“Stories of Hope” features posts from friends, some of whom are sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and their experience with Hope. If you have ever doubted God’s love for you, I invite you to join my friend Sarah as she shares her experience of hope on the blog today.
My Before Picture
Most people who know me now, see me as the girl who sings on the worship team at church, but that is a very different picture than what you would have seen five years ago. Back then, you would have found me sitting quietly in a pew, head down, eyes hidden, and trembling. I barely spoke to anyone. I felt terrified inside.
I started attending my current church about the same time that I felt I was falling apart. I genuinely loved God, was active in church and in ministry, but all sorts of horrors I thought were neatly buried began to surface, and I wasn’t ok anymore.
I grew up in church and was there every time the doors were open. I even attended a Christian school. I went to Bible College. I could quote hundreds of verses, and probably even win at Bible trivia, but amidst that church upbringing, was a childhood filled with all kinds of harm, abuse, and trauma.
The places and people that should have been the safest were the very places and people that caused the greatest harm, including church and church leaders.
The things that were done to me and the lies I was taught about God and how He must have felt about me left me ashamed and terrified. The Bible, church, and so many things were intertwined with abuse and trauma such that simply being in a church building was enough to trigger flashbacks and other traumatic responses.
There was a time that I could barely make it through a sermon. It is hard to encapsulate it all in a few words, but as all those memories were flooding back, being in church was very difficult.
Out of the Mud
By God’s providence, through a series of events, I ended up at my current church. One Sunday morning, in the middle of all the flashbacks, confusion, and pain, Jesus whispered to my heart the beginnings of healing.
Many Sundays as I sat in the pew terrified and hurting, Jesus came and met me. Piece by piece, He began to heal my shattered heart. He would bring truth to replace the lies.
He brought dear sweet women who loved me, prayed with me, and patiently walked beside me through some very difficult things. In a small group, I learned it was safe to speak. I began to find my footing and a place to belong. The people at church became my family.
God began to give me safe experiences, different from what I had experienced in the past. He began to reveal Himself and His heart to me in ways that were so different from what I had been taught.
He is good, and His heart towards me is kind. He looks at me through eyes of love. I began to hear that I am the apple of His eye; I am His delight. Instead of cast-off, unwanted, bad, I began to hear that I am wanted, and I am safely loved in Him.
A New Song of Praise
Things began to shift inside me. Over time, the church became less terrifying. I began to experience life in a way I didn’t know before. I began to experience God in ways I didn’t know were possible. God did so many things. Too much to write it all.
It is still very much a process, some things take a long time to heal, but Jesus is at work. He is good, and He is faithful.
In the amazing way that He restores, now not only can I lift my eyes while we sing, but I have the privilege of being part of the music team and helping to lead worship. One of my favorite songs says, “You rescued me, so I will stand and sing-I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”
What experiences cloud your view of God and how he sees you?
If you struggle to believe God’s love for you because of trauma, you are not alone. Jesus desires to lift you out of the mud, restore you, and give you a new song. Invite Jesus, ask Him to comfort and heal your aching heart.
Bio: Sarah is a child of God learning to live in The Father’s love. She loves Jesus, teaching her 2nd graders, helping to lead worship, and teaching kids at church. She also loves spending time with friends and loving on their babies, reading a good book, painting, watching the sunset on the beach, and many other things all of which she believes are even better with a cup of coffee.