Restoration’s Story

Today, I am taking a break from the Upon This Rock podcast series to share of the mighty healing God has been working in my heart. May it bless you!

 

I used to believe in a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps Christianity and still fall into that old way of thinking sometimes. I have tried to live out “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you”, but not abiding in Christ’s love, rather, in my own waning strength. God has always seen my striving in fear and pride, and people have begun to see my sinful heart seeping out also as I have walked through Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

What people cannot see and God can, is the deep hurt I went through as a little girl that He is now uncovering to heal through exposing my weakness and sin.

 

I idolized my parents – those in spiritual authority over me and let the enemy steal, kill and destroy things in my life through that idolatry. When God’s Living Word spoke through me and I was turned away, I let the enemy wreak havoc.

 

I now know from my mother’s testimony in hindsight, that a deep pain was growing inside her heart, as she was unable to get through to her new son: to reach him with what she thought was sound discipline commanded of her by her loving God. Her son continued to rebel and unbeknownst to her, suffer greatly beneath a method of discipline pushed by Christian parenting organisations my Mum deeply respected. The very discipline I tried to stop my parents from carrying out.

 

Visiting my brother at his orphanage, where he was given up for adoption only 2 days old and spent the first 15 months of his life.

 

My Mum later told me, through tears, that she realized she had been doing even more damage to my little brother’s already traumatized brain and body. At the time, my parents had only just returned from almost 6 years of very fruitful, but also very tiring missionary work with six kids in tow, including their recently adopted 15-month old Romanian son. Not long later their own health would begin to deteriorate rapidly also, as they faced one health scare and illness after another.

 

Sadly, all I saw at the time, was not my parents’ growing pain, fear, exhaustion and illness and after a while, not even my little brother’s trauma and deep pain anymore. I became blinded by my own pain.
All I saw was what I interpreted as their withholding of love as they turned God’s Voice of love and truth in me away. All I saw is what I interpreted as their and God’s expectation of good behavior and physical punishment being meted out when we couldn’t live up to those expectations.

 

And even more sadly, I began to believe that the enemy’s lies defined my God as:

Someone who doesn’t truly see us, or our pain.

Someone who calls us to arise in obedience to Him, only to turn us away and leave us in the cold when we do.

Someone who punishes our missteps, while failing to address the pain and trauma at the root of our sinful behavior.

 

When my parents unknowingly turned away the Living Word in me, I began to believe I had to work hard to earn back not only my parents’ love and approval, but God’s also. I even deemed myself evil and inherently mismade. I looked up at my parents as if they were God and let the enemy blind me to their and His love, until trauma triggers racked my body, as God’s Word began to do its work in me.

 

It’s then, I was led to repentance, as God’s peace poured out upon me during corporate worship. I even got baptized as a twelve year old. But then, sadly, lie by lie, I turned away from God as the enemy attacked me for my open confessions of my weakness and sin. I embraced the enemy’s lies, turning my heart away from my loving God. I lived as a shell, attending church to be the good girl I wanted to be known as. I couldn’t wait to leave and stop playing the hypocrite I believed I had to be to be acceptable to God and in Christian community.

 

Those I trusted, who taught me the Word of God, sadly failed to understand the trauma triggers I continued to experience, as God worked to unearth and uproot the lies I had agreed to with in my heart. Unwilling to humble myself, I began to numb my pain and hide my sin to not be embarrassing to others and myself. It’s then I began to believe I was irredeemable,
until I finally fled the church and the idol of a god I had begun serving, altogether.

 

I believed the lies of the enemy, above the holy Word of my loving and compassionate God, who has never ever forsaken me nor stopped chasing me with His love, truth and grace. Twenty years later, God would open my eyes to faith and begin to show me that what I and others most hate about myself and themselves, is what He most loves about us. Coming to Him in our weakness, confessing our sins openly and weeping freely in His Presence, as His Spirit of love, truth, grace and peace falls upon us.

 

The catalyst was my mother. The Holy Spirit poured out upon her through her battle with glioblastoma multiforme. She confessed her doubt, fears, unbelief and sins openly. She spoke what her heart believed, even if it was infected by her own pain and sin or pierced us in its powerful truth. And she sought and received my little brother’s forgiveness. As she did so God embraced her and led her to repentance, as I felt the palpable peace of God pour out in my midst.

