your child has dug their heels in and has committed to their platform?  That was the kind of morning we were having.  My son had in his mind that if he put up a big enough fight that he would win and I would allow him to stay home from school.  Little does he know that I have had 20 years to perfect my stubbornness.  I am a master at the art of digging my heels in.  He has no idea who he is up against!

 

What Landon was failing to see was that he can either choose to willingly get in the car and buckle himself in to his car seat or I can pick him up, kicking and screaming and hold him in his seat while he flails and fights.  I will eventually get him buckled and in the car and headed to school.  The only choice that he has is how he is going to handle the circumstances that he is in.  He can decide how he is going to respond to the choice that has already been made for him by his mother who has more wisdom and foresight that he can even fathom.  Is anyone else seeing the connection to our relationship with God?

 

If God can heal the Leper (Luke 5:13), give the blind man of Luke 18:42 his sight and raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44) he can certainly heal the scars of sexual abuse! 

 

As I explore this new (to me) concept of God’s sovereignty I am beginning to see that He has a plan for me.  My life is going to end up at a certain destination, in this case healing from sexual abuse as a child.  The only thing that I have control over is how long it takes me to get to that destination.   I can either go kicking and screaming refusing to see past my lack of desire to deal with this (this is defiantly the choice I have been making for the last decade) or I can choose the path that God has laid out for me, either way I have to process this and deal with the effects this is having on my life.

 

If God can heal the Leper (Luke 5:13), give the blind man of Luke 18:42 his sight and raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44) he can certainly heal the scars of sexual abuse!  He can repair the wounds inflicted by seeing my mother’s addiction completely consume her.  He has the power to be a salve to the fear of abandonment and being left out.  Why is it so easy to believe that He is powerful and compassionate enough to heal the bind, that he is powerful enough to guide David’s stone to defeat Goliath but so hard to accept that he can and wants to heal these deep, personal and dark wounds?

 

God is inviting me to join him on the path to redemption and healing, but I have to make the decision to trust him enough to follow; to pick up my cross and follow Him.  You can move past your trauma, it doesn’t have to define us!  The same God of the universe who parted the Red Sea lives in me!  He lives in you!  He is willing and waiting for me to call on His strength; all I have to do is ask.  All you have to do dear sister is take His hand, trusting and knowing that he will be there every step of the way guiding and wrapping you in His loving embrace.

 

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Die To Self: The Constant Struggle between Selfishness and Selflessness

What does die to self really mean?  When it states this in scripture it seems far away, a distant and vague commandment.   How exactly do I die to self?  What does this mean?

 

As a mother I have begun to experience a form of death.  Not a die to self sort of death, but a death of individuality and personality.  I have slowly given myself over to motherhood, loosing myself in the process.  Has anyone else experienced this, or am I just living in crazy town: population 1?  I for so long have tied my identity to where I am in life.  I was a music kid in high school and one of the “smart” girls.  I was the 17 year old girl engaged before her senior year of high school.  Then I was that weird 18 year old wife.  Then a complexly new identity was born in March of 2011: mother.

 

It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning on my drive home from dropping my oldest of at school; the realization that I was not embodying the commandment to die to self.  When my 18 month old got up at 4 this morning and then again at 4:45 and then again at 5:15 I was exhausted and frustrated and angry.  I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so when I am awoken before 6:00 am by a crying child I am anything but kind and compassionate.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not yelling at the poor little guy who just needs a mommy snuggle.  But I am not racing up those stairs with a happy heart ready and willing to serve and love on my little one.  I am stumbling and stomping up the stairs complaining that it’s freezing and mumbling something along the lines of “this is why some animals eat their young”.

 

In that moment on that long car ride home I realized that dying to self isn’t some elaborate scene where I am martyred for my faith.  Dying to self is refusing selfishness in the little moments of my life.  It is played out when my husband makes a snide remark about the laundry or the dishes after he’s had a really difficult day and I refuse to give myself over to my emotions and instead of attacking right back, giving him some grace.  It is exemplified when I get up at 3:30 and then 4:00 and then 4:30 and then finally give up at 5:00 and get up for the day with my one and a half year old.  Dying to self is reading to my 6 year old when all I want to do is curl up with a good book of my own and be left alone.

