Living with shadows

This week I’ve had a wake-up call.

Ground has shifted beneath my feet.

Stirrings sit uneasy in my soul.

The life I thought I knew has become redefined.

As I reflected long and prayerfully on what my ‘love idol’ might be and the overcoming of it, some things have surprised me.

When you live in Shadowlands of sickness and pain, attempting to recover from a painful past,  it can be hard to see your way clearly. 

Now I have insight I wish I’d known about before.

God has pointed His finger at the familiar ~ people approval issues, insecurity, concerns about not being ‘enough’, putting other people and things before Him, spending too much time on social media ~ all painfully true.

Then another idea wove its way into my mind, threaded through my thoughts, and caused me to unravel.

How do I perceive myself? As a believer who is overcoming a challenging present and a painful past by the grace of God?

Or.. as an M.E and chronic illness sufferer who is still cloaked in shame, buried beneath pain, consumed by cares, ground down by the gritty reality of daily life?

A pit dweller, wilderness wanderer, valley-living soul longing to see daylight, scale mountain peaks, rest easy. 

Most of my days I aim to see glimmers of grace, maintain an attitude of gratitude, emphasise the positive.

But I still define myself as an ill person with problems ~ and that’s the problem. 

God is showing me I’m actually halting my own healing and preventing His full work in me by not seeing myself as I am in Christ.

I’ve stopped praying and saying out my healing in Christ. I’ve believed the lie that this is as good as it gets. I’ve made it my identity.

It’s become an idol because it steals my joy, inhibits faith growing, reminds me of where I came from rather than where I am going to.

And it has to stop.

‘Living with shadows’

A wrongly assumed identity

of living with shadows and infirmity

Christ calls me to believe I’m set free

unchained, unmarked, untainted, liberated,

whereas I see myself caught, ensnared,

decimated by childhood abuse, illness, M.E

As if I wore a label belonging to another

instead of one provided by my soul’s Lover

Living with pain and chronic illness over many years,

observing my career, hopes and dreams slip away

trickling with my tears as water down the drain

nothing quite the same, only weakness and fears

I’ve worn it as a shroud, death mask, daily dress

instead of clothing myself in His robe of righteousness

Feeling insecure, dis-abled, incapable

when God has gifts He wants to bestow

I’ve failed to receive and accept them all

while my thinking is focused on being unwell

We can only grow when we are willing enough

to let go of all that’s slowly killing us


I can’t deny the physical reality of my life; it’s effects are ever-present. Loosing and letting go of the idea of myself as chronically sick won’t be easy.

All the evidence is before my eyes. And the past is still pervading my days with its own anguish and pain. Abuse leaves a legacy, a scarring of soul, heart and mind ~ etched inky black stains. 

But I deny the spiritual reality unless I begin to call forth those things which are not yet as though they are.

Look into the mirror of His word and start seeing myself as healed, whole, restored, renewed. Speak out the promises. Live as though I truly believed them.

It won’t be easy. I’ve lived this inhibited, limited life with M.E for over 20 years. Lived far longer with the scars of my past. Yet I know nothing is impossible with God. And I’m ready (knees shaking, heart quaking) to do this.

Not to deny the reality I live with but to embrace the life Christ died to give me. 

Because when God won’t let something go, then neither should we. When He asks us to let go of something, we need to pay attention.

Those things He may be pointing to in your life? It could be time to #listentoyourlife and listen to His voice.

You too can join in with Jennifer and the Love Idol community as we seek to unearth our ‘Love Idol’, confess and address it.

I’ve been privileged to read a preview  of the first chapter of Jennifer’s  book. You can pre-order it here. And  for the free printable resources, click here.

I’ve also been greatly helped on my continuing journey toward healing from childhood sexual and emotional abuse by readingNot Marked’ by Mary de Muth.

I’ll be writing more about where this journey is taking me in the weeks ahead and I’d love you to join me.

