Beth grew up in a Christian home, well, loosely speaking.
They were the perfect family to the outside world.
However, she dreaded those nights when her mother tried to cry softly, and her father shouted.
University provided the perfect escape.
While there she was befriended by some young people who accepted her immediately. And it gradually became more comfortable to forget her former life.
A life of partying and initially soft drugs begun to take its toll. She started to miss classes, and it wasn’t long before her grades fell and she couldn’t advance to the second year.
Beth self soothes with more drugs.
After university life on the streets became a necessity; she needed the money.
Herself worth gradually receded and there was almost no likeness to the girl who left home.
Calls to home became more infrequent as she plunged into drugs, partying and anything that would help her forget the past.
Her faith needs restoring, herself worth rebuilding and brokenness healed.
Beth is going to need love and compassion.
She felt that not many could relate to her story, and shame stopped her from reaching out for help.
Beth was over Christians, church and everything that went with it. She wasn’t always that angry, but the more she learnt about her parent’s story, the more she wanted out.
Christians seemed skilled at pretence, and after all that had happened, she wasn’t sure she could do pretend.
As a young girl acting took a lot of energy and emotional resources, and those were currently in short supply. Anyway, the drugs made her unable to deceive.
Beth didn’t always have times where her thoughts were as lucid, but on the odd occasion when the drugs wore off, she would remember.
On those rare occasions, she tried to manage the self-talk before the pain overtakes, and she struggles to cope.
Beth often wonders what other people do, what do they use to cope.
How does her mother cope?
And her sister, the ideal child, now with the exemplary family, the perfect husband, living in the perfect house, everything seemed complete.
How did she manage to endure the same childhood but not break?
How could she stay home despite everything?
What gave her the ability to sleep through the sounds from the next room?
Beth felt like she hasn’t slept in years.
Will she ever be able to sleep?
The Journey from broken
Beth has lost much and knew that the path to healing lies in accepting the love and forgiveness of God. The welcome, healing restorative relationships that God can provide needs to be modelled by someone for her to fully believe that it is even possible.
Beth intentionally walked this journey daily and accepted the offer ‘Wilt thou be made whole.’ She learnt the steps to self-forgiveness and is beginning to believe that God will forgive her.
Her broken places were starting to heal, and she was finding a peace she hadn’t experienced before.
Accepting forgiveness wasn’t always a comfortable journey, it was learnt, and with practice, she was daily becoming stronger. She chose to receive that God will give peace and accepted that He could work restoration in her life.
The scriptures can be comforting to the wounded when we permit ourselves to make it do the work necessary for healing and restoration.
Beth admitted that she didn’t know, and she started from a place of nothing. She came devoid of every understanding of scripture that she has ever known.
Jer 30:17 ‘ I will restore health to you and heal your wounds saith the Lord’
She accepted His words and determined to follow His lead. The waiting was sometimes hard, but worth the journey.
Before long Beth noticed significant changes, she learnt new coping mechanisms and rejoiced in her brand-new freedom. That’s when she saw her sister’s attitude.
Jane always envied Beth’s free spirit, and she seemed able to do and say whatever was on her heart.
Jane was considered the ‘mature ‘one, she has never left the church, and she married a ‘good’ Christian man when expected to and settled into life.
She had children and a good career.
However, there was a deep sense of emptiness and a sadness that she couldn’t shake.
To feel better, she often consoles herself by measuring her pain. Other people have it worse she often reasoned.
Frequently people compare their painful life experiences to others who seem to have it worse than they do. In their mind, there is a hierarchy of pain or traumatic experiences.
Jane doesn’t know that all pain is legitimate in its own right.
She tried, on one occasion, to talk about how she felt. She got with empty platitudes and scriptures that seemed lacking in knowledge and understanding of her situation.
She left the interaction ashamed, lonely and isolated.
Jane does the only thing she knows how to do. Bury the pain and try to move on.
She is busy raising her children, holding very responsible positions in church and excelling at work. And sometimes if she keeps busy enough, she can mask the emptiness.
Jane secretly envies the connection that Beth has with God, and she sometimes wonders if she would be able to have a similar relationship with God.
She has no idea how to begin to repair the breach in their relationship. She knows that busyness will never compensate for connection and grace doesn’t require service, but somehow she was lost in the how.
How do I gain the peace that Beth has?
Coming off drugs and regaining self-worth taught Beth some vital lessons that Jane was only beginning to learn.
Beth learnt that it was impossible to please others all the time and so she stopped trying. Returning home, she decided that she wasn’t going to get over her past by conforming to how others think she should heal.
Her early determination helped her get the support necessary to resist the pull to conform.
It required persistence and perseverance.
These are attributes she never learnt before, and they were a challenge to develop, but she accepted the invitation in
Isaiah 1:18 ‘come now let us reason together saith the Lord though your sins are as scarlet they shall be as white as snow, thou they be red as crimson they shall be as well.’’
She knew there was no condemnation with God and held those words very seriously.
What will Beth do next?
Maybe your story is different from Beth’s, perhaps your path to pain and loss was more profound. In this free three days email course, I will be teaching how to ‘be present, not perfect’. You will learn what you need to do to restore faith and joy. You will learn how to build or rebuild your self-esteem and connect with the only one who will never leave you.
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Read more of Beth’s story here tomorrow.