**** WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT ****
THIS POST COULD BE A HUGE TRIGGER FOR ANYONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCED CHILDHOOD SEXUAL, PHYSICAL OR EMOTIONAL ABUSE.
Specifically: Molestation | Physical Beatings | Emotional Trauma
God has been doing mighty healing in me since my coming to Christ nearly 9 years ago. But there is no denying, my internal world is still a mess.
It’s all about the onion layers…
It’s like we need to wade through the however many years of carnality and misconception we came to believe about ourselves, others, and God before we can see the real Imago Dei in each of us.
This is my next onion layer, having the unflinching courage to look at what happened to me, take ownership of the choices I have made in my life, and ultimately celebrate who I am today through Christ who lives in me.
THIS IS PART OF MY STORY, AND SHARING IT WITH YOU IS A PART OF MY HEALING
I know I’ve been posting a lot lately.
Like, more than I ever have in nearly 9 years of blogging.
Like, obsessively more.
The good news is, I’m beginning to understand why.
All the pieces of a very complex puzzle have been floating around in my subconscious, trying to surface for years if not decades, maybe even all 5 decades of my life.
But something is different, I’m beginning to see the battle more clearly.
I’ve been asking God to reveal the pain so I can give it to Him to heal, but every time He opens the box, I retreat back into some of my old coping mechanisms to keep the unwanted emotions suppressed.
I confess that my relationship with God has been like Dr. Doolittle’s Pushme Pullyou, giving Him my heart and then taking it right back.
That explains why they (I see my emotions from a 3rd person perspective, I know it’s a little schizo but it helps, roll with it) why THEY have been typing titles and forcing me to look at stuff.
If you have been keeping up the last few days, or at least read the first entry in this series (Can Christian’s Be Depressed), you will recall that I hit a place in the story where I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) go further.
A strong memory/emotion surfaced and I punched out, gave some eloquent excuse why I wasn’t going to continue, retreated back into the safety of my cerebral pondering, and then put a pretty teaching bow on the whole mess.
That was probably a good thing for two reasons. One, my post would have been more than 6,000 words (like this one, egads!).
And two, I wasn’t ready, I didn’t have clarity.
The Important Stuff Takes Time To Surface
Have you ever had a counseling session, or heard a sermon and walked away thinking “that was interesting I suppose, but not very helpful or inspirational” only to find yourself sometime later having an epiphany that struck paydirt relating to the message?
That’s where I am now.
Along with all the blogging I’ve been doing the last few days, there has also been journaling and some very deep (and heavy) conversations with some trusted brothers in my life.
The kids (another perspective I use for my childhood emotions) want to be heard, seen, felt, understood, expressed.
They want out of their cage.
And the reality is, as I touched on previously, I now realize it’s a cage I built and put them in. And it is only I who can let them out.
The Blame Game
It’s too easy to blame others for the problems we have; especially if they are legitimate targets.
If you were to hook me up to a lie detector and asked me if I have forgiven my parents for the years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse I would have said yes and I believe I would pass the polygraph with flying colors.
I’ve been in recovery groups for over 8 years. And I’ve taken every one very seriously
Alcoholics Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, healing workbooks, discipleship programs, and Bible study courses, all of which I poured my heart, soul, and tears into.
I’ve been to hundreds of hours of therapy and I have thousands of dollars worth of Christian and secular self-help books on my library shelves.
At one point maybe 3 years into recovery, I cried endlessly for months, so much so I had desalination plants calling me for donations.
But if I’ve done all that work, then why, why has my church sermons and the devotionals and online resources I stumble into, and even our current book study in my Thursday Recovery Group (Two Hours to Freedom) over the last few weeks all been hammering me on forgiveness.
They all claim forgiveness is the single most important endeavor we will ever embark upon, especially as a Christian.
They say unforgiveness is the single most destructive force against our soul and prevents the fullness of rebirth that God wants to provide for us; that without forgiveness, nothing else in our healing and sanctification journey is even possible.
