By Amanda Niswander
The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.Isaiah 51:3 (NIV)
How do you surrender the wounds you never want to acknowledge or reveal? How do you move past trauma without ever verbalizing what happened to you? You simply cannot surrender if you are unwilling to recognize the pain. I know this all too well. In February 2019, a family member called to admit and apologize for the role they played in my childhood abuse. Everything in me wanted to deny and shove it back into the deep caverns of my mind and heart where it had resided for over 25 years, but it was time for that darkness to be revealed.
God knew I desperately craved freedom and was exhausted from attempting to reach it on my own. So, I had a choice to make: Keep wrestling with my shame and being a slave to my wounds, or dig into my painful memories with the hope that God would heal my heart.
Although terrified, I chose the latter. This decision saved my life, but it didn’t come without growing pains. It helped to picture myself tending a garden overgrown with weeds. Some weeds budded flowers that almost passed as desired blossoms, others had hidden thorns, and some had deep roots that were really hard to pull up. At times, I worried that only weeds would ever grow here. But I kept going, digging deeper to clear the way for new life— and finally, I’m seeing the garden blossom again with bright pink petunias and vibrant yellow zinnias, flowers and colors I love.
When we acknowledge the pain in our lives and allow ourselves to dig into where it originated, we create room for growth. Isaiah 51:3 NIV says “...He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.” Dear friend, God promises to help pull all those weeds with you. You do not have to do this alone anymore.
- I encourage you to tell your story because shame thrives in silence. Find a trusted friend, a mentor, or a licensed therapist.
- Acknowledge and grieve what has happened to you. Honor your emotions and know that no emotion is too big for God.
- Tell yourself that what happened does not define you.
- Talk to God. Ask him to give you the courage to keep digging. He already knows what you will find because he has gone before you and will light the path that leads to him.