Believing God will Work this Pain for Good

amazingContinued from here.

No matter what you are going through in your life … no matter how painful it is … no matter how broken you are … God is BIGGER! I know this because I have seen what He can do. The same God who was able to heal me from the suicidal urges, self-injury, eating disorder, anxiety disorder, insomnia, and nightmares is the same God who is able to heal you. I had a mental health professional tell me that I needed to be realistic about my goals for therapy, and a book written by someone who endured a similar level of child abuse and brokenness advised me to accept my limitations: to become comfortable in an emotional wheelchair. However, God had other plans! God has no limits. If He can heal me from an “incurable” mental health disorder, then He can heal you as well.

While I have my moments (as everyone does), I am generally not an anxious person anymore. I experience much joy and peace in my life. I am no longer anger or bitter toward anyone. I am generally patient with other people. I feel excited, passionate, and even grateful for my life. My history has not changed, but my perspective has. While I would never wish child abuse on anyone, I am grateful for mine – not because the child abuse was good but because God is good. The backdrop of the child abuse has helped me see God’s amazing love and power in ways that most people don’t experience to the degree that I have, simply because few people have been broken to the degree that I was.

If you haven’t been deeply broken, thank God for sparing you the pain. If you have, hear me as someone who has been in a similar place: God is bigger. If God can healed my shattered heart, then He can heal yours. If God can lead me to a place of gratitude where I once felt nothing but bitterness, He can do the same for you. There is NOTHING so big that it overshadows God – He is simply that amazing!

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace with her hand on her head and mouth agape under the word, “Amazing!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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Greater Dependence upon God

ice_creamContinued from here.

One of the challenges of being human is the deep-seated desire for independence and control. The reality is that we don’t control a thing – even the air that we breathe is provided by God in His goodness. The sooner we learn dependence upon God, the sooner we get to experience the many blessings that come from staying connected to the Vine.

The child abuse warped my brain to such a degree that I am incapable of making a healthy decision apart from God. During the decades I tried making my own decisions and living by what I saw as “right,” I repeatedly walked myself into one emotional pit after another. I used to be so angry about this because I blamed the child abuse for this: “if only I had not been abused, then X would not be happening.”

Once I accepted the reality that I do not have even one emotionally healthy bone in my body, I stopped making decisions based upon what looked “right” to me and, instead, depended upon God to show me the right way. Since I have been doing that, so much in my life has turned around for the better. It has become a habit to pray for God’s wisdom and discernment, even in the little things that shouldn’t be a big deal to do on my own. I have no illusions about my ability to make good decisions. Either I depend fully on God to guide me, or I know I’ll find myself in another emotional pit.

This was a painful lesson to learn, but considering that the goal for every Christian is to learn to connect the Vine and depend upon God to lead us through life, the child abuse has actually been a blessing. If I could get by even half the time on my own strength, I would be much less likely to connect with God and seek His wisdom in making decisions. Because of the child abuse, whether or not to seek God’s wisdom is very “black and white” for me: either I follow God’s leading, or I will find myself in another emotional pit. There’s no gray in this area of life for me, which has empowered me to walk more faithfully with God.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace’s head inside a scoop of ice cream that has fallen off the cone. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Greater Empathy for Hurting People

hugsContinued from here.

Another reason I am grateful for the ongoing and severe childhood abuse I suffered is that my experiences taught me empathy for those who are in severe emotional pain. Miserable people are not fun to be around because they are incredibly self-absorbed. I know because I was one. The natural response to pain is to lick your wounds. I was severely wounded, so my focus was on myself for decades, which wasn’t much fun for the people around me. All I saw was my pain while all they saw was my self-absorption. Most people eventually removed themselves from my life, and this only exacerbated the pain. It reinforced my deep-seated belief that I was fundamentally unlovable and that I needed to hide the “real me” because I was so repulsive.

I understand miserable people in a way that most people don’t because I was once one of them. This gives me compassion for them far beyond what most people are willing or able to tolerate because I see past the self-absorption into the pain. I know what it feels like to live in a prison of pain, and my empathy for those who are still there drives me toward them while others are being driven away.

