On this week’s podcast “Letting Go of Pain” I share a testimony from my own experience of letting go. I had previously written about this particular story and it was published in an anthology book called God Allows U-Turns back in 2006. Since I’ve never published it here, rather than rewriting it slightly differently, I’m posting the original testimony written for the book. Since it was originally published in another format, it is a bit longer than most of my posts ….
Do You Want to Get Well?
The words leapt off the page of my Bible. I knew that was the question the Lord was asking me. Did I want to get well? Of course I did –didn’t I? Wasn’t it obvious? Wasn’t that what I had been asking Him for?
It was Sunday morning and it had already been an intense weekend. The Single Mom’s ministry I was involved with held a day retreat that Saturday. It was not an easy day. I must have slept in an awkward position the night before because I woke up with an intense pain in my shoulder and neck.
But the physical pain was only a small reflection of the much deeper pain in my heart.
Throughout the day, my friend Deb, who led the ministry, kept throwing concerned glances my way. Somehow I kept it together through most of the day, but finally I couldn’t hold back any longer. I stole away from the group and broke down in deep, gut wrenching sobs.
The torrent of emotion began earlier in the day. The retreat was held in a beautiful garden paradise. During the afternoon, we were instructed to find a little corner among the individually themed gardens to spend some time in quiet reflection with the Lord. Without realizing it, I walked straight to the Garden of Healing. It was lovely, but being there frightened me and I couldn’t move away fast enough. I headed purposefully over to the Garden of Childhood Memories—with its cheerful and playful motif, it seemed like just the place to spend the afternoon. But just as I sat down a swarm of bees decided to join me. Definitely not the kind of company I was expecting! I went next to the Garden of Reflection. I thought to myself, this must be it! It was both beautiful and tranquil—at least it was until half the women at the center noisily decided to pick the same spot!
I was beginning to get restless—wandering in circles. No matter how many times I tried to avoid it, I kept finding myself, all alone, right back in the middle of the Garden of Healing. Finally, with a shrug of my shoulders and a loud sigh, I sat down. “I give up, Lord—if You want me to stay here, I will.”
Tears began rolling down my cheeks as soon as I sat. I knew the Lord wanted to touch a deep area of my heart and I was terrified. I cried out to Him, “It’s too hard! I don’t want to remember! Please just leave me alone!” I was absolutely paralyzed by fear. I knew that staying in that garden meant facing a depth of pain I wasn’t sure I could bear. Finally, the still, small voice of my Savior quieted my soul.
Beloved, I didn’t bring you here to destroy you—I brought you here to heal you. Will you trust Me?
It took every ounce of my strength to be still. I wanted get up and run and never look back. But I had come to love and depend on the One who spoke those words. I was learning to trust Him. So I stayed.
I had been afraid for as long as I could remember. I lost my father when I was just nine and soon after lost my innocence at the hands of a couple of very sick and abusive men. For years, I survived—rather than lived—with a huge fortress around my heart. The pain and fear was so much a part of me that it had become my identity. It was who I was.
Until I met Jesus. I had completely given my life over to the Lord a few years before the retreat. His piercing gaze of love melted my defenses and began to heal my broken heart. Never had I experienced such pure love and such complete acceptance! As I grew closer to Him, I knew I wanted to be whole. I wanted to be all He created me to be. But was it too late? Had too much already been lost?
As the Lord began to gently peel away the layers of pain surrounding my wounded heart, the memories became more intense. My resistance grew stronger. My fears began to increase. What else was lurking in the basement of my heart? What would it cost to face the secrets I had long ago locked in the depths of my soul?
After the other women left the retreat center, Deb found me. She just held me and let me cry. “The Lord is doing a deep work in you—He’ll carry it out to completion.” I desperately wanted to believe those words, but I still wasn’t convinced.
That night I took a walk. I was still one big churned-up mess of emotions, but somehow, in a rare moment of courage, I drew a line in the sand. I made a decision—and a vow. “No matter what it costs, mo matter how long it takes, no matter what I have to face—I want to be healed! I want to be whole. And Lord, if You promise to help me, I promise not to run away from You –ever!” I didn’t know what that promise would cost, but for the first time in quite awhile I went home believing there might be hope for me after all. Maybe it wasn’t too late.
The next morning as I got ready for church, my heart felt lighter. I had a sense of anticipation—I just knew God was working. I will forever remember the title of my Pastor’s sermon that day: God Can Free You Up. His text was John, chapter five—the paralytic at the Pools of Bethesda.
“Do you want to get well?” When I read those words I was startled. They were so direct. They seemed almost unkind. But I was even more startled by what I read next. My eyes drifted down the page to verse 9, “At once the man was cured.” At once! Immediately! Not after enduring years and years of painful reflection—at once!
My heart soared. Suddenly I understood the Lord’s words to me the previous day. What’s more, I knew I had already made my choice. “Yes, Lord! I want to get well. This day, this moment, I believe You have made me whole!”
My “destination” had been changed the day I recognized Jesus as my much needed Savior. But in that one critical moment—my destiny was changed. In that moment, I knew I would never again let the past define my future. I knew—whatever the cost—I would fulfill God’s purpose for my life. I would be all that God had created me to be.
No, it hasn’t been easy. Many years have come and gone since that retreat. Although the healing came in a moment—with a single touch—living it out will take a lifetime. But I made a deal with the Lord that weekend—if He promised to help me, I promised not to run away. He’s kept His end of the bargain—and then some.
I plan to keep mine.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” –2 Corinthians. 5:17
“Do you want to get well?”
Here is the podcast link for this week’s devotional: Monday Morning Musings – Letting Go of Pain
And the SoundCloud Link: