Faithful and True

Even after years of counseling, I was still fighting a black presence in my life that lingered on. I was stuck, unable to move on, unable to overcome. I needed a quiet time again, and so God gave me one. After a long battle with health issues, the time finally arrived for me to have a hysterectomy. Following the surgery, I stayed on the couch in my pajamas for two weeks, and God used that time to work on my heart and to share some of His Truths with me.

In particular, God led me to a devotional in the book Come Away, My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts. This is the passage that spoke directly to me:

“You are in My hands. You are not keeping yourself; I am keeping you. If I choose to hide you away, it is for a purpose. If I wish to give you a time of rest, it is for thine own good. Nothing is amiss that is in My will. Do not think that it will be as times in the past. I have deeper lessons to teach you.” (Page 148)

So I began to wonder just what deep lesson God meant for me to learn concerning the black presence in my life. And, when I least expected it, I found the lesson on TV, not from an evangelist but from a character on a television drama.

This fictional character had been shot in the chest and bore a terrible scar on her chest that symbolized the incident and reminded her of the fear that now filled her life. Throughout the episode, she battled her fear alone and would not accept help from anyone. At the end of the episode, her conversation with a counselor caught my attention and I rewound the scene and wrote down what was said. In essence, the character believes that being wounded by a gunshot has defined her and made her who she is. She longs to be more than that, but she does not know how to make peace with the scars on her heart. She asks, “How do I do it?” Thoughtfully, the counselor replies that the real question should be, “Are you ready?”

For some reason, that dialogue opened a dam within my heart and my tears began to flow. I was in physical pain at the time, recovering from surgery, unable to lift anything, and confined to the couch. I wanted to do more than just take it easy. But I knew that I had to be patient and let my body heal, and that afterwards the scars would just be scars and would not hurt any more.

Similarly, I had let the emotional scars from my past define who I was and was still suffering their painful effects. I said that I wanted to be different, but in reality I feared learning the whole truth of what had happened. I live in pain, asking myself, “How do I do it?” when perhaps I should be asking, “Am I ready?” I searched my heart and knew that the honest answer was no. I was not ready. In fact, I was afraid of the memories and the emotional trauma that my black persona holds. So, what next, Lord?

Another passage from the devotional book answered that question for me:

“I would spare you if I could do so in love; but this kind of protecting love would be false, and would rob you of much treasure. I only love you truly as I give you My best. My best cannot come to you without pain, even as it could not come to the Lord Jesus without pain. Pain is the result of sin, true, but sin is still an existing problem to be dealt with. It must be grappled with. I want to make you strong. I have brought you to this place. Make the most of it.” (Page 148)

What happened to me as a child was the sin of another person, but I needed to deal with it, to move on and become strong. And I needed to address my own sin of not trusting God to be with me through the healing process and to ask forgiveness for my fear and doubt. That was the real issue, the deeper lesson that God was trying to teach me.

God led me to Revelation 21:5, “And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true’” (NASB). Yes, God alone can make all things new, heal all scars, and take away all pain. He alone can make me more than I am today. I believe that the words He has given me are Faithful and True. I truly do want to make the most of my counseling and confront the black enigma in my life.

What about you? Do you have a scar that will not heal, that keeps you stuck in your pain? Is the real issue your readiness to heal? If so, let’s ask God for the strength to be ready. Let’s ask Him to take away our fear and replace it with action. Only then can we ask the question, “How do I do it?” and really mean it. Let’s do it today, for He promises that He can make all things new. I cannot wait. How about you?

Blessings – Lisa

The Hope of a Whole Life

For many years, I have been looking for a picture of a tree to hang in my dining room—not just any tree, but a specific image that I have in mind. It has to be a leafless tree, a large tree standing alone in the middle of a hazy winter day, an image that fills most of the space within the frame. Every time I visit a shop that sells prints, I look for my tree, but for the longest time I could not find the exact picture that I have conjured in my mind. But today I did find just the image for which I have been searching. I found my tree in the music video for the song “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North. There it stood, leafless, alone, on a sunless day.

As I watched the video and listened to the words of the song, I began to understand why this lonely tree held some meaning for me. My counselor has diagnosed me with Dissociative Identity Disorder, a condition formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. This diagnosis has been difficult for me to grasp, to understand what it really means. Through counseling, however, I have come to realize that there are different parts within me that are making my walk to wholeness more challenging. As my counseling sessions have progressed, I have come to understand that my child’s mind could not process what had happened to me, so in response my personality “splintered” for my protection. But I have begun to work through this issue and I feel happier and literally more at one with myself. I am happier and freer, but there is still a black spot inside me that is numb and emotionless.

This brings me back to the “Worn” video. As I looked at the tree in the video, I realized that it looks exactly like what my black place feels like. For an instant in the video, the tree is surrounded by a black mist that bubbles and whirls, reminding me even more of the dark entity that is inside me. The black mist is visible for only a moment, before being dispelled by the sun, but I see it clearly in that brief time. I have watched the video over and over, and I see that black mist every time.

The song lyrics have also spoken to me:

            I’m tired, I’m worn

            My heart is heavy

            From the work it takes […]

            Let me know the struggle ends

            I wanna know a song can rise

            From the ashes of a broken life

            And all that’s dead inside can be reborn

Last Sunday our pastor preached on I Thessalonians 1:3: “Constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father” (NASB). I heard God speak to me through the words of the song and the scripture. I have been feeling heavy of heart from the work it is taking for me to become a whole person. It is a struggle. But God’s Word says that our past work and our present labor will result in a Hope because of our steadfastness!

The song lyrics ask for God’s assurance that a song can rise and that what is dead inside can be reborn. That is my plea also, that one day that tall leafless tree standing in the middle of winter will be transformed like the one in the video, soaking up the bright light of the sun and full of glorious green leaves. Isn’t that a wonderful picture to behold? Through our hard work and steadfastness, we have the Hope of a whole life. Do not grow weary. Do not be worn. One day we will be made whole, if not on earth then in heaven, where we will be in the presence of our God and Father.

Blessings – Lisa

Changed

There is a song by Rascal Flatts called “Changed” that has been running through my mind. The lyrics and the melody have sort of gotten stuck in my brain. Changed—yes, I am changed because of what God has been doing in my life, but I have started asking myself, “How have I changed?” Why is this song playing over and over in my head, even keeping me awake at night? In the middle of one of those sleepless nights, I finally got up to tackle this question.

When I got up, I felt a real need to write about this issue, but I was not sure where to begin. Eventually I decided to begin by examining the prayers that I have been praying for my children. For weeks, I had been praying specifically for their physical healing, because each of them was dealing with ailments that were causing real distress in her life. But, rather than seeing positive results from my prayers, I was seeing disasters in their lives instead. It was crazy. One of my daughters seemed to come down with a new ailment every week and had even been diagnosed with a mild heart problem. The other daughter suddenly came down with the flu and sent me an SOS for help. Of course, I immediately packed a bag and headed out the door to take care of her, but before I could leave the house I received a text from my daughter-in-law (my third daughter) saying that she was in the midst of a miscarriage. I could not go to be with her, unfortunately, because of distance, but I did begin to pray for her and her family.

But I almost felt as if my prayers were jinxing my loved ones rather than blessing them, and I really struggled with what was happening in their lives. And there’s that word again—“Changed.” How does this word fit into what is happening in my life and my daughters’ lives? I asked God for an answer. But at first there was no answer, only silence. It was the middle of the night, so I thought about something else that had been keeping me awake. Maybe God wanted me to write about lost jewelry.

I do not wear much jewelry because I am allergic to most of the metals that are used in jewelry. But there were two particular pieces that were very special to me, a ring that my grandmother had given me and a necklace that my husband had given me as a wedding present. Some years earlier, I had given these items to my daughters as symbols of our bond and pledges of our love. But sadly my younger daughter later lost my grandmother’s ring during a very stressful and challenging period in our relationship. Even now I want to weep when I think of the heartbreak that she caused me, not because of the lost ring but because of the alienation and betrayal that I felt during that time. My older daughter, on the other hand, cherished the necklace that I handed down to her, until it was stolen. She was devastated, and I want to weep for her, too, because of the sadness that she experienced when the necklace was lost to her.

Changed. Oh, how I have changed. The ring represents a time of depression, bitterness, unforgiveness, and hurt as my younger daughter moved further and further away from me emotionally and spiritually. The necklace, though, represents a tender and loving heart moved by loss and sadness but full of hope, joy, forgiveness, and healing. I am beginning to see the change. I am not the person I once was. Now I am the mom who diligently prays for the healing of my children and believes that God will make a difference in their lives no matter what the circumstances seem to say.

