Are You Ready and Willing?

I have been reading the novel Rooms by James L. Rubart, the fictional story of a man who enters the rooms of his heart, soul, and mind, a story of restoration and breaking free from the chains that hold him captive. In the novel, the main character encounters himself as a child. By holding and crying with his child-self, he begins to find hope for healing from a traumatic childhood incident. Then God asks him whether he is ready and willing to heal that part of his heart that is still nine years old and still bound by the lies surrounding the event.

That question perfectly captures what has been going on in my own life. The little girl inside me is still six years old and in deep pain. In counseling, I have been trying to convince that little girl that all is okay now and that we can start feeling again. We do not have to keep our emotions locked away in a corner room of our heart. But I cannot seem to find her when I try to address this, and sometimes I wonder if it is because I am not quite ready and willing to follow through.

I agonize over the fact that as a defense mechanism I have splintered into different people who are all living inside me, and sometimes I wonder if it is just too weird. But like the character in the novel, I know that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, those whose hearts are literally broken. According to Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners” (NAS). This is the same verse that Jesus read when he stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth one Sabbath. Then he sat down and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” Luke 4:21 (NAS).

As I read these verses, my heart came to some understanding of what was going on inside me. My counselor and I had discussed this very issue, but somehow the novel made it more real to me. As I kept reading the story, one more thing spoke loudly to me: The main character in the book speaks directly to God Himself, and the LORD tells him, “You have been chained. You’ve hidden your heart in the dark places. But I came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free […]. Your heart is the treasure of My Kingdom. And I have done everything to set it free. And I love you with an unfathomable, unquenchable love” (Rubart, Rooms).

Oh, to really believe that and to be totally set free from that traumatic event that happened so long ago. Oh, for the little girl in my heart who has closed herself in that corner room and is unwilling to come out to hear and believe. Freedom at last! Oh, Dear Friend, do you need to have a face-to-face encounter with that part of yourself that is still hurting? I know that that’s what I need. But I also know this: I don’t have to do it by myself, and neither do you. God will be there with us every step of the way. In fact, His Word promises that He will even go before us.

“I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze, and cut through their iron bars. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places, in order that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name” Isaiah 45:2 (NAS).

What a promise! He will help me shatter the door of hiding, emerge from the corner room, and receive the treasure of a full life that has been hidden away. Then I will know Him more fully as the God Who calls me by name. Restoration. Chains broken. Freedom. Am I ready and willing? Are you?

Blessings – Lisa

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

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

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