|"Forgiven Much" Keith Johnson|
God undid me and then put me back together again. Sometimes it's hard to realize that in order for a house in ruin to be fully restored, it must be torn down so as to begin with a more solid foundation. There is a part of me that feels like this is what Inner Healing has done for me. This form of "therapy" isn't really therapy. It healing. It goes to the foundation and helps to bring about full restoration. I have not been fully restored all at once, but in layers.
I have begun to uncover so many agreements I have made with the "father of lies" and in doing so I had given him and his minions permission to oppress me in so many ways. With inner healing I have been shown that when I am brave enough to trust the builder, my reward will be not just a new and sturdy house but God desires to give me a mansion.
The first thing I had to do was to become vulnerable. That might sound easy when you read the words a crossed the page but for me it was like having the Ren and Stimpy cartoon when they pluck the roots out of the tooth sockets. It was beyond painful.
I felt like someone had stripped me naked in front of a bunch of strangers and I had to stand before them in my nakedness. Then I realized, that I had to go back to the garden and become naked like Adam and Eve were before the fall. If I would be willing to become naked without shame, then I would discover what it truly means to enter into the words "Jesus, I trust in You".
Trust is about being vulnerable. Unless I was willing to be vulnerable, I would never fully enter into trusting God. I thought I trusted God, but I was not relinquishing my control over the direction of my life nor that of my families.
I had come to this retreat to get some healing. I couldn't go home and face all the trials of my life without it! That morning the readings were about "ask and the door will be opened" kind of stuff.
Really? I thought to myself, what a joke. I have been asking for years so where are you? I began to get angry as I listened to scripture saying that God desires to heal us and help us and love us. I guess that means for other people and not for me then. The rage was welling up inside of me. I had to get out of there. The facilitator asked what our reflections were on the readings for the morning. You can bet that I let him have it.
"I think it's a crock of shit" I said. "All the hemorrhaging woman had to do was to touch His garment, what do I have to do?" I screamed.
"Well, the hemorrhaging woman bled for 12 years" said the facilitator.
"Even Lazarus had to wait 3 days before he was raised from the dead" was another response.
"Well, I was sexually abused when I was 3 and I am 41 now so I think I have been waiting long enough" I snapped back.
Their comments, although meant to reassure me, just infuriated me more. For every scripture verse they had to why it was justified that I had not received any relief yet, I had two more as to why God promised He would show up when He is needed.
I left the group and stormed up the stairs to my room. As soon as I got to my room, I let Him have it.
I yelled at God and told Him how upset I was. I into the bathroom and punched the shower curtain until my knuckles bled (yes, I know it was a temper tantrum).
As I began to lose steam, I yelled out the words; "What do I have to do for you to fucking show up? Lose Control??"
That is when I heard the very small words; "yes".
My first thought was; “What? Give up control? Hell No!”
What if God doesn't show up? If I am not in control then all hell will break lose! Is God crazy? It will be a death spiral into chaos! Besides, to give up control I would have to be vulnerable. I would have to open myself to the unknown. I can’t do that! I am not ready for that! He can’t be asking me for that!
"Vulnerable" is not a word that anyone who has known me would use to describe me. I have prided myself on being self-sufficient. My entire life I have taken care of my family and myself because I felt that no one else could be trusted to do it. The thought of relinquishing control and allowing God to take the reigns terrified me.
As I considered the impending doom that would await me if I even contemplated being vulnerable, I saw an image in my imagination of myself on a horse drawn carriage. I had one rein and God had the other. The carriage was all over the place. I guess letting God have one rein was a great first step but by not giving Him both reigns I was going nowhere fast. I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to consider giving God both reins, at least for this week so He could show me His plan and that He could be trusted.
Could I do that? Well, I am miserable living the way I am so I have nothing to lose. So I stepped out in fear and consented. I decided anytime I felt Him prompt me, I would submit to being vulnerable. Honestly, I was a little excited to see what this would feel like. I was in a safe place to do this so the circumstances of my experiment seemed worthy of effort.
The first morning of my Inner Healing course I would be asked to submit control. I was asked to participate in a living sculpture of the trinity. At one point I was asked to enter into the sculpture. I was asked to rest my head on the "Father's" chest while the " Son" would embrace me from the front and the "Holy Spirit" was supporting and hugging me from behind. It felt awkward and feigned. I began resenting the fact that I had agreed to submit to being vulnerable.
|"A quiet moment" Sculpture|
To make matters worse I was sobbing uncontrollably. It felt like everyone watching must surely think I was a basket case and needed psychiatric care. I could not express in words what my heart ached with or was crying out so I asked them; "Can I show you what I feel?” The facilitator nodded his head.