Changed. How thankful I am that I don’t have to stay stuck in the misery and depression of yesterday. Instead, God is at work in my life, changing those things that I cannot change. I Thessalonians 5:23-24 promises, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (NASB).

Oh, what a promise, that God Himself will sanctify us, will change us, because He is Faithful. Dear Lord, thank you for the changes that You have brought to pass in my life. The road to recovery is full of changes. Can you see them? Believe, even when your prayers seem to jinx your loved ones, believe that He can heal hurt and broken lives and make us blameless at His coming. We are changed!

Blessings – Lisa

Sabbath Rest

At times, my counseling sessions can be intense and hard, both emotionally and physically exhausting. As I remember more and more of the horrible events of my “blackout years,” I feel psychologically drained and bodily taxed. When this happens, I sometimes neglect my journal and my writing. Then, when I don’t write, I don’t get to release all those feelings about what I am going through.

As I write this devotional, it is Easter, but I do not feel up to the holiday season. I am struggling still with who I am as a person, and just coasting through my life. On a typical day, I rise early, have a short devotion, walk with a friend, spend a few moments with my husband, drive my sister-in-law to work, have breakfast with my daughter, clean up the kitchen, do some chores, and take a shower. By the time I get myself ready to face the day, it is time for lunch! So I have lunch with my husband and daughter, and clean up the kitchen—again. On paper, this routine does not look like much, but it wears me out. I am always ready for a nap after lunch, but I rarely get one.

This month in particular has been filled with so many medical appointments, crises, special events, and chores that I hardly have the time to think or breathe. In particular, I recently received the disturbing news that I have a mass in my breast and need a biopsy. I have peace about this situation, but it nevertheless weighs on my mind and heart. Yesterday, I spent the entire afternoon on the couch. I could barely move. Eventually, I picked up a book and decided to read a few pages before cooking supper.

Those few pages addressed the subject of Sabbath rest, a time for sitting still before God and resting in Him. Later that night, I glanced through a few pages of my Guideposts magazine, and the one story that drew my attention was about having a Sabbath rest. Wow. God did it again. So I thought, “Okay, God, what about this Sabbath rest thing? What do you want me to do?” But before I got my answer, life happened.

My biopsy was scheduled for a Thursday, and on the preceding Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday my days were filled from morning to bedtime. When Thursday arrived, my life came to a screeching halt. Having the biopsy forced me to stop and rest for a little while, to sit at home and not to move, to be still and to listen for what God had for me to hear. As I listened, I heard the comforting message that He is in control, whether the mass is benign or malignant. (It is benign, by the way, but I had to wait from Thursday to the next Monday to get the pathology report.) In the meantime I was to rest in Him and to give Him all of the what-ifs that were trying to creep into my brain.

On the second day after the procedure, when I removed one of the bandages and took my first shower, I realized how far I had come concerning my body and medical check-ups where it was necessary for me to undress. I was very anxious, but I was not wearing that “I have been molested” badge, so therefore “I freak out if anyone sees or touches me.” That epiphany was great news to me. I thanked God that He had removed that apprehension from my life; I no longer become a basket case when I have a mammogram. I never expected to cross that hurdle, but in reality I had jumped cleanly over it and won that race with flying colors.

The other lesson that God showed me was that my husband and daughter love me to the extreme. Lately, I had felt unloved and unappreciated, losing myself because I was doing so much for the two of them. My husband’s job had become demanding, and I felt as if I were in second place in his life. Plus, all of my daughter’s medical issues had worn me out. But my dear husband and daughter rose to the occasion, doing my chores and waiting on me while I recuperated. What a gift!

God showed me that I need to practice this Sabbath rest more often. He used an urgent medical issue to make me slow down and stop, and now I am thankful that He did. God taught me to rest. Like the women who went to Jesus’ tomb to prepare his body for burial, but were forced to wait before they could accomplish their goal, I too had to abide by the instructions that God gives us in Luke 23:56b: “And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (NASB). 

I still have biopsy results to hear, I still have a busy husband, I still have a daughter with her own medical challenges, but I can walk so much easier now, because I have rested. Do you need a Sabbath rest, too? Do you need to stop and let God take over? Don’t wait until your life goes crazy. Plan your Sabbath rest now. Oh, the marvelous things that God will reveal to you when you step aside and wait. I would not have recognized and rejoiced over the victories in my life if I had not taken a Sabbath rest. Isn’t God good?

