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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