In my last post I talked about my struggle with contempt and shame. In this post, I would like to dig more into shame because it ultimately turns into contempt. I would like to discuss… More
In my last post, I wrote about my abuse and what it did to me. I stated that I would be writing about the tools that helped me in my healing and rebuilding. I have always been a “fixer”, so when I started to fall apart, I was desperate to fix me. I thought it wouldn’t take long if I did whatever my counselor told me to do. I have learned one very valuable lesson— healing from abuse takes time. You don’t just “get over it!” I berated myself for years because I just couldn’t “get over it!” Don’t do that! Rebuilding takes time. Be patient with yourself and the process.
Twenty years ago, I was at a point in my life that I was desperate. My panic attacks were so strong that I couldn’t be alone and could barely leave the house. I was in a perpetual state of fear. I only found a little bit of relief when the doctor was able to find the right medication to ease the attacks that were taking over my life.
I was talking to a good friend about my issues and she suggested seeing the counselor that she was seeing. I knew I had to do this, so I called and made an appointment. That was the first step I made to heal. I remember resisting to make that phone call for a few days. You would think that it would have been easy, but it wasn’t. I wanted to get better, but I also knew I was going to have to talk about things I didn’t want to talk about.
I lived in silence for forty years about what happened with my dad. I was also oblivious to the deep seated issues. When you live a lie for so many years, you tend to think it is normal. So, the thought that I would have to talk about it, scared the crap out of me!
My counselor was so patient with me. She didn’t ask the hard questions until she knew I was ready. It was a slow, slow process to get to the point I could talk about the sexual abuse. There were so many feelings that took a long time to surface. Many layers to go through to get to the issues.
Let me say that I highly recommend biblical counseling. That is what I recommend for anyone. If you live in an area that doesn’t have this type of counseling, there are ways to do it online. AACC has online resources and so does Focus On The Family. You can have sessions online with trained counselors. You might have to do a bit of research, but it is definitely worth it. You are worth it!
The next step I took was to start journaling. I have to say that counseling and journaling go hand in hand. You have to get your feelings out. Putting a pen to your pain is so important. There are things you can say on paper that you can’t speak about. A journal doesn’t have to be expensive. I use spiral bound notebooks that you can buy for a dollar.
The other day, I decided to look at the journals I wrote when I first started counseling. As I was going through the pages, I came across an exercise that my counselor had me do. She told me to write a letter to my dad. I am right handed, but she wanted me to use my left hand while writing the letter. She wanted it to be from my viewpoint as a child. I was able to put the feelings I felt as a child on paper. It actually looked like I had written it when I was a child.
Journaling has been a lifeline for me. It not only was a way to express my feelings, but it opened up a way for me to communicate with God. I actually began my journaling each day with, “Dear Lord.” Every day was a new letter to God. These letters created a relationship to the One I was writing to. I spoke about what I was learning. I told Him what I was feeling. I wrote down scripture that was helping me. I also wrote quotes from books I was reading and principles from Bible studies I was doing.
I needed a voice because of all the years of secrets. I needed someone to talk to about the things I kept hidden and journaling gave me a voice. The little girl inside me needed a voice too. I had to connect with her so she could speak. I know this might sound weird to you, but my counselor talked about the importance of allowing little Laurie to have a say.
Journaling also gave me intimacy with God. God knew my story, but I needed to process it with HIm. While I was writing, God would speak to my heart. His words brought truth, comfort, healing and power. He became my best friend and confidant.
We are made to have a relationship with God. He wants us to talk to Him. I learned that when I talked to Him, it opened the door for me to also have the ability to listen to Him. Let me share a verse with you. Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
What do most people do at the dining room table? They talk. They share. They laugh. They ask questions. They get to know one another. They build relationships. Having a meal with someone is one of the best ways to communicate.
When I opened the door and allowed Jesus to come into my messy life and when I started to unload the secrets I was hiding, my life took a turn towards healing. He was right by my side the whole time helping me say what I needed to say. I found safety in Him. I began to feel safe unloading my secrets to HIm. But, it was a process. Healing is a process.
I began to devour the Bible to find verses that helped me talk to God and claim His truth. I wrote them down on 3×5 cards and carried them with me so I could remember what His word said when the fear and anxiety would strike. I want to share some of them with you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Forsake means abandon)
Exodus 14:13-14 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.”
Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
Psalm 139:5 “You are all around me—in front and in back—and have put your hand on me.”
I have so many more, but you can see that I picked verses that gave me a picture of a loving and caring God. Those verses told me He doesn’t ever abandon me. He fights for me. He takes hold of my right hand and tells me not to be afraid because He wants to help me. He even surrounds me. I knew these facts about God, but I needed to picture Him listening, caring, and holding me before I could share my messy life with Him.
Find a special place where you can feel safe to talk to God. My place is in my bedroom. I close my eyes and picture us sitting on a bench in a garden. He is sitting next to me. We talk about what is bothering me. Then there are times, that I talk to Him from across a table. We are eating and enjoying being together. Do whatever works for you. The important thing is for you to be honest and get your feelings out. Then, listen. He doesn’t speak audibly, but you will hear his voice through the Holy Spirit inside you.
Counseling, journaling and scripture are essential for healing. Each one is a crucial piece in the puzzle of rebuilding your life. If you would like more scripture, please comment on my post and I would be happy to share more with you.
Remember…. it takes time to heal. It takes time to learn new ways to cope. It takes time to grow and rebuild. You are not alone. Please find someone you trust that will pray for you. I will be sharing the books I’ve read, the studies I’ve done, and the principles I’ve learned in my next posts.
This is my journey to joy. Until next time….
I have been struggling over how to start this post. How do I put into words what abuse has done to me? How do I share what happened to me as a child? I am nervous and anxious writing about it. I would rather not talk about it, but the Lord has been impressing on my heart that this is what He wants me to do. So I am telling my story to help you, the one who has been abused. I want you to feel validated and know that there is someone that cares about your feelings. God cares. I care and there are thousands of others who care too. I want my words to help you and bring you towards healing and forgiveness.
Let me share with you some words from Lysa Terkeurst. “Whether this was an event or a collection of hurt that built over time because someone wasn’t who they were supposed to be, didn’t do what they were supposed to do, or didn’t protect you like they should have protected you, your heartbreak deserves a safe place to be processed. Whoever “they” are in your story, their actions hurt you, took from you, and set off a chain of events still greatly affecting you. And that is wrong.”
My abuse started when I was a child. My father was prone to fits of rage. You never knew when he would erupt. So, I tried to stay away from home as much as I could. I played outside with the kids in the neighborhood from morning till night. I only came inside when I had to. Thank you Lord for blessing me with wonderful neighbors. I was with them as much as I could because I didn’t feel safe living in my home. I probably lived over at my neighbor’s houses more than I did mine. I loved going to school and participating in any activity to get me away from home. And when I could drive, I was only home when I had to be there.
I especially wanted to be away from home at dinnertime. I don’t know why, but my dad would always pick a fight at dinner. I think he originated “food fight”. Yes, he actually threw the food my mom cooked. There were remnants left on the ceiling for years to remind us of all the food fights. He made us miserable sitting there listening to him scream. We were a captive audience that couldn’t escape.
There was another big reason why I didn’t feel comfortable being at home. This one is so horrible to talk about, but I know I have to because it gives you the complete picture of the abuse and trauma I went through on a daily basis. It took me years of counseling before I could even mention it. I am so nervous right now writing about it. My Dad fondled himself in front of us. It was a sexual assault that I had to see all the time. I would be watching tv and he would do it. I had to leave the room because it disgusted me so much. We only had one tv, so if I wanted to watch a tv program, I would hope and pray he wouldn’t come in the room. He couldn’t keep his hands out of his pants. Those memories of him doing that have scarred me. You simply can’t undo what you have seen.
Back in the sixties, people didn’t talk about abuse. I am not sure that I would have called it abuse. To me, it was the way my dad was. He was a really good football coach and revered by many because of the success he had on the football field. He treated his players better than he treated his family. He showed more compassion to them than he did us. You can imagine how very confusing it was to me that he would treat others better than he treated us. It just didn’t make sense to me.
When we were disciplined for doing something wrong, he would inevitably loose his cool. A normal spanking would turn into a beating or a shove or a throw. One time he actually threw my brother down the stairs. Thankfully, nothing was ever broken.