Blessings – Lisa

God is Faithful Today!

Today I made an important discovery: After years of work, I am now on the other side of the mountain on my journey to freedom.

I was not able to go to counseling for about four months during my daughter’s recovery from foot surgery, and during that time my spiritual life was just on autopilot. I did not do much journaling, and I did not work on what I had learned in counseling. During those four months, I essentially became a recluse. But finally an opportunity arose where I could return to counseling. To prepare for my session with my counselor, I looked back through my journal. And I was awed by how much I had changed during the previous year, before my daughter’s surgery. I had resumed teaching Sunday School and singing in the church choir. I had begun to reconnect with people whom I had neglected.

Sitting face to face with my counselor, I tried to talk about what I had learned about myself and my relationships with family members, but instead I was forced to admit that one area of my life was just a train wreck. During my four months homebound with my daughter, I had gained weight and was wearing baggy clothes again. I had exercised less and eaten more than I should. As a result, I was depressed and even felt ugly again. But, sitting in my counselor’s office, I made up my mind not to go that route again, not to beat myself up and let Dumb, Stupid, and Ugly rule my life. So, instead of going off the deep end this time, I asked God for help with this dilemma. I needed some word, some encouragement.

God gave me the word that I needed, by reminding me of an incident in my life that had recently occurred. A few days before the session with my counselor, my daughter and I had actually started on a weight loss program together, one involving a point system. But I had experienced a disastrous failure early in the program when, in just one meal, I used not only all my points for the day but also wiped out a whole week’s worth of “extra” points. It was the first day of the week, and I had only the bare minimum of points left! Needless to say, I was upset with myself.

But here is where God spoke to me. He showed me that letting my spiritual life slide during my confinement at home was just like using all those weekly extra points at once. In the weight loss program, even if you use up all of your extra points, when a new day arrives you still have all of the points that you need for that day. I heard God say to me, “Today, you have all that you need for today.”

How I needed to hear that message. So today I reject Ugly and live again in the truth. Even though I messed up, I am able to start again. Lamentations 3:21-23 tells us, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (NASB). Every day—every morning—I can walk and live and breathe and know that God is faithful, even when I am not.

What about you, dear Friend?  As you walk on the other side of the mountain, have you backtracked a little and feel frustrated? Take heart in this promise: His lovingkindness and compassion are new every morning. His grace, love, and mercy are new every morning. Therefore, we can start new every morning and know that today we have all that we need. What a happy thought for today. 

Blessings – Lisa

Living My Own Story

One day, for a change, I turned on my television—something I seldom do—and watched part of a movie that I had never seen before. And I am so glad that I did, because there was a line of dialogue at the end that really rang true to me. It just kept whirling around inside my head, and I even wrote it in my journal so that I would not forget it. Here’s the line: “No man can walk out of his own story.” This quote just kept speaking to me.

My own story. My own story? At that time, I did not want to walk my own story. I wanted to be someone else and live her story, not mine. I did not want to be the one who had been molested as a child, and who still lived with the effects. I did not want to be the mother of a child who also had been molested and who was struggling with her own issues. I did not want that story! I wanted the story in which only good things had happened to us and continued to happen to my children and me. I wanted to rewrite my story and then to run and jump right into it. But alas, that happy story was not for me.

For some reason God had allowed me to live a story that was filling me with heartache and despair. And I cannot, no matter how much I would like to, walk out of my own story. But one thing that I can do is to choose how to respond and react to my story. That is something that I can change. I alone can change my attitudes and thoughts concerning the things that trouble me. I alone can choose not to dwell on the negative, but to change my mindset to the positive and remember all the good things that are a part of my life, too. I know that if I were to place all the negative things and all the positive things in my life on a scale, the good would absolutely outweigh the bad. So why did I focus so much on the negative?

Romans 12:1-2 says, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (NAS).” Our world today is full of negative things. This world is Satan’s domain, and he wants to kill, steal, and destroy all that is good.

I needed to be transformed. I needed to be different from the way that I was. I needed to transform my mind and my life to what God has planned for me. Through this verse, God promises that, when I choose to renew my mind, I will find the story that God has for my life. He promises that my new story will be good and acceptable and perfect. This verse does not promise that everything that happens to me will be good and acceptable and perfect, but it does say that God’s will for my life, if I choose to live it, will be all those things.

