Hi, my name is Wendy and I am a believer who struggles with sexual addiction, shame, anxiety and fear.
My parents were in college when they married in August of 1969, and I was born in June the following year. My dad had a volatile temper and though he never physically abused me, his verbal explosions created distance between us early in childhood as I learned, even as a two year old, that he was unsafe. My hesitation to be with him only angered him more. I lived in constant fear of his anger. I could know as soon as he entered the room what kind of mood he was in and whether I needed to make myself scarce or not. A mere unapproving look directed my way could cause me to flee the room in tears. Dad always seemed to have high expectations, but I never knew what they were until I didn’t meet them. I coped by trying to make myself as invisible as possible and never knowingly doing anything that might disrupt a rare good mood of his. Riding on his shoulders on a trip to the zoo, I refused to ask to get down even when my legs had fallen asleep and were completely numb for fear that I might upset him. When his cigar smoking in the car made me nauseous, I was too afraid to tell him. (He eventually found out when I got sick in the back seat!) My needs were secondary to his fluctuating moods. My mom, in contrast to my dad, was gentle and quiet, yet aloof, hardly ever raising her voice. Though not physically or verbally affectionate with me or my brother, her calmness was comforting and safe.
I didn’t know there was anything wrong with my parents’ marriage until I was 7 or 8 and woke up to the sound of them arguing and mom crying. I had never heard mom cry before. Mom summoned all of her courage and told my dad she wanted him to move out. They separated soon after. Sometime during this period, I remember them casually asking me who I would rather live with if they ever divorced. Terrified of angering my dad if I answered that I would rather live with mom, but even more terrified that I would actually be sent to live with my dad if I said I wanted to live with him, I hesitantly admitted I would rather live with mom. They did not seem surprised.
Once my mom filed for divorce, my dad’s temper became even more violent. He would bang on the door in the middle of the night screaming for us to let him in. Once, my brother and I were in his car waiting for him to take us to dinner while he went in the house to talk to mom. When he finally came out to the car, mom came out running after him yelling. She tried to open the passenger side door, but my dad locked it and took off with us, leaving mom standing in the middle of the street watching us go. As I cried for mom, my dad offered no explanation for his behavior and we went to pizza as if nothing had happened. (Much later, mom told me she didn’t call the police because she knew he would bring us back as he had no interest in keeping us.) My brother and I returned home that evening to a living room of smashed furniture. I cried to mom that I wanted a different dad.
The year of the divorce was a difficult year for all of us. My mom was finishing her teaching degree and was in the middle of student teaching. She worked as a waitress to make ends meet. I always admired her courage to leave my dad at such an “inopportune” time for her. I do not remember much of that year. My brother and I spent a lot of time at our neighbor’s house or at extended visits with our grandparents. Later I learned mom would stay in her bed for days at a time with severe depression. I always thought the trauma of that year was due to losing a father in the midst of divorce, but instead, the hardest part was losing mom. She could barely take care of herself during this time and had little to give to me and my brother. I was left on my own to navigate through the emotional storm of the divorce. In many ways, I felt like my childhood ended. The blue-eyed, blond haired little girl skipping happily through life was replaced by an awkward girl with crooked teeth and glasses dressed sloppily in drab brown clothes who would rather read books than talk with people. This image of myself would stay with me well into adulthood.
Mom remarried soon after the divorce to a friend of the family. He was stable and unemotional – almost the exact opposite of my dad. He also had very strong ideas of how to raise children – they were not to be coddled or babied. Soon after he moved in, my mom was told to stop tucking me in bed at night – at 9 years old I was too big for that. My 6 year old brother who was afraid of the dark and had been allowed to come and sleep in my mom’s room, was now locked out. He would drag his blanket to my mom’s door and sleep in the hallway instead. What little emotional access we had to my mom was taken away from us once she remarried.
In spite of the many arguments my mom and step dad had about how to raise me and my brother, he brought a lot of good things to our family. He loved doing things together as a family. We went for walks, bike rides, went camping. He had a great sense of humor. He also filled a void that my mom’s depression left. Our home was filled with laughter for the first time. The dread that I used to feel when my dad would return home from work gradually went away.
Although my stepdad did not have a volatile temper like my dad, he had his own set of high expectations. His motto was “Everything in moderation” and he made sure we kept to that standard. It was not uncommon for him to count the cookies left in a package so that he could make sure we didn’t eat more than our allotted share. When I asked if I could spend the night with a friend after playing all day with another friend, I was told no because I had already had “too much fun” that day. These incidents alone are of little consequence, but when combined with the atmosphere of shame and sarcasm, their impact was deep. Although I didn’t fear any angry outbursts from him, I started to fear the disappointment and the disapproving looks. I felt a keen sense of worthlessness. I was expected to act as a little adult and I quickly learned what it took to make my step dad happy. Our relationship was great as long as I didn’t act my age. People often commented that I was so mature and grown up – which only made me separate my external behavior from my internal self even more.
My ninth year of life was full of a lot of changes – my mom remarried, I changed schools, and we changed churches. Sometime during this year I accepted Christ and clung to Him to get me through the tumultuous time. But even in this, I was alone. I had no mentor, no Christian friends and my parents were not yet believers. I was on my own.
My shyness also increased during this time. I would rather lose myself in the fantasy world of a book than try to make friends. I had a few close friends, but didn’t seem to know how to relate to people around me. I would rather die than speak in front of my classmates, especially since I would turn a brilliant shade of red whenever I was called on. In high school I started getting hives when I felt any sort of anxiety. Despite all my efforts to look nice and fit in, I seemed destined to be laughed at and ignored. I was a child who desperately wanted to be noticed and yet refused to let anyone see me – the thought of rejection was too much to bear. I was a perfect student – I worked hard, made good grades and never caused any trouble in class. My report cards were always full of comments about me being a model student and a joy to have in class. Because of my “perfect” external behavior, I was easy to overlook. But inside, I was a mess. I was depressed, fearful of people, extremely insecure, naïve and without parental direction or encouragement.
In order to cope with my anxiety and fears, I developed a tight control over my environment. I did not hang around people who were unpredictable and might embarrass me in front of others. I did not take classes where I might have to stand up in front of the class. If I knew I had to give a report, I would wear a turtleneck so that it would hide my hives. I lived in an internal prison, constantly fearful of being embarrassed or shamed by someone around me.
I desperately wanted someone to talk to, but didn’t know who. I wanted to act out, but the thought of the shame I would experience if I were caught drinking, doing drugs, getting pregnant, etc. kept me from doing much externally that could get me in trouble. Instead, I turned inward. I feared angering or disappointing people, so I didn’t gravitate towards outward rebellious behavior. Instead, I became a master at secret behaviors.
Augusten Burroughs writes in his memoirs, Running With Scissors, “I was learning that if I lived slightly in the future – what will happen next? – I didn’t have to fell so much about what was going on in the present.” This is how I lived my life – always in the future. I could cope with the present only because I was always finding something to look forward to in the future.
Because I couldn’t seem to live in the present reality, I began to develop a fantasy world. One in which I was loved and attractive and the heroine. It began innocently enough as a small child. Pretending to be in danger and being rescued. But the fantasies grew. At a girls’ sleepover in Jr. High with my youth group, I was introduced to pornography. It didn’t hurt anyone, and though I knew my parents would not approve, I could easily keep it hidden. Even before the internet, pornography was easy to find. Many people had these stations on cable and my friends’ fathers often had magazines lying around. When I didn’t have access to porn I was able to raid my mom’s stash of romance novels. There was no lack of material for my fantasy world. I lived two lives. I learned how to please everyone with my outward behavior, but was a different person on the inside. I thought if anyone knew who I really was, they would reject me. So I built the walls as high as I could.
Out of all the people I didn’t want to disappoint, God was the supreme person to please in my life. There were times when I really knew he was working in my life and there were times when all I thought was that he was going to make me do something I didn’t want to do and make me marry someone I didn’t love. My relationship with God was also built on shame and performance. I had learned from my step dad that the only thing that really counted was doing the hardest thing. So, when picking school subjects, I picked the toughest classes and the toughest teachers. When choosing a place to go for a short term mission trip, I chose the most remote. I didn’t feel the freedom to choose what I wanted to do – and if someone had asked me what that was, I would have had no idea anyway.
I felt guilty doing what I wanted – it was just easier to do what someone else expected – whether a parent, teacher, or God. The idea that God loved me as I was did not even register with me. No matter what I did, or how well I performed, I always felt like I needed to do more. I was completely controlled by shame and fear. I felt worthless because I knew what I was like on the inside. And I couldn’t control my fantasy life or seem to be content with myself or with my everyday life.