 

 

I came across a beautiful passage this week in 1 Corinthians 5:18 “So, my dear brothers and sisters be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lords work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless”.  We are to forget who is benefiting from our hard work and not allow bitterness to creep in.  We are to bring to the front of our minds that no matter what we are doing and no matter who is benefiting, the work we are doing is ultimately for the Lord.  He sees us getting up before the sun to care for our little ones.  He knows that our hearts are heavy when we watch our child navigate a difficult circumstance.

 

See beautifully broken women, we have a choice: a choice that we have to make over and over and over again, hundreds of times each day.  We have to make the choice to love our children and husbands even when it’s the last thing we want to do.

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When Perfect Isn’t Quite Perfect

From the time I was a teenager, people around me have felt the need to declare things like, “It must be nice to have such a perfect life” or “ughhhh I wish I could be get perfect grades like you”.  After I had children it transformed into statements about how perfect my children were or how I was the perfect mother.  It was always said without malice.   It was meant more as praise to my parenting or the accomplishments I had worked so hard for, but it always rubbed me the wrong way.  I would find myself getting defensive and upset with my “accuser”.  Perfect, you think my life is perfect; if you only knew the depth of my self-hate and shame you would never utter the word perfect when talking about my life again.

What I was failing to realize was that I was the one causing those “perfection” comments.  I was manufacturing this perfect porcelain picture of my life to put on display for others to see.  My high school classmates didn’t see me weeping in a heap on the floor two days before a big assignment was due feeling like a failure.  My mom friends didn’t know that I would cry in my husband’s arms at night because I felt like I was ruining my kids beyond repair.    What I had failed to realize is that lack of perfect does not mean lack of worthiness.  For too long I tied my identity and worthiness to other’s acceptance.

For so many years I presented myself in a way that made my life seem like a page out of a story book.  Part of this plasticness came from a place of trying to protect myself from judgment.  I wanted people to think that I had it all together; I didn’t want anyone to see me for the weak sad person that I really am when all the pretenses are peeled away.  A bigger part of wearing the mask of perfection was that I felt that in order to be a “good” Christian I had to act, think and feel a certain way.  I thought had to fit a cookie cutter mold where life was all rose gardens and perfect peace.  That is all that I had ever seen portrayed in my short time as a believer in Christ.  I had never had a deep enough relationship with a Christian to know that we are all a little messy and sin effects us all.

Lack of perfect does not mean lack of worthiness

With the exception of the last four years I have lived a double life.  The way that other see me is just an illusion that I create when I am interacting with anyone other than my husband and children.  This constant act that I had to put on drained me and made me feel unworthy and lonely.  It propelled me into a depression and self-hate that I had never experienced.

The time between my first pregnancy and finding my current church family was a dark and horrible time in my marriage and my walk.  I was falling apart at the seams with no girlfriend or mentor to turn to.  My self inflicted loneliness became my prison.  I was filled with bitterness and anger because of my circumstances which lead me to lash out at the one I felt had caused this circumstance, my husband.  During those years I did irreparable damage to my marriage that I will regret until the day I leave this Earth.  I tore my husband down and threatened divorce.  By putting on the mask of perfection I had robbed myself of true intimacy with my husband.  By the grace of God my marriage stayed together and my husband and I have begun to repair the damage done during that dark time.  My desperate need to appear perfect to those around me had distanced me from experiencing a true Godly relationship with other believers and it almost sent my life in a completely different direction.

This journey of self discovery and acceptance is just beginning for me.  I am still working hard to open myself up and let others in to see me for who I am: faults, failures and all!  God is working in me to show me my value needs to be found in Him, not in the way other’s view me.  This is what he wants for all of us!

My husband and I purchased our first home in the fall of 2012.  This led us to a new location where we had to begin the painstaking search for a new church family.  We tried every church within 20 miles of our new home and we had almost lost hope.  On our last attempt at searching for a church family God opened the door to our current church home.

At this new church that image of a “perfect” Christian was shattered by some amazing women that God put in my life.  These three women were so radically real and different from any Christian woman I had ever met!  I connected with R. and S. through a Beth Moore bible study and I met M. when I joined the worship team.  These women continue to be my unofficial mentors.  When I grow up I want to be just like them: true to myself and accepting of who God made me to be.

