Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4; NIV)
Today as I woke up, the first thing that came to mind was an image of a large tree with vast branches and full foliage. This was immediately followed by a contrasting mental picture of a stump. Often my first thoughts in the morning are from the Holy Spirit. They are like bread crumbs that lead me to God’s personal word to me for the day ahead.
Laying in bed, questions flooded my mind. Why a tree and a stump? Was God preparing me to be pruned? I decided to set the notion aside. I got my coffee grabbed my ipad, and settled onto the couch. Thinking I am going to do my daily devotion, I turned on the tv, and had to take a peak at Pinterest first! And while I was perusing and pinning, Rick Warren was being interviewed on The View.
As some of you may know, Rick lost a son to suicide last year. He had come on the show to talk about the devastation he had felt and how God met him in it. And as he talked about this experience and the grief that followed, he said, “In God’s garden of grace even a broken tree will bear fruit”. Whaaaat? What did he just say? He had my full attention. He went on to say that God wants us to use those things in our lives that we are most ashamed of, those things that have caused us the most pain, to help others.
What would this be in my life? What is it that I wish no one knew? If truth be told, there isn’t just one…bummer. But there is one that is worse than all the rest. I, like many of you, had something happen to me that I would give anything to erase from my past. What was God telling me today? That I should be willing to help others going through the same thing?
Rick Warren was still on while my mind was racing and mentioned he honestly didn’t know how people go through a crisis like his without God’s help. I would have to agree. God has been there for me at every turn, through every pain. In fact, without the pain, would I have even recognized I needed him? I have wondered this often.
I had planned to work on the blog today. My goal is not to pick and choose the content I want to share. I want to speak God’s words. His words alone breath life into a soul that feels dead and desperate inside. Could it be that today God wants me to write about my biggest pain, the thing I am most ashamed of? Maybe it will help you? Maybe it will help your friend, your child, or someone else you know.
Like so many others, my earliest memories are like flashes from a horror movie. For most of my life, the worst of what happened was buried from my conscience except in the form of body memory. Phantom pain, pressures and discomfort would overcome me in the middle of the night, or during random times during the day. Because of their location and the fear that accompanied them, I grew up with a knowing that something awful had happened to me. But, honestly I had no desire to explore it. As far as I was concerned it was in the past. Why dig it up?
This was my mindset until I entered my 40’s. Then other symptoms started rising to the surface that I could not push down. I was having trouble, a lot of trouble controlling my emotions at work. No matter how hard I tried, any time I disappointed people or felt criticized, the tears came so easy. It was embarrassing to say the least. No amount of will power, reading about emotional maturity, or prayer seemed to make a difference.
I also started having nightmares and woke my husband often screaming, “Help me!” Then the flashbacks set in: solo images would appear unexpectedly during the day and with it nausea and thoughts like, “I can’t think about that.” In addition, I was experiencing severe depression and anxiety. I could not be with my husband intimately without wishing I could die.You may find it hard to believe, but I actually went on like this for a while, before God finally convinced me I had to face my past.
This was over 5 years ago. After several years of intense prayer counseling, a lot of tears, many hours in God’s Word, and the help of “my sistahs” I am experiencing freedom and wholeness from the things that happened to me all those years ago.
My journey is like so many others. God’s business is to take the broken painful things in our life and heal them by his power. He is the doctor who can put together and restore the pieces of a broken soul. And when he does, that is quite a story! That is something that worth telling others about. Maybe there is even freedom in that! What would it look like for all of us to be wiling to open up and say the words we dread the most…”this is what happened …” and then follow them with…”but God saved me by…”
-- Laurel Bahr