Feeling safe has been a lifelong struggle for me. My capacity for trust was stolen at the tender age of five, along with my innocence. My friend and I were left in the care of her two older brothers. Two little bundles of life, all pigtails and giggles, without a care in the world.
One afternoon forever changed all of that.
I was too ashamed to tell my parents what had happened. I was afraid of how my father would react. He was unpredictable at the best of times – prone to outbursts of anger. I was sure that he would never be able to love me again, if he discovered the truth.
So I carried dark and heavy secrets alone.
This summer, I signed up for the Proverbs 31 online bible study, and am reading Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart. The book has addressed many difficult issues with great wisdom and sensitivity. I have learned a lot. As I read, there is a wonderful sense that Suzie understands me. As if the two of us have spent countless hours sharing stories over cups of tea on her front porch. And this, in and of itself, is healing – the experience of being known and understood.
Suzie shares the story of sweet Melissa, a child full of life and joy. This little girl, who loves to talk to everyone, is lured into a garage by the promise of candy. And everything changes for her too. I can relate to the shame of going back, and mistakenly believing that somehow this makes the abuse my fault.
I cry for myself, and for little Melissa, as I read about feelings of hopelessness, about desperate attempts to ease the pain, and about wearing masks to hide the suffering from an unsafe world. I understand it all too well.
Then, Suzie shares a story that touches me deeply. Fills my heart with hope and joy. She tells about a time when she found a treasure in a little repurposing shop – a small chair that would once have belonged to a child. The chair had been given new life as a charming planter. As Suzie drove home with her treasure that day, she imagined where the chair might have come from…
Perhaps it was put out with the garbage with a ‘take me’ sign on it. Or it might have been salvaged by a dumpster diver. Maybe it sat at a garage sale with a $1 or 50-cent sticker on it. Can you imagine people walking by it? They see only the cracked leg of an ugly child’s chair, or the many layers of peeling white paint. “No one can sit on it,” they say. “It’s worthless. Not even worth a dollar.”
But then the craftsman comes along.
He smiles with joy…the craftsman envisions something different – a new purpose for this throwaway chair. He lovingly picks it up and brings it to his shop. He removes the broken seat and places a rough-hewn planter inside. He applies a first coat of paint, and then buffs and distresses the edges. He adds a second coat, this time a lovely turquoise blue, and then gently rubs sandpaper over the edges until the new paint and the former shades…become an intricate pattern of beauty.
Turquoise. White. Yellow. Old, smooth wood. The crack still displayed, but all of it part of an elaborate story.
~ The Mended Heart (pp 131-132)
Tears roll down my cheeks as I realize the truth that God is the master Craftsman.
I am the little chair – used, broken and discarded. Worthless in my own eyes.
My heavenly Father looks on me with love, and do you know what He sees? A precious treasure. Worthy of extravagant love. A child of inestimable value. Worth dying for.
The enemy is relentless in his lies and accusations. He knows my weak spots, the places I have been injured. That is where he focuses his attack. But because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we are promised the victory. In fact, Romans 8:37 promises that, “We are more than conquerors”.
So what do I do when old insecurities rise up? When I find myself believing old lies? When I don’t feel safe?
This is a spiritual battle, dear friends, and in these moments we need to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We need to stand firmly against the lies, by declaring the truth of God’s word.
So when I struggle with feeling unsafe, I can turn to His word and find the promise of God’s protection. Here is one of my favorite passages…
From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
Suzie shares that in order to heal these places of brokenness we must “peer deeply into the wounded heart”. For those of us who have been hurt, this may seem too difficult. Haven’t we been through enough already? Why subject ourselves to further pain, by revisiting those moments of trauma in our lives?
The truth, sweet friends, is that Jesus longs to restore these places of brokenness. He is willing to take you by the hand, and lead you into healing. He waits only for your invitation. He promises to “make all things new” (Rev 21:5).
For me, the journey has been long and incredibly painful, but also wonderfully freeing. I am not there yet, but I have experienced some amazing breakthroughs. The truths I am discovering are incredibly life-giving.
I am learning that I am safe in His hands, and that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me. He delights in me, His precious child – I am loved beyond measure.
May you, sweet one, come to understand the exquisite beauty of a life restored,