Me Too

Calm down

 

Those times when life’s not working out like we thought it should—it creates a unique stress, no? A twisting of the heart and mind that holds a false sense of power over our choices. A crushing loss of hope that comes when we feel this hard may never end, the one that drives us into a sometimes secret, depressing, and downright miserable place that can blame God for not giving us what we expect from life.

But God has a plan. No, really, He does. That’s not platitude. Or fluff. Or denial. God has a provision and a purpose in this pain. {Not to say He is the one that brought this hard into our lives, for I tend to question that when I line it up with God’s character, but that’s another topic for another post.}

Why do we allow fear and hurt to cloud our mindsets?

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we turned our perspective. If we dared to believe there may well be some sort of good hidden in the overwhelming bad.

A renewed sense of purpose births a new hope.

This sort of conviction changes lives. This releasing of the need to know “why” and a willingness to move into the “what’s next” leads a girl straight into an intensity that drives restoration full circle. A place where this healing becomes our motivation to pour into the hearts of others who may find themselves in similar situations.

The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.
— Brené Brown

Me. Too. These words that say, “Those places I didn’t want to be? While I may not have chosen to be there, I have indeed been there, and because I’ve been there, I’ve experienced a Hope I can now offer you. Let me walk with you.” That is the only way to walk out these hard patches of life,  this true focus on God. A drawing-so-close-to-Him-we-can-feel-His-very-breath sort of focus that shows others we care.

That’s God’s plan.

your story relatable

There comes the time we are set free from the lies of self-pity, the bondage of low self-worth.The time to share those stories we’ve been hesitant to share, the stories that will change not just us but those listening.

Deeper Still: How can we use our stories to make a difference, as encouragement to help women live above these hurts that try to stifle our dreams?

 

Today we’re linking up around the topic of using our stories. You have a story, and your story matters. I would love to hear it. There are a few ways you can participate today:

  1.  Share your story by linking up a post you’ve written around this topic of courage {but be sure to mention our link up or use our button so we can stay in community}.
  2. Please share your heart about this post, or the topic in general, in our comments section below. I write these words so that I can connect with you. I want to know you, what your heart feels, and your words that need to be heard.
  3. Share our graphic and this link up with others on social media.
  4. After you’ve shared with us, be sure to go back and visit a couple of the bloggers who have also shared. Peek in on their stories, their hearts, and enjoy the connection with other link-minded folks.

 



43 thoughts on “Me Too

  1. These words resonate within my heart “Those places I didn’t want to be? While I may not have chosen to be there, I have indeed been there, and because I’ve been there, I’ve experienced a Hope I can now offer you. Let me walk with you.” And after reading the first chapter of “When a woman finds her voice” I realize the power of others as they come alongside to gently push us towards that Light. But opening up and being vulnerable is still hard.

    • Oh, Maria, I don’t discount it’s hard. And that’s why we want to come together in community, to walk together.

      I’m so glad for your willingness. God will bless that, just you wait and see.

    • Maria,
      I agree, the opening up is very hard, but I know from past experience how it can touch others. I was blessed to have a new friend come to walk alongside me four years ago. A friend willing to share her story of complete brokenness and healing through Jesus Christ. It is only through her willingness to openly tell her story that the door opened for bits of my own story to begin to be revealed and healed. She shared with me a few years ago of her own mental breakdown several years ago and that story, that knowing of her survival helped give me strength to face the past few weeks of my own mental dark time. I thank God every day He placed us together, it’s like a piece of something missing in my life was filled with Him through her and her story. God will bless willingness to share our stories, hard yes, blessed for certain!!

  2. In Matthew 12 Jesus heals the lepers hand, yet before healing he tells the man, “reach out your hand to me”. Is that what God asks of us in telling our stories. I will heal, but reach out my daughter. I will use your story when you stretch out your hand to others, I’m not sure but I know sharing my story is something God has been laying on my heart for quite a while, so here is a start.

    CONTRADICTIONS AND CONFUSION if I had to pick two words to describe my story these would be the words. Sometimes it seems as if I had two different childhoods and in all honesty I did. My parents divorced when I was only two. My mom was a constant, strong and loving presence in my life. My dad; inconsistent, prone to violent outbursts and yet fiercely loving. My relationship with my dad which had been guarded turned much closer after he was diagnosed and fought a long battle with cancer. I was blessed to spend this time with him and feel the love of his later years. Yet my little girl heart is marred by scars of our earlier relationship. I was blessed with loving grandparents, yet so many of them I was confused at times: my dad married three times, my mom four. It seemed for a while “grandparents” and step-parents went in and out of my life. I actually met my husband before I can even remember, we went to church together for years, he was older than me by three years and much more mature. I think I fell in love with him as a freshman but we never dated until my senior prom. From that moment we were together. He was a steady and loving presence, his parents the only ones he ever knew, his grandparents the same. It took the poor guy years to figure out all my extended family ties. I was drawn to his steadiness, even to his parents. I frequently asked him what it was like to grow up, not having to interrupt his life every other weekend to go to another home, what it was like to just have mom and dad? I could not even wrap my head around it, and 30 years later it is still difficult to imagine. My story includes an older step-brother who took advantage of a 9 year old starved for a mans love, a step-father I loved deeply who I watched wither from a strong, hard working man to dying a cruel death way too young, a step-mother who went from amazing to mentally ill, a brief stint with another step-father who stalked my mom and held a knife to her throat for making the coffee wrong. A dad who was fiercely loving, yet to be feared. Who never laid a hand on his children yet violently attacked his wife in front of them. I’ll stop for now, there is so much more to tell but this small bit should provide insight as to why I say contradictions and confusion.

    I want to tell my story, but it seems so confusing and overwhelming there are times I don’t even know where to start. But I know my God will lead and I know someday He will use it to touch at least one other person if I listen to His leading.

    • Amy, sometimes the “whole” story is hard to tell all at once but I know that He will open doors where you will be able to share pieces of your story, a chapter at a time, to hearts that are in need of the grace you can share with them. I too have a story that is confusing in it’s complete telling so I understand when you say about “contradictions and confusions”. Thank you so much for opening your heart. It touched me.

      • Yes, Amy, I agree with Maria. Sometimes story is digestible in the smaller portions as we serve grace and hope to others, but not so much served in the overwhelming slices of life that we feel forced to relive.

        I love your courage. Your heart.

  3. Thank you so much for the CEV version of Psalm 46:10. I had never heard it before. I am familiar with “Be still and know that I am God,” but “Calm down and LEARN that I am God” really reasonated with me today. As someone slightly addicted to activity and control (ahem)….calm down and learn needs to be pasted on my forehead.

    • Yes, Dawn, God knew I needed to read this in this different version. Recovering control freak as well, {did I just say that, lol} I was a lil disappointed the day God led me to the original verse that most of us are familiar with. “Yes, God, I know that you are God, and yes God, I know I need to be still … but I just don’t have time! And I wanted a fresh Word, God, not this one.”

      “Read it in this version, Jo Ann. ”

      Whoa! Calm down? Now that’s a whole different take, God. 🙂

      • What perfect timing, calm down and learn. The past three weeks have been a hard lesson in calming down for me. I knew God wanted me to calm down, but no matter how hard I tried it just kept getting crazier. I think this time of desperation, this time at the bottom of the pit is forcing me to calm down and learn more of His peace in a way I have never before found possible. In the depths of this anxiety my biggest fear was loss of control, as He begins pulling me from that pit I am realizing He was in control all along, I just need to stop fighting Him for the steering wheel. Calm down and learn, beautiful, beautiful take on a familiar Word of God. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Jo Ann, these words are strong, beautiful and soul stirring. I once believed no one would WANT to walk beside me because of my story. But the exact opposite has occurred. I can say with truth that the pain was worth the place I am in now. You’ve inspired me once again and I am truly honored to call you my friend and mentor. Thank you for listening to my ramblings and opening your world to me. We’ve come a long way in such a short amount of time, right?! Walking with you is a joy and a journey. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. God knew what he was doing when he put us on crossing paths. Love you!!

  5. Bless you Jo Ann! Your words encourage so deeply! I used to believe I was too scarred, to weird or damaged to have my story matter. I, like Sarah, thought no one would want to walk beside me. But these sister bloggers and sisters in Christ (including you!) have shown me that love colored glasses are the best ones to view the world with, and Jesus makes the best ones EVER!

