This post is going to be long, but well worth the read.
I feel like I kind of need to write out what has really happened in this process over the past few weeks-it has literally been LIFE-TRANSFORMING-I am NOT the same person that I was 5 weeks ago and I KNOW it! it's my testimony.
So as I said I started taking this Ultimate Journey class. My mentor kept trying to encourage me to take it. All I could think was "OK, look I've tried everything i know-various things at different times- to get healing in my life! NOTHING has LASTED. Yes, there have been things that I have done in the past that seemed to give me some relief, but it was only for a short time. So with a doubting and untrusting heart, I signed up for the class. I didn't believe that God could change me! I really believed I was beyond all hope and the despair was unlike anything words could ever describe. I was at the end of my rope.
The rule of this class has been that we have to be completely honest before God ultimately, a facilitator the two or three others that are in the class with you, and your mentor (should you choose to use one---and it is a VERY good idea to do so.) I remember reading in our text book that we would talk about things that others had done to us, and also what we had done. I have to confess when i read or was told that part about the fact that I would tell things about what i had done I kind of scoffed and thought, 'yeah, right! you are not going to get me to confess to anything---OVER MY DEAD BODY!!!" I realize that is strong, but it is what I honestly felt and thought.
The first three weeks of class or so were kind of like this thing that I non-heartidly do on the fly. I would read the readings the day of class without thinking about them much and the assignments-esspecially like the first one, I just sort of write something like ten minutes before class with no intention of connecting with what I really felt or thought about myself. (For those of you that are asking what is going on, this class takes an honest look at your life in various stages-the first being 0-2 years, the second being 2-5 years, the third being ages 5-11, the fourth being 12-14, the sixth being high school, the 7th being young adult years from about 18-26, and the last being your adult years beyond that. You are trying to get in touch with what you felt in yo0ur heart of hearts at those points-getting in touch with who you used to be. ) At first i thought it was crazy to be honest, so if you are reading this the first time and don't know what to think, it's ok-I was there. But it really isn't crazy because deep down inside We DO know what we've thought our whole lives and come to believe about God, ourselves, and others as a result. we might just not want to admit it or it might take us to some painful things that we'd rather forget----but REALLY NEVER DO FORGET.
So, after I did the 0-2 week, after two weeks of instruction on some things, which I might add that my 0-2 response letter was a bunch of fluffy junk that I wrote in five minutes just to get it done and was true regarding factually but not true in the sense of what i felt, my facilitator picked up on it. She had a hard-to-hear, but really honest conversation with me in front of the others. She said that she felt I was not ready and had to make a choice if i was going to move forward and allow God to heal that part of my life and connect with what I really felt or leave it behind. she asked me to say out loud what I really felt to wards the 0-2 year old that I was and it scared me to say that. You see the thoughts that I had towards her ere not the thoughts that are the nuce Christian fuzzy ones that we tend to think it's Ok to have. But rather the honest thoughts were thoughts of hated towards her. So I had to choose to voice those thoughts in front of the others in my group. It was a very difficult moment for me. Little did I know that this one step of honesty would later lead to the next and the next. My facilitator also said something along the lines of "What is standing in the way of you and your Creator." When she said that, it broke my heart. I didn't cry, but it really cut me to the core. All of this happened on a Thursday night.
The following Saturday, I had a very interesting experience as I sat in the room of a friend. she was talking with her grand daughter who was 11 or so (this was the week that we would be writing and reading our 5-11 year old letters in class the next Thursday.) They were sitting talking about EVERYTHING and I mean everything and my friend was asking the child about how she felt about different things that she had mentioned to her grand mother. It broke my heart and triggered something inside me that said, "I want that type of communication and needed it so desperately." This experience caused me to desire to pick up our main Ultimate Journey text book and read it---really read it. So I sat after that morning most of the day reading the text book for class, and somehow in the midst of reading it, the book finally made sense to me.