These three women showed me through love and grace that I can embrace my identity in Christ.  They “gave me permission” to be my weird, emotional slightly sarcastic self.  These amazing women taught me there is beauty in brokenness that brings us to a place of full surrender to the Lord.  God didn’t create all women to be perfectly submissive, delicate and subdued.  Some of us are loud, silly and tattooed up and that is the beauty of Christ!  We were all made in his image and He desires us to embrace our uniqueness and use it to bless those put in our path.

So this new year I am going to begin the work of getting to know myself.  Will you join me in peeling off that mask of perfection and letting your weird out?  Sweet sister let’s start digging deep and discovering the uniqueness that God hand crafted us with!  Let others be blessed and challenged by you just by being the woman God created you to be.

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New Years Resolutions

As 2016 comes to a close I sit here in my kitchen looking back over my year and wondering what I accomplished.  As I ponder this I’m struck with the realization that I haven’t done much other than just survive this year.  I’m looking forward to 2017 and wanting to set those lofty goals that we all dream of achieving: I want to lose 60 pounds, completely declutter my home, pay off our car loan and start taking steps towards getting my degree in nursing and midwifery. 

 

There is nothing wrong with all those goals; they are admirable and great goals.  However, I am overlooking a huge first step.  Before I can begin to tackle even one of those lofty goals I have to first figure out why I want to achieve these specific goals.  Do I want to lose 60 pounds because I feel called to live a healthier lifestyle or is it for vanity?  Do I want to start taking classes because I feel like being a stay at home mother isn’t enough, that being a Mom isn’t worth all my time and energy?  Am I feeling unproductive and useless on the financial side of our home life or is it because this truly is the time that God wants me to step out and begin my studies in midwifery.  If I can take a minute to be honest with you, my 2017 goals are all based on selfish ambition not formulated at the feet of Jesus.

 

 

As I look back over not just the last year but the last 10 years I can begin to see a pattern woven through every decision I’ve made.  I have been spending all my time and energy trying to better myself with knowledge and wisdom hoping that it would make me like who I am.  I have devoted countless hours to researching eating plans and exercise routines not because I have a desire to be a healthy strong woman so that I can serve my family and my Lord more fully.  I have spent that time desiring a thinner frame because I am ashamed of my body fat, my extra rolls on my belly and the cellulite on my “thunder thighs”.  I have spent all my life in pursuit of the one thing that will take me from the ugly, slimy wriggly caterpillar to the beautiful elegant and colorful butterfly we all dream of becoming.  I have been working so hard on self development because deep down I hate my body.  I have made changing myself a priority because I am ashamed of the overwhelming need to fill all the emptiness inside me with food, tv, novels anything to make me forget how much I despise myself.

 

So this year I am resolving not to lose 60 pounds or to pursue more knowledge.  I am resolving to be still and to get to know the woman that I am under all the extra weight.  I am going to take this year and embrace the rolls, embrace the stretch marks and learn to love myself right where I am.  I’m no longer going to wait until I’m where I feel worthy of love and pride in who I am because feelings are oh so deceptive!  I am a beautiful creation made in God’s holy image.  Other people find me worthy of friendship, worthy of their time and efforts.  I am going to take a step back and try to view myself as others see me.  I am going to get out from behind the camera and be a part of the memories being made all around me.  I am going to stop tamping out my shine for fear that people will see how overweight I am.  I am going to let myself be carefree, seeing the good and the joy in every moment.

 

 

This year I want to learn to feel comfortable in my own skin.  I am going to stop stressing over my weight.  Last week my youngest Kolton, who is now 18 months old, was playing in my bedroom.  He loves to stand in front of my full length mirror and make faces at himself, it is adorable!  I left the room for just a minute to grab something from the kitchen only to hear an ear splitting crash.  My little monkey had somehow managed to knock the mirror over and it was shattered in a million pieces all around him.  Thankfully he was completely unharmed just a bit shook up.  I have yet to replace that mirror and I’ve come to the realization that I shouldn’t replace it.  I have spent far too much time, emotion and energy weeping over my reflection in that mirror.  I have been so consumed with how I look it has kept me from fully embracing myself.

 

I’m going to stop the relentless pursuit of getting things done, I’m going to take the time to listen to the beautifully orchestrated song, I will stop and listen to the silly curiosity that flows so freely from my son.  I will let my husband and boys see the stretch marks that cover my bloated abdomen and I won’t shy away when my oldest asks why my stomach is so bumpy.  I am not going to be ashamed of my belly!  I will proudly tell him the beautiful reason for every one of those scars and marks on my fair skin for they are the story of how he came to be a part of our family.  Without those stretch marks or extra pounds I wouldn’t have either of my wonderful blessings that call me Mommy.

