It’s a typical romance: the girl was betrayed in her past, deeply wounded at the hands of another man. She wonders if she’ll ever be able to believe in love after having her heart broken in such a devastating way.
Then she meets a man who’s different from all the other ones. He’s willing to pick her up, restore her heart, and convince her of the reality of true love. Through his faithful love and kind words, she learns to trust again.
And they live happily ever after.
Oh, how I wish this was the way it really worked.
It’d be so lovely to be able to say, “Yes, Grant has healed me. I was betrayed and deeply wounded. I lost all trust in men. I lost all trust in love. But he came into my life and showed me that love is good and still real. He patched up my broken heart and all that was wounded is now as good as new.”
But that’d be a boldfaced lie. Because Grant doesn’t have the ability to heal me. No man does. The lies I believed before falling in love with Grant I still am having to fight today. The wounds I received before him are still not fully healed.
And he’s tried. He really has. He puts forth such gallant efforts, consistently pursuing my trust. Sometimes it even feels like progress is being made. But because he lets me down and makes mistakes at times, like every human on this planet, I end up back at square one.
Fearful. Untrusting. Deeply hurt. Empty and broken.
Recently I’ve had to be hit in the face with the fact that Grant can’t heal me. I’m having to learn that I’ve been doing things all wrong. The things I believed deep down about love and the purpose of relationships have been wrong. They must be wrong. Otherwise, what is God’s offer of healing good for? Why have a heavenly Savior you can’t necessarily see and feel when you can have an earthly savior who seems to do it all and more?
There can be no such thing as an earthly savior.
I trick myself into thinking that all I’m doing by looking to Grant for the things I need is “learning to love again,” but the truth is, I’m trying to make someone make me whole. I’m trying to get somebody just as weak and broken as I am to save me from my weakness and brokenness.
I can’t deny that Grant was my “rebound.” He knows it full well. I had only been out of a relationship for two months when I began dating him, and it’s no surprise I brought a ton of baggage with me. I didn’t give myself the time to properly heal. I didn’t bring my wounds to God and let him take care of me.
Seeking Grant during this time of hurt and heartbreak was a mistake — a mistake I don’t regret because of God’s powerful grace and ability to bring good out of all things, but a mistake nonetheless.
Does that mean my relationship with Grant is wrong and deserving to be cut off? No, it doesn’t. It mostly means we have a whole boatload of problems we both have to deal with — problems that I’ve wasted so much time bringing to his feet instead of Jesus’.
Here’s where the freeing truth comes in (because this does sound quite like a downer, doesn’t it?).
I can’t find healing from Grant, but Grant can help me find healing in God.
He can encourage me to seek the healing I need through his ability to point me to the Cross. He can fight for me with prayer when I’m feeling weak. He can hold me with his strong arms when I feel like collapsing.
Yes, he can do all these things and more, but he cannot heal me.
And if you’re a woman and all of this sounds to you like the most obvious thing in the world because you’ve been told in Christian nonfiction books and countless sermons that men can’t heal you or fulfill you, then good for you. Maybe you really do have it all figured out.
But maybe not.
I thought I had it all figured out, too. If someone had asked me, “Do you think Grant can heal you or fix you or fulfill you?”, I would’ve said with no hesitation, “No way.” I’ve read and heard the truth about man’s inability to make a woman whole many times. Heck, I’ve read Captivating from cover to cover twice in a row.
But there’s a difference between knowing it and accepting it.
No matter how much I knew this hunt for healing from any other source but God would be pointless, I didn’t want to believe it. I still thought there was hope. Doesn’t it sound so romantic to be able to look into the eyes of the man you love and be able to say, “I believe in love again because of you”?
A year later, I finally am accepting that it really doesn’t work that way. After a year of trying to get my act together and pushing Grant more than he ever deserved, I’ve realized that Grant hasn’t fixed a single thing about me. There’s still a whole ton of brokenness. If anything, I’ve been broken even more.
Please don’t mistake what I’m saying. Grant is an amazing partner who loves me very much. It’s my skewed idea of what a man’s love can and should do that has led to much disappointment, hurt, and anger in our relationship. It’s because of the lies I haven’t been consistently running to God with that I sometimes believe Grant is a poor lover or untrustworthy partner. What else is this broken, silly girl supposed to think when she hasn’t fully grasped the truth she needs?
The truth is I have been allowing myself to look to Grant for things that he has no ability to give. And I’m sorry for the hurt I’ve caused in his life because of it.
I’m sharing all of this because I think I’ve finally begun accepting what I so long denied: No one can be responsible for my healing except for God. He’s the only one who can complete the work. He’s the only one who can restore my broken heart.
