This week we will begin to dive into the concept of love and some of the reasons we struggle with trusting God because of our damaged spirits. The next few weeks the writing for our blog will be taken from the chapter Damaged Spirits from my book Healing for our Soul Gardens. In order to embrace God’s love we need to understand why we struggle to trust and accept God’s love. Although my experience is of sexual abuse, our concept of love can be damaged from various life experiences. I look forward to hearing from you all your thoughts on this topic over the next few weeks.
(Excerpts from Healing for our Soul Gardens, written by Kristin Clouse, copyright 2017 by Kristin Clouse. All rights reserved.)
The first time I ever heard about Jesus was in the fifth grade. I remember sitting in the VFW Hall a block away from our school where we were listening to two older ladies (now they don’t seem so old to me), share with me and others in the room about the love God has for us all. As the women spoke, I looked around the room at the faces of my friends and thought about the different things going on in their lives. I thought, That is so wonderful that God loves them; they really need that. Never did the thought occur to me about God loving me; I only thought of my friends. I couldn’t understand or accept that love for myself, but I was oh so happy for my friends that God loved them.
At the end of the service, one of the women came and sat next to me. She gently asked me if I knew how much God loved me. I still remember my words back to her: “Oh, God doesn’t love me, but I’m so happy for my friends here. They really needed to hear that.” She replied, “God loves you, too.” I wasn’t able to absorb the thought that I was worthy of love or that I was lovable by anyone. So I stayed with my opinion that the love of God they were speaking about did not include me, but God loved everyone else in the room. I truly believed this thought, and there was no changing my mind. In fact, for years this was what I believed, but our God is loving and patient. He continued to show His love for me, and slowly I began to realize and accept that I was lovable, but I’m getting ahead of myself!
U N L O V A B L E
Many things happened in my life in fifth grade. I had my first boyfriend, which lasted but a few weeks. My family had moved to town when I was in fourth grade, and there was a time of adjustment, but by the fifth grade, I had a group of friends. I experienced bullying for the first time because of the boyfriend. I dislocated my thumb playing tetherball, was the fastest female runner in my grade, and school was my favorite place to be. There were many wonderful memories about that time, and then there were the not-so-wonderful memories. I was introduced to a world that children my age weren’t meant to know about. This was the year that two of my older neighborhood friends pulled me into their secret world of sexual abuse. I began to learn the lesson that love and acceptance involved sex. Thus, my distorted view of love was developed. My actions in the years to follow were through my desire to have love and acceptance, and my belief was that sex was how one truly felt loved.
These past few months, I’ve been focusing, studying, digging, and waiting on God for this chapter about our damaged spirits. In fact, this chapter has taken longer than any other to write. It speaks to me of the importance of being guided by the Holy Spirit in what I say.
A spirit becomes damaged by more than what we experience; however, what we experience creates such damage that it is difficult, if not impossible, to find our healing without God. I venture to say that most of us are damaged. Let me explain and refresh what we read earlier. The things I have gone through affect my perception of those around me, of life experiences, and of my opinions of others. My filters are not clean. This is due to living in a sin-filled world. Then abuse comes into my life. My perceptions are further damaged. More things have come in to clog the filter from which I view life. All experiences go through this filter. Thus, there is more damage to my spirit because of life experiences.
The greatest damage coming to us is our perception of love.
As you read the previous sentence, maybe your thoughts immediately went to, But you don’t know what I’ve been through. How could you say the greatest damage is my perception of love? What about what happened to me: the abuse, the pain, the suffering, and the memories?
I realize your pain is real and your memories can be overwhelming, but please understand it is our concept of love, our ability to love and be loved, that is damaged the most by the abuse. This is the core of the damage to our spirit: our concept and perception of love.
Join us next week for Part 2.
Thoughts to Ponder:
- What experiences can you recall that have damaged your love concept?
- As a child did you feel lovable or unlovable? Explain why?
- Do you struggle to trust God? If so, it what ways?
For more information on Healing for our Soul Gardens book click this link: https://restore-retreats.org/product/healing-for-our-soul-gardens-book/
Kristin Clouse, a sexual abuse survivor, shares her story, her faith, and her professional experience as a licensed counselor, to walk with women through their healing process. Her story is one of redemption and restoration through Jesus. Kristin is an author, counselor, speaker, and mentor to women. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She is the founder of The Restore Movement, which walks with women in their broken seasons into freedom and healing through bible studies, online communities, resources and conferences. Kristin is available to speak for your retreat or conference. For more information – www.KristinClouse.com and www.TheRestoreMovement.com.