 

It’s time to stop hiding.  It’s time to come out of the shadows and be a part of this beautiful mess of a life that my husband and I have built.  There is no reason to be on the sidelines afraid to participate.

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Great Expectations: When God’s Plan isn’t What I Expected

Here I sit in a pool of tears and unsatisfaction wondering where I go from here.  My life has not turned out the way that I had planned.  I was supposed to graduate with high honors and go on to an amazing junior Ivy League college in a city far from the small town that I had called home from the age of 7.  How fitting is it that I am back in that tiny town where it all started.  How did I end up purchasing a style of home that I don’t care for in a town that felt like a back woods “hillbilly” prison for so many years?  I had such great plans for my life.  I was going to get my degree and work in the U.N. as a diplomat changing the world on a huge scale.  I was going to be important, someone to look up to, and someone that little girls aspire to be.  And here I sit: sad and over weight with low self esteem flooded with disappointment at a missed opportunity.

 

What I failed to see in my moment of temporary sadness and self pity was that I am in the process of fulfilling my dreams, just on a drastically different stage that I had planned.  I have two little boys that I have been given who think that I hung the moon. To my boys I am a mythical creature that makes their dreams come true.  I can fix any toy, mend any shirt, create their dream room complete with pirate curtains.  I can fix any scraped knee or sliced open head wound.  I am forgetting that I am their hero.  The time that I spend in my dirty, tight fitting, stained clothes playing on the floor with them is time that I am shaping another human being.  I may not change the world by finding the solution to world peace or the cure for cancer but I may be raising a child that will.  The time that I am investing in my two crazy boys is time well spent. 

 

 

This life didn’t happen to me, I chose it.  And I continue to choose it over and over again because I believe in the vision.  I want my children to have the idyllic picture of a peaceful child hood characterized by a spacious yard with plenty of woods to explore and a tree fort that may be just a bit too high in the air, with a Mom who is always just a holler away.  This “hillbilly” town that felt like my own personal prison as a child is the perfect place to raise my rumbustious boys.  It may have felt like my own worst nightmare but it’s my husband dream location and it is quickly becoming mine as well.

 

I chose to put my dreams and aspirations on hold so that I could be here for my boys.  I want them to have the security and comfort in their childhood that I didn’t have.  I want my boys to know that their parents will be at every game, every play.  We won’t miss a single event that is important to them.  When they look back at their growing up years they aren’t going to remember that Mommy was overweight; they are going to remember being cuddled in my soft comfy arms and resting their heads on my squishy belly.  They aren’t going to remember the piles of unfolded clean laundry that migrated from the bed to the couch and back; they are going to remember the epic blanket forts we built using that clean laundry as walls. 

 

 

I believe with all of my heart that my life is richer and more beautiful just the way it is than it ever could have been had I followed the path that I had set for my life.  It is this belief that keeps me going when I want to throw in the towel and run away.   I have this little sign in my bathroom that reads “We plan God laughs”.  How true is that statement?!  I have my plans for my life but I can always trust that God’s plans are far more beautiful than mine ever could have been.

 

I was looking for the world and others to validate me, to look up to me.  In that moment I had bought into the lie that I need others to approve of my life and my achievements in order to gain a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  I wasn’t looking for those same accolades in my dirty yoga pants that are a size too small with my messy bun perched atop my head.  I thought I had to be thin, beautiful and decked out in a power suit to be valuable.  I am someone that little girls should want to aspire to be.  I am a devoted mother and a loving wife.  It’s high time that we stop letting our children believe that they have to be high powered, professional work-a-holics in order to be valuable.  No matter the direction we point our life we can make a difference and what we are doing is important, even if it feels mundane and boring.  Our lives don’t have to be shiny and glittery to be relevant.

 

 

Instead of working my hardest to be exceptional in the season that I’m in I am focusing on all the selfish ways that I want to gain recognition.  Have you ever heard the saying “bloom where you are planted”?  It’s a cliché for a reason.  I want to bloom where I’m planted.  Heck I may be a weed, but I am going to be the biggest most beautiful weed there ever was!  I am committing to bloom where I am planted; you too can make this commitment.  What great expectation do you have to let go of so that you can begin to grow and embrace the life that you are living right now? Are you ready to join me to embrace contentment?