 

My Mum, our youngest daughter and I, not long after Mum’s cancer diagnosis

 

The Psalmist of Psalm 34:4-5 tells us: “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” This was my Mum.

 

Isaiah 58:6-12 ESV reminds us:
6 “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed[b] go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

 

In all the places my parents could not give my little brother what he needed most, God moved in His power to redeem, restore and empower my little brother. He honored my parents’ pouring out. Oh how we all need that kind of grace as parents, in our inability to give our kids what they need most.

 

My little brother and I on his visit to the Netherlands, last summer.

 

Now, through God’s presence with him through all the trauma and heartache, my youngest brother is becoming a repairer and restorer, giving others, including me 😊, what my parents were unable to give him. Giving others what God has poured into him in his need and is continuing to.

 

My little brother is a truth speaker in love, so wise, filled with compassion and a pursuer of kindness and grace. My parents’ weakness has become my brother’s greatest blessing.

 

In my seeking of God after my Mum’s death, that palpable peace awakened a hunger in me. God began to show me how even in my Prodigal journey He had started uncovering His pure desires in me and His purposes for me. He started showing me how He used my parents’ and my weakness for good in my life also.

 

Beauty unfolding from ashes. A field close to my home in the Netherlands: the country God chose to rewrite my story of pain and trauma into a story of joy and freedom.

 

When He opened my eyes to faith, I spent a full year in a small English church being fed the pure Word of God. Then, He led me to a new Dutch church. This church was filled with men and women, who were hiding their weakness and pain from their God, and sadly, once again, I would do the same.

 

Yet again, just as a child, God called me to speak the truth. And just as a child, I began to cave, as the lies that had rooted in my heart as a child, came calling. God’s Word called me to arise in Him to speak the truth, as trauma triggers racked my body and uncovered the legalism still enslaving me also.

 

What I didn’t realize at the time is that these triggers were His gift to enable me to live the truth and not just speak it. He used the triggers to break my hardened exterior and reveal my weakness and sin in open confession before others.
I obeyed His call to speak the truth, but often I let the waves of absolute terror triggered stop and stall me from persevering in the truth, the very truth that was sent to heal not just those at my church but my own heart also. But even there, He was working HIS perseverance into my heart, as He built up my trust in Him.

 

Even in writing this post, my heart and body have walked through major trauma triggers, and I have stopped and stalled, run and hidden and come back into the light again. Healing is hard and holy work. Praise God He perfects His power right there in our mess.

 

At first, I looked back, filled with grief because I saw the exact thing happened that I was so afraid of happening: I hurt many of those who I spoke the truth to. But what I am also starting to understand is that God uses that pain to work a deeper compassion in us, as we continue to intercede for the fulfillment of the Word that He has given us and that is rejected by those before us.

 

As we dare to feel and pour out our own pain before the foot of the Cross, Jesus gives us His pain for His Body – not just for us but also for those who have rejected His Word in us – and He turns our hearts to His steadfast Promises of truth and grace. He reminds us that He perfects His power in His Body’s weakness causing us to arise from our place of shame to embrace His grace and love, and to pour it out freely upon others.

 

The very same pain I caused as Jesus worked His obedience in me, I experienced from the other side, as a little girl, when a prophetic word was spoken over me that has since come to pass: my Prodigal journey to the other side of the world and my work with many children (I became an au pair and high school teacher). Back then, that prophecy filled me with even more terror than I was already walking through with the trauma triggers. Now, I know God sent that prophecy to show me He always saw me in my need and to take me deeper in His grace now.

 

Now, I think I understand why that prophecy repelled me, rather than drawing me toward my God. I was filled with the fear of man rather than the fear of God. I was hardened in my pride and unwilling to humble myself in my sin.

 

The pain that prophecy caused me was the very reason why I had told God I didn’t EVER want to step out in this gifting He has given me to see what many others cannot. It is also the very reason I believe my pastor, in his kindness toward me and protection of me, didn’t think God could have given me such clarity and wisdom in my intercession either. And yet this is the very reason why God has given me this gift. He has given it to me to humble me, to embrace me, to heal me and to grow me in His mercy.

