Good Monday morning, and welcome back to Share His Peace! I hope you all have been enjoying these excerpts about freedom that Stephanie, Jamie, and Yvette have presented to us for the past three weeks. I know that much of what I have read here has resonated with me and opened my mind and heart to new places where freedom can exist.
I am Maggie, a mostly grateful believer in Jesus Christ. I am experiencing FREEDOM from things today, that I once believed would NEVER come for me. Yes, I am saying that I believed at one point in time that I was never meant to experience certain freedoms; I even considered them “my thorn[s] in the flesh.” As much as I know and trust God for redemption because He has redeemed me in so many ways, I have had a struggle in my life that just always seemed to be a part of me. That is until this past January. A New Year was celebrated in a new place and with it came my new word for the year. Have you ever tried letting God give you just one word, instead of a whole daunting resolution? Might I encourage you to start praying now about the Word God wants you to experience for a whole year?
My word is VICTORY. 1 single word. Powerful. Purposeful. Simple. Focused.
First, I want to qualify my statement about being a mostly grateful believer In Jesus. You see for me there has been a process to freedom. A formula. A recipe. A probation period.
At times, I was in my cell locked behind many barred enclosures, where I would see daylight occasionally, but then I would be brought back inside by “the warden” for what seemed like a lifetime sentence. My thinking was negative, I was victimized, and I felt this inescapable pain inside this prison. Sometimes, I would walk all the way up to the outermost cell door and stand in the doorway, watching as life was going by me. Then as if I was undeserving of my freedom, I would accept the “guilty” verdict from the Warden again and walk back into the cold darkness of my confines.
Being an actual prisoner in a prison seems unfathomable to me. I recently watched a tv episode of a popular night-time drama where a police officer was reluctantly put behind bars with many of the criminals he had been arresting for years. As each gate was closed throughout the modern day dungeon, the depiction of the dark, drab and dangerous prison enclosures made me feel a lump in my throat because in the darkest recesses of my mind, I’ve been there.
I have lived where hopelessness abounded and joy was simply a notion that wasn’t intended for me. Living with others’ addictions. Living in abuse. Living with my own addiction.
My name is Maggie, and I am experiencing VICTORY over shame and a food obsession.
It was January, and I was living a life I had only dreamed about living. But I had slipped back into the pattern of negative thinking, that like so many times in the past, my negative thinking was consuming me. One day I was praying how amazed I was that I belonged to this Great God, and the next thing I know I was experiencing apathy and propelling downward again into the bottomless pit of self loathing. It’s always darkest before the dawn, right?
An excerpt from my journal dated January 12, 2018 reads: ” LORD, Your call has always been ‘Follow Me’ ,”Stay close’, ‘Stay connected’ and when I don’t – well I just make a mess- and here I sit again with messy smears of all my yuckiness smudged all over me…I believe that You want to take me deeper still – to have me let go of old ways and defenses- lay down my arms and let You in, allow You to fill these parts of me with things that are much more useful to You- for Kingdom building- help me not resist”
For the next 2 weeks that followed, each excerpt in my journal started with praise and thanks. “Thank you LORD for grace that abounds and amazes me.” “Thank you for unfailing love.” “ So grateful for You and Your nearness to me.” My heart is full.” “Thank you for fresh air and bright sunshine.”
I scarce say…I didn’t recognize I was walking outside the prison cell already!
….AND THEN IT HAPPENED!!!
I attend Celebrate Recovery as I have probably mentioned in every post I have written. I have probably also mentioned how much I love it. It was the last Friday night of the month which makes it anniversary night at most Celebrate Recoveries. Mark and I were sitting up front when worship finished and the testimony for the evening was announced. I confess that I LOVE testimony night. I love hearing another grateful believer stand up and give God praise for how the steps and support and resourcing of JESUS have changed their lives. BUT, I was not expecting God to do what He did for me that night.
The beautiful and brave woman that gave her testimony that night caught my attention as she used song titles to describe seasons in her life.
Man I LOVED THIS! I was a completely captivated audience. She was poised, radiant, oozing with the Holy Spirit.
As I listened intently to everything she was saying, I began to cry. At first I couldn’t even figure out why. But my heart and soul were so open to what she was saying. And her story was gripping me word for word. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt a melting in my heart I had only recalled feeling once before when I had experienced some tremendous victory with unforgiveness.
Right there in that moment, God was shaking the foundation and unlocking prison doors and I was going to walk out of that room and out of the mental prison I had been doing time in for the last time.
You see, I have been a victim, and I have been abused, and I was not defended or fought for in either of those vicious crimes against me. I have been part of a relationship where my partner was addicted to things, and I have felt crazed at times, desperately wanting him to choose me instead of his drugs of choice. I have been abandoned and rejected on multiple occasions; sometimes because I was choosing the wrong things, sometimes because my caregivers just didn’t know how to navigate their life circumstances. This environment and it’s consistency in my life produced the negative thinking that I often subjected myself to. It had become the perfect storm for the enemy to gather information about me, and he used it to keep me prisoner.
I had made the decision to abort not just one, but two babies. The first time I have always justified, which I felt like I needed to do for so many years. It helped lessen the pain for a while. And, in spite of everything that I have experienced, this was by far the most personally traumatic thing I had ever experienced. I was choosing death over life. I was a young woman who had many dreams and hopes of one day being a mother. I believed that I was going to be a good mom and that the terrible things that I had experienced in my own life would never, never be part of my children’s lives.
This first choice to abort my baby was not without terrible repercussions that have lasted my entire life; however, the post abortion trauma and depression, the suicidal thoughts that plagued me most nights when sleep betrayed me did not keep me from making a conscience and selfish decision to have a second abortion; I felt so unforgivable.
Shame doesn’t even touch on how I began to view myself. Even 19 years after being saved by the death of Jesus on a cross that was intended to take all my sin and shame away, I felt so unworthy of anything good that God had ever offered. I was the person that grace couldn’t reach because I was guilty on all accounts of something so horrible and irreversible. I hated myself for that choice and spent time daily reminding myself that I deserve nothing good
The tapes of my past and every horrible decision I had made along the way were holding me prisoner.
In Jamie’s post she said, “Freedom IS about not being trapped in a mind that plays that same reel tape over and over, reminding you of how unworthy you are because of something somebody said or because of something somebody did to you, or because of something you did to yourself.”
I was a prisoner to S H A M E. I can give you an acronym for it:
I have been trapped because I keep playing this tape over and over. The SHAME tape.
Are you familiar?
This had been my reality, the one that, yes, I had helped create… BUT GOD… He was asking me AGAIN to choose something different. He was AGAIN reminding me that my freedom had already been bought, at a high price. If I have said YES to JESUS, I have said YES to FREEDOM.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners Isaiah 61:1
That night at CR, back in January, when that beautiful sister in the LORD shared her story of pain and fear and shame, I was given an opportunity to listen and believe that the same God who had touched her and given her the gift of freedom…He was my God too and He has wanted to do the same for me…and for YOU!!! THIS IS THE GRACE OF GOD!
Please join me back here on Friday so I can share more of Him with you, about the generous, mysterious, incomparable LOVE of a good and FAITHFUL God. I can’t wait to brag on Him…