• healing from wounds,  Letters

    To the one struggling in silence…

    To the one struggling in silence…I wrote you a letter today.

    I wrote it to myself, too- for the girl years ago who used to hide her sadness. Who was afraid to be seen. Who thought people would only love her if she showed her happy, put-together life.

    This letter is a reminder to us both of the One who sees us, knows us, and loves us, even in our hurt.

    Hello my dear,

    Oh, friend. I know you feel alone in your hurt, your pain, your sadness. How I wish I could scoop up your heart in a big hug and tell you that I see you. I wish I could bring you your favorite flowers right now, or sit with you at a coffee shop over big mugs of our favorite tea or coffee. I’ve been where you are, and I know you’re hurting deeply, quietly. And I wish I could help you know that you are not alone. 

    But, the truth is, I don’t know why you’re hurting. You’ve gotten so good at holding it all inside. Can we take a few minutes to just breathe, to just be still, and to start letting those walls down? 

    Here’s what I know about you, sweet friend. You don’t want to suffer in silence or hiding anymore. So, I want to whisper words of hope and encouragement to you right now. 

    While I do not know the details of your hurt, we have a heavenly father who knows the depths of our hearts. In Psalm 139, the psalmist reminds us of how deeply God knows us:

    You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
    You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
    You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
    Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
    You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
    Throughout the course of this Psalm, David lists these ways that God knows us intimately and deeply:
    • Thoughts (v. 2, 23)
    • Actions (v. 2-4)
    • Words (v. 4)
    • Our location (v. 7-10)
    • Body (v. 13-15)
    • Soul (before we were formed into bodies; v. 16)
    • All the days of our lives (what is to come; v. 16)
    • Heart (v. 23)
    • All of our ways (v. 3)

    Not only does God SEE us (even when we try to hide), KNOW us (every single aspect of our lives), but He also LOVES us fully and unconditionally.

    You don’t have to hide from God. He can see you anyway, sweet friend. Let down those walls and tell Him about your pain. Cry out to Him with those struggles. He can handle it. He is the One who holds your anguish and your tears in His hands. He is the One who grieves with you. The One who pursues you even when you try to hide in the dark. He is the One who will never leave you or forsake you. 

    I’m praying for you today– that you would remember that you are not alone. I am praying that the God who comforts will be close to you, and that you would remember that you can tell Him anything. Praying for the healing work to begin as you bring your struggles, pain, and grief into the light. God sees you and knows you in this hard season, my friend. And more than anything, He loves you. 

    Sincerely,

    Heather

  • freedom stories

    No More Hiding -Pamela’s Story

    There is something a little terrifying about the feeling of exposure. To be fully seen, uncovered, and vulnerable is just plain scary sometimes.

    But what if the one who sees us already knows everything we lay bare? What if that One even already LOVES us? Pamela’s story is one of freedom from shame, healing from deep wounds, and a knowledge that she no longer has to hide or pretend in God’s presence. What a life-giving discovery. Pamela- thank you for sharing your story and heart with us.

    Here’s is Pamela’s Freedom Story. 

    “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts, you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”
    -Psalm 51:6

    As a child and teen, I was really good at pretending. It’s what you do in an alcoholic home. You dodge and hide because of shame. You don’t want people to know what your life is really like.

    My role was to do everything perfect, so I wouldn’t cause any trouble. My thinking was, “If I just did everything right then I won’t upset my father.” I longed for his approval, but he preferred distance, self-pity, and the bottle of alcohol. He never seemed interested in his little brown-eyed daughter. I also learned at a very young age to keep quiet. Don’t say anything to upset anyone. I learned to hide my pain.

    We were sporadic church goers at best at our mainline denomination. As a teen, my mom dragged us off to a full-gospel church. Can you tell I wasn’t too thrilled? The joyful, clappy worship was like nothing like I had ever experienced. I loved the music, but didn’t understand why I would cry in church. What was this thing I felt that welled up in my chest? Was it the love of God? Was it the goodness of being His presence?

    We attended the youth group for awhile, but I always felt like an outsider. Those kids all had perfect families and perfect Calvin Klein jeans and high-top Reeboks. It was the 80’s after all. They were in another class of which I wasn’t welcome. The youth leader was kind and enthusiastic about Jesus, but I always felt less than there.

    This was my perception: church was for happy, perfect families. Church was a place to pretend like everything was okay. Put on your smile, greet a few people, sing some songs, listen to a sermon and smile on the way out. With the brokenness and shame I carried inside, I felt dirty, and not worthy to be with all these pretty church goers. Eventually, we just quit going.

    Imagine my surprise, when I met Jesus at age twenty and began to read about a loving Father. I was amazed. I thought, that’s it, that’s what a father is supposed to be. As I fell in love with God, He began to heal my wounds. I was enough, because He made me enough. His righteousness made me right, and it was the best news I ever heard. He accepted me just as a was. He loved me in spite of my broken family, and He covered my shame.

    As I grew in the knowledge of God, I stumbled upon the Psalms and King David was my guy!

    His words were like unlike any I had read in the Bible. He poured out his heart before God in a most honest, raw way. He painted vivid pictures of his suffering and angst. There was no pretense. He was vulnerable and transparent before God. And at the end of each Psalm, David says, but God. After unleashing his honest pain, he would reflect on the goodness of God. David remembered God’s faithfulness and how the Lord delivered him from difficult situations in the past.

    “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth has dried up like potherd and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircle me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display;people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength: come quickly to help me.” –Psalm 22:14-19

    David became my model for how to relate to God. I was free from hiding, pretending, and not acknowledging my true feelings. I was free to express what I felt and then turn my thoughts to God’s goodness.

    As much as I hid as a child, just to keep the peace in our home, I didn’t want to do that in my relationship with God. As I was ready Psalms one day this verse jumped out at me.

    “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts, you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” –Psalm 51:6

    As I had spent years trying to control how I appeared on the outside, God was more concerned about my heart. It gave me the freedom to do the inner work; the healing work. I was free to walk in truth and my identity as a dearly loved daughter, a sweet child of God.

    Years later my husband and I were called into full-time ministry. We’ve spent 17 years leading churches in Minnesota and Iowa. We work hard to create environments where people can come as they are. A core value we have is teaching people to live open, honest and vulnerable before God and man. We all have issues and pain which need healing and restoration. We all need freedom from hiding something. Jesus provides a fresh opportunity to walk in wholeness and to live honestly before Him.

    How about you? Do you pretend with God? It’s such a funny thought because there’s not one thing we can hide from God. He knows our thoughts and words before we speak them.

    Have you tried pouring out your honest, broken self? He is ready to meet you with immense love, compassion, and empathy. Once we are truly honest, God can bring His wonderful truth. I challenge you to risk vulnerability today. God wants to meet you in the sweetest way.

    – – –

     

    I smile a lot. I’m an enthusiastic encourager. I’m too pretty for math, and I’m woefully inept with technology, but I can whip up a mean pot of braised beef stew. My heart is moved by compassion for you, if you’re in a difficult season. I’ve experienced domestic violence, addiction, suicide, and chronic illness. But I’ve also found redemption, restoration, miracles, and intimacy with God. I want to spend my days sharing God’s goodness. I’ll share my story vulnerably in hopes you’ll have the courage to do the same. There will be no pretending here. I’ve created this space to encourage, inspire and help you draw closer to God.

    You can find my blog at pamelahenkelman.com. I’d love to connect on Instagram at phenkelman, and on FB at Pamela Henkelman.

     

    Want to read more Freedom Stories? Check them out here.

    – – –

    P.S. Special thanks to Cory Bouthillette of Unsplash for the image to accompany this post.