“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
My bones are dry and brittle in a place where I guess I should be thriving. I sit in the muscle-bound restraints of anxiety. It is an anxiety strapped and tangled in an intimate fight for faith behind closed doors, compounded by the mental struggle of finding myself in a faction of Christianity that demands right theology and a striving for perfection from an imperfect, stumbling follower of Christ seeking to honor her devotion to her Savior at the altar of redemption.
It is a strange thing to be raised in the enlightenment of the charismatic embrace of the Holy Spirit, navigating the rising tides of great spiritual awakening, incredible openness and forgiveness and faith—followed by occasional low plummets to depths of spiritual abuses—to then find freedom and joy in the solid ground of tradition and in the submission to and the feast of the knowledge and right understanding of God’s Word, only to long—to thirst and hunger and pine for—the healing and refreshing waves of the charismatic expression once again.
The Word and His Spirit are one.
My mind—now drenched in His Word and more deeply rooted in the confidence that we can know a right truth found in a perfect scripture—calls down to my heart and across the stretched and exhausted tendons in my body and cries out for childlike expressive worship and to make room in my rationalizing mind for the Spirit to move as He pleases in my humble life.
Oh, Holy Spirit, I invite your active presence. I’ve seen it. I know it. Lord, come.
I feel the tension of being a limited human being and living in the divergence of the worldwide faith in Christ—each faction seeking to follow a Savior as best they know how and as best they can interpret, with the help of a Holy Helper.
Oh, how He loves the church—His bride.
But if the movement of the Lord depends on the rightness of my own humble theology, then I don’t stand a chance. So I stand before my God without a denomination on my name tag, just the name of a flawed human longing to know and follow and be led by the Shepherd in Word and Spirit and a great passion for the Church, His beloved bride.
Jesus, draw near.
I am too small and insignificant to eat up too much time gazing at others with eyes of curiosity, evaluation and measurement in the name of ‘discernment.’ My place is on my knees with eyes fixed upon the crook of the Shepherd who is leading us all in His narrow path. And there, I ask the Holy Spirit to train my eyes to stay.
And now I open my heart with an invitation to the Father to lead me in tradition and prayer, in study of the Word, in depths of creativity and the glory of His Spirit, in healing power and His joy to produce the miraculous. I will trust Him. He is a God that longs to be known— discovered both through experience and through study. Both in word and in action. And I will rest in the loving guidance of a Shepherd who leads His sheep to the springs of the water of life.
I will still my quiet self-righteous wrestling, that I may experience the righteous saving power of our great Lord and Savior for all who call on His name.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
She sobbed into the phone, “It’s just so confusing. Does God heal people or not? Jesus healed everyone who asked him, so where is the healing I’m asking for?”
My heart ached for my friend, as she has found herself in a whirlwind of despair while also riding a fast train of newly devoted faith in Jesus.
“I feel like I’m on a roller coaster, and I just want to know how this all works.”
The issue of healing is confusing in the Bible Belt where main streets in every small town are dotted with Bible thumpers and prosperity preachers arguing about the rights and wrongs of healing faith. I know, I grew up here. I grew up confused.
As we talked, I prayed for wisdom. I’ve personally experienced very miraculous healing. I’ve also experienced long seasons of deep suffering. In some ways, I am still waiting on the Father. I sometimes catch myself observing that although Jesus has conquered sin and death, all things continue to die around me.
As I prayed I kept thinking about the Garden of Eden. Maybe you know the story, but maybe you don’t.
God creates a beautiful garden and then He places the first humans in that garden. We call those humans Adam and Eve. The Lord places two trees in the middle of the garden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil He deems off-limits––it is His one rule. He commands Adam (and Eve through Adam) not to eat of that tree with a warning that by doing so they will die. But a cunning serpent suggests to Eve that God is a liar and that if they eat from the fruit of the forbidden tree they will not die, but will be like God knowing both good and evil (Genesis 3:5). Eve disobeys God and takes the first step towards trusting her own understanding of what is good and what is evil by claiming the forbidden knowledge as her own. Adam also joins her and their eyes are opened to their nakedness. They feel shame for the first time. The Lord clothes them, curses them, and sends them out into the wilderness with a promise that the longer narrative would not end in tragedy.