 

Now, Jesus is taking His mercy so deep in me that I am becoming the woman my Mum prophecied I would become from the womb: a grace (Anna) warrior (Louise), who like Anna in the Temple, would immediately recognize the baby Jesus.

 

 

God knew, that this time, as the attacks came upon my return as a Prodigal, there was one fundamental difference: I trusted Him enough to keep crying out in my pain, fear, anger, distrust and unbelief and He heard my every cry. It’s then my healing began anew, as God led me out of my church to begin restoring me in the purity of His Word.

 

Now, He is enlarging my heart to run in the path of His Living Word. Now, I am beginning to see and feel, not just my own pain, to surrender it at the foot of the Cross, held in my Abba Father’s arms. But, I am also seeing and feeling Christ’s pain for His Church, for myself and the very ones I was angry, bitter and unforgiving towards. For us, who are genuinely seeking to love and be obedient to our LORD and Savior, but do not see we are embracing our idols and lies.

 

Now, I also see how His heart ached, the times I bowed to pride, shame and self-righteousness, embracing lies, apologizing for speaking the Word or pointing fingers and hurting the very ones God had called me to love, bless and forgive.

 

I now see how each one of us suffer silently, as we allow the enemy to enslave us to pride, fear and shame. We pierce not only the weak and vulnerable in our midst, who are unable to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps anymore, but ourselves and our precious Savior. We allow the enemy to blind us to our own weakness and our own desperate need for Christ’s love, grace and compassion.

 

Paul tells us in Galatians 1:8 in the English Standard Version:
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

 

I now see the truth of this Promise and its gift. My curse for turning away has been Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. And yet this curse is forcing my faith life into the open, as I receive Jesus with my whole body, mind and soul. It is cleansing my Body from all lies, as the Truth, Jesus, is doing His work in me. This disease is leading me to the Cross to arise in the Truth and heal.

 

As Christ ever intercedes before the throne of God for us, His Church, He is fulfilling the Promise to make us One: body, mind, heart and soul. For, judgment must begin at the House of the Lord. But for us, the Church and Body of Christ, judgment is satisfied as we bow at the foot of the Cross in His leading and strength.

 

Beautifully, as I am letting go of my own pain now through His intercession in me and for me, I am beginning to pour out Christ’s tears for His Bride also, as He leads me to pray His sure and steadfast Promises over myself and His broken Body. I am being embraced and corrected in the loving discipline of Christ. Especially in my very own home, where I am finally learning to see and embrace Jesus in myself and my family: a family He gave me so many years ago to bless me, as I fled Him in terror.

 

Although I do not attend a church myself, in obedience to God’s leading for now, I have been surrounded by His Body. Men and women who are loving me through my weakness and my confessions of sin and helping me to trust God again. I am receiving His love, truth and grace in my home and being mothered spiritually by women who are walking through healing from trauma, as they boast in their weakness and soak in God’s love. My husband, children, extended family and friends are wrapping me in Christ’s compassion. They are leading me, just as my mother’s testimony continues to, to the Cross.

 

I am also being blessed by an online church, whose pastor continues to lead me into more and more repentance and healing through Christ at work in him. And I am being SO encouraged by the healing and redemption I am seeing unfold in my Dad and little brother, who are healing me as I see Christ’s love and compassion toward them. They remind me that God sees us.

 

God is comforting me in my grief also, breaking open my unique – but intimately known to Him – childhood trauma to heal me more and more. He is, piece by piece, giving me an undivided heart that I may fear Him above all else. And He is showing me how He perfects His power in every one of our weaknesses. Praise Him!

 

When I was a Prodigal my Dad gave me a letter and a Message Version Bible I never opened till I came home to Jesus. The verses he quoted are the very verses my heart so needed to receive, but my parents also. Just as my intercession for my pastor and his family would uncover my heart’s hunger for the very Promises I was praying over them, so our God would embrace my parents in the very Promises they were praying over me all those years. This is the Scripture my Dad gave me all those years before, when I moved to Europe for good, to join my now husband:

 

Luke 9: 22 – 27 (MSG):
22 – He went on, “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the religious leaders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and on the third day be raised up alive.”
23-27 Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.”

 

Now, I see that my parents didn’t just sow the Word of God into my heart in love, pray the Promises of God over me and keep loving and serving me in my Prodigal years. My Mum’s, my Dad’s, my brother’s and other people’s weakness and confession of sin before me, has and still is breathing my salvation through the power of Christ at work in them.

 

The Holy Spirit’s testimony through them continues to break open the seeds they sowed and to breathe life into me. I am beginning to unfold and bloom in His love.

 

Now, when I try to pull myself up on my own bootstrings, Jesus reminds me of His sacrifice at the Cross that has set me free. His sacrifice that is giving me a life of abundance in the wide open spaces of His love and grace.

 

His sacrifice that declares me His, healed and whole. Each trigger of trauma leads me to His arms.
It’s then I bow the knee, confess my sins, turn away from my sin and toward Him to arise in the joy of my salvation!

 

This process of writing is working a new trust of God in my own heart. He uses everything and seeds are always being sown and breaking open. Each new edit stripped more pride from me to expose Jesus’ soft heart hiding below my hardness caused by pain and distrust. Even all this is working a greater compassion in my heart for those I have felt hurt by.

 

I realized something. That even those places our sin is exposed and we haven’t yet recognized it as sin ourselves, God is working to bring compassion to others as they see our pain talking. Likewise, He is working to bring His truth and grace deeper into us, as we look back and see their heart of love toward us, as they have extended us grace and kept loving us.

 

That’s exactly what I saw with Mum too. Some of what she spoke was her truth and not God’s, just like me at my church, when I let the enemy lead me to retract God’s Word, believing those in authority over me knew better than He did and does.

 

But as our sinful hearts are exposed, God leads us and His Body to see and acknowledge the fears and the pain at the root of our sin, as He works to lift the heavy weight off of us.

 

Psalm 36:5-7 ESV

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
    your judgments are like the great deep;
    man and beast you save, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

 

This unfolded recently, as piece by piece, He led me to see just how beautiful my witness was at my old church. He even had me reread the messages I had sent three years ago: messages I have all this time deep down been ashamed of, and fearful of rereading. It’s then I wept in absolute awe and repentance.

 

I saw how bold I was in God’s love, truth, compassion and grace. I saw Jesus shining through me so brightly. That vivacious life in me has always been Jesus. That exuberant love that seeks to defend God’s own at all cost: that has always been Jesus. Even as His Body and my own body have repelled me and not believed Jesus is in me or has sent me.

 

Yes, what God speaks through me may be painful to swallow. God’s grace for us rebellious children is hard to believe. His love for us weak and vulnerable is hard to fathom. His desire to propel us Prodigals into visible ministry is troubling for us, who base our faith on our own purity, goodness and service to God.

 

But praise God, He redeems us in our legalism. He turns our eyes to His power being perfected in our weakness. He empowers us to surrender our pain and love and forgive those we would much rather point the finger at and push into the dark, including ourselves.

 

I would know. After decades of numbing or coddling my pain, I am walking through the pain held tightly in Jesus’ arms. I am coming to see that every single tear has been redeemed in the power of the blood. Where my pain was the greatest, His perfecting power was most present: redeeming and restoring and healing, even in my blindness.

 

I fled His power being perfected in my parents’, my brother’s and my own weakness, as a child and yet He pursued me back into His love and grace.

 

I numbed the pain I thought my God never saw, as I walked away as a Prodigal, and yet He used my unfaithfulness to declare His faithfulness over me, walking me into His beautiful purpose for my life.

 

As a returning Prodigal I bowed to Christ’s power in my weakness to testify to the Church of His redeeming love, only to become ashamed of His power at work in me. But God used this to heal my body and unveil His compassion for my body and His Body, as we have denied Him.

 

Now, I am embracing God’s redemptive purposes at work in our weakness because I see His kindness to me in my own. Now, I know that those who have hurt me the most have also taken me deepest into God’s love, grace and healing.

 

As I numbed my pain, God proved Himself faithful, fulfilling His purposes for my life in and through my running. He began calling my body and His Body home through His work in me.