I continued to make good grades, stay out of trouble and become involved in my youth group. On the outside I was the model Christian, and a good kid – even though I still got lectures from my step dad about being inconsiderate and irresponsible. Once I started to date though, I gravitated towards guys who were like my dad – aloof and moody. And because I seemed so much older than I was, I tended to date guys several years older than myself. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I did not have the ability to relate on an emotional level with a boyfriend – nor did I want to. I was only interested in the physical side of a relationship – fed by my prolific fantasy life. Most of my high school years were consumed with seeking out a guy to date, dating a few times and moving on. I would be interested in dating someone until the “high” of the newness wore off or until someone better came along, whichever came first. I was always looking for the next best thing and was never content in the present. If by some chance the guy I was dating became too interested in me – actually cared about me – I made a quick exit out of the relationship. On top of the inability to live in reality was the acute fear of someone really getting to know me. Vulnerability only led to being controlled. Exposing myself emotionally only gave the other person ammunition to use against me. I had to remain in tight control of my emotions and feelings at all times. I covered my fear and insecurity with anger. My anger became a comfort and a protector. It kept people from getting over the wall I had built. It kept me from sinking deeper into my depression.
I continued attending church and trying to please God even thought I felt like I was always failing Him miserably. I did not experience grace in my home life, so the idea of God having grace on me just didn’t make sense. I understood the words, but had no experience. Most of my education about God and who He was came through the Christian concerts I attended. I was constantly going forward to rededicate my life. I am thankful to people like Glenn Kaiser from Rez Band and Dawson McAllister who spoke truth into my life and gave me glimpses of who God was. I attended church camps and youth group, but those only served as places to party and meet boys. I attended many of the concerts I went to with my youth leaders, until I ended up with one of them at his house alone and he coaxed me to sit in his lap. I remember going ahead a doing so because I didn’t want him angry with me, but it was the last time I ever went anywhere with him. I quickly learned that Christian guys didn’t treat me any better than non-Christian guys, so what was the difference in who I dated. All that mattered was that I never let any guy control me or tell me what to do.
Like many other decisions I made alone in my youth, the choice of college to attend was left entirely to me. I chose a Bible college. After all, what could be more difficult than being a missionary? Surely God would be pleased with me if I took this step. Also, I wanted to be far away from home and live my own life away from the shame of my step father.
Up until this point in time, the one area of my life that my step dad did not try to control was my spiritual life. This was probably because he looked up to me in this area. I became a Christian before him and my mom. I was the one who kept us going to church. I was the first person in our church ever to pursue overseas missions. Even though I knew I was not consistently living what I believed, and my view of God tended to be warped by my relationship with my step dad, it was still my own to work through. He never told me what to believe or how to live in this area. Although I received many lectures as a teen about my selfishness, laziness, inconsideration, etc., I was never told how to live a Christian life. That was my own.
I went to Bible college excited to be on my own and starting a new adventure. I also realized that I could be anyone I wanted to since I was not surrounded by people who had known me since elementary school. I didn’t realize, however, the type of school I had decided to attend. I went expecting freedom from the control I felt at home, but instead found myself being told how to have devotions and when to have devotions, when I could play sports and when I could wear shorts or jeans and how to date and if I didn’t follow their rules I was disobeying God. It was the last straw for me. I came to college expecting to stop being controlled and to be free to make my own decisions, not to continue to be shamed. For the first time, I openly rebelled. I began to smoke, secretly off campus, but not caring if anyone smelled the smoke on me back at school. I began drinking and going to parties that never used to interest me. Because I was so quiet and seemingly compliant at school, no one ever noticed me. Eventually my roommate turned me in along with the others I hung out with. They all got kicked out, but because it was my “first offense” I was allowed to stay on probation. I was miserable in my rebellion, so I tried to keep to all the rules and do all the school required. After a couple of weeks of this, I crashed in exhaustion and said to a friend, “If this is what Christianity is, I don’t want any part of it.” I decided if I was going to be miserable, I might as well be doing what I wanted in the process.
After finishing my sophomore year of school, I decided to quit college until I could get my life together. I was just wasting my time and money by staying there. I found a few roommates and lived and worked in town. I was still able to hang around my friends from school. During this time off of school, John and I began to date. We had known each other for a couple years, but our first impressions of each other were not that great, so even though we ran in the same circle of friends, we had very little contact with each other up to this point.
After John and I dated for a few weeks, I began the usual cycle of looking for the next best thing. But there was something different about John. He was genuine and trustworthy. He believed in me. And he was persistent. Although the thought of being vulnerable scared me to death and I wanted to run, part of me knew that I would be throwing away a really great thing, so I stayed in the relationship. Within a year, we were married. During our engagement, I was euphoric. I had someone who truly loved me and was my best friend. I had our wedding and our life together to look forward to. My parents were thrilled to see me with someone they approved of – a first I think. My brother was amazed John was still around after three weeks. In December of 1991, we were married. As our plane took off to Montreal for our honeymoon, I looked at John and thought, “What have I done?” The reality that this was the man I was going to be with forever caused a deep fear and panic inside of me as I realized that there would be no more looking for the next best thing to come along. There would be no more first dates or first kisses to look forward to. Not only that, but now I was expected to be vulnerable and intimate with this practical stranger sitting next to me. What was I thinking?
Our first year of marriage sucked. I sank into more depression and anger, unable to experience any kind of intimacy with John. I wondered if I had made a mistake. Maybe I should have married someone else. Whenever we went out in public I found myself watching other men, wanting them to notice me and be attracted to me. I knew a physical affair was off limits, but I could still fantasize. Unable to live in reality, I reverted back to a life of fantasies. John knew there was something wrong in the marriage, but was not able to put his finger on it. Externally I was faithful, but there was a severe lack of closeness and intimacy in our relationship. I constantly blamed John for everything in our marriage. I was angry, controlling and critical. I had become my dad and step dad rolled into one. I was completely unable to admit any fault or wrong doing, unable to separate myself from my behaviors. I wasn’t a person who did bad things, I was a bad person. To cover up my shame I tried to control John and blame him. I figured he would get tired of me eventually and leave and part of me pushed him away as hard as I could just to test that theory. I underestimated John. Being the faithful codependent, he loved me tirelessly and worked on changing himself so that he would be more pleasing to me and so that I would stay in the marriage. I, on the other hand, was never satisfied.
Sometime during that first year of marriage, I went back to school to get my degree. It seemed that God – with what seemed to be a twisted sense of humor – was leading me to go back to the college I had left two years prior. After many conversations with God that went along the lines of “I’ll do anything but that,” I finally gave in and agreed to do what it seemed like He was leading me to do. I applied for the Bible teaching program knowing that I would have to do student teaching, hives and all, and that I would be working with one of the most demanding professors of the school. Surprisingly, I was accepted into the program even after the director saw my tainted file. The next two years at school were a mirror image of the first two. The director of the program was not only my teacher, but also my mentor. She saw something in me that I couldn’t see and she took my under her wing and believed in me and trained me. It was the first time in my life I had ever had and adult take time for me. I made it through student teaching – hives and all – and realized, surprise!, I actually had a knack for this teaching thing. After graduating, I worked as an assistant for my director.
My experience back at school helped our marriage grow as I learned about God in a new way. We found a new church that kept us very busy and involved and things were going well. As long as I kept busy I was okay, but as soon as things slowed down, my depression would hit and I would feel like a failure all over again. I would begin looking for something to bring me out of it. Sometimes it was food. Sometimes shopping. Sometimes projects, work or exercise. And then, 7 years into marriage, there was the first emotional affair. A friend a church. He was single. Nothing was ever said between us about our feelings, but there was something. I have heard that an alcoholic can pick out another alcoholic in a crowd. In our disfunction, we have these internal radars that help us identify others with the same disfunction. My radar was finely tuned to know when someone was interested in me. Outwardly it all looked innocent. Conversations in groups, hugs when we greeted, but internally I was consumed in my fantasy world. I found myself being drawn in and having a harder time hiding it. Eventually, John noticed and confronted me. Being a good addict in denial, I lied and said nothing was going on. I probably even blamed John and had him apologizing to me for even suggesting such a thing. A few months later he confronted me again, and tired of hiding and fighting I told him the truth.
t shook our marriage to the core. John always had a feeling that my heart was not completely for him and now he had the proof. Don’t underestimate the damage an emotional affair can cause in a marriage. It can and will rock the foundation. Now that things were out in the open I didn’t feel much relief. I just felt like failure. I was unable to love my husband the way he deserved. I no longer thought that I shouldn’t have married John. I should have never married anyone at all. I was incapable of being a wife who was faithful to her husband. I was unable to see the hurt I had caused to John. It was still all about me. Rather than truly seeking reconciliation with John, all I could think about was now he knew how rotten I was inside. And I was not ready for anyone else to know. I refused to go to counseling – not wanting our pastor to know anything about this. I am ashamed to say that I talked John out of going to counseling. We also continued to attend the church where John had to see this guy every week. I can’t even imagine what he had to endure during this time – but that is part of John’s testimony.
