Where is Your Safe Place {Voice Study, Wk. 2}

open hearted

Where is your safe place?

Where {or to whom} do you turn when you are hurting?

That’s what we’re talking about this week on our online study, When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Overcoming Life’s Hurts & Using Your Story to Make a Difference.  We’re slowly bringing our pain into focus through the lens of community, learning how there is nothing that replaces the open-hearted power of a live, intimate conversation with a trusted friend.

Our central focus:  Through honest vulnerability with trusted friends {or counselors}, we uncover a deep emotional connection that stirs genuine healing.

It’s a healthy connection we want, one of prayer, faith, hope, and spiritually discerned grace. A relationship where we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder, heart-to-heart, while we learn to overcome life’s hurts. Anything outside of this is a diseased imitation to be avoided.

Some supporting scriptures to consider:

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it {Romans 12:10, MSG}. And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds {1 Pet 3:8, TLB}. You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand {Gal 6:2, CEV}.

Of course, I’m waiting to hear your reactions from the reading material again this week. I’m wondering, is it hard for you to open up to others?  Did something in particular stand out for you as we talked about healing within the context of community? Did something specific strike you as significant? Something that challenged your assumptions? Changed you in any way? Did you feel you needed more information/support in a particular area? Please join us in conversation below about this week’s reading.


By the way, we have some exciting news to share this week: Lisa Luke Easterling is joining our Online Book Study as the Group Facilitator, our key contact person. Some of us have fallen confused about where to go and what exactly we do when we get there, so Lisa has come on board to help out. And as always, Sarah Knepper remains in leadership with us as the Lead Encourager, loving you through the journey. Be sure to connect with these beautiful ladies if you have any questions.

ACTION STEP: Next week, we will read Chapter Three: Quit the Quiet as we discuss the importance of breaking the silence.

DEEPER STILL: Last week, I challenged you to find an accountability partner to walk through this study with you. Did you connect with a “book-study-buddy”? If not, I would encourage you again to reach out until you connect with someone and commit to praying each other through this journey. If you have connected with a buddy, please give us a shout-out below to let us know who you are pairing with. If you haven’t and you’re seeking, let us know as well.

For this week, our challenge is to prepare our hearts. To make ourselves ready to deal with some heart-issues. This making ready is a matter of posture; we can’t do this out of sheer willpower. What are some ways we can mentally and spiritually position ourselves for this healing the Lord wants to do in our hearts? Please comment below.


cant believe in ourselves

{Side note: We’re still working on getting that forum set up. We had some tech issues last week, but think we may have found a simple plug-in that will work. Until then, please continue to communicate in our comments section below this week’s post. Thank you for your grace!}

Editorial Note: This is Lisa, waving hello from sunny Florida. Just a note on the Study Buddies: Let’s do a match-up follow-the-leader style. If you post a comment saying you need a Study Buddy, the next person who comments that she needs one will be yours. Then another lady will comment that she needs one and the gal who follows her needing one will be hers, and so on. Once you are paired up, please post a comment acknowledging the match so we can keep up with who still needs a Buddy. A little bit of organization but with just enough randomness about it to allow the Holy Spirit room to create some amazing match-ups and build connection we may not have expected. I will come along and try to do some matching of ladies who have already commented needing a buddy, and then I will leave it to the two of you to connect behind the scenes and work together. If you have any questions or need to contact me for help, I’m happy to assist. Sound good? I’m delighted to be walking alongside you beautiful ladies for this journey of discovery, healing, and sharing forward.

217 thoughts on “Where is Your Safe Place {Voice Study, Wk. 2}

  1. This chapter on community comes at a really important time for me. It is often hard for me to open up to others since I am so strongly introverted. Also I had really isolated myself in those 23 years of toxic marriage. When I was going through the divorce I reached out and worked hard to build a supportive community by going to divorce care group, a new church, marriage/family counseling, women in transition classes and just allowing long term surface friendships to deepen. God really blessed my effort and put so many wonderful godly people in my life and blessed my friendships with others immensely. One of those friendships over time unexpectedly became much more. I married the best friend I’ve ever known. We moved from North Idaho to Missouri this summer and I’m struggling to push myself to build community here even though I know how important it is. I do keep in contact with many of the deep friendships I made in Idaho through phone mostly. We have started attending church locally. Reading this chapter has caused me to reflect more on a particular lady I’ve been drawn to. She really seems open and I should follow up more on her invitation to get to know each other. I tend to tell myself I’m too busy, but I think it’s part of the fear of rejection or even of being betrayed again. Even though Christian friends and church have been a tremendous source of support and comfort in dark times, I have experienced and known of so much wounding that can also take place in the name of Christianity and in the church community. It is worth the risk I know. I’m mustering the courage to attempt to reach out in wisdom to some of the opportunities I see coming my way. I really don’t want to miss the blessing of deep godly friendships. I still don’t have a study buddy. I fear I will be a lousy one, not very good at keeping others accountable but I can definitely pray and share what God is doing and would love to connect further.

    • Oh Donna, such a powerful encouragement of one who is willing to keep listening and looking for God in the midst of the fears and isolation.Thank you for sharing. I’m joining you in prayer for community in your new place.

      And what a beautiful story of redemption with your marriage now; I love how God works!

      • Thank you! I am so thankful for my husband! That is another story in and of itself, just one amazing thing after another in our relationship.

    • Donna, my family moved this May to a new state and I was optimistic that God would answer my continual prayers for new friendship. I cannot even begin to explain how much he has blessed me with in terms of Godly women coming into my life these past six months. I was scared there would be no room for me in the lives of women here but I was so very wrong. Christian women lovingly and willingly opened their homes and hearts up to me and my family. I will be praying for your new home and that God will give you the confidence to connect in real life with those around you. I’ve met some pretty incredible women!!

    • Dear Donna,
      I also have been in a toxic marriage & find it hard to connect deeply as I am a introvert. It is so meaningful to hear someone share things I can relate to. Bless You!

      • Lots of prayer about who, when, what and how much. Sometimes I just have to do it and put the outcome in God’s hands when I feel it something I need to share but I’m afraid.

    • Your post resonates with me, Donna. It can be really hard to put yourself out there again, but to do anything less is to be untrue to the part of you that longs for connection with others in friendship. It appears you are open to building new friendships as God leads, and I think that is a great place to start where you are right now. I’m so glad you are here with us.

  2. I really crave friendships, but as a Pastor I find it is difficult. I have three awesome friends I see rarely. However my husband and I have some new great friends we cherish. They have blessed us in more ways than one, but I have not really connected on a deeper level as these relationships are being built. I have a counselor, and after seven years of therapy I’m ready to stop. But I know God has more healing in store. She and my wonderful husband are my safe place outside of my relationship with God. I have also found great encouragement and support from the When a Woman Finds Her Voice launch group. I do not have a study buddy but would love to.

    • Oh friend, the burdens of ministry. It should not be this way, but it often is. I pray a freshness in your relationships, a deeper connection, and for you to be mindful of new relationships God might have in the wings. Thank you for sharing your heart so tender. <3

    • I can only imagine the struggle with being in a pastoral position and finding people who are not intimidated by your calling. In a world where social media dominates its difficult to make those heart connections in person. I have friends scattered across the US that I love dearly. Praying some more doors open up and you continue to heal.

    • I love that you are looking forward with thoughts already going in a positive direction. I know God will honor that as you walk this journey, my friend. I believe with you that God has much more healing in store for you.

  3. This chapter really hit home with me. Since I lost my best friend, I have been terrified of having deep relationships with other women. It is something that I have been desperately trying to get past for a long time, but I still struggle. I guess I’m just so afraid of tragedy striking again and falling back into the depths of my depression. Something I need to work on for sure.

    • When we face severe trauma that includes loss our first reaction is to be defensive and protective of ourselves. This is normal for a season and then we try to move on. I am still paralyzed some days by fear that “the other show will drop” once again. In those moments I try to speak truth out loud and tell myself that God has it under control. I call out to Him and he calms me. Have you found a partner yet to walk through the book?

      • Definitely relate Sarah…after cancer, deaths in family I don’t want to live in fear or have the what if’s but the thoughts come. I have to release them continually to God. Overall the hardest but simplest remedy is to trust God. We know He is loving, sovereign and for us and always with us but sometimes there is this feeling of abandonment or why me? in this world.

    • I understand tragedy Kaelynn & how we can isolate ourselves because of the effect it has on us. I am praying that healing will touch your heart & soul so you can trust & be strong enough to risk a new friendship. In your name Lord we ask grace & mercy. Amen.

    • Thank you for sharing this hurt, Kaelynn. I am joining those prayers for you to connect heart-deep, for God’s healing balm to permeate every itty bitty corner of those lingering hurts from the loss of your best friend.

      Healing hugs, friend.

    • Great Kaelynn Judd,
      I tried to find you on FB but I am challenged sometimes, forgive me. If you send me a friend request I will accept & we can send a private message & or email addresses. I am looking forward to a buddy!

  4. Deanna Wiseburn and I will be working together soon. I am behind, so hopefully she will help keep me focused on my second time around reading and study. Look for my post soon. Mary Young Robinson

    • Yay! I am so glad you found someone to partner with, that’s great! And just keep moving forward, you will be fine.

  5. Dear Jo Ann & fellow Sisters in Christ,

    It is like taking a step toward eternity to be able to find a place I may come to go deeper & truly connect about the work the Holy Spirit is able to do wherever two or more are able to gathered I know I have been searching a very long time to find my way here. As I was meditating this morning I asked the Spirit of our Lord to direct me so I could earnestly seek & do His will. I kept reading about being vulnerable. Realizing this is not one of my strengths. So I know trusting myself to share what makes me vulnerable is important.
    Some years ago I was working on a retreat team. As we were drawing closer to our retreat time we started to do various activities such as promote our retreat after Mass @ our parish & during each meeting after we would each pick a name we would be responsible to pray for that week.
    Well one day after Mass I was helping a young mother as she was signing herself & her mother-in-law up to attend. I was eager to either fill out her forms or help with her small child as she did, but she would only allow me to hold the form steady as she signed up. Only a few hours later that evening her husband was shot @ the end of his work day as a police officer, his last day on earth I helped his soon to be widow sign up for a retreat. At the meeting I wanted to draw her name, but the Spirit of our Lord had me draw the name of the officers mother instead. Forty years ago this Christmas Eve my mother’s youngest sister & her entire family were burned in a fire they all went to heaven that night.
    I realize now how long I have needed healing in those deep places for myself & my mother as we were not signed up for a retreat & many are the places in our hearts that need to be healed. I am looking forward to this journey of healing! Forgive me I could not make this shorter.


    Marie Bride

    • Dear Marie,

      Thank you for trusting us here to share our pain. What deep sad places you hold onto. Those wounds can only be healed when you speak of them and gift them with breath and light. I do not understand tragic events such as these and won’t ever because I am not the Creator. But I can tell you with confidence that here you will find other women who are digging deep and identifying the places that have caused retreat. You are in the right place! May I suggest Kaelynn Judd as a partner? She commented below how she needs one as well.

      • Sarah, I liked what you said about gifting them with breath & light. I used to think as long as I don’t say it out loud…if I don’t give voice to it, it can’t hurt me. The truth is by not giving voice to it…I gave it power over me. It owned me for too long. Once I gave it voice & said it out loud & allowed God’s truth & light to shine on it, it’s power diminished. thanks for sharing. Crystal

      • Dear Sarah,
        I love that speak of them & gift them with breath & light. Thank You for daring to answer with depth & confidence! Prayer, Blessings & Love

    • Marie,

      There is no need to shorten the healing words that percolate in your soul. Releasing pent up emotions is crucial for this journey. We’re honored you shared, my friend.

      I’m so sorry for the pain, the loss. A friend of mine and I were talking earlier today, discussing how very critical it is to honor the losses, to take the necessary time to grieve. And I believe that stands whether the loss is as recent as today or many years ago. I pray that God provides the place and time and resources that allows you to honor that grief.

      Thank you for being on this journey.

      • Dear Jo Ann,
        Hearing/reading the words to release & have a safe place to speak in itself is healing. I kept asking so many questions & God in His divine wisdom allowed me the grace of His knowledge to spend two days on retreat with that mother who lost her son. In doing so we laughed & cried as the spirit lead us. The amazing part is now I realize how much I was healed as well.

        Thank You for your prayers & understanding as we journey along!

    • Marie, The others lady’s spoke so well, it’s hard to know what to say to offer comfort, but I wanted to acknowledge you and what you’ve been through. I love that this is a “safe” place. {{{{HUGS}}}} to you!

      • Dear Stacy,
        Just the fact that you reach out in our safe place with a Fabulous loving desire to give HUGS lightens my heart & gives me the grace to Hope Blessings Dear Stacy!

    • What a painfully beautiful story you have there, dear Marie. I am praying you find your very own retreat right here among these lovely ladies all finding our voices together. Such connection brings the Web down to a much more intimate size and allows us to better get to know one another and share these moments of our life and growth. I am blessed that you are here.

  6. I long for deep relationships but am fearful of them for the typical reasons. I have developed arms-length relationships into an art, I fear I am socially awkward now if I attempted to build a deeper relationship. The internet keeps the level of intimacy where I am comfortable. I find it nearly effortless to serve others and be there for them, however, I struggle allowing others to do the same for me. I still have I can do it myself mindset when it comes to people. I am growing in trusting God. I’m still leary of humans.

    • “I’m still leery of humans..” I love your honesty Stacy. It’s very hard to move from a place of hurt and distrust to a healthy functioning relationship with live people. I agree that the internet can be less intimidating in terms of intimacy. But my friend, I am praying God will show you that you deserve real friendship and for you to allow others to help you. Community is never perfect but with God the reality of our world can be lived in deeper way. Blessings to you!

    • I’m leery of humans too Stacy! I love and cherish my internet friends, we are there for each other in important ways. I’ve never had a lot of friends and have found the safest thing *not the healthiest though* is to be a good friend but not expect it to reciprocate. Hugs for you.

    • I am praying for God to highlight the people to each of you that will hold your hearts tenderly! God wants to do that for you!

    • Oh friend, the siren call of many others. What we want, what we were made for, we often keep at arm’s length. Praying as we grow through this that God will bring those deeper relationships that He, too, longs for us to be connected with front and center Stacy, and that you would be willing to connect as He leads.

      Love that whole string of conversation for you spoke what many cannot.

      • Alone in a full room. At church I try to act unbothered when my husband and children go talk to their friends and I join a group of women already having a conversation, it makes me feel so uncomfortable – like I am intruding. I try to jump in where I can without looking obviously desperate or attracting attention to myself. I reason that’s better than sitting by myself & being talked about like I’m aloof and weird. I also find that I don’t know women walking in a similar season, which adds to the aloneness. When I’m with women who are walking in a similar season, or one I’ve been through I feel an instant connection.

        • So glad I’m not alone in feeling like this. I always felt so wierd and strange. out of place. But I so long for community, for that deep connection. I think many women may feel this way, but as others have said I think it boils down to FEAR and REJECTION! Fear has been my constant companion, fear, fear, fear of everything! I know this is going to be a bumpy road, but I also believe it will have a glorious curve! Kinda like when your driving through that dark tunnel, and just before you emerge you see that light… Well, I’ve been stuck in that tunnel and I am more than ready to put my foot on the pedal to reach that light! Your NOT alone, I promise you that! I sure wish there were women in my neck of the woods to gather personally with.. in physical being form, ya know? To learn how to be with other women, how to converse, how to be a part of something.. I have no idea if I am making any sense at all here…

          • You make SO much sense! I wish we could do life together in person! I also do not know people in my area that struggle with these things, if they do they have no interest in joining community.

            • do you have a buddy yet? I don’t yet. Reading all these posts makes me want to just cry cry cry. LOOK.. Just look at all these hurting women, me included, we have all suffered in our silence alone for far too long. I am so thankful to have found the book and this place to be Real, True, Authentic! Oh, how I have craved that all my life. I wrote something a few weeks ago… it was actually an internal reflection, I guess, a poem of sots, but it became quite long. More like my testimony. But it was about———->I am not what you see with your eyes. There is more to me, BEYOND what your eyes can see.

