I remember the yelling and the insults. I remember being five years old and being told I better not cry after one of my parents’ character assassinations. I remember being threatened and interrogated by my parents at age eight because I asked a question in public that “made my mom look like a liar/” I barely knew what a liar was but I figured it was bad from their tone. I figured I was the devil from how they reacted to me.
I remember wanting to disappear. I remember my face burning with anger as my father grabbed my arm and told me if I messed up his house he would mess up my face so badly that I would need a plastic surgeon to put it back together. I remember my mother calling me a b**** several times, admitting that she was trying to hurt me when I told her her words felt cruel, and exclaiming that she was going to f******* kill me if I moved because I had offended her in her attempts to comfort me about my school work and the pressure I felt to be perfect which I presume she didn’t think I deserved in the first place. I remember resigning to never complain again and loving my work-even math which technically I hated- if it meant I could escape her gaze and the unwanted threats and insults for having feelings.
I remember the sleepless nights. I remember the arguments that always left me feeling empty and blamed. I remember the chaos. I remember things turning out so differently than I thought they would. If only I had known when he first asked me out…. I remember crying myself to sleep like every night. I remember my heart-racing on a pleasant Saturday afternoon because I saw I had a text from him and I knew it was sure to ruin my light mood like it always did. Just when I got over the feelings of shame and emotional chaos the relationship would drown me in, he-or really the enemy of God-would attack me again.
I remember how he would humiliate me in front of my friends. “What’s going on with you two?” they would say to me. “Why does he seem happier to see me than he does, you, and you two are dating?!” “I don’t know” I’d say, “I smiled so that’s probably what upset him. He doesn’t like it when I look happy or when I’m out and not falling apart in my room.”
I remember the sin and the yoke that chained me to something I said I would never do. I remember wanting to get away, but my flesh making it hard though my head could see clearly. My body didn’t want it to end. I wonder if that was the point? I remember breaking free-really God breaking me free. Summer. A chance to escape because I wouldn’t have to see him everyday. I told God, “Lord you open a doorway out of this and watch how fast I dash through it to YOUR freedom and YOUR peace.” He did and my spirit heard Him confirm, “I’m with you all the way. You do this and I’ll back you up.” So I did. Then I started to wrestle with my sin and impure sexual desires. I started fasting from secular music. How can I wait when every song is telling me to do what I want? I decided I wasn’t strong so I let God do the work. I’d cover my ears and quickly walk to my dorm to drown out the chaotic anthems blasting through care-free college windows. I started reading the Word. I wanted God in me so bad. I would pray through temptation, getting on my knees and asking Jesus to be my prayer partner and to please please keep me from sinning.
I remember the brokenness and the hold that kept me captive long after the relationship ended. I also remember the Lord’s solution. I remember going to the dining hall to eat breakfast after attending a prayer meeting I had made a habit of going to. It was real. Most there were atheists a year before. We would worship God, get a word from the Spirit, and pray like our lives depended on it. I remember saying to one of the members, “can we pray for you after we eat? I feel like we should.” I remember his funny expression I couldn’t explain at the time as he agreed to my request. I remember walking to prayer room and nearly buckling under the weight of a force I hadn’t seen coming. I remember falling on a bench with my backpack hitting the ground and exclaiming, “I need help. I don’t know what’s going on.” I remember one of the christians, calm and collected, saying “Don’t worry. Let’s keep going to the room and pray.”
I remember falling to my knees with my palms up toward the ceiling and my hands resting on my lap because I didn’t have the strength to lift them up. I remember feeling the nightmare-that relationship all over again. I remember the desire that consumed me to want to curse God for the pain when I knew I had been taken captive by sin. I remember crying my heart out and wanting to ask “why Lord?!” but hearing the christian next to me repeat over and over “Just keep praising Him. Just keep thanking Him.” So I did. I remember thinking about all those nights I went through this hurt and shame alone and here I was, facing it for one final time and I was not alone but I sensed the presence of God stronger than ever. I remember literally a cup of blood-like around 8 oz-just falling out of my nose onto my open palms. I remember one of the christians exclaiming and running to get paper towels. I remember feeling perfectly strong physically and staring down at my blood washed hands and hearing Jesus say, “It is finished. I have washed you in my blood and you are clean!” I remember how it rained as I left. I felt like God had baptized me this time. He set me free in so many ways.
I struggle daily to feel loved and to feel married. From minute to minute I feel SO much shame-from what others have done to me and the sins I have done before God. I feel like a laughing-stock. I feel like a clown. A punching bag. I feel worthless except the times where I don’t feel important enough to feel even that. I struggle to do basic things to care for myself. The anthem that constantly plays in my head that has only these lyrics “you are deeply hated” makes it difficult to get anything life-giving going in my days. I listen to scripture day and night sometimes just to drown it out-just so I can breath and think clearly and not be so burdened by the mental weight of my pain.
I know that sin is sin. It’s not pleasing to God and ultimately we need to be rescued completely from it. But what God has been showing me is that some of my unhealthy habits and some of my inclinations that I know are bad are really just me expressing my pain. I am in mourning. I know I serve a God who understands that.
John 11 35 Jesus wept.
Now is that going to excuse my sin? No. But I believe that truth will set me free.
John 8 32 then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
The truth is I’m not delighting in disobeying God or trying to live outside of what pleases Him. I’m sad. I’m hurt. I’m needy. I know now that that is OK. Does God like my destructive habits? Should I keep doing them? No and no. But to stare in the face the habits only without giving proper attention to the woman behind them whose heart is breaking and who is losing the fight for her desire to live is to perpetuate the nightmare I think. When I ‘fess up’ or really come to terms with the reality that I’m sad and broken and rejected and so so hurt I can be free of the destructive ways of dealing with my pain.
Some people God just heals emotionally and they don’t carry the weight of their pain. But others He doesn’t. It’s His choice I believe. I’m one of the ones He hasn’t done a quick fix for. Does He not love me then? Not so! I do think He is calling me to honor Him in a different way than if I could just get to that place of being ‘fine’ and move on. I think He is calling me to mourn and to do it intentionally. Not late at night or at the end of the day or when I get tired of keeping up my front. But to mourn up front-show my feelings and my fears because it’s God’s will to work through my pain and not around it.
I think He wants to use me-tears and shame and hurt and all. He wants to be God over my pain not God who makes everything feel better. He wants me to get to that point where I hit an all time low of feeling pointless and unloved not so I can be depressed but so He can set me free in my pain. More than I need deliverance from any weakness or fear, I need to know I serve a God who can get in the mess with me and STILL BE GOD. If He can allow the bad and still pull me through and still be Master of my life and of my feelings then I know He can do ANYTHING and that Jesus is the right place to put my trust and to give my heart. More than I need release or to be understood or a change or whatever, I need to know that HE IS LORD especially over my weakness and pain. If He is God over my chaos, sin and bent toward self destruction then surely He is God over the sunny days too. If He is sovereign in my doubt, fear, and utter helplessness like can’t stop crying or pick myself up off the floor, then He certainly is God over my strength in prayer and my empowerment in reading and doing His Word. If He is God over this broken woman who is cut to pieces and always on the edge of the rejection cliff just waiting for one more thing I can’t handle to push me clean over, then surely HE IS WORTHY of all glory and honor and praise and nothing is impossible for Him! Nothing. Even. Loving. Me.