To be perfectly honest, his words hurt more than his hands. His words stayed with me. To this day, I rarely cuss. When I hear certain words, it reminds me of all the horrible things my dad said to us in anger. The f*** word really gets to me. And don’t you be using the Lord’s name in vain. I just can’t hear those things! It hurts my soul way down deep!
So, we became a family that kept secrets and lies. We pretended things were just fine and dandy. The only people that knew what was really going on were our neighbors. They would hear him yelling at us. They saw how he acted. But, everyone else never knew the extent of his behavior. We didn’t talk about it. I never told anyone, that I was close to, what was going on behind closed doors. I just couldn’t.
I think I kept silent because I didn’t want anyone to know how awful he was. Deep down inside, I was ashamed of my dad. I wanted to keep up the facade. If I talked about it, then I would have to deal with it. The secrets and the lies that we kept would come out and I simply couldn’t handle that.
I think I lived in the fake reality that someday he would change and things would get better. He couldn’t be a monster in my mind because I loved him deeply. I wanted to make him happy, so I did everything I could to get his approval. I wanted to hear good words out of his mouth, not bad ones. So, that’s how I lived my days—pleasing and performing became my life. It didn’t matter what I wanted, only what he wanted. And that is not a healthy way to live.
I went to the college he wanted me to go to. I majored in what he wanted me to major in. I was not allowed to major in teaching, which is what I really wanted to do. Then finally, I couldn’t take it any more and left college. He told me if I majored in teaching he wouldn’t pay for it. So, I came home, worked to save money and went back to school to do what I wanted to do. I worked three jobs to get through college, but I did it! That was really the first time in my life that I did what I wanted to do.
Of course, there are many more stories to tell, and I will share what I feel I must share so I can help you on your journey. I have wrestled with the Lord over what to say and what not to say. He is the one who is placing the words I need to say in my heart. I do this to bring healing and forgiveness. I am not trying to be vindictive in any way. I feel like I need to say that so you don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. All of it happened for a reason and I am who I am because of it. I want to bring glory to God through this process because He is the reason I am here. He is healing me day by day and will continue until the day I die.
I have done extensive counseling, studying, journaling, praying, etc. I learn something new all the time. Forgiving and healing is a process. It doesn’t magically happen. It is hard work!! I have spent hours talking, listening and crying. Abuse does things to a person that takes a lifetime to heal from. My counselor told me that the body never forgets what the mind tries to forget. She is absolutely right! That’s why I have suffered from anxiety, depression and panic attacks. My doctor told me that my brain is similar to someone who has gone to war because I grew up being assaulted in some way every day by my father.
My brother developed a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from the abuse. He was stuck in rituals that ruled his life. My parents took him to many clinics and hospitals to try to help him. He even had brain surgery. Sadly, there weren’t any treatments that helped him. He tried to commit suicide at least 10 times before he finally ended up taking his life when he was only 32 years old.
After he died, I began to unravel emotionally and physically. David’s death started the process of exposing the secrets and lies. He opened the door for me to start healing. My body couldn’t take the hiding anymore. The panic attacks started gradually and didn’t completely stop for many years. It was the worst and best thing to happen to me.
I am here today because of Jesus. No doubt about it. He is my safe place. I have gone to Him to process my hurt, my pain, my memories, my feelings and everything else. It took awhile to do that because of my warped view of God. Having an abusive father really messes with your relationships with men and also with God. I don’t know what I would do without Him in my life.
There have been many times my hurt and pain have completely consumed me. But, there’s one valuable lesson I am learning. My pain and hurt must be released. I can’t stay and blame. I must move forward one day at a time. “The more pain consumes us, the more it will control us.” Terkeurst
To help you move forward, I am going to recommend two different books on forgiveness. When I was in my forties, I read “Total Forgiveness” by R.T. Kendall. He taught me so much about the process of forgiveness. The latest book I am reading is “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget” by Lysa Terkeurst. I will be quoting her quite a bit in my posts. Both books are really helpful. Remember, forgiveness is a process. Sometimes it’s really hard to do, but in order to heal, it has to be done.
This is my journey to joy. Until next time…..
- This verse popped up in my mind after I finished writing this post. Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Close your eyes and picture saying these words to the person or people that have hurt you. There is power in those words! God will bring good from your pain.