              Basically that sums me up! It was jus pretty much my story, my life, but, it appears that I am not the only woman who has more to her than what the eyes can see. Thank God!!And I always thought it was just me! Satan has used our fears, and he knows all of them, to keep us in bondage- and he’s done a pretty good job, BUT, our God is stronger and mightier and more powerful. His love and His mercy and His grace are sufficient to overcome satan’s attacks~ IF we allow Him. I’ve discovered this and learned that the hard way. Oh, He dearly desires to help us, He really does, He sees our tears, our broken hearts, our shattered & tattered souls… but here’s the thing (IMHO) He isn’t going to take them~He won’t “steal” them from us. We “must give” them to Him. I tried to explain this once to someone and it went something like this… Those are mine, (all my fears, insecurities, shame, guilt, disgust, unworthiness, abuse etc…) MINE!! MINE!!! MINE!!!Like a little kid who didn’t want to share his toys, I wasn’t about to let them go and I was going to fight with everything in me to KEEP what was MINE! Yep, I did … I stomped and pounded, I threw a temper tantrum every time God was prompting me (unbeknownst to me at the time) to hand all those things over to Him. I fought Him. I wrestled with Him. He let me win the fight for a long time, because I chose not to give Him what He desired most for me. (He wanted all those “things”, He wanted me to release them to Him) He didn’t give up on me, He just let me have my own way. I was stuck in my own wilderness for almost 40 years, sound familiar? Well, there came a time not to long ago, we were having another “share war”, (He wanted my toys again, you know the things I had carried for far too many years). He didn’t let me off the hook this time.. and I am so NOT kidding you.. WE WENT TO WAR! Seriously!! For REAL! For 3 , YES THREE WHOLE DAYS! A war, with almost atomic bombs and all, kinda war. Oh how I struggled with Him and fought and kicked and screamed like NEVER before. It was intense. (My Mother was right there the whole time, Thank God, she witnessed with her own eyes the battle that raged between God and Satan within my soul~ over MY toys) But Thank you Sweet, Sweet Jesus, God won this time. Yeh, can you believe that? HE fought for ME!!!!!! And WON!!! I finally gave Him, I released to Him, my toys! They were no longer mine, and I can tell you, from my own personal experience what it felt like. Ya’ll ever had a baby? Had an epidural? Been in such excruciating pain, you didn’t care what they gave you, just make the pain stop? That syringe filled with all that feel good medicine is right there, But, it has to pierce the skin, you know that, OUCH! The labor pains represent the secret I kept and the internal pain & havoc it created. That syringe with the feel good stuff & the ouch, represents the war that raged within my soul-( God’s the medicine- the feel good stuff. The prick or ouch, represents the battle between Jesus Christ and satan over MY toys) You see, they both wanted them, but for different reasons. One wanted to keep me in bondage and misery, the Other wanted to free me from that prison. You know how you have to consent to everything.. well I had to consent, or “let go”, I had to release the death grip I had on MY toys, in order to receive the medicine- the feel good stuff- God. I gave away my toys, I took them and left them at the foot of the Cross (Jesus Christ), so that I could truly, genuinely accept and receive that epidural- That medicine- GOD! When I did, yes, I went through pain during that war, but Jesus also went through unimaginable pain when He was here too, after that prick…. ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.. yessssssssssssss……… the pain’s gone! you know that feeling? When that epidural rushes through your body and every pain evaporates? That is what it was like for me. All my pain went away… Literally. I think how close I came to giving up, to missing the birth, the metamorphosis of all those ashes transformed into a beautiful NEW creation! My dawn was coming and I almost gave up. When it’s the hardest and most difficult, keep going… Don’t Give Up, because that’s when you know your dawn is rising! I sure hope this didn’t seem like a sermon, a preach session, I just wanted to share what it was like for me. There is somebody here who needed to read this. Somewhere. Don’t give up! Let me clarify something though. The Lord extinguished my pain in a second, but please don’t misunderstand, I am not saying I have no pain, that my life is picture perfect, and all that. It’s not like that. I still go through bad days, and I still struggle… ALOT. I thought, Oh my goodness, it’s all gone, never to return. I was wrong. I’m always going to have mountains to climb and hurdles to cross and rivers to swim, this is just a fact of life here on earth. BUT… I know, I understand, that I can be REAL- happy, sad, mad, hurt, depressed, whatever when I go before The Lord, and HE LOVES ME and that He already knows my troubles and my heart, I don’t have to hide from Him anymore, I can just tell him everything without fear of judgement, shame, guilt all that. That is an amazing feeling, to know you don’t have to hide- He already knows! Hallelujah! This has gotten so long I’m not proof reading.. sorry. I hope I made sense to someone. I hope I didn’t offend anyone. I know we are all on different levels in this healing process, some know where I’m coming from, some don’t, and some may even still be mad at God for allowing bad things to happen to them (I was there too) that’s ok. I think we can all learn from each other, but at the same time we’re not all going to experience the same things, and expectations… get rid of’em! LOL It won’t turn out like you expect!! Man, I really don’t know how I got so carried away. When I start talking about my experience.. I DO GET CARRIED away! I LOVE telling, I love giving my testimony, and it is so much easier to do with people you don’t know for some reason… anybody else feel that way? I guess it’s safer… ??

              • Stacy, I replied to your post, but after I did, I just wanted to say that I was not directing that message at you personally about my experience. Sometimes I get carried away and go from one topic to another… I was just sharing my expereince in general, to who ever reads it. and I don’t really know why my mind and fingers went there? Anyway, it’s got to be a message for some one. so with that I’ll say… who ever you are…. Don’t give up! your dawn is rising! And your NOT alone! Hand over your “toys” girlfriend!! we’re all in this together!

              • Tracey, THANK YOU for sharing your testimony! I DID need to hear it. I am going through something right now that affects my marriage and family and I want to give up! I am angry, so very angry. In short my husband’s ex has accused my daughter (10) or abusing her son (my step son, 5). My husband is passive, has endured his ex’s manipulation long before I came along, she uses their child as a tool to manipulate. My in-laws had over stepped their bounds and when we set boundaries they went to the ex daughter in law to see their grandson, so now she is accepted in this family I married into more than I am. My husband is fighting a custody issue, I want something done for the CPS investigation (unsubstantiated), malicious and false reporting, but everyone says this is just a custody issue, so this woman gets away using my 10 yr old as fodder. And for us who have actually been abused to have someone accuse falsely is infuriating, its because of people like her that the system does not take cases seriously…yet, nothing can be done to her, she is untouchable. and I just have to live with it all while being a good wife because thats what God wants. I have been struggling with this for a long, long time. My husband makes it all about him and what she is doing to him. Even though his ex isnt here she is in his head and they are still very much engaging in the unhealthy dynamics established during their marriage. I cant take this anymore. I gave up my job because my husband had issues with it, I have tried to be a godly wife, putting him above myself and respecting him but I feel I have became a doormat. I want out but have no job, sold my house and things when we combined two homes, so I am trapped. I don’t know how to give God these “toys”. I thought that is what I was doing in giving up my job (putting my husband first), moving to my husbands home (putting the children first) and this is what have gotten in return.

                • All of this makes me want to protect my daughter and hide even more than normal. Like I said we moved so we don’t know anyone & I worry what they will think of this “messed up family” when they learn what is really going on inn our lives, will they judge me as a mother for marrying him, judge my daughter and believe the lies, we all know the allegation is half the harm & creates damage all its own. If I knew this would go to court and be over than I could more easily deal with it, but this is not the case, she will continue her antics. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, so it’s like a black cloud hanging over us, keeping us isolated.

      • I thought I was the only one who felt that way!!!! I’m fine at work (I’m a professor), but church or a party? No, thanks! I’ll get in and out as fast as possible.

    • How my heart beats right alongside yours, dear Stacy. I have been scared out of my mind to get close to others, from just plain fear of rejection. I think once you have had a close friend turn on you it’s hard not to expect that to happen in later friendships. I’m praying that God helps you to open your heart again. There is always a risk of hurt, but to never risk is to miss out on the beauty that true, Godly friendship can bring. I speak as one living in that place where God has shown me a true Godly friend and honestly there are times when thinking of how He brought her into my life brings me to tears. I believe this kind of blessing can come to you as well.

      • I want to trust, I long too. I have a deep desire to build community, in my efforts to do so on the web I have found that to do so face-to-face is much more challenging (& uncomfortable) for me. I have to guard against being paranoid & taking offense to any *seemingly* slight – no matter how small. If others don’t want to connect with me my knee jerk reaction is that something is wrong with me, they don’t like me vs the possibility that they may have their own vulnerability issues. Maybe that is one of the enemy’s plan, to keep us isolated in this way, silenced and thoughts twisted so we are too afraid of rejection and judgement to take the first step of connection. I have one friend (in real life) that I am building a real friendship with, in doing so I have seen that my friendships I have had – teenager through adulthood – with the exception of a couple have been very superficial. Thankful for this new friendship & my accountability partner. I suspect it’s just one of God’s ways in showing me His character.

        • I believe you are spot-on with what you said about the Enemy wanting to keep us isolated. If knowledge is power (and I believe it is), then we have a leg up on the Enemy just knowing what he’s up to. I am delighted just thinking of what God is doing here, and can’t wait to see the beauty He unfolds in you and all the other lovely ladies here.

    • I’m right there with you, Stacy!! Even with internet relationships feeling more safe (distant). I’m at a place in my life right now where I have no choice but to accept help that others offer, and it’s hard!! But I think maybe that’s one of the things God’s trying to teach me through this.

  7. My safe place. My hiding place. Outside of prayer I honestly don’t know. My husband is a safe place for many things, but for the things that he is not (and cannot be) I’m still searching. Still healing.

    (If you could see how much I’ve typed and deleted you’d laugh! Really!)

    The heart matters to me. The state of soul and spirit. I’ve always been intense, always “Too ___________” for people. I am blessed with a few good friends, but everyone is busy, everyone is doing their things and it is hard to make those connections.

    I recently lost a few friends for standing by my beliefs, my faith. I pray for them but I miss them. When I stepped away from my dysfunctional family and set healthy boundaries they retreated and have not returned except to volley false offers of friendship. It is heart breaking and yet in finding my voice I’ve found who is comfortable with me being heard and who was more happy when I was silent.

    Finding my safe place would be a dream come true. Some place to share somethings that I am uncovering as I am on this healing journey. I usually don’t share too much for two reasons: it’s hard to share and hard to believe. I don’t want someone to change how they see me now because they know about what happened back then. And I’m afraid they would. I’m not strong, God is. I’m not brave, God is. I’m not anything without Jesus.

    Bless you Jo Ann, Lisa and Sarah – you bless me so much without even knowing it!

    Anyone who wants a study buddy let me know!

    • Shanyn, you are beautiful my friend. Truly. Your voice has become stronger in the short time I have known you. Your authentic self is blooming. It’s always been there, but you are nurturing it and offering it up to God and that is a beautiful thing that He will honor.

      I pray for your safe place this moment. For God to bring along a “Johnathan” in your life that will be real and touchable and close in those times most needed. Believe in this my friend as we pray together for it!


    • You are brave and wise to be so discerning in relationship with others, and I love that you are praying for those you can’t be close to right now, trusting God to complete His work in their lives even though you can’t be personally connected right now.

      It sounds like you are doing some deep reflection, and I know God is going to show you some amazing things through this introspection. We are right here for you, sweet friend. I would love for this to be a place of safety and comfort for your tender heart.

    • WOW Shanyn, it sounds like you have taken some brave steps that I am needing to prayerfully consider taking.
      Difficult for me to know balance in these things, especially when the boundaries need to be laid down with my mom, and I know this will affect my dad too…potentially cause stress on my kids, and likely between hubby and me as well.. what with the holidays coming! *sigh* needing a lot of “the Wisdom that comes from Above” 🙂

      • Balance and boundaries – I’ve struggled so hard with them in regards to my family. I finally was so tired of being pulled and pushed, tugged and guilted I just asked God why did I have to let them do that. And He said I don’t. I can pray for them. I can love them. But I don’t need to have them in a place in our lives that is unhealthy or hurtful. And boundaries are okay. Necessary even. I explained the boundaries and let them know that when they wanted a healthy relationship I would be open to it, but until then the one way valve of their stuff poured on me was being turned off. The stress I thought I would happen when we had boundaries turned out to be peace, and the real stress was life without them. Especially at the holidays. We did a new tradition by accident a couple of years ago and it was so good that we kept it, even in the face of some pretty dramatic opposition. Praying for you, and I’m here for you if you need to chat, or have some encouragement! Message me, email me or find me on FB! Much love and many prayers.

        • Thank you, Shanyn! “Balance and Boundaries” that is definitely my concern.. setting boundaries WITH balance, not in a way that wounds, although I do know there are times wounding is not our intention but may happen anyway. I appreciate your openness. It’s a huge encouragement!

    • Shanyn, it has taken me a long time to finally open up and be who I am. And I’m still learning through each day and each moment. I worried so much about what everyone else thought of me that I woke up and realized I didn’t even know myself. I had no clue what I liked, what I didn’t like, what I was created for. Those were some hard places to walk and I lost a few friends. But going forward is the only way to do this healing process. Thank you for sharing here!

      • Hugs you Sarah, and knowing who we are is so important for us. And is often the first thing stolen and challenged by those who don’t want us to be whole. Love your heart!

      • I can’t even choose a restaurant by myself!! I didn’t usually get to choose in the past 20 years of being married (in the process of divorce now), so now I’m at a total loss if someone asks me where I want to eat. How pathetic is that? I’ve been asked what my dreams and goals are now–going forward–and I can’t think of anything!

  8. Since my tender spot is rejection it has always been hard for me to trust as person after person violated it. I even got to the point 11 years ago when I decided that I didn’t need any friends and that was just easier and for sure safer. But he more isolated I became, the more unhappy I was? God made us to connect and to be known, when we turn away from that more despair and loneliness comes. Then God did the most amazing thing, he brought me to a church where the people were just as broken as I was and put me in a ladies group where they were real and authentic.
    It was scary for sure but God asked me to take a risk and to trust Him even if I couldn’t trust people. Each step of obedience I took gave me confidence to keep stepping out and to be transparent.
    It is so true where Joann says healing happens in community. In the last 10 years, I have had more deep and intimate relationships than the 40 years before combined. Have I been hurt during those 10 years? Yes, many times but God blesses my obedience and my desire to let him heal those wounds.

    The second thing that was really good is the steps to develop community. A few years ago, God said, why don’t you let me pick your friends? I have and the most amazing thing has happened! I have had some of the best relationships of my life. have I been hurt in some of those? Yes, but when things don’t turn out the way that I thought, I don’t feel personally rejected. If God tells me to befriend someone and it doesn’t work out, I feel it’s because they Are not seeking The Lord for friendships, so they are really rejecting God, not me. That has been so freeing for me because before if I stepped out and it didn’t go well I would get wrapped up in the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s. Not any more

    Relationship is risky but it is worth the risk. If it works then great, if it doesn’t the God is there to heal your heart so you can move on. For those of you still fearful to risk rejection, I pray that God deposits in you a BOLD courage and a limitless trust in Him to bring the right people into your lives so you can start rebuilding trust in HIm and people

    • Such an encouragement! Thanks for sharing.

      Your story reminds me of “picking” my husband. I had been married before and just really messed some things up. I felt the Lord impress on my heart that He wanted to pick my husband. And you gotta know, that really took some work on my part to surrender.

      But I did. And He did. Pick me a wonderful life partner that is.

      God’s cool that way. <3

    • What a beautiful process he has taken you through Stacey! I can see how you’ve changed and grown with your perspectives. It’s amazing how God can do that for us when we let him.

    • Thanks for sharing…so true. My highest value is relationship–thankful for my intimacy with God and to have a faithful husband. I really appreciate my girlfriends with whom I can share my heart, pray together and for one another! We are definitely created in His image for spiritual fellowship!

    • I’ve been afraid to show my true self. I’ve learned in the past few years (thanks, Facebook!) that someone I considered a real friend 10-15 years ago felt she could not connect with me because I always seemed too perfect; I never shared any of my struggles. I love your story of how God has blessed your obedience in stepping out in relationships!

  9. I am honestly not very good at girlfriend type of friendships. I have a number of people I can call a friend, but they are not overly deep friendships. I’ve been told that I’m not good at authenticity and realness and that I don’t open up…even though I’ve tried to the best of my ability. Trust is a factor in these friendships. Maybe to a certain extent shyness and being an introvert, which I have learned to embrace as I get older.
    I have had close friends be critical of me, and when I get upset and try to say they are wrong, the response is “but I’m speaking the truth in love” or “sometimes I’m going to say what you need to hear, not want to hear”. The criticalness was not something that was true or that I needed to change, but oftentimes due to the other person’s insecurity. Those friendships usually come to an abrupt end. I open up in these friendships and then I shut back down because I get hurt. So, I’ve given up pretty much on close friendships and know that most likely, I will never have one. I’ve come to terms with that though.
    So I guess I don’t really have anybody but God to get close to. I turn to God when I need to talk. I write. I pray. I’ve found that God is the only friend who will never abandon me or turn on me. I’ve gone online to find support, in online Bible studies, and those friendships are helpful.

    • God bless you GodsGirl…yes there will be people who will disappoint and even hurt us..don’t give up! I am glad you have a close friendship with God. I am willing to walk along side and be your special prayer “Voice” buddy for this journey. Let me know if you are willing. I relate to your experience…keep drawing near to God. I hope you have someone near whom you can trust and be blessed.

    • Thank you for sharing your heart here. God is the one who hears us always. But please don’t give up on a true godly friendship. He will bring someone in your life. I am praying that you will gain a friend on this journey, someone who will respect your boundaries and connect with you on a heart level. You are not alone!

    • GodsGirl, I pray that God will send you the right person throughout this book study, that will show you what godly friendship can be. I have had those in my life tell m things they think I need to hear & they also say “I’m saying this in love.” Sometimes I think that’ just the façade they hide behind when they want to criticize & not look judgmental. There are friends who can & will LOVE you no matter what & tell you the truth, God’s truth not their own self-righteous criticism. Those are the friends you know will be there for you always. I pray God sends you that kind of friend. We all deserve one. You are loved by the God of the universe & by the ladies here. Blessings Crystal

    • GodsGirl, You are loved by the God of the universe & by the ladies here. I pray He sends you a friend to show you how great it can be to have a close friend who will love you & be there for you no matter what. A friend who will tell you the truth, God’s truth no matter what, not their own self-righteous criticism. From that you will grow & heal & it will be beautiful. Remain open, allow God to minister to you. He is faithful. Blessings Crystal

  10. Good evening ladies!! So good to connect with you all again. As I was coming home tonight so that I could jump on the study, I heard the song OCEANS, by Hillsong United. If you have never heard it, I would suggest you go to youtube & listen to it. It is so moving. I told my husband “that song dances across my soul.” Since we are talking about our safe place…mine is to go to the Father & to my husband. The reason I mention this song is because I have been on a journey since surviving a car wreck in Sept. that I was told I should not have survived. God has been showing me so many truths & teaching me how to go deeper, to trust Him more, to open up my heart & my story more & allow him to use it.
    As I am learning to trust Him more with everything, He shows me that he is in the details of my life & this song speaks to that @ least for me. It says ~ spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander ~ and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Saviour.
    This is where I am. Before my accident, I had asked God to reignite my passion for writing, to lead me where he would have me go & to use my story however He chose to His glory. To purge my life of anything that didn’t glorify him. That I was working to much & not getting in the word, or to church, or to even have quality time with my family. I was accepted on this launch team before I left ~ got into this accident before I got home. He spared my life, due to the events I have been unable to work, I have been back to church, reading the word & writing again. God has also presented numerous opportunities to use my story. He is sovereign & He is teaching me to trust him, to Rest in Him & He has become an even safer place for me. Crystal