It is hard to understand how that works. But when I choose to live and to believe the promise, then I am worshipping my God. So my choice is this: To know and believe that I am living the story that God has given me, or not to trust and believe but to grumble and complain and be unhappy. So I choose to dwell on the good that God has brought forth in my life in spite of all the hurtful things from my past. As a result, my faith has grown and my relationships are better. I have found true friends who are helping me through this journey.  These are just a couple of the wonderful positive gifts that are a part of my life now.

So, what about you? Is your mind dwelling only on the negative parts of your story? Do you want to run and jump into a different story that is not your own? Today, let us allow God to renew our minds and to show us the story that He has written just for us. He has promised that the story He gives us is good and acceptable and perfect. I want that story. Don’t you?

Blessings – Lisa

Looking In From The Outside

Depression is such a crazy, confusing, frustrating thing. I absolutely hate it, but I find myself there more often than I care to admit. Unfortunately, other members of my family also struggle with depression. We are all on the road to recovery, thankfully, but we are at various stages in counseling and in different phases of depression. As the mother and caregiver for two daughters, I find great difficulty in dealing with their emotions while I am walking down the same path myself.

During those stressful days when both of our daughters had moved home out of necessity, one week in particular was just horrible. There were days upon days filled with the girls’ crying, angry outbursts, selfish behavior, and even shutting themselves in their rooms.  I was constantly saying the wrong thing to them and making matters worse. Sometimes they would not even get out of bed in the morning, so it became my responsibility to get them up and out of the house. I had to keep our day-to-day lives going: wash, clean, cook, iron, pay bills, and do whatever else it took to keep the household from falling apart. On some days, I longed to be the one who was crying, who stayed curled up in my bed in my room. But I just kept going.

Finally, one Saturday, I had just had enough. My heart hurt. I needed encouragement or a word of wisdom from God. So He gave me a picture. As I stood at my kitchen sink, looking out the window, our cat suddenly jumped up onto the window ledge outside. She just sat there, staring at me with her huge yellow eyes. She watched me as I worked in the kitchen. I could feel her longing to be inside the house with me, but she was outside looking in. I realized that all she could see from that windowsill was me, working in the kitchen. 

I felt much like that cat concerning my daughters. I wanted to come inside their heads and know what was going on in their minds, but all I could get was a small glimpse into their lives. I could not understand them because, like the cat that could only see into my kitchen, I could only see the girls’ outward behavior. What was going on inside their hearts, souls, and minds was hidden from me. I longed to know my daughters’ struggles and what caused them to cry, why they turned away from me and hid inside their rooms. There were so many unanswered questions. Living with them but knowing that I could not “fix” them or protect them was very painful for me. The hurtful past was still influencing their lives these many years later. I was so sad. I left my kitchen, went away and wept.

But then God spoke to me through my tears. He reminded me that my girls were not alone in their houses of grief. He promised me that He was there in their houses with them. All I could see was the girls’ kitchens—and I could not see God there—but in the other rooms of their houses He was working. I needed to believe that. Just as my cat had been sitting on the ledge looking through the kitchen window into that one room, I realized that I could only see a small portion of what was happening in their lives. I could not see God in their lives, but I had to believe that He really was there.

Matthew 7: 24-25 says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock” (NAS). What my girls needed from me was prayer for their spiritual foundations, so that their houses would not fall. I had been neglecting my prayer time for them, but I now realized that I needed to repent and pray for them as they struggled on their paths to wholeness and healing.

Do you know someone who struggles with depression? Do you feel helpless, not knowing what to do to help her? Pray for her foundation. Pray for her to allow God full access to all the rooms of her house. He is the only One who can keep her life from falling apart. We can only peer into the lives of our loved ones through small windows, but God alone lives in their houses with them. Start praying today.

It’s Time to Stop and Rest

On my road to wholeness, I have worked hard to be steadfast and constant in my effort, driven to do what needs to be done. I have faithfully attended my weekly counseling sessions, unpeeling layer after layer of hurts and pains. But after all these weeks and months of “doing,” the healing process seems to have stopped suddenly. I have had to sit still instead of forge ahead, and I feel as if I am accomplishing nothing.

But, boy, am I wrong. It turns out that God has decided to test me, to see whether all that I am learning is just head knowledge or whether His Truth is really permeating my soul. In His great wisdom, He has designed this test in the form of tremendous changes in my life. The first major change came when both of my daughters moved back home. One of my girls has moved home just for the summer, but she is really unhappy about being here with her dad and me. And the other daughter, who moved out on her own seven years ago, has had to move home for an indefinite stay to recuperate from extensive foot surgery. She is so incapacitated that I have had to help her with literally everything and, like her sister, she is angry about the loss of her independence and freedom. While the girls are here, I have no time for weekly counseling.

