The Process Is Part of the Promise
“Acknowledging the mess is half the battle."
In most cases, I totally agree with this statement. I also then wish some army of people would come fight the other half of the battle and do the hard work for me. The first blog in this series, “Who Told You?”, was all about letting the light in. This blog dives into the hard truth that just because we let the light in doesn’t mean it’s an easy road forward.
“If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” 1 John 1:6-7
The power of opening the door, dispelling the darkness and letting the light in is something to be celebrated. But what happens when the party ends and you realize there’s a lot of clean up work to do? Don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged. The process is part of the promise.
The day I googled, “Christian sex therapist,” felt like an all-time low. Tears streaming down my face, admitting that sex wasn’t good, that something was wrong with me, that my body responded terribly to touch-- was devastating. I didn’t want to have to go get the gloves, the towels, the spray, and clean up the mess. I knew it was time to find the source of the stench in my life. The darkest day led to the brightest day... to the days I began to let go and bloom.
“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” -Anonymous
The source of the stench in my life was my early teenage years. I had known lust for so long I couldn’t believe that love was real. Even though my husband loved me so purely and wholly, I returned my first and earliest experiences of being objectified by so many guys who pressured me to get what they wanted. What I had written off as “normal teenage issues” and compared to stories that seemed “worse than mine”, was actually robbing me of the fullness and freedom I was designed to live in. Another lie the enemy sells us, “get over it, it’s not that bad. It wasn’t ------” fill in the blank.
The first time I sat in “the chair” with a counselor, the dread I had been feeling turned into relief and peace quickly. After listening to my whole story, she looked me in the eyes and told me, “you have PTSD.”
I was in shock. I had only known that as something that affected veterans who came back from war. I had no idea it was something I could be struggling with. You see, the moments of pressure in dark movie theaters, backseats and in between the sheets led to trauma in my mind and in my body that was affecting my sex life in marriage. What took me moments to get into took me years to get out of.
I remember being a thirteen-year-old girl sitting in the movie theater with tears streaming down my face, pretending to enjoy the touching that was actually painful. I simply did not know there was another way. I thought “this is what you do as a girlfriend.” That belief just increased. What the world told me was just “casual” became a casualty to my soul.
While my life was filled with numerous hookups and loads of oral sex, I felt like I was on top of the world according to the standards of society-- while simultaneously feeling like an object. One night I decided to say “no” in the backseat, and I’ll never forget staring at the digital clock for forty-five minutes, while he pressured me, blamed me for getting him this far-- I felt the only escape was to give in. It wasn’t fun to dig all of this up, and the process for me took quite a while. I started counseling while I was pregnant and continued after we had our second son. It was a year and a half of going to bi-weekly counseling sessions to find the wholeness I didn’t even fully realize I was missing. I was comfortable in my lack.
Often in life, the familiarity of our chains becomes more comfortable than the uncertainty of freedom. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain and courage to step into the uncharted territory of wild freedom. The promised land may be on the other side, but when we can’t see it, we become more comfortable staying enslaved.
It reminds me of the Israelites wandering and wishing they could go back to Egypt. When we’re in the wilderness, we can find ourselves wandering and wishing we could go back to “the way it used to be.” We’d rather go back to the mess, the bondage, the pain hidden rather than the pain exposed. The process can be painful, but it’s so worth it!
Give yourself permission to feel the pain. Feel hurt, don’t stay hurt. Write it out, sing it out, scream it out, counsel it out-- like David did. I think and read through the Psalms so often to see the way David processed his journey, and it’s encouraging.
All of our journeys look different and the enemy of our souls piles on different types of shame. It could be something that’s been done to you, that you’ve sworn to never tell anyone. When we find ourselves saying , “I’ll take this to the grave with me. No one will ever know,” I think really there is just part of us being buried alive in an early grave. It could be heavy because it was a choice you made and later thought, “I should’ve known better! It’s my own fault.” I could keep going with all of the pathways to our pain, but the truth is no matter how we find ourselves getting there, we have the power to start the process of unearthing the shame and pain of the past to find freedom.
Start the process with the same declaration of faith that David did:
"Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:7 NLT)
What has been done to you does not define you.
What you have done does not define you.
Start the process. Take the first step in dealing with it. Let the light in.
It’s not all about the destination but also the journey to get there.
The process is part of the promise.