Before they eat of the fruit, Adam and Eve live deferring to the God of Creation. When eating the fruit, they follow their own understanding of what is right and permissible for them. As a result, death and suffering enter the human story. The next generations recorded in the Old Testament prove that very real result of sin with a gradual, but drastic, decline in the life span of humanity.
And then another story from scripture came to my mind.
Job is a man who, although righteous before God, is allowed to endure great great suffering for a long time––great, great suffering. In his cries to the Lord he advocates for himself based on his righteousness (read: his faith) in the Lord. He is desperate to understand why he is being forced to endure great despair. His friends suggest all sorts of things, including that he might be suffering as a result of sin––but he’s not. When God finally responds to Job’s myriad of questions and pleas and laments, He says, “Who is this who questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them,” and then He goes on to end in the most epic rap battle of all time showing Job a panoramic view of how great and mighty and sovereign He is. Summary: He is the Lord. Who are we to question His wisdom, even in our suffering?
In remembering this history, it occurs to me that the knowledge of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘evil’ belongs to the Lord, whether we have access to it or not. Living with Jesus as Lord means we follow His example and defer to the Father. The knowledge of what we should do and how the Lord should respond to us is His to determine completely––after all, He is infinitely greater in wisdom than our finite beings (Rom. 11:33).
Jesus understands this firsthand. He pleads, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). He goes forward and endures the greatest suffering known to man to free us from our sins. The perfect Son of Man responds in obedience and endures His unrighteous suffering, but we––in our weakness––sometimes demand results, and if not results––an explanation, in exchange for our allegiance.
God is not formulaic. God is not transactional. He is relational. And He is beholden to no one.
Yes, not even to you––dearly loved Christian.
Does your skin crawl a little bit and your soul get defensive when you read that? Does something inside you proclaim it is your right to know and determine what the ‘good’ outcome to your suffering should be?
When we demand a formulaic approach to miraculous healing, it’s as if we are holding the bitten forbidden fruit demanding the God of the Universe conform to our understanding of the knowledge He first forbade.
I gently and humbly suggest that if our faith is shaken when God doesn’t respond the way we think He ought to, then perhaps we’ve sized God to our own limited definition of ‘good’ and that perhaps in doing so, we are missing out on the larger blessings––the epic wins––as a result.
“Where is my healing?” is a permissible question to ask the Lord, He can handle all of our questions. But it just might not be the best one. I think the question I am hearing from the cry of the heart of my suffering friend (and so many others) is
“Can I trust Him in my suffering?”
One sure way I know to offer comfort to a believer is to remind them who the God of the Bible is…
He is sovereign. (Colossians 1:16-17)
He is good. (Mark 10:18)
He is righteous. (Psalm 11:7)
He is wrathful. (Ezekiel 25:15-17)
He is loving. (1 John 4:19)
He is merciful. (Deuteronomy 4:31)
He is miraculous. (Acts 3:16)
He is present. (Zephaniah 3:17)
He is active. (Romans 8:38-39)
He is powerful. (Job 26:14)
He is gentle. (Matthew 11:29)
He is humble. (Philipians 2:8)
He is a restorer. (Acts 3:21)
He is trustworthy. (Psalm 9:10)
He moves towards the broken. (Psalm 34:18)
He is our refuge. (Psalm 46:1-3)
He sees you. (Genesis 16:13)
He is the perfect embodiment of ‘love’ (1 John 4:7-8). He is the very definition of ‘good’ (Psalm 100:5). He created those words and ordained their original meaning (John 1:3).
Knowing what we know about our God, can we defer to Him in all the other unknowns?
My limited view values this life too much. My ego sometimes demands immediate relief from my suffering. But His view stretches beyond the scope of time, eternity, life, and death––and He holds for my life and His glory the perfect plan. And, yes, although everything in this life does die, (who can deny this?) I know that the God of all Creation has promised a new life with no suffering in the end (Revelation 21:1-4). And if you are living under the loving mercy of our mighty Savior, Jesus, then this knowledge is for you as well.
Friend, asking the Lord for healing is in no way undermined by our submission to His sovereignty in all things. We fear an all-powerful God who is out for our ultimate good. He has given a spirit that intercedes for us according to the will of God. Be encouraged that, even when it’s so very hard and none of it makes sense, we have a God that works all things together for our good (Romans 8:26-29)
Welcome! I am so glad you are here. Likely, you have found yourself here because you have some curiosity or experience with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy or post-traumatic stress disorder. I am excited–albeit a bit nervous–to share with you my own experiences, as I have already witnessed how my own testimony of healing has poured hope into those who may also be suffering from various mental and emotional trials. I am nervous because in the following testimony I am vulnerable, and who isn’t a little nervous when vulnerable?