The next morning was a Sunday and as I took a shower to get ready for church, all off the sudden I became very aware of the fact that God loved me-inspite of everything that I had done. I believed Him and said yes to Him and i truly meant it-no turning back to who I used to be.
Monday morning that I woke up feeling extremely nauseaus and it got worse as i thought about writing the letter that was from the elementary school 5-11 year old that I used to be. I knew i had to do it, and I knew what I was going to have to deal with by writing it and didn't want to go there. As I sat in my room in desperation, I all of the sudden heard the house door open, and saw my mentor entering her office below. And I gathered the courage to see if maybe she could help me. I honestly told my mentor, "I am going to be so sick if I do this! I just can't do this! I just can't do this!" She gently reassured me and challenged me saying the only way to healing was to go through the pain . She encouraged me to write what I could and that when she was done with her class around 1:30, she invited me to come and read it to her and talk about it. This was good. I needed a semblance of a deadline to work with to be forced to write so i would get things out--things that had been buried for years but that were still very much alive-because our emotions don't just die and disappear.. It took another hour or so before I was willing to try writing but as I did, things started to come up-experiences that I had gone through and tried to forget, and although it hadn't quite clicked with me yet, the experiences had lies attached to them that I had believed as a result of perceiving them inaccurately as a child (more on how i came to this realization later). I knew that what I was writing was totally accurate and that it was what I had felt being that child. I went to my mentor and we sat for two hours as i struggled to read her what I had written thus far at that point.
Tuesday afternon at some point I finished the letter, after coming home from volunteering at the medical clinic. I felt that I really had "Gotten out" everything especially from the second to fourth grade years. Then at around two-thirty in the morning I woke up to a thought. I don't want to sound wierd about this, but seriously just like the shower experience I sensed that peace and heard in my spirit these words softly and tenderly spoken, "I was there." I was wide awake when this happened, and I instantly knew without a doubt in my mind and with complete clarity that immediately that in the middle of the elementary experiences that I had written about, God was saying He had been there--He had been there in moments that had been too painful for words in my life. And all I could honestly do in response was say, "YOU were THERE!!!!! YOU were THERE!!!!" and like the Sunday morning, 2 days earlier, I began to cry uncontrollably. I got out of bed to get a drink of water and my eyes caught one pf the posters for the
'God Is...Don't Let Go" conference on Saturday, and because it said God Is...Don't let go, I grabbed it and put it on the mirror in the room that I am staying in. It was truth and i needed to cling to it. I later drifted off to an extremely peaceful sleep for the rest of the night.
On Wednesday morning I noticed something very interesting. Honestly especially ever since coming here to the house of hope since January (and even before that) I had been spending somewhere in the middle of 5-7 hours a day on line trying to numb myself out and not think about all of the circumstances that had brought me here in the first place. But Wednesday morning, when I got up I tried to get on the internet and as I did I had this thought " You don't need this anymore." And spending hours on-line no longer thrilled me at all. realized that my "addiction to the internet and need to be on it to numb out" had almost totally disappeared. I didn't WANT TO do it anymore!!!!
Thursday afternoon just before class, it was like a small light bulb went off in my head as my eyes caught glimpse of a statement that I had written in the letter from the 8-11 year old. Part of the statement was this: "So because of how these experiences that I had, I went from being a happy child to a sad one rather quickly" And it was just like a red flag went off in my head and I thought "WHAT?" Was it because of these experiences that you became that sad girl, or was it because of lies that you came to believe along the way?" And I instantly knew the answer was that the pain was from the lies that I had believed rather than the experiences in and of themselves.
Thursday evening, I went to my class and read the letter, almost crying at a few points and being tempted to think that all of this was just me being self-centered, but yet, i knew what had gone on in my life and I was being honest-what I had said had occurred really to the best of my knowledge had happened just as I had written it. My facilitator responded saying, "Go and validate everything that the little girl thought and felt." Acknowledge what she felt and tell her what she needs to know.