  6. For 22 years I have kept the secret of having had an abortion. This year I have had the courage to share my story with a counselor and one trusted Christian male friend. I wouldn’t know where to start to share this part of my life with my closest girlfriends…should I? I feel they don’t really know me. Am I a fraud? I’m struggling with the shame and regret and remorse of that decision. Yet, if things had unfolded differently I wouldn’t have the son that I now have. So how do I put that all in perspective? The fullness of my story is too complicated to share here and I think that is why I refrain from attempting to share it with others. Yet I wish I could share the story with just one woman that would hear it and change her mind about having an abortion…”my story, wrapped in God, around his Word, and what He has done in my life to safely lead a woman home”. I would love to come along side a woman facing this decision and say “me too” and raise the possibility of “is there another way to think about this?” I never entertained that possibility 22 years ago. I turned to no one to help me consider another way to think about my decision. I hate the thought of someone else being in that alone place and not hearing and contemplating the fullness of truth. I don’t know where to start…I’m asking today for help because 22 years ago I did not.

    • What courage to share the story of your abortion! As a previous Crisis Pregnancy Centre director I know what strength it entails to begin shed the layers of secrecy, shame and loss that is felt by many who have had abortions. Crisis Pregnancy Centre’s offer post-abortion counselling and also training to become a peer counselor and maybe, Jill, maybe there is a centre near you. This might be a place where God may want to use your voice and your compassion. Out of our brokenness His beauty shines the brightest.

    • Oh Jill, my heart breaks for you. We ALL are a fraud, whether it be abortion, pornography, sexual abuse, or even the perceived shameful secrets we hold in our hearts. The good news is that our God is absolutely outrageous in His provision of Grace. Grace is nothing we can ever earn or lose, it simply is His gift! Your willingness and desire to share your story with others in that position will be blessed by God. I feel compelled to say this….sometimes sharing our story may not look like we envision. Have you ever considered sharing your story with others who have already made that decision? Those who share similar fears, similar heart break…..those who need a friend who has been there, who is there? Someone who can meet them, be with them right where they are. A friend once told me, “we cannot place their hand in Jesus’ hand unless we first know their story”. I don’t think we can fully know someone’s story unless we have been there. Jill, God loves you, right where you are, He has never and will never stop….I pray as you discern how and where to share your story His all encompassing love and grace seeps into every dark spot within your heart, as that happens His love will shine through and naturally open the door for your story to touch others. Blessings to you this day!

      • Thank you, Amy, for your encouragement and wisdom. I hadn’t considered that perhaps I may be asked to come alongside other women who share my story. My church offers a post-abortion healing Bible study and I will prayerfully consider that in my next steps of healing.

        • Jill, I completely agree with these ladies who have spoken courage and life. You are brave and mighty in telling even a fraction of your truth. God has a plan for you and the desire to encourage others seems to be a very good possibility. Safe places are of the utmost importance and beginning to tell your story is brave and humbling. I am praying the Lord will guide your steps and that you will listen to His words and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to the women who need you. Thank you so much for sharing here.

          • Sarah, you have expressed something in one of your blogs that spoke (speaks) to a fear I have in sharing and that is “no one would want me once my story was shared”. I’ve already experienced once instance of rejection in sharing one aspect of my past (not the story of my abortion above). I thought I was doing the decent/correct thing by sharing this aspect of my past and the reaction I feared is what I received. I guess I do need to re-think the “what” and the “with whom” and the “when” of my sharing.

    • From someone who has been there I can only say that there is healing when we let it out. Not everywhere but yes in trusted few places to begin. This is part of your healing and you can’t imagine how many are in your boat. You will find the courage to welcome God’s healing balm of love and then He will bring others to you who will need to know He forgives.

      Have you reconciled and receive His forgiveness Jill? It took me a long time to work that through and then I had to forgive myself. This is all part of the journey called healing.

      Lord I pray that You would gently lead this precious sister along the pathway of forgiveness and I ask that You would slather her in Your healing balm of love. I pray Jill would feel You now covering her and embracing her so she would know that she is forgiven. Show her how to forgive herself and fill her with your peace. You are preparing her for a new season and a new freedom in Christ Jesus. Thank You Father for Your unfailing love and this precious girl who is seeking You now in Your name I pray!

