Stories that Shine on an Awesome God

Posts tagged ‘restoration’

Hope Deferred

“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

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.

When crying

Desire fills my sleepless night,

You alone bring peaceful restful hope.

And when my angry, wounded heart

Cannot love

Or obey

Or forgive

Only you can soften it,

Dissolve the rocks of rebellion

Bring forth

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

Come alive.

Your love brings

Submission to your radical transformation.

Wet tears flow

The minerals dissolve

Leaving behind

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.

Testing God’s Way

Rose-Marie* stood at the sink washing dishes. By hand. One pan was so dirty it needed special treatment. Like her heart.

She knew God loved her, but her ability to love and forgive seemed wretched. How did God’s way work for her? Or anyone?

She twitched her head. Think of all the scenarios of evil in the world that God’s love has to work through—has to have an answer for—a way to heal and restore without force or coercion. Is it even possible?

She found a scouring pad and spoke aloud.

“God, I haven’t always done well in Your school, in letting You teach me, but now I’m tired of spiritual limbo. Your way must work in every circumstance, for real problems. It needs to work for all cultures and situations. That’s what I want to test.”

“So, what is faith?” The Spirit posed a gentle question.

“It’s naked trust, and I haven’t had much experience.” She bore down on the pan.

“What kind of experience do you need?”

“Experience with trusting for the ultimates.”

“What are the ultimates?”

Life, death, health, economic security. An ultimate for me is to find my reason to be. My place. Who I am. My place of belonging. Another ultimate is to love and be loved. For Your way to mean anything, it must be tested in these ultimates.”

The metal at the bottom shone through. She rinsed the pan and left the kitchen.

That was over thirty years ago, and Rose-Marie, aka Merita Atherly Engen, has had plenty of faith-tests in those ultimates. Some she passed. Some she failed.

Love, however, has never failed.

Most recently, I have gained deeper insight in how God’s way works in some of the most horrendous situations. Specifically of how His love has restored and is restoring the lives of those who have endured childhood spiritual, sexual, and ritualistic abuse and trauma. The more I learn, the greater God becomes.

He’s answering my prayer of years ago. He’s showing me that no matter what the Enemy, the Father of Lies, the Evil One, concocts through human agents, God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is able and willing and powerful to restore.

If you have been trapped by dark-side abuses, struggling to be free, invite Jesus into your situation. Cry out for help. Believe in Love’s way. It probably won’t happen overnight, but one step at a time, the light of Love will dispel the darkness. Then stand back and be amazed at the power of His might.

He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: For they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place. He delivered me, because he delighted in me.

Psalms 18:16-19

*Rose-Marie is the fictional name I’ve given myself in my yet-to-be-published book, “Heartache of Promise.” The story is based on a section of my life, so yeah, Rose-Marie is yours-truly.

More Than Survival

The seed lands in gravel. No one notices. No one cares about the life stored within. It’s on gravel, after all, atop hard-baked ground next to a plain, metal building. Alone. Without worth.

Rain on the roof drips from the edge. Softens the seed. Life sprouts. What else can it do but try?

Sun warms. Below gravel, tender roots grasp soil of clay. Pitiful nourishment.

Cool mornings.

Blistering mid-days.

Dark nights.

A tinge of green uncurls into an environment it did not choose.

Rain. Sun. Rain. Sun. Rain.

Leaves uncurl. A blossom forms.

Sun…sun.

More Sun.

Exhausting.

Unending.

Abuse.

A few green leaves. Perhaps a flower will unfold, but drought forbids fruit.  

A woman seeks relief from the abusive heat. Reading as she walks, she glances aside, noticing what the seed has tried to produce.  Her thoughts, otherwise wrapped in an epic story of human survival, pause amazed at how beauty arises from harshness. The plant has somehow survived. With a flower like that, it has more than survived.

The woman continues her reading. It is one survivor’s story among many.

A seed.

A root.

A leaf.

A blossom.

The stories are coming to life, producing fruit. She is writing one herself.

A child is born. What else can it do but try?

Yet, who wants to merely survive? Who wants to be known only for their exhausting, constant struggle for identity and life? People commend what is survived. But when one is drowning and struggling for air, who among us would want to only be told we’re strong?

Action laced with words of love and care are better than pats on the back for endurance.

And what of the struggle? Will it ever produce? If only a leaf or, by chance, a bloom forms, will that be enough?

Chances are high any person we meet has experienced life-altering abuse or trauma. They may be in the root stage, the leaf, or perhaps the blossom. We can be Love’s hands and voice and action for intervention. We can provide the water of refreshment and the warmth of truth and light.

Let’s be kind.

Think before we judge or speak.

Be aware of pain.

Follow our hearts.

Seek to understand.

Take root.

Blossom.

Produce.

And, if you’re still a dry seed, there is life inside and it is enough.

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him ALSO that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones…I will heal him; I will lead him also and restore comforts unto him.”

Isaiah 47: 15 & 18

“And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.”

Isaiah 58:10

Here’s a link to the epic story mentioned above. I am acquainted with the writer and his wife. The story, while long and at times unbelievable, is true and is another example of how God navigates through the network of evil to protect and provide and to “restore comforts.”

https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/33rd-degree-married-lewis-miles/1139714716?ean=2940162521556

%d bloggers like this: