A guest post by Cindy Caldwell …
I was the firstborn in my family of four children. My parents believed in God. My mother grew up going to a Baptist church. I am not sure if my dad went to church growing up. When I was a small child, they took us to a Baptist church where we heard about Jesus. God was not talked about in the home, and I don’t remember my parents praying with me or reading the Bible. The mindset in those days seemed to be that spiritual teaching came from the church. It was more of something you believed with your mind, rather than a personal relationship with God.
As a 12-year-old, I responded to an altar call during a Sunday service. I walked to the front, shook the pastor’s hand, and filled out some information. After that, I was baptized, but no one taught me how to read my Bible and pray, or how to have a relationship with God. I believed in God, so I always prayed in times of trouble or when I was afraid.
At age 14, I went forward again at the end of a church service to “rededicate my life to Christ,” determined that I wanted to be “good.” Again, no one taught me or helped me grow as a Christian. My own efforts were not enough to keep me from the temptations I would face as a teenager, temptations to drink and get into relationships with boys. There was nothing to keep me from following those sinful desires.
There was also a void in my heart because my parents did not raise me with physical affection. Not being raised with affection themselves, they did not know how to show it. My dad also went through a few years of being an alcoholic, which created a lot of stress and problems in the family. There were times of anger and rage that caused me to be very afraid as a young child. His own mother had a strong temper and would rage, so he learned a pattern of behavior from her. The lashings with a belt were very painful and scary.
It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized how those early childhood traumas wounded me and formed my view of God. Our view of God can be affected by the example of our earthly dad and how he treated us. Because love and affection were lacking at home, I was more susceptible to boys giving me affection which led to sexual sins. I also began to drink, and in the 11th grade began to smoke pot. By the end of my senior year, I was smoking pot almost daily. Getting high and listening to music were my escape from reality.
My cousin Susan had gotten saved and would come to visit me and talk to me about Jesus. I would cry and tell her that I knew I needed to give my life to Him, but I didn’t have any Christian friends. At that time I wasn’t willing to leave all of my partying friends and be alone – or what I thought would be alone.
Shortly after high school graduation, there was a Crusade for Christ on a baseball field in Cantonment. It happened to be right down the street from my boyfriend’s house, where I would hang out. One afternoon a guy I knew in high school that had gotten saved came to my boyfriend’s house. He asked us to go to the meeting that night. We both went – surprisingly! I remember the evangelist preached about hell from the Bible. I left that night with an awareness that I was going to hell, if I did not give my life to Jesus. I was determined to go back the next night.
I don’t remember anything the preacher said that second night. I just couldn’t wait for the end of the service, so I could go forward and give my life to Jesus. When that time came, I hurried forward and a girl (Kathy Davis) prayed with me, as we went down on our knees on that baseball field. I cried and surrendered my life to Jesus. My boyfriend went forward also, but the commitment did not last with him.
On my way home, I threw my cigarettes out of the car window. I stopped drinking and smoking pot. I had fallen in love with Jesus, and He gave me a peace that nothing in the world can give. After that, I tried going to a couple of parties to witness to my friends, but they were not interested. I began going to a small home church that had a group of teens and young adults. I left all my old friends and was often alone, except for going to church.
The crusade meeting where I gave my life to the Lord was in July of 1972. I was to leave for college in August – only a few weeks away. My parents had already paid my tuition at Florida State University, and I did not know that I should pray about going. The co-ed dorm was a party atmosphere. Although I went to a couple of prayer meetings at someone’s home, and tried to tell people I met in the dorm that I was a “Jesus freak” now, I had no strength to stand against temptation. I backslid for about four weeks, and then called my pastor’s wife at the little home church in Pensacola. She said it would be best for me to come back home. I called my parents, and they were gracious in letting me come home after they had paid all of that money.
In Pensacola I enrolled in Liberty Bible College, a small Bible college that helped me get grounded in my faith. At night, I would just lie on my waterbed and read the Word, and I had to memorize a lot of scriptures to pass the tests. The teachers were like pastors, very loving and kind as they taught the Bible to me. I loved going to classes there. It was a wonderful time of growth. I had traded the addictions of drugs and alcohol for a relationship with Jesus that brought true peace and purpose for my life. I never went back to those addictions – God truly set me free. When my parents saw the dramatic change in my life, they began to desire a closer walk with God. Within a year after I got saved, they began visiting the church I was attending.
