For years, journaling has been a part of my spiritual discipline. Study of the Word was sealed somehow in my heart if it could be journalized. Recently, while reading stories of how people found their faith and lived their faith, it came to me that I did not have a story of faith…of being in a faith or the faith. Having studied a lot of Scripture, I knew a great deal about the Bible. A story of faith? That seemed to escape me.
I had a story of childhood abuse. That story contained many different ways of looking at God and holding on to what seemed precious and sacred. But, I did not have a story of coming to faith. As a diligent student of God’s word, I often knew the correct answers. I wrote a homework assignment about a book when in christian high school, and made the comment in that piece that the writing assignment had lifted me vicariously into vision. The teacher was so impressed with the word “vicarious.” The students were, too. I understand now that it was a perfect word for my experience because I did not have one of my own.
How does one have all this knowledge about the Word and have no experience of faith?
I perused my life to see if it could be found. I remember being a child of nine or so and someone giving our family a children’s Bible story book. Its cover was an emerald green brocade-looking fabric, and it was the most elegant thing I had even seen. I treasured it.
Church attendance was sporadic. No one read that Bible story book to me. I learned to read it to myself. That book became a place of hope for a child who knew too much hopelessness. I found those stories to be a balm for the turmoil of life. I developed a heart connection with the Jesus of those stories.
Since our parents did not go to church, grandparents or older cousins often took us to their church. Around eleven, while visiting the church of an older cousin, the Sunday School teacher told me that I was not going to heaven because I did not belong to that church. The stories of the green book and my heart connection with Jesus were shattered. As a child I did not have the tools to sort this out. I did go home and tell my mother about the event, and I said: “I am never going back to church until I find something that I believe in.”
I did not understand that my heart was broken, and all that I was left with was an intellectual pursuit of the Bible. Intellectually, I have known the truths of salvation. I did not become aware of the broken heart condition until I was in my early sixties. I did not know that I had internalized that because Jesus was “over there in that church,” the best I could have was this knowledge.
I could not “feel” the love of Jesus as before.
In college, I remember studying Biblical topics of a deep nature. I was fascinated by these Biblical truths. During that time, I remember telling a friend that I was studying eschatology. He said, “Wow, do you even know what that means?” I froze. I ended the conversation and went back into the dorm. Looking back on that, I realize that his comment was a threat to what I had left…an intellectual pursuit of God.
Satan’s attack is so subtle. Once we have that initial heart break about something, he just wants to build hurt on top of hurt. I was eleven when this wounding happened. In my sixties, I came face to face with this broken heart and it’s core lie: I was of no value to Jesus. The loving, gentle Jesus of those stories was not available to me. The best I could do was to know the Bible really well. The remorse I felt at age eleven had continued to victimize me all those years.
One day in my early sixties while thinking on these things, I head God say to me, “Ever sense your wounding, I have been pursuing you. The tears began to roll down my checks. I felt a warm and loving presence in me.
As I revisit my life journey, I now see that my faith experience was there all along. I did not give up on God. God knew that He would finally be able to get through to me when I started to understand spiritual abuse. Understanding the pain of someone who hurts others with their words, helped me forgive them and myself. It was never about me anyway, I had spent too much time looking at God through someone else’s lens of fear and judgment.
Head knowledge, as good as that is, did nothing for my healing. God had to speak over this hurt and bring healing Himself. God has redeemed that little girl’s broken heart, and the truth of that has even more splendor than the emerald green brocade Bible story book. Jesus loves even me, and I am of value. Thank you, sweet, gentle Jesus for pursuing me and healing my broken heart a step at a time.
Linda Lea is a mother and grandmother of 6 beautiful children. Retired, she enjoys doing Bible study, writing, and prayer intercession. Presently, her life journey includes living life fully intending to recover from Lyme Disease. Her self-published book, Fruit of the Spirit…the Kingdom of Heaven Within, brings faith, science, and scripture together in a way that makes the word of God find application in our lives today. Buy it here.