*This post is dedicated to each woman who fights a battle within. A battle everyday that tells her she is worthless, no good, and less than. A battle that tells her God doesn’t love her. Sister, It’s time to FIGHT.
This post is also dedicated to the single parents who bravely left an unfaithful and abusive marriage. You are in a FIGHT of a lifetime – you fight for your children as you work to defend against the immature weapons of the narcissistic EX. Everyday, you battle for the emotional and spiritual well-being of your children. You battle against the damage being done by their dysfunctional mother or father. It’s time to FIGHT.
Every Christmas season, my mother would take me to the store and let me pick out one ornament for our Christmas tree. Starting at about 10 years old, I have an ornament for every year that I purchased with my mom. I have continued this tradition for myself all thru adulthood. Last year, the ornament I purchased for my own tree was the word “HOPE” tied with a burlap string across the top. So rustic, yet a profound reminder that the fight I made for my freedom from a narcissistic system was not for nothing. “HOPE” represented starting over, starting anew without the baggage of my sexually addicted, abusive ex-husband. There was hope – that I can begin again and build my life in a place of safety and rest, looking forward to the future.
This year – my choice was much different. As I reflected on the past year and a half; being free from an abusive marriage and an abusive family system – I considered the strength, resolve and tenacity that it took for me to hunker down and GRIEVE and FIGHT for my healing journey. It was quiet in my new apartment – away from name calling, yelling, guilt, gas- lighting and manipulation, but there was fighting going on. A FIGHT FOR MY SOUL. IT HAS BEEN A FIGHT FOR THE LIGHT, a FIGHT to connect to JESUS my RESCUER. A FIGHT for my TRUE FREEDOM – the FREEDOM that comes from within.
One of the ways I have been fighting is by attending EMDR therapy. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a therapeutic technique that helps painful memories become integrated, fully processed and resolved. In my experience, it greatly relieves the negative effects of traumatic memories that have gotten “stuck” along the pain processing pathway. My counselor has helped me to form a “team” to help coach me through each traumatic memory and points of stress. These team members help guide me back to my place of safety and coach me as I re-live the memory. This team includes: a protector, a nurturer, and a wise figure.
As I made my way through the store this year, one ornament jumped out at me very unexpectedly. A wolf. The wolf has been on my team since the day I walked in for my first EMDR session. Peg asked me, “What do you think of when you think of a protector? “ Immediately I saw a wolf – standing in front of me baring its teeth and giving a low warning growl, as to say, “Don’t you dare come near her – she’s endured enough – back up. You will not touch her – don’t even look at her.” As I have relived some of my most painful memories from the safety of Peg’s office – the wolf has been by my side – defending little Rochelle – being the voice that she needed, but didn’t have.
As I sit at my desk now and stare at this little ornament – I think of the immense impact the word FIGHT has had in my life. This wolf represents the FIGHT in me to use my voice and DECLARE my boundaries, to defend little Rochelle, to give HER the nurturing, love, kindness and attunement she so desperately needed but never received. This wolf represents my FIGHT for wholeness, empathy and compassion towards self. It represents my FIGHT to remove distorted beliefs I still carry from abuse that block me from seeing God for the TRUE, loving father He really is. The wolf represents the FIGHT for my SAFETY – and my right to receive GOD’S GOODNESS. I FIGHT to risk trust again, to BELIEVE that I am who GOD SAYS THAT I AM. The wolf represents the FIGHT to WALK IN MY IDENTITY and God’s RESURRECTION POWER. I am NOT the things that men did to me.
When we come from a place of healing and maturity our FIGHT will look and feel different.
- What is your FIGHT right now?
- Is it for peace within?
- Is it for your safety (physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, financial)?
- Is your fight to protect your children?
- Is it to advocate for the least of these?
Whatever your FIGHT may be right now – I pray it will be DIFFERENT than how the world fights.
- I FIGHT by trusting my mind and spirit “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Trauma causes us to self-doubt and second guess. Oftentimes there has been so much gas-lighting, it makes us question our reality. Being caught in a relationship where you are always the rescuer can cause us to lose our voice and boundaries -enabling and rescuing the narcissist or victim in the relationship. In this fight I remind myself: “Timid Rochelle – is TRAUMA Rochelle. Her time is up – but THIS chick – fights with POWER, LOVE and a SOUND MIND.” She has matured – she now understands that other people’s reactions to her boundaries are NOT her responsibility. She understands that the FIGHT for her safety will be supported by those who support her and undermined by the people who were benefiting from her having no boundaries in the first place.
Now, I fight with boundaries, understanding, and wisdom – it is not loud or immature.
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” -Proverbs 2:6
“ When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a woman, I put away childish things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11
“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” -Proverbs 14:29
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17
2. I FIGHT from a place of CALM and REST
When I get still and quiet I can listen. I need to listen in the fight to what my good, good Father has to say. I need to listen to my own body – how am I feeling? What do I need? What do I want? What are my goals? If I can’t answer those questions – getting still helps me to fight the battle within to return to myself. Psalm 132:2 says, “Instead I have calmed and quieted myself like a weaned child who no longer cries for it’s mother’s milk – yes, like a weaned child is my soul WITHIN ME.” If I don’t engage with myself and steward the thoughts, feelings and emotions that the Lord gave me – it will be very hard to battle outward circumstance and weather the storm.
