Life on the Other Side

My life took a new direction when my anger and other negative emotions began to come out into the open. I began having a hard time dealing with everyday activities. I cried a lot and had trouble making decisions. New phobias appeared, to take the place of the ones God had removed from my life. I started retreating from life. I gave up most activities and resigned from my positions at church. But I turned to my counselor, and she gave me permission to give myself some space.

Other traumas were happening in my life at the same time, and the combination of them all was just too much for me to handle. I’m not saying that going to counseling means locking yourself up in your house, but everyone has her own path to walk for healing. For me personally, I had to step down from some leadership positions because I was not capable of performing them at that time. People at church started noticing that I was different, even though I thought I looked and acted the same as always. People could tell. Thankfully, my “safe” friends loved and encouraged me through it all without having to know what was going on. I needed this time apart to heal and to learn the truth so God could transform my life.

Different books and devotions ministered to me mightily during this dark time. One devotion in particular centered on a time of taking away. That is, God takes something away for a time so that He can give something new instead. In my own life, my daughter was growing away from me, my husband had a new job in another city, and my job had been taken away from me. We were putting our house on the market because we were going to move away from our loved and cherished town and I was removing myself from the jobs at church that I had treasured for so long. Wow. That was a lot of taking-aways. No wonder I could not function: I was on overload.

Where is this leading, Oh God? I cannot see what You are trying to do in my life. Please show me!

Then God gave me a book that painted a great picture for me. That book is Malchus by W. G. Griffiths. Through it, God revealed the hopelessness of the onlookers at the crucifixion, the despair they felt because at that time they did not know the TRUTH. They did not know that they were being set free. They saw one side of the cross, and they thought that that was the end of it. They could not even imagine what was on the other side.

All of my takings-aways had brought me great despair, but the truth was that God was using all of those things to change my heart. He was using those things to heal me. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (NAS). God did not kill, steal, or destroy any of those things that He took away from me. He was taking away so that He could replace all those things, fill my life so that I could live more abundantly. I had been just like those who looked at the cross and saw only hopelessness and despair. But, Oh, how their lives were changed when they learned the TRUTH. On the other side of the cross came the resurrection and new life–a more abundant and free life.

Has God taken something away from you, and you are spiraling down in despair? Do you see only hopelessness and agony? Are you having trouble just going through the motions of life because it is filled with so much pain? I am here to tell you this: There is a more abundant life awaiting you on the other side of this painful time. Jesus Christ gave His life for you because He wants you to have a free, victorious, and abundant life. Let God have His way as He takes away and gives. Believe the TRUTH. Believe that you can be whole. Believe that one day life will be good and you will be able to smile again. There is life on the other side. And it is good. I am believing it.

Blessings – Lisa

This Mountain is Huge, But One Day I Will Walk Over It

As I write this, I have been going to counseling for quite a few months, but there seem to be more bad days than good ones. I feel as if my life is full of mountains right now. My issues seem so huge to me. I am up and down, angry and sad, fearful and confident–all at the same time. I have worked through resentments, negative feelings, anger, rage, disappointments, hurts. I have had so many victories, but that mountain still looks so massive.

Do light and peace wait for me on the other side of the mountain? All I can see today are rocks, boulders, and snow-capped peaks that I must dig through and climb over. What wisdom is in God’s Word for me today? I don’t hear anything. Even the Word is silent in my heart. I’ve searched for verses on mountains, but nothing speaks to me today.

All I can see is the mountain. I am that little girl again, and I cannot find my way. Where do I begin? So much is coming at me at one time. So, I sit still. I ask for God’s presence. And then it happens: I find relief in God’s Word.

He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support. He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me. (II Samuel 22:17-20, NAS)

These words hold multiple meanings for me. They speak of my abuse. God will deliver me from my strong enemy, my abuser of long ago who had hated me and hurt me at a time when I was weak and vulnerable. And now–today–God is my support and will rescue me from myself as I seek help. He Himself will take me, draw me out, and rescue me. And those precious, precious words: “He delights in me.” Oh, what wonderful words to hide in my heart and believe! I need to know that Someone delights in me.

But His Word doesn’t stop there. Verses 31-39 continue,

As for God, His way is blameless; the Word of the LORD is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, besides the LORD? And who is a rock, besides our God? God is my strong fortress; and He sets the blameless in His way. He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places. He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your help makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, and I did not turn back until they were consumed. And I have devoured them and shattered them, so that they did not rise; and they fell under my feet.

