Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Story: Part 4

So there was a great spiritual battle going on in my life.
I had committed my life to Christ when I was 14, but really I had lived my life for the devil, or at least, unwittingly under his influence.
So now, the veil was being lifted. I was seeing the two armies, the two opposing sides.
When I went to do evil, I knew it was wrong. And yet, that powerful presence of God that I had encountered at the church was there with me too, and was fighting for me.
I had never known how much God loved me. I had heard the story: that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that if I prayed, He would come into my heart. I knew that, but during these days I began to see God in a different way. More like a jealous lover, who was determined to win my heart back.
In the book of Hosea, the prophet after whom the book is named marries a prostitute. He loves her, and cleaves to her- accepting her regardless of her unfaithfulness. This is how I was seeing God now. That in all my filth, He had seen some inherent worth, and had rescued me from drowning in my own blood.
My neighbour gave me something of a confrontation, like families sometimes do to alcoholics and said "You can't live like this forever, Liberty." And somehow hearing those words, I knew she was right. And it was like that day when I was 14 and decided to leave my rebellious lifestyle: once again, I decided I COULD make the choice. I would CHOOSE not to live this way.
So I talked about all of this with my husband, and we decided that I should go spend some time at my mom's. Jed had suffered a great deal during those two years. His hopes had been slowly dying too.
Maybe you are not depressed, you are married to the person who is. If so, I counsel you to not give up hope. Those two years took everything my husband had to give, but now our marriage is BETTER by far than it was before the depression! I know that you hear those words and feel numb, but keep reading, and let your hope grow. I will endeavor to give you something to cling to.
I stayed at my mom's for a week, as we contemplated staying married or divorcing (I had totally destroyed my marriage by this point), and during this time, Jed sought advice from the nice lady we met at church.
He spent an evening with Lydia and her husband and she told Jed: "God will heal Liberty, and He will heal your marriage."
Looking back, I see so many things that were so out of character for us. God was sovereignly directing us, and having mercy on us. Jed believed what she said, and agreed: "If Liberty will have prayer counselling, she can come home."
What is prayer counselling? Well there were several people at the church we had discovered had been taking a course, or reading books on how people could receive physical healing, by the healing of their inner wounds. Sounds like psychobabble, but let me go on...
I wanted to go home by now, and was not really wanting a divorce, since I really wanted a change for the better in my life, and I was feeling more optimistic. I had said I knew I either needed to get better or die, and now (having been at the church, and having talked to my neighbour) I was feeling more like living than dying. So I agreed to do the prayer counselling, because at this point, it seemed God had ignited a spark of faith in my heart. This time, it really would work. This was really the answer.
The prayer counselling was about a two or three hour session with Lydia; the pastor's wife; and the wife of an elder from church. They asked me a lot of questions about my past, shared scriptures with me, and prayed in tongues.
Tongues?? Now, I was raised in a church where no one had mentioned ANYTHING like that, and I had gone to a youth group where a boy had told me that praying in tongues was from the devil. But somehow none of this concerned me at that moment. I had already tried everything else you know, so I just sat quietly as the lady beside me did some very loud, and very strange praying.
There a few things that really stick out to me about that day- one being that I forgave. I don't think I need to go into great detail here, since none of us can get through life without needing to forgive somebody. It is common to the human race: if you live on this planet, someone will sooner or later need your forgiveness. But that was one of the biggest things for me. That I truly, and completely forgave. That day, I received God as my Perfect Heavenly Father. It was great.
Another thing that stands out in my mind was a scripture given me: that if I would admit my sins to God, He would be faithful to forgive me, and to purge me of all unrighteousness. The lady who gave me the scripture asked: "Do you believe that God can heal you?" As I thought about this, a little light came on inside me, and I said "Yes"! I believed that God could do anything.
So I left the counselling feeling good, feeling lighter, but really nothing weird or noticeable had happened to me. I went home, and since I felt pretty happy, I put my son on my lap, and had Jed take a picture. I told Jed I felt happy, but he didn't put too much stock in it. He had lived with an emotional roller coaster for 2 years. My feeling happy wasn't enough to raise his eyebrows.
But the next day, I still felt good! And I didn't have a headache!
And the next day!
And the next day!
It scared me in a way, because it was so NEW! Like a wood duckling sitting on the edge of his tree home, contemplating the jump, I tried out my new found happiness, and found it to be quite secure. One week after the counselling, I told all the couples at our bible study: "I can't deny it anymore, God has healed me of my depression!"
I had a new lease on life now. The world had all been dark before, but now it seemed beautiful, and colored! Before, when I would drive Elijah to my mom's house, I would think about sending the car into the ditch, but now, I noticed how beautiful the sky was, and how BRIGHT it was outside!
