I grew up in a world where I didn’t feel safe. Sexual abuse at age five, three divorces, the death of my father, drug abuse permeating my childhood neighborhood—many of these traumas I kept quiet. For years. I lived under that unwritten, unspoken mandate that to tell was to betray.
It wasn’t until I met Jesus at fifteen that the secrets started to spill. Knowing Jesus and His extravagant love for me helped me know that no matter what I shared, I was still wildly adored by Him. He gave me the courage to tell my story and an insatiable desire to be whole. Throughout college, where friends dared to pray me toward healing, I learned that healing erupts in the light of truth. Simply put, if we hide things, we fester. But if we want Jesus to uncage us, we have to tell the truth.
It does hurt when we acknowledge the pain from the past. Thankfully, Jesus comes to our rescue in two ways.
Consider Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” See the beautiful juxtaposition there? Jesus’ death and sacrifice means he not only bears our sin, but His outrageous act also heals the wounds we received from others.
I am living testimony that it’s possible to heal from trauma. It’s possible for Jesus to so dynamically transform you that others would never know you walked that path of pain.
My life verse affirms this kind of personal revolution. I was nothing—a girl who questioned her worth—yet God chose me to show how well He can transform a broken life. Paul wrote, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1: 27).
When I became a Christian, though, I didn’t quite understand all this. I thought I was supposed to be strong and perfect. I thought that for others to see Jesus in me, I had to push down my pain and not share it openly. I had to playact my way toward perfection.
I now realize that God takes us on quests, not day hikes. (Click to tweet this.) Healing takes time. Throughout my twenties, when I married and had children, old wounds re-emerged. As a sexual abuse victim, I found the marriage bed scary. And when my daughters reached the age I’d been when neighborhood boys raped me (five years old), I panicked. For a long time, I disconnected from my three children and husband because the risk of intimacy was just too great.
In my thirties, I met with a couple of counselors. I moved across the country, which helped me heal from festering memories. I finally realized that Jesus loved me just for me. I still had questions about all the whys of my past, but I also felt contentment for the first time.
You may be thinking, Yes but you don’t know what I’ve endured. You don’t see the aftermath of my pain. You’re right. I don’t. But I’d like to invite you to think differently for a moment. Instead of seeing the past as a detriment, begin to see it as a stage for God to display His power. (Click to tweet this.) You actually have an advantage. Why? Because you know your need for Jesus. You know you can’t heal on your own. Your weakness is the very starting place for Jesus to let you out of your cage.
That’s the beauty of weakness. That’s why I can thank God for the fear, pain, and shame of my childhood. Because all those things helped me see my extreme need for Jesus to set me free.
You have a choice. You can either move forward or wallow in the past. Oswald Chambers wrote: “Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.” We have an irresistible future ahead of us. After we’ve told the truth about the past and experienced God’s healing, it’s time to cultivate a holy anticipation for what God will unfold.
I am happy to say today that I’m a joyful mother of two teens and one twenty-something, a wife of twenty-two years to my husband Patrick, and a full time writer. I have the uncanny privilege of writing and speaking about uncaged living, helping audiences truly understand the power Jesus has to set us free from the past.
I used to think joy was impossible for me. But now I walk in it every day. That’s my prayer for you, too.