Have you ever heard someone tell their story without a hint of shame?
In my senior year at Northwest University, we had a guest speaker; a man who had lived a wild life of parties and dark sexual pleasures. There he stood, with so much humility and joy and theatrical storytelling it was almost like he was telling someone else’s story. But he wasn’t. He lived every second of the heartache, the brokenness, the shame. And yet here he was: healed and thriving and generous and vulnerable.
Two years ago, I was wrestling with God. I longed for my own healing story so deeply I could taste it. But even in the wrestling I constantly doubted whether I could be healed. And that was when the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Maybe you don’t understand healing.” And it was true. I didn’t.
Two decades of consistent emotional, verbal, and physical abuse had left me empty and numb. And then I struggled to understand how my husband could love me. And I struggled to grasp motherhood. I struggled with daily anxiety and depression, nightmares, migraines, self-doubt, and guilt I can only describe as immense. It took me years to trust and believe that my husband was not going to hit me when he got upset, so instilled was my fear. And every so often, I saw glimpses of my true self coming out. I was safe, but I didn’t know how to live with safe. My body could not grasp what my lips told it or what reassurances my ears heard.
At some point, my world crumbled slowly around me. My body was tired. My mind was exhausted. My spirit was broken and yet longing. I lost the ability to sleep well. I stopped reading books. I couldn’t remember things. And sometimes, I even heard things (not voices…just sounds). Fear filled me often, but I struggled to understand or communicate that.
My friends surrounded me. My husband loved me in big and selfless ways and I slowly got better. I joined a local Celebrate Recovery and found a sense of belonging. I took naps every day. I started running again, and lost weight. I ate better and slowed down my pace of life. I learned to say “no”. I learned to give myself grace.
And I prayed constantly. And God saw ME and saw all my mess and all the broken things inside me and he reached heavy inside me and I let him. Some days the awareness of what I’d lived through took my breath away. I wept. I whispered all the things that had happened to me because I couldn’t even speak them normal. I worshiped. Yeah. Even that.
A weight lifted.
And for the first time I FELT and I just KNEW that my soul was free in ways I’d only ever wished for before.
Do you know what it means to be healed? It means you are free. It means your shame is so far behind you you can barely see it when you look back. It means there is freedom of emotion when you walk beside the Lord step by step through a valley and come out into open, wide plains.
Psalm 34 says, Oh TASTE and SEE that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit…He REDEEMS those who serve him.
I look back two years and I feel entirely new. I don’t just feel free. I am free. And my healing is ever-progressing.
I still struggle, but I know who I am. And I have unmatched confidence in my God.
Really, all I can do is worship. Because who else could bring such joy? Who else could offer such hope? It’s just Jesus.
Emotional healing is not a singular event. It’s a journey. And it is OK that it’s a journey and it is also OK for your journey to be unique and sacred in the ways that God devises for YOU. We love and serve a God who loves and serves us in individual and personal ways.
Here’s to you! And here’s to all the bravery it undoubtedly will take to step toward wholeness. May you find all the joy as you walk your healing journey. And be encouraged, dear one – there is much ahead for YOU. There is joy as bright as ten thousand radiant suns…