I dropped to the floor and laid in a ball in front of the "Father". I held his ankles and laid my face upon his feet. His feet became wet with my tears and wiped them with my hair. The room and the people in it disappeared (See the above picture by Mr. Johnson because it is an image of exactly how I felt at that moment).
I remained there sobbing and thought of Mary Magdalene and wished I had expensive perfumed oils to offer. All I could think of was my desire for the Father to love me. I thought to myself, I am not worthy to stand and face you but surely I am worthy to lie at your feet? There is a great book that describes the scene of Mary Magdalene at Jesus' feet (besides the bible of course) that describes it so very beautifully.
The scene of Mary Magdalene encountering Jesus is described in Michele Perry's book "Love Has a Face" as thus:
"She spent her life earning a living by selling false love to any who would buy it. But the Man before her now was different. He looked passed her reputation to her very soul. His eyes had no agenda, no desire to use her. They probed the deepest crevices of her pain but she saw no loathing, no hatred, and no condemnation. How could this be? She saw only compassion and mercy mingled with sadness at what He knew she had suffered. She looked away. She did not know what to do in the face of love that held no guile or hidden motive. Yet her gaze drew back to this Man they called Teacher. Her heart compelled her.
Could it really be true? One more time their gazes locked. She could not look away again even if she tried. How could she return even a drop of the ocean of love in which He washed her that day? It was inappropriate to be sure. It was in the middle of an important dinner for which she had no invitation. And it was not in the proper manner. She could scarcely believe she had just barged right into the middle of the room. It was absolutely undignified yet she was compelled by His love. She washed His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. It costs her everything, every shred of dignity and year's wages gone in an instant as she poured out her precious perfume.
Did they know how this amount had been earned? She shuddered at the thought but it was fleeting. The look in His eyes again captured her heart. The room disappeared. The jeering looks and accusations faded as He filled all her vision.
Wasteful. Indignant. Extravagance poured over this Man the only Man who ever showed her the face of love. How could she not pour out her everything on Him? Love outpoured overtook the gathering. The fragrance of intoxicating overpowering adoration that gave all it had and risked all it was filled the room. Inappropriate. Indecent. Scandalous. Wasteful.
But Jesus-what did he do? He accepted it. He defended it. He applauded it. He cherished it. He recorded it for all time"pg 47
I have been praying for receptivity to the Holy Spirit for the past two years. I was now being able to see that vulnerability is. It is the predicator to receptivity. This is what I was seeking.
|Passion of The Christ|
Why was I so afraid of vulnerability? Why did I see vulnerability as weakness?
It was then that I got the answer. I saw a picture in my mind of me at 3 years of age, lying naked on a waterbed being sexually abused by "Al" the babysitter.
Of Course! I had made the agreement that vulnerability means losing your rights and being unprotected. You cannot get more vulnerable than being three years old, naked and being sexually assaulted in a strange place. Even if I could have gotten away where would I have gone? I was alone and had no idea how to get home. This was vulnerability to me. I had decided at three years old that being vulnerable meant being violated, assaulted and victimized. I thought the only person that could be trusted to protect me was myself because others cannot be counted upon. It was this lie that I had decided to believe that set me up to be a woman that could not be vulnerable. I had misunderstood what being vulnerable means. I had thought to be a vulnerable woman would become a woman that was weak.
Mary Magdalene was not weak, she was brave. She was brave enough to believe that Christ would accept her and her offering. She marched a crossed that floor and she opened herself in a very vulnerable way. She was not assaulted there nor did she become violated. In fact, it was her lifestyle that violated her and stripped her of her dignity. Here, in her willingness to expose herself she was having her dignity restored. That's when it hit me. If I was willing to become naked in the same way then could I be healed too? Was I resisting being vulnerability because I was still consumed by shame? What is shame? What does it mean to say that Adam and Eve were naked without shame? Could it be that I must be willing to willingly become naked in front of God so that in that voluntary vulnerability I could finally experience healing? Yes, I think I needed to relinquish control so that I could let God lead me. If I could do that, it would be the beginning of learning to trust Him.
Control has been my lover for the last 41 years. It has made me feel strong, competent and has soothed my anxieties like drugs for a junkie. If I could not deal with how something was happening, I would take control. Want to know how that has worked out for me? Let's just say I have burned a lot of bridges in my life using control as a coping mechanism. Being vulnerable meant I would have to give up control. This was going to be harder than I thought.
One of the nights I was at the Healing retreat I had a dream about what this control was doing in my marriage. In the dream I was about to be attacked by a large deformed dog. It was about to crush my skull in it's oversized jaws. My husband was standing in front of me, raising his fist to strike the dog beast down. I watched, as he seemed to be slowly puffed up with air. He was getting larger and larger but he did not release raised fist to strike the dog. Fear began to well up inside of me. I had to take over. I began to scream at him.