Here is the answer to my mountain. God will set me upon that mountain and, with His help, I will fight and defeat my enemies. Did you see the promise? They will be destroyed, consumed, devoured, and shattered. Those enemies who are looming over me like a huge mountain will not rise, but will fall under my feet. But I have to take that first step.

God promises to enlarge my steps under me and to give me hinds’ feet so that I will not slip on the mountain. I still have to do the work, one step at a time, to move that mountain, one rock at a time. One rock at a time, one thought at a time, one act of forgiveness at a time, one memory at a time, one open door at a time, one phobia at a time, one hurt at a time. These are the rocks that have to be removed from that mountain, and God promises that, because He delights in me, He will help me. Oh, what joy!

How about you? Do you have a mountain before you? Do you feel small and helpless, overwhelmed by the work before you? Has the enemy convinced you that you will never be rescued? Well, let me tell you now with confidence that your enemy will be defeated, destroyed, and shattered.

Believe it. One day that mountain will be removed. Come with me; let’s tear down that mountain one rock at a time because, you see, our God delights in us! He wants to set us up on high places. He is our strong fortress. He Himself came from on high just to deliver us from the enemy. He delights in me, and He delights in you. Let’s get rid of that mountain. Let’s take the first step today and start moving those rocks.

Blessings – Lisa

 

 

 

 

Not Perfect and I’m Still Okay…

As I continued to work through my challenging situations, God promised that He was with me always, and I began to see some evidence of hope–that God did have a plan for using what was going on in my life. Even when some traumatic family issues began to surface, I could see God at work in that situation, also. But then a new emotion began to erupt within me. Anger.

For so long, I had stuffed away not only all my hurts and fears, but my anger as well. I had essentially stuffed all of my emotions out of my life. I had become numb. But, as God worked on me, my feelings started to thaw. And as they thawed, I started getting angry. Angry with people. Angry with situations. Angry with myself, and angry with God.

I was so angry that I could not find rest, and was anxious about everything. My thoughts seem to spiral beyond my control so that I was not even able to read my Bible or pray. What in the world was going on with me? Hadn’t God just shown me His Faithfulness and Care for my life? I had had such a high, and now two weeks later I’m angry?

I started to feel guilty, but I kept praying over and over, “God, help me to rest in you!” My counselor assured me that what I was experiencing was normal, but I knew I had to learn to get those distorted messages out of my life. I believed that as a Christian I was not supposed to get angry. But my anger made me feel guilty, and my guilt made me feel angry. My feelings were turning into a vicious cycle, and I needed to get rid of the distortions and get an accurate account instead.

Again, my counselor reassured me that it was okay for me to be angry as long as I did not act on that anger and hurt others. I had permission to scream and cry and yell, because there really were some things in my life to be angry about. I could journal and journal, and that way give it all to God. My, how that freed my soul! It was okay to feel my feelings once again. I did not have to stuff my emotions away any longer.

So, I began to write about how I really felt about things. I began to release the anger–I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I did not know how much I had bottled up inside me. There were times I just wanted to stomp on my journal, jump on it, tear it up, shred it into a million pieces. but even as I released the anger and the disappointments and the hatred (yes, there were times I just felt hatred) I began to feel the peace of God. I realized that I had to process the anger before I could rest in the truth. I needed to practice Ephesians 4:26, which says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (NAS).

So, what was the truth about what I was dealing with during this difficult time? The truth, for me, was that I was not perfect and therefore I could not expect my family to be perfect, either, though most of my anger had been directed at them and their imperfections. Perfection had been my way to overcome Dumb, Stupid, and Ugly, and that didn’t work. The TRUTH was this: I can never be perfect, no matter how hard I try, and neither can my family. I will always mess up  and make mistakes, and that’s okay. Did you catch that last part? It’s okay.

Here is my encouragement for you today. If you have deadened your soul and are numb to your emotions, do not stay there. Friend, release the anger, the sorrow, the guilt, the shame. Whatever it is, release it to God. He can handle it all. Also remember this great truth: we all make mistakes, and that’s okay. Really. God loves you just as you are, and He loves you even when you mess up. Believe it. Live it.

Blessings – Lisa

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