What you are about to read is my own personal testimony of miraculous healing from post-traumatic stress disorder through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy. Many have discovered healing through the process of EMDR, or similar methods of therapy, and I have witnessed those who are, at most, apathetic toward spiritual things admit the miraculousness of this psychological treatment for trauma.
I believe that the Lord allows mercies both to those who call on His name and sometimes to those who don’t–always for His glory, however He deems best. I fully attribute my own healing to my God and Creator and my Lord Jesus Christ who first conducted the far greater miracle by healing my soul by restoring me to a right relationship with God when I could not, in my own effort, possibly walk in a right relationship with Him. Jesus continues in the hard work of healing and restoration in my life, and my prayer is that this testimony of healing will display His love for an unlovable human and His willingness to answer the cries of the hurting and desperate person.
Our human tendency is to quickly seek the fastest method of escaping our suffering. We long to be whole and healed, to walk happy and confident–to be at peace. Several times when I have shared this testimony with others, they have hurried to book their own appointment with an EMDR therapist in hopes that they will also experience healing from deeply traumatic experiences, and I would never discourage someone from doing so.
My one caution to my readers is this: EMDR therapy is not McDonald’s therapy. It is in no way a quick-fix. It required hard work on my part, financial investment, and perseverance that would not have been possible without my supportive church community, patient and wise therapist, as well as a full surrender and trust in Jesus. My therapist said to me that if anyone visits a therapist who desires to launch straight into EMDR therapy, the patient should run for the hills. EMDR, like any intensive therapy, should be prescribed very carefully by a licensed professional who understands that EMDR is not a one-size-fits-all solution for trauma therapy.
I also had the benefit of being guided by a therapist who, herself, is a follower of Jesus and extremely prayerful and tactful in her work. Part of her great ability may come from the fact that she also experienced trauma–and healing from trauma–in her own life. Just as you might seek out a pediatrician who, himself, has kids of his own and therefore some empathy for your situation as a parent trying to seek healing and care for your child, so it is also probably beneficial to seek a therapist who knows something about trauma themselves, from experience. Having a therapist who understands the great healing that is possible through both modern psychology and faith in Jesus was an incredible gift from the Lord in my life. The Lord works all things together for His good, and I have seen this first-hand in my experiences with my therapist.
For reasons that are beyond my own full understanding, the Lord allows people to suffer–sometimes for a long time. If you are suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, my heart goes out to you. Although it may feel at times that you are the only one of your kind, locked in a box of uncontrolled responses to life events that haunt you day-to-day, the reality is that you are not alone. Many suffer in deep and hidden ways. Although I can not pretend to fully understand why we suffer, I do believe that the Lord uses our suffering to draw us closer to Him. For this, I am incredibly grateful.
What we can stake our hope in is that the God who created us is not only interested in public displays of His glory. He is in the business of healing the inner depths of our hearts, minds and souls so that we–in our secret hearts–will praise Him. He is interested in being Lord over your life and revealing Himself to you, whether anyone else sees it or not. He sees you. Standing on the other side of a decade of post-traumatic stress disorder and difficult battles as a result of it, I can tell you that my decision to hand my hurt to Jesus was entirely worth it. Seeking healing from your trauma is worth it.
The Lord healed me, and only my secret heart was a full witness to a healing that I never dreamed possible. My husband–and also my therapist in some ways– witnessed many of the incredible results of my healing, but most of the healing happened in the depths of mind and I continue to stand in awe of the freedom gifted to me, for me–alone.
I hope that this testimony encourages you to pause and look at Jesus. If you would like to know more about Jesus and the salvation that comes from making Him Lord over your life, my husband and I are more than willing to share the good news of Christ with you. We hardly have all the answers, but we would love nothing more than to encourage you to at least consider that the God of the Universe loves you and desires that you would walk the rest of your life in the light of His saving grace.
The Pit: Encountering the God who loves the wounded
I woke up completely empty. My navel felt like it was scraping my backbone as I lay in twisted sheets staring at the white ceiling above me. My limbs were heavy from the aftermath of too many vodka tonics and something else that tasted similar to cough syrup. I was alone.
That morning did not differ much from many of the mornings before it. I had fallen head first into a routine of late night alcoholic blackouts that would leave me scrambling for my apartment keys at 3am, pushing aside hunger pangs for lack of money and the willpower to nourish any part of my failing body. Life had been hard, and I nursed my wounds with a type of reckless living that I figured would probably end in an early, tragic, and likely unnoticeable death. I was apathetic.
I refer to that morning as “the pit” when I’m telling someone my story in a more general way. I say “I was at the bottom of the darkest pit, completely alone and abandoned, when I heard God’s voice.” And I was completely alone and completely abandoned by all human companionship. Looking back, I realize that the young woman laying in that bed was a half-dead corpse that had washed up on the shore of complete despair after being churned in the dark stomach of a whale named Brokenhearted. I was Jonah, having run from a God that I supposed probably loved me — but I had run the opposite way into the arms of every kind of disappointment.
I began to methodically plot my exit from life.
I was just getting motivated in my planning when I heard His voice. It seemed audible, as if He had removed the ceiling and was shouting at me from the apartment one floor above mine. Now that I think back to it, that audible voice may have blasted from between my ears out to the room surrounding me. I’m not sure how the sound moved, I just know that I heard it.
“Are you ready to worship me?”
Stunned, I began to worship Him. Alone, I worshiped Him. My dead soul and my lifeless body cried out to the One who created me. Fully steeped in rebellion, laying in the decay and refuse of my own sin, I worshiped Him.
And that is how I know that God is after the heart of the sinner and that He draws near to the broken. I experienced it firsthand. I was a woman—abandoned, broken, rejected, and afraid, openly embracing a life of sin and depravity. I was a woman who trampled my inheritance of a childhood salvation. To all who looked on, I was lost. But when everyone else sprinted out of the radius of my torment, He remained.
The House Rebuilt: How the Lord gradually restored us
Eleven years later, I live in a beautiful house on a hill with my adoring husband and two precious boys. My husband and I have survived a storm that resulted from launching a marriage on an ultimatum and weathering chronic depression, apathy and shame in our early years. Five years into our marriage, we turned to stand face-to-face toward God together—in full repentance, we came humbly to a loving Father who embraced us, restored us, taught us His Word and Commandments, and began the lifelong process of pruning our hearts and renewing our mind for His glory.
Over time, we experienced many seasons: miraculous mental healing, emotional healing, forgiveness, the incredible pain of losing two babies—but not without the comfort from a God who knows the depths of every sorrow, the beginning of financial wisdom, a continuing of humble repentance, and working diligently in ministry together pouring into those around us from the overflow of our time with Him—pointing them to the Father and inviting them to learn from the ultimate Teacher with us.
From the outside, and even on the inside of our hearts, home, and pillow talk—all was well and upheld by the Father. All, except a massive thorn wedged in the middle of my mind that threatened insidiously to unravel everything.
The Thorn: A short depiction of PTSD symptoms
For the sake of not glorifying the demonic and tragic memories that would rage within my mind, I’ll be brief. The trigger was physical touch and the torment would spin up like a movie reel at an old theater, only I could never turn it off. I would regress to childhood and become a victim in my otherwise safe home. Often this would turn into hours of me — hunched in a fetal position—begging God to end the torment. It was all real, it was all in my mind, and it pushed me away from the one who loves me most—my husband. For 10 years, the memories would portray as real as the day they began and I lived in the cyclical torment of a generational curse imposed by an abuser who, himself, died years ago.
The Prayer Closet: Jesus asks me to do hard things
It was 2020, and despite a global battle with a vicious pandemic and all the complications that came with it—our family was thriving. The Lord walked with us through ambitious goals of contentment and financial wisdom in motion. I was excited to enter my prayer closet and bow myself before the throne of the Lord asking “What do you have for 2021?”
My excitement quickly waned. The Lord often speaks to me in pictures and I saw an image in my mind of a long, dark tunnel. Jesus stood in front of the tunnel and then slowly turned to walk into the darkness.
We are going here, but I’m going first. I want you to follow me.
Oh no. I knew what this was — the dark tunnel represented the darkness in my mind and the hidden trauma that staked claim over the most sensitive part of my daily life—intimacy in marriage.
My body shook all over, but years of suffering in other ways had taught me that the Lord is trustworthy and the best thing we can do is trust and obey Him.
“Ok, Jesus.” I whispered. “But only because you asked.”
A Friend in the Boat: Meeting a therapist who understands
When I entered Sharon’s office, she asked me to take any seat that felt comfortable to me. I chose the far right side of a small loveseat. She took the seat directly in front of me. Beside her was an empty chair, and in my mind—Jesus took His place there.
Sharon began, “Tell me what is impacting your daily life today that you are hoping to resolve.”
I nervously wrapped a piece of tissue around my fingers. I rarely spoke to anyone about my difficulties at home—triggered by touch, spiraling out of control in the middle of the night.
Somehow I managed the gist of it.
She calmly listened and then, as if she had been there—behind my mind’s eye every time I experienced a massive panic attack—she explained to me what happens when I experience one of these episodes. She explained it methodically and in detail—that I regress to childhood, that I enter fight, flight, or freeze “mode,” that I disengage with my body and my spirit hunkers down to endure the frightful hurricane until somehow it ends. She explained that this is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I was stunned. No one had ever expressed empathy, much less had been able to describe what happened in my own mind during one of these experiences.
“I am here to tell you there is absolutely hope for healing in this,” she said calmly. “I know there is hope and I am praying now that the Lord will give you the hope that will help you to courageously do the hard work required in the coming weeks.”
The room was quiet. She prayed over me, and I did leave feeling hopeful. It was hope that came from the fresh knowledge that someone was in the boat with me, that I wasn’t stranded on some broken piece of driftwood on my own—enduring one torrential storm after another.
Over the next two months I met with Sharon weekly. Sharon never led with verbal processing, but used methods of therapy that brought disturbing memories to the surface in broad daylight without overwhelming and suffocating me. I made timelines, drew pictures, and focused on my breathing. Somehow the Lord used those methods to bring to the surface the very root of the darkness that would overtake me at night, and it wasn’t at all what I expected. In reality, it was far worse—but as hard as it is sometimes for us to look at the truth of the things that haunt us, we who know Jesus know that His plans for us are good. He is not without deliberate intention, rather He turns on the lights so that all darkness will cease. We can trust that although what we view in the light is sometimes horrifically ugly, the Lord is able to work with clarity and clean up the sinful mess in our wake.
The Lord’s House: The enemy tries to interfere
Two months into therapy and another panic attack started suddenly. I couldn’t put my finger on what one thing may have caused the onset of the panic attack, but there I was sitting in a dark room sobbing uncontrollably between heavy bursts of hyperactive breathing. Likely, it wasn’t one thing—but many.
I spiraled out of control. My mind began to play the movie reel of all of the terrible things that I had experienced in my life. Once that movie pressed play, I just couldn’t seem to find the stop button. My whole body sobbed as I regressed to my four year old self. My soul felt disembodied and I seemed to stare at myself from above, my mind slowly breaking.
“Lord, you are my Creator. You love me. You are near to me.”
“Lord, forgive those who have hurt me. Help me to heal. Lord, help me.”
I am here.
My sobbing waned and for a moment the room was quiet. And then it picked up uncontrollably again.
I am here.
My sobbing waned. All was silent for a moment or two once more. I was aware of the Lord’s nearness. I was aware that I was not alone. And then the real storm began and chaos erupted in my mind.
Hours later my husband was awake and by my side. Unable to tell him I needed help—I frantically threw my panic at his bedside. He sat up and grabbed his Bible to begin reading the Psalms over me as I lay curled in a fetal position gripping my stomach and pulling at my hair. I moaned in the agony of every horrible memory resurfacing, disconnected from one another, just pummeling my mind. When am I going to break? I thought. When will this end? Oh, God, please help this end.
And then I heard the voices. They were voices like those of passersby, average and human (not slithery and hissing like you might imagine). They were firm and planned. They, I am convinced, were demons.
She’s breaking… she’s breaking, I think we can go in. I think this is it. Let’s move in. Come on…
I felt myself losing control. My soul, hovering above my body felt suddenly frantic—what if this is the end. What if this is the panic attack that breaks everything?
My husband’s voice whispered in the background—prayers of peace and pleading with our healing God to grant me sleep and protection.
Then suddenly the voice of my heavenly Father—my Creator, the one who calls me by name—called out above all of the voices and flooded my mind and my soul in an overwhelming warcry, THIS IS MY HOUSE. YOU WILL NOT ENTER.
A brilliant flash of light filled my mind and then almost as suddenly as it all began—it ended, and I fell asleep.
Feeling the sudden deadweight of my body against his, my husband put down his Bible and praised the Lord for another victory.
Jesus: The beginning and the end
The next day, exhausted, I sobbed on the phone to my friend and mentor—Karen.
“I just don’t know if this is worth it. Karen, is it worth it? It’s just so hard… and it’s getting worse.”
“Reagan,” she said kindly and firmly, “Why did you start down this path in the beginning?”
I thought intently. I remembered Jesus in my prayer closet. “Because Jesus asked me to.”
“And what do you expect to find in the end?”
I truly wasn’t sure. I really didn’t know if I could survive such a frightening path into the horrific imaginings in my mind. I hesitated, and whispered “Jesus.”
“And is that not enough?”
Yes. “Yes. He is enough.”
He is enough.
The Processing Session: My experience with EMDR
“What is the belief you have about the event we are going to revisit today?” Sharon sat in front of me, calm and matter-of-fact.
“That I am unsafe.”
“And what do you want to believe instead?”
“That I am safe.”
At the beginning of our hour together she asked me to verbally describe the event we were going to revisit during our EMDR processing session. I could not successfully describe it without climbing the heights of emotional disturbance. I sobbed into my lap. She calmed me.
She played a metronome-like sound and safely led me to close my eyes and press play on the horrific film that so often haunted me in the middle of the night.
The memory began to play. There I was—a little girl in a room. A victim. The nightmare rolled, and my body shook.
She checked in — I opened my eyes.
“What did you notice?”
I told her the details. It was the same three “scenes” that would play in the same order.
“OK — this time, I want you to see if you can remove yourself from the first person experience. Can you be in the room in your memory, an observer during the memory?”
“I can try.”
I closed my eyes — I was a child again, but an observer, and the memory played. The memory became alive and something demonic and frightening lashed out at me. It told me to stand still and be quiet.
I sobbed. She checked in.
“Ok, let’s do something different. I want you to see if you can be present in the memory as your current adult self. Can you try that for me?”
“I can try,” I wept.
I closed my eyes — I was my adult self. The memory played, but this time—when the abuser walked into the room in my memory he saw me there and stopped. “You can not come in,” I said in my mind, “I’m watching you. I can see you. You cannot come in here.”
Suddenly the reel stalled and the memory could no longer move forward. What is happening? I whispered in my mind. The film began to slowly burn away and I stood in darkness watching the ashes flutter all around me. I heard a voice whisper, “I AM the Beginning and the End.”
Sharon checked in.
I opened my eyes, exhausted. I described to Sharon what happened. She seemed pleased. We prayed and I drove home, my mind raw and my body limp from the battle.
After the Battle: The first days of victory
In the days after our processing session I felt as if my mind was healing from a surgical procedure. I was nervous to think too hard in any one direction—nervous to hope, or to despair. But each night came and went without panic attacks. My dreams even seemed calm and restful within my mind.
Now, almost one month since my processing session—I am completely free of panic attacks or triggers of any kind. My husband and I have slowly explored our time together, and we have wept together in praise that we are no longer haunted by the demons of PTSD that would so frequently invade our safe and intimate space.
I think the founder of EMDR, Francine Shapiro, describes the experience best. She describes the experience as “kicking the log.” The brain is not able to process some traumatic event, and that event gets lodged like a log preventing a river from flowing correctly. EMDR helps a patient to “kick the log,” allowing the brain to process the traumatic memory and move that memory to the resolved storage. The memories are not forgotten, they simply don’t have the same emotional drive and control they once had.
In my experience, this treatment is a complete miracle of the Lord. One month ago, heading into the EMDR processing session, I was completely without hope. Now, I am healed. My mind is at peace and the torture has ceased. 10 years of living with that traumatic landscape in my mind, resolved in a one hour processing session. Of course, it took months of preparation to get there, but still… healed!
I praise the Lord that He invited me to walk this difficult path. He promised to go before me, and He did. I would have never ventured into therapy on my own—too frozen by fear, too covered in shame. But my Lord is my Rock, my Salvation. Whom shall I fear? I will follow Him anywhere—even into the darkest terrors of the mind. Will we ever see the end of His goodness? We will never see the end. The Lord has won the battle! There is no better home than with Him.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
“The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still.” Exodus 14:14
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6: 26-29
“The will of God is love. And love suffers.” – Elizabeth Elliot
Everything about the memory seems naively earnest and devastatingly sad to me, and—unlike many other things from those days—I can remember it so clearly. I was seventeen years old, standing over an old man who must have been in his eighties, at least. We were at the front of the sanctuary at a new startup church in my hometown. It must have been number fifteen on my list of churches I had attended with my family over my teenage years, and it would be the last on my list for a while–at least.
The worship music was loud and the people were tossing praises up toward the stage as if Jesus Himself were ripping it on the guitar. But I wasn’t singing. I focused on this old man in the wheelchair. I watched him achingly attempting to bob his head in worship and clap his arthritic hands along to the melody.
My teenage years were filled with well-meaning people pointing me to miracles. I was told I had the authority of God and that if I had enough faith I could pray for miracles of healing and deviations of prophetic power and those things would be given to me. I was taught that this was the mark of a person truly walking with Jesus.
But I doubted. I had lived two of my high school years watching my mom lay bedriddren, unable to walk on her own–unable to come to my dance recitals or attend my school events. I watched my dad lower her towel-wrapped body into the bathtub every night so she could bathe. I begged her to have more faith. I prayed fervently in my closet at night that God would heal her body. And although some progress had been made over the years, it was mostly delivered by a holistic doctor pumping vitamin C into her veins, not by a divine answer to a request for a sudden miracle.
But this is what I had been told was the evidence of my faith—believing for miracles and seeing them come to fruition. I believed—but no miracles. Something didn’t add up.
I marched up to that poor old man in that wheelchair and I asked him sternly if he wanted to be healed, to which he looked in my earnest brown eyes and said, “Yes! Yes, I want to be healed.” So I did what I thought any warrior of God does in a moment like that—I put my hands in his hands and I begged the God of miracles to help him get up and walk. And the man shook and nodded and tears welled in his eyes and I stood there over him while the music died down and nothing happened.
I leaned over and whispered something between an apology and a hope into that man’s ears and I headed straight out the back doors of that church and into the parking lot.
In my car I prayed an honest and humble prayer to the Lord. I asked the Lord if I could search for Him anywhere and everywhere else. And I felt, honestly, that I heard the soft compassionate voice of the Lord say Go.
So I did. I left the church and abandoned my moral resolutions to Christianity for the length of my college years. And this would be a very sad and very hopeless story of abandonment of my Christian faith if it were not the reality that at the end of my running–in my very sinful, very desperate, very messed up search to make sense of it all—He moved in towards me when no one else would and began the great work of calling me home to His true heart.
Today, I completely believe in the God of miracles. I have experienced incredible miracles of healing within my own mind and body. I’ve seen others miraculously healed by a loving God. My mom is completely healed today.
But I can not deny the great suffering in the world, which includes suffering among many fervent followers of Jesus. My understanding of how we are to approach healing and miracles has shifted because I have learned that the God of the Bible is both a miraculous Healer as well as a God who allows for suffering, sometimes for a long time. What I’ve come to discover is that I know close to nothing, but God knows absolutely everything— and He is actively engaged, even in the suffering, and I can trust Him even in the waiting.
I have since walked through incredible valleys of both physical, relational and mental sickness and the Lord has used my suffering to teach me about His character and His heart for the weary. It has deepened my compassion for those who are walking through dark seasons. I now long to move in towards those people, “weeping with those who weep,” rather than moving in towards people with ultimatums tossed up at God demanding that He heal on my count.
Below, I offer a prayer for the weary soul. If you are walking through a season of suffering and find yourself longing for a miracle, waiting for the lemonade to be pressed from the lemons, you are not alone. Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, knows exactly how hard your suffering has been, and He has deep pools of empathy for you. You do not carry this burden alone.
A Prayer for the Weary Soul
Our Father, who knows all things. Nothing happens in this world without your permission. We struggle to understand the suffering in the world. The pain in and of itself is torrential, but the separation it seems to cause between us and others—and at times, Lord—us and You, is unbearable.