I am thinking back to that young girl who was at church camp when she accepted Christ into her heart. That girl was so ready to love Jesus and follow Him. She knew she needed Him in her life. She wanted Him to come into her heart and help her deal with everything she was going through.
That young girl was dealing with a lot at the age of twelve. She knew Jesus was the only way for her. She immediately went to Bible studies and craved knowledge about Him. She began her relationship with Him and hasn’t stopped longing to be close to Him.
That young girl is now sixty one but still yearning for Christ daily. Wanting Him to be the center of her life. Wanting to be in constant fellowship with Him. Wanting His guidance and direction in her life. Wanting union with her Creator.
When is the last time you thought about your union with God? “Your very being is made to be saturated with the being of God. You can have faith in God from a distance; you can have a “relationship” with Christ, but not be intimate. You can even find an intimacy with Christ, or your Father, or the Holy Spirit, and not be inhabited, interwoven, saturated.” Eldredge
When I read those words by Eldredge, I felt like I needed to sit for a minute and reflect. So, I got out my journal and asked the Lord to reveal to me what I needed to know about my relationship with Him. I knew I had intimacy. I knew I was inhabited. But was I seeking to be interwoven and saturated?
Eldredge gives an example of our hands being interwoven with someone else’s hands. So, I put my hands together to give me a visual. It’s the hands that we use when we pray. When we pray, we are coming before the Lord and intertwining ourselves with Him. We are building union by asking Him to intervene with our worries and concerns. I really haven’t looked at praying hands as an example of this concept before. Pretty cool isn’t it?
Something else I have realized is the fact that God wants to give us so much more than we can comprehend. He wants to give us Himself! Think about that. Jesus came and died so we can have as much of God as we want. We just need to tap into Him! The more we receive, the more we become like Christ.
“Thank you Jesus that you are giving me more and more of yourself is the posture to take. God likes that posture; He likes being trusted. This posture of belief also opens your soul to let it happen.” Eldredge
Our lives right now are a bit overwhelming to say the least. We are living in hard times. Who knows if and when they are going to get better. We have to learn ways to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus—not the news. “Evil is everywhere. It loves to make it seem like it is winning.” Eldredge But we win when we take our eyes off what is happening and put them on God’s word and what He says. When we align ourselves with Christ, we win.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Here is something that I’ve realized. When I accepted Christ years and years ago, He came to live inside me. He is there. He doesn’t leave and take a vacation and then come back. He stays. All the resources I need are inside me. When I act in the flesh and not in the power of the Holy Spirit, I am using my own strength and not His. That’s when I get myself in trouble. He wants to be my strength—if I will just let Him. He wants to love others through me. He wants to give me His peace, His patience, His kindness. He wants to do this for me and for you.
You and I have a resource that so many people don’t have. God is a living river inside us. He can fill us up with so many of His attributes. We must learn to tap into Him. That’s how we build union. We have to believe that He can do that for us. We need more of Him every single day. We have to choose to make that happen. He is there waiting for us to ask Him to saturate us with more of Him.
Whenever I sit down to write, I have to pray for my words to be HIs words. I have to tap into the living river inside me and ask for His help. I can honestly tell when I am doing it in my own power and not in HIs. He gives me the words and my fingers start typing, like they are right now. He is the one that told me I needed to write. This is not from me. I am just a vessel that wants to be willing to do what the Lord asks of me. I have realized that my existence on this earth is shared with Jesus and I don’t want it to be any other way.
“Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Becoming intertwined is a whole new ball game isn’t it? At least it is for me. I started thinking about Adam and Eve. They were the perfect picture of being saturated and intertwined with God. They walked and they talked with Him in the garden. They lived for Him. Their existence was because of HIm. They had perfect union with God until Eve ate that apple. The union was broken because they didn’t listen. That’s what happens when we think we know better.
This world has thrown a lot of things at us that have damaged our soul’s union with God. We are assaulted on a daily basis by trauma, chronic disappointments, shock, loss, abuse, sickness, pain, violence, a pandemic, isolation, fear. The list is endless. Those things strike at our union with a terrible force. Most of us are struggling with how to handle these things. That’s why we need to seek God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind.
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:22-23
Satan is out to destroy our union. He is evil and wants us to think he is winning. He wants to pull us apart from God. God is the exact opposite. He wants to restore us. He wants to build us up. He wants renewal and restoration. He wants healing for us.
If you would like help in this area, I would like to recommend using the app I mentioned in the last post. It is called the “One Minute Pause.” It is helping me take the time to pause, shift gears and give everything to God. It is helping me build union with Him. I have been using it for over a month now and it is really helping me.
I am praying that God will use this post in your life. That you will tap into the living water that lives inside you. I want so much more for all of us! May we be a people that streams of living water flow through!
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38
This is my journey to joy. Until next time…
I think that all of us might need to sit back and take a break from the world around us right now. (Notice I said we, because I am in need of this too). We need to take some time to regroup and learn new strategies in order to move forward. Frankly, we need to change the way we think and react to the world that we live in.
We have been assaulted in many ways this last year and also in the new year. Some of us haven’t reacted very well to the assault. I think we need to realize one very important point. Satan is behind these assaults. He is the enemy— not your neighbor, not your friend, not your mom or your dad, not anyone that might have a different opinion than you do!! We need to realize that he is the author of chaos. We need to pause and look at our heart and see how it is reacting to everything around us.
“Your heart is the greatest treasure you have. Without a heart it’s impossible to live, or receive love. Without a heart you can’t possibly dream hope, laugh, find courage. Without a heart you will never be happy. Your enemy knows this, knows he can use your suffering to both shut your heart down and turn you against God, if only subtly, in doubtful hurt. Listen to me carefully; You must not let him. You must guard your heart with everything you’ve got, especially in time of disappointment and pain. Your secret weapon against the enemy’s hatred is to love God right then and there, in the midst of the sorrow, whatever it may be.” Eldredge
The assaults, that we have experienced in our lives, have hurt our hearts. I think we can all agree on that point. I grew up with a very abusive father. His physical and emotional attacks hurt my heart. Each one of us reacts to hurt differently. You might hold back from loving others. You might attack with your words. You might detach yourself from everyone. We just can’t deny the fact that the world we live in hurts us. Our reaction to that hurt is what we need to change. And we can’t change, until we deal with what has happened to our heart.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31 I know that most of us have read or heard this verse spoken. It is easy to gloss over it. You might say (with sarcasm), “Yes, I know I am supposed to love people around me, but…” It’s that last part of the verse that is the key. How can you love others if you don’t love yourself?
I hate to admit this, but loving myself has been hard for me. I think it stems back to not feeling like I was enough to make my dad happy. Nothing I did seemed to make my home life better. Now, that I am older, I can see that my dad didn’t love himself either. I think he had a broken heart from his childhood and never dealt with the pain it caused him. He allowed that pain to dictate the way he treated us. That’s what happens when you don’t deal with your heart.
Let me ask you a few questions that I have had to ask myself. How do you talk to yourself? What are your expectations for getting things done? What pace do you demand from yourself and would you expect the same from others? Is it easier for you to be kind to others than yourself? Do you treat others the same way you treat yourself? Please take a few moments to answer those questions. Your answers might surprise you. I know mine did and they made me realize that in order to love myself, I needed to be kind to myself.
What does it look like to be kind to yourself? Set aside time to do the things you love to do. What are you passionate about? What makes your heart happy? Hit the pause button on the demands of life and do those things. I absolutely love being with Jesus in the mornings. I sit in my chair and I read, journal and study. I try to set aside every morning for Him. I have to have this time to reset my mind. “We need more of God in our bodies, our souls, our relationships, our work, everywhere in our lives.” Eldredge
All of us need to take some time to think about love and kindness to others and to ourselves. God can restore us. God can work in our lives and change us. God’s way is gentle and kind. He doesn’t assault us like the world does. He definitely doesn’t want us assaulting one another either. We were created for love and good deeds.
Now, I am going to step on some toes here, but I need to share these words with you because they need to be shared. “I’m really surprised that the human race expects God to pour Himself and His blessings into their lives when He is not even the slightest priority, let alone a close and dear friend.” Eldredge “OUCH!”
Do we only turn to God when we need Him or are we turning to Him because we want to know Him? Are we seeking a relationship with Him? Is He a priority in our lives?
I agree that we desperately need God to intervene right now in our world. But more than that, we also need Him to intervene in our lives. We need to become a space for Him to live in. It is His love and His kindness that we need. We aren’t able to love with a supernatural love without HIm. He is the One who enables us to love the unlovable; forgive the unforgivable; be kind to the ones who don’t deserve our kindness.
