“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep … that have taken hold.” Frodo Baggins from Return of the King.
From the first time I heard them, these statements haunted me. At that time, I was in the middle of a situation I would never have imagined – marriage to an abusive spouse. My heart was bruised and broken, wounded beyond repair. I completely identified with Frodo – some hurts did go too deep.
I escaped my abuser, and as time and distance from the situation became a reality, I began to wonder. Did the hurts really go so deep that they took hold and became something God could not heal? It surely did feel that way. Of course, my mind told me God can do anything and the scriptures plainly say “…with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26b. But my heart was still a mass of confusion and pain. Maybe this is it, I thought. This is as good as my life will ever be. I will be safe, but I will never be whole. I really could not imagine ever being “me” again.
Whenever I watched Return of the King, that paragraph gripped me anew. “Threads of an old life…hurts go too deep … they’ve taken hold”. In one respect, it was oddly comforting to know I couldn’t help how I felt. I’d given my best and was given abuse and derision in return. Pain shielded me from the world. Shielded me from getting too close. Shielded me from further heartache. If I held onto that pain, no one would ever hurt me again. But the Spirit of God always gently whispered, “Christy, nothing is impossible with Me, my beloved. Don’t you want to be whole again?”
Shields they may be, but pain and heartache make really bad friends. Being consistently downcast eventually leads to a depression that is tough to escape. God created our hearts to ring with joy, not bask in unhappiness. And by joy, I don’t mean emotional euphoria. I’m talking about spiritual joy, best defined by Kay Warren :”Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” Joy keeps us on the road to closeness with God, even when we don’t feel like reading His word or going to church. Joy reminds us to have an outward focus. Joy urges us to serve others and develop genuine interest in their lives. Joy prompts us to be thankful. Joy enables us to rejoice in a kitten’s meow, a droplet of rain on a leaf, or a magnificent sunset even in the midst of sorrow.
I can’t remember the specific time I realized that I did not want to remain a victim for the rest of my life. I think the process of opening my heart up to God for healing was gradual. As a wound must be cleaned, my heart needed to drain the putrid, stinking mess that had developed so God could do His healing work. God uses different methods to cleanse us – counseling, friends to whom you can talk, physical activity, etc. For me, writing my two novels, Broken Promise and Nolle Prosequi, was therapeutic and enabled me to release negative feelings and emotions. Most of all, I realized I must forgive my abuser before my healing could ever be complete. Without forgiveness, the bitterness in my heart would have eaten me alive and continually torn my wound open.
I can honestly say today, I feel I’ve been set free. God not only restored me to wholeness, He did something amazing that allowed me to finally be who I always was inside. Shyness and insecurity dogged my “former life”. Only God could use a situation that left me feeling lower than dirt to enable me to embrace the person He created me to be. Though insecurity is something I will always battle to a degree, I feel like a butterfly released of the cocoon. What a relief to be rid of the burden I bore for so long!
Friends, if you’re suffering from pain, sorrow, and heartache and think you’ll never be the same again, please don’t give up. I promise, there is hope. Go to God and ask to be made whole once more. Don’t expect miracles overnight, but if you strive to stay close to Him, one day you’ll wake up and realize that, even though you didn’t always feel positive emotions on the journey, your healing has been accomplished. I still weep when I ponder what God has done for me. I know I will never be the same again – I’ll be better. Thank you, Jesus.