Love is the bedrock that all else is built upon. I thought I had done that.
Meet The Architect
In my dream-filled yet sleepless night last night, clarity began to take root.
The events of the past few days played out in a semi-lucid acid trip of symbolism and abstract imagery that was designed to evoke emotion.
And that it surely did.
At 5:55 this morning I was jolted awake by one of those emotions, the one above all others that I am terrified of, that I resist and suppress at all cost.
It was anger
Anger is something I never let out of the cage, I don’t dare.
You should thank me for it, I’m doing the world a favor.
It’s a burden I took on many years ago, and it’s a heavy burden.
Sure there have been times when it has oozed out, usually when I used to get drunk. Just ask my best friend of 35 years. Back in the day when we would get really hammered, my fun and happy-go-lucky self would begin to throw 1/2 full beer bottles at his head or try to push him off balconies or trash hotel rooms while we were on vacation.
I wasn’t just an angry drunk, I was a scary drunk, wanting to hurt others and not caring if I hurt myself.
All along I thought it was my childhood trauma that was responsible for creating and putting me in the prison cell. The very cell that I have spent decades in therapy trying to break out of.
But the real reason I haven’t been able to escape is that I am the one that built the prison, and voluntarily put parts of me in it. I now recognize the points of origin, the places where I, me, not anyone else, chose to start going underground.
It’s a cage that I have been begging God, doctors, therapists, friends, and family to unlock for me, but truly nobody can, even if they wanted to.
They can’t unlock it because I’m the one that has the key, I’m the only one that knows the combination.
I can ask a billion people and they won’t be able to help, because nothing will happen until I become willing to let it happen.
Besides, everyone else is holding the codes to their own cages, and it’s a full-time job keeping the kids locked up so they can’t make us feel more loss or hopelessness than we already feel.
That also explains the imagery that I have had for nearly 8 years which is that of Jesus, at my time of salvation and baptism, opening the prison cell door.
He did it without me noticing, but I’ve been very aware that I’ve remained sitting in it an unlocked prison for many years.
I now also understand why I became the architect of my own prison.
Surprisingly to me, it is not so much about keeping others out (although that has been a welcomed byproduct), but more to protect you from me; to protect me from me, to protect the world from what I’ve seen myself capable of.
Fear is what keeps me voluntarily locked in bondage, in solitary confinement.
I feel alone because I choose to be alone, it’s just better that way.
Where It Always Begins
As mentioned, my childhood was a trainwreck, and my earliest memories of abuse are my very first memories in life.
But I also have wonderful memories; riding my bike, fishing, climbing trees, picking berries, playing matchbox in the dirt, catching giant bullfrogs that were so big I could hardly carry them, going for long rides with my dad when he worked sometimes and taking naps on the porch under a metal awning in a huge rainstorm.
In the midst of all the pain and fear, there was still joy, happiness, playfulness, silliness, laughter, adventure, curiosity, excitement, fun, innocence, awe and wonder.
But as I got older, the hurts began to manifest to take over.
I remember trying to get sexual with girls as early as elementary school and I started drinking alcohol and doing drugs by middle school.
I was a hurting kid.
And as I sit here typing now, I can see the bigger picture.
In my last therapy session, I described a vision that I now realize was incredibly accurate and profound, even though I didn’t really understand it at the time.
I told her I saw all my happy kids in a giant cauldron, like in Hanzel and Gretel
image source: Pinterest
Happiness, laughter, silliness, playfulness, joy, fun. They were all in the pot and looking at me scared and lonely.
I wasn’t able to do anything with that image at the time, and when she asked me what they wanted to say, I burst into tears and could only mutter a single word…
I felt the decades of ache from being separate from them, and for the first time maybe ever, I realized I missed them, desperately missed them.
I now realize that my heart has become so hardened that I haven’t even noticed that the most critical foundations of my life were even missing.
And with that, I’m also beginning to understand why I chose to send them away to solitary confinement.
