“How do you speak about shame so boldly?”
I get asked this at minimum, once a week on my Instagram platform. My answer stays the same, “Jesus healed me.”
However, there’s obviously so much more to this answer. The path to boldness involves the discovery of who we truly are. To this you might say, "but I already know who I am and I STILL struggle with boldness". I would suggest there's more to who you are in Christ than you may think, regardless of how long you have known Him.
Discovering who we are requires us to confront our fears. Since each person’s fears are different and embedded in different aspects of our lives, our paths are all different. Thank God we have a creator who caters a plan strategically mapped out for each of us!
Our lives and stories are unique, but we can still find similarities woven in to the stories of others. It’s in the details of our stories that we draw others closer to Jesus. It’s His story woven through ours that speaks loudest. After all, Jesus was the greatest story teller to ever walk the earth, right? So, being created in His image, I can only assume there’s a little bit of a storyteller in each of us, just like Him. Hidden behind walls, past pains, unfortunate and tragic events, lies a dormant story waiting to be told, healed, and breathed onto others. In the famous words of Mr. Rogers, “there’s no normal life that doesn’t experience pain”.
So, to tell the back story to my boldness, here are some of the things God used to heal the wounds caused by my shame.
Nothing has to be tragically wrong in your life to recognize you need therapy. I truly believe we ALL need it, because having an outlet to speak and communicate openly is both healthy AND biblical.
Therapy was my first step toward healing. I always say my therapist reveals the wounds and Jesus heals them. Now that I've healed, I realize that pastors in alignment with Jesus can serve in this role just as much, if not more, than trained therapists and counselors. I heard Jesus nudge me toward this early in my healing and I listened. If you're feeling Him nudging in this direction, do it. Just make sure it's a therapist who knows how to hear the voice of God and strongly believes in the Holy Spirit.
2. The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
This was the very first book that taught me what underlying fears were and how they affected me. My therapist used it during crisis counseling and did a great job outlining what fears were holding me back and how I could overcome them. Just do yourself a favor and get it... it's such a great starting point for understanding who you are in Jesus.
3. Recognizing and facing my wounds of rejection.
After walking through therapy for over a year, I ran into a friend in the Lowe's mailbox aisle, of all places. All it took was a simple, "How are you?" and the tears began to pour out, uncontrollably. As we talked, she gently leaned in and said, "read 'God's Remedy for Rejection by Derek Prince'". So, I wiped my tears, grabbed my mailbox, and bee-lined it for the check out line. I've never been more thankful for this book or equally embarrassed at how much I word-vomited on her that day. Turns out, it was meant to be. She is now my pastor and I am so thankful God planted her in my life, even early on.
I don't mean the flowery, fluffy, feel-good kind. I mean the raw, heart-wrenching, vulnerable kind. The kind where you speak and you hear back. The kind that the Holy Spirit is invited into and reveals things that have hidden in the confines of your soul for decades. If we desire to be bold with others we have to first desire to be vulnerable in prayer. I can't recommend this book more for learning about the holy spirit and His power. Grab you a cozy nook and a cup of something warm and delish, cause this one will not let you put it down!
5. Confront our own demons
I believed the lie that demons couldn't influence someone who believed in Jesus. I went through a healing ministry that I now walk others through BECAUSE I WAS PROVED WRONG. I had a demonic faith, one that filled me with more emotion than actual change. I was the girl who was moved by the power of a Sunday message, but was left unchanged during my week. I had to search my own heart and choose to take ownership of the decision I made as a result of my wounds. Those decisions hid behind phrases like, "self- preservation". For me, I finally got to a point where surrendering only the seen sin in my life wasn't enough. I had to venture into the unseen to truly break free and become bold in my faith. I can't recommend Dr. Thompson's "Walls of my Heart" more.
