Cindy’s Story

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.

Inner Healing Testimony

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How Trauma Settles in Our Bodies and Emotions

Trauma affects mind, body, and spirit. Trauma locks itself into our bodies.

I discern things in my body. Often, I can relate pain to circumstances.

One time, I was pushed onto my back. For years, whenever I experienced something similar, I immediately felt pain in my back.

When I asked the Lord, He showed me I had locked fear into my back from that first experience. I was still carrying it. Every new trauma triggered that pain.

So I prayed to release the trauma. I don’t have trouble with my back anymore. If I do feel back pain, I know I need to check spiritually how I’m doing.

Often we manifest physically what we are carrying spiritually.

Like grief – it often settles in the lungs. A friend went through several funerals, just a few weeks apart. She started experiencing respiratory problems. Her body was compromised as she was walking through grief.

Another friend developed chronic respiratory problems after her father died suddenly. He died in the autumn, and every autumn she experienced respiratory problems. Grieving is a process, a gift God gives us to work through our pain and loss. But if we know the ways we are carrying grief in our bodies, we can ask God to lift that.

When we don’t resolve our trauma, it can build over time.

Think about a person who experienced childhood trauma. She never found healing for it. As an adult, she experienced other traumatic events, whether physical or emotional. Again, the trauma wasn’t resolved. So it just builds up.

One day, the slightest thing goes wrong – maybe she misplaces her car keys – and she has a complete meltdown. She feels overwhelmed, like she can’t handle one more thing. Her overwhelm isn’t really about misplaced car keys. It’s going back and picking up all that unhealed trauma.

We have to invite the Prince of Peace, Jesus, into those old places of trauma. He is able to lift out the trauma and replace it with peace, so we don’t keep carrying it and constantly feeling overwhelmed.

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God’s Not Going Away

A guest post by Janet Eriksson …

About 10 years ago, I took an inner healing class where I learned that the way we see God as adults can be shaped by the way we saw our parents or primary caregivers in childhood.

Parents Can Affect the Way We See God

For example, if a parent abused me, I might expect (in my heart) that God will abuse me somehow. Even though I say, “God is good,” I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I never quite trust Him.

This expectation can be very subtle. My heart may hold onto a hidden belief that God is against me. I keep seeing evidence of that expectation, even though I say out loud, “God is good.”

As another example, if a parent wasn’t around much in my childhood or didn’t spend time with me, I might expect the same from God. So I struggle to sense His presence. I don’t expect God to show up when I need Him most. I try to take care of myself instead.

Or if a parent didn’t seem interested in anything I had to say as a child, I might conclude God isn’t interested either. My prayer life suffers because even though I talk to God, I don’t really believe He wants to hear from me. Mom or Dad modeled that for me.

Because these expectations are often hidden in the heart, I don’t realize I’m seeing God in this skewed way. But if I start to explore these areas where I struggle in my relationship with God, the Holy Spirit will bring to mind those childhood experiences that affect how I see God.

As I learned about these kinds of situations in that inner healing class, the examples made sense to me. So I asked God how my parents might have affected the way I see Him. I was shocked at what God showed me.

Why I Feared God Would Die

My dad died suddenly when I was only 15. It was a terrible trauma for me. I had been locked into that trauma for 27 years. I couldn’t even talk about my dad or think about him. Memories of the event and memories of my life with him were shoved into a closet in my mind, with the door bolted. I avoided the subject of death. When people talked about someone who died, I grew very uncomfortable and left the room. 

When I asked how that affected my relationship with God, He showed me that I also thought God would die and abandon me forever. I thought when it came my time to die and go to heaven, God would already be gone. No wonder I was terrified of death.

Inviting Jesus into that Place of Trauma and Death

My prayer minister and I invited Jesus into the place in my heart where I was stuck in trauma. I felt like Jesus understood my shock and grief. He wept with me, and He lifted the trauma off of me. Jesus showed me He was there with me when my dad died. I could literally see the memory of the paramedics taking away my dad, but Jesus was still standing there with me, holding onto me, and He never left me.

As suddenly as my dad had died, that’s how sudden the peace was that filled my heart. I could breathe again. I felt joy instead of sorrow because I knew my dad was absolutely alive – still the vibrant and fun-loving person I remembered. He wasn’t lying in the ground somewhere. He was hanging out with Jesus. And finally I knew, with my whole heart, Jesus would stay with me too. He wasn’t going anywhere!

I repented for judging God – for believing the lie that He would die and leave me – and for not really believing He was eternal. That unbelief had been hidden in my heart. I always said God was eternal, but in my heart I didn’t believe it. That’s why I struggled so much around “death.” The truth I spoke with my lips – that Jesus gives eternal life – was not what I held in my heart. You can see where that creates a constant struggle.

