My home was a nightmare. I felt dead inside, fearful of each new day.
I was having one of those days when nothing seemed to be going as planned. I wanted to crawl back in bed so I could rise again to some other, new beginning. Just as I was having one of those mornings, for no apparent reason, a friend brought me a beautiful bouquet of roses, stargazers, and carnations.
I inhaled their sweet fragrance and cut the stems at an angle so they’d absorb the water and nutrient packet I poured into the vase. And day by day, they opened a bit more of their beauty for me. They were vibrant, alive and yet … slowly they began to droop. Their petals fell off, one by one.
My bouquet of flowers had the appearance of life, but in reality they were performing a short term duty of smelling nice and making me smile. Deception! The reality was that they had already been disconnected from their life source, the vine. So while they appeared alive, they were really “the living dead.”
That’s pretty much how felt the day my friend brought flowers over to me. Dead on the inside.
I grew up in a family that appeared to everyone in our neighborhood as “normal,” …whatever that is. But no one knew the abuse, the anger, the fear we lived with inside the walls of our home. We stood upright, placating smiles at school, church, work, sports, scouts, and choir. That was not the true hatred I hid inside my heart. No one knew the depths of despair I felt behind my front door.
I was dying to know where to find real life with roots to sustain me apart from people who hurt me. I can relate to the Cleveland women. I was dying, and I didn’t know where to turn.
“Where do you go when everyone around you sees you as vibrant and alive but deep inside you are experiencing pain so heavy it feels like you’re just waiting to be buried?”
A relaxing cup of wine? ~ maybe a hit on a joint? ~ a verbal beating to hurt someone else to lessen your own pain?
I chose to escape my pain and depression by reading books. I would leave grief and travel to Paris for a week and then turn a few more pages and fly to some make believe mansion where my storybook life was perfect and light. The stories dulled my ache temporarily, until one day I picked up a special book, a book that had 66 smaller books within its covers—the Bible. As I read through these stories about the Apostle John and Paul’s lives, I became fascinated by their journeys through the cities of Ephesus and Colossae. These were not make believe. I knew they were True. They were about Jesus.
As I read about Him, I found more than relief; I found my own meaning in life. I learned that the reason I felt like the “living dead” was because I was. I truly was dead in my sins. Paul says that “we are all sinners” (Romans 3:23). The entire world was lost and hopeless until God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins on the cross. God loved(s) us so much that He would sacrifice His one and only Son for me and for you so that we could be saved.
In spite of the fact that that I was dead in my sins (disobedient to God) and following satan’s fake, victimizing plan for my life, I was intrigued how the Bible showed me a God who wanted to make me new, alive, and stronger. When He raised Christ from the dead, I was given an opportunity to take on His new life, too. I wanted this new life. I needed this new life, so I accepted the free gift to be rescued. (Ephesians 2:1-6)
Do you ever feel like you’re wilting away… like you’re performing, hiding, or just dying on the inside?
God brings the dead to life. He strengthens wilted women who know nothing but wounds on the inside. You can also have this new life. Just ask for it; accept the gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ! God says He loves those that love Him and that if we seek Him, we will find Him (Proverbs 8:17). I looked. I found that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He rescued me from hiding, shame, and sin. He rescued me from being a victim for the rest of my life.
He reaches out His Hand to you, too. The Bible says that no one can get to God the Father, without Jesus (John 14:6). God alone can show you the true woman you were created to be. So, give up the fake smiles, speak up to a friend, and cry out to Jesus for help and healing. I did. He saved me, and He can save you. “For by grace we have been saved through faith; and we have nothing to do with it. It is a precious gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
God began to lift the rage and hate that brought me down. Little by little, I would peek from behind my masks to see and fathom that nothing could separate me from God’s love and protection. I was free from all condemnation. All that was left was forgiving those who hurt me. Forgiving was the hard part, but it was also the best part. It freed me to live lighter.
Now ladies forgiveness does not mean tolerating abuse.
It does mean giving all circumstances over to God, not allowing hate to control my thoughts and my actions or reactions. It includes setting boundaries and asking God to teach me how to love others unconditionally the way He loves me. It’s like this: God forgives me for all of my imperfections, and He tells me to forgive those that have wounded me.
I had a choice and determined not to let abuse define me, drag me down, or shrivel my life away.
I chose to allow Christ to define me. I still choose to let Him redefine me daily, not my scars. I am a new creation in Him, redeemed by His blood, a daughter of the Most High King. My chains were broken, and I am no longer a wilted woman.
If you have ever been a victim of abuse—whether it be a raging mother, a violent father, or an inappropriate caregiver—Jesus can give you the power to find new life apart from your wounds, the courage to speak out if need be, and the power to release you and your abuser from the dead life of hiding and hatred. I’ve heard it said that “forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and then discovering that the prisoner was me.”
I invite you today, my sisters, to begin your search. Do you want a new life? If so, just tell God. Refuse to embrace your existence as “the living dead.” Choose real life through God’s Son, Jesus, instead!
- If you would like me to join with you in prayer or rejoice with you as you take new steps toward freedom, please post your comments or contact info below.
- If you know of a verse to encourage a sister in the struggle, please share anything you believe would help.
If God puts a friend or a neighbor on your heart, pray about delivering “a flower” or something special to them soon! You never know who might be hurting behind the door next to you!
www.shabbychicministries.org. Used by permission.