When I was depressed, I had had devilish thoughts going through my mind, now I was having GOD thoughts!
How did this happen?? How could God of the Universe communicate with me?? Yet it seemed that He was!! He would "say" things like "The whole bible is true." And He would say things like "Stop listening to that music." And, "Read The Message for half and hour every morning."
I was doing other "weird" things. When I was depressed and Jed and I would argue, I would cry for hours; I would scream and throw things and threaten to leave him. Now, I would hold his hand, and ask him to pray with me. I prayed a lot now. And now, God was answering me! Before I felt like prayer was one sided, but now I could "hear" and I could "see".
When Jed and I saw what God was really capable of, we committed to never missing church again. Every Sunday I went, God would strip another layer of my bondage away, and I'm sure He was delivering me of demons as well.
Why demons? Do such things exist? I say, look at your own life. Are you totally convinced that every voice that has gone through your head is solely your own? As a healed woman, I became aware that those thoughts really weren't mine at all. I KNEW that I had been healed, but it wasn't very long before I noticed depressed or raging thoughts trying to come back into my mind. But now, I was strong! I had always been strong willed (especially before the depression) but now I was strong-God-willed too, and I was NOT going to lose the fight this time!! I asked Lydia what to do, and she said "Just reject those thoughts in the name of Jesus." I didn't really know what all that meant, but I trusted what she said, and I started doing that. When a memory of my old sinful lifestyle would pop up to condemn or torment me, I would say aloud "I reject that thought in Jesus' name!" When I was tempted to be angry at my son, or to feel sorry for myself I would say it again. Some days, I did it all day.
"Wow, that's a lot of work, I don't think I feel like doing that..." you say. But let me tell you, it was worth it! It gained me my life back!
Now, my body was CHANGING! It had been in severe depression and allergies for 2 years. Now, I was healing!! The very structure of my brain was changing! But in all of this, I would sometimes feel tired. I was doing a lot more now that I was well than I ever did depressed. For example, now I had to do filing for my husband's business. My mother in law had done it while I was depressed, but if I was well, then I ought to do it. Also, I was taking care of Elijah again, as well as being pregnant. Three months after my healing, Jed and I had decided to have another baby together. So I was busy, and those attacking thoughts kept becoming more frequent. One day I went out for a walk by myself (feeling very pressured by the constant onslaught of the tempting depressive thoughts) and I SCREAMED at nobody in particular "I am not crazy!!" And from that point on, the thoughts were gone. They didn't come back.
A baby you say? Isn't a baby how I got into this mess in the first place? Well no, I think the baby itself was unrelated, but Jed and I had decided after Elijah not to have anymore children. It would have been irresponsible, and ridiculous. But once I was healed, Jed and I had a new love for each other. It was totally supernatural, because before the prayer counselling I had no love for him at all. I didn't want to divorce (we had a child together) but I really had no feelings for him. After the prayer counselling (and I mean the very day), I LOVED Jed. No explaining it. It was a deep, and passionate, and committed love. Only God could have done it.
Now everywhere I went, I was seeing babies. I talked to Lydia about it, and asked her if she thought God might want me to have another baby. She said it might be so, and I really relied on Lydia's word. She was a trustworthy mentor, and so Jed and I discussed it. I got pregnant that very month.
This was a cause for concern for my extended family, as you can imagine. I had told them that God had healed me, but did they believe? Did they think those were just the words of a crazy woman? Would another birth send me spiraling into a black void of depression from which I would never emerge?
No. This pregnancy was different. Before I had tried to brush up on baby information, this time I went to my bible. I copied out pages of scriptures which I believed were God's promises to me to protect me, and to deliver me from evil and give me strength. I read those scriptures over and over again, and planned to take them to the hospital with me.
My delivery with Elijah had been scary, and hard. My delivery with Joshua was very different. This time I knew that there was a spiritual battle going on, and this time I was expecting God to win. There was a point in the delivery when I was in the shower, and I felt that the pain might be too much for me. I felt like saying "I can't do this!" But then something inside of me took over and said "YES I CAN!" And I prayed, got out of the shower, and made my way to the bed to deliver my son. After the birth, I held Joshua in my arms in awe. I could FEEL the presence of God wafting off of him, like I had felt it at the bible study that first time. Taking Elijah home from the hospital had been a time of terrible suffering and torment in my life (through no fault of Elijah), but where that first time had been full of defeat, this time was BEAUTIFUL. I had never felt so much love, so much happiness and pure joy as I did during that time. Giving birth to Joshua was one of the best experiences of my life.
Why? Because I had done it with God, and because I had won.

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