Today is my birthday. I am 34 years old. At this point, my life does not look the way I expected. I am divorced, living alone in a 2 bedroom apartment with two silly dogs. Some days I still ask the question, “How did I get here?”
My reality and what I thought would happen in my life are two very different things. I imagined I would get married, settle into a life with a loving, kind, caring husband – our marriage would be stable, happy and one of teamwork. I wanted to be in ministry with my husband and preach the gospel together. My desire was to have children – to watch them grow – and fill a home with lots of love and belonging. This is the path I thought I was on.
My reality: I was married at 22 and divorced by 33. My marriage was destroyed by a man’s sexual addiction, abuse and misogyny. I spent 8 years in extreme isolation, depression and confusion. I struggled to believe I had any value or worth. I did not believe I was beloved.
While my recovery began long before my divorce was final, this past year has been even more amazingly intense. The Lord has TRULY led me to a place of safety. He has been doing a work in me – setting this prisoner free!
As I reflect on how far I’ve come, this verse keeps coming to mind:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” -Psalm 34:8
I have seen and tasted the Lord’s goodness! There are too many things to re-call here but to name a few; a beautiful community of God’s people to work with every day, a warm place to call home, my two precious dogs, my counselors, mentors and friends who surround me with love – no MATTER what state I am in, my spiritual Mama (you know who you are) – who breathed life back into my spirit, resources and opportunities to use my gifts and preach the gospel thru the brokenness of my story. All of these things and more the GOOD GOOD FATHER has given His daughter.
Henri Nouwen says, “For me, God is the one who calls me the Beloved, and I have a desire to express to others how I try to become more fully who I already am.”
I took refuge in my Heavenly Papa – even when I didn’t believe Him. I did not believe that He loved me, that He cared, or that He even noticed my pain. BLESSED is SHE who takes refuge in Him. The greatest act of faith that a survivor can do is to KEEP crying out, keep running, keep pressing into Him and the pain – for He does hear, and He does rescue and He wants you to be FREE! I have tasted and seen this goodness for myself. There are many layers and it takes TIME, lots and lots of TIME – but the Lord is near to those who are brokenhearted. In the times that I have been crushed beyond the point of breath – the Lord was doing His work and saving me as I wept. Working things into my glory and reminding me of my goodness.
I keep growing and changing, learning new patterns of behavior – and walking in His truth and light. I am divinely being transformed from glory to glory.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (NKJ) -2 Corinthians 3:18
Put another way:
“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (NLT)
His kindness to me has been more joy than I can sometimes take! I have learned to connect to His joy in gratitude and each time I do, I taste a little more of the glory and goodness in me as I witness His goodness unfold. I and my Father are one – and the intimacy in joy is overwhelming. As Paul said, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.” -Philippians 3:9
As I reflect on my birthday, I realize that I have discarded EVERYTHING! Abusive family of origin, abusive ex-husband, my own distorted belief systems (that one is still a work in process), self-contempt, false hoods, co-dependency, and my fear of man versus fear of God. I have to continually UNBECOME, so that I can BECOME. When you discard the life you were imprisoned by, there is no choice but to become new.
Today is my birthday. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. He blessed me when I took refuge in Him.
I am His daughter. I am a good daughter.
I am a woman who does hard and holy things and I use my voice.
I am the protector, the provider, the nurturer, the fighter, the adult that I needed.
I am assertive. I am able to make choices and I am part of a community who reaches out and loves me dearly. God’s track record over time of trust, convinces me:
I am precious, I am cherished, I am delighted in. I am important just because I AM. There is nothing defective about me.
I am happy to be with me in the pain. I am with Jesus there and learning to experience his safety -to receive true intimacy and love.
I am BRAVE. I keep moving forward and exposing myself to those who can love me and help me every time I hit a wall. I assess emotional risks, damage and the work to be done and I keep pressing in.
I am TENACIOUS.
I am a MIRACLE! In all aspects of reality – I never should have walked back into the arms of my Savior. In the face of evil I have COURAGEOUSLY exposed darkness and prophesied TRUTH.
I am STRONG. When parents, husband, church and counselors were against me – I kept going!
I AM the bleeding woman and the gentile woman who begged Jesus to give her table scraps – I have BIG faith! When I cannot connect to Immanuel, when my pain levels increase to max capacity, when it feels like I’m crying out to a wall. I KEEP CRYING, and I KEEP SHOVELING THE BLACK SLUDGE that distorts my vision of Immanuel.
I am STUBBORN. My stubborn heart has held the TRUTH inside of me despite years of distorted beliefs. It created a cocoon around that truth and protected me for decades. That flame of truth was in me the WHOLE TIME and I followed it despite the outcomes or pain. My stubbornness has helped me to begin living from the heart Jesus gave me because I relentlessly refuse to stop searching for the God I’ve always wanted to be with.
I am good, generous, loving, empathic, sensitive, a fighter for myself and other victims of betrayal trauma, compassionate, vulnerably strong, and held in Jesus’ arms as He smiles in delight at the little girl He always knew.
I can see myself in Psalm 63, “So here I am Lord, in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory, In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains, I bless you every time I take a breath; If I’m sleepless at midnight. I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.”
Taste and see that the Lord is GOOD.
My Dear Sister,
Is there goodness that you can point to on your journey thus far?
Are you able to taste and see that, despite pain, the Lord is cradling, holding and grieving with you – His magnificent daughter?
Do you see that you are WORTH the fight to become?
As I was writing this blog, the song ‘Scars’ came on, and I smiled at the Lord’s timing – providing me with the exact lyrics I needed to celebrate this 34th birthday. I truly am thankful for my scars because without them – I would not know the heart of my Lord and King.
I encourage you to take a minute and listen to the song – see if you can make a list of the Goodness you have seen and tasted in yourself and in the Jesus who holds you close.
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes
Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
Cause my brokenness brought me to you
And these wounds are a story you’ll use
I’m thankful for the scars
Cause without them I wouldn’t know your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who you are
So forever I am thankful for the scars
You are not alone.