Transparency: seeing through shame

I experienced a turning point this morning. Down in the very sacred parts of me.

I’ve shared with people who ask, that I was saved at a very young age. I grew up in church and never remember a time where I did not believe in the things recorded in the Bible.

I also, don’t remember a time where I was living a sinner and was suddenly overcome with forgiveness and shed my old self. This may not make sense to most, because that is pretty much the definition of getting saved. Giving one’s life over to Jesus.

I’ve listened to speeches from people who have survived prison and been born again. I’ve also attended conferences where women have come out of sex trafficking and are now using their newfound faith to reach people all across the planet. Because these were incredibly moving, I felt like I was somehow shorted. How could I possibly make a difference if I didn’t have a story like that? After hearing many, many testimonies of believers giving their life over to Jesus and the miracle that surrounds that…..I almost craved to hear my own story. Truth is, I didn’t believe I had a story as amazing as those.

Now, as an adult, having reached a point where I can really sift through my life and truly digest the horrors I have lived through – my eyes are being opened.

For the past few weeks, I have really been struggling. Iv’e been struggling with shame and forgiving myself for my past. I grew up a Christian, this is true. However, I went through a good chunk of time (7-8 years) where I was not following the Lord. Sure, I still believed in Him, but you would never know it by my actions. I was leading a life I was not proud of. I can’t really tell you one specific reason WHY I was doing the things I was doing, but I was. And in full force. There really wasn’t any stopping me. Most people who know me now, and didn’t know me then, may find it hard to believe when I tell them the things I have done.

I have felt this urge to be honest about my past as a part of the healing process, but I’m finding some difficulty in this. In the past, I was unashamed about my actions and would really tell anyone who sat in front of me. It really wasn’t shocking to the people I chose to surround myself with. They had all done them or knew people who had. I live in a new part of the country and have found myself surrounded by some of the most amazing people! I feel incredibly blessed to have found not only an amazing group of friends, but also a church home like none I have ever experienced before. I think just having those things, has allowed me to feel safe and supported. Stable.

With this, comes a downside. Because I am surrounded by amazing people who have standards…..I feel much more shame when talking about the things Iv’e done. Not because they are judgmental, in fact they are far from it. But, because they aren’t desensitized to it like the people from my past. They feel strong emotion when they hear things of this nature. It hurts their heart. Because they genuinely care. So with that said, I am in a constant state of confusion. Do I share what Iv’e been through and done? Do those things matter anymore? In order to know me as a person, must someone know about my past? The answer, I believe, is yes.

I think about the deep splinter our daughter got in her foot. It was probably 4-5 inches long and deep in the skin of her foot. I think about how I had to sterilize and cut the skin with a razor blade in order to get it out before I could even begin to clean the wound. She was so brave to sit through such a scary thing. In fact, I worked hard to steady my own hands. I was just as nervous.

Are emotional wounds different? How scary and painful it must be to get the bad stuff out. It literally feels like a cut to the heart in order to drain the bad stuff. It is certainly scary. The people who are a part of this journey with us may feel scared too. But once the bad is out, we can not only see the wound better but we can begin to treat it properly. It is then, that the healing can begin. It may leave a scar, but it doesn’t have to be painful anymore.

So when I tell people about how detached I became when my parents divorced my seventh grade year, or how numb I was when I had an abortion at the age of 17, or how betrayed I felt when I discovered my stepdad was masturbating to pictures of me in my room, or how I don’t remember losing my virginity, or how desperate I felt trying to escape my abusive relationship in college, or how much attention I was craving while I was having premarital sex with strangers, or how lost I felt as I binge drank myself into blackouts for years, or how I spent my four year college loan in one year, or how unsatisfied I was with my body as I went under the knife to permanently change my body through cosmetic surgery and tattoos, or how low I felt when I walked in on my daughter’s dad cheating on me for the 7th time, or how strange I felt to be a single mother who had never even been married, or how helpless I felt when I wasn’t there for my daughter as she watched her dad attempt suicide, or how I couldn’t accept that a wonderful guy would want to marry me knowing all of that…………….I don’t have to be ashamed. Jesus made sure of it. He shed his blood to forgive people like me.

This morning in church as the feelings of shame flooded every fiber of my being and the pastor and worship team followed the Holy Spirit’s lead, tears began to pour out. The church gave an open invitation to those who did not yet know Jesus to make their way to the front so they could pray together. The whole time I wept. Although I am already saved, I felt God’s forgiveness flood through my soul and wipe clean any harbored shame I have kept hidden for all of these years. And that, my friends is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced in my 28 years.

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God’s Grace and Direction in a Time of Great Sadness

There are thousands of “my ex did me wrong” stories out there, but this one is different. This one ends with God’s grace and direction. Please join me in my first attempt at telling this story in text.

I’ll skip over our relationship and why it didn’t work out. I’ll even spare you the details of the aftermath, disagreements and court battles. This story begins in July of 2014, when our daughter was halfway through her 4th year of life. Her precious and fragile 4th year. She was on an overnight visit with her dad and his girlfriend over the summer and everything seemed to be going fine. I am a mother and always have anxieties while my children are out of my care, but things seemed to be going OK.

Until……

I woke up early one morning to NINE missed calls from the local POLICE! Thoughts immediately started racing through my head. I was wondering if my sister and her husband were OK. Was it my mom or dad? Please tell me no one got in a car accident! For some reason, I just trusted that my daughter was OK with her dad because if she wasn’t, her dad would have called me!

I can’t even tell you what the voicemail from the Police said except, “we have made sure your daughter is taken care of and you can call us back to come pick her up.” WHAT?!?!? OMG omg omg. It took several phone calls, a bunch of panic and some adrenaline driven actions to figure out where she was and how to get to her.

Of course, at the Cops attempt to keep me calm, they gave me a pretty watered down version of the story and assured me everything was OK. They told me that her dad had attempted to hang himself (before being cut down by his girlfriend that just happened to show up at the right time) and that he was recovering at the local hospital.They assured me that my daughter was asleep for the whole thing. She was in the care of his girlfriend at their house.

You guys, I can’t even explain the following weeks very well because it all turned into a blur of sleepless nights, nightmares (for both her and I), tons of phone calls, counseling sessions, lots of investigating on my part and a large number of prayers. As time went on, I learned through my poor little girl’s counseling sessions that she had seen the whole thing. I also learned that there was domestic violence involved, lots of alcohol and physical force from the cops that was needed to resolve this case. All the while, I was being told that she was asleep and didn’t see a thing.

For a mother to learn that her precious 4 year old daughter not only witnessed such a horrific event, but potentially could have been left alone out in the middle of the country with no one to care for her and no idea how to get a hold of anyone (had her dad succeeded in his attempt) just totally dropped me to my knees. I think you can imagine the feelings I was having about myself as a mother. Guilt and helplessness being among the top contenders!

Fast forward through short supervised visitations with her dad, his time away recovering in a hospital and plenty of court sessions and phone calls……we came down to the day that would change everything. After a 9 month battle in court, I pulled up to the courthouse parking lot preparing myself to walk in and have a judge tell me what would be happening moving forward. I had no control over the situation. I was at a place of no feeling. No tears, no anger, no arguments, no nothing. I felt like I was floating in space, no connection to anyone or anything. Just there…..floating. I was terrified when the judge gave us his ruling. Her dad had earned back every other weekend visitation including overnights!!!!

Needless to say, the next year or so was a very rough road. It was full of potty accidents, emotional roller coasters, night terrors and a very unknown dark time for me. I continued to pray, because I knew God was the ONLY ONE who could pull us out of this. Can I also tell you that her grandpa (her dad’s dad) passed away just 5 short months after the suicide attempt, throwing her dad into an even deeper spiral and adding to my daughter’s sadness and confusion.

Where is the grace and direction in this story? It appeared out of nowhere, just like God loves to do. It was May, 2 years later……things had been going fairly decent with her visits and we had finally made some progress on her emotional healing. However, this harsh and relentless world wasn’t done with us yet. My husband was laid off at his 10 year career and we were about to lose everything. GOD didn’t stop there either! He gave us a phone call that would change everything! Family in North Carolina wanted us to move near them so they could help us out! They had a job, house, everything. (I need to write a post about that blessing of a move too!) We would be moving from Colorado all the way to North Carolina.

Problem is: how will my daughter see her dad? How will he react? Will he approve of the move? Will we be able to get through court before we have to move? Everything was back to the place of the unknown! Me floating in space again. I made the very hard call to her father and to my surprise he approved of the move. WOW. Of course, we didn’t agree on visitation or any of the details and if we wanted the judge to decide it could be anywhere from 6 months to a year before we reached a decision, meaning my daughter and I would have to stay back while the rest of our family moved on.

