Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Hey everyone! Today I have a bit of a different post -- it partially digs into my "why" behind Back To Me, and it has very much turned into a portion of my testimony as a follower of Christ. And I'm going to share this now because I don't know how many times I've saved and then deleted this thing xD

Back To Me has actually been on the backburner – and frontburner, and that weird burner in the middle of some stoves that’s super duper long – for over a year now. It holds themes of forgiveness. Healing. That it’s okay to not be okay, but you’ve gotta keep moving anyway. That we have to surrender to God, and that includes a crazy amount of trust in Him, but He’ll take you farther than you ever imagined if you just trust. And it centers around one thought that I had rattling around in my head for years.

“I just want to go back to who I was before.”

I can’t tell you the specifics of what happened, at least not for the world wide web to read. I tried writing a post that redacted the identifying issues, but it was way too vague and so confusing even I got lost. But I can say that there’s a stark line in my life that burned one chapter shut and opened another chapter I didn’t want to read, and that choice was not my own. There was - is - no going back.

Clergy abuse and misconduct is something absolutely reprehensible, something that I can’t even begin to wrap my head around and yet there are so many silent victims. So many people who carry their secrets with them like millstones around their necks. The fact that a spiritual leader can abuse their influence and  inflict such damage is something that angers me deeply. It’s a problem that has permeated church leadership in ways you wouldn’t believe. And for all the people who have spoken out on it, how many more stayed silent? I know we, as the Church, don’t like to talk about it because it gives us Christians a bad name. We don’t like to admit that pastors can wreak such havoc. We don’t like to face the demons created by such a fallen nature.

And this is where Back To Me fits in the world. Because we DO live in a fallen world. Horrible things happen. To me, to you. “This never should have happened!” permeates the darkest corners of our church buildings, because the church isn’t immune from the evil one and in fact, his influence is alive and well there too. Turning a blind eye only hurts us, and it only adds more shame to the victims than they already carry. And they shouldn’t carry it because it was never their burden to bear. And they should know that there is goodness left, that they can recover, and that they will.

Back To Me is where I learned to give my own shame and burdens to God and asked Him how I could help someone else with my new…knowledge. 

It’s where I sat down with my counselor, who is also a pastor and a person I initially feared on default, and explained that I wanted to write a book to help other people like me. Because "If this had to happen, I might as well do something good with it, right?"

It’s what I kept writing when that same person, months later during Bible study, looked straight at me and said, “Oftentimes God uses the things that burden us the most in testimony for another person. Using your testimony is one very powerful thing anyone can do.” He didn’t know that I’d decided to trash BTM that week because it was too much. But God knew, and He used that person to get His point across.

And it scares me to share. It’s not a popular topic. It’s not comfortable. But I know without a shadow of a doubt (which is something for me; my middle name is actually “Doubting Thomas”) that God has placed this story, this experience, with me for a reason, and it’s one that I must share. Because
God always uses those hurts to create something new. The only other option, for me, was to stay in that past, that hurt, and wallow forever. And man, am I ever thankful that I didn't. I have seen God move in so many ways, I have gotten so much better at understanding God's character and His will, and yes -- I have seen how He can use a hurt to create something beautiful. How the evil one's plans are thwarted in the presence of God.

And if I can write a book that convinces others to seek that healing, because no matter how much it hurts or how hard it is to recover, that pain will always be miniscule in comparison to a lifetime of hurt. So Back To Me is a call to action as much as it is a story of healing: will you accept God's plan for your life, or will you let the hurts and sins and pride and pain consume you?

God gives me the bravery to write this. He gives me the strength to keep going, or to slow down when I must. (And I don't like doing that.) He gives me the courage to keep moving out of that anxiety when I feel myself slipping back into that fear. I am like Simon Peter; jumping out onto the water and then looking at the waves and sinking. And God is right there with His hand out, even if I'm a little twerp who tries to drag myself out of the water myself first (which doesn't work). He's there for you too. And has recovery been simple? N O P E. I'm still very much on that healing journey. I'm told to give myself grace, because that path stretches on for years. And if you're in need of some of that healing right now, I'd strongly recommend checking out Celebrate Recovery's website -- it's for far more than just chemical addictions.

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