"What are you doing? Hit the dog!!! He is going to kill me! Shawn! Whats wrong with you?! Hit the dog!"
As I continued to yell at him, I watched as the air began to go out of him and he grew smaller and smaller with every scream.
Then it was our daughter Mercedes sitting in my place. She is our 8 year old daughter and she is a tiny, petite , little flibertyjibbit. Surely he would rise to the occasion for his daughter?
I sat powerless to help her. Once again he began to fill up, growing taller and larger. His fist rose up higher and larger. My fear that the dog would strike before Shawn would act burst out of me again. I began to yell and holler at him to hit the dog. The louder I yelled, the smaller my husband became.
The next morning I thought about the dream. I realized that my desire to control as well as my refusal to be vulnerable was emasculating my husband. I had stripped him of feeling adequate, worthy or even capable of doing, well...anything.
Could it be that me controlling the family and all of our decision was stealing his joy, his purpose, his worthiness? If he were in that role, would he in fact become a more beautiful husband and father? I then thought about how the man is the "head" and the woman is the "heart".
I honestly believe that for a woman to operate in the head, she must make her heart covered in stone. A woman is made to flow from the heart. Even scientists and psychiatrists will tell you that a man has the ability to think through stressful situations and assess them cognitively without being drawn into the affect. He can then compartmentalize them and rank them in according to purpose and then deal with the decisions that flow from it.
Women usually think on things simultaneously. For me to put myself into the very stressful role of dealing with all of the difficult decisions (that come from the head) I had to shut off my heart or else I would have internally combusted. I had made my heart into stone. No wonder I had a hard time hugging and kissing my children! I had to turn off the affect so I could get things done! I had a house to run and finances to sort out and decisions to make and stress to deal with! I had no time for snuggling and comforting children.
It' somewhat ironic that I went to Florida to find out why I have a hard time showing affection and ended up dealing with the very thing that the root or cause. I thought about how arguing with the HVAC guy or electrical guy or the bank guy etc, was making me into a hardened woman not a vulnerable one. I could not be both. I was not made for being a manipulative woman that always found a way to get what she wanted or needed. I was made to love and be loved.
I now had to ask myself the question is there a spiritual aspect of this issue of mine that must be addressed? "Have I come into agreement with a spirit of control?". I looked deeply within me and prayed to the Holy Spirit for wisdom. I had barely begun to ask the question when a resounding YES rang out within me. It's name is The Jezebel Spirit. (Click the link for more information).
The next day I spent some time with the Intercessory Prayer team and we renounced lies, unbound agreements and cut the connections that the Jezebel Spirit had made to me. I realized right away that I had come into agreement with the clever lies it had proposed to me. It is in making an agreement that I had given it power in my life.
I can honestly say I experienced a tremendous shift in my thinking and freedom from something very powerful. That week was another week in the journey to becoming the woman I have always been meant to be. If I want my husband to succeed in being father, husband and man of God that he has been called to be, then I must give him the opportunity to lead our family. It is this very thing that will fulfill him and his masculinity.
So where am I now? Well, now I am dealing with trust and overcoming the fear that wells up inside of me when I am not the one making the decisions at home or orchestrating how the days, weeks and months play out (not easy at all but I can do all things through Christ Who Strengthens me! Phil 4:13).
If I am standing on the platform then how will he ever be able to? Everyday it hurts. Everyday I am challenged to be vulnerable but the first step came in understanding that Jesus would never define being vulnerable as opening myself to be violated.
Being vulnerable now means that I am willing to be imperfect. I know that I am not bad, in fact, I am the opposite, I am very, very good. I may make mistakes and do things that are bad, but I am not bad. In fact, I have been hard wired for struggle. I will continue to struggle against the difficulties of life but now I realize that when I am vulnerable, I open up the door for God to come in and take care of me.
I have now entered into a trusting relationship with God in a very different way. I try to pay attention to when I use the words "should" and "need" and "but" because they show me when I am trying to control people or things or when I am not allowing God the freedom to move in my life or the lives of others.
I am glad I had the courage to be vulnerable because if I hadn't I would have missed a week of intense inner healing of the deep wounds I have carried from my childhood. I am not all better yet, but I am on the road to healing. He knocked on the door and I opened it. I now allow Him to lead as the Good Shepard and I am continually reminding myself not to take the place of the butcher (the guy who drives the sheep). When He leads (and I am not driving things from behind) then I can trust that He will take care of me and I can be vulnerable. His way, affords protection, green pastures, quiet waters, it refreshes my soul and I am protected from evil. That sounds a whole lot better than what I have been giving myself the past 41 years.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord