“You won’t always feel this messy. He is healing you.”
i could barely read the words, let alone believe them in my heart. this was too hard and i had no idea how i would ever be able to do this. i had built up this support system around me, people to help me, people to run to when i wasn’t okay and suddenly what was looming on my horizon was Jesus. me and Jesus. nothing else. no one else.
let me rewind a bit.
my head was a flurry of insanity and my everyday life was full of non-stop activity. i had just moved into a new place and was starting to build relationships with my new roommates. there was a break in to our home and while much was stolen, it was very clear that we were being kept safe by something stronger than any of us. my duties at work began increasing as my boss chose to assign more and more tasks to me requesting that i take on project after project and it was nice to know i was reliable and hard working enough that so soon my heart and attitude were paying off. the days were busy and typically stressful in some form, however it wasn’t the stress that was crippling.
i just wasn’t dancing with Jesus like i was used to.
things had been hard for awhile but my life always has had ups and downs, fairly dramatic and often enough that more often than not i simply held on as the ride pulled me along. i never enjoyed the ride, the up and the down and it often terrified me. so much fear in my heart… i always believed someday things would change…but someday was a fantasy in my mind, a mountain peak of sunshine and glory that i never seemed able to apply to today. naturally, i kept surviving the whirlwind even though my heart was exhausted and it seemed like all i ever did when i wasn’t working or at activities, was sleep. often i would forget to eat and even when i would remember i wasn’t interested in food, i just forced it down and moved on to the next item on my agenda, on my never-ending list of to-do’s.
rewinding a bit more…
back right before i moved, when i knew i was moving and i knew it was right, but i had no clue where or how or when it would work out, i had a long VERY hard conversation with a dear friend. as much as i have known her and her heart, she has never been one to accept “okay” as a state of being and in all honesty i was often afraid to keep in touch because it meant being honest and being challenged. i’ve never been very good at either of those things, especially relationally. so, like any other person would do, i tried avoiding the tough conversations and i only talked about what seemed acceptable. what seemed “churchy” and “appropriate”. i wasn’t living with grace and i knew it, but it seemed too far away and so i stopped trying to brush shoulders with it.
so here i was, sitting in my room, on a very cold and dark night wrapped in a thick blanket with my space heater on, trying to warm myself enough so that i would stop shaking. eventually i would figure out it was fear and trepidation and i would shed the blanket, why hide when there was nowhere to go?
a nervous smile and an attempted friendly “hello” and the conversation was swirling around me before i could even know how to keep myself protected and safe. i didn’t know how to share my aching heart, i was too afraid of voicing fears because then they might become real and if i could barely speak them, how on earth could i face them? how could i fight them?
i was honest. and it hurt.
but… there was no anger or disapproval. no shaming or harsh words.
i shared my struggles and my heartache and was met with love and a very still personality that wouldn’t let me stop when i thought i had gone too far with my words. and then… this friend posed a very deep and important question to my heart. a question that even now i ponder and think about.
“do you honestly believe that you would be happier in your life without God?”
i was silent as the words saturated the air. i could feel my heart pounding, but knowing she was miles away i didn’t bother to stop it from racing in my chest.
“i….don’t know.” was all that i was able to weakly reply.
and i really didn’t know. fear had gotten the best of me and i had all of these “escape plans” with what i would do if everything failed and nothing worked out. if i had to move from Kenosha, if i had to live by myself…i had even entertained thoughts of worse alternatives.
but this question? it ceased my mind. it halted my breathing and for the first time in ages i stopped and went back to what caused me to leave my hometown in the first place. back then it was nothing short of Jesus that pushed me out of the nest and forced me to fly. somewhere along the lines i had forgotten what i was doing here. my purpose and passion had been stolen from me and even though i thought i had an answer to this question, i wasn’t quite sure how to get back what had been taken from me in only a couple months.
our conversation ended after much more time than either of us had planned and by the end i wasn’t wanting to say goodbye. then i spoke a longing, more likely more in the form of a whisper than a word, but i said it nonetheless. “i wish you could be here. more than anything.” in my heart i knew it was foolish and completely wistful but i couldn’t help but hope that maybe, just MAYBE it could happen again someday soon. BUT then it was time for both of us to go, sleep was calling and i had a lot of thinking to do. before falling asleep, for the first time in quite awhile i actually opened my heart up to Jesus. my friend told me to do this you see. this is how she pushes me. makes me fight.
that night i cried a lot. and He held me. held my heart.
for the first time in many many days, many many nights, i rested. and i could breathe again.
….fast forward to April 13th. it was a chilly very cold sort of morning, and not just cold by the air, but cold in existence. granted, i was awake at 4am after not falling asleep until nearly 1:30 but i could push past that pretty easily. Joelle was coming to visit. i was simultaneously afraid and incredibly excited. i literally had no expectations and still i knew it would be wonderful beyond imagination. as i rode to Midway airport with Heidi (worst drive ever!) my tired brain was overanalyzing everything that could possibly happen while i chatted with Heidi and we played our favorite songs. (yes, Disciple happened.) about 15 minutes before Joelle’s flight was to arrive, we shimmied into a parking spot and raced to find a bathroom. (girls+coffee+long drive=run). in no time at all, both Heidi and i were scanning every pair of feet coming down the escalators for the ones that were familiar. for the dear friend we both love very much. then suddenly (as i was looking the wrong direction, naturally) Heidi exclaimed “there she is!” and i looked up to see Joelle smiling at me and i knew i was already grinning. she had barely made it over to us before i was squeezing her tight, my heart feeling as though it were about to burst with joy. we spent the next 4 hours wandering the streets of downtown Chicago and even though it was sleeting and wet, i was having the time of my life. i felt so ALIVE. ….by the time we got back to Kenosha i was exhausted. we all were and Joelle and i literally chilled in her bed for a couple few hours. we went over the tentative plans for the next few days. i felt like i was waking up from a really long nap and though all of these things were disorienting, i managed to hang out and have conversations. there was a lot of incredible laughter and deep heart moments shared.
