Do you, or someone you know, have a difficult past that won’t let go? Do you struggle with guilt, shame, and self-worth? Today I’m sharing an anonymous guest post by someone who carried a load of guilt for years because of events from her past. She suffered through abuse, lies, and personal failures that made her feel dirty, worthless, and hopeless. Silently and fearfully she endured alone until she finally found her freedom. This is her story. These are her words. It is her hope that it can help you find the deliverance you need. You deserve it.
(Shared with permission)
I’ll never forget the moment when God saved me. Two weeks prior, I was sitting in my usual 8:45 am church service listening to my Pastor speak on the things that we, as humans, hold on to as punishment for committing that sin. He pointed to a basket of rocks and Sharpie markers sitting on tables around the sanctuary. His instruction was simple: After service, go to one of the tables, pick out a rock and use the marker to write a word or phrase to represent that one thing for which we can’t forgive ourselves. He told us to carry that rock in our pocket all week and then to bring it with us when we returned the following Sunday.
After the crowd had thinned a bit, my husband and I walked over to the table, picked us out a rock and gave each other some privacy to carry out our task. Two letters. That’s all I wrote on my rock. Those two letters, however, carried more weight than the rock itself. I put it into my pocket as my husband did the same and we went on with our day. Sundays are usually for picking up essentials at Sam’s Club, which happens to be just a few blocks away from our church. This day was no different, except that it was.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the rock in my pocket, which was the point, right? I mean, it was meant to be a reminder of that one thing I simply could not let go. The worst part about this lesson was that I had never talked to my husband about it. My husband who is my very best friend. My husband with whom I share my deepest conversations with. My husband who would never love me any less. I suffered alone.
The next Sunday we happened to have something come up and we didn’t make it to church. I was devastated that I would have to carry this rock for another week without knowing what my Pastor had intended for me to do with it. It was ironic that I was burdened by this rock for another week when I had been carrying the overwhelming weight of those two letters for years. Yes, years. Now, I know you’re just dying to know what those letters were and what they represented, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
God had been working in me. For months, God had laid it on my heart to resolve this with my husband. I knew that until I did that, I could not resolve it with myself. I tried so many times to have the conversation with him, but I just didn’t know how to start or what I would say. I even began having the conversation in my head while I was doing dishes, driving to the grocery store, folding laundry. My mouth tried to form the words, “Can we talk?” so many times, but my voice never came. I felt defeated. Crippled by fear, I knew that was the enemy’s plan. I didn’t want to do things his way. I wanted to do things the Lord’s way, but it would have to wait. See, God had a plan, too.
The following Sunday we were in our usual spot in the early morning service. Pastor gave a great sermon, as he always does. During the last song of the service, our Pastor always invites anyone up to the steps leading to the stage who would like prayer as the elders are waiting to pray with people. This time, he added that if anyone still had their rock with them, this would be the time to return it to the basket, freeing oneself of the burden. I didn’t feel worthy of letting that burden go. I thought that what I had done was so terrible that I didn’t deserve to find freedom from it. I wanted to keep that rock forever because I didn’t know how to forgive myself. Then, we stood up and the worship leader began the last song. “I Surrender All”. This song has been the one song I have never been able to sing because it doesn’t only bring me to tears, it makes me full on ugly cry. You know the kind of cry I’m talking about. The kind that makes your snot drip faster than you can find a Kleenex and makes your eyelids look like sausages for all the swelling. In that moment, I knew God was speaking directly to me. He was reminding me that Jesus died for me on the cross. My sins, however terrible, were nailed to the cross and I was forgiven. He told me that, if He forgave me, who was I not to forgive myself? No one’s forgiveness is greater than my Father’s. It was time to surrender all.
I stood there paralyzed as I bawled my eyes out. After the service was over, I looked at my husband and we decided, together, to go up and lay that sin at Christ’s feet. I also knew it was time to talk to my husband.
I finally had the courage to tell my husband all about those two letters and why they were such a burden to me. He had known what the letters meant, but didn’t know what they represented. In my youth I became involved with a man who lied about the state of his eligibility. He told me he was in an extremely unhappy marriage and was going through a divorce. I should have walked away, but I didn’t. I had never had a boyfriend. I had been overweight my entire life and had extremely low self-esteem. I just wanted someone, anyone, to love me and want me. He did. Except that he didn’t.
I spent the next several years in bondage to this incredibly toxic relationship. There were so many hurts, so many hearts broken and so many days of hating myself. I couldn’t think of a single day that passed by that I actually loved myself. He was emotionally abusive. I couldn’t even go out with friends without him calling my phone over and over all night, leaving hateful voicemails berating me for being unfaithful. I wasn’t. I was faithful to an unfaithful man. He would tell me the sort of lies that cripple a person’s self worth and spirit. I believed them because I never had a reason not to believe them. I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father. I watched the way he treated my mother. I learned that it doesn’t matter how bad it gets, you stick around. You just learn to live with the hurt and the tears and the abuse. I have had many broken relationships because of my childhood. I thought that I didn’t deserve anything better.
Years of sexual sin and brokenness left me feeling empty and unworthy of anyone’s love, even God’s. Especially God’s. I was unclean. I cried as I told my husband all of the answers to the questions I know he’d had for the entirety of our young marriage. I was transparent and, for the first time in my life, unashamed. Don’t get me wrong, it still hurt to reveal all of these things to my husband. I was so afraid that he wouldn’t love me anymore. I lived in fear that he would be disappointed in me and my actions. But I was honest, and I was not ashamed of that.
My husband listened and held me. He poured his love out and destroyed every scary expectation I had of how he would react. You know, those lies that the enemy whispers into our ears when we are trying to get strong in God’s Word. Satan would not win this battle, or any battle in my life. He would not succeed in binding me over this situation ever again. Ever. Again. That night, I had never felt more loved, more secure, or more free in my life. I knew that my Lord God forgave me even as I opened my lips to ask Him forgiveness. I also knew that I could forgive myself. And I did.
You’ll never experience a greater freedom than when you break free from those chains that have bored deep wounds into our wrists and ankles. Those shackles are broken by God’s mercy and grace. That thing that eats at you little by little every day, hand it over to God. You, too, are worthy of a purified heart and a cleansed soul. No longer do you have to feel unloved or unworthy. No longer do you have to feel unclean.