In spite of all the hurt, anger and pain, we were not ready to give up on our marriage. We did not go into our marriage thinking that divorce was an option, so we were willing to stick it out. We worked hard to heal our relationship and by using what few tools we had in our toolbox and a lot of prayer we managed to keep our marriage intact. Whatever we weren’t able to heal we both shoved down deeper. We were better off than before, so we figured we were doing okay, stronger even, than before.
So strong, in fact, that we were ready to pursue something together, something that required teamwork and commitment, something like….overseas missions! We began the laborious and intensive application process. We were also pregnant with our first child. My fantasy life subsided because now I had things to look forward to – motherhood, moving to Dallas for schooling, traveling around the country raising support. For the next 6 years we were never settled enough for me to struggle with contentment or living in the present. There was always the next thing to be thinking about.
The last couple of weeks of preparing to leave were chaotic. I didn’t have time to stop and wonder why I would have difficulty breathing as I thought about all the details yet to do. I didn’t think to question my sudden weight loss. Stress, I told myself. All is fine. Finally, after nearly 6 years of preparing and planning and with and a 5 year old and 2 year old in tow, we moved everything to Indonesia. Within a few weeks we were in a new house surrounded by people of an unfamiliar culture speaking a language we did not yet know. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. We had been preparing for this for so long! And now we were here!
Yes, we were here. With no where else to go. Culture shock set in. Grief for my mom who had died two months earlier from cancer overwhelmed me. Depression paralyzed me. There was nothing to look forward to. For the next year we were stuck in this place struggling every day to understand the language and the people around us. People who watched us all the time. People who had expectations I couldn’t meet because I didn’t know what they were. People who were disappointed in me when I didn’t act the way an Indonesian should act. Shame, shame everywhere, pressing down on me, heavier and heavier until I could barely function. There was no escape. Nothing to look forward to. I cried out to God, yet the sickness and depression still came. I lived in the fog and prayed each night for God to take my life. For the first time in my life, I was forced to live in the present. And I couldn’t cope.
Enter the second emotional affair. John and I were fighting all the time. My depression was getting to him and of course I blamed him for everything. I gave into it again. This time it was not a friend. Not even someone whose name I knew. Just someone I saw every day at my daughter’s school. It was just a distant fantasy. Yet it gave me something to look forward to every day. I did want him to notice me and would make sure to wear something nice just in case he did. When questioned by John I didn’t even hesitate to tell him about it. I didn’t think it was any big deal. I was wrong. It was the last straw for John.
All of the issues left stuffed and undealt with from 7 years before came bursting to the surface. John refused to keep it hidden like last time. This time we were going to get help. We were going to talk about this with other people. But I was still in denial and did not want to tell anyone. After I refused to talk to a good friend of ours about the situation, John, for the first time in our marriage, issued an ultimatum. Either we go home and get counseling or he was leaving me. I knew he was not bluffing.
We booked our flights and after only 16 months on the field headed back to the states. We planned on only staying a couple months at a place called Link Care in Fresno California. Link Care is a counseling center specifically for missionaries and pastors. We lived on campus in an apartment with other families who were home from the mission field to get counseling for various issues. I had hit my low. My marriage was seemingly beyond repair. I was out of control in my fantasy life and suffering from severe depression. I was ready to come clean – almost. When I learned that we would be living in community with other “inmates” as we called each other and would even be having group counseling sessions and sharing potluck dinners together, I was mortified. I was ready to reveal all to a counselor and even to John, but strangers? Are you kidding me?
Once we moved on campus, we began our counseling sessions: marriage, individual, group, pastoral. Sometimes we had as many as three sessions a day. I also saw a psychiatrist and was able to get on medication to help my depression. What John and I thought would take 6 weeks or so to fix ended up taking us 3 months. At the end of these three months, we were no where near healed, but we were able to say we were still committed to the marriage and felt like there was hope for us in the future. One of the greatest things about this counseling center ended up being the people we met there. For the first time in my life, I experienced the safety and the healing power of a safe community. I had never in my life opened up about my struggles with anyone. I had always felt so ashamed and alone. For the first time ever, I did not feel alone. I began to open up and trust people. And God began to heal me.
