A year ago today, I sat in a familiar living room, surrounded by a roomful of people who love me, to watch a piece of my life unfold on national television. I had no idea what doors that day would open up, or how God would use it in my life, all that I knew was that despite people who disagreed with my decision to do it, God had asked me to agree to share my story in the strangest of settings. Two weeks prior to the “viewing day”, in what felt like a whirlwind, I was off to Hollywood to sit down and share my story in a cold room with a stranger, knowing that what she captured would be played for a national audience. My husband sat in an adjacent room, armed with a Bible and his knees, and prayed for me, as I plunged into moments that I had not visited in 16 years, but have since realized that I had been chained to. The camera captured my most painful moments, and tears streamed down the video producers face, as she interviewed me for 7 hours. The next day, I sat before a live audience, feeling like one of the characters in The Hunger Games, as people were being entertained by my death. Silently, my soul cried out to God… “Why, did you send me here?” I felt like I was having an out of body experience, and I could not connect to what was happening, but the one reality for me was that of the anger that was present on the face of my husband. I convinced myself that God sent me to share a message of forgiveness to the world, but little did I know, He actually sent me to take me to new levels of healing.
As I watched my “debut” on television, surrounded by loved ones, it confirmed to me, that I had in fact lived through hell. My memories weren't snapshots of a movie that I had once seen, they were part of my story, a story that the God of the universe, my Healer and Deliverer, had chose to allow, though He did not cause them. As I heard my story, as told by yours truly, I could feel a golf ball developing in my throat, as I choked back years of pain, and my heart seemed to completely stop beating for what felt like an eternity. I looked around the room, at a room full of faces that have gained my trust and respect over the years, and the sadness that streamed down their cheeks, was a moment that I would revisit over and over throughout the year, it was one of many moments that would bring tremendous healing.
The aftermath of last January has been gut-wrenching. I was left shell-shocked and confused as my wounds were ripped open for all the world to see. I feel like I spent the first few months of the year in the fetal position, begging God to remove the memories from me, and yet, I cannot deny that my decision to go was one of obedience to God.
*It was a decision that began, but did not complete, a journey of deeper healing in me.
*It was a decision that began, but did not complete, an understanding of how loved I am by God.
* It was a decision that began, but did not complete, an understanding of the character of God, my Protector, my Deliverer, the One Who Cares for Me, and the God Who Sees Me and ALWAYS has.
There were moments within this painful situation that God is using to make me whole, that He is using to shape me for His glory. I had to begin to look beyond the painful memories to the moments that God had purposed. Here is my attempt at recapturing these moments to sum up 2013.
MOMENT #1: God will ask us to do strange things sometimes that will require obedience and courage that cannot be derived from those around you. He will send you to the strangest of settings, and He knows when He sends you into a storm that the waves will crash and cause excruciating pain, but He will send you anyways. He sees beyond the pain into the healing that is on the horizon.
MOMENT #2: In our most painful moments, God’s word is always near. As I have revisited the moment of my husband praying and reading scripture in the adjacent room, I have been reminded that God equips us with His word for every battle, that He is always near providing strength in our most painful times, and that His Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf when we are huddled on the floor, incapable of moving our lips.
MOMENT #3: As I watched tears stream down the video producers face, and the faces of my dear friends, I saw that in my most painful memories, the moments of my past that caused me to wonder where God was, that He was present, and that my pain grieved Him deeply. Jesus was a man familiar with suffering, and His word promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, that He is near to the broken hearted, and will bind up our wounds. And I believe Him.
MOMENT #4: As I saw the anger on my husband’s face, I saw a protector. I saw that God was angry at what happened to His child…me. I saw that He would not let the enemy have victory over me, but that He claimed me as His own. I saw that although the world cannot understand it, that God did protect me, and that He has used all my painful moments to draw me closer to Himself.
If you are reading this today, I want to encourage you, that in your most painful memories, God did not abandon you. As we walk through pain, there are moments that God will use for His glory, there are moments He can use to write our futures, futures that are packed full of hope. Through all our pain, we come to know Him by name. And in every broken and painful memory, we can find healing, as we keep pressing into the One who saves, the One who rescued us because He delights in us. Though 2013’s moments weren’t easy, I believe they have given me snapshots of the continued healing that God has for me. In 2014, I pray that my heart will be postured to receive all that God has for me, whether it be a storm, or dancing on a mountain top, His ways are what I desire. I’m praying that this year He strengthens me to keep singing this song of redemption that He is writing in me.