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
God knows our hearts. We might be able to fool others, but we can’t fool Him. He knows how we feel about certain people. I have had to pray and ask for His help when I am around those people. I have had to confess my feelings. There are just certain ones that are difficult to love. I get it. But here’s the thing we need to remember—God commands us to love—It isn’t a suggestion. And because He knows we are going to need help with this—He has given us the Holy Spirit to give us the power to do it.
This is an example of what I do. “Okay, Lord. You know that I am having a hard time loving _____. I need You to love them through me. I need your love and not my own to shine through me. I can’t do it without your help.” We need to take ourselves out of the equation. We need divine intervention. Ask God to help soften your heart towards that person. He will. It might take some time, but He will. We have to become a space for God to work in our lives and we need to cooperate with Him.
I have had people in my life hurt my heart. The one who hurt it the most was my dad. I went through counseling for years because of that hurt. I also had to forgive him. I prayed for him. My mom once told me that in order for her heart to be right, she chose to pray for my dad. That’s a game changer let me tell you! “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
I am not saying that you need to stay in an abusive relationship. If someone is doing that, get away from them. I was a child and couldn’t get away from my father. Abuse is never okay. I just want to make that clear!
We have a choice to love. We have a choice to be kind. We have a choice to forgive. I choose to do these things because I love my Lord and I know this is the way He wants me to live. I am far from perfect! I have to have His help all the time. I simply can’t do it without HIm.
Would you please take the time to examine your heart and be honest with God? Would you ask Him to help you love, be kind and forgive? Would you open your heart to Him and let Him come in and heal it? Would you be willing to listen to Him and learn from Him?
I know this isn’t easy. But if we want the world to change, we have to change first. We need to become the people that God designed us to be. We need to be the people who are kind and compassionate to each other, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave us. Ephesians 4:32
There is an app I have been using by John Eldredge. It is called the One Minute Pause. I set it to go off twice a day. I use it to get my mind right and take the time to focus on God and release everything to Him. I actually feel relief when I do this. “Coming home to God is such a relief; there’s simply no other place human beings can flourish as we were meant to. Especially in this hour!” Eldredge
Changing the world begins with us. Take a time out! Choose to love yourself and love others. Choose to be kind to yourself and others. Choose to forgive yourself and forgive others. And don’t forget to ask God for His help! Oh what a wonderful world we would live in, if we lived those things out in our daily lives.
I usually end with—Until next time. God has given me something else to say. So, I will now be ending my posts with …. And this is my journey to joy! (God has such good ideas!) Thanks for reading my posts. I pray what I say helps you in your own journey with Him!
Every December I read Ann Voskamp’s book The Greatest Gift. It really helps me focus on Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas. (I highly recommend it!) I read the same words every year, but this time, the words I am about to share with you, became what I knew God wanted me to do in 2021. “There is no need to produce or perform or perfect—simply become a place for God. That is all.” Voskamp
Just be a place for God. Sounds simple doesn’t it—or does it? What has to happen in order for me to do that? If I am going to make more room for God in my life, what must I do to make that happen?
Every January, when I take down the Christmas decorations, I like to use this time to start to declutter the rooms in my house. I like to go room by room and get rid of things that I no longer use. I get rid of things to make space and get organized. I have to release those things in order to clean out the clutter. This is a visual representation of what we have to do to make space for God. We need to release the things that are cluttering our lives.
Letting things go and releasing can bring so much relief and joy. Let me share some words from John Eldredge. “And so it follows that if we can receive help for restoring and renewing our weary, besieged souls, we’ll enjoy the fruits (which are many and wonderful) of happy souls and also be able to receive more of God (which is even more wonderful). We’ll find the vibrancy and resiliency we crave as human beings, living water welling up from deep within. And then—we’ll get our lives back!”
Jesus was a great releaser. He modeled the ability to leave situations and release them to HIs Heavenly Father. Mark 1:35-37 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and sent off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
“Jesus models a freedom of heart I think every one of us would love to have. His ability to disengage Himself from His world is so alluring.” Eldredge
I have always taken on way too much for my soul to be able to bear. I haven’t been good at disengagement or release. I have looked at Jesus and said to myself, “How can He just walk away? How is He able to do that?” My answer finally came to me while reading the book Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge.
