When the Secrets Come Out . . .

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This past weekend, I had the privilege of ministering at a women’s retreat.  To be honest, I don’t tend to go out of my way to attend women’s retreats.

Most of the ones I have participated in, I would find myself feeling very out of place and flooded with social anxiety.  As far as the women’s retreats I have ministered at, I would usually disappear immediately after the sessions.

Funny thing is, most of the women I spoke with this weekend had similar stories.

However, this one was different.  I expected God to show up and do amazing things—He always does!  But I did not expect Him to bring me so much personal breakthrough, as He did, starting the first night.

Toward the end of the first session, we were encouraged to ask God if there were any lies about ourselves (or Him) that we were still believing.  And if so, to ask Him to show us the truth, and then perhaps to share what He showed us with the women at our table.

I was sitting there, jotting some things down in my journal.  I asked the question, but I don’t think I expected an answer like the one He gave me.  In fact, I really expected I’d be mainly spending those moments that followed speaking into the ladies who shared what God had shown them.

I did not expect that I would be crying and sharing something so deep.  Something I had no idea was still lingering in my heart—I thought I had already dealt with this!

The phrase that popped into my head, when I asked the question, was this:

You are not disposable.

I felt the tears begin to form.  Everyone else was still praying around me.  A million thoughts rushed into my head.  Not in chaos, but in complete clarity.

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You see, I was in a very long, unhealthy, abusive relationship in my early twenties.  I thought I already healed from the roots that came from that time, but the reality was clear to me in that moment.

Because of what was done to me, and because of how it made me see myself, I still carried fear of being disposed, not seen, and rejected.

This weekend was my first time away from my husband since we got married over a year ago, and I realized that fear was still influencing me now.  Regardless of how amazing he is, I was still living in a certain state (at the back of my mind) of anxiety and fear of being disposed.

I started to write down scripture after scripture, and promise after promise.  I wrote about how God is trustworthy and that He will never leave me.  I wrote about how He will protect my heart and that I can let Him be in control.  I was never in control anyhow.  But I realized there was a certain part of my heart I wasn’t allowing my husband to see because I was still being affected by those lies from that previous relationship.

I looked up from my journal.  The ladies began to share.  I felt a lump form in my throat.  I felt my feet try to drag, and I thought for a second,

“I don’t want to share this right now.  I am totally going to start sobbing.”

But I did share, and I did cry.  A lot.  And after I shared, I knew it was a defining moment for me.  I knew it was a necessary piece of my story and that God had shown up once again with His mercy.

The more I share this testimony, the more freedom I find.  I had no idea what these feelings were for years, but now that I have a label for them, they can be addressed.  There has been a certain level of inferiority I have been carrying around, and that has manifested itself in anxiety for way too long.

Praise God, He is so faithful.

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I am writing this because I know we all have stories and we all have things in our hearts that try to hide in the shadows.  But . . .

When the secrets come out, the enemy can no longer dangle them over our heads.

Once the light shines in, the darkness has to flee.

There is restoration in vulnerability.

Friends, I encourage you.  If there is ANYTHING, any lie, any struggle, that is keeping you from walking in the fullness that God has for you . . . lay it down before His throne of grace!

We were created to walk in His freedom.  Let Him into those deep and tender places.  Let Him heal your heart.

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Thoughts on Seasons in Life and Why Our Perspectives Matter

The other day, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in several years at a local market. It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. We chatted for a brief moment, simply answering a few questions back and forth. It was surface level. We didn’t go very deep or share our life stories from where we last left off.

Ever since that encounter, I have been replaying one of my answers over and over again in my head. When asked how I was doing, my immediate response was,

“I’m in the best season I’ve had thus far.”

As I got back into my car and headed home, I was slightly confused,

“The best season?” I thought.

This year was completely terrifying and exhausting. I laughed at my response, but I laughed out of joy. The kind of joy that clearly displays the major work God has done in my heart in the recent months. To be able to look someone in the eye and give that answer so automatically, and sincerely, was a very big deal for me. I was completely floored, quite honestly.

You see, it’s not that everything is perfect in my life right now. I am in the best season of my life only because God has touched me in a way that has changed my perspective. It has been awful, I have cried a lot, and I may even cry again after I post this. There I said it.

The difference is that I am continuing on. I am continuing on and not using anything unhealthy to cope or self-medicate this time. That alone is HUGE for me. My sense of self worth has been reestablished in a way that I have never experienced. I am learning how to say yes to what is truly beneficial, and to say no in the face of conflict.

God truly saved my life this year, and though there is still much to walk through, I am not the person I was. I want to live every year in this way. To see each season of life through the eyes of eternity and as opportunities for growth.

There will be more hardships and tears down this road, but this isn’t the end. Though there are going to be many painful moments in the future, I know one thing for sure:

The road is rich and full of His love and companionship. Though all others may fail me, I will never actually be alone.