Psalm 138: 3
When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
Handing me a thick blue AA book, my brother suggested it was time for me to do some healing work. Recently discovering information about adult children of alcoholics led him to discover that our dad was an alcoholic. He found that children who have a parent with alcoholism have a tendency to take on unhealthy roles. The hero role resonated with him and if he found himself there, more than likely I was there as well. A bit of research led me to the label describing the role I took, the lost child.
Wholeness was calling and I very eagerly started on the journey! Along the way, God provided opportunities for me to see what my upbringing set the stage for. Not knowing who I was and never feeling good enough, I was always striving to be satisfied. The next 20+ years were spent traveling on a journey back to myself. Who is this little girl, Dee Dee, formed so many years ago in my mother’s womb and why does she feel like she does about herself? These questions soon found their way into my thinking. They were significantly different from, “Would somebody please tell me I’m OK?” I felt like a weak little girl who nobody really knew and who was extremely unsure, inadequate and internally unhappy. How could I love God so deeply and find myself being so unkind to me?
God opened up several opportunities for me to do this exploratory work. The first started at my church where a close friend told me she was leading something new at Keys to Living called a Reconstruction class and wondered if I would I like to be one of the three participants for this first round! Always eager and excited to learn about myself, I enthusiastically agreed to join up. My brother, after learning about the format told me that he thought it looked like I was learning to swim by jumping in the deep end! Yes, I was serious.
I started this work when our boys were small, we were in the midst of adoption work, my husband was extremely busy in the start up of his manufacturing business and I really didn’t know what I was doing – in parenting, being a wife or in loving myself! But…I learned so much during the six-week class. I did make connections toward understanding more of why I felt the way I did. Images from those classes stay with me still; they were so enlightening and informative.
But…I continued to feel that I was not OK. Through the reconstruction class I understood why I would feel like I did but I really didn’t know how to change it. How do I think differently? Can I like myself? Wouldn’t it be better if I were just someone else…someone thinner, smarter, more organized, of more worth to the world? How do I get rid of these strong feelings of inadequacy? What do I do with these unhealthy patterns of thinking?
Enter House of Hope. I was talking with a friend who knew me well. She suggested that perhaps I might like to call House of Hope and register for a class called Christ-Life. It might shed a bit of light for me. So, always eager for the opportunity to grow, I called and asked to join a class.
So I participated in a Phase One class. That got me started in understanding what House of Hope had to offer. Later I volunteered to mentor a few women who were currently going through the class. Then this position opened up on staff to be the Mentoring Director where I set up mentors for Phase One class participants. Later I was asked to be the Director of Christ Life, Phase One. This led to my overseeing all three phases of The Ultimate Journey. And what a journey this has been!
Phase One has enabled me to see that little Dee Dee had been a very loved and protected child in a family full of people with “issues” that were extremely unhealthy and sorrowful. Things like alcoholism, infidelity, co-dependency, loneliness, grief and unhealthy patterns were rampant around me but in love and protection, all was kept from this little youngest child in the family. I grew in love but with much loss and unspoken stress. Not only did Phase One inform me of why I felt the way I did, it opened up a way back to myself. In shame and lack of confidence I had pushed the real me away! She needed me to be on her side – her advocate, her grace giver, her best friend and to take her out of hiding.
With this understanding I came to know more fully what Jesus did and does for me. His unconditional love and complete knowing is something I could only partially receive. If he loves me like this, how can I not love myself?
That was the missing link. Knowledge is good and information is essential. But they are limiting. The journey back to self was the key that enabled me to realize change. This took the information from my head into my heart, my experience, my own truth. But it is not a journey over night. This is my life long quest. To honor Jesus by loving him and the me he created so carefully in the life he has chosen to give me. I give back to him in thankfulness and by being satisfied for that which he has given me. This is the love that is freed up to overflow to others.
I didn’t even know I had permission to love myself. I didn’t know I could love Jesus by honoring who He has designed me to be. I can only bow in thankfulness for the grace He has given in teaching me this missing piece to peace.
Long ago God heard my cry for help. He led me carefully and quietly on a path toward Himself. He made me brave, bold, and stouthearted because I trust Him. No longer in the way, He has set me free to worship, listen to, and enjoy Him. This relationship with him fuels my desire and my reason to reach out and love others.
Thank you, House of Hope for the opportunities you presented me to grow in my faith, love and joy. I will be eternally thankful for all that has happened in my heart as a result of being a part of this community.
Blog from the desk of Deane Watters