Thanks to Jesus, a Lot Has Changed

Since that time, so much has changed. I’m able to talk about death and able to mourn with people when they lose someone they love. My wonderful memories of my dad have returned. I can talk about him with my family and can see the ways I resemble him (my sense of humor, especially). I have found old photos and set them around my home (where before, I only set out photos of my mom).

This Christmas, as a special treat, my sister showed a DVD she had made from old home movies. For the first time, I got to see my dad in his younger years, before I was born. I loved every minute of watching him and have asked for a copy of the DVD so I can watch again. I never could have done that without the healing Jesus brought into my trauma.

inner healing
God’s Not Going Away!

*****

Janet Eriksson is a prayer minister, writer, editor, and teacher in Dahlonega, Georgia. She loves conversation with friends, front porch swings, sweet tea, and spending time on lakes and rivers. The author of five books and editor of many more, Janet blogs and teaches online at https://adventureswithgod.blog/

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Exchanging Trauma for Peace

Trauma affects mind, body, and spirit. Trauma can lock itself into our bodies. As adults, we can carry unresolved trauma from earlier in our lives. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He wants us to invite Him into our hearts, where we’ve carried trauma. So He can redeem, restore, and bring peace.

I used to have flashbacks of traumatic moments. When I was a child, we lived just off the main corridor highway leading from a prison. Often, when the prisoners would escape, they would run the railroad tracks, connect to our road, and then get on the four-lane to get out of town. Prisoners would come through our yard and snatch the clothes off our line.

So at night, I would hear the sirens go off and I would cower in the corner. Can you imagine the trauma?

Years later, as an adult, I would have flashbacks of me cowering in a corner. I didn’t understand at first, but those were hints the Holy Spirit was giving me, of places that were still unhealed in my heart.

While I didn’t immediately connect those flashbacks with the prisoners coming through our yard, I knew not to discount the images I was seeing. Instead, I brought them before the Lord and said, “Lord, why did You show me that?”

When I realized where the trauma had come from, I was able to go back to the Lord and say, “Lord, I can see that image of myself. Where were You?” And I could see Him with me in that scene now, protecting me.

He brings those things to our remembrance for a reason. Not to scare us and not to make us angry about the circumstances – angry at parents who didn’t comfort us, or at people who didn’t know how to respond as our little hearts needed.

Instead, the Lord brings these moments to mind, to give us an opportunity to recognize that He never left us and never forsook us.

For some people, the trauma comes from violence. Or maybe a car accident. A death of a loved one. All those things are traumatic. Just imagine seeing those things from the eyes of a child. Children don’t know how to process traumatic events without help. Often, adults don’t realize how something traumatic has affected a child.

I remember growing up, we had family friends that lived in a funeral home, go figure. One of the kids locked me in the coffin room. I was probably five. So here I was, looking at all these coffins. I was scared to death, almost, no pun intended. But imagine. That was a trauma for me.

Think about things children go through, that they aren’t capable of processing. How might a child respond to hearing prisoners in the yard at night? Cowering in fear. Locking fear into her body. Believing a lie that she was never safe at night. Or that things would always go wrong. Closing off part of her heart. Resolving to take care of herself, or to not need help. All these responses, out of self-preservation, set patterns in motion that affect our lives.

Most of us didn’t have somebody that said, “I know you’re afraid. I know you’re scared.” Somebody that would have pulled us close and prayed the presence of the Lord over us, or prayed trauma off of us. Most adults don’t know to do that.

So those are the things the Lord wants to redeem in us. He invites us to sit in His presence, and allow Him to redeem, restore … bring us back to right order. He does this for the sake of our own identity and for the sake of us being able to live in a Sabbath rest. That’s His best for us: that we live in a place of rest.

He wants to exchange our trauma for His peace.

 

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Gory to Glory

I have epiphanies in the shower. I don’t know why they happen in the shower but I am thankful that I take lots of showers. This morning the Lord showed me the importance of living our life in Christ.

I deal often with folks who have, because of trauma, separated from themselves (in one way or another) as a means of dealing with the pain. By the Lord’s leading and their free will we can lead those folks to reconnect with whatever part of themselves they have locked away because of pain. (Is. 61).

One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Cor. 3-16. Which basically says “We become what we behold.”

(Behold means to magnify.) If I am beholding myself and/or the trauma that was inflicted on or against me, then I become locked in that trauma. BUT, if I behold the face of Christ in those circumstances, no matter what happens, I can stand. I am hidden in Christ. Prayer allows us to invite Christ to show Himself in that trauma. Once we behold Christ in our trauma we can release it. Once released, the trauma (and the enemy) loses power.

Scripture says that the earth is waiting for us to turn to righteousness in becoming the sons (and daughters) of God. I encourage you today to stop looking at your pain and start looking for Christ in your pain. Christ is the key that moves us from “gory to Glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18).

 

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