When I was young, I journaled about everything...fears, friends, dreams, Jesus, problems, basketball, FFA, boys, and life in general. Those days of writing were a lot of documenting my life, and about telling God what was going on, and little about Him speaking into my life. When I was almost 20, I came into a deep relationship with Jesus, and I began allowing Him to not just be my Savior, but to Lord areas of my life. During this process, I began to journal again, but this time it was different. There was still the layer of what I have always known, but I began to incorporate scripture and His insight into the pages I wrote.
With circumstances in my life and hurts that occured, it derailed this new time of intimacy with Jesus. I had many pivotal events that shaped me, and some events I allowed too much influence in that shaping.
In August of 2014, I picked up journaling again, but this time it was a consistent two-way dialogue between Jesus and I. What I realized, during this time of journaling, is I stuffed many things in my life. No one would have known since I am an “open book”, outgoing, and I love people, but the fact of the matter is, I stuffed my reality that I am always causing people problems and pain.
When I was ten years old, my stepsister Heather, who was five, was killed tragically, and it occurred while they were coming to pick up my sister and I for a weekend visit. I have secretly blamed myself for over three decades for her death. If they weren’t coming to pick me up, she would still be alive. What would she grow up to be like? Would her kids look like her, would they ride horses bareback, in footie pajamas and black dress shoes? Those questions and many more haunted me.
This was one situation of many that plagued my thoughts that I chose to stuff. Other people that I continued to dispense pain upon in my reality included a sibling, a best friend, church leadership, my husband and my oldest son. Did I talk about these relationships and situations with people? Yes, some more than others. What I realized through journaling, was that I had talked to others only about the facts, and kept it surface. I didn’t dive deep into the blame I placed on myself.
I had taught school for years, giving my life to others. I was on staff at a church speaking life into others and knowing it was true. Nevertheless, at every turn my relationships were falling apart. I kept causing pain and problems to others. My marriage was broken, my son was broken, my friendship was broken, and I was in conflict with those that were in spiritual authority over me.
This became more than I could handle, and stuffing these circumstances took me to a plan of suicide. I kept asking myself why I didn’t just turn to addiction. I found my answer was because that was a temporary escape and I wanted to be “done”. I desired a permanent escape. I was enslaved to my own thoughts. The daily, horrible thoughts that plagued my upbeat personality and Jesus filled spirit overwhelmed me.
One day someone said to me, “Your life is not falling apart. You need to know your life matters, your story matters. Do not become silent!” What I realized that day was suicide would have made me silent. God had put it on another’s heart to share those words with me.
I had given myself multiple names, like “Ruiner”, “Problem Causer”, “Unstable”, “Pain Inflictor”, and“One that Tears People Down”. In October of 2017, Jesus named me, “Builder of People” and “Kingdom Ambassador”! Those two names are written on white stones that I see every day that remind me of His names for me! He took me to 2 Corinthians 5:20 and Isaiah 42:5-9. Jesus spoke to me that, “I am a builder of people in Christ. I am His Kingdom Ambassador. I am given by Him to people as a blessing, and destined for the purpose of helping people out of captivity.”
You see I was told often:
“If you were…”
“If you were more kind…”
“If you were more loving…”
“If you would do this... or not do that…”
I began to let those critical statements sink deep into my heart. I had began to believe that no one truly believed in me, and that my heart was not good. Jesus told me one morning during worship, “Your restored heart is the glory of the Kingdom. I am not going to make your heart good – I already have!”
In Ezekiel 26:26 He says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
Through receiving Jesus Christ, my heart is made tender and responsive, rather than having a heart that is hard or unresponsive. I know by being taught by God that my heart is loving! I am not going to be made more loving!!!
Romans 5:5 says, “…because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” My only part in all of this is that I get to spend the rest of my life experiencing His dance with my tender, responsive, and loving heart!! I don’t know about you, but this moves me to weeping tears of gratitude, that He would choose me to pour His love into!!!
I tell my stories like this, not for pity or to set the record straight, but I tell these stories to bring His Hope into someone’s soul, and to demonstrate His ability to heal the shattered heart, and restore the brokenhearted. These are the reasons that I live a life for Jesus that is tenacious and unedited, and is the reason that I worship Him with total abandonment!
If you or someone else you know is struggling, there is help out there. Do not stuff it! Reach out! Ask for help, but just as importantly, tell Jesus about it, and listen as He speaks truth to your reality!!
*I have a friend who writes diligently about this topic, and is not afraid to talk boldly about it. You can check out her book, as well as, her journey of pain, hope and everything in between at https://www.elizabethbillingsley.com/
*Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, along with many prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and many resources concerning best practices for professionals. Their hotline # is 1-800-273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Written by Gretchen Cannon