      • Thank you, Kimberly, for kindly sharing your perspective as someone who has been there and for covering me with the sweet words of your prayer. You have been a blessing to me today.

    • Jill, such raw and honest transparency. Thank you! You are brave. And God’s going to use that.

      You turn my mind a couple ways. First I want to simply hug you and tell you that you are loved. Second I want to encourage you on your healing journey, your willingness to be used is beautiful. And third, I want to ask you to pray for discernment.

      Our story is to be used as gift, as God leads. Isaiah 58:9-12 {NIV} says this, “The LORD will always guide you . . . He will make you healthy. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water or like a stream that never runs dry. You will rebuild those houses left in ruins for years; you will be known as a builder and repairer . . . .”

      I believe God will show you when your motive is to restore and rebuild. When it is appropriate to share. Know that I am praying for you on this journey.

      Dan Allender, in his book, To Be Told, discusses our responsibility to give away our story.

      ‘Since our stories reveal God, no story is ours alone. All our stories are owned by God and reveal truth; therefore no one has the right to say of his story, “This is too weird, painful, boring, shameful, confusing, or dark; therefore I will bury it.” All our stories are meant to be
      available for the purpose of revealing God and connecting us to one another. But our story does not need to be told to everyone, even the most intimate friends. We are to be guardians of our story, and it is to be given as a gift—not wantonly but carefully.[i]’

      [i] Dan Allender, To Be Told (Colorado Springs, CO:
      Waterbrook Press, 2005) 210.

      • JoAnn, I so appreciate your wisdom in this. I am reminded of something Brene Brown has said regarding vulnerability and the sharing of our stories “with people who have earned the right to hear them–people with whom we’ve cultivated relationships that can bear the weight of our story”. And I certainly need to give more prayerful consideration to the purpose(s) of sharing my story (revealing God and connecting to others). I am so very thankful for finding this community of sharing and caring. What an absolute blessing at this point in my journey!

  7. Coming on here has been a big struggle for me. In the last week I’ve been reading posts and post of all of you and you all talk how God is good, how great He is, how He has touched you in your lives. I have realized this morning in my therapy session that I don’t know this same God as all of you. I go to church every Sunday, sing in a choir, sing at weddings, at funerals… but one thing I don’t do is read in my Bible. For a long time I was angry at God and I think part of me is still is. I feel like He has abandoned me. I feel ashamed to say or feel that I’m angry at Him. Everyone is telling me that there’s a reason for my hurt. I don’t think that I will ever find that reason. I tried all my life to be this super good kid… super great teen…super great adult… but in my 45 yrs of living…I was sexually abused by my dad, was raped by other people for different reasons… was gang rape… was sexually abused by my husband…was raped by him. To put the frosting on the cake…I was sexually abused by my psychiatrist too last year. With 11 different people who has all sexually abuse/rape me…what is the reason that God has for me to have gone through all of that? I felt alone all my life until over 4 yrs ago. When I met this angel..it scared me because she was giving me love…love that I didn’t understand. About…maybe..6 months after or so…I tried to end my life. My life was such a bad shape..was hopeless…felt helpless… Stayed in the hospital for about 6 months or so… after the physical part was getting better they put me in the psychoward for the rest of the time I was there. They figured out it wasn’t an accident… I was suicidal. When I was able to be trusted…I could go for walks outside with someone to keep an eye on my… we got hit by a drunk driver and I was pinned underneat the car. Between both accidents… my head has been beaten pretty bad. I had to learn how to walk and talk again. This is only a part of my life. Please help me understand how God is so great and has reasons for what you go through in life because I really can’t see it at the moment.

        • I remember one of the greatest gifts of understanding someone gave me as I stood weeping in church (in my twenties and waiting to go into hospital for a hysterectomy because of health issues). No words were spoken but my friend put her arms around me and held me. So I pray, Carole, that you feel many arms hold and surround you, even without words, as hearts come alongside you through this painful journey that you are on until you find your breath once again.

