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

Healing Our Emotions: Let’s Get to Work!

As I worked on improving my self-image and healing my relationship with my husband, my counselor gave me some new assignments. First, she told me that I had to read Song of Solomon. This may sound like an odd assignment, but I had previously mentioned to her that I could not read that book of the Bible. In fact, I hated that book. But my aversion to Song of Solomon really grieved me, because I have a love for God’s Word and His Promises and His Truth.

My counselor encouraged me to read Song of Solomon and to replace the distortions I had about relationships with the Truth. To fulfill my assignment, I was to ponder God’s idea of sex. So, as difficult as it was, I began to read through the book for my devotion every morning while I prayed for God’s help for my situation. Reading Song of Solomon broke my heart. It broke my heart because I realized that I did not have the right emotions inside me toward my husband. Instead, I felt numb and frozen.

At my counselor’s urging, I began to write in my journal daily about the good qualities that I found in my husband. Every day I wrote that he is my best friend and I love him. Then I began to write that he, too, is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I started looking for his strengths and for the qualities that I like about him. My lists became longer and longer, and my feelings about our situation gradually changed.

My husband and I began having a devotion time together every morning. Those devotions helped immensely, forging a bond that drew my heart closer to his. I realized that I had the power to change, and that I could, after all, have the loving relationship found in Song of Solomon. My healing process would involve a lot of healthy self-talk, but I knew that I had to gain the head knowledge first, before my deceptive emotions could turn around and the good and true emotions could become a real part of me.

To help with this process, God gave me a vivid picture of what had been happening in my life. I can laugh now about the image God gave me, but I did not laugh then. He gave me the picture of a stained commode as an illustration of my life. In my house, the children’s bathroom was not being used on a regular basis and, as a result of my depression, I had not been as diligent as I should have been concerning cleaning that bathroom. When I finally did go to clean that room—yikes!—I found a serious hard-water stain in the toilet bowl. I was not happy about this situation. But then, God sent a message to my heart.

That commode was my life, and those mineral stains were the result of all the years that I had allowed negative thoughts and hard feelings to reside in my heart. Satan wanted to stain my heart and to make my life ugly. He wanted to convince me that I would never be able to feel healthy emotions or have a normal married life. God, however, whispered to me that, with a good scrubbing and much hard work, those stains would be gone and my life would shine again. Just like that commode, I would be able to function in the way that He intended. Such a crazy picture! But it brought hope to my heart.

Yes, I had to get the gloves and cleanser and brush, and I had to work hard. But I could clean up that stained commode. I could also clean up my stained heart, if I were diligent about my thoughts and feelings and believed the Truth that I find in God’s Word. I made a conscious decision to replace those negative thoughts with good and pleasant thoughts. I found a promise in Song of Solomon. Chapter 2, verses 10-13 says,

“My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along. For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along!’” (NAS)

God was inviting me to come along with Him, to know that my winter was passing, and that a spring full of flowers awaited me.

Are you in the winter of your journey toward healing? Do you struggle, wondering if you will ever be a whole spouse again? Do you have stains and feel ugly? Listen. Do you hear Him calling you and responding to your plea? He says that it will take some hard work on our part, but we must clean and scrub away the thoughts and feelings that have stained our hearts. But as we do so, He still calls us His “darling” and His “beautiful one,” and He wants us to come along with Him as we walk toward that promised land that is ripe and full of good things. Let’s go along with Him as He responds to our cries and says, “Come along!”

Blessings – Lisa

How Precious and Vast is God’s Love for Me

I am very assignment-driven. But one of the most difficult homework assignments that my counselor ever gave me centered on my closet, or more specifically on my need to dress and undress inside my closet. For you see, I did not want my husband ever to see me without clothes. I had not always been that way but, as my sexual issues became more and more intense, I became more and more adamant about not being seen naked.

I did not want my dear husband to see me while I dressed or bathed. I demanded that my “bathroom time” be totally mine, even though my husband and I share a bathroom and walk-in closet. Admittedly, some of this reluctance was due to the weight that I had gained through the years, but mostly I just did not want to be seen.

Then, as if this problem was not bad enough, it escalated to include my not wanting to be seen during our intimate times. That meant that sex occurred in total darkness—no lights, under the covers, and wearing as much clothing as possible. Of course, this was a very difficult and frustrating problem for our marriage.

When I confided in my counselor, she gave me a new set of assignments. I was to stand in front of the mirror at home fully clothed and make a list of the things that I liked about my body. After that, I was to repeat the exercise but without clothing, making a new list of what I liked about my body. And all the while, I was to remember the verse that had been with me since the beginning of counseling and to say that verse aloud every day: “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14, NASB). The Psalmist continues in verse 17, “How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”

Revisiting my journal from this time, I realize that it took me a full week to write anything positive after looking at myself fully clothed. Then I needed an additional two weeks before I could undress and look at myself in the mirror. It was a very difficult assignment. However, as I tried my best to fulfill my counselor’s instructions, I finally started seeing a few things that are unique to me as a person: my hands, my good complexion, my hair, a little crooked place on my left ear. I had a list!

About this same time, I saw an episode of What Not to Wear that centered on the unhealthy issue of using clothes to hide your body. The client receiving the makeover was experiencing exactly the same problem that I was fighting. Like me, she felt shame and guilt, and longed to be invisible. Through the television show, God reminded me that I am not alone. I’m not the only woman going through such a journey.

I wish I could tell you that I was instantly healed overnight. Thankfully, things have gotten better. I still have a way to go, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I believe that God’s thoughts toward me are precious and vast, and I remember that my husband loves me very much.

Do you dress in the closet and try to hide yourself from your loved one? Has this impulse caused a problem with your spouse? Then I want you to repeat along with me, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Say it again, and believe that God’s thoughts toward you are immeasurable. All the oceans of the world could not contain them.

Do not let your abuser win this situation and take those priceless truths from your mind. No! Again I tell you from God’s own Word, YOU ARE fearfully and wonderfully made! Believe it, and come out of your closet. Come out of the darkness, out from under the covers. You are so very precious to our God, and He wants you to live a life of light and freedom. Let’s believe it, and let’s start today.