Baby Steps: He has set us free.

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I walked into the room holding my box, and I could not wait for her to see it. I opened it up and my counselor looked inside.  I felt like she could see every word and know the story behind it, but she asked me to pick a few and talk about it.  The session went really well, and I was proud of myself for making the box and sharing it with her.  

The box was powerful because it housed all of my secrets. While I felt strong sharing them with her, by the time I got into my car, I was struggling… again.  

My pounding heart ached while anxiety and panic permeated my entire being. The voices in my head were loudly arguing over how I was going to ruin everything by spilling these secrets.  

I turned up the radio and they were introducing a song from the movie Sister Act 2. It was called His Eye is on The Sparrow by Lauren Hill & Tanya Blount. I had heard the song before. 

But not like this.  

I turned it up even louder.  I hummed along at first, and mumbled a few words. 

As I continued down the interstate in direct sunlight, I sang along at the top of my lungs:  “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free.  His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me….”

It was worship, and it was deep. 

I heard the gentle whisper, “free at 40.” 

My birthday was coming up, but free at 40? I had no idea what that meant, and since we were only days away that seemed impossible.   

Then I heard it again, “free at 40.” 

What would that even look like? How could I possibly be free at 40? 

Free at 40.  It didn’t seem possible, but I sure liked the sound of it.  

Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past. Galatians 5:1 (TPT) 

This is post #27 in the Baby Steps series.  To start at the beginning, click here.

Baby Steps: He Gives Me Rest

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Everything around me feels unsteady and raw.

Lately, I have experienced quite a few disappointments. I am not sure if I am noticing them more, or simply feeling the hurt more but I am completely aware of being let down. In all of the disappointments – He has shown me HIS FAITHFULNESS. People will disappoint, life will disappoint, but He is faithful.  

He remains when all else fails.  

The place I went to yesterday in my counseling session was filled with despair, and yet He was my ROCK and I held on for dear life.  It was as if He said to me, “These things that you think are important to you and big to you – keep them in perspective.  They can’t give you what I am able to give you…I am the only gas that will fill your tank.”

So I pulled into His station, and I was filled:     Psalm 119:33-40

Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread,
for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
In your righteousness preserve my life. 

And today when I slowed down to fill up, I heard, “Rest in Me. Balance. I will tell you where to go and when to step. You are so bent on old patterns it may be hard to even see at first. Be aware of it and look for it. Before you take one step, pause… is it me taking you there or are you ahead of me?  You have given it all to me now.  All of it.  You are infused with my light. Walk to my beat. Slow down and walk in step with me.”

One step at a time.  

“Come to me, all you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest.  Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls. Serving me is easy, and my load is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIVR

This is post #18 in the Baby Steps series.  To start at the beginning, click here.

Baby Steps: He is with me.

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I have always struggled with fear and what if’s. 

I worried about my kids and wanted to keep them safe. I rarely used a babysitter. I preferred to just bring them with us on a date rather than worry the entire time.  

Fear always rattled my cage but no one knew because I wore the “I’m okay, it’s okay, let’s laugh and have fun because life is good” mask.  Somehow, as long as I was dancing that dance, it made it almost felt true.

Still, the fear roared behind the smile. 

Just the thought of disclosing the abuse made me freeze with fear as I imagined all the domino effects.  I felt like I was completely and absolutely responsible over where, when and how each domino would fall.  After several fatal scenarios played out in my mind, I wanted to give up.

It consumed me to think about everything that could go wrong. Those life long fears surfaced and the loud voices in my head pleaded with me to just quit because there was too much risk.  

When I shared this with my counselor, she gently brought to my attention that God was big enough to handle all of the dominos.  He was big enough to work it out in those individuals and their hearts.  

I knew I was not capable of working any of it out, but I also realized that I was afraid to let Him or believe that He could.  

In the middle of sweaty exercise, it hit me.  All of these things that I do to protect myself and to protect my world leaves very little room for God to do His thing.  

Did I really believe that He worked all things together for good? 

I knew that my head trusted Him, but my heart was learning how to trust.  My head knew about His unfailing love but my heart was just starting to open up to His love. I wanted to let go of the fear and trust Him with everything, big and small. 

Often, I would remind myself and even say out loud, “He’s with me. He will protect me. He is in charge.” 

When I am tapped into His strength and follow Him, I don’t have to juggle and manage so much.    

I was used to holding on tightly and He was teaching me to let go.   

Let the Domino’s fall where they may. He is a big God.  I am His beloved daughter and I am simply called to trust Him and take the next step.    

It was time to let Him into the driver’s seat.  

So do not be afraid. I am with you.
    Do not be terrified. I am your God.
I will make you strong and help you.
    I will hold you safe in my hands.
    I always do what is right. Isaiah 41:10 NIVR

This is post #15 in the Baby Steps series.  To start at the beginning, click here.

Baby Steps: He washes me.

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It was my worst flashback.  It felt like I was being crushed and my ribs were going to pop in half.  I couldn’t breathe and everything was orange.  I talked to my counselor about it and she said it was a “hot memory” and that we would work through it.  Flashbacks are intensely real, and at times I just felt them and saw hints of color as if my eyes were completely closed.

The body remembers what the mind desperately tries to forget.  

Later that evening when I was talking to my husband, he said the word “pure” innocently, but it wiped me out.

I was triggered and completely shut down.

He said, “Why do you do this? What is wrong? You are completely different now. I didn’t mean anything bad by that! You are taking it wrong. I meant it in a ….”

Too late.
Gone.

My whole demeanor changed and I laid there in the darkness and wanting to scream, “It’s not fair!”

I thought about some of my experiences and it made me so sad. I couldn’t remember a time when I felt pure. I always felt like it was my fault. I did something to make them lose control. I thought God made me this way. I almost felt bad for them because I made them have their urges. I felt responsible.

I certainly did not feel pure. It made me cringe to hear about purity rings in youth groups. In church, I heard many sermons about sexual sin. I completely understood that I was a sinner and had already crossed too many lines.

So, was I pure?  No.
Did I have a purity ring? Never.

I had shame poured on so thick it felt like a permanent green stain all over me.  This shame was from my own sexual sin along with all of the sexual sins that were committed against me.  While I had prayed and asked for forgiveness for my sins, I was just starting to deal with the sexual sins that were committed against me.

I longed to be clean, and with just a mustard seed of hope, I started to believe it was possible. 

Hope changes everything.  I shared with my counselor that I struggled to believe I was ever pure. However, if I was at some point and it was taken away then it made sense why I reacted and acted the way I did.  It had a lot less to do with being born that way, being responsible, and a lot more to do with wanting to be loved.

God didn’t create me to be stained with shame. He made me to be clean, and He longed to free me from the bondage of shame. I wanted to be free, and with each step towards Him, He gently washed me: heart, mind and body.

This is post #14 in the Baby Steps series.  To start at the beginning, click here.