“Repeated exposure to enmeshed relationships can prevent the developing child from becoming aware of and knowing herself physically as well as emotionally. The lines between empathizing (identifying with and understanding another person’s feelings or difficulties), and over identifying (becoming enmeshed with another person) vanish.” Ann Chanler
I cried after I read those words because I knew that person was me! I spent my childhood over identifying and becoming enmeshed with my parents and siblings. I took on the problems that were in my family and tried to be the answer to them by performing and pleasing. I not only did that with my family, but also with my friends. I took on so many burdens that I had no business taking on. It was what I thought I was supposed to do. I had no concept of how to be healthy. The words detach, disentangle and release were completely foreign to me.
I think that was why I was so eager to find Jesus. I knew deep inside that I needed a Savior. I was desperate to find someone to help me deal with so many issues and burdens that I had taken on. But even with Jesus in my life, I struggled with releasing things to Him. I was so enmeshed in so many problems, that I had a hard time letting them go!
“Jesus invites us into a way of living where we are genuinely comfortable turning things over to Him.” Eldredge I can say that I am finally able to do that! I have this friend who inspires me every time I am with her. She is always saying, “God’s got this! He is in control and He is all over this situation.” Her words remind me that He is perfectly capable of taking care of every need, worry, concern, burden or problem that I have. He wants me to release them to Him so He can take care of them.
For those of you, who are like me and take burdens on, I want to help you be aware of something that I didn’t realize was a problem until recently. “We are far more entangled with the world than we know. And the thing is, people and causes have a way of entangling themselves with you too.” I find myself struggling so much in this area. I see my mom in lock down at her assisted living and I take on that burden. I see what the virus is doing to so many people and I take on that burden. I see what is happening in our country and I take on that burden. You get where I am going with this. Before I know it, I am completely loaded up with burdens! This is not healthy!
Instead of doing that, I am learning to say, “I can’t do anything about ______________ , but You can Lord. So, I release it/them to You.” I can’t. But God can! This is the healthy way to live!!
I took on some very bad habits when I was younger because I thought I could save my family. I thought I could make things better. I was wrong. I am not God. No matter what I did, it was never enough. I was not meant to be the Savior of my family. I carried those bad habits into adulthood. They have been very detrimental to me. They have put me in a position that God never intended me to be in. I see that now. I can’t save anyone! Only HE can! That’s what releasing does. It gives me freedom, relief and joy to know that I am giving my burdens to the only One who can do something!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
There are many more verses in the Bible that tell us the same thing. God wants us to release, detach and disentangle ourselves from the world we live in. We aren’t made to handle everything. I wasn’t made to take on everyone else’s burdens. God is the only one who is able to take everything on! And let me add that He doesn’t want us living our lives burdened down. He is telling us to come to Him because He has a far better way for us to live. We simply have to do this because He tells us to.
I know this isn’t easy. I have spent my life doing it wrong. No more! I am changing the way I do things. I have been practicing releasing for a few weeks now. I can honestly say that I have more joy! My circumstances haven’t changed, but I have because I am releasing. Sometimes I have to release the same thing over and over, but I am going to keep doing it. I want to make as much room for God as I possibly can.
When I first started this post, I mentioned that I wanted to be a place for God in 2021. That was before I started reading Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge. (God always puts things in front of me at just the right time!) I started reading about releasing, detaching, disentangling and being enmeshed. I felt like the words were directed at me. I couldn’t believe it when my eyes came across these words. “As you practice release, what you’re doing is creating soul space; you are literally carving out the intellectual and emotional space for God to come in.”
I stopped reading and had to put the book down. I picked it back up and read those words again. I started crying. (My normal reaction to when God does things for me.) Do you see what He did for me? I told Him that I wanted to be a place for Him this year. I really wasn’t sure what that meant at the time. Then He leads me to read this book and then shows me how to do it!
People– He is alive and working in our lives. He is there! No doubt about it. I pray 2021 will be a year that draws all of us closer to God. I pray we will lean on Him, learn from Him and lay our burdens at His feet so He can give us rest.
Until next time…..
*Remember these words: God’s got this! He is in control and He is all over our situations!