Last Friday I had a friend pray over me. She and I have been talking for a while about the struggles of life and the spiritual battlefield. She told me her story and she is helping me grow and understand more.
This weekend Tanner and I went on the youth group Beach Retreat. On our way there I was sitting there thinking and, for some reason, my mind wandered back to elementary school. I had this insane realization.
I was baptized just after I turned 8. I remember talking to my parents about it on the way to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and them offering to pull over and find some water right then. I remember telling them that I could wait until we attended church that Sunday (which ever one we decided to attend in Arkansas). I remember that day being so excited, not realizing when the invitation song was sung, and thus being very distraught when service was over. I remember my dad explaining it to me and going forward to the preacher anyway so that I could. I remember the smile on my face and my dad's strong and stead hand on my back. I remember my feet coming off the ground a little and how I mentally freaked out a little while I was under the water, scared I was going to fall. I remember all the hugs and the older ladies asking if I would like to partake in the Lord's Supper, them bringing it to me. I remember the love and the joy on that day.
Little did I know, I stepped prominently onto battlefield at the moment I came up from the water.
In the fall, I started 3rd grade at a new school. I sat by a girl who talked to me and became a friend. Unbeknownst to me, Satan would use that friendship against me. That year and the two after (3rd - 5th) were filled with torment. I was bullied and torn down. My grandpa got sick and died and I felt guilty that the last time I was at his house I threw up on his floor. And when I was sad because he was sick and I told my friend, she tried to one up me saying that she had bruises on her bottom from being whipped. I learned to keep my mouth shut because it felt like no one cared.
I left Elementary School wounded, scared, and guarded.
Time after time Satan used my friends to wound and scar me. I built up walls to guard my heart, determined to not get hurt again, yet desperately desired for someone to break past them and take care of my heart. I became shy, broken, and reserved.
I didn't realize that those walls would hinder my relationship with my mom, my dad, my sister, and ultimately my heavenly Father. 14 years later I am still battling those walls and the fear that came with those wounds. I struggle with letting people in. It is only by God's power that my wonderful husband, Tanner, made it past those walls.
This realization made my jaw drop and my eyes widen. For the first time, I saw the battlefield. I had this thought of wishing someone had taught me how to put on the armor of God instead of just about it.
So, this weekend I opened myself to God. I wanted to break the walls down, but I knew I needed his help. I knew it would only be through Him that I would find healing. During our time of silence the first day I mentally said, "Here I am, Lord. Use me."
That night, the speaker, Mark, invited us to once again take a breath and just listen. Again, I said mentally, "Here I am, Lord. Use me." I was sitting there just listening when I heard a not quite audible voice, but it was distinctly, "You are beautiful, my child." Tears shot to my eyes and I reeled mentally for a moment. Had I really heard something? Did I just make it up? But I remembered my friends story and how she had heard something before too. So, I accepted it, blinking back tears.
When Mark started talking, he showed pictures of a groom seeing his bride for the first time on their wedding day. He made the point that this is how God sees us. He is our groom and we are so beautiful to him. Of course, I started crying because it was so beautiful. (Though when he first started showing the pictures I had a brief moment of wishing I had the picture I thought I was getting of Tanner seeing me. And then I remembered what my mom had described and an image came into my head and I was really happy. Note: I couldn't see the whole way down the aisle due to my contacts.)
When Mark stopped talking, there was a silence to let everything soak in. So, I sat, lifted my head up to the sky, and once again said, "Here I am, Lord. Send me." I didn't hear anything and so I just went into praise. "You are my God. You are my Savior, the Lover of my soul." In the middle of a praise, I was cut off. "I am here. I have always been here. Seek and you will find." Then I felt something. It was like arms were wrapped around me, but not just my body, my heart. I felt free and joyful. Tears streamed down my face. God was with me. He was here and he wasn't going to leave me. I wanted to hug anyone who got near even if I didn't know them (I didn't).
I also got this image in my head. At first I was kneeling down at His throne in Sparta like warrior garb. But then, it was like He lifted me up and I was as His side dressed in a white Grecian style dress with the floor-length style skirt, it was sleeveless but had thick, tank-top like, graceful sleeves. The top was silver in that it was like armor. I had on the classic tall, Roman, sandals. It was beautiful. I was not just a warrior, but a warrior princess.
I got to talk to Tanner about it and he said something along the lines of that God was showing me that He had been with me all along, through all of the hurt. Tanner held me as I cried some more, grieving the time I spent breaking God's heart in my search for healing as I built my walls, distancing myself and then wondering where He was.
Every morning, now, I try to make time to pray and listen. I make sure to arm myself, and every time I pray on the armor of God I see that image I did Saturday night, the warrior princess.
I pray that you will find peace in Him and that you will find your healing in Him. For God is with you and no one can be against you. God has already won the war.