    • Oh Crystal! I love that song! There is so much behind the story in that song for me. I have always been a mountain girl. I never really liked the ocean or beach much but after I came out of that toxic marriage and out of the numbness, my emotions would be just like waves and I would see pictures or video of the ocean and I just identified so much with all the different stages of the oceans, it’s fierceness in a storm and the fear associated with it, the awe of it’s vastness, the amazing beauty in its calmer stages. I started collecting pictures, pins, and video on the ocean in those different states. I named those collections “Love Like an Ocean”. I identified with its beauty and vastness so much when my now husband and I started dating. We kind of adopted the ocean as our theme because it so captured what we experienced with God putting us together.coming out of the storms that had rocked us and threatened to overtake us, meeting each other and experiencing so much depth together. I had never heard the song but I had found a pin with a little of the lyrics and I didn’t realize it was part of a song. I just thought it was a quote. The first Sunday we went to church after moving to Missouri “Oceans” was one of the first worship songs. I was blown away! My daughter wrote the lyrics down so we could look it up when we got home and we all just love it! Even my 14 year old son! But I don’t know, I never could see the ocean before and now it holds so much symbolism for me and it seems God uses it every now and then to get my attention and remind me that He is definitely involved in it all. Thank you for sharing that!!!

      • Isn’t it amazing how God uses things to help us see Him. I appreciate you sharing as well. I never paid much attention to the ocean either. Rivers, streams, & lakes since I Iive in the Midwest, but this song just reaches in & ministers to my soul. I think it is really cool that was the first worship song @ your new church. I so love that JoAnn has given us this community place to connect with others. It is so nurturing & healing. Crystal

    • Wow Crystal! Thank you for sharing this. I find it truly miraculous how God can come into every little part of our lives and that he really cares. Reading it is one thing but then experiencing it is something completely different. Beautiful story!!

      • Thanks, I know being part of the launch team before I left for Women Of Faith conference was all in God’s plan as well so that I would be able to be connected to this community of women now. He cares for us so beautifully. Yes reading It or knowing it is one thing, but experiencing it is totally different. I think sometimes we tend to see God as the Holy one, the provider, the all-powerful, almighty God, but we don’t recognize Him as our PERSONAL SAVIOUR. An intimate, close friend who comes along side of us in our everyday life. He has been showing me this part of Himself over these past few months. That He is PERSONAL, the He is MY shepherd & is walking with me every step of the way to get me safely all the way home. What a blessing He has given me & I pray He gives it to all of you ladies as you journey with Him as well. Crystal

  11. With this not being a private forum I am very limited in what I can share about why I withdrew from community, mostly because other family would not want it getting out. Although I have dealt with it now, this is different from what I already shared with Mary. But I lost my sense of who I was and had a sense of toxic shame that caused me to withdraw from life more than I already was.

    Eventually this lead to years of suffering with depression, and being on the brink of suicide. Although Praise God it has been almost 2 years I believe since my last major depressive episode. Through all of it my relationship with Christ has deepened over the last couple of years, although at one point I did walk away from the church because I felt judged for dealing with the depression. I returned November of last year, and started attending regularly again. It is important that I specify that I walked away from the church and not away from God. I spent daily time with Him, I just couldn’t handle His people. When I finally returned to church, I went back to the exact same church I walked away from. I learned some powerful lessons. It was essential that I walked away, even though it was a sin not to meet with other believers. It took walking away and being on my own to refocus and realize that part of my problem was because of my people pleasing tendencies. I also realized that it was also my perceptions of the situation. My perceptions were that people were judging me because of my visit to the mental hospital to get stable, and while some people did and do judge me because of that and my lack of ability to maintain steady employment, even though I am not disabled….those were the minority. More people were cheering me on in their own way, but I would not let them close and still struggle with that.

    Because of the secrets in my life, it is hard for me to let people in. I can make surface talk and fake it with the best of them. Yet I hate surface pleasantries, they feel phony. I would much rather talk about what is really bothering you than to say “How are you doing?, Fine, Have A good day.” I like to go deeper and talk about things that are important. Often I will go deeper with someone else about themselves, but I have a hard time with a balanced going deeper together.

    I had that once with someone who used to be my best friend before life separated us. We both had issues, and we stood by one another, even if it wasn’t always healthy. But it is hard for me to get into the relationship enough to make those attachments. Seems like the more people I let in the more I have been hurt in the past.

    Recently I was on Mary Demuth’s launch team for “The Wall Around Your Heart”, though and that helped me to make some progress on letting people in, although there is still plenty to be made. I found a dear friend in my Pastor’s wife, someone who has always cheered me on, only I never realized it until recently. Both of us are introverted and she was always so busy that I never talked to her enough to realize how very much she cared for me. There have been one or two others from church lately who also show an interest to getting to know me better. While I find it awkward I also enjoy the chance to get to know them. And yet I am scared.

    I have spent years doing most of my talking with others behind the screen of a computer. It was easy, and this spending time face to face is foreign and messy. There is nothing easy about laying it all on the line. And when people show me that I make them emotional in any way, I don’t know how to respond. Some get emotional in a good way, declaring my life a miracle, and praising God. Others don’t know how I have handled things and get emotional, and it makes me long for the easiness of being on the computer.

    At the same time, I have longed for a long time for someone to go out and spend time with. It’s nice to finally know and feel that I am loved, not for what I do, but for who I am flaws and all.

    Sorry this got so long. That wasn’t my intentions when I started writing.

    • Deanna,
      So much pain and hurt in your words. I’m thankful you stayed close to God and know all too well the battle with depression. I am praying over all of you ladies here to find real life friendships, even if it’s one person. God can bless our lives richly with just one friend.

      • There was pain, but a lot of it has been dealt with. So that the pain is less. It continues to lessen when I dare to let others in, and find that I am not rejected. As with all things new, this is not as easy as I would prefer.

  12. All my life i have never really had a close, intimate, deep friendship and this chapter has truly reminded me of that and its not because i didn’t want too but because of the abuse I’ve had to face throughout my life i always kept people at a distance.Never wanting them to know that i was hurting and how often i wore that mask, that I was fine;but deep down i know i wasn’t. I wasn’t my true self so how could i phantom the thought of connecting to someone else. I wondered, so I kept to myself…. I never grew up in a home where there was discussions where people/family actual connected through words and expression. I’ve had to keep it in…keep my feelings thoughts bottled up and thrown away into the sea of forgetfulness..or so i thought. But now that i have come into this New beginning with Christ I know realize that connecting to people and community is God’s design for us..we were never made to walk this earth alone. Am still a bit to myself and haven’t really find someone who i can confide in but i pray about it…that God will bring the right people into my life.

    • How painful that must have been for you, my friend. We are wired deep down to connect with one another. We crave community in a very natural way, and when something short-circuits and interferes with that natural inclination we feel the void like an ache we can neither explain nor escape. I’m glad you are here with us so we can walk this road together. Welcome.

    • It is God’s design for us! I am praying your heart will continue to heal and as you seek Him and walk this new path you will be open to new relationships with healthy boundaries.

  13. I turn to my special close girlfriends for prayer but truly the Lord has taught me to turn to HIM first and seek Jesus as my “safe place.” I feel the closest to God when I read Scripture and then journal a special prayer. I’ve become more of an introvert but I know the value of a close friend with whom I can pray and share my heart…so I have weekly commitments with prayer partners—we pray long distance via phone/e-mail/FB private messaging for one another. It is very uplifting to know someone else is praying for you–especially in the moments when you can hardly utter a cry for help. God will always provide someone trustworthy to pray with and for…just keep calling!

  14. I am very blessed that I have an amazing partner in life where I can always go for love and support. But what I am finding really difficult with this chapter is I have gone through the lonliness and isolation from not trusting people but now I am at a point where I am willing to be real with people, but I physically can’t right now. I have learned not to rely on others before God, but that I do need a community around me but I can’t have one right now. I can’t physically get to a church or anywhere to meet people with no job or car and no way of doing it. I have had a taste of an amazing community around me but it’s gone now. I have been praying for so long for my situation to move forward where I can actually have a Church and people around me, but I feel so stuck. I want a community because I know and believe it will help in my healing but I have no options right now. I just have to wait. And its already been 3 years of waiting. That is what I’m struggling with right now.

    • Have you tried going to church online? We attend an online church and it is amazing. We have a great pastor and many friends at SaveTheCowboy
      Prayers and love.