    • Dear Carole…I don’t have the words to speak to your pain and all you have endured or even to answer your questions about God. I don’t want to sound trite even trying to offer an explanation for it. Please keep taking those courageous steps forward as you are currently doing. Hugs to you…

    • Carole,
      I cannot even pretend to know your pain or your experiences. I can understand the questions you ask and the reasoning behind them. Many of us do not have clear answers for you. But I can tell you that God does exist. You are in the right place and as you ask questions He is working. As you begin to seek good spiritual wisdom He is there. And being in this place is no accident. Allow these ladies to genuinely encourage you because they care. Reaching out and speaking your pain is better than keeping it in. I am praying for you Carole, for God to reveal Himself to you like never before. For you to see His mercy in your life and to see goodness in places you never realized. You are not alone sister, you are among Christian women who want you to get well.

      • Sarah… thanks for the prayers and I really do hope that God reveals Himself to me like never before. Everytime I think I’m getting better something else comes along. They have reduced my meds so now my feelings are real…the hurt is real… The meds were one of my mask because I didn’t have to deal with the real pain. I didn’t know it at the time because the pain was so strong but looking back the meds did a lot of masking. I just want to live free of that horrible pain. It’s killing me inside but too scared sometimes to let it out.

    • Carole, while I don’t have the answers you are seeking, I can surely understand your “whys” as that’s a lot of pain for one person to endure. Unfathomable pain.And I am so very sorry for every ounce of that pain you have walked. Like I shared above, I simply do not believe that a loving God has brought those circumstances into your life. Unfortunately there is much evil in our world, and there are those times that that evil infiltrates our lives.

      But Carol, I do believe in a loving God that can help you with the fallout of this. And yes, as my post shares, I do believe that God can use this. All of this. Somehow. However, you are in a different season at the moment. You are in a season of the right-now, mid-trauma experiences it sounds like for much of this pain. And sometimes in that season, we cannot see the waiting blooms for the dying branches. That is totally understandable, friend. Give yourself grace.

      While our circumstances are different, I, too, have walked through much pain. Much unexplainable, completely irrational pain caused by others. There were several things that helped me. One, Christian counseling. A great Christian counselor helped me stay grounded while I walked back into some of the hard stuff to retrieve the pieces of my broken heart, and helped me bring those shards of pain straight to God so I could allow Him to put me back together again.

      Two, a healthy community to hold me accountable. Here’s the hard piece of this. I do not know why bad things happen, and I won’t pretend otherwise, but here’s what I learned: Jesus Himself had one of the hardest lives I know yet he somehow experienced joy and triumph in spite of that. I believe He managed to do that because He focused on his father, and not the pain of his circumstances. He modeled for me {for us}, how to walk through these tough patches, how to get through this, all of this.

      And that’s what I’m suggesting in my post, is a turned perspective. A willing heart that will open to the love of the Father and let him start the healing. I believe that’s all He’s asking you at this point, Carole. To truly let Him in. That’s a great start. And that part we can’t figure out? That will come in time.

      For now, grant yourself permission to believe that healing is possible? That’s where true healing can begin .

      Praying for you. Honored you are with us.

      • Jo Ann… I have been struggling to come on here and share or even participate in the book study. I have read up to Chapter 1 and I have seen myself there in so many different places. I have not done the questions yet but read them fast and it’s going to be hard work to express what I feel about certain questions. I have to write my thoughts for my sessions but this is totally different because I have to answer questions and not share anything I want. Not sure if I’m making any sense…if not sorry …sometimes it’s hard for me to explain something because I’m French. I am willing to give this a chance…to read the book and really take the time to answer the questions. I had doubts at first but not determined to at least give it my best shot. There’s one thing that hit me in your comment… what you said about Jesus not focusing on his pain but on His Father…I have put the Father aside and maybe I need to think it over again because I can’t do this without Him by my side. I just hope that He will accept me for who I became.

    • Thanks everyone for being so kind and understanding. It’s a real struggle for me to try and see what you all are seeing at the moment. I really hope that I can see that God loves me one day and I won’t be so angry. At least seeing that no one has answers to my questions….makes me feel that I’m not so dumb after all. I’m sorry if I sound really negative..but I feel like I’m going through hell right now…I feel that my past is a never ending story…I’m just so tired and just want to feel free of the pain ;(

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