My first book, a partial biography entitled The Girl in the Backseat: My Walk with God through Domestic Violence, recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its release.
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the readers, reviewers, and bookstores that have given The Girl a warm welcome. Thank you to all for your kind words and encouragement. Thank you to Clay Bridges Publishing for giving this first-time author a chance.
For a couple of months now, I have felt the Spirit leading me to continue sharing some of my experiences. Top of the list all along has been the amazing discovery of self and who I am, who we all are, in the eyes of the Lord – what humanity is all about. But such deep introspection brought me anxiety in the months leading up to the release of the book.
The Girl gave me the platform to express the hurt I had carried for so long and to really dig into the process of healing. What I wanted next was to learn to verbally communicate without my emotions taking over. I was tired of trying to talk through sobs. I had an ardent desire to continue growing spiritually because I realized that with it comes growth emotionally. I felt it, wanted it, and needed it because after the high of writing, I was emotionally drained and felt lost as to any next steps. Isolating myself with my favorite comfort foods sounded great but there wasn’t any forward momentum in that, and my mind kept nudging me to “keep going,” so I opted for another study.
“Life’s Healing Choices” was mentioned to me, and upon hearing about it the Holy Spirit gave me a hard gut flutter. After asking the Lord for guidance, it was the exact study I was led to choose. It’s wonderfully strange how the Triune tag team directs us.
When I received the Study Guide, a question on the back cover jumped out at me, “Where do we go from here?” I hoped to find some direction and prayed that it wouldn’t go south. Then I opened the guide to the first session and the subtitle “How We Play God” hit me and I knew the direction would go deep. That shook me a bit because I still wasn’t comfortable in group settings. Anything outside of a one-on-one discussion made me a bundle of nerves and tears. When I walked into the first class, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that there were just five of us. We dove in and swam strong for eight weeks as we broke down some of our individual life issues using guidance from the Beatitudes.
About three-quarters of the way through the study, the teaching was on repairing relationships and it became clear that my fear of people was messing with other areas of growth. There came a point when I knew I was going to have to dig deeper, but the study was almost done so I voiced my need to continue with the process. Our group leader informed us that with “Life’s Healing Choices” we had only been in the “hospital’s waiting room,” and that if we wanted the “ER or surgery” we should take part in a step-study through Celebrate Recovery®… and one just happened to be scheduled to begin.
That’s the point when I understood that I was in recovery. I craved further freedom in different areas and continued healing, but my whole being groaned at the thought of it. I was so sick of myself, and it was further stranger danger. Sharing about my pain through writing felt much safer. Getting involved with more people made me want to crawl into a hole. But, regardless of my feelings…
About a month before the book’s release, on a Wednesday night, I walked into the lower classroom area of one of our church campuses, and as I rounded a corner there were about twenty-four very solemn looking women sitting in a large circle. The urge to run back out hit me hard but I didn’t want to look like an idiot – and knew I was supposed to be there.
Just prior to the first meeting I had received the Participant’s Guides which consist of four separate booklets. At the meeting I received a folder with general program materials inside. As I thumbed through everything I thought, “This is going to be brutal,” and wondered if I was up to the task. Then I flipped to a piece of paper entitled “I am,” and it contained a list of scripture verses reminding me of who I am, who we are all, in Jesus – the first one being “A child of God” (Romans 8:16) and I knew that “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Meetings were weekly and, on average, it took us about two-and-a-half months to work through and discuss each of the four guides with the lessons therein. As we got rolling, I kept hearing about something dreaded called an “inventory.” I say dreaded because when the word “inventory” was mentioned, many people would lower their eyes and sigh. Once we got to that step, I fully understood the angst. Not to mention that by the time inventory rolled around our group had, for one reason or another, diminished by half. But I had committed to the program, and it sucked me in.
There are two parts to inventory, the negative and the positive. The negative brought me down and was rough to get through; that lost feeling started creeping in again – but I stayed armored with God’s Word. The positive side of inventory was a sweet release from the negative. I was able to understand another perspective of really letting go of the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that I wanted released from. Along with that came insight to the saying that “hurting people hurt others.” I also learned some valuable tools for keeping on track for a better way going forward. All of that and more is what Celebrate Recovery® is all about. You can check it out here Celebrate Recovery Homepage.
During the inventory step, we each selected a sponsor. Sponsors have completed a step-study and opt to become a sponsor to pay forward to others what they have learned; and our sponsor walks with us through the rest of the study. Unfortunately, I missed the introductory classes for sponsors due to knee replacement surgery. That experience added another level of challenge, but God used it to strengthen my resolve to grow.
Eventually, I found a sponsor, and she helped me to recognize and to soften some of my rough edges. By working with my sponsor and my “step-sisters” as we all shared our hurts, habits, and hang-ups, I was able to make headway through many of my own issues.
Coming out of it on the other side, our class completed the study at the ten-month mark. As the end approached, we learned that we would soon be asked to give our mini testimonies at an upcoming Celebrate Recovery® meeting. That news shook most of us a bit, some more than others. Public speaking makes me want to vomit – but I knew I had to do it. Plus, the ladies had become my sisterhood. We are a tribe, and even though we had our individual parts to do, we banded together and each of us did what needed to be done – all for the glory of God.
The past year has taught me to lean even further into the Lord, in everything, even people – and it’s still a process! Old habits are hard to break, but they can be broken. By continuing through God’s program, and by joining in with a group of Christian women, I was able to step out of my comfort zone in a safe place where I could really talk about past junk and verbalize my fear and anger. About seven weeks ago, each one of us gave live testimony to a group of about eighty people. For me, it was scary exciting – a personal accomplishment of speaking clearly without my emotions getting in the way.
Has the Lord been working in you on anything that could potentially be scary exciting? Would you please share with me by sending me a comment or via email at [email protected]? Please check back periodically. I will post each Friday to share about God.
The Lord is amazing! Jesus can bring you up out of your pit. He will shine His Light for you to crawl right on out for healing and restoration like only He can give.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
1 Peter 5:10