Now, on to my story of emotional healing. The year after I got saved, I started dating Mike. We were going to the same home church, and he was also taking classes at Liberty Bible College. We dated less than a year, and then got married. Our life was centered around our little church – going to meetings on Sunday mornings and evenings, Wednesday evenings, and Bible Study on Friday evenings. We had a genuine relationship with the Lord and were nurtured in our faith at that church.
We had our first child, Amy, after we were married three-and-a-half years. When Amy was five, we moved to Ocala, Florida, where we started a small church that met in our home. It was a branch off of the church in Pensacola. Eight years later, we had our second child, Michael. A few years later we hit a rough spot in our marriage. We got some counseling from an older couple that helped us immensely.
Our third child, Emily, arrived eight years after Michael. A year after Emily was born, we moved back to Pensacola. After we attended Liberty Church for about two years, the Brownsville Revival broke out, and we went there for about 10 years. The years of revival were an awesome time, but after about three years I had a panic attack on Christmas Day and ended up in the hospital for a week. I went into a deep depression for three years, and was on and off medications, trying to find one to help.
During that time, I went to counseling with Barbara Stephens, who taught classes on emotional healing. In my first class, she taught on the wounding that can happen when we don’t receive affection from our earthly father. I began to cry and could not stop. God revealed to me that day why I had such a deep root of insecurity in my life.
My doctor, who put me on an anti-depressant, required me to go to counseling once a week. Those two years of counseling were really a godsend, because the Lord had connected me with Barbara, who had a ministry of emotional healing. It was a long road, with many helps along the way. Another help was Joyce Meyer’s book, Beauty for Ashes, and her teachings on emotional healing.
During the three years I battled depression, my dad began hugging me. One day he came over to my house, and gave me a big bear hug and said, “There! Now you can take that to the bank!” He also told me how bad he felt for some of the ways he took out his frustrations and anger on me. He told me he was sorry.
I still struggled with fear, worry, and insecurity until I went to a retreat last April (2019) in Georgia. They taught on emotional healing, and I had prayer ministry every day for one week. It was a very intense week, but God did a lot of healing and showed me the roots of my fears. I saw how my view of God was formed very early through trauma and some abuse. To be clear, I was not sexually abused. As I worked through these issues, and forgave my parents, myself, and God, I have come to a much deeper peace, and I am not struggling with worry and insecurity now.
For all those years, I was a Christian and loved God. I tried really hard to do everything “right.” I homeschooled my children, and I do believe God led me to do that. So why was I insecure, fearful, negative, and moody? Because of my emotional wounds, situations could trigger insecurity and worry, and I seemed powerless to overcome those emotions. I had to have those wounds healed.
I think most Christians have some wounds from childhood (or wounding as an adult) that need healing. Sometimes we hit a rough spot or something will trigger those wounds. When there is an emotional response (anger, depression, fear, etc.) that seems out of the ordinary or over the top, many times it is a reaction to the wounding. God can use those times to get our attention to seek Him, and He can reveal the root and lead us to emotional healing.
Now that God has healed a lot of these wounds, I have a truer sense that God really loves me, and I am not against myself. When we are against ourselves, or down on ourselves, we lack peace. We are always striving to please God, and this showed up in me with performance and trying to be perfect. I now can have a relationship with God from a place of rest. I am still in process, and I think we will always be while on this earth, but I have much more peace and freedom. God has connected me to a community of people, through Transformations, that He is using to help me grow and continue to heal. Having a support group is so important. We are not meant to do life alone.
I am thankful there is no wound too deep, no trauma too bad that God cannot heal. Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free.
Cindy Caldwell lives with her husband of 46 years in Pensacola, Florida. They have 3 married children and 4 grandchildren. She enjoys spending unhurried time with the Lord, reading spiritual growth books, and having conversations of the heart with a friend. She also loves growing flowers, dancing, and playing with her grandchildren.