It seemed like a regular Tuesday night. My two stepdaughters were just leaving for the evening. We had such a nice dinner, laughing and talking like usual, and then we said goodnight. The only thing I could think of that would make my day complete was to relax with my husband in our hot tub. Thankfully he had turned the heat up earlier so I just had to put my bathing suit on, and we went outside.
We sat back and relaxed our heads on the headrests, recapped the day, and shared some insights about a family situation we are praying about. After about twenty minutes, we called it a night and were brushing our teeth side by side in the bathroom. I took off my glasses, and rubbed my eyes.
I work from home, and after being on the computer all day, I felt like my eyes were sandpaper. I was rushing to finish washing my face just so I could close my tired eyes! And the only thought on my mind was how glorious it would feel in a few minutes to just rest.
I climbed into bed, locked my legs with Kevin’s and closed my eyes. Kevin fell right to sleep, and I laid there awake. I rolled over slightly, and felt completely restless. I was so exhausted, and it was now time to be falling asleep. So why wasn’t my body cooperating??
I rolled over again toward the dresser and laid there for about five minutes. “Okay, seriously?? This isn’t right…Lord, please let me go to bed. I’m so tired…what am I doing UP!?” His response: Nothing. For a few minutes…and then…
I rolled over one more time toward Kevin, took his left hand in my right hand and complained to God again. “God, please help me fall asleep.” When it was clear I was awake for a reason, I prayed again, “Okay, I’m up. You obviously are keeping me up for something. I’m listening.”
As I clung to Kevin, I began to drift off, but not to sleep or a wonderfully relaxing dream. God began walking me through some painful memories.
Let me jog back a few months so it makes sense.
Around the month of April, I had heard about a study at our church that the women’s ministry was doing called Captivating. The study focuses on explaining a woman’s true identity in Christ, and how we are made in the image of God. It also explains how the deception that Satan used in the garden of Eden against Eve set the framework for how Satan still lies to women today. Because of this deception, we grow up not understanding how much Jesus really loves us, and we tend to believe lies that Satan tells us, because we believe God is holding out on us. Because of that disconnect, we have emotional scars, and a skewed image of who God really is.
Needless to say, I was intrigued. One of my friends in my life group had actually given me the book for Christmas last year, so I already had the book. And being a divorcee, I wanted to go- obviously I have scars. But because of my school schedule, I couldn’t take the time to devote to it that I wanted, so I planned to attend another event when it was available. When a time finally arrived where I could go to the study, I did. It opened my eyes up to so much about myself, God and some issues I knew were there, but I didn’t know how to deal with.
During the actual study, I had prayed to God to reveal to me the root of many of the lies that I had believed. I had asked God specifically to show me these moments so that I could learn the root cause of my sin, and see the path it set me on, so that I could truly accept His grace. I wanted to examine each and every time that I had allowed someone else to take God’s place. And I wanted to know exactly what I was holding onto, because I knew something was blocking me from fully being joyful.
God happily obliged…at 10:30pm on August 6, 2013.
He spent all night replaying images of past events and times that I had been blinded to His truth. He replayed many moments of my weaknesses, times I had felt left out, abandoned, lost. He also let me feel the physical and emotional pain of decisions I had made while feeling the above listed emotions.
I remember laying in bed feeling completely frozen, and pinned down.
Images flashed in my mind of being young and in grade school. I saw the faces of those who made fun of me, my appearance, my height, my awkwardness. I saw images of being in high school and the faces of those who laughed at me for dressing differently. I saw coworkers from a previous restaurant job picking on me, for choosing to “date” the guy who just got his ex-girlfriend pregnant. I saw the younger version of me getting into a car of an airline pilot who wanted to take me out to a steak dinner, just so he could show me his boat later that evening, and try to get me drunk. I saw someone who was supposed to be part of my new family making fun of me with someone I trusted, and I felt the humiliation when a certain ex-wife felt the need to get her girlfriends involved in my life, but I couldn’t say anything in retaliation for fear of what my stepdaughters might think about me. And when I finally did snap, I saw the way certain family members turned things around to make everything my fault.
I saw my weakness in not being able to say no, I saw my hatred for those who made fun of me and tried to use me, I saw my disgust at my own actions, and I saw my shame.
God replayed the period of time that I was dating my first husband, and I visually reviewed in my mind the times that comments would fly out of my ex’s mouth about me while we were dating…comments that should have sent me walking, but in my desperation to not lose him, I let him say whatever he wanted, because later we would be intimate, and I believed that he loved me anyway.
I trusted people that should never have been trusted, and I tried to believe that they had good intentions, but I learned the hard way that adults can still play games just like high-schoolers. I learned that no matter how badly I wanted to see the good in people, I needed to realize that some people are just bad, and you have to accept it.
Slowly but progressively, every incident began to deteriorate me. Any self-image I had, was gone. Any self-esteem I had, was depleted, and any belief I had that I could do better, was non-existent.
He brought to my mind how often I had tried to replace Him, with alcohol, men, busyness, all because I was seeking someone to let me know that I was loved and when God tried to answer it, I didn’t want to hear it. I had married my first husband, knowing my heart wasn’t completely into it, but thinking if I was with him (my ex) long enough, he would change and things would get better. My heartache and drinking had only intensified when I realized what a fool I had been.
I became self-destructive during my first marriage because I knew I had made a mistake and didn’t want to own up to it. And instead of asking God for help, I closed the door to Him and allowed Satan to let men try to answer the question of who I was.
Through the images, God kept repeating how He had loved me the whole time, but I kept drowning Him out. As much as He would provide a sunrise, or a song on the radio with lyrics meant for my heart, I would avert my gaze, or change the radio station. I was disgusted with God trying to love me when I felt unloved.
I felt helpless and weak reviewing these moments, but I had asked for them. And as the tape replayed in my mind of these hurtful moments, I could see how I wasn’t willing to see God in the picture of my life. I had always pushed Him away, because I wanted to be able to take care of myself, but my choices had cost me a marriage, and trust with any man.
And surprisingly at one point, he brought to my mind a conversation that another woman had posted about in the Proverbs 31 Online bible study website for the first week of “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God”. This particular woman had brought up the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. In the story, found in John 4: 5-26, Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman (which is clearly forbidden in that time, as He was a Jew) at a public well, and in His brief, yet powerful encounter, He tells her to go get her husband. The woman replies that she has no husband, and Jesus replied that He already knew that, and that the man she was with then, wasn’t even her husband.
God clearly explained to me that in that story, the Samaritan woman had never had a wedding ceremony. The truth is that she was never married. She was being rebuked by the Lord of the Universe for sleeping around! He knew she wasn’t legally married, but that she gave herself away over and over again to men who would take her.
And even more bizarre, God took me back to room 100A at Lutheran West High School and a moment in time in Mr. Jim Fenske’s Christian Ethics class. I could picture Mr. Fenske standing in front of his chalkboard, stating that anytime we sleep with someone, we give ourselves away. Mr. Fenske wanted us to understand that when we make a choice for sex, it needed to be within the boundaries God provided. That is where the blessing is.
God revealed to me that He designed marriage and He has made it clear, about the connection/bond/union that happens when two bodies consummate and become one. His point was that we don’t have to marry someone in the legal court system for God to see us as married. NOTHING GETS PAST HIM. He sees everything. And any time we give ourselves away to someone else during sexual acts, we are “marrying” them. We become part of that other person, hence why the physical act of sex is reserved for marriage, because God explains that the unity of a man and a woman is beautiful and not distorted when it is preserved for just one person. God blesses us when we don’t misuse this gift of our body.
What He was telling me was that we don’t have to be legally married to be considered an adulterer or adulteress in God’s eyes. The second we sleep with someone other than our spouse (which means if you’re not married, you’re in a very bad spiritual position!), we are committing adultery.
I was blown away!! I was scared, and moved to repentance for years already past, but boy did that insight answer a lot of questions for me! He also reminded me of the verse about lusting after someone with our eyes. Our heart has already sinned by doing so. I believe God wanted me to really understand how serious my past had dragged me away from Him. He needed me to understand how I had misused a gift from Him and how it had separated me from His true love.
During this evening with God, He was letting me know His reason for being upset with my previous decisions. I hadn’t realized that something I had done as a teenager was blurring my understanding of Scripture. I didn’t realize my view of love was messed up because I had tried to view sex and love, marriage and devotion through tainted lenses. I was ashamed and repentant, overwhelmed and amazed.
Needless to say, I was emotionally drained after the events and these revelations going through my mind. I felt completely exhausted and I remember coming back to consciousness with tears just all over my face. Kevin’s alarm for work was going off…great, it was 4:30am! I was planning on starting work at 5am. I had no idea if I had even slept, or just gone through visual memory hell! I prayed and told God that I understood what He had shared with me, and that I wanted Him to keep revealing things since it made me feel so close to Him. I wanted to heal.
As Kevin got up and started brushing his teeth, completely unknowing that I had gone on the largest spiritual journey of my entire life, I prayed, “Lord, I’m so tired, and I want to start work…”
He answered, “I got you through the night, I’ll get you through the day.”
Kevin came back into the bedroom and held me. I didn’t say a word, I knew I had to get up and start working and I didn’t want to make Kevin late for work. So I hugged him back, kissed him and told him that I hoped his day was quick. He left the house, and I walked into the office and turned on the computer.
I began shaking my head. I was in awe of what had happened. I couldn’t believe that God had come through, that He had heard me and wanted to heal me, but that He was waiting for obedience…radical obedience from me first.
I have recently joined an online study that I’ve spoken about previously. The whole premise is opening up to God and letting Him use us as we are, so that He can change us, teach us, lead us and grow us for His purposes. We have to be willing to step out of the box. When I had signed up for the study, I didn’t know when I was going to fit it in, or if I could even do it, but I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to be part of a Christian community, devoted to letting go and surrendering to God.
Because I chose to say Yes to Him for this study, God chose the first week of this study to be the time that He overwhelmed me with some answers that would help me heal. Because of radical obedience, He came through. I knew He had heard me, but was just wondering when He was going to answer.
And out of everything He shared with me that Tuesday night, He reminded me of Jesus and His death, the cost of my sin, and the debt that is gone. Every moment that had replayed has been forgiven by Him, and has been forgiven by me. He needed me to see what He was healing me from, and how His love covered the shame and disgust I felt toward myself.
When I sat at the computer on the morning of August 7, I had a peace I cannot explain inside of me. My focus for work was on target, my heart was at rest, and anything that I heard about during the day that normally would trigger heartache, anger or pain, didn’t have the same effect. My view on life has changed so dramatically. I’m writing this a week after the fact, just to confirm that the peace is still here.
On the night of August 6, God cleansed me from years of hurt and disobedience to Him, He showed me His truths that overruled years of lies, and He gave me peace that has proven to last over time. I believe God forgave me years ago, on the cross THOUSANDS of years ago, to be exact. But He met me at 10:30pm on a night when all I wanted to do was sleep. He took me out of my comfort zone, and messed up my body clock just so He could tell me that He loved me and has always loved me, and that my life will never be what it was. And I know that to be true.
I see now how my husband is one of my biggest blessings from God. Kevin is so undeserved, yet so faithful! I have someone who knows every intimate detail of my life story, and treats me the way God showed me that night- with undeserved mercy and love. My husband reaffirms me every day, tells me audibly that I am beautiful, and reassures me that he isn’t the same man he once was.
God, the God of the Bible, is longing to share with every broken human heart that there is NOTHING that we can do that would be so bad that He won’t forgive us. He needs us to ask Him for help to see sin in our lives. When we live every day as if what we say/do doesn’t matter, we mask the need for Christ and we believe lies from Satan that we don’t need God. Nothing could be further from the truth! Any time apart from Him is not truly living.
Jesus came to give life, but we have to seek Him out to find it. Work is necessary on our part to turn to Him. Jeremiah 29:13 is a promise from God that we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole heart. If anything in life is distracting you from Him, He can’t be found. But you can find Him when you make time in your schedule, when you call on Him first thing in the morning, when you are driving to work and need reassurance of His grace, when you royally mess up and you need His forgiveness, when you ask for truth and painful memories. He will show up. He will answer your deepest, darkest questions, and He will restore you like He did with me. He will provide peace you can’t even comprehend (Philippians 4:7), and strength for the day when you haven’t slept a wink.
Will you choose to be radically obedient today? Step out of your comfort zone and ask Him to show you what is holding you back from a peaceful time with Him, and an understanding of His true love? If you know of something in your life that is preventing you from experiencing God truly, you need to repent and let Him love on you. It’s overwhelming, but incredibly necessary. God will provide #FreshVision for you when you ask Him.
May you have a “restless” night, and may our Lord’s peace be on you. 🙂