Since 2005 I have been an online educator and have instructed dozens of Bible, Theology and church- related courses. Most of my classes last for eight weeks and it is my desire to create a safe learning environment for all my students. I share with them that the academics of the course are most important, however, I encourage them that their journey in life is even more important. Usually by week two my students have a very good idea of my personal journey, including the good parts as well as the adversities that I have experienced. This seems to open the gate for a discussion in transparency and vulnerability and creates learning on another level (that’s a story for another day). After the eight weeks are over I stay in contact with some of my students, mostly through social media and continue to make myself available to them.
A couple of weeks ago I received a message from one of my former students who lives in Delaware. She had graduated in May 2016 with a Master’s Degree in Counseling. Her desire was to come to Lynchburg to meet me personally. At the time I was unsure of her motive for meeting me but gladly indicated that I would meet her in the coffee shop at the Liberty University Bookstore.
When I arrived, I looked around to see if I detected someone who might be her. I noticed a lady sitting alone with a service dog by her side. It was her. We greeted, purchased a Mocha and sat down to chat. There was peace and contentment written all over her face. The first thing she said was that she had come to Lynchburg to thank me personally. I was sort of taken aback by the statement and wondered why…then she began to tell me her life’s journey and how she, at 61, had reached this marvelous point of healing in her life.
She had PTSD and had also suffered for years from Dissociative Identity Disorder, the most misdiagnosed and misunderstood mental health disorder. She dealt with life in multiple personalities. It had all resulted from physical, emotional and sexual abuse. As early as age three she had been abused by a family member and told that she would die if she shared it with anyone. She was also involved in a twenty-year marriage where she was threatened consistently and feared for her life every day. Everything for her was inward and hidden. She had no words to describe her traumatic experiences of life. She had no idea what love was or understand friendship and trusted no one.
As she shared this very sad story it was all I could do to hold back my tears.
She continued… in August 2016, after graduating with a Master’s degree she looked up into the face of God and asked, why He could not heal her. God began to answer that prayer. She said, “Bessel Van der Kolk wrote a book called ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ and in that book was the word that explained why I never had any way to describe my traumatic experiences and it made sense to me.”
She then traveled to Longview Texas to receive therapy from a doctor who knew all about Dissociative Identity Disorder and how to deal with it from God’s point of view. There she experienced friendship and a relationship, which was something she had never known.
She went on to tell me that at a very crucial period in her journey I took the time to listen to her and respond to her questions about life. I directed her to John Lynch’s “Trueface Two Roads Message” and a study of The Cure. It had a profound impact on her. These Biblical teachings on grace helped release her from shame and unworthiness and gave her the understanding of embracing who she was in Christ. The emotional doors of this prison with whom she had been incarcerated suddenly began to open to a new way of life.
There were other contributing factors to her healing. Her practice was to attend church but be the last person there and the first person to leave, having no desire to be in contact with anyone. However, one day, while visiting her daughter in Lakeland Florida and attending a Christian Missionary Alliance Church the precious people there caught her before she left, loved on her and made her feel special. She said, “I have never had any actual people in my life that wanted to be a friend to me.” That same situation happened to her at a church in her home town in Delaware. She was experiencing something she had never known…receiving love. She said, “God brought me to Delaware to teach me what it can mean to be a member of the family of God. My family experiences have been mostly from the perspective of not having God involved. I am the only one who is a Believer in the family setting and it was not okay to talk about religion or God or one’s faith.”
She continued, “It has all been about God’s timing even when I had no idea that He was even there. I was overwhelmed when I learned what God’s grace really was. No one had ever asked me about anything or even cared to know my story. For the first time in my life, life is new, and interesting and fun. I am now no longer afraid of anything because God is so big, He is in control, He has the power to do anything.”
We prayed, and I headed back to my truck feeling overwhelmed in thanksgiving and praise, singing to myself the old song, “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.”
After that meeting I was again reminded that everyone has a story and deserves to tell it. I rejoiced that we have a loving God who knows our innermost pain and loves us unconditionally and sets people in our path to lift us out of the miry clay of life’s adversities even on our worst day. What a God!
What’s Your Story?