  15. I’m 45 yrs old and it’s only been in the last 4 1/2 yrs that I had been able to have real friends. I had so many friends leave because when they would know that I was suicidal it would scared them away. Growing up my dad always told me that I will never be loved and no one will want to be around me. I got to believe that and lived in my own little world. When friends would have dreams about their future…mine would be about suicide. No one knew the real reason for me being so negative…how could I open up to anyone. I got older and things got more difficult. I didn’t have anyone that I could trust. Only one friend that I knew for about 8 to 9 months then she committed suicide. It’s only when I tried to end my life that I met real friends. None around here but on fb and other groups. Some of you go to church and have met wonderful people… so glad for all of you. My church is basically… go for 11 am and then leave after it’s all done. Nothing more. My friends online have been so nice and loving to me. One lady online helped me to trust again and showed me real love. It’s still hard at times for the old tapes not to play in my head…but I’m trying so hard. I don’t let everyone in either… it’s hard because I’ve been so judged in the past. I will try to force myself to go out and do stuff. Like this past Sunday I sang in a Christmas Concert. We were only 4 in our choir and in front of everyone…but I did great.
    My safe place would be when I can chat with certain friends. Also when I can lock myself in my bedroom and be left alone where I know I won’t be hurt or judge. Some of you have mention you are safe when you are with your husbands… I wish that would be the case for me but so much has happened between us, we are still working on our marriage and our love and try to fix the pain that was done. So all the ladies that can rely on their husband..good for you…you are very lucky.

    • Hi Carole, this is Crystal. So proud of you for singing in the Christmas concert!! Major step. I will pray that you will be able to get more plugged in @ your church. It can be scary, but so rewarding when you can connect with someone who can physically pray with you & uplift you.
      I know you say your safe place is when you lock yourself up in your room, but the truth is my dear, that is only a barricade. It’s a false sense of security. I used to do that too, go in my room & stay for hrs, then no one could hurt me, but it got very lonely in there. God doesn’t isolate us, He created us to interact with others, esp. with Him. I will pray that you can enlarge your territory of safety out from your room. I also pray for your marriage for God’s wisdom in that situation & for safety above all. Glad to see you here. Do you have a study buddy yet? If not I will buddy up with you. Let me know.
      Praying you through the situation with the kids who were killed as well. My heart is with you & your daughter. Love & Blessings Crystal

      • Crystal…one thing I know for sure is that I will never connect with anyone at church..but it’s ok..that’s how it is at my church. I read Stacey’s comment and maybe she’s right…maybe I’m at the wrong church. I know I have a lot of work to do on myself. I know deep inside that it’s not healthy to lock myself in my bedroom but that’s where I feel safe at the moment.
        Thanks for praying for the situation about the 4 teens that were killed. The funeral was yesterday…very very sad. My daughter is taking it very hard…and I don’t know what to do to help her. Anyway, I’m sure that she will find someone who she can talk with if she doesn’t want to talk to me. <3

    • Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing. I feel as if you may need to ask God if you are in the right church? It may not be the right place for you. I agree with Crystal, connection is important for all of us and sometimes we feel rejection but really we are not in the right place. Praying for God to show you a safe church community.

      • Hi Stacey, maybe you’re right that I’m at the wrong church. Thanks for the prayers… I just hope one day I can find myself and know where I belong.

        • I know how that feels Carole, and finding the right church can really make a difference. Being in a community like this one is also a huge blessing for me! Praying for you.

          • Shanyn, I live in a small village…this is the only church that we have. I would have to go in town to find another one. I’m really not sure if I could go to another one actually. I’m very shy and I go as far in a corner that I can go when I’m with strangers. Being in this book study… I debate to share sometimes because I feel that I don’t belong. I feel that I’m too messed up to be around so many wonderful people.

  16. I had a huge realization today. I don’t think they are BANG realizations but thoughts that Jesus matures until I am ready to understand them.

    My struggle with a ‘safe place’ is I grew up being taught that all things have a price. There is a cost, and a penalty. No one can have a ‘safe place’ without fearing the loss of it. But that is wrong thinking – and I’m gonna blog on this for our link up – Jesus paid the price. Even before Jesus did we were safe in God. David knew it. He sang of it.

    So when did we start falling for the lie that a ‘safe place’ had to be vulnerable to someone else, that there was a cost, or there were codes of conduct that could get us ‘kicked out’.

    My son has this unreasonable fear of being kicked out of our family, of being thought of as the wrong person for our family. I KNOW where he absorbed that from. From seeing how people treat his parents, especially family, and in his young mind the blame is on the one being left out. The one being rejected. (Working on that too!)

    If a safe place has a price you are always paying or a price that always changes or is based on what someone thinks of you at any given time it is NOT a safe place. It is not a haven. It’s a trap.

    I’m always ‘sniffing’ like a Mama wolfie, looking for traps. Warning signs of danger. Protecting my cub and my mate. Our little pack. It is a blessing, to be sure, and sometimes, it is a burden. It’s so heavy and i want to rest. I feel like I can rest with this group of women. With you all. And for that I am thankful.

  17. My safe place. Now I pause to think. A couple of years ago I would have said that I had at least 3 friends with which I could hide, for awhile. But the past two years, as the journey has been so deep and difficult it is as if God has stripped away even the supports that I used to have. This journey I have walked pretty much alone and it has caused such unrest and it’s as if a huge spotlight shines upon the ugly thoughts of my heart. It has brought dross to the surface as I’ve become unmasked, to myself, and seeing pieces of “me” that I really don’t like. So I offer the broken shards to Him trusting that He will remold and remake this vessel of clay. I have also made an appointment with a Christian counselor knowing that wise counsel and wisdom can reframe my present and bring continued healing and wholeness with fresh insight and prayer together.

    • Wonderful Maria! I am so glad you are reaching out for help through Christ and through a counselor. I saw a therapist for two years and it helped tremendously. Those things we see in us that we don’t like are perfect opportunities for God to work through us. Thank you for sharing!

  18. It has been very difficult and scary to open up to others, especially after a lifetime of “learning” how to keep things bottled up and wearing various masks. I was so good at smiling and cracking jokes and doing for others, that it was hard to believe that I myself was broken inside. However, God brought me to a place where I could no longer hide, and I could no longer carry it. He “broke” my inner jar in a way and made me have to be still and start being healed.

    It made me look at Psalm 23 in a whole new light where it says “He makes me to lie down in green pastures…” I learnt that sometimes God has to bring about a series of events where He literally causes us to have to lie down so that we stop “doing” and performing and trying to carry ourselves and our own burdens. Where we have no choice now but to let Him carry it.

    He understands that even when we truly want to give our problems over to Him, we can be so used to carry them and wrestling with them ourselves that we truly do not know how to let go and not pick it up again.No matter how many times He tells us to “be still” and let Him be God, take it all in hand and deal with it for us, we often still struggle. I find when this is the case with me that He steps in and makes me to lie down.

    For me on this occasion, I had worn myself out completely, was depressed, exhausted, confused, hurting and afraid. Afraid to carry on the way I was and afraid to let go. Afraid of being judged. Afraid of being hurt. Afraid that facing the reality of the hurt from past events would be too much and would sink me somehow, So I broke. And looking back, I realise that in God allowing me to reach that breaking point, it opened the door for Him to take over. I had to trust Him. It was no longer an option. I had to let go, as I could no longer hold on. I had to let God hold me and trust that He would uphold me and not drop me. I had to let Him take control and lead the right people into my life at that time to help lead me along the path of healing. People that He had chosen and knew I could trust.

    Funnily enough, it is when I reached this point, that I was able to see how God’s hands moved and He brought everything and everyone together in such perfect timing each time that instead of things falling apart as I feared, things fell into place as He had promised.

    I pray that we all get to experience the faithfulness and the tender love of God as profoundly. To get to see His hand at work and how He keeps His word and never fails. How He proves Himself to us repeatedly so that our trust and confidence in Him grows. His patience, His understanding, His care for the smallest of detail….and His longing for us to be real with Him, utterly no-sugar-coating-honest, and His ability to meet us where we are and where we need Him.

    • Joy, your breaking point sounds eerily similar to mine. Thank you for being open here and sharing the way you did. We can make such a mess of things when we don’t follow God’s plan. I see the perfect timing in my life as well. I love your imagery here, it paints a beautiful picture. just lovely.

      • Thank you Sarah. It’s amazing right? It seems so scary and out of control, but then as we go along we glance back and realise just how in control God is of the entire situation. I love that you have experienced this of Him as well and I pray He brings others to experience it too. It really is faith changing as well as life changing. There is no way we can come out the other side the same as we went in.

      • I’d be more than happy to have Valorie as my study buddy 🙂 looking forward to connecting and going through the journey together. thank you

        • Hi Joy, I told Sarah, sorry for disappearing.. I’m new to the way this whole thing works, plus had dental issues! So I’m a bit behind, but I’m going to be catching up quickly over the weekend, if you’re still needing a study buddy:)

          • Hi Valorie, no worries I’m very new to this too. I would love to be your study buddy 🙂 I’ve had a hectic week also so I too will be doing a quick catch up. My email address is joydublin.jd@googlemail.com sometimes I can’t see messages very easily on here so may be worth having my email address so we can make sure we get each others messages.

  19. I am needing a study buddy. I was going to offer/ask Shanyn but as I scrolled down I saw how the confusion could easily grow…AH, Communication;))
    So, pair me up however it works; I’m ready! Or…trying to allow Holy Spirit to WORK THE “READY” IN ME!!! ;DD

      • Hi Sarah, sorry for the disappearing act! I got a new phone and before I realized I was missing notifications, I had some major toothache issues:( BUT I finally got to the dentist yesterday and I’m back! If Joy is still available, let’s do it! If not keep me posted:)

  20. Oh, I did not answer the question! For many years after my best friend died in a horrific freak accident, and after I saw that the three obvious people I might reach out to were simply not in a place to be able to offer friendship, I truly was in a Just.Jesus.n.Me holding pattern. While it was a needed Mt. Moriah/Mt. Sinai time for me in the beginning, I did not discern that I was in fact creating a cave in which to hide, rather than a refreshing well from which to reach out to others. I got so used to just relying on Jesus, in fact, that I stopped asking for anything from anyone else altogether.
    I discovered that people were just fine with me on the giving end as wife/friend/ lay-minister, etc. What I was completely ignorant of was the concept of asking for what I needed. I held the role of Pleaser in my family of origin, and naturally fell into this in most of my relationships. I had no idea there was another way; only a couple years ago was I introduced to books on subjects such as codependence, love styles, and the like.
    I find myself still very resistant to picking up the phone to call someone when I’m hurting, even though I now have a few close friends who know pretty much all my “issues” and who I know would want to be there for me. Even a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to open up to a couple ladies but found myself unable to open my mouth, even literally.
    I am so sick of allowing all my various fears to control me, to silence me; but it seems like it’s all I know…. Seems completely nuts to say, but as sadistic and vicious as it is, the fear and anxiety are my most familiar companions; I don’t seem to know how to choose anything else.
    And that was really hard to write…ugly to read.

    • Fear and anxiety have been my close friends for a long time Valorie. It’s what we get used to when there is dysfunction to deal with and you don’t have the proper tools. Let this place be your beginning to reach out for help. Allow yourself to ask for prayer and just see what God does for you! Thank you for sharing.

  21. Here’s one for you ladies! We will get the victory in the end!!

    The Cleanup

    When words that fail to be spoken sit on your chest like a
    bad case of indigestion,
    Choking you as you want to get them out but just can’t
    Don’t know how
    Frustration that follows, annoyance at ….well, everything
    At yourself and wondering what’s wrong with you that you can’t
    just “spit it out”
    At, why don’t I even know what it is I want to say anyway?
    Why can’t I distinguish these emotions from each other?
    They just seem like one big, swirling, mass.
    Am I that stupid?
    Anger at the people who had a part in that pain
    In that mess.
    Whose names are on some list of credits deep inside
    “The people who contributed to me being messed up”
    Of course listed in alphabetical order
    As I’m a perfectionist
    Indignation at the events themselves that took place
    How dare you think you could violate me
    Like I mean nothing
    Treat me like that
    Invade me and make yourself a home in my life
    Where you can look back with smug satisfaction and say
    “hmm. Yeah! That’s where I started having an affect on her.
    In that scene, right there”
    Who the hell invited you anyway?
    Did I…?
    Did I?
    Did I have some part to play in this?
    Did I open a door somewhere?
    Unknowingly let these undesirable guests in?
    Talk about the guests that outstay their welcome.
    Don’t they realise that the party is over?
    Their time has been and gone.
    It’s clean up time now.
    Time to clean up the aftermath
    The mess
    Whether they like to accept it or not
    They are about to have their “claimed space” reclaimed
    As it was never theirs
    It was never theirs to have
    They are about to experience their own invasion
    Only, I have the right to invade
    And to evict
    Their notice was served the moment they showed up
    And time has run out
    The broom is out
    The cleaning team
    The disinfectant
    The anti-bacterial cleaner
    The gloves
    The hoover
    The trash bags
    Mops, sponges, cloths….you name it
    This is the biggest cleanup I’ve ever seen in my life
    It’s the clean up of my life.
    And God is working with me.
    He won’t “miss a bit”
    So guess what?
    I’m smiling now.

        • Haha thank u Deb, God is definitely teaching me how to come through as a survivor and I must say I love it! He’s bringing me to a place where although the stuff hurt and can say to Him thank u for the pain and thank u for brining me through it and thank u for the healing process as I know that He is showing me, all of us here and others also that although life can and often does get hard and tough, through His strength we are stronger than anything that comes at us. It may not feel like it, often feels like its going to finish is off, but God is faithful and He can deal with real. I love it when Jesus said “in the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” ohhh yes! That means so much more to me now 🙂

  22. So, like many of the posts I have read, I too have withdrawn into myself. I try to let it out but it seems that people are more interested in solving my problems themselves or bombarding me with their opinions. I’m at a place where I want to share but it would hurt others. So I internalize almost everything. I have one friend whom had been a God- send but she lives a couple hundred miles away. She knows my story and may be the only one who knows the ugliness of it all. Other than her, there’s nobody. I’m lonely. I’m scared to open up. I’m depressed. I feel immobile at times. Stuck. I have prayed for years now “what do you want me to do God?”. No answer and I get angry at this silence. If I don’t have anyone that is my safe place to share and talk things through and God is silent, what am I to do? I don’t have it together. I’m trying. I have a few acquaintances at church but not many. I often go to church and come home without having seen anyone I know. Look at this post… how negative and that is just not acceptable to me. I’m not that way. This is such a tender subject for me.

    • Hi Deb, I like the part where you say that people are more interested in solving your problems themselves. I have had many so call friends that’s what they were trying to do with me but when they saw that it was too much for them to handle they would walk away. Took me a while to trust again and it’s still hard at times but I have a couple of friends now where I know they are there to listen and they walk along side with me and they support me. Not everyone that I trust with talking about my past. I’m having a hard time right now with God so I know it’s not easy. I wish I had magic words for you to make you feel better.

    • I can so relate Deb. All we long for is a safe place, and someone who will just be there and listen without judgement, or trying to fix us. I prayed that very prayer about eight years ago, and felt completely isolated and invisible. Your post isn’t negative Deb…it’s heartfelt, honest and transparent. We can begin to relate and identify with one another, as we share and see ourselves reflected in others experiences.

    • Thank You Deb,
      For having the courage to share, I understand how hard it can be. I spent 30 years working in retail & holidays were awful. I went to church & signed up for activities if I could fit it in my schedule. But I felt I was just going through the motions of living. Did everyone have a life except me?
      Know my dear we are happy you have joined us on this journey of being one in the Spirit & He knows exactly what you need. Prayers Peace Blessings & most of all love to you Deb.

      • I have to admit that I didn’t read chapter 2 ( until just now). I didn’t think I needed this or that it was relevant to me. wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. (sigh) Although I never experienced anything like the women in chpt.2, I still need that safe place. yesterday, my mind was on financial worries which I should already know leads my to thinking too much about the past. I’m ok today and ready to move onto chpt 3. The emotional bounces take their toll. they really do.

        since I’m trying to figure my way around this ” New to me” online study, I just want to thank everyone who responded to my post.

        • Deb!! I am praying for you and please know I’m here if you need me. God crossed our paths for a reason. Praying for your finances.

          • Thx Sarah. I’m sure our paths have crossed for a reason. I’m still praying for your finances as well. I’m just waiting to see God’s promise come true. Malachi.3:10 right!

    • Hey Deb,

      I can completely relate and I don’t think your post is negative, but rather an outpouring. Sometimes when everything we have had to carry gets held inside and we cant seem to find the right people to listen and really hear, when even God seems to be holding His tongue, it can seem like everything is building up inside us like a pressure cooker that’s about to blow!

      We need somewhere, someone safe that we can just offload onto, vent to who can take it. I remember being soooooo beyond the word angry when I would try to speak to people and I would get things back like “Don’t worry! God is good!” or the favourite, “Never mind, all is well!” Aaaaarrggghhhh.

      Sometimes you want someone who is real enough even to say, “you know what? I really don’t know what to say, and I know I don’t have the solutions, but I am here for you if you need to talk. I can listen. Even if that’s all I can do to help right now” Yes people can have the best of intentions, but when pain and experiences are so real and we have been dealt such ugly raw hands in life we need people around who can handle it. Who won’t necessarily try to fix us, we don’t necessarily ask to be fixed, just to be heard, just to be accepted, just to have them agree sincerely to be there for us through the journey of our healing. And if they don’t know what to say….sometimes those have been the sweetest words I have heard. May sound crazy, right. But someone real enough to know they can’t fix it, they can’t even try, but they can tell me they don’t know what to say and they don’t have a “fix it”. Authenticity is what we need as plasters that deal with surface cuts won’t do the job every time. We are all here for you Deb. Here is your safe place, here is your outlet, and here is your community and I assure you that God is also here in the midst.

