“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you” (Ezekiel 36:25 ESV).
You may be familiar with the quote, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.” If I had to sum up my story that would be the quote I would choose. It was in September of 2011 that I took that one step, and the journey that followed has changed my life in ways that I don’t understand.
Now, for some, September is a month that conjures up different thoughts and feelings. For those that lived through the terror attack on 9/11, September can bring up difficult memories and a sense of loss and I guess it does that for me as well, but in a different way. During 9/11, we were living in Virginia, about a two-hour drive to Washington, D.C. We would go outside each day and the sounds of jets going over our house on their way to either Dulles or Reagan National airports could be heard. It became the background noise of our daily lives. But all of that stopped on 9/11, and for a few days after, as all air traffic had been grounded. It was almost eerie walking outside to the silence that ensued. My life had become like that as well. There had become this background noise of brokenness, insecurity, anger and a sense of hopelessness, and I desperately wanted a quiet soul.
Things had not been going well leading up to my September experience in 2011. The past 10 years or so, my marriage had not been what God wanted it to be. My husband, as he had been working through his own issues, had moved us multiple times. Just when I thought I had made some friends, up we would go, moving again. This caused a lot of hurt in my life. My husband was also struggling with a pornography addiction that added to that pain. And I was not the easiest person to live with either. I would lash out at him in anger, wounding him with my words. It was in this context that I felt that I came to the end of my rope. I did not see how things could get any better and I desperately wanted them to. In my desperation, I changed my tactic. I had been seeking others to find the help that I needed but this time, I cried out to God, not asking Him to help me but asking Him to take me home. I didn’t want to live in this space anymore. And in His love and kindness, He told me “not today.” But I was still lost and alone, hurting, aching and searching for help. We ended up moving again and this time, God had a plan of how He was going to start my journey from brokenness to healing.
Ezekiel 36:25–29 (ESV) promises: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.” I am always amazed at how God takes seemingly random pieces and puts them together into a beautiful mosaic. This passage from Ezekiel was shared with me by the wife of the pastor at the church we attended just before we moved. In my selfishness and short-sightedness, I actually began praying this over my husband hoping to see God change him because he was certainly the problem. I mean, yes, I could be difficult and caustic but it was him who moved us. It was him who had the pornography issue. It was him. So, I prayed this over him. Even with my efforts to change my husband, we soon found ourselves at rock bottom. Neither of us saw a way out of the place we were in. I reached out to get help from a counselor at Family Life Network. That first call led me to a voicemail and my heart sank. Another dead end. I had hit so many dead ends. Why would this call be any different? But it was different. The office called me back, and we went to meet the counselor. My husband did not want to go. He was angry and hurt, but he went.
The Lord spoke to me through Isaiah 61:1–4 ESV: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.” The counselor there recommended we start something called “The Healing Journey.” This verse is found in one of the first lessons and it has become an example of who He is in my life and what He can do. But, when I first started The Healing Journey, all I could do was hope that God would take me there. It was the first hope I had in some time, and it carried me into this journey. It would take many words and more than a pot or two of coffee to fully explain The Healing Journey so let me hit some of the highlights.
In my first few lessons, I was introduced to some new terms and my ways of thinking were challenged. The “false beliefs worksheets” were in the first three lessons. These worksheets examined my established way of thinking about God’s character, my relationship with God and my identity in Christ. These worksheets take common beliefs and challenge me to see if I am really living like I believe them. The premise is that if I don’t live like I believe them, then I don’t believe them. Ouch… I was next introduced to temptation crossroads, trust trail and pride pathway. Each time we are wounded, we come to temptation crossroads, and we have to make a choice. Will I serve God (trust trail) or myself (pride pathway)? I then learned how I had been, and am tempted to be, my own power, provider and protector, in essence knocking God out of that position. In the end, only God is qualified to be those. I also I learned about having a victim mentality, which is when we allow our wounds and our sinful choices to become our identity. When we are in this space, we might treat ourselves and others disrespectfully, not make our wants and needs known, accept that we are of little or no value, refuse to change dysfunctional areas of our lives and live your life to extremes and avoid balance (The Healing Journey Student Manual, 7th Edition, Cyndy Sherwood, His Healing Light Press, Colorado Springs, CO, 2023).
As I learned these principles, I began to “own my own stuff.” I started to take my hurting, broken feelings to Jesus instead of acting out of them. I began to accept my husband right where he was because I realized I was just as sinful and broken as he was. Jesus gently led me through my victim behaviors and taught me that I needed, and continue to need, as much forgiveness and grace as the next person. I realized I cannot pick up stones to throw at anyone and what Jesus asks of me he may not ask of another person. I answer to Jesus for my choices at temptation’s crossroads.
There is so much more to the journey I have been on and to the Healing Journey class itself. There is still a process I am in of finding lies I believe and live out of. There have been times that God has made Himself known when I least expected it. There have been insights into my life that I could have only seen through His eyes. It was only through His strength that I was able to share my story with that first Healing Journey class and with others over the years. And God has been faithful in the verses He gave me. Not only have I experienced healing in my life but so has my husband, and God has blessed us by healing our marriage. And now I have the opportunity to share the Healing Journey with others. This is my 11th year leading Healing Journey classes in my area, and it has been a highlight in my life. I have had the front seat in watching God heal the brokenness in women’s lives and it is one of the most beautiful things to see. He continues to take my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. I am still on a journey with My loving Savior.