I put them there for my survival.
I believe on some level my dad loved me, but he had his demons, and they manifested in rage and it lashed out at me and my mother both physically and emotionally throughout our life with him.
Being one of 13 brothers and sisters and growing up during the depression on a farm in the midwest, I have no doubt his childhood was hard. He shared some of the stories with me.
And to survive, him and his siblings, as soon as they could walk, had to begin working, and work hard.
From long before sunrise to long after sunset, there was always work to be done.
You worked to survive.
And that is the values my father tried so desperately to (literally) beat into me.
I have vivid memories of getting in trouble many times for “having fun when there was work to be done”. Which was always.
If I had chores to do and I was found outside playing, I would be beaten and sent back to work.
And as I got older, if I had homework but was found watching TV or on the phone or any place other than doing homework, I would get beaten and put back on task.
And if I came home excited about some grand adventures I just experienced, God forbid if my dad was watching the news for he would explode in rage, tell me to shut up and turn up the volume full blast.
There were no safe places for “the happy kids” in the real world, and if I wanted to not get hit or yelled at, they needed to go away someplace… and I had to be the one to send them there.
They needed to be locked up, they got me in too much trouble.
And I’m sure, that is where the resentments, rebellion, and self-preservation began to grow.
You may be able to keep me from going outside to have fun, but you can’t prevent me from fantasy and masturbation while I’m locked in my room.
You may be able to keep me locked up in a constant state of fear emotionally while at home, but you can’t stop me from drinking and getting high with my friends when I’m not at home.
You may make me sit down, but I’m standing up in my heart. I will defy you, I will have my way… fuck you.
It was in those very young formative years that my own anger began to grow.
And as I got older, my acting out got worse. Trying to fool around in elementary school became trying to force sex on girls in middle school.
And getting buzzed on a few beers in middle school became black-out drinking and drugs by high-school
I can now see that one-by-one, when any emotion that wasn’t safe or didn’t serve me anymore surfaced, I would throw them in the cage, in the cauldron with the other unnecessary parts of me that I didn’t know what else to do with.
Curiosity, exploration, healthy risk-taking, one-by-one they all had to go, the dreamer had to die, this was survival, and I’m going to survive at any cost.
The Ultimate Betrayal
When we moved to California from my hometown in Washington State I was around 9 years old, and I never felt more trapped and alone.
One of my first connections with someone outside my tortured homelife was when my parents let me join a bowling league.
I loved bowling, and I was good at it.
And the coach was really cool.
He told me what great potential I had.
He bought me a fingertip bowling ball saying I had natural talent and that beginners throw a straight ball, but the good bowlers use a fingertip ball.
He spent the entire summer teaching me how to bowl better, building up my ego, making me feel known and special.
For a 9-year-old boy without a role model, this was heaven.
I clung to him. Finally, I thought, a man I could trust and look to for validation, direction, encouragement.
At the end of the summer, he signed me up for a bowling tournament. And it was great!
I moved through my age brackets easily in the first several rounds on Saturday. It didn’t hurt that my first game was horrible, which set my handicap super high.
But when I got past my nerves, my good rounds became great rounds.
And before I even realized what had happened, I’m in the finals on Sunday afternoon.
The crowds piled in around the 4 open lanes and television cameras showed up to capture all the excitement.
CRAP, WAY TOO MUCH ATTENTION!
Up to this point, I was simply having fun for the first time in a really long time.
But when my old nemesis self-doubt and insecurity joined the party, I choked, horribly.
Humiliation Joins The Family
I know my coach felt terrible for me (or at least I believed he did), and for the days and weeks that passed, he kept trying to cheer me up and get me past it.
Then one day he asked me what my favorite thing to do was, and I said the beach. He asked me if I wanted to go and I erupted in joy and excitement.
I could never get my parents to take me to the beach since moving to Southern California and this was going to be awesome!
I remember getting home after bowling practice and begging my parents to let me go with him.