  23. This is a painful topic for me. I work very hard in therapy to patch the holes left in my soul from chronic childhood verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect. It is a long and difficult journey. I understand when we are wounded in relationships we need healthy relationships to heal but therein lies the problem. Relationships are risky and do not come with a guarantee. Determined to overcome my fears, I armed myself with courage and took off the mask of trying to look like everyone else and approached the women’s director and a few women at my church and exposed my need for emotional and spiritual support but to no avail. No one seems to understand how to help or even interested in learning how to help someone with my issues. I’ve tried prayer and waiting on God to move their hearts. I’ve even considered reaching out to find others who are hurting like I am but can’t figure out how I could do that without having support of my own. I am coming to the sad conclusion that I may need to leave that church and look for another one. It seems people are afraid of pain that cannot be fixed with a pill or medical treatment and in a reasonable amount of time. It would be so much easier to find help and support from the women in the church if I had a cancer or some other physical issue. I am no one to judge. I used to be like that. I lacked a true understanding of what it takes for people grow and change but that was before I stepped out of denial and admitted I was a deeply wounded woman.

    • A dear friend treated me to dinner last night. She is the kind of friend who can walk into my home at any time and I don’t feel embarrassed if dishes are in the sink and I haven’t applied any makeup. We had a lovely evening of face time. We talked about our need for connection and how we use activity and busyness to avoid the necessary work and risk of intimacy and then applauded our efforts. She gets it!

      I couldn’t go into detail but I felt safe enough to drop the mask and share a tiny bit about my struggle to find support from my church. She expressed empathy and then told me about the Stephen Ministry at her church in which people are trained to walk alongside someone in grief. She invited me to attend with her this weekend. It will be a different experience for me to attend a church of a different denomination but I don’t want to dig in my heals and resist change if that is what God wants for me. I no longer wish to stay in a place where pretense is expected.

      In addition, my therapist just revealed her plans to start a small group after the new year. I am so excited for the possibilities of experiencing the healing power of authentic community in this coming year! This book study is helping me be intentional about my healing and find my voice and myself. I am feeling hope again. Thanks for listening.

      • Wonderful Sharon!! It’s great to see you voice your heart a day ago and then see your interaction with a friends and find out there are resources out there for you. God is so good!!!

  24. The process of undoing the lies I took on as my own from an abusive marriage has not been easy. I didn’t realize how much I owned the lies until they became me. For so long I lived hiding, living secrets, afraid to let anyone in. As women we desire to be known, heard and to belong. All this and more has God been speaking into my life for the last nine years. Now I am ready to take it a step further to allow my self this same vulnerability with other women. Ripping off the masks to be open and share, not out of superiority or showing how strong I am but to allow others to see my weakness and to speak into my life. To receive comfort not just give comfort. Which has been difficult for me. It’s a risk. But one I am willing to take. So here I am standing at the top of the cliff ready to dive into the sea of amazing women.

    • Your words are amazing Karen. I can see myself standing on that same cliff last year at this time but for a very dark reason. You are brave and God will honor that. Owning the lies is something I did as well during my first marriage and undoing all of that is a process. I’m proud of you!!

  25. Short answer: I don’t know how to posture myself before the Lord mentally and spiritually to be prepared for healing!! I’ve tried all sorts of prayers, all sorts of self-help reading, Bible reading, etc. Is that what I need to do? I’ve been hurt so many, many times that it’s hard to open myself to other people.

    On a slightly different note, about 11 years ago, I was falling into a sin trap. I didn’t realize it myself until it was too late (I thought). After everything came out in the open (painfully!!!!!!!), I found out that a few others whom I considered friends had seen what was happening, yet had said nothing to me. I really wish someone had taken the time to lovingly point out what she saw. It may have prevented some of the pain. Maybe.

    • Bethany, God doesn’t want perfect words or songs. I was kneeling on my kitchen floor this morning with my eyes closed. I said, “God, you know what I need. Please, please, please, help me walk through this. I can’t do it alone.” Nothing profound or beautiful but I said what I was thinking. Just say your thoughts. Say you hurt, you’re angry, you’re confused, you’re happy. Whatever you are feeling just give it words.

      • Is it really that easy? Wait, as I typed those words, I realized that sometimes it is really hard to put actual words with feelings. Or maybe I just think my feelings are so ugly sometimes that I don’t want to give them words.

        • I find honesty is the best policy. He already knows your heart Bethany. He knows your fears, joys, sorrows, pain. Go to Him and be open with your words. It really is easy once you’ve done it a few times. I talk to Him like that a lot. He created you…let him in.

    • The posture of prayer is a position of the heart. Open yourself to His voice and it won’t matter whether you’re on your tippy toes with your hands stretched upward, or sprawled flat on your face. It’s your heart He wants. Love you, sweet girl.

  26. Hey, beautiful ladies. I want to draw your attention to the Editorial Note I added to the bottom of this post, and to ask that you comment somewhere beneath this comment to let me know if you still need a buddy and we will try to get some match-ups going from here. Thanks so much! Love you big bunches.

    • Just wondering why I’m not hearing from you on this? If there isn’t another single out there it’s okay I am just following along here.
      Thanks for the opportunity to be part of this!

  27. I am late coming in this week…busy with audit at work and just life stuff but if anyone out there doesn’t have a study buddy I am in need and would love to connect as we continue on.

    My thoughts on this topic are that it is very difficult to find someone you trust. We are always at risk of our weaknesses being exposed by someone untrustworthy. Long time relationships are difficult when you come in to an established arena. Although I have been in International Falls form over 40 years, I am still an outsider and feel like it. My crazy background has kept me at a distance from many.

    However, over the past several years I have been part of a remnant group of intercessors and we have prayed for one another and walked with each other through some stuff. I asked one of the women in the group to accompany me to Carol Kent’s conference this past summer and we have become very close since then and God is use her in my life as one I can trust with any issues that I may be dealing with as well as she is my accountability partner. I have been thanking God for her and she is such an encourager as well! But I want to say that this really came on the heals of being willing to open myself up regardless of what might be said or what others may think of me. As I have opened up and risked being judged I have to say that I am more certain of God’s love for me than ever. That has made all the difference in my understanding of God’s grace over me. Truly…His banner over me is love! That truth has been helping me go deeper when I speak and share with women and on my radio program also!

    Thanks for letting me spout:0)

  28. Wow it was no accident that I stumbled across this blog today. My blog was born out of a search to find healing through my writing. I desperately need this group! I will be purchasing this book and working to catch up with y’all. I would love to have a partner.

    • Melissa, we are so thankful you made your way here. Love how God does that! And I love your passion to use writing as a healing tool. You catch up as you can, okay? And be sure to sign up over here: http://www.joannfore.com/find-your-voice so that gets you on the official email notification list, okay? We don’t want you to miss any emails. If you scroll down to the bottom of that link, you will see a place to sign up.

      Once again, so very glad you are joining us. Welcome!

  29. Ok, so slightly random comment I’m posting here but I’m sure it will tie in 🙂 Last Sunday I visited a church near where I live. It’s my third visit there but for the first time my husband came with me rather than going to our usual church, and something happened that really touched my heart profoundly.

    During a time for sharing an older man got up and went to the microphone…and he poured his heart out, crying as he spoke, and expressing how he feels that he had not been wholehearted in his relationship with God. He broke down in tears and glanced up as is asking God for help to continue but then also told God he was so sorry. It was something so simple, but yet so personal and I thought very humble and very humbling that he opened up completely in front of the entire congregation like that. It was such a beautiful moment, and it made me think, “if only we all felt free to be that open in all churches.” How different would things be?

    I don’t know but it seems there is such a spirit of fear attacking our churches where of all the places, church should be the place where we feel free to come as we are and “cry with those who cry and rejoice with those who rejoice”. I don’t know what infiltrated the church or when that this changed to us feeling that we have to hide and put on a Sunday face instead. The devil is such a liar! God’s word instructs and encourages us to be a community who support each other in everything and yet few of us have truly experienced that but rather this fear and this hiding.

    Oh how much richer in love, in joy, in freedom and in community we could be. Yes, the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy and I believe this is something he has been using for a long time. God gave us so many gifts and His permission and blessing to be healed and help heal others, to be open, to have community / fellowship, to share, to be real, to be authentic, and fear has stolen this from us and greatly affected the true level of impact we can have on the community around us. To heal our communities, to bring truth and light amongst the lies and the darkness, to bring joy, to set others free.

    Ladies, I feel passionately that God wants this to change, to restore His intentions for community within the church so that the church can reach out to others as He intended. To have the level of impact that He intended. To bring about change as He intended and to break down walls as He intended.

    I want my freedom, my freedom to express, my freedom to cry, to mourn, to heal, to be restored, to help lift others, to rejoice, and to be and do all that God intended for me, back and I’m pretty sure that chances are, if you are taking part in this online study, you want these things back too.

    Jo Ann, this blog is a massive tool in bringing this restoration about. God bless you. Ladies, we are far stronger and more powerful than we think. An opposer attacks those who it sees as a threat, and although we may not see our greatness, they do and whilst they work to cut it down before it grows, God aims to build you up. Well, as far as I’m concerned, God is stronger than any opposition and through Him He gives this strength and the victory to us. Through this then we are more than conquerors. Rise up ladies! Our voices will be heard! Our hands and hearts will reach out, and others will be blessed.

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