“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”
I have lived my entire life with bruises. Some external easily seen, and others deep within and only fully known to me.
As a small child, I remember being asked about my bruises, and for as long as I can remember my legs and arms have been covered with them.
It always seemed I was super sensitive to the slightest bump or scrape and it showed up on my skin in big black marks for the world to see. However, the bruises to my spirit were much worse and longer lasting.
I was also super sensitive internally as well externally. The slightest word or gesture could bruise my spirit just as badly as a fall down the stairs bruised my body.
As I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize the blows weren’t always slight and the reason the marks were so severe and long-lasting, was that they resonated with the messages I heard and believed about who I was.
For as long as I’ve been alive I’ve felt guilty, ashamed, unwanted, unlovable, and more, so whether it was a friend telling me I should never sing or a stepfather who often used words like bastard, idiot, or problem, every one left another big black mark on my spirit.
For more than thirty years I carried these marks like my scarlet letter, only I believed it was hidden from the world unlike the marks on my body. I didn’t think anyone could see the bruises on my soul, but I was so wrong.
Just like the scarlet letter, my soul bruises were so obvious to anyone who knew me. Finally, after all those years of trying to keep my scarlet letter hidden away, fatigue began to set in and I couldn’t keep my soul bruises hidden any longer.
The thing about hiding and running from them is that they don’t have a chance to heal and when they surface the pain is excruciating. Often when those bruises surface the intense pain causes you to inflict bruises on everyone near you.
Do you feel like you’re carrying a scarlet letter of soul bruises? Words and deeds that have been inflicted on you by others and by yourself that you have no idea how to heal. I’ve been there, so let me share what I’ve learned along the way. I wrote about it in my book Beauty Rising from Brokenness; Journey through Childhood Trauma to Chronic Illness into Healing.
A bruise whether internal or external is made worse by repeated blows. Have you ever fallen on the same place twice or more? The first blow hurts, but you get back up and keep going. However, if you hit that same spot again the pain intensifies and so does the mark that is left. That’s what happens with soul bruises. They usually aren’t allowed to heal before the next blow comes, therefore causing more pain and damage to the area.
At first, we might try with all our might to conceal the hurt then when we can no longer conceal it we try and patch it up. Finally, we are left with no choice but to admit its existence and do what it takes to heal it.
In 1999, after a very stressful Christmas in Texas at my mother and stepfather’s home, I crawled back home to Florida and tried to burry the hurt again. I was successful for a while and life went back to normal. I had gotten really good at patching up those marks on my soul and moving on with my life, but it resurfaced in the form of chronic illness. The years of being hurt and burying the pain surfaced as asthma, bronchitis, then chronic fatigue syndrome so severe, I couldn’t function or even take care of my family.
Another stint in Texas and I suffered more blows to my soul. I crawled back home to Massachusetts and retreated into a hole of deep dark depression. I begged God to reveal to me what I was to do and He did in the form of dreams.
The first dream was of people with no faces, they were stabbing me repeatedly, time and again inflicting wounds to my soul. I asked God to show me the meaning of this dream and the revelation was the faceless people were my birth family.
The soul bruises I had carried my entire life were inflicted by the very people who were supposed to love me most.
In the second dream I was walking on a beautiful path, which was winding itself through nature. After I had walked for a long time, the path came to a fork and I didn’t know which way to go, so I stood there frozen in fear of making the wrong choice.
The revelation was to walk with God on the right of the path, so that He could begin the work of healing me and moulding me into all He had created me to be.
The path to the left was lined with my birth family. If I chose this path and stayed in relationship with my family, I would never overcome the soul bruises to become everything God had intended.
Several years before, God had called me into ministry and it hadn’t been a difficult decision for me to surrender to the call. Little did I know the trials and tribulations that were to come, were in preparation for me to fulfil that calling. This was the first test of many to come.
After much soul searching and with much anguish I chose to walk the path with God which meant separating from my family to walk into my destiny.
God can’t heal your bruises if you’re still being hit and bruised repeatedly. Everything He heals and rebuilds will just get destroyed again by those who don’t and won’t understand what He is doing.
After many years of counselling and healing I was well on my way to fulfilling my calling, when the hardest blow of all came out of nowhere.
After a trip to Louisiana to visit family and friends we met my husband and his family for a reunion. My two younger children and I had driven to Louisiana for two weeks and we met my husband and oldest daughter in Kentucky, along with my husband’s parents, sisters, and their families for a long weekend camping. Everyone left that Friday morning headed our separate ways, after a wonderful time together.
Just fourth-five minutes from home towing our fully loaded camper, followed by our eighteen and sixteen year old daughters we hit heavy traffic and construction at the Michigan boarder. Six miles into Michigan the semi-truck in front of us stopped suddenly. Towing a fully loaded camper we were unable to stop.
I don’t remember much of what followed, but I do remember hearing screams and thinking it was our eleven-year old son in the back seat who I wanted desperately to get to, but I couldn’t move, and as the car filled with smoke, I didn’t know what to do.
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