They were hesitant but dammit, you aren’t going to take this away from me, and I pressed, hard, really hard. Anger, tears, tantrum. And I got my way.
And as I jumped in his car and we set out on the 1-hour drive to the beach, he began to ask questions.
He asked me if I had ever seen a naked girl; “well yes” I said because I actually had.
He then asked me if I ever saw other naked boys. Yep, I thought innocently enough, in the gym, sure.
It then got uncomfortable.
“Have you ever, you know, got excited when looking at naked girls and boys”. I had, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell him that.
He continued to prod, and finally, I confessed that I had.
He then asked if I ever, you know, played with myself when I got excited.
Little did he know I was molested as a 1-year-old baby by a babysitter, according to my mother. And after that she had to start putting 3 diapers on me and wrapping them with duct tape to keep my hands out of my diaper. And the moment I got out of diapers, I had free access… yeah, I was very familiar with that.
But are we allowed to talk about this stuff?
He then asked me if I had ever seen a naked man. No, that I haven’t, and I’m not sure I like where this is going anymore.
He then talked about stuff that men and boys could do together that was lots of fun and felt really good.
It was then the terror washed over me.
We are only a 1/2 hour into our day together and we are driving away from the “safety” of my home (there’s an ironic joke), I am now a prisoner in a new kind of hell.
I remember thinking I didn’t know where this was going, but I’ve now got to figure out how to disconnect and survive, just like I’ve had to do my entire 9 years of life.
I remember saying to myself, this isn’t good… And it wasn’t.
Suffice to say, the next several hours were by far the most traumatic thing I’ve ever been through.
And the worst part is, mixing emotional fear with physical pleasure and prepubescent hormones is an intoxicating cocktail straight from hell.
It is where Satan gets direct access to rewiring a child’s mind.
(I’m very sorry if this is too much to share here, I’m keeping it as PG as I can, but tears are now streaming down my face again, I need to stay the course. I probably shouldn’t post this blog, but if you are reading this then I went against my better judgment)
Shame is Born
After I got home, my parents knew something was wrong.
I had gone silent, shutdown. I remember not being able to look them in the eye or speak.
This made my dad angry (of course), and if he wanted information out of me, he could get it.
I finally cracked and just said something sheepish like “he did things”.
My mom burst into tears and my dad called the police.
What happened over the next couple of hours is blurry. I can’t even recall it from the safety of my therapist’s couch.
When I try and enter the interrogation scene with the police and my parents through my minds eye, little me is invisible. I know I was on the couch, and I see everyone looking at where I should be sitting, but I’m not there.
I only see scary police, angry father, and a horrified mother.
I realize nobody else really sees me either, well, not the important parts of me that desperately need to be seen and nurtured.
They aren’t interested in what happened to me on the inside, they only care about what he did to me on my outsides.
And what’s interesting to me today, the events of the police interrogation seem more traumatic than the molestation.
I now can see this is when a new visitor came to live with me.
It is someone I honestly don’t know I had ever been introduced to before. He was taking over the show, he was in charge now.
I didn’t like how he made me feel, but I was also powerless to override him.
I would later, much later, like decades later, come to know this new intruder’s name.
His Name Is Shame
I told the police only what I was willing to tell them, and that wasn’t much.
The details could never come out, never.
And when the room full of adults ganged up and hard-pressed me to agree to testify against this perpetrator, I still refused.
It’s not that I didn’t want to tell them, or testify so he couldn’t do this to someone else. I simply couldn’t. I couldn’t betray that there were two perpetrators that day, the instigator, and the curious seemingly willing participant.
If fear and anger weren’t already harsh enough taskmasters, adding shame to the mix was game over.
And the anger wasn’t just pointed at others anymore, it was now pointed at me; how could I go along with those things?
I was no longer free. Fear, anger, shame facilitated a desperate need for isolation.
People can never know what I’m really like on the inside, they just can’t ever find out.