Using that initial statement that had sparked the thought of truth, I wrote the letter back to the little girl that I was. I discovered that slowly throughout the day that at first I was angry with her because of some of the ways that she had responded to life for her protection But as the day went on and I told ger the truth and wrote more, I found that I couldn't be mad at her anymore for the fact that she had processed life as she had. She didn't know how to process life any differently, because children tend to believe that the truth is what they experience. I tenderly was able to respond to the lies experiences and everything else that she mentioned. The letter took all day to write. I typed it so that it would hopefully sink in a little better to her, since I type a little slow. (I am saying that as a good thing!) Talking to a few friends throughout those next few days helped too, for me to hack things out with a different perspective. I was able to forgive the child I used to be and not hold things against her.
As the next few days passed, I began to process things more in my mind and came to a very true realization that everything that had happened in my elementary school years had really gotten me stuck in some ways with my behavior and most certainly in my thought patterns. I as a 31 year old was still thinking like the 8-11 year old that had been hurt so long ago. I realized this had deeply affected my relationships with others, with God (I was NOT coming to him under any circumstances), and also how I perceived myself (which was horrible, but is now very dramatically and truthfully changing for the better). It was wierd, in a very good sense because things started seriously connecting in my mind and I gained more insight as to why I had acted as I had throughout life, and even as to why things had happened in Mexico as they had (and all of this continues to happen the deeper I go)
Then this past Sunday, I went to church (and for the first time in the longest time---I can't remember when the last time was) I was ABLE TO WORSHIP GOD! And I mean truly worship-----it was obvious something had gotten out of the way-there was a connection to God like never before--a little less junk was standing in the way of my relationship with Him. WHAT A RELIEF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mentoring sessions this week have been extremely helpful in allowing me to work through things. My mentor is extremely patient, which I am thankful for-it makes going to class easier if I have met with her first.
And in this week I had to write the letter as a junior high student. I thought it was going to be quick and easy but boy I was wrong! TWO LONG NIGHTS being up all night long writing, feeling, and writing more. Things came to me that I thought I had forgotten! I never knew all of that stuff was so buried back there. And mind you this is not just mentioning junk that happened to me (Yes, there was that, but it is not as if the letter was to be an, "oh poor me--this stuff happened" syndrome) I was amazed at how many times that I was openly doing what I thought I would never do--admitting things that I had done and ways that I had sinned against God. Once again coming up very accurate as to what I had thought at that point in my life. I was determined no mater how hard or bad it felt to deplete the reserve of information and emotion that was stored. God kept bringing things to mind as I could handle it. Finally I had this real sense that I had depleted to the best possible extent the reserve that had been there for so long, and I felt so satisfied. My thinking began to clear even more.
Something has happened to me in the last week and a half especially as a result of all of this. I am a different person. I have had a 180 degree turn in my life. These are specific things that I have noticed:
1) The things I used to do regarding a lack of integrity and lying (Which my life was marked by dishonesty and a lack of integrity although it may have seemed "hidden" to many But to God was NOT)-I just can't do them anymore. I just can't stand the thought of hurting God in that way-it abhor's me. I have found I cannot lie-when I talk, I am now telling the truth about my life, what I have done, and how I think and feel. I can't NOT be honest! I DON'T SAY THINGS THAT I DON'T TRULY MEAN!!!!
2) I KNOW that God really loves ME and I mean really loves me!!!!! It isn't just some cliche. I know it in my heart of hearts, NOT JUST IN MY HEAD!!!!!! There is nothing I could ever do or HAVE EVER DONE that could make me worthy to earn His love. There is nothing I will ever do or have ever done that will make Him love me more or less-He will always love me the same. I AM SECURE IN HIS LOVE AND AM TRULY ABLE FOR THE FIRST TIME TO RECEIVE IT INTO MY LIFE AND CONSENT TO BEING LOVED BY HIM!!!!
