Hobbies like quilting, sewing, or embroidery amaze me. Artists take unlike materials, assemble them in a pre-determined pattern, and create beauty.
Without sounding trite, that’s how God uses our lives. He takes the painful, inconvenient, confessed sins, and broken relationships of our lives. Then through the work and power of His Holy Spirit–while in community with others, He re-patterns His material into a living-work of beauty in and through us that, ultimately, brings Him glory.
In an effort to assist other adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the healing process, I’ve chosen to write about the healing process.
Again, I am not a counselor, but my heart is to generate conversation to promote healing and spiritual wellness.
Last week I wrote about the first step: giving it a name. In the medical community, a diagnosis is required before administering treatment. Similarly our wounds require a name as a starting point for healing.
I believe the next step includes choosing to connect with God in the raw, unadulterated realm of memory and feeling.
My recommendation when applying the next five principles would be to find a place where you can be completely alone, just you and God. Find a private, safe, and quiet place where you know you are not going to be interrupted before following these steps.
1. Voice it to God
After you’ve put a name to what happened to you, ask the Holy Spirit to move within you in order to voice it to God.
Unleash the words.
Let them fly.
Worry little, at this point, about appropriateness. The Word teaches us that God already knows what is in our heart before we utter it. So don’t try and polish your thoughts, just get them out.
Recount, as you can, what happened to you. Tell Him every detail that you can recall, and let Him know what your thoughts are about them.
Confess any sin that the Lord brings to mind. Has He been nudging you to talk about this for a while, and you’re just now obeying? Acknowledge it. Tell Him why you feared to bear it all in conversation with Him.
2. Permit yourself to feel
As you’re releasing memory into voice to God, allow yourself to feel the emotions attached to those thoughts and memories.
Anger, hatred, shame, embarrassment, fear, confusion.
Feel them and express them as best as you can. Part of the healing process requires setting free those emotions you’ve probably been holding captive and numbing out for years.
3. Continue To Pour Out Your Heart
Exhaust your words. Speak until your heart and mind feel empty or until you feel there simply is not one more word to let out. Let the tears flow, if they are there.
Pouring out your heart through wordless tears can hurt.
In fact, I sometimes want to skip this step because it’s a rather vulnerable position. You’re heart is exposed at this point, but continue to allow the Holy Spirit to highlight the emotions that need released to our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Remember To Listen
Once you have completely exhausted and emptied your heart, listen for the Lord to speak to you. Listen for His expressions of love to you.
Our Father loves you.
His love is perfect: safe, healing, and gentle.
He already knew what was on your heart, and He has waited all this time for you to open up your heart and reveal what you’ve been holding onto for so long.
Cease striving, and know that He is God (Ps. 46.10). He will speak to your heart at some point; don’t resist His approach to you. He loves you.
If He doesn’t speak to you immediately, don’t panic or assume that He is not near you. In fact, recall that sometimes the Lord is quiet in His enjoyment of you (Zeph. 3.17).
Personally, I like to think of these moments like a mother calming a fussy baby. Once I get a fussy baby to hush and relax, I remain quiet.
Yet, my heart swells with love and joy and gratitude as I feel close to my child. I imagine experiences with my children as imitations of the Lord with each of us, but on a different scale. Clearly, the Lord knows more as a heavenly Father than I do as an earthly mother.
5. Memorialize What You Hear
Scripture repeats over and over the pattern that we have as humans. The Lord speaks to us, and we rejoice in the moment. As time passes, we forget. It’s not like we purposely forget God’s word. Sometimes it’s just a matter of time and space from the event. And sometimes it’s a matter of our human limitations.
Knowing this, memorialize this encounter with God in a way unique to you, your gifting, and your relationship with God.
Write about it in your journal, in a letter, in a book format. Draw it, paint it, sculpt it. Purchase an item that represents what you heard and place it somewhere you will visibly see it on a daily basis. Plant perennial flowers, trees, or vines.
There’s no right or wrong way to memorialize God’s word.
He desires to connect with you. He already knows what’s in your heart–all of it. The good, the bad, and the sinful. He already knows it, and He still loves you.
Be aware that God desires to use even the dark and damaged parts of our hearts to bring glory and honor to Himself (Ro. 8.28). Just like a master quilter some pieces–left on their own–look unlovely; yet, fashioned in the right manner, the same piece becomes part of a quilt’s majesty.
Won’t you trust Him to re-pattern your life–past, present, and future–for His glory?
What’s your next step?
Open your heart to the Lord. Pour out all that is in it, knowing that the Rock of our Salvation can withstand all that you release upon Him.
5 My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah (Ps. 62.5-8).
Join me on the healing journey.
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