30 thoughts on “Living with shadows

    • Karin, your words bring comfort and hope to my bruised heart! I felt so wound up and tearful before finally posting this. There was very much a spiritual battle going on. Now it’s more raw vulnerability. Bless you, friend. 🙂 x

  1. This is HUGE Joy…”We can only grow when we are willing enough
    to let go of all that’s slowly killing us.” Saying a prayer for you now as you begin to learn to walk by the light of His word instead of the shadows of the past. ❤

    • Caryn, it feels HUGE to me! I truly appreciate your prayerful support as I “begin to learn to walk by the light of His word instead of the shadows of the past”.Thank you so much, my friend! 🙂 x

  2. This is stunning, Joy. Brave and true. Praying it will be filled with Grace beyond knowing, as you walk with this new truth. Thank you.

    • Diana, I am deeply touched and rather bowled over by your lovely comment, and so thankful for your prayers! Thank you. Please know you are being prayed for too. We all feel rather scared at this stage of walking with “this new truth”, don’t we? May God give us courage to persevere and press into His best for our lives. Blessings, my friend. 🙂 x

    • Carol, the group support is already amazing and your lovely comment here helps me feel less alone. Thank you! Any courage is entirely God-given as I was crying and protesting until He urged me to press ‘publish’ on this. The brave part of learning to live it out is also highly dependent on God’s grace. I truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers, my friend. They mean a lot. 🙂 x

  3. I love seeing the victory cry of your heart! I absolutely trust that the Lord is going to raise you up above the things that have weighed heavy on your heart and I prayed as I read that you would be more aware of His presence with you than your physical pain, that you would hear His voice over the old records of not-enough, that your heart would swell with the joy of being an heir to the King of Kings and never live as if you are an orphan without a King for a Father. May your face be set on the Truth of who you are in Christ and may He revive your dreams and empower you with His nearness with boldness to walk them out for the glory of the King!!! In your weakness, He is mighty and strong! I love that He gave you the verse about calling the things that are not as though they are! Unlimited possibilities lie ahead for you as you trust in His amazing-perfect-steadfast-unfailing LOVE for you!!!

    • Kathy, I read this weeping. Sad over the past, weary beyond measure over battling in the present, and with renewed hope for the future slowly emerging. Your lovely prayer spoke deep to my spirit and lifted this tired heart. I so want to fully believe that “unlimited possibilities lie ahead” for me as I trust in “His amazing-perfect-steadfast-unfailing LOVE” for me! I really appreciate you stopping by to read, pray and encourage me in this endeavour. Bless you, friend! 🙂 x

  4. Joy – you can imagine that this is familiar to me as well! Such a struggle to not become the illness, when it fills and frames our lives so much and limits everything we do. But the truth is far different and you have put it all so well as always. May God speed you on your way to knowing who you are as you live and move and have your being within him. Blessings and love, Keren xx

    • Keren, you said it so well, “Such a struggle to not become the illness, when it fills and frames our lives so much and limits everything we do”. Amen! Yet that is a lie from the enemy which contradicts God’s word. And I pray you too will seek to rise above the labels this illness imposes on us. The more we discover and hold on to all that we are in Christ, then we will learn to fly free of the physical limitations of having M.E also afflicting and affecting our souls. Blessings and love, my friend and fellow travelller. xx

  5. When God shows up to shine His light there is no shadow of turning – he comes exactly when he knows we are able to receive these new revelations and move forward in life knowing we are a new creation in Christ 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. We need to catch a hold of Gods promises and not let go , they are our identity as well . An excellent read Joy Lenton much appreciated and be encouraged in your walk as you move forward daily experiencing the Grace God has provided us. ❤

    • How I value your sweet encouragement here, Maxine! It helps me to be more certain that God has not only initiated the changing process but it is also being achieved in His perfect timing. I love this, “We need to catch a hold of God’s promises and not let go; they are our identity as well”. Yes indeed! Even more so in the spiritual realm. Thank you so much for offering me such positive thoughts to ponder on! Blessings, friend. 🙂 x

  6. Dear Joy – names are important to God and my prayer for you is that you understand the fullness of your name and live in its truth – that God has blessed you with his character because He is joy too. God Bless my friend.
    Lynn x

    • You touch on a salient point here, Lynn. I so often feel wrongly named. I know my arrival was no ‘joy’ as such to my parents and the life I have experienced has offered few lasting truly joy-filled moments. It feels strange to have a name like this! But that’s only viewing it from a purely human (and jaundiced) perspective. God made sure it was my name for a reason and now I rely on HIs power to help it to become my identity too. Your kind thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated. Thank you! 🙂 x