And maybe you need to be reminded of this truth today, too. Maybe this thing that once seemed so common sense is starting to feel more like a foreign concept to you. Whether you’ve noticed it or not, perhaps you’ve been clinging to a man in hopes of being healed in his arms. Maybe this is the first time you’re hearing from another woman that THIS DOESN’T WORK.
The truth kind of sucks sometimes, doesn’t it?
Yet there’s hope that we will finally learn our lesson and bring our wounds to God for the healing we so long for.
What does this look like in a realistic, applicable way? For me, it looks like not running to Grant for answers or comfort or support before I run to God. This is hard for me to do. It really is. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve woken up from a nightmare and instantly called Grant without realizing. It’s become instinct. But Grant can’t do much from the other line. Sometimes he tells me stories to get me to relax or he’ll pray for me or remain silent as I try to fall back to sleep, but this has become a habit that isn’t beneficial for either of us. I’m keeping him from his sleep and I’m not allowing myself to fight forces of evil on my own.
I’m a daughter of God who has the power to cast away nightmares and all manifestations of darkness, but I’m not choosing to wield that power.
This also looks like not putting such heavy expectations on Grant. I somehow have come to believe that the only way Grant can love me and pursue me is if he’s perfect. This is the saddest, most debilitating belief I can have in our relationship because it makes him feel so inadequate. He tries so hard, yet can’t compete with my idea of what romance and relationships should look like. He has wounds, too, you know. My nagging and complaining and arguing only make his wounds deeper. It’s not his job to cure me of my insecurities. And when I make it his job, I only add onto his.
I’m a daughter of God who has access to a perfect, loving Savior, but I take my expectations and demands to a man who can’t meet them.
I must surrender my desire to feel secure in a man’s arms. This sounds like a beautiful and lovely thing to desire, but it does more harm than good. Grant isn’t always going to be there when I need him. He has work and things to do and a life to live. Oh, how I loathe when he has to tend to other matters. I cry and throw fits at the thought of taking care of myself while he’s gone. And I know this sounds pathetic, but please understand that any pitiful actions I partake in stem from my crippling fears instilled in me from past betrayal and heartache. I’ve told everyone before and I’ll say it again: I’m messed up. I’m in the long process of being healed, but I’m still messed up.
Instead of searching for security with Grant, I should be searching for security with God. He’s the one who will uphold me when no one’s around. He’s the one who will comfort me when I am alone.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:26-27).
Instead of waiting for Grant to heal me, I should be waiting for my true Healer to do his work. Jesus is the one who paid for my sins with his shed blood. He defeated death and darkness. Does this not include the lies that afflict me and the hurt that tries to hinder me?
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken (Psalm 34:17-20).
When I accept these truths, I will finally be able to love Grant in the way I should have been loving him all along: patiently, kindly, without pride or selfishness or grudge-holding. And then Grant, too, will be able to love me in the way he should have been loving me all along: protecting, trusting, hoping, and persevering.
I’ve been hindering his ability to love me with my faulty expectations and demands. I’ve been hindering my own ability to receive his love and protection and comfort. I’ve been trying to fill my God-sized desires with a human-sized love. But how much freedom will be had between the two of us when I am able to receive healing from the superior source!
I’m a work in progress, I know that full well. Yet I am still a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) and a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and I know the wounds I have don’t have to be so powerful in my life anymore. Not as long as God’s in control (and I let him be).
Take heart, my dear lovelies, if you’re anything like me. God is working in your life. He desires healing for your heart. Bring your God-sized desires to God alone. You and I are meant to love and be loved here on this earth, but we can’t afford to forget the source of it all.
We are meant to keep our gaze fixed heavenward as we walk hand-in-hand with the companions God brings into our lives.
Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
. . . . . .
I have been this dead man’s mother.
I have carried broken, dead dreams. I have cried alongside coffins containing my hopes and wishes and prayers. Sometimes my heart.
And Jesus has met me on my way to bury these things. He has stopped the funeral procession in progress. Moved with compassion, he has stepped out of the crowd, lifted my chin, and whispered words of relief.
Sometimes when he does this, I look first into his eyes and then back at the coffin and say, “but they’re still dead.” What I have been carrying with me is still unmoving, void of life. I continue on with the funeral procession, desperate to bury these things in the ground and bury myself in sorrow.
But he replies, “You don’t have to bury this at all.” And with one swift motion, he approaches the dead and reverses the damage. He breathes life into what I never thought I’d see breathing again.
And I am reunited with my beloved.
I am rejoiced, overcome with gratitude and awe.
. . . . . .
This is a beautiful story of a mother whose hope was revived as Jesus interrupted a funeral procession and brought her dead son back to life.
And this, too, is my story as Jesus revives my hope and brings my dead things back to life time and time again.
I have been this dead man’s mother, yet I have also often forgotten it.
I have witnessed Jesus interrupt my funeral processions and breathe life back into my hopes and dreams, and then I have thrown accusations at him. Why didn’t you come sooner?
I have seen him change my life. I was even once that dead man. Jesus saved me as crying, praying mothers walked alongside my coffin. And yet I live as though I’m still dead, unable to move or see a future ahead.
I have been given by God what no other could give: revived hopes and dreams, a healing heart that once felt irreparably broken. And then I have felt the call of death come again, rendering me forgetful of His healing hand.
I find myself crying out as if nothing has ever happened. As if I have never seen dead things rise. As if I never was this dead man and never was this dead man’s mother.
. . . . . .
The Spirit inside of me contains the power to move mountains, yet I have been staring at mountains without making a move.
I forget the power that raised this mother’s dead son lives in me. I forget the work that has been done and the promises that have been given.
Most of all, I forget that God is good.
I question his desire to move my mountains because I’ve been staring at nothing but these mountains all my life.
Of course they’re going to seem insurmountable when all I do is gape at their largeness and question God in His faithfulness.
How is He ever going to prove His faithfulness in my life if I’m so quick to forget my once-dead son?
In Scripture, we read of stories where God came to His children’s rescue and they then built an altar to declare and remember what God had done. So where are my altars? Why am I brushing past healing, victories, and resurrections in my life? No wonder I can’t remember. No wonder I’m quick to doubt and fear.
Where is my good Father? I’ve been demanding.
Where is He not? is the better question.
. . . . . .
My declaration over today: I once was dead and now I am alive. My broken heart is being tenderly mended. My hopes and dreams have been renewed.
What has taken place is worthy of remembrance.
So today, God, I remember you.
Dear friend who just relapsed,
I heard you gave in to the lies again. You were holding out for a while and fighting pretty hard, but the voices in your head just got so loud and you didn’t know what to do. So you caved last night.
And now you’re hating yourself for it. Thinking you were so clean for so long and now it’s all gone to waste. Now you don’t know if you can stop again.
You broke promises to your loved ones. You broke promises to yourself. You broke promises to God.
You feel like the damage is irreparable now.
You feel weak. You feel defeated. You feel selfish and stupid.
But you’re still loved.
My feelings haven’t changed for you. God’s feelings haven’t changed for you.
You’re tired of feeling so weak, but let me tell you that you’re a fighter.
You weren’t defeated. You just lost a battle. But the war doesn’t have to be over. You don’t have to raise your white flag.
I know it’s hard to convince yourself to keep going, but you did it once and you can do it again. You can hold onto freedom. Christ died so you could.
. . . . . .
I’m so sorry you were hurting so bad that you didn’t know what to do but return to your former life. I wish I could’ve been there the minute you decided so I could’ve reminded you just how hard you’ve worked to be okay and how damn much you wanted to be okay.
You want to be okay. And you are.
It doesn’t feel like it right now. But you are.
Today was just one day. It was just one time. And yes, one time can change everything. It can make everything fall apart. It can lead to another time and another and another.
But it doesn’t have to.
You will still be hurting, the ones around you will still be sad, but you will have made a decision that will ultimately save you. If you would only just pick your resolve back up like I know you can.
. . . . . .
Let me remind you of who you are: you are a redeemed child of God. You are important. Do you know the lives you have impacted just by simply being you? By smiling that smile? By offering that listening ear, that compassionate heart? You are special. And that’s not something to be ashamed of. You feel things more deeply than most, and that is simply beautiful. Yes, you are beautiful. You are a beautiful being comprised of gifts and talents and love and grace.
You are also comprised of genes. And I know you hate your genes. You hate your chemical makeup. You hate that it feels like there’s so much crap you can’t do a darn thing about.
But despite the way it feels, it’s simply not true.
You can make a choice. Just like you did that solemn, brave day when you decided you wanted a better life and you knew God could get you there.
You’re not forgotten. God’s still pushing you forward. He has a plan for you, and it doesn’t involve this mess. You can still get there. I promise. God’s holding out his hand and I can be your cheerleader on the sidelines. Just one more step. And then another. I got you.
I love you.
I’ve been in a writing frenzy lately and I think it’s because I’m starting to finally become the truly confident woman of God I’m meant to be.
And that confidence has come amidst fear, insecurity, hurt, past wounds, and confusion.
Basically, I’m confidently broken. And what that means is that even though I pretty much have nothing in my life together, I am learning more about myself and God and others and I’m somehow able to be myself in confidence and boldness.
It is one of the greatest feelings in the world to know that despite brokenness and shame and hurt, I can still be wholly myself.
