On Friday, August 4, 2017, 12 ladies from People’s Church of Santa Fe left to go to El Paso. They were Esther, Yvonne, Michelle, Tam, Linda, Angie, Marilyn, Sheila, Catalina, Brittany, Peggy, and myself.
To start out, we had three vehicles with a driver and three passengers each. Our first stop was Taco Cabana in Albuquerque for dinner, after meeting in the church parking lot after work. We all had a great dinner and then the car passengers switched up and headed into different cars. We stopped in T or C at McDonald’s and the switch happened again.
There were many things that happened and great conversations all that night. I want to preface this with minor details, because the last year and a half can be easily recalled in order to give weight and powerful glory to God over what happened this past weekend, but the minute details of the weekend can be lost if I spend too much time on the past, so suffice it to say that I spent the last year and a half in bondage of severe anxiety and chest pains. I truly had few nights where I didn’t lay down to bed and feel like death was coming for me that night. I had very few nights without chest pains adding to that lie. In this year, those chest pains led me to the ER twice. Once, it was truly the hand of God to establish that I had reached a dangerous place in my anemia. That resolved, this time it was to show me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me or my heart physically and that there must truly be something else at work.
Thursday night, August 3, 2017, I told my mom that I would need to sleep in her room because the anxiety was one of the worst bouts I ever had. I blogged about this on Friday morning, so I won’t give more information here, but needless to say, it was bad.
The third leg of the journey to El Paso was short and pivotal because in the car I was driving sat the passenger, Tam. As we lightly talked and I kept my walls engaged, I found myself speaking about previous pains and tearing up, as I normally do, and while Tam spoke many profound things to me, the one that resignated in my soul was her telling me that there was hurt I never let go of and that this hurt was what was causing me anxiety. She spoke about disappointment and discouragement and revealed how “dis” means “no” and if you look at those words in that context, you can see clearly that my appointment in God was stuck and stifled because of my disappointment in my hurt and that my anxiety came for overwhelming fear in my lack of courage due to my discouragement. She also talked of how it is very likely that illnesses that have no cause in the external can be linked to something internal, if that makes sense, so surely the heart and chest pains were linked to the very hurt that she spoke of.
I wanted, then and there, to ask her to pray with me, but I felt that would be doing a disservice to the power needed to be delivered and set free. How could I fully invest if I was having to focus on the road and the safety of myself and the passengers? So, I didn’t ask but I acknowledged that what she said made much sense, albeit with the cold distance that I had learned how to address everyone in my life these days. We arrived at the hotel, checked in, and went to our respective rooms.
As I lay there, I recalled how she had talked about the hurt needing to be pulled out of me and that it would happen with some form of physical manifestation, such as a cough, hiccup, burb, etc. I lay there and I prayed three separate times about the hurt in my soul and I felt a nauseous feeling across my chest. It was then that it was entirely clear to me that there was a deep hurt (a spirit?) that didn’t want to come out. But, the time had come. The light had been brought into the darkness and the truth had flared a fire and the hurt inside was dislodged and shaken loose and there were only two options for me: keep trying to heal alone or be vulnerable again and ask for help.
The next morning, I talked to Tam and I asked her if we could find some time that day (Saturday) to pray for the hurt to be released. She readily agreed and I explained what had happened the night before. She asked if I wanted to do it then but I thought later would work and so Tam agreed and assured me that it would happen, it would not be forgotten. As I went upstairs to get my things for the day, God spoke to me and He told me that I had to be open and vulnerable when they prayed for me, that I had to not hold back and that no matter what happened, I had to not fight it.
We headed to the salon where the ladies enjoyed a morning of their preferred choice of pampering. Sheila, Linda, and my mom got amazing haircuts. A lot of the women had pedicures, manicures, and facials. Yvonne had her lashes done. The joy and the confidence was amazing to behold.
From there, we all went out to do our preferred day of fun. My mom, Brittany, Catalina, and I headed to Barnes and Noble, Ulta, and Dollar Tree before heading back to the hotel to spend some time in the pool and sun. We were ultimately joined by some of the other ladies. It was a great day and my mom and I headed upstairs to get ready for the devotional that night.
