A NOTE TO THOSE WHO KNEW ME WHEN: I know some of you will know what I am talking about in my story and some might be scratching their heads saying, "wow, I had no idea!" This goes to show that the majority of our battle against the enemy is in our mind. He loves mind games. Don't let him win!
Welcome to the planet Earth. Bad things happen here and sometimes they happen to us. One of the main reasons for this is because of man’s sinful choices. We are humans given the gift of choice. We are not puppets on a string. We make a willful choice to follow the path to freedom or the path to destruction. WE HAVE TO CHOOSE TO FOLLOW GOD!! IT DOES NOT COME NATURALLY!! Everyday you must choose whom you will serve. Joshua 24:15. You must live life with a purpose and a passion for God OR you will live life with a purpose and a passion for the enemy of your soul. Sometimes people choose to do things to hurt us. We, in turn, have to choose to forgive or not. My story is about what happened to me when I chose not to forgive.
Throughout my life until almost 9 years ago, I blamed everyone else for all my problems. I would not take any responsibility for my response to the offenses that had occurred in my life. When I finally decided that enough was enough, I was barely getting through each day. I constantly thought that everyone would be better off if I was not around, but I was too afraid to do anything about it. What the enemy wanted to do was to destroy me and, in the process, destroy my family. What God wanted was to restore me and my family to what He had created us to be, but I was even afraid of what I would have to do to get there. At the time, I had been injured in a hit and run accident and the stress I was putting myself under was making these injuries worse. I could not sleep at night because I was afraid of going to sleep. It meant I was one day closer to death, but I was also afraid to live. I was afraid that when I grew old my children and my husband would reject & abandon me. I was afraid of leaving my house. I was afraid of everything. I would do everything to keep busy so I would not have to sit and think about what was going on in my heart and mind. The immense fear would attack me when I would lie down at night, because I finally had to stop long enough and listen to what was going on in my heart and mind. It was not the heart and mind of one who trusted the One and True Living God. It was the mind of fear, distrust, hatred, rebellion, rejection, anger, unforgiveness and bitterness. But, guess what? Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Not one, not some, but ALL of them. I SOUGHT, not He chased me and held me down. I had to be ready and willing to lay ALL of it down and do whatever it took to walk the path to healing which was also the path to FREEDOM.
As a child, I was a victim of sexual abuse. I had to work really hard to remember anything else. Fortunately, we don’t have to live in the past; we choose to do that. I choose to live in the present. I can’t change the past, but I can be a catalyst to change the present as well as the future. I had many illnesses as a child. My first trip to the ER for an asthma attack was at age nine. Illness after illness followed. I missed over 40 days in 5th grade, over 60 days in 7th grade and so much of the 8th grade that I had to have a home tutor help me finish the year. I had numerous trips to the ER for asthma, allergies and ear infections. I ruptured an eardrum, had my tonsils removed in the 7th grade, was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, ulcers, acid reflux, migraine headaches in the 8th grade. My parents enrolled me in a very conservative private Christian school for high school. It was much smaller than the public school and I was able to be secluded with the type of classroom setting we had. I was not as sick as I had been, but I still missed a lot of school. By my senior year, I had completed enough credits that I only went to school half a day, but spent the other half in a different building away from the rest of the students. I kept myself as isolated as I could. I was much happier when I was alone. I graduated from high school with honors at the top of my class. I went on to college with all that fear still living and growing in me. I did so poorly that I lost all my academic scholarships in my freshman year. Throughout college, I did seek help and found none. No amount of counsel that I sought from leadership, friends or anyone made any sense or helped ease the pain. I do remember one counselor asking me, “are you sure you have forgiven those that have hurt you?” I said yes, but I hadn’t forgiven. I didn’t think they deserved to be forgiven. They knew better. I had just tried to forget and stuffed it down as far as I could. Somehow, it kept sneaking out and causing me to fall apart. In my junior year, a classmate sexually assaulted me. After that it was so hard for me to do anything. I finally fell apart my senior year and couldn’t put myself back together again. I was done. I couldn’t perform at school any more and I quit. Rick had already entered my life at this point. I was a mess. When we married, we began walking the path to freedom. We attended a great church in Texas that taught all about spiritual warfare. Four years into our marriage, we moved from Texas to Alaska to pastor a church in the bush sight unseen. Our friends and family had one of two opinions about us moving up here. We were either brave or insane! I started dwindling further and further into the depression that started when I was a child. I would sleep in until I had to get up. It took a lot of coaxing to get moving. I absolutely loved our time and the people there, but at the same time I was dying inside.
In 1999, we moved to Anchorage. We thought we had failed and God had rejected us and now we were at the bottom. By that time, I was living with several different illnesses and Rick was sick at heart as well. I was on daily meds for asthma. I couldn’t get out of bed without using my inhaler. I was also on meds for hypothyroidism. I had several allergies and always sneezing and taking benadryl. Chronic sinus infections had me constantly in the doctor’s office for antibiotics. I suffered with migraines, hypoglycemia, mitral-valve pro-lapse, IBS, acid reflux, chronic nausea, TMJ, panic and anxiety. I could not even go to Wal-Mart without having an attack. I was still struggling with severe depression. I would lose track while I was driving and I could not remember how I had gotten to where I was and sometimes where I was going. I was told I was possibly bi-polar & needed medication. I was seeing a neurologist for the car accident injuries and was told I needed to have an evaluation for MS because I was experiencing electricity up my arms and in my face as well as some numbness and other symptomatic nerve pain. That was when the red light came on and I decided I had had enough. A year before that, Rick had gone to a class at church called “Biblical Foundations of Freedom” that taught how stress and fear can cause some of the diseases and illnesses in our lives. After the class, Rick continued one on one counseling. He did this because his heart was getting healed and wanted to see me healed physically as well. When he first brought the book home he told me, “I think I found the answer to your problems.” I wanted to throw the book at him. I did not respond well. I had already tried everything. In my mind, I was crazy and it wouldn’t be long until they figured it out and had me committed. But it wasn’t my fault. It was because of the abuse. What happened next was weird. He gave me the book and he left me alone. I had noticed that he had changed but I didn’t think it would last. Well, it did last. I began noticing he was more at peace and more confident about himself. So, I began to think there might be something to this book. I still didn’t want to jump at the chance to face my issues. It was my counselor at the time who brought me to that pivotal point. She said she wasn’t sure what else to do to help me with my deep-rooted fear issues and she had ran across this new book, “Biblical Foundations of Freedom” and she thought we should talk to Art Mathias, who had written it because she thought he could help me. Inside my head all I could hear was a voice screaming, “NO!” At the time, I thought it was myself. Now, I know it was the voice of the enemy. He knew his time was up and he was about to be deported. I will never forget our first appointment. I started crying the minute I saw Art. He asked me what I was afraid of. I didn’t know at the time, but I checked off nearly every fear listed in the book and added some in the margins. I told him my story and he asked if I had forgiven my offenders. I said I had. He asked me to really think about it and asked again if I had forgiven. The word no came out before I could even process the question. Art asked me if I wanted to be free of depression and fear. I said yes. He told me I was going to have to make a choice to really forgive those that had hurt me and release them to God. He explained that forgiving them did not mean that what they did was okay. Forgiving them was releasing me from the chains of bitterness that I held toward them. Forgiving them was for my freedom from these chains. If I chose not to forgive them, I would stay in bondage. I did not want that anymore. I wanted to be free. I chose forgiveness and chose to let God be God and let him judge the offenders. I also began repenting for my part in my misery and forgiving myself. How did I know I had truly forgiven? I came to the point that I released the offenders and prayed that God would help them find freedom. Soon after starting this process, the fears just started going away. In a few days, I didn’t feel that depressed anymore. Within a few weeks it was gone! I was also not using my inhaler anymore. I didn’t need to. Within 6-9 months, all the other illnesses and symptoms were gone as well. I had been healed. I had lived with these things for years and now they were gone. My back was not healed completely, but the intense muscle spasms, numbness & tingling I was experiencing stopped. We were encouraged to repent to our kids. We sat them all down together and repented for mistakes we had made as parents and for making them think we had rejected them. They said ok. We prayed over each one and what happened next was amazing! Tiffany’s asthma & eczema, Zac’s severe allergies that caused him to snort all the time, and Natalie’s eczema were all healed over time. The asthma and allergy doctor finally told us we didn’t need to come see him anymore. I had made one more “just to be sure” appointment. We sat there for so long the kids said, “Why are we here, we don’t need to see the doctor because we are not sick anymore.” So, I told the receptionist to take us off the list. We were done! We left and have never had to go back. Tiffany has even shared her healing testimony with others.
Some of the major strongholds I had to work on were control, rage and anger. It has taken a lot of time and effort to choose not to go there. Many times I have had to repent to my kids, ask the Lord what is really going on here and deal with that issue. The majority of times I find that I am the one I am really angry with. So, I have to forgive myself and repent for the anger and move on. The enemy wants us to stew in our anger. We just have to learn how to turn off the burner! That doesn’t mean we don’t discipline our kids. It just means I don’t go over the edge in the process.
It has been many years now since we started this journey and I don't have to pinch myself because I know it's for real!! The enemy knocks on the door but I refuse to open it! That is the key. Had I not had the groundwork that was laid by working through my past wounds, rejection, bitterness, unforgiveness, self-hatred, and all their attachments, I truly believe that this total healing would not have been able to take place. I did not get to where I was in illness and heartache overnight. I didn’t get to where I am today in just one service at church. It comes through living a lifestyle of repentance to our kids and others when we hurt them. It comes from forgiving ourselves when we make a mistake. It comes from forgiving others when they hurt us. It comes when we CHOOSE to walk in freedom. It also comes from knowing who you truly are in Christ. We are not labeled or identified by our past or our current struggles. Freedom also comes from putting yourself in teachable positions. We have to be open to learning more. Don’t just go to church. Sign up for a Bible study, attend conferences, go to the Ladies/Men’s retreats. Just this year at the women’s retreat, God showed me how much healing I had received in the area of fear of man. This is the first church we have belonged to that I haven’t found myself begging God to move us somewhere else because I felt like I didn’t have a purpose or I wasn’t trusted or valued. I know now this wasn’t exactly true but this is how I saw it through the eyes of fear. God showed up and showed me how much He loved me and how much I was loved by others and had nothing to be afraid of. I also received 2 similar prophetic words over the past 6 months. One was from a leader at Encounter Weekend last October and the other was from Dishan at the 104 class a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t real happy about what they told me because they weren’t all about the great things God was going to do through me without me taking care of some more “stuff”. After I finally got over my pride and began asking God to show me what these words meant, He was faithful. At this last Encounter Weekend, the Lord showed me a picture. Our youth pastor, Jeremy, brings his daughter to me for piano lessons. He left my house carrying his two youngest daughters, one in each arm, because one couldn’t walk in the snow and the other didn’t want to. God told me that He wanted to do that for me. He wants to carry me when I am struggling and can’t walk on my own. He wants me to trust him to be my Father and not try to do everything myself. We always need God more today than we did yesterday. Our pastor has said it well; if we take our eyes off God we are seconds away from depression. If you think you have arrived and you have finally gotten all your issues under control or you have no more issues, you better try to open your eyes, because you are both asleep and dreaming or you are dead. Because we live on the planet earth, offense is going to happen. Do I still get offended? Do I still make mistakes? Yes. BUT, I repent, ask forgiveness, choose to forgive, tell the enemy to go, and ask God to heal the wound. Are my kids perfect? No. But, we are learning together how to tackle the storms the enemy puts in our path. Many times it is my children that remind me not to get so bent out of shape. God is in control. God is good all the time. God only gives good gifts to his children. All the bad stuff….that’s Satan fodder. No matter where you are in your freedom journey, tell someone. Others in bondage to the enemy surround us. We overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. My testimony is forgiveness has to be a lifestyle. We live on the planet earth and people are going to do things to hurt us. We have to choose to forgive. If we can’t choose to forgive, then the pain will never go away. Choose to put an end to it. Stand up and tell the enemy enough is enough!