I have shared before how the last few years of my life has been radically different from the majority of the life that I have lived prior. This last week though, God gave me a glimpse into a different plan for me than the one I had (which was to compartmentalize and keep my “following Jesus” life and my life prior to that separate). There was no miraculous booming voice nor did the waters of the Cook Inlet part to show me the way…however, the miracle that happened in my heart may just have been that big…or at least it was to me.
Almost the entire time that I have been on this crazy adventure with Jesus, I have been told over and over that I need to forgive those people in my past that had hurt me so deeply; which is perfectly true and in fact biblical. Though…how do you convince someone who has been living in a world of pain and survival that the ones who hurt you the worst are in most need of forgiveness, “not for them, but for you…”
The more that I was willing to know and learn and seek who God is…the more that the people that I lived life with showed me real love and real forgiveness and real vulnerability…and in my heart I just wanted to have and know what these spiritual giants knew and lived.
I kept hearing about grace and forgiveness… rest and truth…mercy and healing…love and restoration… I knew it was what I wanted. The more that I sought after those things and the more that I longed to know God better—the more that memories from my past would surface…not those happy and good memories…but those memories that were times of deep hurt and often disgusting depravity.
I kept trying to shove those things away. I kept trying to rationalize and tell myself that they were just shadows of the past and they didn’t need to influence or taint my decisions today…but the truth is that they already were. I was avoiding people and situations where any aspect of my past would be brought up. I was protecting my heart by forming walls and creating distance without even realizing what I was doing…all in the guise of a “healthier” life.
But you can’t get healthier if the deepest places of pain in life are shoved away in an unlit and forgotten basement only to be shut off from the sun and padlocked closed…with no intention of letting anyone or anything in.
This is how I lived for a very long time; closing me and others off from that place of pain. If anyone got too close to that fortified bunker, I would run from that person in fear of what opening those doors would look like. In this same manner, I found it unacceptable that any light be shined on that place of pain, injustice and filth—I was ashamed that it was a part of me and I didn’t want anyone else to know. In my pursuit of pretense (that would help me to look ordinary) and my desire to just fit in, I fought harder and harder to keep that dark and sick place shut away. There were times that I allowed myself the luxury to pretend that my mental basement of sorrow existed at all…though those times were short lived because I was never meant to limit access to my life from God. I knew he wanted all of me and I quite literally fought against the opening of myself fully out of my own fear and disgust.
God in his goodness granted me the beauty of vulnerable friends that didn’t recoil at my memories and instead honored me with their tears and their continual support—through life with them I got to know the heart of Jesus even more. I got to know people who stood in the gap for me and with their passion would help me to see what was right and true…and who would help me to acknowledge the pain of my past instead of cover it and pretend it didn’t exist. Those who helped me to learn how to feel again and how to stick in there with them instead of run… It wasn’t me who had the strength to be real and to show up—it was God’s gift to me of these awesome people who showed me that they were going still going to be there… Thankfully, I have God’s truth that has been given to me through these friendships. On many occasions I find that I still have to look back on the notes that have been given or the things that have been said or verses that are highlighted to remind me of God’s truth when I look around and see or feel suffering.
I mentioned forgiveness earlier—I’ve always found it easier to forgive those people who I have the privilege to know now…because the people who I know now don’t desire to purposefully hurt me. It’s those people who were a part of my dark past that I have a hard time forgiving. I see the impact of the choices they made and the person I was when I was with them and I am repulsed.
This last weekend I was sitting with a small group of ladies and because I get to sit with them in a place of honesty and vulnerability as we are on our Healing Journey, I get to bring the truth of my anger, my bitterness and my deep hurt…I borrowed their courage to finally (and yes for the first time) recognize the truth of what I felt in regard to just one memory and was given an opportunity to share the tremendous impact of that action and to utter a prayer to God giving him those hard and hurtful feelings and inviting him into this sectioned off place in my mind and heart…being fully honest in my brokenness.
When a heart that was shut off so completely because of the depth of the pain is finally able to invite God in…
I can’t think of anything else to say but … “miracle”…
I am astounded at the gentleness of how this door was opened.
I am so thankful for the gospel of Jesus that moves me to tears.
I am amazed that the God of the universe sees and pursues me.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I have been forgiven so much.
In a posture of both fear, love and deep, deep gratitude…I surrender this pain-filled place to My Lord and my King.