So often when I look back, it’s the bad times that first come to my mind, but I’m trying to view them instead through the lens of God’s goodness and deliverance. And yet it’s when we really remember how dark those days were that we can see how much deeper God’s love and grace are.
In 2013, something broke inside of me and I slipped into a deep depression. I wrote that November:
Some months ago one judgmental remark from someone put me into a tailspin and brought me face to face with painful memories of past abuse. At first I disassociated from my feelings. I didn’t want to feel at all, because it hurt too much. I continued on in life like a robot. But I became more and more depressed until one day something inside me broke. I sobbed and cried, “I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so sick of being strong for everyone around me…”
It was like I was sinking deeper and deeper into a sea of turmoil, gulping up water. In my mind Jesus was standing above the surface looking down at me and shaking his head. “Hopeless case, that one…” I felt so forsaken of God. His promises seemed bogus, and I could not grasp a single one.
The weight of depression stomped me down, down, down…
I couldn’t have made it that dark day without the grace of God. By the end of the day my heart was still heavy, but the care and compassion loved ones gave me lifted me up to see a pinpoint of hope. And the next day, God had a pleasant surprise for me.
“I will give thanks and praise the Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell aloud all Your wonders and marvelous deeds.”
My husband suggested I take my writing pad and go to the Falls. He knew nature often relaxes and comforts me. It helps me to remember God still has all things in His control. I sat on a rock and watched the water rush over the red rock formations. I let the sound of it sooth my weary soul. I imagined the wind as the breath of God kissing my face and telling me I will make it through this.
When I walked along the paths and around the Art Barn, I stopped in awe. There in front of me written in chalk down the front of the steps was a message that still impacts me today. “I will love you every step of the way. ♥” I knew it was God speaking directly to my despairing heart.
Then I remembered a song – “Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe.
“Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy?
Why is pain a part of us?
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much
But You’re here
I know I can trust You
Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart.”
Sometimes God sends the greatest comforts out of the deepest valleys, doesn’t He? My heart still felt wounded, but I knew I could run to Jesus and He would pull me up again out of the pit and set my feet upon the Rock.
“He reached down and drew me from the deep,
dark hole where I was stranded,
mired in the muck and clay.
With a gentle hand, He pulled me out
To set me down safely on a warm rock;
He held me until I was steady enough
to continue the journey again.”
Psalm 40:2 Voice
Out of that time, God led me in a new direction. Instead of Trudy Den Hoed: Freelance Writer, I changed my site to Freed To Fly: Hope, Healing, and Freedom for Hurting Souls. I stopped pressuring myself to build a writer’s platform and write for publication in magazines or a book. I became more deeply convicted that I’m here to write to God’s glory above all, and my desire to plant seeds of hope in the hearts of hurting souls became even stronger.
At the end of that year, God led me to (in)courage. And onward from there to Faith Barista, Holley Gerth, and Jennifer Dukes Lee. And though it remains a learning process, through these God-inspired women, God led me to be more authentic, to remember I am pre-approved by God, and to place my identity in Jesus. And through them, I gradually opened my heart to many more of you out there in Cyberville.
I set out to encourage others at this site, but I have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement many of you have given me. At first I felt uncomfortable and resisted it, because of a deep voice in me that says I don’t deserve it. But gradually, God is teaching me to receive encouragement as well as to give it. So thank you so much, my dear online friends.
“I thank my God every time I remember you.”
That toxic shame still often pierces the core of who I am and screams, “You’re worthless. How can someone like you ever make a positive difference? You don’t deserve comfort. You don’t deserve to be accepted. ”
Panic still creeps in and shouts, “Watch out! You’re going to be hurt again. Reinforce that wall.”
Healing is a process though, right? I have learned that many of you struggle with inadequacy, shame, and fear of trusting. And I know there are others among you readers who also do but remain silent onlookers. And that’s ok. I still pray for ALL who visit this site. God knows your needs infinitely more than I do. I keep asking God to bring hurting souls here and give them hope, healing, and freedom in Him. And sometimes God tells me to seek out hurting souls at other sites.
All of us have a story to tell, and there is not one story that is less important than another. There is not one hurt that is less painful than anyone else’s. Every story counts. Every. Single. One. So don’t let that bug bite you and tell you, “Your burdens are not as bad as someone else’s.” I know by experience that can stifle the grieving process. Every hurt needs grieving in order to start healing.
Remember! You are so special to God! You have been created uniquely for a special purpose only you can fill. Jesus loves you so much that He sacrificed His life for you. His arms are wide open with welcome, longing for you to run into them. Yes, life can be messy. Yes, it can hurt so much and be so hard. But He cares about broken hearts and delights to heal them.
“Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe