Blackness

During the darkest days when Dumb, Stupid, and Ugly still controlled my life, I felt so black. I felt weird and different. I felt as if no one could possibly understand what was going on with me. Had any of my friends ever felt like stabbing herself with a knife? And how could I even ask someone that question?

When my life was the blackest, I really struggled with these thoughts. Whenever I was in the kitchen with a knife in my hand, I had strong urges to stab myself. One time I just dropped the knife, and it cut my leg. Another urge I had to fight was the impulse to stick my hand down the garbage disposal and turn it on. I knew these were not normal thoughts, and I was afraid to tell anyone about them. These impulses were very compelling but, because of God’s providence, I never gave in to them.

In my counseling sessions, I learned that these destructive desires are normal for people who have experienced sexual trauma. Maybe my friends and family would never understand or know what I was going through, but there are other women out there who will nod their heads and understand completely. But the blackness was still with me. I felt tarnished and stained and ugly and useless. The early months of my counseling sessions were difficult because blackness had such a grip on my life. I had already lost hope, and my recovery seemed to be coming so slowly. I cried out to God for an understanding about what was happening in my life.

Then God showed me a great truth. As my husband and I were preparing to sell our house, I was going through the cabinets and purging because I knew we were going to have to downsize. I found a pair of silver candlesticks at the back of a cabinet. I knew they were silver because I remembered receiving them as a wedding gift, but when I found them again they were black with tarnish. So I went to the store, bought some silver polish, and began to clean them. It was hard work! I polished and cleaned, and got black all over my hands and polishing cloths. But my reward was a beautiful pair of gleaming silver candlesticks.

God spoke to my heart. He told me that I was one of those candlesticks, and that He Himself would lovingly polish the black from my life. It would be hard work because, just like those candlesticks that had been hidden away at the back of a cabinet for years, my life had acquired years and years of blackness. The process would take time.

But, when the time came, I would be polished and beautiful and useful. What joy! What comfort! The Creator Himself wanted to get His hands dirty to polish my black heart. Proverbs 2:3-5 says, “For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the LORD, and discover the knowledge of God” (NAS).

Friend, He wants to do the same for you. Let Him do it. It will not be instantaneous; it will be hard. But, oh, to know that our lives will one day give joy to others! Give Him your black heart today. Give Him all those hurtful things that you have hidden away from the world. No one else may understand, but He does. Cry out to Him and you will discover the understanding He has for you. Let’s be those silver candlesticks together, shining with a bright light to give Hope to those around us who need healing. Let Him start today.

Blessings – Lisa

Hopelessness to Faithfulness

When I first started my counseling, I struggled with feelings of hopelessness. For a month, my journal was filled day after day with my questioning whether God could really help me, one day crying out to God how much I wanted change and the next drowning in utter despair. I was on such a roller coaster ride. I just kept praying to God that I wanted more from life. I wanted to leave my past behind and move forward. I wanted an abundant life, a life without fear, a life with dreams, a life of victory, a life without defeat.

God, please show me a sign. Give me some sort of hope. I just can’t seem to see it clearly yet.

God answered my pleading in a way that only He could orchestrate. One night while lying in bed, I felt God saying to my heart that He wanted me to give my tithing testimony in church.

What? What does that mean, God? My tithing testimony? What is that?

He took me back to my journal, where I had pleaded with God that I would surrender and do whatever it took to move forward. This was the next step. I had to make a choice: believe and do what He asked, or not do anything and stop the plan God had for my healing. So I started writing everything I knew about my tithing, starting with how my parents taught me to tithe as a child. Then I moved on to my first job and tithing, my marriage and tithing, and on and on. I wrote and rewrote until I had a testimony to share in church.

As I worked on my testimony, God showed me how, through the ups and downs of our money struggles, rearing children and now helping our grown children with their own financial struggles, God had been Faithful. That was the real message He had for me–His Faithfulness! And I had it all chronicled in front of me. There was the evidence in black and white, ready to be given in front of my church family. God had been Faithful for over forty years. Couldn’t I trust Him now?

Matthew 4:18-20 says, “And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him” (NAS).

God was saying to me, “Dear, precious child, I want you to drop the net of your past and move forward to what I have for you! Drop those feelings of hopelessness, despair, fear, and defeat and move on now with Me. Now. Don’t wait. The evidence is before you. Give your testimony and then walk forward.”

What testimony do you have of God’s Faithfulness in your life? Ask God to show you His Faithfulness so that you can hold it before your face and believe and move on. The enemy wants you to have hopelessness, despair, fear, and defeat. God wants you to drop the net and leave it all behind. Friend, move forward, drop that net, take His hand, and walk with Him now as He leads you to freedom and victory.

Blessings – Lisa

 

Fear, I’m Closing the Door on You!

Everyone has some sort of fear. So many different things in life can cause fear and anxiety: things, people, places, animals. The list seems endless.

I personally have an intense fear of spiders. Regardless of how large or small it is, a spider really creeps me out. I cannot watch television episodes or movie scenes that have spiders in them. If I see a picture of a spider in a book, I immediately close the book or turn the page quickly. Every nightmare I have ever had has been a dream with a spider in it. And if I see one in my house, it must be destroyed or I will not be able to function because I will be constantly looking for it.

Fear is just that way. It causes people to retreat, to close the books on their lives, and always to be on the lookout. Fear keeps people frozen so that they cannot do what needs to be done. Unfortunately, I passed my fear of spiders on to my children . So I decided that I had to start dealing with my fears, for my children’s sake as well as for my own. I wanted to be free and to be able to walk through life without being held back.

I had another fear in my life that cripples me as much as my fear of spiders. I was afraid of a closed bedroom door. What’s so scary or fearful about that? But ever since I could remember, I could not sleep in a room with the door closed. As a child, I would cry if a babysitter tried to close my bedroom door after my brother and I had been put to bed for the night. Even after I was married and the mother of three, I still could not sleep with a closed door. I often wondered why it mattered so much, but it was huge. I just could not sleep with the bedroom door closed.

So God said, “Let’s work on your fear of the closed door.”

As memories of my molestation began to resurface, I realized that bad things had happened behind closed doors. Rooms with closed doors were not safe places. It was strange to me that I had never feared the dark–only closed doors. Even now as I write this I want to weep for the little girl who was hurt behind those closed doors. She was so small and innocent, never knowing why those things had to happen.

It was difficult at first, but with the help of my godly counselor I was able to walk through the pain and the fear. Over and over, she had to remind me that those things were done to me, they were not something that I had brought on myself. I had to let go of the shame and know that I did not have to fear any more.

Over and over, I have had to claim 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity–of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear–but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” (Amplified). A calm and well-balance mind. How marvelous is our God! He can take our fears and give us instead a mind that is whole, so that we can move on and do the work that He has called us to do.

Are you living in fear and shame because of what someone did to you? Well, then, stop cringing and cowering in fear, and give those fears to God. He wants to give you rest and calmness and a well-balanced mind. Turn to Him today.

Blessings – Lisa

 

Perfect and Complete

The truth of God’s great love for me was not the only truth that I found while dealing with Ugly. After working for a while on my list of the physical attributes that I liked about myself, I started getting comfortable with it. Then my counselor started meddling again. (Please understand that I say that with the greatest respect.) She gave me a new assignment, to list the specific ways that God was showing His great love for me. So I began to list them in my journal.

Here’s a part of that list:

  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Of course this is first on the list, since I had been writing it daily for weeks and weeks.)
  • I am a new creation.
  • I am a person worthy to be liked.
  • I am loved by God and very special to Him.
  • He guides me.
  • He protects me.
  • He shows me His ways.
  • I receive His Grace and Mercy every day.
  • He made me unique.

Now, let me clarify something about writing these lists. When I am writing one, it usually takes me about a week, and I cry a LOT! I never knew that a person could cry so much. When someone like me, who was sexually traumatized but then stuffed it away for forty years, starts feeling and healing — well, the emotions just come and come and come.

God started sharing a truth with me through two verses.  Colossians 2:10 says, “[A]nd in Him you have been made complete” and Philippians 1:6 continues, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (NAS).  It was not by my looks that I was made complete, nor by what others thought about me, but it was Christ Himself Who completes me. I am not ugly because Christ made me, and He made me complete.

God also promised me that the work He had started in me will one day be perfected. As I looked at these verses again, I realized that it was not just any work but a good work that He wants to complete in me. So I began to write these two precious Scriptural promises in my journal every day. I believed that God was using what had happened to me in the past; the mistakes I had made; the struggles with Dumb, Stupid, and Ugly; my unforgiveness of others; the fears and phobias I was facing; and my deep, deep depression to complete the good work He was doing in my life. Someday I would be perfect! Oh, what a blessed thought.

Do you need to see that TRUTH today? Do you need to know that God is able to work through all the horrible times in your life, through the hurts, the pain, the loneliness, the loss of hope, or the fear of what you have experienced? Then cling with me to those precious promises. We must believe and live knowing that one day we will be made complete and whole. We may feel like damaged goods at times, but God uses our damaged vessels and He will make us complete because He loves us so much. Oh, how I long for it even now.

Complete. Whole. New.

I believe. Will you?

Blessings – Lisa

Ugly is Fading Fast, and Hey, I AM Pretty!

Ugly was a very difficult foe to eject from my life. God showed me great truths that I could embrace as I fought him, including making a list of what I liked about myself. As I worked on this list, I realized that there really were some things that I could appreciate about how God had formed me. One of those things that I liked about myself was my hair– my prematurely white hair– and I chose not to color it. For some reason, that choice became very important to me and, in fact, I believed that my white hair was something I should be proud of.

My white hair reminded me of someone whom I had loved dearly and who had loved me dearly, too–my grandmother. My grandmother had had pretty white hair, and now God was giving me that same gift. I had always felt loved and accepted by her. As I battled Ugly, I needed more reassurance that I was beloved not only by God but also by the people close to me. God answered that need in a dramatic way through a friend of mine who made a comment to me that changed my life.

Only my counselor knew that I was struggling with this issue, reminding myself every day that I was fearfully and wonderfully made. After a particularly good counseling session in which we had prayed about getting rid of Ugly, I left to see this friend. Her daughter was studying cosmetology, and I had made an appointment for her to cut my hair while I visited my friend at her house. After the haircut, my friend looked at me and said, “You look so pretty.” She paused, and then she added, “You know you are just so pretty on the inside already.” Wow! I just wanted to weep and weep. God had answered my prayer in just two short hours.

Now that may seem like a trivial thing to some people, but it was huge for me. Someone loved me and thought I was pretty. I felt God wrapping His arms around me and just giving me a bear hug. When I got home, I immediately wrote about the experience in my journal. I wanted to have a record of how much my God loves me. Ugly was finally beginning to fade in my life. He was a liar and now I had evidence to throw in his face.

Oh, friend, God wants to encourage you, too, in your healing walk away from the damage caused by your sexual trauma and toward a life of wholeness. Cry out to Him and He will show you His love in tangible ways. You must believe His Word when He says in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NAS).

Let me add to that list: Neither Dumb, Stupid, and Ugly, nor those who had hurt me when I was little, nor the mistakes I have made in acting out in response to my abuse, none of these things can separate me from the love of God. What do you need to add to this list? Dear one, write it out. Write out all the things that you believe might keep His love from you and believe instead that NOTHING can separate you from God’s love. Ask Him today to show you, and He will. Believe it, and bask in His love for you.

Blessings – Lisa

 

Step Aside Ugly, I’m Going Shopping

Ugly’s dominance in my life influenced what I wore on a daily basis. I started wearing loose-fitting clothes. I gained weight. I never bought new clothes for myself. Baggy shorts and pants and t-shirts became my uniform. I needed help to rid myself of Ugly.

My counselor gave me an assignment. Go shopping and buy some clothes that are flattering and dressier than my t-shirt collection. But that was one thing that I really could not do by myself. If I had gone into a store by myself at that time, I probably would have just stood there, and then left. Thankfully, I had a good friend who literally stuck me in a dressing room and brought me clothes after clothes to try on. Later, she even went shopping for me and brought bags of clothes to my house for me to try on.

Then came the big day when I had to actually wear one of my outfits when I went out to lunch with a group of friends. I pulled on the pants, and started crying uncontrollably. I had to call my friend, because I didn’t think I could do it. Ugly was trying to wreck my freedom. He didn’t want me to look good. I cried and cried, but I finally got dressed and went out to lunch. When one of the men in the group paid me a compliment and noticed how nice I looked, I didn’t get up and run away or feel the compulsion to gorge.

I was finally beginning to believe the truth that I really am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God loves me bunches. What a huge hurdle I overcame that day! I was able to dress in an attractive, appropriate outfit without wondering whether I was drawing too much attention to myself or somehow enticing unwanted notice. Of course, there were many more hurdles to come, but it has been these baby steps that have given me the confidence to keep going.

Dear friend, have you been hiding yourself behind your clothes? Would you rather just disappear and hope that no one notices that you live on this planet? God assures us in Psalm 139:14 that He made you just as you are and that His workmanship is wonderful. He wants us to be confident men and women and to live out among people. Would you rest in that thought today? He loves you very much. Say it. I know God loves me very much!

Blessings – Lisa

 

Ugly – The Unwanted Protector

After getting rid of Dumb and Stupid, I knew that with God’s help I could tackle Ugly. Ugly had become my protection. As a child, I had believed that I must have looked a certain way for my abuser to want to do those things to me, and Ugly helped me cope with that assumption. I never wanted to look or feel pretty, and Ugly helped me hide who I really was as a person.

My counselor told me to bring some pictures of myself to one of our sessions. She wanted me to bring an assortment of pictures of myself from around the time of my molestation, so I did. I remember how much I liked one of the pictures in particular and how much I disliked one of the others. I was so cute and pretty in the one, but in the other I was so ugly. Suddenly, I realized that I really liked the photo taken before I was molested, but I really hated the one taken afterwards. The time frame was obvious. I was stunned by how my attitude toward my appearance had been changed by what had happened to me.

I never intentionally tried to look bad during my childhood, but after my marriage Ugly became my constant companion. As a woman, any time a man complimented me on my looks, I wanted to eat and eat and run away. I started wearing loose-fitting clothes. I gained weight because being thin might show my figure. I never really dressed up or wore much make-up or jewelry. I never even bought myself new clothes, and I became content to wear baggy shorts and t-shirts during the summer.

As my counseling continued, and we stripped away Dumb and Stupid (see earlier posts), Ugly began to grow inside me and tried to take up all the space that Dumb and Stupid had just vacated. I became more and more self-conscious about what I wore and how I looked. Just the thought of some simple adornment such as painting my toenails was tortuous to me. Ugly taunted me over and over about how dirty I had been made by what had happened to me in the past. I was bombarded with the words, “Dirty! Dirty! Ugly! Ugly!” I didn’t believe that anyone could ever see me as pretty ever again.

But, Ugly was wrong. God says in His Word that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And, to prove that to myself, my first assignment was to paint my toenails. It took me a full week to be able to accomplish that one little task, but finally I did it. Next assignment: Make a list of things that I like about myself. It took some hard searching, but I did manage to find some things that I like, such as my hands, my complexion, my notch in my ear.

I had one more assignment that I will share with you next week. So, I will leave you with this thought for today. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Do not let someone like Ugly tell you any different! God wants you and I to know that no matter what someone else has done to us, it was not our fault. He loves us very much. Think about that today. Believe it.

Blessings – Lisa

SHOWDOWN WITH STUPID

Stupid had frozen my life and I was tired of it!! I was tired of feeling like a failure and the depression that had taken over my life.

So I went to counseling. My counselor asked me to start writing down the evidence that I am not stupid. But I could not think of a single thing – literally not one single thing – that I could do to prove that I was not stupid. I burst into tears instead. I really believed that I was stupid. I wept and I hugged Stupid tightly against me. He was not going to go away gently. He was not going away without a battle.

With my counselor’s encouragement and guidance, I started naming some of the everyday things that I can do. Yes, I can clean house. Yes, I can cook. She asked me, “What are your strengths?” and I realized that I do have some strengths. I can budget, and I can organize. I had homeschooled all three of my children. So I finally began to write. I cried and I wrote and I cried and I wrote. Eventually I had a whole page of written evidence that indeed I am not stupid.

The time came for me to say those four simple words, “I am not stupid.” Releasing the death grip that I had on myself, I was able to say with conviction, “I AM NOT STUPID!”

Writing this today has again brought tears to my eyes. How long had I lived believing that I couldn’t measure up to the rest of the world! But, even though I had rebuked Stupid, he continued to harass me and to sneak up on me when I least expected it. To protect myself from him, I found an index card and wrote myself a reminder that I am not stupid. I still have that card. At first, I had to carry it with me everywhere, at all times, but now it lives on my kitchen counter.

God gave me this verse for my index card:  “The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in Thee,” Isaiah 26:3 (NAS). Until I overcame Stupid finally and completely, every day I had to tell God that I was going to trust Him with my mind and my intellect so that I could have perfect peace. I refused to allow the enemy to take away that peace of mind.

Oh, friend, is there a Stupid in your life who wants to take away your perfect peace and cause you sorrow? Cry out to God and trust that He Himself can keep your mind in perfect peace. Call out to Him today. Do not delay.

Blessings – Lisa

Then There Was Stupid

Just as Dumb had attacked my emotional well-being, Stupid used similar tactics to assault my intellectual self-confidence. Dumb, Stupid, and Ugly worked closely with one another against me.

I have always loved games – playing cards or anything that has to do with words or numbers. And I was smart in school, a good student. I made good grades and was consistently at the top of my class, though I did struggle with Physical Education. (Can you hear my husband laughing?) I enjoyed school. There were some classes that were more challenging than others, of course, but, without fail, learning has brought me great joy throughout my life.

But somehow Stupid always tripped me up. As I look back now to my high-school days, I can see it so clearly. Regardless of my academic success, I would sabotage myself or otherwise defeat myself. I never even tried to pursue awards or scholarships that would have helped me continue my education beyond high school. I was in the top 10% of my graduating class at a large high school in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but I felt stupid.

I had no plans or goals for college. Stupid froze any ambition I might have had. I did attend a commuter college for a year and took summer classes at a junior college, but then I fell in love and got married and never again pursued formal education. My husband encouraged me to take some classes, but I always made some sort of excuse.

As the years progressed, my sense of stupidness increased, especially when so many of my adult friends had college degrees and worked outside the home. Being a stay-at-home mom allowed me to dispel Stupid for a while, but he reemerged when my children were older and I began to spend more time among adults. I had not watched much television or really kept up with world events and popular culture, so I found that often I did not know what my friends were talking about. I started feeling extremely stupid again.

When I started going to counseling, fighting that ugly trio, Stupid would bombard me just as Dumb had done. I found myself rehearsing in my mind how stupid I was. “Why don’t I know this or that? Why don’t I know the words to that song? Why don’t I watch the news and know what’s going on? Why do I even associate with these people with their college degrees and important jobs?” I had to yell at Stupid to make him leave me alone. I felt like such a failure, and I was so depressed that it became a chore for me even to get up and go anywhere.

Somehow Stupid had to be eradicated from my life so I could have peace of mind. I felt as if I were going crazy. Next week I will share the showdown with Stupid, but, until then, don’t let a Stupid take control of your mind. Get help. Do not live your life believing a lie.

Blessings – Lisa

Dumb, Really?

Having Dumb as a part of my life was very tiresome! As he began fighting for his place in my life I knew I had to fight to rid him out of my life instead. The conflict came to head one day during counseling. I had to admit that no one is perfect and, yes, people say and do things that are mess-ups because only God is perfect. I had been writing Colossians 2:10 in my journal every day: “And in Him you are made complete” (NAS). Every day I had to say and try to believe that I could be made complete in Christ.

Then came the crucial moment. It was time for me to say, “I am not dumb.” All I had to say was, “I am not dumb.” Just those four simple words. Just say them out loud. I could not do it.

I cried and wept and hugged myself. It was horrible. Dumb was not going to leave that easily. Hadn’t he been my guide and companion for decades? Wasn’t the shame of my molestation the most glaring evidence of his role in my life? So I had to make the choice: was God’s Word real and true, or not?

Did I believe the Truth of Colossians 2:10? Yes. I did – I do – believe God’s Word. I believed, and I knew that I could be free from Dumb if I would only say those words. I relaxed the tight hug on myself (and it was a very tight hug) and said those precious words, “I AM NOT DUMB.” Oh my, what freedom came flooding into my life as a result of letting go of Dumb. There was an instant change in my life. I can honestly say that Dumb left my life that day. Though there were times when he tried to attack me again, I did not let him back in.

Dear friend, believe God’s Word is true and know that God has good plans for your life. He loves you and wants the best for you. Get rid of that Someone in your life and choose to live a free life in Christ.

Blessings – Lisa