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Welcome to Living Broken Together!

Hi, I’m Deidrah, just an average woman navigating the craziness that is motherhood and being a stay at home wife.  My husband Jon and I just celebrated our 8-year anniversary in June.  Now here is where I wish I could say that they were the most magical and bliss filled 8 years of my life, but I’ve decided that I’m going to be raw and open with you.   Don’t get me wrong my husband and I love each other dearly, but marriage is hard work!  I was naive enough when we first got married at 18 and 19 years old that I thought melding two lives, bringing two souls together in the covenant of marriage was going to be a beautiful constant state of joyful contentment.  As you can see my standards were completely realistic….We have had our beautiful moments of becoming one, where compromise came naturally and we were both doing our best to look out for the other’s best interests, but we have had just as many not so beautiful moments that can be better characterized by stubborn selfishness.  Learning to be a God honoring wife will be a continual journey for me.

 

lizz-and-bens-wedding
Jon and I this past summer at my                      girlfriend’s wedding.

 

God has blessed my husband and I with two beautiful little boys.  Our oldest Landon is our creative, passionate 6- year old helper.  He is continually coming up with these amazing popsicle stick creations that baffle my mind.  Our youngest, Kolton has boundless amounts of energy.  He is constantly finding ways to climb just high enough on our furniture to send me into cardiac arrest.  He daily challenges me to seek God’s provision of strength just to keep up with him.

 

So now that I’ve told you all about the amazing people who have given me the privilege of being called Mom and wife, I guess I should share a little about myself and why I’m here at Living Broken Together.  This bog has been born out of a deep need to be here for other women in a way that isn’t readily available online. 

 

If I just left off with telling you about my wonderful little boys and my husband who challenges me to be a more Christ like woman, you would walk away thinking that my life was pretty low key, that I was just another Mom taking to her blog as a way to give her brain a workout.  My story is a bit more complicated than that.

 

kolton-christmas-2016
          My youngest Kolton

 

I was born to two teen parents; my mother was 18 and my father 16 when I was born.  Being a parent is hard when you are married with a house, a career and stable income, I can’t even imagine still being a child myself and being faced with raising a very medically needy infant.  My parents did the best that they could with the skills and resources that they had and I will be forever thankful for all the effort that they made to care for and raise me. 

 

My early years were filled with instability and chaos, it seemed like we moved constantly.  A lot of my memories of the first 7 years of my life are repressed and fuzzy, but what I do know with out a shadow of a doubt was that I was taken advantage of.  At the age of 6 the superintendent or handy man who took care of our apartment complex, took an interest in me.  I began spending all my time with him.  He would build me toys, play games with me and dote on me.  He gave me the fatherly attention that I was so desperate for.  At 6 I didn’t realize just how much that attention was going to cost me.  

 

landon-christmas-2016
                        Landon: My oldest

 

I didn’t share with anyone that I had been sexually abused until I met my, now husband at 17.  When we began courting I dumped all my baggage and issues on his lap for him to inspect.  I wanted him to know what he was getting himself into and that it was ok if he didn’t think he could handle it, because there were times when even I couldn’t handle it.  He assured me that he loved me and wanted to be a part of my life no matter my baggage, my past shouldn’t define me future.  Neither of us really realized the impact that my sexual abuse would have on our marriage. 

 

I am now at a point in my healing that I can see that I never really packed the trauma of being removed from my mother’s home by child protective services, or the horror of being sexually abused, or the pain of feeling abandoned by my father, securely into their boxes, hidden away in the recesses of my heart.  They are woven through every aspect of my life.  My childhood issues effect how I parent, how I interact with my husband heck it even effects what I wear and how I keep my home.

 

Living Broken Together was born out of a desire to be here for women who are walking through life with some of the same baggage that I’ve been carrying all these years.  I want to be here as a beacon of hope and encouragement.  You are not alone sweet sister!  I will walk this messy uncomfortable path with you, we can navigate the rough terrain hand in hand.  I am here to encourage and love on you when you just don’t feel like you can go on, that the weight of your abuse, neglect or abandonment is just too much to bear.  We are children of the One True King and he doesn’t want us to live as slaves to our trauma.  We are redeemed, holy and righteous, now we must start acting like we believe it!

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