On top of that situation, my mother-in-law is dying and is not expected to live much longer. And my grandchildren are scheduled for a week-long visit at my house while their parents enjoy a much-needed vacation. There’s no time for counseling. I can hardly even leave the house.

This is not good. I have more issues that need to be resolved, but how am I going to complete my recovery if I cannot go to counseling? What am I going to do? Instead of healing, I find myself shutting down, and old fears have started to reappear. Wait a minute. Haven’t I already worked through all those things? But my family situation has made me tired and worn out, with little time for myself. I am so overwhelmed that I have even stopped reading the Bible and praying. What a mistake! In my mind I have started condemning myself again, and my thoughts are troublesome.

But wait. There’s more. A hailstorm has put our new car in the body shop for repairs, road debris has wrecked the rental car, and the possibility of a career change looms over my husband. My stress level is rising. I have started to long for someone to talk to about what is going on in my life, but who could that be?

As I lie in bed, chewing on my circumstances, I can feel God telling me that He Himself is the only one to whom I should go. What a novel thought. I know that (in my head), but I have not been practicing it (in my soul). I must go to Him alone. I must stop and rest in Him alone. I feel as if I don’t have the time to stop and rest, but I am wrong. I can make the time, and I have made the time. James 1:2-6 tells me,

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind (NASB).”

So during this time, I have been facing various trials—a freak hailstorm, an unavoidable obstacle in my lane of traffic, an unexpected life-changing job offer—all so sudden and piled on top of my family troubles. What am I to do?

I am to consider it and then count it as joy. But for this to happen, I must ask God for wisdom. Instead of freaking out and becoming distraught, I will rest in Him. I will not doubt, but will believe and rest in Him and count it all joy. Then the result will be a perfecting of my faith as I walk on the path that He has set before me. Have you found yourself stopped dead in your tracks, right in the middle of your path to wholeness and healing? Are you wondering what in the world God is doing right now?  Does your whole life seem to be going haywire, and you just cannot figure it out using your own power? Then just stop. Sit still. Consider what is going on around you. Count it all joy. Ask Him for wisdom on how to proceed.

What perfect work is God trying to accomplish now? Let’s rest in Him together and find out.

Blessings – Lisa

NOT WHISPERS, BUT SHOUTS

The human mind is an amazing thing. It holds thousands upon thousands of bits of information gathered by the senses—things that have been seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled. Our brains catalog and store all that information. Then sometimes a particular sight or smell will trigger a good memory. Or perhaps, on the other hand, a certain taste or noise may bring back a bad memory of a hurtful situation.

Going to counseling has helped me to realize that specific sights, sounds, tastes, smells, or sensations often trigger memories of situations from my past. When this has happened, I would tense up and feel afraid, or I would hyperventilate and feel smothered, or I would scream inside and feel shame. It was as if I were experiencing again the pain and trauma that I had been dealt in my childhood.

Unfortunately, this type of sensory trigger affected my marriage in a significant way. I had come to hate the noises—the usual, natural sounds—that occurred during my intimate time with my husband. Part of the problem was my fear and embarrassment that our children might overhear us even though we were in different rooms. But another part of the problem was the feeling of deep shame that I associated with those sounds. My journey to wholeness was progressing as I dealt with issue after issue, but this one difficulty seemed to intensify as I became more aware of it.

How could I talk to my husband about this without hurting his feelings? Would he understand? Would he ridicule me? How was I going to overcome this situation? My counselor had two suggestions. First, she instructed me to play music in my bedroom and then go to each of our children’s bedrooms and lie on those beds and listen. To my surprise, I could not hear the sounds coming from my bedroom. I was so relieved! That simple little exercise took care of one of my anxieties.

My counselor also instructed me to interject some sort of alternate sound into our bedroom during my private times with my husband. So I chose to play music from my phone to provide a sort of auditory focal point. However, before I could put this strategy into practice, I had to talk to my husband and tell him what I was doing and why. That was a very difficult task for me. He and I had never talked about that. But I opened up and told him. He loves me, so he understood and we made a plan.