6. Be in community with others who are in alignment with the Lord.
I shared my story for the first time EVER at a sticky, old farmhouse table at my pastor's wife's home. I went to her home thinking I'd share my story with those women, hoping to make an impact on THEM, but what happened was God met ME through THEM. I learned how to love and be loved through that small group. I learned how to be in community and TRUST in that home. I learned leaders are first and foremost lead and never fully arrive or finish learning. I learned how to be vulnerable with people and not get hurt. I learned how to let people in and set limits and boundaries with others. This community didn't come naturally. I had to fight for it, and I still do. When we seek Jesus first, He gives us the things we need to keep growing, and He will always give us the people we need to draw closer to Him. Find a church home that believes in Jesus as the savior, and they welcome the Holy Spirit. Pray and ask God to guide you to the church where you need to be planted and grow.
7. Get rid of the community that doesn't speak life into you anymore.
This one was hard. God didn't start to take old community away before He showed me new community to support and encourage me. I know this isn't the same for everyone, but I'm so thankful for it. Removing yourself from people who aren't healthy doesn't always mean they're completely removed from your life. Sometimes, it means placing limits and boundaries where there weren't any before. Sometimes it means asking forgiveness for things you didn't start. Most of the time, it means listening to the Lord and letting Him speak before you do. Where He guides will never leave you without peace and it most certainly never leaves a trail of regret or remorse. Hold your mentors close and your Bible closer through this, it's what got me through the roughest stages of my healing. There's a bigger picture at play that we can't see when we're trudging through the darkest times. Remember, God has a much bigger perspective than we do, and trusting Him is most important, even when we don't see reasoning in the present.
8. Break unhealthy tendencies and habits.
The problem with wounds that aren't healed, are they fester. Mine festered over twenty years. God was gentle, though. He didn't go for the root of the issue right away, thank goodness. I truly believe He peels us back like an onion because He knows if He exposes the core too fast, it would kill us. One of the first things I had to deal with was codependency. This nasty habit hid behind comforts in all the wrong places. Abusive boyfriends were a magnet for me, friendships that used me were all I was drawn to, but God showed me how to fix me before fixing them. He always finds a way to restore our hearts before He uses us to restore others. I've learned to let the Holy Spirit do the convicting and let God use me when I'm called. Truth isn't received unless love is behind it, and this book was the beginning of recognizing this, for me.
9. You can't fear the unknowns of your past... you must confront them.
Healing from sexual abuse was the hardest, most exhausting, yet single-handedly the most impactful thing that's ever happened in my life. Surrendering this over to the Lord led me from a life of pretending, to a life of fulfillment! I can honestly say that I'm thankful for the wound that drew me closer to Him. I can't recommend this book more for anyone who has gone through sexual trauma. I WOULD NOT recommend reading this first, I would recommend PRAYING and asking the Lord exactly when or if you should read it. The content is from a therapist who walks the reader through just how sexual abuse wounds an individual and if you're not in a place to even admit it happened, it's not time. Or, you may even be in a place where you're wondering if it even happened to you. This is often how victims start the process of healing. I blocked out the idea that I was "raped" for over twenty years. I never forgot, but my mind erased all the details, enabling me to move on by avoiding and forgetting. That only got me calloused, which is a cheap substitute the enemy uses for real healing. I had to drudge up all the details and the forgotten pieces to heal, and this book was apart of that process. I highly recommend therapy before this book, but I can't stress how integral a part it played in my own healing.
10. Share your story with those who God calls you to.
Boldness comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we choose to share before God calls us to people we aren't called to, it doesn't produce fruit. Not everyone is called to write a blog, a book, but everyone is called to lead in Christ. Discovering who you are in Him will be the birth of a calling and purpose you couldn't have dreamed or started without Him. If we desire to be bold, we have to let Jesus overcome our shame. When He leads, fruit will overflow from both your life and the lives of others. Draw close to His Word, pray for His guidance, and walk in His wisdom.
These ten things inspired me join twenty-five other women who created the "She Writes for Him: Stories of Resilient Faith" devotional. I believe there's so much power in gleaning from the bold women who have gone before us. I believe God created us to be both mentored and to mentor others, no matter our age, experience, background, or circumstance. It's my hope this devotional will serve as inspiration and hope for women all across the world.