Another reason many people avoid those who are hurting is that they simply don’t know what to say to them. People seem to think they are responsible for saying the “right” thing, and since they don’t know what that is, they avoid being around those who are hurting the most. Because I have been the hurting person, I know that there are no “magic words” that are going to take the pain away. What hurting people need is for someone to listen, not to talk, and to reassure them that they are loved, which is communicated better by presence than by words. We must resist the urge to try to “fix” people and, instead, gently lead them to God, who is the only one with the power to heal their brokenness.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding out her arms and asking, “Hugs?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Greater Experience of God’s Healing Power

epicContinued from here.

As I shared in my last blog entry, I am grateful for the ongoing and severe childhood abuse I suffered for many years. No, I am not a masochist. Nothing that has happened to me in my life affected me more profoundly than the child abuse except for one – experiencing God’s healing power! God turned out to be bigger – so much bigger – than my child abuse. Because my child abuse was soooo bad and soooo big, I have a much greater appreciation of the size of our God than most people do because of the child abuse.

People talk about having a broken heart, and you can see how, in time, God might be able to knit the two parts back together. However, my heart was not broken – it was shattered into thousands of tiny pieces. I saw no possible way that anyone – even God – could knit that mess back together because there wasn’t much left to work with. I don’t know how God did it, but He gave me a new heart. It took a lot of time and a lot of tears, but He somehow took the shattered pieces and made something beautiful out of it as only He can do.

That leads me to my first reason for being thankful for the child abuse: only someone who has been as broken as I have gets to experience this degree of God’s healing power. Someone who breaks a bone can marvel over the restoration of the restored bone. Someone else who shatters a bone with multiple fractures is even more grateful and awed by complete restoration of that bone. My bone was run through a wood chipper with nothing but slivers of bone fragments scattered all over the yard, and yet I stand before you showing you my restored bone. That’s nothing short of a miracle.

Because my bone was run through a wood chipper, I have a perspective that is different from most people. I know that I know that I know that there is N-O-T-H-I-N-G that God cannot restore because I have experienced the height, depth, width, and breadth of that healing power in an area that mental health professionals said was beyond repair. I learned firsthand that God is bigger than A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G that you, I, or anyone else will ever face. Learning this came at a heavy price (ongoing and severe child abuse), but it was worth the price to develop this kind of faith and trust in God that I can now share with others who are hurting and fear they are beyond God’s healing power.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking wide-eyed under the word, “Epic.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Being Thankful for Extremely Painful Circumstances

Televangelist and Christian speaker Joyce Meyer has a particularly power testimony, which you can listen to here:

She shared some of the details of being repeatedly sexually abused (raped) by her father throughout her childhood and youth. At the end of her testimony, she said something that is probably shocking to most people after hearing her testimony:

I cannot explain this to you, so don’t even ask me to, but for years I said of course I wish that I would have never been abused, but God has helped me recover. And about three years ago, I said that of course I wish I wouldn’t have been abused, and God stopped me. He said [to] stop saying that. And then I thought about it, and I know this sounds crazy, but I’m glad it happened.” ~ Joyce Meyer

How on earth can someone who was repeatedly raped say she is glad it happened? The answer is simple – God. I know because I am in the same position as Joyce in that, I, too, was repeatedly raped (NOT by my father – the circumstances of my ongoing and severe child abuse differed from Joyce’s), and I am also thankful that it happened.

In this blog series, I will share some of the reasons why I am now grateful for something as horrendous as child abuse – something that wreaked havoc on my life and caused all sorts of misery, including suicidal urges, self-injury, an eating disorder, panic attacks, insomnia, nightmares, and intense self-loathing. The aftereffects of the child abuse tainted every single aspect of my life, including every relationship – with my family, friends, church, coworkers, and especially with God. Like Joyce, I repeatedly wished I had never been abused, but like her, I am now grateful for it. If I could go back in time and change it, I wouldn’t. I’ll explain why in this blog series.

Let’s give Joyce the last word. Here are some of her reasons why she is grateful for the child abuse (from the YouTube video):

You know why? Because I’m a better person now than I ever would have been. I don’t know how to make any sense out of that, but I know that I know that I know that God has received me and he has taken what Satan intended for harm and worked it out for good, and I’m a better person than I would have been . . . I’m stronger. I know God better. I understand people’s pain, and I believe . . . that it’s made me able to reach out to you in your pain and your need and to tell you with all passion: God is alive. He loves you. He’s got a good plan for your life, and don’t you ever doubt that. Don’t ever doubt that can you recover. You’re looking at somebody who did.” ~ Joyce Meyer

To be continued…

[Graphic: Link to YouTube video. Courtesy YouTube.]