 

As I coddled my pain and became the victim, as I pointed fingers or sat in shame, God proved Himself faithful to me by revealing His kindness to me in my sin. He sent out His Word to pierce and embrace me, opening my eyes to the gifts He has brought me through all the breaking and pain.

 

Just like my little brother, where I have lacked the most, I now see that God has poured out the most into me. I just needed eyes to see.

 

My parents’ weakness and my own gifted me faith: a faith no longer in my own ability to believe, but in Christ’s faithfulness at work in me in my own unfaithfulness.

 

My own beautiful Dutch family, whose very holiness flows from the gift of faith Jesus has unveiled in me through my parents’ and my own weakness, is a testament to Christ’s abiding love for His Body and for my failing traumatized body. The love and grace my Dutch family have shown me in such overwhelming abundance has not just revealed Jesus to me in them but also to me in myself.

 

His mighty calling upon our lives is birthed in our weakness.

 

Yes, as people begin to heal, just as my Mum did and others continue to around me, God touches us through them to begin a mighty work of healing in us too. Amazingly, our messy healing, heals others in their mess too.

 

In a recent vision God showed me a field of blooming flowers, filled with color and vibrancy. It reminded me of the fields we biked and ran through when I was little in Germany. This vision was filled with such hope and life: it felt like God’s giving back of what was stolen from me as a little girl.

 

And this is exactly what He’s been doing in so many ways. Read for example of the 15 houses I grew up in (including 6 months in a campervan as a four-year-old in Germany 😊). I share how God is rewriting my identity of displacement and dislocation into healing, belonging and wholeness.

 

God has also been speaking to me so much through storms lately, also. Yesterday, I even ran a 10km race on the beach and dunes through a storm with a dear friend of mine. Oh my, it was an amazing experience. Watching the sand lifted off and carried by the wind and literally being propelled forward and soaked to the bone through the strong gusts: thankfully temps were unseasonably warm!

 

What God has been doing is redeeming the storms in my life. He’s been showing me that each and every storm has unveiled more of Him in me and through me, as it has pressed me deeper and deeper into His love and grace. Each storm that I have been so afraid of, believing it would kill me, has drawn me into my Father’s lap.
Right there, He has uncovered my fears, my pride, my guilt, my shame, my distrust, my bitterness, my pain and redeemed it all.

 

He has reminded me of who HE is in the storm and who HE is in me: greater than he who is in the world, greater than any weapon forged against us: His beloved children, Church and Bride.

 

Now, I am filled with faith. I truly and wholly and deeply believe God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). I believe our mighty Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:25) as my very life, body and breath give testimony to.

 

Taken at a lake in Germany, by our eldest daughter, when we were visiting my Dad and his new wife.

 

So, I shall not grow weary as I continue to receive Him in those the world abhors, even as my very own body and His very own Body repels me for it.

 

I will rejoice that my mighty God counts me, a sinner who turned away and denied her beloved Savior again and again, worthy of following in His footsteps. Worthy of calling her body and His Body unto Himself, through His very own excruciating sacrifice, death and resurrection.

 

Mark 2:16-17 ESV

16 And the scribes of[a] the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat[b] with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

Oh may our beloved Savior reveal Himself to you through your own story today also. May you see His calling, purpose, restoration and redemption through every weaving of your story. May He unveil His glory through you today, as He calls you by name.

 

 

Be encouraged that through every twist and turn, He was and is making our paths straight in Him. Not one part of our story is without purpose:

 

 

For, He is writing Restoration’s Story through us: One Body, One Bride, One Church in Christ alone.

 

Psalm 32 (NIV)
Of David. A maskil.
1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
Footnotes:
Psalm 32:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
Psalm 32:4 The Hebrew has Selah(a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verses 5 and 7.

 

4 thoughts on “Restoration’s Story

  1. Oh praise God for His beautiful story in you, Anna. What a treasure to see those photos of you throughout the years. It is truly amazing to see the hand of God weaving and drawing and bringing healing. Oh may I offer my heart to Him more & more, to let Him bring the transformation & healing, to let Him show me where He has been so faithful all along. Love & hugs across the sea!

    Liked by 1 person

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