Over the past sixteen days, we have traveled almost 2908 miles from Thousand Oaks, CA, to Duluth, MN, and we are having a wonderful trip. We’ve moved from 100 degree days in Wyoming and Denver, to waking up to a 40 degree morning.
Sara and I are having the most wonderful conversations with each other and others along the way who are on a journey to find their freedom in Christ. Sara’s continuing journey through trauma has encouraged many people and opened doors for people to discuss their own places of brokenness and how Jesus might want to bring healing to them.
After Duluth, we are headed to Minocqua, WI, Escanaba, MI, Traverse City, MI, and then to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and South Bend, IN. This trip is still unfolding, but it has become a treasured adventure for Sara, me, and our two dogs. We’ve had our share of RV issues but have managed to resolve them all so far and enjoy our tiny home on wheels.
In the aftermath of the Redeeming Love podcast series, I received this email. I’m sure it will touch many others because Sara and I have heard it expressed by many people. Just because something horrible happens to you doesn’t make you horrible, no matter how deep your feelings.
I was reminded of that recently in an email I hope encourages many others who harbor hidden thoughts of being horrible, shameful, or unworthy of love for any reason;
Thank you for sharing so boldly and honestly about what you have been through recently. I have cried with you and rejoiced with you. My husband and I, who have listened to all seven podcasts together, have nodded in recognition as we recognize the same patterns in our lives. Thank you for your honesty and openness, Sara, in an area I know all too well. Hearing you makes me understand myself better.
Wayne, you stayed in our home during a visit to Europe a few years ago. I had intended to write to you to tell you about something that changed in me after your visit. However, I couldn’t bring myself to do it until now. I believe it was God’s plan all along. You probably don’t remember it, but I blurted something out during breakfast on Sunday morning. Something I don’t usually share. I told you that I thought I was evil.
For some reason, you started talking about the processes we go through when we build trust in God. Those spaces we trust him create safe spaces so God can expand those spaces. I remember you made a circle with your hand as you explained. For some reason, this conversation turned something inside of me.
After our conversation, I could no longer believe my thoughts about my being evil. The thought, or the lie, had been a part of me for as long as I could remember. All my actions acted out of that awareness, so when that thought became absurd and even incomprehensible, it actually caused me some uneasiness.
Although I think it is an enormous freedom, and I see that it has opened me up to let both God and people approach me more vulnerably, I have struggled to understand it. And since I did not understand, I became anxious that I was in self-denial and in opposition to the truth—that the truth was that I was still evil, but that now I could no longer accept that truth. It made me feel like I had lost control.
Hearing you, Sara, tell that you thought you were a horrible person, and the explanation you got about this, was so good for me to hear as well. It is so liberating to understand that it is the evil deeds that were done to me as a child, that created a thought in me that I was evil and not the other way around.
I just wanted to let you know how meaningful your visit has been to me, Wayne, and how good it is to put into words and understand myself better after listening to Sara, you, and Kyle.
I could write you several pages about things that have been enlightening and good for me, but I hope this little testimony will encourage you as you have encouraged me.
That it did. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and how some comments from me helped shape a new trajectory in your life. Sara and I have had this conversation with many others in the last few months.
Something horrible or evil might have happened to you, but that doesn’t make you horrible or evil. Somehow the brain often defines the people by their trauma, especially in young children. I don’t know if that’s the brain on its own or the enemy gets a hand in there, too, but it’s cruel for the victim of abuse to go away from the incident thinking they are bad. It increases the trauma and smears their future.
I get it. The person abusing them has some delight in it, and especially when children are too young to realize what is going on. They have to think they are the problem, not that something horrible is being done to them.
When trauma surfaces, remind yourself that whatever happened to you is in the past and it’s not happening to you now. Don’t let the brokenness of another person define who you are. This is where a conversation between you and Jesus can be really helpful—a conversation that may last for months or years.
We’re talking a lot about restored innocence on this tour, something foreign to many people. After all, shouldn’t we know better? Haven’t we done things we knew were out-of-bounds to God? How can we be innocent when we struggle and fail with sin or trauma?
That’s the miracle of the cross. We are washed, cleansed, and made new by his work so that each morning we wake up in the innocence he gives us, and we can learn to live in that innocence every day. Thus, we can come to God in confidence that we are deeply loved, that he sees us not as damaged goods or co-conspirators in sin, but beloved children who are harassed and helpless against the chaos of a broken creation.
To the Father, you are his beloved child that he wants to redeem for your freedom and joy. Trauma and sin don’t make you less loveable to him but even more endearing. Don’t believe the lie that exempts you from his love and care. It is Father’s greatest desire to rescue you from whatever calamity has befallen you and establish you before him as an innocent, beloved child.
No matter who tells you otherwise, even yourself, consider his words:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end-
Because I am GOD, your personal God
I paid a huge price for you .
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
“So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.”
(Isaiah 43:1-5 The Message)