About 12 years ago I started a very long, but very fruitful journey. At the time I thought I was just experiencing a bit of growth in my Christian walk. You know, one of those, “Oh, so I need to do this in order to be free from that” kind of moments. It was really cool how God set it all up so that I could experience a new level of freedom in Him.
Fast forward to about 6 years ago. Shannon and I started attending New Day Community Church in Summerville, SC. Again, I didn’t realize at that moment, but God was setting us up for some major healing in our lives. I think if I had known what we were about to embark on, I would have said, “No thank you!” But little by little (He’s sneaky like that!) I found myself asking how I could obtain this next level of freedom that I saw so many people walking out.
So I began a new journey – still long, still fruitful.
But so good.
I quickly learned that for years I had been putting band-aids on my heart – trying to patch up or give a temporary fix to the things that would surface (negative attitudes, resentment, feeling rejected, feeling hurt or offended). But now I had a choice. I could either keep doing things the same way I had been doing them for years, getting the same results or I could dive in, start meeting with someone to talk and pray through the real root issues of my heart and finally experience healing.
It was a no-brainer, of course. But the choice to actually DO IT was hard. I was afraid of the unknown. I was afraid of losing myself. I was afraid of who I may become. What if I didn’t like her? What if she was a push over? What if her personality changed completely?
Obviously I dove in. 😉 And you know what?!
I didn’t lose me in process. I actually found me.
I’ve walked away from that initial phase of healing with this great nugget of truth: if I work on me – if I work on the things that I know to be warped, wrong or misleading – then I not only have a greater capacity to love others, but I also start viewing the world with a clearer lens.
I don’t want to hurt people. But when I’m hurting, when I have wounds from my past that cause me to act, think or behave in a negative way, then I have the propensity to hurt the people I’m trying to help, even though I may not really intend to do so.
Proverbs 4:23 (The Message)
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
And while I don’t believe you have to be perfectly healed up to help others (Lord, I hope not, considering I’m still on the healing journey myself!), I do believe that in order to minister to someone who is experiencing the same issues that you are, you need to be further along in the healing process.
Otherwise, you’ll both just sit around sharing your woes and forming an unhealthy relationship based on like hurts.
But once Jesus begins to heal your heart, you will find yourself able to help others along with their healing – because you’ve “been there, done that.” It’s always refreshing to spend time with someone who has received victory in an area you’re still struggling in. Why? Because they get you. They understand. They have insight on ways to work through the issue and receive healing from the Father. They offer hope to you in a tangible form – you see the freedom in their life. That makes you want that freedom and gives you the strength to push through the tough parts.
It’s so good.
I’m excited to start walking with others here as we settle in to building this church. I want to see people dive in and get healed up so that they can walk in greater freedom and victory and step even further into the destiny God has planned for them! It’s my heart. It’s what moves me with compassion – to see people allow the Father to reach into the very hardest, darkest places in their wounded hearts and gently, lovingly heal them.
AHHHHHHH! It makes me giddy with excitement!
You may be asking, “What does that look like, Mary? How do you walk this out with me?” It looks like meeting up (Side Note: Obviously if you are male, you’d be meeting up with Shannon. But I digress…), talking, praying together, working through things that seem to weigh you down, cause you to look at life through a clouded lens, or even behave in way that you know isn’t right, then giving you new tools to set up new thought patterns, new behaviors, new ways of doing life.
Proverbs 13:20 (The Message)
Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.
Because here’s the deal: God never intended for us to walk this journey alone. He never intended for us to withdraw and try to figure it out on our own. He created us for relationship – first with Him and then with others. And we need that.
We need people in our lives who will celebrate us when we are walking out our healing. We need people who will call out the good in us, even when it feels like all of the bad is at the surface. We need people who will love us the way the Father loves us, encouraging us to stay the course and press into what God is doing in that moment.
Proverbs 27:5-6 (ESV)
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
You know what’s so exciting? Being able to look back over my life and see how God miraculously set me up so that I could choose. I could choose whether or not to finally come to the end of my self and allow Him to touch my heart and start the process of healing it, of healing me. Did He do it all in one miraculous touch? No. Not for me. Instead He placed me in a community of people who came alongside me, who encouraged me, who lovingly spoke truth into my life, who prayed with me, cried with me and yes! celebrated with me as I dove in to healing my heart.
Proverbs 27:17 (The Message)
You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
So, are you ready?! Are you ready to dive in and let Jesus guide you along this path to healing? I am! Wanna join me?!