Last weekend, November 7-10, I was part of a Leadership Team that hosted a Woman’s Retreat for my church. After a year of planning, organizing, & praying I spent the weekend with 84 brave woman who decided to “BreakAway” from bondage & find freedom through God.
That’s a really quick, simple, summary of an amazing weekend.
If I typed up all the incredible things, changing things that happened during those few days my fingers would grow numb & crippled from typing. I’ve struggled with this blog for a few days because I simply didn’t know how to put into words ALL the releasing things that happened. Resorting to my elementary math-schoolin’ days, I’ve decided to keep it simple. When you start to throw Algebra & Geometry into the equation, it gets way to mind-boggling and confusing.
I’ve decided to reflect on one incident that affected me personally.
I’ve been pretty open, but not too open, about my healing from a sin that I was involved in a few years ago. My good friend & Pastor asked me if I would be able to speak about it, candidly, at our retreat during a Saturday morning Panel Discussion; in which a few selected woman from the church would open themselves up & talk about hurts that God has walked them through. For me, this would mark the first time I had ever talked about my deceit to a large group (really, the first time I had talked about it at all!) not only would I be telling it to strangers (which is easier), but also opening up to close family & friends. I felt ready for it, I knew the time was right to share, however, I was NERVOUS. Petrifyingly nervous! Now don’t get me wrong, I love speaking in front of people. I was the nerd in school that always did a little happy-squeal whenever the professor announced we had to do a speech in front of the class. But this was different…this was displaying my own vulnerability, weakness & a time I majorly, royally, messed up! (another term would be appropriate, but I’m making a serious, conscious effort to control my swear-words *wink wink*).
The week leading up to our retreat, boy did the enemy win over my peace! I was grumpier, angrier, and more pissed-off (damn! Double-damn…I WILL win the battle over swear words!) than I had been in a long time. I didn’t want to socialize, I didn’t want to be outside, I was resorting back to my stress-eating behavior. Everybody & everything was bothering me. I don’t think I cracked open my Bible all week & I prayed with a ferocity to quench my nerves, to give me strength…and that prayer never seemed to be answered. I was such a B****! I found out later that every one of us on the panel had the same kind of week! You talk about the enemy fighting hard for our kept-bondage! He won, in all of us, that battle during the week! And Friday night, my brain & thoughts were wracked with such an intensity that I thought I was losing my mind. I’m a dramatic person & all I kept thinking was, “this must be how somebody on death row feels!”, as I would lie awake during the night & see the clock slowly ticking towards my own form of lethal injection. I went back & forth in my mind on whether I could go through with speaking and my prayers (again) for peace seemed to go un-answered. Needless to say, waking up Saturday morning after a very fitful night’s sleep left me with a nauseous stomach & bags under my eyes. Meeting with the other ladies on the panel & our pastor, prior to starting service you could see that we were all emotional wrecks. When a group of ladies have already shed oceans of tears, before 8am! Something’s up!
Getting through worship was a blur & being on the Leadership Team I was a “table leader” for my group, thankful to a dear friend who stepped in & took over that role when she could clearly see that I was a train wreck! For as nervous as I was, when we were called to approach the center and begin our discussion I felt very calm. Okay, maybe not CALM! But calmer than I had in days. I was the second person to speak & I was so drawn into what the first person was saying that my heart broke for her. It was in that moment that I truly realized how broken & hurting every one of us really is. When it became my turn to speak I can’t recall being nervous, in actuality I felt more empowered & strengthened as my story progressed. There’s something so freeing about not holding back. About being at the point where you say,” This is me. The good, bad & ugly.” Through my tears, to look out onto a sea of faces full of friends & family and see their own tears over my words is so humbling. To not only share the hurtful things you’ve done & caused upon others, but to then be standing tall & firm (even at times if it’s shaky) before your peers & God is such a testament to redemption. Everybody…EVERYBODY…has troubles. I don’t care how deep or how bad you THINK you’ve dug yourself…you are not alone, nor are you the first to go through it. The key is to not stay in your trouble, don’t stay in your bondage. For me, the process took 3yrs., but after I confessed & talked about my pain I truly felt a closing on my situation that surprised me. I felt a peace & a lightness that I wasn’t expecting. For the first time since my brokenness began, I was able to accept my faults & be thankful that I had gone through the pain. If I had not witnessed, first hand, the destruction that I was capable of I would never know how fragile I have to be with other people’s hearts, trust & how lying can be so damaging. I would also never know what true, deep forgiveness, by others & the forgiveness of yourself, feels like. This experience is what brought me back to my foundation of faith & grounded me in how much my family & true friends support and love me. The aftermath of sharing my story brought support, tears, & questions from friends. Questions & stories that I no longer feared answering & telling and what amazed me was how many people, woman, also had been tempted to act in the same behavior that I did. And some had! Some even were currently wrestling with living lives that were different from their truths. See, we’re not that different after all! Although, God didn’t answer my prayer for peace in the way I was expecting (flaming out the stress I felt BEFORE I spoke would’ve been nice!) He ultimately answered my prayer for peace in a way that surpassed my vision of how my prayer should work out. Isn’t that just like Him??? 🙂
I can’t brag enough on my God. The same God I was dedicated to as an infant, the same God that I accepted to follow at 12 years old & then who lovingly welcomed me back when, as an adult, I came crawling & broken into His arms. The same God that allowed hurts to come into my life, hurts I’ve caused & some I haven’t, because he sees a bigger picture for my life than what my limited vision can. A God that I’ve cursed, fought, sinned against, hurt, distrusted, lied to & many times only prayed to when I needed something from Him. A God that repeatedly reminds me that I’m better healed than I would’ve ever been whole. A God that, after my own confession of sin to a roomful of woman & the redemption He graced upon me, brought me to my knees in thankfulness during a quiet time in which He responded into my heart, “you already have”.
I fail my God daily & sometimes lack in my repentance, however, I serve a God who is a gentleman. He’s a man of His word, promises & never fails me, His favorite child.