 

Recovery Testimony: Be Encouraged!

good_newsContinued from here.

I hope that the three recovery testimonies I shared have inspired you and that you are now thinking about your own recovery testimonies. We all have them – nobody is lucky enough to get through life without experiencing some sort of upheaval that rocks your world. And if you truly don’t have one yet, know that one is coming. When it hits, I hope you will remember what you read about my recovery testimonies and believe while in the storm that God will cause the sun to shine again.

Your recovery testimony might not be as dramatic as mine. If that is the case, count your blessings! The three I shared are dramatic, but I had to live through that drama, which wasn’t fun. Only the power of God could turn these tragedies into victories!

I encourage you not to compare your recovery testimony to mine or anyone else’s but, instead, praise God that you have one! Your recovery testimony has the power to inspire other people, so you need to share it. If people believe that you never suffered, then they will assume that’s the real reason for your joy. When you show people your joy and then your scars, they realize that there must be a God to be able to make such sweet lemonade out of life’s lemons.

Think about the type of person that the World would expect me to be. Just the child abuse alone would cause someone to expect me to be a bitter person who is unable to trust (which is exactly who I was for a long time). I could have been a prostitute or drug addict. Heck, I could have committed suicide a long time ago. And yet, here I am, shouting from the rooftops that my God is faithful! He is good! He is bigger! He is in control! It’s one thing to hear those words from someone who has never suffered. It’s a completely different thing to hear those words from someone covered with scars as I am.

I used to be ashamed of my scars, but now I’m proud of them because each one proclaims the glory and power of God. When I show people my scars, as I did in my three recovery testimonies, I am showing evidence that I was wounded as well as proof that God heals. Why would I want to hide them? When people ask how I know there is a God, I need only show them my scars. I have no other explanation for how I became the person I am today.

[Graphic: Cartoon of a newspaper with the headline of “Good News” and a photo of Grace giving a “thumbs up.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Recovery Testimony: Child Abuse

crazyContinued from here.

God’s faithfulness in bringing me my son grew my faith. I was active in church and Bible study. Then, my life blew up again because it was time for God to heal my pain from the childhood abuse. This testimony is far too complex for a 400-word blog entry, so I’ll just hit the highlights.

When my son was a toddler, I started having flashbacks of the childhood abuse. Up until this point, I had no conscious memory of the child abuse, and yet my life screamed my truths. I found a checklist online listing 37 common symptoms of people who have been severely abused in childhood. Someone with over 25 of those symptoms is likely to have experienced ongoing and severe childhood abuse. I had 34 of them. Reading this checklist was like looking in a mirror. For most of my life, I thought I was “crazy” with multiple unrelated issues. I did not realize that I was actually “normal” – a “normal” child abuse survivor.

The pain was so intense that I wanted to die. I even considered suicide but could not figure out a way to do it that would not traumatize my young son. While I held onto my faith during this season of life, I was mostly along for the ride as wave after wave of past pain pounded me. My eating disorder got worse, and I started self-injuring to help me manage the pain.

A church friend asked our pastor for a therapist recommendation, which is how I found my wonderful therapy, who is both a Christian and a qualified psychologist with experience in working with people who were severely abused in childhood. God used him to guide me along the path to healing.

The person I am today is so different from the person who entered therapy in 2003 that I can barely see a resemblance. I have completely forgiven all of my childhood abusers. The pain is gone and has been replaced by joy. I no longer self-injure or binge eat … or experience flashbacks, nightmares, or suicidal urges. I now love and accept myself exactly as I am. All of the self-loathing is gone. I truly am a new creation in Christ, to the praise and glory of God!

Over the years, I have encouraged countless child abuse survivors along their own path to healing. I wrote a blog (under another pen name) for six years in which I shared that hope and healing are available, no matter how severe your childhood abuse was. Several people have confided in me about having been abused as children – I was the first person they told. God has made much lemonade out of the lemons of my childhood abuse.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking wild-eyed under the words, “Cray Cray.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]