I was never a fan of the dark. Accustomed to being awakened to horrific surprises, having to jump to my feet in fight or flight mode, as a child I grew to dread nighttime hours. Now, as an adult, sleep doesn’t come as easily as it might for some, and it can be frustrating. I can count on one hand the nights that I’ve awakened in the morning with a sense of deep rest from the night before. I sleep much more peaceably during daylight hours. This doesn’t interfere with the quality of life I now have, but it is most certainly a residual. It’s a leftover from the fear I lived with due to domestic violence during child and adolescent years.
As I matured into an adult, I was headed down a path very similar to the one I had always known; I chose boyfriends that were abusive. Fighting was something I was used to, and fighting back was becoming a pattern as well.
I was broken inside, but couldn’t call it brokenness, because I hadn’t heard anyone else call it that. What I saw and heard was this notion of protecting the secret. I did not even feel worthy enough to weep aloud. It wasn’t until I was married with children of my own that I actually gave myself permission to hear my own sobs, to mourn the childhood I should have had, and to moan if I felt I needed to.
2Corinthians 3:17(NLT) declares, “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” I thank God to be free from the secret, and to speak my truth unashamedly. It is indeed cathartic, but lest I overreach into that bowl of selfishness, I must share the method of my release, and not just herald the release itself.
Jesus Christ extended an invitation to us all in Matthew 11:28-30(NLT), “28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” I had heard this passage many times in church, but I didn’t allow the overwhelming love he offered to connect with my need. I remember the feeling of utter hopelessness I had when I was almost seventeen. I made a split-second decision one night to lay it all on the line. It was my final hope, and I gave it all, every burden, over to Jesus Christ.
Something very real happened to me internally when I asked Christ to come into my life. I knew I was changed, and things started to get a little better for me, but still, I wanted more evidence. I was very self-reliant as a teen, because in certain areas I had to be, but insecurities had made me appear clumsy and odd at times in front of my peers. I was ridiculed, became comfortable with disappointment, and expected it often.
My young shoulders were heavy with problems at home and school. The responsibilities I had were not those of a normal teen. I cooked, cleaned, and cared for my siblings, and was expected to do so at a level that rivaled any mature adult. I also very much wanted to go to college, and that included worries and fears that most my age would not have considered, or would have had to. It seemed an impossible reality, with everything stacked against me, but I decided that I’d let Christ handle the whole thing.
I didn’t know nearly as much as I know now about operating by faith, but I knew enough to wrestle doubt every time it came to the surface. With every contrary thought of worry and anxiety, I arrested it in my mind with, “Nope! Not my worry. I gave it all to Jesus.” This affirmation became a habit pattern. It was a different kind of fight. I knew what a physical blow felt like. I knew what it was to be pushed to the floor so hard that you didn’t have time to process it; you just got back up for another round. But this ‘mind’ thing broke new ground for me. I could feel the wheels of power churning, not my wheels, but the Lord’s. A different kind of rest was opening up, and I had peace for the first time. Things worked out. Not the way I thought they would, but in a way that was divine and purposeful to my entire life’s journey.
I don’t know how I lost this pattern of faith the Lord had taught me, but I did. Child-like humility took a back seat to adult arrogance, and I thought I could handle everything all on my own. So later, when I was in my twenties, I finished college and made a near mess of my life. I was sitting alone one morning, having been up all night despondently waiting for the other shoe to drop. Suddenly, a memory shot across my mind’s eye like a shooting star. I didn’t recognize it as the everlasting hope it represented, but that’s exactly what it was. I had been in a miserable place before, and I was there again. I knew I couldn’t remain in that place much longer without losing myself altogether. I reached out to the Lord Jesus Christ; and again, he rescued me.
Well, here I am, still clumsy at times, and still struggling to get a good night’s sleep, but I claim and have held for some time now a peace that passes all understanding. 2Corinthians 5:7 tells us to walk by faith and not by sight. We don’t have to see where we’re going, and faith does not come with a seatbelt; it doesn’t need one. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is in the driver’s seat. As we release our hands from the wheel, and let ourselves fall completely into his care, he will keep us in his perfect peace.■
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
“Faith Does Not Come with a Seatbelt” written for Overcomingdomesticviolenceorg.wordpress.com. Copyright ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!