by Cara Colleen
Recently, I have made a discovery about some of the really difficult things that people have to walk through. I have had some tough things of my own to deal with. In fact, within the last month or so, it is not an exaggeration to say that my world, as I knew it, has been shattered. I am discovering that things were not as they seemed. I am newly acknowledging the depth of my past experiences of abuse in many different forms—verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual. In that discovery, I have found a new realization of the rock-solid reliability of Father God. It is good to know that He does not change. It is better to know that when the world around me falls apart… when my mind and soul cannot bear the burden of sorrow, I still have grace to stand and be healed.
This is not something I could ever do in my own strength. In fact, my tendency is to sit down and not move, to let the waves of desolation and grief overwhelm me. At my very core, however, I am still certain of the tender mercies of Jehovah God regardless of how I feel. All morning, I have been humming the chorus of “For Those Tears I Died”… and I haven’t even heard the song in well over ten years! “And Jesus said, ‘Come to the waters. Stand by my side. I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied. I felt every teardrop, when in darkness you cried, and I’m here to remind you, that for those tears I died.’” It is the certainty of His goodness, regardless of what the circumstances look like, that keeps me clinging more tightly than ever to the Hand that guides me, even through the valley of the shadow of death. It is the knowledge of His pain in my pain that keeps me sane in the midst of insanity. I trust Him. I trust that He will not let things become greater than I can bear. I can bear all things through Christ who strengthens me.
That having been said, of course, I have also realized that I cannot put a spiritual band-aid on a wound that requires major attention. When a person falls and breaks something, and has bones sticking out… that is not the time to pick them up, give them some pain-killer, pat them on the shoulder and send them on their way. In my world, I have discovered that there are some things I need to do to take care of myself. Those are things necessary for my healing. I need to stop and take some time to deal with what I am experiencing rather than just glossing things over. I have begun to acknowledge the depth of my pain and the breadth of my anger. I have made a determination to forgive, not only the offending parties, but myself as well; however, these are not matters than can be resolved instantly.
The reality is that I am human and my human soul cannot simply make a decision and walk away from the hurt undealt-with. I need to allow myself time to feel the pain that has been buried for years. I have to allow myself grace to be angry, as long as I learn to let go of the anger when it is time to let go of it. I am finding places and opportunities to get this stuff out in the open, so that it can be cleansed and washed in the water of His word, and opened up to the healing power of His blood.
This is something I’ve noticed that people in general (and it’s not true of everyone) have deliberately overlooked. It is not the fault of anyone. It is simply the social mindset. It is the spirit of the age… to “get over it” or to cover it up and never acknowledge it. We have a society of walking wounded for this very reason. It is only in Christ and the revelation of His Holy Spirit that I have been able to allow myself a dose of reality. Were it not for Him, I would still be hiding from myself. The people who don’t know Him will sometimes force themselves to deal with past hurts and wounding. What happens with those who don’t know Him, though, is that they can never become whole and complete without Him, even in their search for healing. Many who know Him never allow themselves to deal with those things. With those who know Him, He gives grace, and still walks with them wherever they are at, but His Spirit whispers, “Come, let me love you. Let me heal you. Let me make you whole,” and sometimes they do eventually open up to His work of wholeness and healing in their lives.
The realness of my experience has been in letting myself hurt. It is painful. It is wounding. It is an experience, which has changed my life forever after. It is something that shapes who I am, even now. The tears come, or the empty immobility of grief grips me. The fear that I carried is now out in the open and I am afraid… But, as I feel, as I experience, as I acknowledge, I also whisper, in the depth of my heart, to the One who made me. “Oh, Lord, I hurt… I am in pain… I have no tears left or strength to grieve… I am afraid.” As I open myself up in the midst of those moments to His presence, even in the pain, I can feel His very gentle hand touching my heart. Sometimes, I sense the presence of ministering angels. Sometimes it is simply a feeling that He is sitting next to me, like the best of friends, feeling my pain right along with me. Those manifestations of His presence, more than anything, comfort me and bring healing to my soul. It is the reassurance that He loves me more than I love myself. He was with me in the middle of the memory (as if it were happening today)… and the fierce gentleness of His Holy Spirit wrapped me up in the cloak of His presence as the ugliness and the pain were happening, protecting my heart from the hurt. This is truly “the peace which passes all understanding”.
The other part of my new reality is acknowledging and expressing my anger. I am finding private places to really scream in frustration or growl in disgust or cry the angry tears and beat my pillow. My God is big enough to handle my anger and awesome enough to keep me within limits so that I don’t feel so out of control. Even in my anger, He is there. Even when I am angry at Him, He does not reject me. The righteous anger of His Spirit over the injustice of the situation helps me to let go of my own anger and give it to Him. He speaks acceptance of me—right now, where I am, who I am—and His acceptance is a place of healing that allows me to release the years of pent up emotion (that came from I-didn’t-know where) into His hands. I use pen and paper to write poetry when I cannot express myself any other way, and this too is a release. In truth, that particular outlet is one I have used for years, but my inability and unwillingness to acknowledge the depth of what I was feeling allowed it to have only limited healing for me. Now, I write with rage and passion and love and feeling that I could only touch the tip of before, in the numbness of my dull existence. My writing has taken on new impact for those who read it, because I have acknowledged the full reality of what I feel. I told someone recently that it feels like I have been dreaming my whole life and now I’ve woken up.
Waking up is not a pleasant experience, but it is an experience that I will never regret. Finding peace in the midst of pain is the greatest joy of my life in this present moment. New hurts and offenses are thrown at me, and while they do affect me, I find that they no longer have the power over me that they once had. I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor… and with God’s help, and the help of those around me—group therapy, the doctor’s insights, friends and family who love me, or whatever it takes (!)—I will become a victor. In Christ, I already am. In reality, I am still learning to walk that out, but I have new confidence… A new confidence in Whose I am, in who I am, in where I am called and in where I am going. My desire is to see others come to the same level of healing, so that they, too, can experience a greater intimacy with the Lord.
For this purpose, I have chosen to lay down all that I thought I knew, all that I thought I was, on the altar of His mercy. I have chosen the death of my old self because I am finding joy in the newness of life that He gives to me day by day. I still hurt. I still get angry. I still weep and rage and scream in pain and anger, but it has become a freedom for me—something I was never able to do before and something I can only do now because He empowers me to feel and express it… and let go of it. Therein lays the freedom, because I no longer feel obligated to carry the burden of what other people have done towards me. I am only responsible for my own actions. Now, THAT is truly a peace beyond anything a person can ask or imagine. It has come only from Him; and I would propose that it is worth having—at any price—because He is truly, truly worthy of everything we could ever think of giving to Him. He is truly becoming my All in All and in this lies the depth of the peace I have found.
©2003 Cara Colleen. All rights reserved.
Home to the Weavers