As my counseling continues, and I work through the bad memories associated with my molestation, I know that the shame that I now feel will be defeated and that my intimate relationship with my husband will flourish. I wanted a Bible verse to claim, and God whispered to me to read the book of Zephaniah. So I got out my Bible and found these verses that He wanted to speak over me. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is in your midst, ‘a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing’” (ESV). I needed to hear that God is near me and loves me.

Verse 19 continues, “Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.” I heard Him say to me that He Himself will help me deal with all of the oppressors who are battling against me, and that my shame will be turned into praise. What a glorious thought! One day, all of my feelings of shame that have been buried deep inside of me will be forever turned into praise. I cannot wait. And just think: He is going to do all the work.

Is there some area of your life on which shame has a grip? Is shame stealing the good from your life? Remember this verse with me and let us claim the promise together. One day there will be great praise for us. God will rejoice over us with shouts of joy. Not whispers, but shouts! Let us take our victorious warrior’s hand and walk with Him now, as He fights this battle for us.

Blessings – Lisa

STEP BY STEP

During the process of my coming out of the closet—literally coming out of my bathroom closet to dress and undress—I received a new assignment from my counselor. She encouraged me to go shopping for a new nightgown, one that did not hide who I was as a woman. At that time, I usually wore un-feminine sleepwear that covered me up and made me invisible. Honestly, I was very skeptical about this assignment and doubted that I would even be able to fulfill it.

But I got up my courage, and went to the mall, and found the lingerie department of a well-known chain store. (There was no way I could have visited Victoria’s Secret or a similar store. I was not far enough along my journey yet!) So I shopped around in the department store and found a nightgown that was modest, comfortable, and soft. But when I tried it on, I stayed inside the dressing room a long time, talking to myself. I was trying to convince myself to leave the dressing room, go to the checkout, buy the gown, and go home. Finally, I did just that.

However, once I got home, I stuffed the new nightgown, bag and all, into a dresser drawer. And I left it there. For weeks, I was at a stand-still. For days and days, I thought a lot about that nightgown in that bag in that drawer, and I even thought about opening the drawer, but I didn’t do it. Every day, I tried to rake up the courage to open the drawer but, alas, I always turned around and thought, “Maybe tomorrow.” Then tomorrow arrived, and I actually took the bag out of the drawer and looked at it…and put it right back into the dresser drawer. I had discovered that I really could open the drawer and take out the nightgown-in-the-bag, but it was a few more days until I opened the drawer again. But eventually, I did open the drawer again, I took the bag out of the drawer, and I laid it on the chair next to the bed. Whew! I had finally gotten the nightgown out of the drawer, so now I could start thinking about actually taking the nightgown out of the bag. It would take a couple more days of walking past the bag and thinking about it before I could move on to the next step.  But I took that next step. I took the gown out of the shopping bag and laid it on the chair. Of course, I covered it up so that no one could see it. I alone knew that the nightgown was there on the chair. Finally, I tried it on and then hid it once more on the chair. Then, at last, I put on the gown and wore it to bed. This was not an easy task. There were many steps, and days would elapse in between the steps. The process was exhausting, emotionally exhausting.

Philippians 4:13 assures me, “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me” (NAS). I was not able to put on that nightgown in my own strength, but God’s strength and encouragement through those weeks are what kept me on track. I CAN do all things. That is the message that God wants me to receive and understand. I had been working so hard for so long to make changes in my life, and I was feeling like such a failure in this area. But what does the book of Philippians tell us? We can accomplish all things, because He gives us the strength to do the hard things. He gave me the strength to go shopping, to buy a new feminine nightgown, and to wear it.

What hard thing is God asking you to do on your road to healing and wholeness? Does this task seem impossible? Let us remember the Truth that God has for us in His Word—that we can do all the things that are needed for our restoration, no matter how large and overwhelming or how small and insignificant they may seem. In verse 19, Paul continues, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Do you see that wondrous Truth? God strengthens us and then He supplies our needs richly.

What about you? Is there some difficult assignment that you must fulfill before you can move on to the next step on your road to recovery? Believe that, when you complete that step, He will help you with the next one, and then the next one, and so on until you find yourself basking in the riches that He wants to bestow upon us so freely and lovingly. My message to you is this: Do not give up! Keep on relying on His strength and help. Someday, in glory, we will finally be completely whole. Until that day comes, let us walk our road here on earth in His strength. Grab His hand. Let’s go.

Blessings – Lisa