Eleven years ago I was stopped in my tracks and forced to deal with abuse that had happened in my own life. I had shoved the pain and the icky feelings so far down it took me 15 years to remember them. In my young mind I had dealt with enough tears and pain to last me a lifetime. The last thing I wanted to do was look them in the face on purpose. I came face to face with literal nightmares and flashbacks. The horrors of being molested when I was eight years old rushed to the surface in tidal wave force. I could not run or hide from them. My day had come and it was time to face all of the shame, embarrassment and hurt I had experienced.
I am thankful for dear friends and coworkers who stopped me in my tracks and invited me towards healing. It was a long and painful road, but I would also find peace and joy to not only survive life, but to begin to thrive. Ten years down the road God brought me another opportunity for me to go even deeper and purge even more junk from my life. Again, I did not want to go down the road of pain. I was afraid of the waves of anguishing pain that would that could prevent me from living. The holy spirit helped me to recognize it was fear keeping me from taking further steps towards freedom. I took a deep breath and jumped, through classes at our church I joined others in allowing God to do the painful work of remolding me.
This time I not only had to face what others had done to me, but I also had to face what I had done to myself because of what had been done to me. I had to take responsibility for the role I now play in my life as an adult. The things I had allowed myself to do that affected me emotionally and mentally, but also affected me spiritually and physically. The things I had done were down right sin and it was time to face it head on. It was easier to confront the pain others had inflicted on me than it was to take responsibility for the ways I had sinned against not only God, but against myself.
It was vital to deal with both the sins against me and the ways I had sinned against myself. To deal with one without the other would have created an unhealthy balance. If I was going to go deep I might as well deal with both. Dealing with both has given me confidence to no longer be defined by how others see me, but to define myself as God sees me. I am no longer defined by my past, neither what has been done to me or what I have done to myself.
I want you to know you are not defined by your past either. It may be what God uses in your life to connect to the world around you and help others rise from the place they are, but you are not defined by either what has been done to you or what you have inflicted on yourself. God gives us a real picture of this when Jesus hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors, murderers, smelly cursing sailors and corrupt, elite government officials. Jesus invited them into a relationship with him, but he did not demand anyone follow him. Neither did he promise following him would be easy, he outright said in this world you will have trouble, but take heart.
I was recently asked to think about the times in my life when I have faced adversity. I cringed as I counted more times when I was faced with it rather than when it was non- existent. It was often painful and gut wrenching to face it. Time after time I found myself in the middle of someone else’s sin which affected me directly. Diving in deeper I was then asked what I did to get myself through these tough, hurtful moments. As I stopped to think about it there were several parts to the answer. The biggest factor I discovered had nothing to do with me. When I was in the middle of hell, God himself stooped down and held me close to his side. In the middle of hell I some how I realized I was responsible for my own life. When I was thirteen and drinking with my friends, I would not get drunk because I could not handle being out of control. I some how realized in the course of the things that were happening to me, I had the responsibility of how I was going to respond to it.
Similar to Oedipus who could not control his destiny, neither could I control my destiny. I walked around trying to take responsibility and yet, I was very immature emotionally. I did not want to be loved and yet I craved love. When we have issues in our life, no matter how hard we try to have them shoved down, they will ooze out side ways and the infection will spread to your family, friendships and any other relationship you attempt. Unless we are continually honest with ourselves about where we really at in life as a whole, not just compartmentalizing our work life and our home life. If we have to focus on one area so we don’t have to acknowledge another area, there is a truth we must face to find freedom.
The times I struggled and sinned where the times I ran from truth and looked for a self soothing outlet outside of God. Every time I have been in a pit, whether of my own making or someone threw me in one, God came for me. He came down himself and pulled me out. He loved me through the process, when I stopped being embarrassed and/or feeling the full impact of shame, I could see him and accept what he had for me.
I want to invite you to entertain the notion that God loves you, he wants you and is in the midst of the hell you are walking through. Sometimes we have to yell at him and let out our anger to allow the emotional voltage a way of escape. He is a big God with big shoulders, he can handle it; and he will teach you how to handle it. He is the only one who has continually seen my value and worth. He calls me his beloved, precious, chosen one. He continues to fight for me, loves me and throws a party every time I return from a rogue journey. One in which I insisted I do not need him. The wise and ever compassionate father sees the future and knows I do in fact need him. He does not yell at me as I walk away, he does not beg me to stay, but he invites me back. He has always let it be my choice, he looks at me with love and stands with his arms wide open ready for me to run back.
What do you do when you reach a spot in your life when you feel like you have wasted your life. How do you respond when God is no longer who you thought he was. You have read in scripture about all of the miracles he performed and yet you may wonder where your miracle is. You may be wondering when your rescue boat is coming for you.
I wish I had a neon flashing light answer for you, but I don’t. What I do have is the constant peace I experience through the waves that have only grown taller. As our boat continues to roll with the waves the storm he has calmed is inside of us. I know our waves have grown manageable in the times we have stayed close to our heavenly father. May you experience the amazing love your heavenly father has for you. I am praying you allow him to meet you in your pain and bring you peace.