3) For the first time I have this deep assurance-I cannot find words to describe the depths of it! I KNOW THAT I AM HIS (GOD"S) AND HE IS MINE FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is something that I have always struggled to have, and really honestly never really had. I KNOW that no matter what happens in my life I am going WITH HIM in the end into eternity and that He is going to walk with me through everything here on earth, even in the midst of wrong choices or whatever. I trust Him!
4) My attitude is changing. I had a long talk with the director at the medical clinic yesterday and she can testify to the attitude changes as well. I've noticed attitude changes in the following ways:
a) I am becoming less concerned about constantly needing to have something to accomplish to be fulfilled and have value. I have noticed this at the clinic especially---because NOW my worth isn't found in what I do anyways-it is found in Christ. I don't have to Volunteer a certain number of hours a week to know I am valuable--This is what I was doing before! (At least I am beginning to understand this.)
b) I am more concerned about God's agenda and timing rather than my own. I think my closest friends could testify that before all of this I have been so concerned about getting back to Mexico at a certain time (MY Schedule). But when this change happened in my heart, (and I can't pinpoint a specific moment or anything, I JUST KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT THAT IT TRULY HAPPENED BECAUSE OF THE EVIDENCE--it is undeniable and nothing I could have made up) , i realized that I wanted GOD'S TIMING AND GOD'S WAY rather than my own. I became more concerned about when GOD WOULD HAVE ME READY TO GO BACK TO MEXICO AND NOT GOING BACK UNTIL HE SHOWS ME IT IS TIME TO DO SO.
c) I am able to REALLY TRUST GOD and BELIEVE HIS GOODNESS for me! I can RECEIVE it! Wow! Wow! wow! I believe that everything that happened in Mexico, in spite of it all, has been worked into God's plan and WAS HIS PLAN all along as strange as that may seem. I used to think that to "get healed" I had to go miles away out of state to talk to someone else who knew nothing about anything here. (I thought that when I went to my mission agency in 2008 those few months) Who would have guessed here I am in the city of my birth (I didn't want to admit that on my blog in the March update post either) talking to my mentor, confiding in a facilitator and another two girls taking the class, and realizing they know of the places, community services, and in some cases maybe even some of the people that I am mentioning)
d) I am able to as Hebrews says, "ENTER HIS REST" My life has become more peaceful. Yes, I am still working through things-it hurts! It isn't easy and I will continue to do so until I go to be with Jesus, but I have entered His REST and am hidden under his wings in the midst of it all.
e) A changed mind and heart attitude and view towards my deception, lack of integrity, and sins of the past as I said before. I know that for some of you out there that I may have lied to or offended, this may be hard to believe, so I ask for your forgiveness and I realize that it may take you some time to believe that God has changed me. I can accept that you need that time to see the difference-and it's OK.
5) I think I may have said this already but I am able to FORGIVE MYSELF for stuff I've done, which is something I COULD NEVER SEEM TO BE ABLE TO DO BEFORE!!!!! If Christ has forgiven me, how can I be holding things against myself??? I CAN"T!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Back to Mexico, In the last few days before I left the field to come back to the states, I met with one of the people on the team that does member care. And she gave me a quote-not sure who said it--it is, "To believe and to consent to be loved, while unworthy, is the great secret." When she read that, it pricked my heart and I wanted it so much, but just didn't know how to get things from the head to the heart.
I GUESS WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY IS THAT AT LAST I HAVE BELIEVED AND TRULY CONSENTED TO BEING LOVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It has truly been the LORD"S working in me, AND HIS LOVE IS BETTER THAN LIFE!!!!!
And just one more thing. By posting this, I am NOT saying that everyone has to take this class or that this is the only thing that God is going to use in people's lives or anything like that. It is just a tool that God has chosen to use in my life for some reason. And my whole point of this and of writing it was none other than to declare the Praises of the One and Only true living God and what He has done and is doing for me! The glory is ALL HIS! I don't want ANY OF IT FOR MYSELF!