  7. Beautiful- Sweet Joy! You are overcoming! He is transforming! He leaves no thread unwoven. Isn’t He amazing! and there is no condemnation that you aren’t transforming quickly enough! (Rom. 8:1) You are His beloved and He is changing you- you can relax in His loving power! This reminds me of my favorite story- Hinds Feet on High Places. Little Much Afraid is crippled at the beginning of her journey- limited, imprisoned, bound by fear, identified by her “circumstances” And then the Shepherd guides her through valleys, mountains, deserts,- each place she is lovingly, patiently- transformed. It isn’t until the end of her journey, she awakens to how completely Jesus has transformed her. No longer is she Much Afraid- but the Lord gives her a new name! Sending you hugs and prayers as He gives you new wine skins for old! Rejoice- the Lord is doing a fabulous work in His children! He will not leave us undone! 🙂

    • Cindy, your lovely comment made me cry ~ with sheer relief at the way you have encouraged and reminded me it is all of Him from start to finish ~ and with hope rising too for the days ahead. Such a powerful affirmation of faith in your words! To know the work has begun, I can rest in God and “relax in His loving power” is so freeing and helpful, especially at this early stage of discovery of His intentions. I can see that ‘Hinds Feet on High Places’ is another book I could well do with reading too! All kind words, hugs and prayers gratefully received. Bless you, my beautifully encouraging friend! 🙂 xx

    • Dear Patricia, it really cheered and encouraged my heart to read your beautiful response. It sounds as if you may be fighting (or have fought) the same battles. Thank you so much for understanding and cheering me on. I really need it! Bless you, friend. Praying for you too. 🙂 x

    • Thank you, Jennifer! It takes some ‘brave’ to speak these things out, doesn’t it? And the living it out is another call to courage and faith. As we make this journey together, may we all find our hearts leaning further toward God’s heart and away from the love idols which are holding us back. Blessings 🙂

  8. Love your heart Joy! I so relate to this. I’m rereading Mary’s book, and have Prescribed posted on my wall of inspiration where I can see it every morning. I too have been rearing up to yield the word again. Day by day healing manifests if we let the word alone do the work. You are not alone dear sister.

    • Thank you, Melinda, for your lovely encouraging comment! Yes, I am slowly discovering how my mind needs to be reprogrammed by God’s word. As we allow it to filter from head to heart it will begin to take root there and produce the fruit we desire to see. Bless you for stopping by to let me know I am far from alone in my journey. It’s great to have your company, friend! 🙂 x

  9. Such a beautiful and honest post, Joy. I simply love the impact Jennifer’s book is having on so many. Grateful to have connected with you. Thank you for sharing your heart. ❤

    • Hi Beth. Yes, Jennifer has written such an insightful and truly life transforming book. It is wonderful to think about how many lives are and will be impacted and deeply touched by the message it conveys. Thank you so much for stopping by to offer me support and encouragement! It’s great to connect with you too, friend. 🙂 x

  10. I know where your heart is at. if you’re like me, you’ve spent your life running forward away from the painful past. And then in the reading of Jennifer’s book God stirs something inside, asking you to go back and look at the ugly, maybe even the shame, its hard, but God is there, we know we’re safe this time and He reminds the brokenhearted that we are #preapproved, we were always Preapproved and never defined by the past.

    • Yes, that describes me pretty well. Though there have been years of counselling and dealing with the hard stuff, it still haunts me. I definitely feel since reading Jennifer’s book that God is stirring something inside as He is asking me to revisit, “go back and look at the ugly, maybe even the shame” and painful places I’d thought (hoped?) to be over and done with. Thank you so much, Teresa, for the reminder of being #preapproved now and always and “never defined by the past.” It helps in the healing of wounded emotions to focus on the truth of how God sees us. Bless you for sharing your insightful thoughts, friend. I really appreciate it. 🙂 x

    • How well you describe my journey. Yes, that’s exactly where I’m at right now. Thank you so much for reminding me “God is there, we know we’re safe this time” and “He reminds the brokenhearted that we are #preapproved, we were always Preapproved and never defined by the past”. Oh how those words speak to my spirit! Thank you, Teresa, for offering me such understanding, support and encouragement. You have truly blessed me by your visit. 🙂 x

  11. Pingback: A bittersweet life | Poetry Joy

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