See the pain of the sufferer, Lord. Look on your creation with Your kindness and mercy. You, the Creator of all, are capable of great things. So we ask, because You tell us we can, for healing. We believe that You—the God that holds the planets in orbit—have the power to do this. If you will it, Lord, please bring Your healing.
But if, in Your divine plan, You have allowed this suffering for yet another day—show the sufferer where You are at work in the suffering. Draw them closer to You. May they empathize with Your sufferings, Jesus. You took on all the pain in the world caused by our sin. You took on all suffering that we may have life.
Teach us about this mystery, Lord. Show us your heart. May we pull from deep wells of empathy for those around us who are also hurting. May we move in toward the sufferer as You work out Your divine plan for our good.
Where we lack faith, Lord strengthen it. When we lose hope, lift our chins to gaze at You.
The above is my own prayer for the weary soul, and I hope it was encouraging. However, if you would like more liturgies to guide your heart in prayer during times of suffering, I strongly recommend Every Moment Holy Volume 2 by Douglas Kaine McKelvey. It is a beautiful compilation of modern prayers for death, grief, and hope.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
The endurance and love my husband showed me during the five long years I suffered from debilitating depression set an incredible foundation of trust in our marriage. When I was isolated by my condition–– emotionally, physically, and mentally separated from him––he showed great love for me by simply sticking around. To be honest, we both had resigned ourselves to the possibility that depression would play third wheel to our marriage, perhaps, forever. Praise God––that was not the case. He answered our desperate pleas for help and I have now lived free from depression for almost six years.
In the wake of my healing, I found our marriage to be anemic. I can’t praise my husband enough for not abandoning me when I, although unintentionally, abandoned him for so long. However, anyone who has endured any difficult season of marriage knows simply sticking around is not enough to produce a successful life-giving relationship. It took years of prayer, marriage counseling, and additional therapy to restore all we had lost in the battle with my depression. My husband had suffered as I suffered. What depression robbed from me, it robbed from him also.
Providing love and support to a spouse, family member, or close friend of someone living with depression is one way the church can love the body of Christ well, and can intentionally share Christ with those who are somehow surviving depression without the incredible acknowledgement of Christ’s great love and mercy for them in their time of need.
Earlier this week, I posted five ways to love someone living with depression. In this post, I share five ways to love the caretakers of those living with depression. I hope this inspires you to reach out and love those who may get overlooked—those living in the pit with a victim of depression.
5 Ways to Love a Caretaker of Someone Living with Depression
Invite the caretaker to participate in life-giving activities.
Care-taking, especially caring for a spouse living with depression, can feel like a very lonely and unjust experience. Providing an outlet for the caretaker to enjoy a vibrant conversation, outdoor activities with friends, or a creative outlet with others can breathe life into a person caring for a spouse, family member, or close friend living with depression and it can fuel that caretaker with the endurance needed to care for their loved-one well.
Check in regularly.
Not every engagement needs to take up much time. A simple text to the caretaker asking how they are doing, how you might pray for them, or simply that you are thinking of them provides encouragement that they are seen and remembered in their efforts to love well.
Validate how difficult the situation is for the caretaker.
Often, much of the focus falls on the person suffering from depression, which is appropriate and helpful. However, validating the difficulty of the situation for the caretaker is equally important. As a friend, you can communicate compassion by providing a listening ear and showing sincere empathy by affirming that caring for a loved one with depression is hard. And trust me (and my husband)––it is.
Pray for endurance for the caretaker.
I think we often underestimate the power of prayer. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians that we are to “pray without ceasing.” Getting in the pit with your friend or family member by praying consistently for endurance for that person will not only evoke the Lord to move in their lives, but also remind you of the battle the caretaker is in to love and care for someone living with depression well.
Share or remind the caretaker of the gospel.
My husbands says this is probably what he needed most during my time living with depression. Caretakers need to be reminded of the hope they have in Christ––that He is writing a redemptive story that, in the end, conquers all sickness and pain and provides abundant life everlasting. Intentionally sharing the gospel with the caretaker is one of the best ways to remind them of the greater picture––the one where Christ, who moves in towards the desperate and broken, reigns as King.
This is hardly an exhaustive list of ways to love caretakers of those living with depression well. If you have experienced caring for someone living with depression, we would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment on what has been most encouraging and helpful to you.
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