God spoke to me and instructed me to show grace as he has shown us and to have a sit down lunch with her dad with a plan to work things out. This was a long shot. We hadn’t agreed on anything other than the fact that we both loved our daughter up until that point. Do you want to know how that lunch ended? We came up with a full agreement, signed papers and he even bought my lunch! Now if that isn’t God, I don’t know what is. In that moment I learned that when we are in our times of most uncertainty, we need only turn to God and react how He would. God is a God of forgiveness, grace, second chances, love, kindness, selfless acts and transparency. He is a God who heals broken hearts and reacts out of love, NO MATTER the situation!!

As of today, her dad has plans to travel across the country in January and attend a father-daughter dance for her girl scouts. When I tell this story to people or they were there in the thick of it, they don’t understand my actions. They don’t understand my trust or forgiveness or how much I “allow” him to see our daughter. Truth of the matter is: she is not my daughter, she is God’s child. I have been given the honor of caring for her on this Earth and I will try with everything I have to care for her like God would.

 

 

How emotional wounds heal like physical wounds

On my morning walk, I was having a conversation with God about some wounds from 10 years ago that were still sneaking their way into my relationships today. I came to him with an open mind ready to soak up any wisdom he could give me. The result was a little surprising but extremely helpful! 

I tend to think in metaphors and I consider them to be my learning style. If I can compare abstract, very confusing thoughts to a concrete example of something we see everyday, I can better understand it. That is what God did here, by comparing emotional healing to that of a physical wound.

As with a physical wound, the pain is the absolute worst in the beginning stages. I’ve noticed that many phases of the process take place in a short amount of time in the beginning! Shock, numbness, anger, excruciating pain, sadness and the feeling of having something holding us back from our “normal” routines are some common feelings we come across in both instances. We wonder if we will ever be the same again. And truth is, whether it’s a physical wound or emotional, we WONT be the same. We aren’t designed to stay the same. We are resilient and ever changing. 

After the initial pain seems to subside, we have a bruising and/or scabbing effect. This is a vulnerable stage. Our bodies or minds are working overtime to heal this wound, but it is still open to being wounded again. Lysa TerKeurst says it well in her book Uninvited, “It hurts exponentially more when you’re kicked in an already bruised shin.” If you are healing from an unfaithful boyfriend and your next boyfriend betrays you in this way, the pain is magnified! 


These scenarios are hard to control. However, there is a fine line between falling into a situation where this happens again, and creating scenarios in your head where you get hurt again. This is dangerous territory for it can cause someone to be accused of something they haven’t done because of your unhealed wounds. God made it clear to me that if we keep peeling the scab off, our scar will end up being bigger. Meaning, if we keep digging into our wound and allowing it to continue to hurt us, the result will be a bigger scar that may be even harder to hide.

So what do we do in order to turn our bruise/scab into a scar? A scar that becomes part of our story but no longer causes us pain. 


Forgiveness. I know what you’re thinking. “They don’t deserve forgiveness. What they did is unforgivable.” Although, this is how we may feel, God has instructed us to give forgiveness to other as he has given to us.

Luke 6:36-37 says: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

I have struggled with this for most of my life! Although, there have been times sprinkled with forgiveness here and there, my biggest and deepest hurts have been very hard to forgive. 

Recently, though, God has shown me the freedom behind forgiveness. Each day for two weeks now, when I have come to God with a struggle in my current relationships- his answer always stems back to forgiveness. Each time it takes about 2 miles of walking before I can say it out loud. How sad is that? 

In this process I’ve noticed that we become comfortable sitting in our unforgiveness. We are afraid of letting that person win, or letting them think what they did is ok. It is incredibly hard to say “I forgive so and so for what they did to hurt me and I ask forgiveness for not only holding onto unforgiveness but for placing blame on this person for the downfalls in my current living.” When it really comes down to it, what they did to hurt us is not the cause of our problems, it is the way we choose to be effected by the hurt that causes our problems! 

You know what else I’ve noticed? When I’m obedient and choose to forgive others, God opens the floodgates and pours out blessings on me! He also gives me access to my biggest dreams and I can step into my purpose!

 The person who did the hurting, most likely reacted out of their own hurts and struggles. This is an ever revolving door that will continue on through generations if we don’t take a stand and choose forgiveness. 

I pray that God show you the freedom in forgiveness and healing!