Baby Steps: His light breaks my chains.

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Something really big happened in me during that facedown laid flat prayer time.  He lifted me and He gave me a voice, but He also filled me to the top with courage, boldness and passion.

Something shifted inside of me. 

In my group therapy session, she gave us each a small box, magazines, scissors and glue. Our assignment was to cut out and glue words and images on both the inside and the outside of the box.  

The words and images on the outside of the box displayed what we were comfortable with others knowing about us. The outside of the box represented how others see us and what we are willing to show others. This was mostly public information. 

 Whereas, the inside of the box was private information.  The inside of the box was how you saw yourself and what  you did not want others to see or know about you. The images and words inside of the box made us uncomfortable especially if others knew about them.  

The room filled with the noise of the magazine pages flipping, scissors cutting, and pages ripping while music played softly in the background. 

Words started to pop off of the pages.  Some were just seemingly harmless words but they were very significant to me.  

We took the boxes home to finish them, and I continued to cut and paste away. I found a slightly bigger box to hide my box in, because I didn’t want anyone to see it.  I decided to cover the outer box with words of healing and truth.  These words represented what I truly wanted for myself and this truth covered all of the messiness that was inside.  

 I was afraid to share my box with the group. I shared the outside, but not the inside. I brought the box with me to my individual session and showed my counselor the inside and explained what each side represented. 

Creating this box was so powerful. I continued to bring it to my sessions and it helped me to find words to share how the abuse had affected my body, mind and soul.  

The inside of the box was filled with shameful secrets and it was all so dark and dirty. All of those words and images kept me chained to the darkness. I desperately longed to be free.

The box was open now, and His light was shining into the darkness.

His light broke through the darkness and
he led us out in freedom from death’s dark shadow
and snapped every one of our chains. Psalm 107:14 TPT

Baby Steps: God orchestrates everything to make something good and beautiful.

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If IT could be used for good. 

I didn’t understand the mystery of God. What could the mystery of God be when it felt like a Horror Story.  How do you find the mystery of God in horror?  This mystery was starting to gently and tenderly nudge my heart. 

I knew He was not the author of evil. He did not orchestrate it, and it was simply not of His doing. I knew He was the ultimate and the supreme, the beginning and the end. No matter what had happened in my life from evil, God was still in control. 

I can’t say exactly why, when or how, but somehow I started to realize He never left me and He completely and overwhelmingly protected and blessed me.  

My sinful experiences of my own doing, while painful, allowed me to relate to and encourage others knowing full well how much grace He had extended to me.  

Maybe I could help others? It was just a quick thought.  

I wasn’t sure if anything would ever come of this, but if just one person could be helped and it was for God’s glory then that alone was big enough for me. I had this desire to write, and as much as I wanted to write or help others, my pride and fear were screaming “NO WAY!”

I didn’t want the label, the attention or to be defined by it in any way. No thanks.  

And yet, I was starting to see the mystery of God. Many things were happening where I would relate, find or see God in the circumstances. I called them slivers, glimpses of God, hope, God-winks. Sometimes they were even bad or hard and made me cry, but I would look for Him and look for good and He would tenderly reveal it to my heart.

It helped to take walks in nature. I called them prayer walks. I prayed, listened to music, and tried to process all that was happening in my life. I would pause and take pictures of beautiful flowers or birds. I looked for beauty and it made me smile. I’m not even sure I paid attention in the past, but now I took the time to slow down and notice.  

I started asking questions. “God, what are you doing? Why is this so hard? Why me?”

I knew there were others out there just like me hiding awful secrets. As much as I wanted to protect myself, I wanted to help them. I wanted to get to a place where I could say a little without saying a lot. 

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.  Romans 8:28 VOICE 

Baby Steps: Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”

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I saw him, my abuser.  

We were at an event and the first comment he made to me was he could tell I had lost weight.  I immediately wanted to eat a doughnut or five. I went to the bathroom to breathe and when I returned I had on my “all is well” mask and I made it through the day just fine.  

On the way home, my brain was all over the place.  I told my husband that maybe this wasn’t as big of a deal as I was making it out to be. I wasn’t sure why it had affected me so bad but I think I should be able to manage just fine and I seem to be doing much better now.  Clearly, I was able to function okay in that environment.  

Then I whispered, “I just wish I hadn’t said anything sometimes.” 

He stopped the car and looked me right in the eyes and said, “This is a big deal.  I see it as huge and no you are not going to ‘manage’ the rest of your life. You have managed enough already. I watched and it made me sick. It is a big deal and it is such a hidden thing – you have to make people aware of it!  I am not sure what that means or in what timing, but with our kids and other people – I just had no idea. It is a big deal!”

He didn’t always say the right thing, but he got it right this time. It was just what I needed to hear, and for the first time I was actually glad that he knew. We were experiencing ups and downs, but today felt balanced like we were finally on the same page.  

I was amazed that I held it together and easily pretended all was well and I was just fine.  

A few days later, and I fell apart again. 

We were at a wedding, and my mind opened the file to my wedding day. It was a day that was extremely stressful, yet peaceful. It was sad, yet joyful.  I had mixed emotions at best, but I remember thinking I wish we had eloped. When I walked down that aisle, I felt like I had a transferred truck load of baggage that I was bringing into the marriage. I wore white, but I felt anything but pure. I smiled for all of the pictures, but I could not wait for it to be over. I snapped back to the present and stood with tears in my eyes as I clapped for the new bride and groom. Weddings still make me cry. 

The next morning before church, I woke up from a bad dream, and I shared it with Anthony. I told him I didn’t think I could do it.  I didn’t think I would ever be able to confront my abuser.  

Then in Sunday School, we were talking about the woman with the bleeding issue. I shared my perspective about how Jesus could have just healed her in peace and silence, but he called her out.  He had to know it was her, and yet she had to say the whole truth.  

My heart was pounding. I wasn’t exactly sure what God was asking me to do, but I was definitely scared. 

Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:33-34

Baby Steps: He Collects My Tears

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I was crying a lot, and my counselor encouraged me to write a letter to my husband to explain why I was crying so much and also to let him know what responses were helpful. In the letter I shared with him the reasons for my tears.

My tears represented years and years trying to appear happy and not crying at all in order to maintain that happiness. All this time, I thought God had singled me out, didn’t love me, allowed my pain and had not protected me. 

My perception of love was very unhealthy. My innocent was lost, stolen and gone. I was beginning to understand that it wasn’t my fault, but even in releasing that guilt I was even more aware of how evil and manipulative it all was and that was heart-breaking. I didn’t have a normal, happy, healthy childhood and whatever good existed has now been minimized whereas before I focused on the good to avoid thinking about the awful. 

I had to escape just to cope. I didn’t realize how often I dissociated and checked out. I was also aware of the level of isolation, grooming, and silencing that I experienced and it made me feel worthless and unloved. Was selfish pleasure really valued higher than me? 

I was afraid of everything. It wasn’t always logical or rational but it was very real for me. I was terrified of policemen, fire, and tragedy. It always felt like the rug was about to be pulled from under me. I was constantly afraid of something.  

I was alone. I had many friends and I knew a lot of people, but my five closest friends in my life barely knew me. I hardly knew me. 

I lived expecting to be disappointed. I expected to be harmed, hurt, misled, lied to, abandoned, forgotten, ignored and hated. My mind would play the tape before it happened so that when and if it happened it hurt less because I already saw it coming. 

Mostly, I felt completely unloved.  How can you be loved and abused at the same time?  

Crying helped. Those tears were just a sweet release most of the time. Sometimes I could put words to it, and other times I couldn’t. Crying was not easy, but it was long overdue.    

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT