I hear his scream. The scream of little boy who needed his mama, who was lost in the land of her own grief, much like those who inflicted this grief upon her.
About a year ago I was sitting in a coffee shop in Old Town Alexandria, VA, staring at a letter I had been up writing the night before. I sat there in what I can only describe as a feeling of emotional hell. It was empty and defined by a familiar isolation I had known awhile prior. This feeling had been present for weeks. It was impeding on my ability to function in daily life and worst of all, my ability to simply be present to the Lord, my husband, and my son. My day was defined by intrusive thoughts and grief from something I thought I had resolved 6 years prior. I was ashamed to go to prayer as it took every ounce of my being to focus on Christ. I was not living in the present of my life but in the past. This had become my emotional reality and was beginning to feel like my reality in every other sense. And I was at a loss of how to get out of it.
I thought I had gotten past all of this. After all, I had encountered Christ and cut off ties with my abuser about 6 years prior, I lived across the country from where I had experienced this isolation in the past, and now lived in a healthy marriage, parenting a little boy who brought me more joy than I had ever known. My daily questions became, “what is wrong wrong with me?,” “Why was the Lord allowing me to experience this?,” and “What was He doing?”
Intertwined with this isolation and grief I felt a strong pull to the place where I grew up, the place where I was wounded. I longed to simply sit in that place and watch the unique dusk sky, which at times felt like my only friend. To smell the dirt and fields of cows that are entangled with so many feelings of fear, sorrow, and anger. To once again gaze at the tabernacle which for many years gazed back at me. I followed this prompting. And all along the way of my 4 day journey to my native place, God provided me with friends.
As my plane took off I felt a weight on my heart thinking of the family I was leaving behind for a few days for the first time. I felt an indescribable tug on my heart as the plane accelerated and my mind was flooded with imagery of my little boy who would not understand where his mommy went. But my brother in Christ, who I providentially ended up flying with, told me something that gave me the energy to keep going, “you are so brave.”
I began my 4 day trip home by visiting the place I had come to know the person of Christ, a place known for its blatant antithesis to His message, Berkeley, CA. I spent a day walking the streets and visiting the places Christ found me in my wounds as a college student. The day culminated with a visit to a small patch of land hidden by trees I would often go to on campus to sit and pray. I felt as if this little place was a gift for me from the Lord to rest. It was the quiet place that I would go away to the 4 years I lived in Berkeley.
It was the place I first shared my deepest wounds with another. It was the place I found the conviction to completely separate myself from a person who had spent years trying to be my god. I returned here with the person who had first received my wounds in that exact location 6 years prior to share with her two letters I had written to two men. These letters were an outpouring of the concealed areas of my heart that I had spent years suppressing. They were the product of everything coming out at once. But most of all, they were the direct reflection of having invited Christ in to those spaces, however imperfectly I had done so. And He made them beautiful.
These letters were the things I always wanted to say but could never say as the scared little girl who did not recognize the value of her own personhood, and thus allowed herself to be used and discarded for the egos of others. She was finally allowed to speak. And this was because Christ had broken and replaced the boundaries which once confined her. And all that was left was love.
Christ was breaking those boundaries in the emotional turmoil I had been experiencing. The breaking of those boundaries hurt more than anything I have ever experienced, but the love that replaced them was worth waiting for. As I looked at my sister who I shared these letters with she said in tears, “I can see Christ.” and we both cried. In this moment I realized that all of the pain I had been feeling was Him entering that space and giving me a new heart, His heart which he promises us all. These letters were filled with love that I would have never given on my own but a love that could only come from Christ.
That next morning I drove down to my hometown to give these letters away to the place I felt they needed to go. I met with one of the men whom I had written to and after that meeting ended I spent some time grieving the fact what I had to say was not received very well in that moment and might never be. But over the course of this past year, Christ has increasingly made me okay with that. He’s opened doors that were previously closed and has begun a new season of mission in my life. And I am finally ready to accept because of what He has done in my heart. I can live where I am, in the present moment of my life, more fully than ever before.
When I returned from my trip I spent the first few days giving my little boy his mommy back. When I returned my husband disclosed to me how my son screamed for me in the middle of the night while I was away. And that scream gives me the energy I need never to rebuild those places in my heart that Christ broke down and replaced with himself.
I plead with you to invite Christ into the spaces that hurt the most. The world so desperately needs the Heart Christ desires to give you. That scared little girl and the boy who longs for his mommy need your courage.
“I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you.” Ezekial 36:26