Michelle brought an amazing message from Beth Moore about the provision of Christ and our faith in light of who He is and what He does and can do. It was a powerful time of sharing and revelation and a message that was relevant and meaningful. Michelle then had us draw a name and say something encouraging to the woman whose name we’d drawn, about how we see them, how God sees them. It was an amazing time of joining together to hear the Word of God and to bond as sisters in Christ.
After this, we were to head to dinner and a few ladies headed out but Tam called those there to gather and pray for me. The moment of truth had come. I had the devil whispering doubts in my ear during the day that I quickly rebuked and more rapidly during the devotional, namely that it wouldn’t work, that nothing would happen, and I would remain trapped in hurt forever. But, I declared that Jesus had shown me the open prison door and freedom was mine and I was going to get it that night, regardless of the cost. It wasn’t that eloquent, in truth, but I like to wax poetic. I truly just said, “No, I will be free tonight,” or something as simple as that.
Tam said that she would pray over me and then I was to pray for what I wanted God to do. Words will never, ever be able to capture that moment. Never. I am so tempted, in fact, to pass it by with simple words, but I feel that that is even more wrong than not doing it justice with my meager words. So, here goes…
As I prayed, and no, I can’t recall what I was speaking, it felt kind of hollow and false, like a great deal of my prayers had felt, but I pressed on and when I got to the word “hurt”, there it was, like a dark evil inside me, rising up suddenly and choking off my words. But, you see, it wasn’t the hurt in retaliation that was choking off my words with deep, deep sobs. Rather, it was Holy Spirit purging it from my soul, pulling out from its seven year depths, and wrenching it from my forever. Two deep, painful sobs emerged and the third remained, lodged somewhere unknown to me, as hurt and Holy Spirit battled in my flesh and in my soul and I couldn’t breathe while that sob remained there, lodged as it was, but there was no panic or fear. It was like being frozen in time for a moment, a moment that stretched far longer than it truly was, and in that moment, before the hurt was fully pulled from my body forever, I believe Jesus did some things there, set some things right, aligned some things that were askew and, yes, finally fully removed the wall I’d built with the broken pieces of my heart and then, when He was through with the foundations of my new life, the final sob emerged.
I was free! I felt lighter and different…though I couldn’t put my finger on it. We went on to dinner and there was much going on in me as I sat there. I think my body, soul, and spirit needed some time to rest and align and survey the new landscape they now faced. I can’t believe that I held onto so much pain and hurt for seven years. It’s truly remarkable.
Later that night, as some of us headed out for dessert, I told Esther and Brittany that I was truly full of joy for the first time in seven years. Real joy! It was amazing!
Sunday morning, I had multiple opportunities to talk with Tam and Michelle and address the petty jealousy and anger that had tainted our relationships from the start due to that hurt I felt. I was able to tell them the truth that I no longer felt that at all, that there was no need to compete or fight or challenge. That we were free to live and serve God together. It was very freeing to admit something and to be able to be accepted and move forward without fear or shame.
I brought the devotional Sunday morning and the move of God was powerful. There was passion and joy and excitement in me that has been absent for so very long. I am looking forward to this new life.
The devil worked overtime to destroy me before this trip and he nearly succeeded. If I still didn’t have Jesus speaking sound wisdom to me, I would have given into my flesh and not have gone on the trip. Ah, the freedom I was given from this trip is beyond expression and the words “thank You” that I send to God is not enough, but I know that matters not to Him, because He can clearly see my heart and He knows just how truly grateful and amazed I am.
I prayed this morning and praised and I put on my armor and while I’m still struggling to break some old habits, it isn’t as it was. In fact, as I drove to work this morning, God revealed to me my pettiness in holding on to a certain parking space and He showed me that one of my first acts of being free from hurt, which was leading me to spiteful acts and isolation, was to park in another space next to my preferred space and to let the other person have the space they, too, preferred. Little things, you see, such as that and attending the potlucks in the future, well, these will be how my co-workers, who have only known me three years or so, see the Julie that used to be, the one that existed before the hurt came and enslaved her to coldness and anger and pride, and the people in my church family will see the new Julie, too, and I can hardly wait for the worship to become the passionate praise I once lived…only better!