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

©JoyLenton2014

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.

Out of Egypt

When a friend prayed with me a few years ago, she sensed she had a word from God she needed to share.

It was more of a question really.

It seems God was repeating a personal word I’d heard some time before from our Pastor, yet not fully understood or heeded at the time.

He asked, “Are you prepared to leave Egypt behind?”

As I prayed and puzzled over this, it soon became clear that ‘Egypt’ represented those things which held me captive, were enslaving me to some extent and preventing forward momentum.

Eager as I may have been to let go of them, in many ways they represented all that had become close and familiar.

For example, my childhood was riddled with abuse and dysfunction. I hated it but I knew no different.

Growing up under its shadow was all I knew to be ‘normal’, the very fabric of my being, a deep part of who I was as a person.

In order for full healing to take place, I needed to unearth the dark places in my soul, recognise the pain, address it with appropriate help and support, and find a way to live free of its effects.

It took many years of counselling before a large degree of emotional healing occurred in that area.

Now it felt like God was asking this question of my life in general.

Was I ready for seeing life through the lens of His word rather than viewing everything from my experiences?

Could I accept, believe and receive the truth of who I am in Christ?

By faith in Christ, we are:redeemed, renewed, radically and deeply loved, forgiven, free from guilt and shame, forever set free to live without walls, given every resource we need to be whole and healed….and so much more besides.

He longs for us to see ourselves in the mirror of His word rather than viewing the distorted images playing in our minds.

We all have areas in our lives which need transformation, change and healing.

Our willingness to allow access to them in order for healing to take place is another matter entirely.

I’ve written about this more openly and shared what is helping me in this post from Words of Joy.

The poem below is an acknowledgement of how hard it can be to move forward.

‘Leaving Egypt’

When the prison you know

has walls papered over

with past experiences

faded, worn and torn,

fraying round edges,

it can still feel cosy

warm and familiar

like a house,

a home boxed in

with hedges.

We cling to what we know

with surprising tenacity

in spite of pain

leaching into our souls,

a heavy weight with capacity

to drown us in

suffocate breath and life,

holding us down

hard and fast

in an embalmed state.

Leaving Egypt behind

to enter our Promised Land

can feel like strange unravelling,

so we dig heels stiff,

resistant, into hot sand,

with each tender step

we tentatively take

a reminder of how far

we still have to travel

for our safety’s sake

©JoyLenton2013