And I think that’s where God’s been trying to bring me– into this season of being myself where I don’t have to constantly strive or feel inadequate or feel like a failure.
I’ve been headed down this journey for the past few months (since the start of 2014, actually) and I can think of a few things that God has used tremendously in my life. So here’s an incomplete list of what has meant the most to me over the past 3.5 months.
1. NOT moving out
I was supposed to move out of my parents’ house into an awesome apartment with four girls in the first week of January. Words cannot explain how excited I was for this new season of my life. I finally felt like I was going to get that taste of true community and independence and college life. And yet two weeks before our scheduled move-in date, things just fell apart. Like crumbled.
And all of a sudden, moving out was no longer an option.
It didn’t make sense. Why on earth would God be paving a way for these plans to happen only to let them cave in on me? The least He could’ve done was give me some sort of warning or foresight. It hurt A LOT. And I was convinced that this was going to be the worst semester ever.
But God shone His goodness through my situation. I remained in my parents’ house and experienced a sudden growth in my relationship with my mom. She was there for me through the crushing disappointment I faced and we had some pretty cool “real talks.” And now I feel like we’re closer, or at least more real, than ever before. To think that I almost moved out without having this awesome friendship blossom between us.
Do I still want to move out? Yes. I’m considering trying again in August. But I have no regrets about staying home this semester. I never thought I’d say those words, but God’s sovereignty and goodness has somehow changed my mind.
2. My best friend NOT moving back
It was excruciatingly painful to consider facing yet another semester without my best friend, Lacey. After six months of having her in Thomasville while I remained in Kennesaw, I was ready for her to come back so the “Jessie and Lacey escapades” could begin again. She’s my wingman, my homie, my OTHER HALF. We were supposed to move in together and pick back up where we left off last May.
But she didn’t come back.
And I thank God for that distance remaining between us because even though the physical distance sucks, the emotional closeness that has been forged through that long distance is unbelievably amazing.
We talk anywhere from 1-6 hours a week. We still make it a point to text pretty much all day, everyday. We watch New Girl over the phone together. We take turns making the four-hour drive to visit each other once a month.
And yes, it’d be great to have her here, but having this distance between us has forced us to be intentional and focus on the more serious things of life that we’d otherwise overlook due to our crazy adventures.
We’ve become closer than I ever imagined possible. I can tell this girl anything. In fact, I HAVE to tell this girl everything. She keeps me sane.
Do I still want her here? Yes. The idea of her coming back to Kennesaw is not an impossibility. But I have no regrets about her staying in Thomasville and me remaining here, and I know she doesn’t either. Yet again, God has shown me His goodness through this situation I once considered the worst thing in the world. Now I realize it’s one of the best.
3. NOT having my life together
Having wounds and insecurities and fears surely feels awful sometimes. Well, most of the time.
But because I’m an imperfect human being, I have the opportunity to walk alongside so many imperfect human beings around me. Because I’m hurt, I have the opportunity to hurt alongside other hurting people.
And together, being hurt suddenly doesn’t feel so awful. It’s not pleasant, but it’s not awful either. When two people are raw and upfront with each other about their broken state of being, they suddenly find they’re not so alone after all.
I thank God that He has used my broken state of being to speak to others. And one of the ways He’s done that is through my writing. And I wouldn’t be able to write like this and say the things I do if I wasn’t okay with being broken.
Do I still want to be healed and whole? Yes. I know there’s so much joy to be had in Christ and we are not meant to remain forever broken and hurt. But God has used me this way. He’s used me as I am. And whether I’m in the deepest pit or on the best Jesus high, I’m just glad I can be used for His glory and to encourage the people I love.
So there you have it. The incomplete list of “wrongs” turned right that have brought me to this place I’m in now. It’s crazy to see God’s goodness through it all, but it’s there. He really does work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). And oh, how I love Him! After having so much just fall to pieces, I really didn’t have much to hold on to but Him. And that’s a gift in and of itself.
Brokenness is okay, especially when you become confident in it. That doesn’t mean you STAY broken and just decide to never pursue healing. No, healing is needed. But being confident in your brokenness means that you let yourself be yourself, broken pieces and all. That means you stop completely hiding. That means you let God speak to you through your wounds and tears. That means you let God speak THROUGH you BECAUSE of your wounds and tears.
I want this for everyone, especially the beautiful young women in my life. Let’s face it: a lot of us girls are hurting and don’t know what to do about that.
Here’s what I propose we do: we confidently let God have our brokenness. Whether it’s taken away or remains, we let Him do something with it. Anything.
I love you, readers. Your encouragement has meant so much to me. Thank you for meeting me in my hurt and letting me know I am in no way alone or a failure.
For now, let’s be messy people together and begin to pursue healing… in confidence.