“The tired-er you get, the faster you go,” Dad used to comment when she was eight. Now, at seventy-two, her steps halt as my sister wheels her suitcase down the hall to our lodging at the conference center. JerryAnn isn’t going fast today, but she is going.
“Sciatica,” she says and twists her thinning lips into a smile. As a retired nurse, her quiet knowledge seems ever at the ready, but as I hold open the door to our room, we both know the root of her latest ailment.
Twenty-seven long years ago she began mental health therapy, and, as she came out of dissociation, she dealt with her memories on an adult level. God’s healing process restored her mind and heart, but her body continues to suffer the consequence of unimaginable evil.
As a child, she depleted her energy quotient, for how else does one run off nervous trauma when a perpetrator threatens?
“Praise, God,” she says as we settle into our room. “I know He has wonderful things in store for us this weekend. I can hardly wait.”
Yes, praise God. Because, after all these years, how much longer can you wait to fulfill the burning passion of what you know is your purpose—our purpose? How much longer will our hope be deferred?
A few minutes later, I remind myself to slow my pace as we make our way to register for our first Called to Peace Ministries conference. We collect our name tags from a welcoming volunteer and check the schedule.
With a quick scan I see that “Understanding & Overcoming Dissociation” will be one of this evening’s topics. Timely. Tomorrow morning it’s “How God Will Redeem Your Story.” My heart gives a joyful leap.
Redeeming our stories, especially JerryAnn’s, is our hope. Her story has already been redeemed in her personal life, but precious few have heard the beautiful details of how God accomplished it.
Her brown eyes meet mine and a dimple deepens her smile. Her shoulders shiver in delight. “I know. I just know God is going to make things happen this weekend,” she says.
I nod in agreement. “Me too.” We weave our way through the growing number of women who are undoubtedly in different stages of surviving abuse, gaining freedom, and finding healing. “And,” I add, “I think networking here will come easy.”
We’ve spent years talking and planning and writing and dreaming and living and waiting on God. We both feel it in our spirits. This weekend is a turning point.
And it is. There’s deep, well presented sessions that share a common thread of love and comfort and excellent advice. Around the meal tables, there’s animated sharing. I jot down names and contact information.
One woman was gang raped, but is free of the trauma and seems fulfilled in the role God has given her. Another woman lived in a homeless shelter, but is now in her own place. Some are mothers, heartbroken with concern over how their choices to leave their marriage will affect their children. God has given one precious helper a passion to make a difference, even though she’s never been abused. Many speak of being rejected by their church when they left their abusers. Others share the opposite and say that, fortunately, their churches are havens of safety and support.
JerryAnn and I share our stories too. In this setting, people seem eager to hear. They understand. I tell how I’ve finally completed writing my experience, how I’m seeking a publisher, and how my three-volume series, Sisters of Silence, is meant to speak to the fact that a culture of silence negatively impacts not only the abused, but also the family members.
“Finishing JerryAnn’s story is next,” I say. “It’s almost done. It’s time.”
JerryAnn’s enthusiasm bubbles over as she talks of the God-concepts she’s learned while being restored. “It’s a process,” she tells them, “and I love process. God’s given me a vision for a multi-faceted enterprise I’m calling Kingdom Flow. I want to show how the Kingdom of Heaven flows to us here on earth in healing waves. Trauma affects our bodies, but God has made every provision. Here’s how it works….”
There’s a woman at our table who catches the spark and insists JerryAnn speak at a coming event.
Her face alight, my sister sucks in a breath. “That’s just the motivation I need to get my thoughts in order.”
After a long, glorious day, we retreat to our room, weary but satisfied.
JerryAnn hobbles in and, with a sigh, settles on her bed. “Oh, no,” she groans, “I forgot to take my insulin.” She slowly rises and opens the small refrigerator. “And this nerve pain…in a minute I’m going down to the microwave and warm up my heat wrap. It helps me sleep.”
Compassion whelms within me. How long, Lord? How long for her hope to be fulfilled?
She inserts the needle and gives a quiet yelp. Her body folds. With each breath in, then out, she speaks the name of God. “Yah-weh. Yah-weh. I praise You, Father, for Your healing power. If not today, the day is coming. I praise You, Yeshua. I love You. I trust You.”
JerryAnn believes in the power of words. Praise is her go-to at times like this, even when, like she says, her energy isn’t what it used to be.
Okay, Lord. It’s time.
I take off my shoes, get onto my own bed, and relax against the pillows. “His strength is made perfect in our weakness,” I say.
Even though her eyes are dulled with pain, she tosses me a grin. “I believe it,” she says, “and I can’t wait to see how His strength is perfected in me.”
Morning comes and, from her phone, she selects songs of worship. Today, we have a Zoom appointment with a fellow survivor whose podcast, Only God Rescued Me redeems the stories of other SRA victors. She’s invited us to be her next guests.
After a bit, JerryAnn turns off her music and rummages in her suitcase.
“Our interview is today,” I remind her.
She clasps her hands and holds them against her chest. “I know.” Her voice nearly squeaks. “Today I get to tell my story. Isn’t God awesome? It’s like He’s saying, ‘And now. Now is the time.’”
Yes, God, You’re doing it. NOW.
We enfold each other in a hug, and we pray.
When we leave our room, we walk into a fresh, spring day of new beginnings.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 NIV
Only you know how
To take my need and turn it into
Overflowing rich supply.
Only you can take my heartbreak
And make it hold YOU.
Desire fills my sleepless night,
You alone bring peaceful restful hope.
And when my angry, wounded heart
Only you can soften it,
Dissolve the rocks of rebellion
The love I never could produce.
You knead the essential oils
Of your redemption’s sorrow.
I begin to feel the hard, heavy lump
Of dough that is my heart
Your love brings
Submission to your radical transformation.
Wet tears flow
The minerals dissolve
A fragrance sweet
And everything has changed!
Only because of YOU!
by JerryAnn Berry Written April 10, 2022
at the conclusion of the He Makes All Things New conference
by Called to Peace Ministries.