And the prison walls moved in tighter.
I remember sheer horror at the thought that the whole story might slip out, that I wasn’t strong enough to keep my secret, a secret that not all of it felt bad.
I was only 9, and the emotional safety and intimacy and trust that this man had developed with me over several months (of what I have long understood was actually just grooming) was stomped out in a dark and terrifying series of events.
Where Fear And Anger Collide
But what happened after that is what sealed the prison doors for the next 40 years of my life. It was the final brick that shut out any remaining life and light.
After the police left, our dysfunctional family dynamics played out in all its glory.
My father immediately got in my face and with disgust dripping from his words he said: “so, I supposed you want therapy or some crap now huh”.
I replied more honestly than anything I had ever said to my father my entire life; “hell no, I never want to talk about that ever again”.
And I was never more grateful for my father’s response; “good, then we never will”.
And we never did
My mom hit the bottle hard that night, and she cooked my favorite meal, fried chicken.
It’s classic… my dad forces us all into hiding from the elephant in the room and my mom crawls into a bottle to try and cope and resorts to people-pleasing to try and make everyone feel better.
I vividly remember dinner that night. It was mid-week and we only have fried chicken on Sundays. Something wasn’t right. Gee, ya think?
And I remember truly believing, it was all my fault.
- If I hadn’t agreed to go to the beach with him
- If I hadn’t forced my parents to let me go
- If I didn’t answer his creepy questions
- If I didn’t admit to my creepy behaviors
- If I didn’t agree to all the things that came after that
- If I had only had the courage to testify and put the guy in jail
And I remember my dad’s stone-cold silence except for the times when he yelled at me to eat, and at my mom to stop crying and loudly declaring how pathetic we both were.
Things went from bad to worse after that day.
I discovered cocaine at the age of 13, or probably more accurately, it tracked me down.
My sexual curiosity with girls became sexual pursuits. All my relationships ended poorly when I invariably tried to first coerce them, and then sometimes (horribly regretfully) physically tried to get them to do things they didn’t want to do.
And my mom continued with her string of suicide attempts (4 of them throughout my childhood).
And my disconnection from my father, and more tragically myself, grew deeper.
This is a tough place for a young teenager, hell, it would be tough for anyone anywhere at any time.
And having to navigate it all alone allows Satan to write the foundations for the rest of our life if not arrested early.
My fear and anger become something bigger after that experience, and another unwelcome member of the internal family was adopted.
His Name is RAGE, and Lines Are Going to be Crossed
I believed, and somewhat rightfully so, that my hell was all my dad’s fault.
What I didn’t know was brewing under the surface was yet another unidentified member of the family who was soon to join us.
His name was HATE
One day, when I was still a young teenager, my dad and I got into another one of our very dangerous fights.
He would get in my face, and I wouldn’t flinch. I was a tall kid and was nearly eye to eye with him now and I was beginning to have no problem standing up to him.
He would yell at me, I would yell back. He would threaten me, and I would threaten back. He would tell me to go to my room, and I would walk out the front door.
This day, however, something snapped.
I still remember the source of the argument.
I loved cheese and crackers, one of my favorite after school snacks.
Dad was home, out of work because he just had quadruple bypass surgery to repair his aorta and other failing plumbing.
I don’t remember any tension before the eruption, but I do remember throwing out the paper plate and my dad stomping over to the trash can, pulling it out brushing it off.
He then began to yell at me that the plate was worth a penny and that I will never learn the value of money.
Being the rebellious, angry, entitled and ungrateful kid that I was, I reached into my pocket and flicked a nickel at him and said keep the change.
He launched into a rage, and I gladly followed him down the rabbit hole.
My mom was at work still, this was just me and him, and it was on.
He came over to me as if he was going to hit me, I still remember the look in his eye. If he could have strangled me and got away with it, he would have.
But I also remember a new look in his eye that I had never seen before, fear.
And I liked it. Yeah, I liked it a lot.
He saw something in me, something that scared him. And immediately knew what it was.
He was looking in the mirror that was reflecting back the image he showed me and mom all of my life, it was an uncontrollable rage.
He knew something had changed, broken, cracked, split open. He may not have been able to put words to it, but he knew this wasn’t safe, and he backed down.
But his fear, his cowering, his trying to back away only made me stronger. I followed him into the kitchen and pinned him up against the corner of two adjoining countertops.
He was mine, he wasn’t going anywhere and he was going listen to what I had to say.
And I had a lot say, I began to tear into him.
I was calling him out on all the bullshit, telling him it’s over, that he will never push me around again.
The more he tried to back away or defend himself, the angrier I got.
He wasn’t listening, he wasn’t hearing me… and he’s going to.
I began to shove up against him, like something out of a B movie. I puffed out my chest and jammed it into his, I want his rage back, I need his fuel to keep this going.
And it worked.
He began to get angry, tired of being pushed around by this insolent 14-year-old. This is his house, and he is in charge.
He made a fist and stood back up tall and all I remember was thinking it’s about time.
He didn’t have a shirt on, and his fresh scar from near his throat to the navel was staring at me, and the last thing I remember was a desire to split him open.
I punched him, I punched him hard, right in the middle of his fat belly.
I felt my fist sink deep into his bloated stomach, I’ve never punched a person before, and I was surprised how deep my fist went into him.
I can still see the image in my mind of his stomach split open and his insides escaping to the outside. Gratefully, that isn’t what happened.
Oh, I did punch him with every intention of killing him right then and there. I remember thinking mom and I would be much better off if that sonofabitch wasn’t in our life.
And it hurt him, real bad. He doubled over and hit the floor and began to cry and moan in pain.
And I left the house without looking back.
Some Things You Can’t Take Back
Our family was never the same after that incident.
I don’t remember what happened when I came home that night.
My guess, we had fried chicken and ate in silence.
But I do remember neither of my parents ever looked at me the same again. They were afraid.
At first, that made me sad, but after a while, you know what, fuck them both, this is better.
I left when I wanted, stayed gone as long as I wanted, and did whatever I wanted.
Sure, they tried to set boundaries occasionally after that day, but all I had to do was look at them, and they’d look down and back away.
Truth be told, I was just as afraid as they were from the monster that emerged that day.
My rage scared me.
I remember being horrified that I almost killed my father, that I wanted to kill him, that I actually tried to kill him.
As time passed, I now recognize it was then that rage was put in the cage with the other unwelcomed emotions.
For the most part, over the next 30 years, anger only snuck out when I was drunk. And pleasure only surfaced when I was having sex.
And in all this time, innocence, fun, joy, happiness, freedom and so many more, have all remained prisoners, along with rage… even to this day as I write this.
When I have tried to open the door for any of them, they all want to escape.
I told my therapist the other day that it feels like when I get in touch with any emotion in her office it’s like I’m only scratching the clear-coat on the tip of a nuclear bomb.
But I also know, when I saw those happy, carefree, fun kids in the black cauldron last week, my heart ached.
I got a glimpse of the deadness, the lifelessness, the robot who has been a rockstar workaholic his whole life and crushed a 30-year career in Information Technology but decimated his entire personal life.
Sure, there have been sexcapades and I even had a serious relationship where we got engaged and intentionally had a son together. But we didn’t survive long enough to make it to that altar.
And in many ways, my son’s childhood has only been marginally better than mine as I see it.
The best way I could love my son, was to not be my dad.
This actually makes sense in many ways because his mother was just like my father; hurting, angry and emotionally violent and she held the household hostage through her rageful outbursts.
And for my role, not surprisingly, I became the product of my mother’s teachings.
Fear has ruled my entire life, and people-pleasing was my answer to validation and feeble attempts at self-respect.
I was unable to call out the elephant in the room, unable to stand up and protect my son.
Instead, my dutiful role was to cook fried chicken and cry alone.