I struggled with a deep sense of failure for causing us to come home from Indonesia. John loved it there, and I had failed. Even though we were getting healing, I was dreading going back. I feared the depression and anxiety and shame that I had experienced before. I felt like I had not only let John down, but also God. One day when I was in our apartment I clearly felt God saying to me, “Wendy, it doesn’t matter where you are, I only care about who you are. If you never return to Indonesia, that is okay.” I felt a tremendous weight lift from me and so began my journey out of the performance trap that had enslaved me my entire life.
While we were in California, our counselor suggested that we visit a Celebrate Recovery at a church down the road. I went once. I loved the music and the large group, but as I looked around, I thought, “I don’t belong here. I am not an alcoholic or a drug addict.” I went to the newcomer’s class and was scared out of my wits by the leader. I made excuses and didn’t go back again.
Because we were having trouble getting our work visa to Indonesia and John still needed to get back surgery for a bulging disk before we could return anyway, we decided to head back to South Carolina. We moved in with a family while we waited for his surgery to be scheduled. John insisted that I get involved in a Celebrate Recovery that had just begun at our sending church in Bluffton – he knew I would be slippery and try to handle things on my own without any accountability – and he was right. I admit, I dragged my feet, but in the end I knew if our marriage was to survive, I needed to go. So I did. And in that small group of women who struggled with drugs, alcohol, co-dependency, depression, I found my home. I was able to open up and talk about my struggles with these women I hardly knew better than I was ever able to talk to my closest friend – or my husband. And I felt safe. And something amazing began to happen – I began to find healing in parts of my soul that I thought were beyond repair. It did not happen magically. There was no secret formula. It was a completely supernatural work. Scripture tells us to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other. Step 5 tells us to confess to ourselves, to God and to someone else. By bringing our secrets into the light, we are healed. I have never experienced anything truer than this.
Four days after John had his back surgery, I was diagnosed with Type I insulin dependent diabetes. My weight loss, depression and sicknesses suddenly all made sense. But our dream of returning to Indonesia was dead. Once it was clear we would not be returning overseas, our sending church wanted nothing to do with us. We felt abandoned and betrayed. Because of CR I was able to deal with my anger and frustration openly and honestly. For the first time in my life I realized that it was okay to have emotions and to feel. I could say with assuredness, “Life sucks, but God is good.” I could cry and praise God and the same time. I had spent my whole life denying my emotions. Being told it wasn’t okay to feel them or express them. Even the Christianity I had learned told me to pray the depression away and smile and just “Praise the Lord.” I learned that I could thank God in the midst of the storms and still feel my pain. For the first time ever I learned to live in the present and not plan for the future.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18
It has been almost exactly 4 years since I began attending that Celebrate Recovery in Bluffton. God has been faithful to bring much healing in my life, but I am definitely still on the journey. It is not easy for me to connect with John and the girls every day. I still struggle with anger and depression. It is easy for me to lapse into controlling people around me and being overly critical. I have my moments when living in the present seems unbearable. I am fearful about giving in to another emotional affair. I still hear the voices that tell me I am a failure and am worthless – and sometimes I still listen to those voices. Bottom of Form
But when I look back I can see that I have grown, that I am further down the path than I was 6 months ago or a year ago. I no longer think that God is exasperated with me or is wanting me to do more to please Him. I no longer think that I have to be perfect to be acceptable. I am better at owning up to my mistakes. I don’t feel like I need to hide. I am not as fearful. Slowly, I am moving forward.
Psalm 34:1-6 says:
I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
Let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
Let us exalt his name together.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed 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.
In desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
He saved me from all my troubles.
John Newton (the author of the great hymn, Amazing Grace) wrote:”I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”
As I look back on my life, I see myself as a small bird who was pushed out of the nest too early and left to fend for myself. Lacking any instruction or training in my youth, I never learned to fly and contented myself with being a ground feeder. At some point in my life I looked up in the sky and saw other birds of my type soaring in the wind and suddenly, I knew I was meant to be up there with them. But rather than try to join the others, fear and shame kept me stuck, continuing my life as a ground feeder.
No matter what our hurts, hang ups or habits, we are all created to soar. And we have a God who is powerful enough to heal us and to get us off the ground. God has lifted me out of the muck of my depression, my fantasy life, my emotional affairs, my fears, my shame and is teaching me to be who He created me to be. Today I am no longer trapped on the ground. Today I can soar.
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Let us not give up hope on this journey of recovery.