The calm, inner strength and peace is how I fight. Getting low and getting quiet to sit back and watch God work – while I rest.
“Wait for Yahweh. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for Yahweh.” – Psalm 24:7
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10
I come inside myself to a place of RESOLVE and QUIET to connect with the ONE who FIGHTS for me. I am fixed and focused.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14
3. I FIGHT by connecting to the soothing love of God
I’ve heard of people saying, “center yourself”. Well, for me this is true – but I’m not centering myself to me. I am centering myself to the soothing love of my Heavenly Father and reminding myself how much his goodness and love PURSUES me everyday. I am reminding myself of how HE sees me. I don’t see myself the same way He does – His view of Rochelle is different. He sees a warrior who picks up her sword and fights against the enemy daily. “SHE is not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12
My heavenly dad can soothe, calm, comfort and press into my hard emotions when the going gets tough. We sit eye to eye and fight together as I pour out all of my anger, grief, loss, frustration and as I SCREAM at the injustices done against me. He can SIT with me and remind me I am His precious jewel as I wail about how unfair the battle really is.
“Now let your unfailing love comfort me” -Psalm 119:76
“The LORD YOUR GOD IS among you, the MIGHTY WARRIOR WHO SAVES. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will REJOICE over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:16
You see; the battles aren’t going to go away, yet as I sit in the soothing comfort of His love – the war CAN rage on – because in the middle of it all, I am being reminded that I am delighted in – I am worth SINGING about – and I am being REJOICED OVER. I am precious to HIM. This is how I fight.
Mary Oliver states, “It’s not the weight you carry but how you carry it – books, bricks, grief – it’s all in the way you embrace it, balance it, carry it, when you cannot, and would not, put it down.”
4. I FIGHT with PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING
I fight by connecting to appreciation. Neurologically, we can re-capture the thoughts and feelings experienced at a time where something good, wonderful and beautiful took place. We can express gratitude by reliving the memory and connecting to those same feelings and stating appreciation for that experience. I think of it as replaying a ”movie” in my mind of God’s provision. As I go back to the positive memory I can reactivate the same relational circuitry used at the time the event took place and then express gratitude. Dr. Karl Lehman states, “When you deliberately recall things that you’re grateful for, your brain will simultaneously release oxytocin, which will allow you to bond relationally.”
Battles are draining; emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and relationally. As I FIGHT, I have to be able to stay relational, stay connected to the Lord and remember that He is FOR ME. I must remember that He has NOT abandoned or forgotten me – so as I replay memories in my mind of all the times the Lord has provided for me – I express praise and thanksgiving – while neurologically oxytocin and dopamine are released helping me to stay relational with the Lord. He will not abandon me in battle.
The Psalmist David used this strategy as well in Psalm 77, David cries out in his FIGHT:
“I cry out to God; yes I shout… When I was in deep trouble I searched for the Lord … but my soul was not comforted. I think of God and I moan, OVERWHELMED with longing for his help…. I am too distressed to even pray!” (vs. 1 – 10)
(Watch this … NOW David is going to connect to positive memories where the Lord provided in the past, he is going to express praise and thanksgiving and then remember that the Lord has not abandoned him! He is connecting relationally with the Lord in the midst of his FIGHT.)
“BUT THEN I RECALL ALL YOU HAVE DONE, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds long ago They are constantly in my thoughts I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God your ways are holy…. When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled!” (vs. 11 – 20)
In the midst of FIGHT, I must remind myself that the Lord has always provided and He will do it again. I praise and give thanks even before I see the outcome of the fight.“Come and see what the Lord has done, the amazing things he has done on the earth.” -Psalm 46:8
5. I FIGHT by CLAIMING PROMISED VICTORY
The Bible is full of promises of restoration and redemption. I once had a mentor speak over me, “Thankfully, God is in the business of restoring double what we’ve lost” How powerful!!! That’s the God that I am in a relationship with – wow!! So, when the battle seems grim, hopeless and never ending – I can start claiming the victory that has already been promised.
Psalms 126: 4-6 says, “Restore our fortunes Lord, as streams renew the dessert. Those who harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with harvest.”
“Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.” -Zechariah 9:12
“I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” – Psalm 91:14-16
Our way of fighting is backed by a GOOD GOD – and HIS TRUTH. It is not loud or immature. It comes from the deep place of PEACE WITHIN. As the battle rages on, we come inside ourselves to the place of wisdom, sound mind, rest, soothing love, praise, thanksgiving and promises of victory. We are intimately CONNECTED to the One who FIGHTS for us; remember that today as you battle, because believe it or not, you were BUILT to FIGHT.
“Soon, all you captives will be released! Imprisonment, starvation and death will not be your fate! For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar. My name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. And I have put my words in your mouth and hidden you safely in my hand. I stretched out the sky like a canopy and laid the foundations of the earth. I am the one who says to Israel: You are my [DAUGHTER and YOU ARE MY SON!]” -Isaiah 51:14
You are not alone.