i will never forget the one night Joelle was visiting…and when i was struggling. the whole day i was really off and no matter what i did it was like i was on the outside looking in at everyone else’s happiness. granted, more like than not i really needed sleep…but i was down for the count and the enemy was having a field day with my mind. throughout church and lunch and a photoshoot we did… i was a mess in my head. it was like i was locked up and pounding on the doors but no one could hear me and i couldn’t claw my way out. i wanted to cry and just curl up in a corner in my room, but there was no way i could do that because my friend was visiting and well, to put it simply, there was no way she was going to let me do that and i knew it. so i fought to hide how i was feeling and i smiled and nodded and laughed on cue, but it was killing me inside.
once we got back to my house and it was just us, we were relaxing before dinner (like i could even think of food) and i crawled under the covers with Joelle sitting beside me and i curled into a ball fighting tears. unexplicably i was deeply sad. whether it was because i was tired or Joelle was leaving soon, it didn’t matter. i wasn’t okay and this was the worst time to have to deal with this.
but then i was deeply surprised.
Joelle stated, “i have an idea” and left me sit there with a confused look on my face.
she turned around and handed me her bible.
i was even more confused than ever.
“um…?” i looked at her quizzically.
“you’re going to read some verses” she took the book from me and began flipping through the pages.
“yes. right now. here.” and she handed her bible back to me. “read.”
my voice shook and i hesitated but Joelle wasn’t backing down on this. i decided to just do it and get it over with, i needed to find out what her angle was. why was she doing this?
i finished the specific section and she took the book back into her hands and flipped forward quite a few pages as i waited. so many questions.
1 John 3:1
1 Peter 2:9-10
i was doing okay, most of the verses i recognized though a couple i was amazed that she had chosen them… i had heard these words from others before. i started to pay attention when i realized this wasn’t random. these were words over my life. then finally she said “okay one more” and as i noted that it was Psalm 18, i also realized i wasn’t very familiar with that one. so i opened my mouth and soberly began to speak the words on the page. very quickly they began to impact me. my voice faltered and i got choked up reading the lines. these were things i knew to be true. i had lived them. my emotions welled up and i was holding back tears. i was nearly finished when someone yelled “time to eat!” and i paused, looking up at Joelle, extremely affected by what i had just read. she held my gaze and asked me if i believed the bible to be true. i responded “yes, of course” and she continued, “okay good. THIS (and she held up the book) is truth. everything. else. IS. A. LIE.” it was very firm but i could sense something deeper in it. i didn’t understand it, but this was love and it caused me to have to brush away tears. i looked up and noticed that she had written in my journal a list of specific verses and i didn’t even have to ask why. they were to read. and to believe. and to FIGHT with….my identity.
Joelle went home the following day, but our time together impacted me in ways i couldn’t even have imagined. days after i would re-read what i wrote in my journal, “i’m not used to being loved like this. she demands my honesty and she GETS it.” and those words were very true. it wasn’t that i didn’t know love, it was that this was different and it was unique enough to cause me to be shoved out of my ‘routine’ and force me to BE different.
the point in explaining her visit was to display how i am challenged and my boundaries are pushed to their near limits. this is where i was when Joelle brought up a discussion about SOZO healing prayer.
i had never heard of it before nor had i really had any experience with this kind of thing. i only knew that i could trust God and i could trust Joelle. so, with Joelle’s constant encouragement (i knew she had gone through it herself and thusly she truly believed in it) and a nudge from the Holy Spirit, i made a phone call and exchanged a few emails with a lovely woman named Holly. before i even could change my mind we had set up a time for a sozo session and i was asking off work in the middle of the week.
the day before my sozo is where i began this post, i was full of fear of the unknown, fear that God wouldn’t speak and general nervousness about what was going to happen here. i was texting my dear friend about how i was feeling and where i was at when she spoke those words to me. “He is healing you.” and she was just SO sure that i clung to her words and her faith and chose to do this, going all or nothing. if i was doing it, i was going to give everything to it.
morning dawned clear and bright that day. it was already nearly 60 degrees at 8am and i made sure to wear a light t-shirt, something comfortable at least. with the word “love” emblazoned across my chest on my bright purple shirt, i set my course for Burlington where Holly and her sozo team awaited me. i was a bit nervous to meet them in person for the first time, but other than that i was actually quite peaceful. it was a comfortable, warm drive out to the city and as i neared my destination i discovered the Nestle chocolate factory. yes. it smelled amazing…. but i was on a mission and would not be deterred for any reason.
-i climbed out of my car, took a deep breath and began the short trek from my parking spot to the building i was headed towards.
-climbing a short flight of stairs i made my way down a wide hallway with a slight hesitation. i heard soft music and it sounded of gentle Christian radio. it was no song i recognized although i was okay with that, it was certainly the last thing on my mind.
-i sat down in a comfortable arm chair with three lovely ladies around me and Holly opened in prayer. i took a deep breath and unclenching my fists, i let go of all apprehension and whispered, “okay God. let’s do this.”
2 hours later.
-i was walking out into the sunshine. i thought i was soaring.
i couldn’t stop grinning and i was laughing even though i was by myself.
the sunshine warmed my skin and as i strolled back to my car i knew things were going to be different.
forgiveness is powerful.
healing is possible.
and Jesus? He’s waiting to give more than you can imagine.