From Surviving To Thriving
For most of my life I have been just trying to survive. It’s like hanging on to the back of a speedboat that is cruising through the lake at 50 mph. Surviving is something that takes place of true living. You hunker down and wait for the storm to pass, except that it never really does. So you just keep hanging on as tight as you can, and hope that you make it through to the end.
At some point in time I got tired of surviving. I didn’t want to just survive life anymore. I wanted to be more than a conqueror through Christ. I wanted my reality to be the strength that everyone else saw in me. However, that was just too far away from my understanding of life. Moments of strength are great, but they have been so fleeting, and leave hopelessness in their wake. I needed the kind of strength that was going to allow me to let go of the speedboat, and instead walk on water.
Being a survivor of ritual abuse is a unique experience that is hard to describe. In many ways it is like someone who has been engaged in combat and comes home. You have seen war, death, destruction, and all sorts of evil. You are in a foreign country and away from reality as you have always known it. When you come home, everyone is so happy to see you. They throw a party for you and give you accolades for what you have done. Yet you just want to sit alone in a dark room, because it’s overwhelming to be at a celebration which only reminds you of pain and death.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
You are overwhelmed because you haven’t seen joy in a long time. You don’t even know what to talk about to people who haven’t been immersed in the circumstances of war like you have. They talk about the weather and politics and school and you just stare at them, trying to focus on what their saying and not on latent memories pushing through. At the end of the party they shoot off fireworks and it’s all you can do is run, because the flashing lights and sounds of explosion send you right back into the combat zone.
No one understands why you ran. No one comprehends the level of pain and suffering you now know so intimately. They want to encourage you, but their words roll off you like water. You feel isolated and alone in the midst of a crowd. How can you explain what you feel, what you have seen, when no one even wants to hear the truth in the first place. Everyone means well, but while you have been in your own personal hell, they have been enjoying the freedom that you fought for them to have.
When you have experienced high levels of trauma for a good portion of your life, you are living in survival mode. You know no other way of being. You are on autopilot, just trying to get through every moment of every day and still breathe. Many people are living this way and have no idea that they are doing so. It becomes normal to them, just as it did for me. Before I ever realized I was a survivor, I was living in survival mode. My whole life was spent surviving, I just had no idea. It wasn’t until I was desperate enough to know the reason why I was a huge mess that I began to learn the reasons behind daily surviving.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Survival does not equip us to thrive in unhealthy situations, nor does it help us find the truth as to why suffering has followed us wherever we go. Surviving only helps us to get one foot in front of the other. For some, this is how they will have to make it through life, because facing the obvious pain that has been staring at them for so long, is simply more than they can bare. Yet for others, surviving will be a season, not a permanent condition. They will strive to find out the truth in the answers to why things are the way they are. It is through that truth they will find freedom and healing in Jesus Christ.
I have been hanging on for what feels like a lifetime, and Jesus has given me the strength to finally let go. That speedboat has no intention of stopping, so Jesus had to talk me through the steps to let go of it, and allow Him to catch me right where I was. It was extremely hard and painful to even get to that place. Once I was able to let go, the world around me slowed down and I could once again breathe.
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
It’s amazing when you finally come to a place where you are no longer watching your life whiz by you, wondering how to catch up. You can stop and open your eyes without the spray from the boat blinding you. You can focus on taking one step at a time towards Jesus, even though the storm is still raging on around you. The wind and the waves threaten you, and so you learn that sometimes you have to stand perfectly still while you get your bearings, and sometimes you can take that next step, always looking for Jesus.
Here I am, two years into my inner healing therapy and I have finally reached a place where I can breathe. Where I can be at peace with my circumstances and know that Jesus is my Rock and Redeemer. As much hell as I have been through these past two years, it was all worth the fight. There is nothing like the fresh air you breathe when you climb out of the pit. You get used to the stench and the muck of it, and you completely forget who you even are.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21
Yet Jesus has never left my side, not for one minute of my life. He has told me I am His, I am beautiful, I am special. Things I couldn’t believe before now give me hope. Jesus tells me He has never left me and I now know its true. Through every situation I was forced into, and every sin of my own doing, He was there. My proud Papa, who knew the core of my heart, and tells me I am good. I never could have thought I was good before. I believed I was evil, through and through. God knows the truth, about each and every one of us.
The goodness of God cannot be stopped, and His love can never be tainted. No matter what we do, and no matter what happens in this world, the love of God is an unstoppable force that will plow over the enemy every time. The only thing that keeps us from that understanding is believing his lies. If the devil can convince us that God is not who He says He is, then he has his hooks in us for as long as we allow it.
We may have all authority over the evil of this world, but until we recognize where we have allowed it in, we cannot use that authority to expel it. We will always have struggles and suffering as consequences to our choices to deny it. Jesus sees you. He sees your heart. He knows you, and He says ‘You are good.’ Who are you going to choose to believe?
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.
1 Corinthians 9:24-26