God Isn’t Finished
Gratefully, the story doesn’t end there. But this blog entry does.
I will finish up with the best part of the story, God’s entry, rescue, redemption, and Glory.
I’m sure I will write it soon, clearly, God is wanting to heal these areas of my life, and he continues to reinforce that I am ready, that now is the time.
And if you are carrying around any of your past pains, or recognize that the best parts of you have been locked away, know that He wants to heal your wounds too.
He heals, first, by patiently waiting until we are ready to open the lid on Pandora’s Box.
And He then only moves as fast as we are willing to go
Yes, God does open the door on our self-maintained prison cells at the exact moment of our salvation, but He will never force us to step outside.
We can sit in this lonely place until the day we die and miss out on the life He intended for us.
We can die believing the lie that Satan crafted for us, and never the witness beauty of God’s creation flourish within us.
Or, we can courageously, by faith, trust Him enough to inch toward the door and look into the light and see that His invitation is good.
And if we listen, we can hear the laughter of the children, freed from the cauldron, playing on the grassy knoll in the bright and warm sunlight.
And we can feel intimacy and love once again walking on the beaches holding hands with desires of our dreams.
We can feel the warmth of embracing community as we comb our hair, put on our Sunday best, and move back into a world that has been missing us for many years, maybe a world that has never had the opportunity to even meet us.
We can feel the incredible pride when we look into the eyes of our children and seeing how hard they have always tried to make us proud, even in the midst of all their failures.
We can create new and safe spaces that beckon to their young and locked away places to free them from fear, shame and condemnation.
And we can look to our spouses, and see how the prince and princess locked away in them due to our pain and shortcomings being vomited up them is now partly our responsibility to renew, restore and refresh.
We can find, maybe for the first time, the self-respect that says we no longer have to work for that boss, or stay in that toxic relationship, or remain silent about the elephant in the room any longer.
We can experience the rewards of self-love, as we give ourselves permission to have a crappy day without making it crappy for others, or simply read a book, or not do the dishes because we don’t feel like it, or binge a season of Greys Anatomy because we need a good cry.
We can go to the mountains for a hike, or to the park with a sandwich and not feel like we are shirking responsibilities.
As we begin to trust God more with our heart and soul and stop fearing what we will find when looking in the mirror, we will discover that God can and will restrain the monsters we’ve locked away for so long out of fear of what they might do to us or others.
There is a new life waiting, but it will never begin if we don’t follow the proper steps.
- Accept Christ as our Lord and Savior
- Press into the Word of God for Wisdom,
- Lean on the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance
- Tear down the walls and look in the mirror
- And above all, accept the grace and freedom that our Abba Father has purchased for us.
If we will simply let the process unfold while increasing in our faith and reliance on God, He will meet us there.
It has been 8 years since I came to Christ and to get to this place, but I don’t think it has to take that long. But I also now don’t regret that it has.
I have believed that God has set me free for a long time, but also now recognize I’ve never known what freedom is.
Nor that the combination to the prison cell was called surrender.
I believe these blogs over the last few days are the next bold steps God has been inviting me to take for quite a while.
I see my story more clearly, or at least from a different perspective.
It isn’t about what was done to me any longer, that was an important part of the process.
But it is now about recognizing who I became, and understanding why.
With that, hopefully, comes self-acceptance. War is a horrible thing, and people do horrible things. And even when the war is over, the fight-or-flight can remain.
And next, I’m excited to discover who I never got the opportunity to become, and to becoming him more fully.
We are born again in the image of God, and his likeness is to become our likeness. I look forward to more of that taking root in my life.
God wants to restore and redeem all of it, but am I courageous enough to continue to let Him take me to the next level?
That is why the Lord says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.
Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve,
sending you a blessing instead of this curse.
Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine
to the Lord your God as before.
The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts.
Once again you will have all the food you want,
and you will praise the Lord your God,
who does these miracles for you.