WARNING: This post may contain graphic or disturbing content… If you struggle with cutting, or are sensitive to the graphic description of cutting, do not read this post. The intent is to create awareness in the body of Christ, of a struggle that is relatively common, and tragically hidden, because of fear of judgement. Healing comes when silence is broken.
Sitting with Abigail in my car, seeing her deep bondage, and knowing her desperate desire to be free, I felt compelled to fight for her, even if it meant getting some backlash. Even if it meant taking on the enemy alone, where I would typically work with a team.
I explained that there is power in the name of Jesus, and we have authority to command the enemy to be silent. “Would it be okay if I did that? I promise it won’t be anything wonky, or loud or frightening. I will calmly and quietly tell him to leave.”
Abigail said I could, so I began to pray, and speak into the darkness…..
I spoke with gentle confidence, quietly and calmly commanding the enemy to leave, in the name of Jesus, to take his hands off of Abigail, to stop tormenting her mind with lies, and get out of my car. I asked God to protect Abigail and speak truth over her–I spoke His truth against the lies in her mind–and invited Jesus to be with us.
When I finished praying, we listened to worship music and, with time, I asked her, “What are the voices saying now?”
“One is getting quieter,” she said.
I cheered, quietly, and waited, as the worship music continued. At length I asked her if she was ready to pray. She said she was, so I explained how it would work, and that there would be no surprises. Knowing that she had not been able to pray much, if at all, for many years, I said I would lead her in prayer, and she could repeat it after me. I would pray only about the things we discussed, and I wouldn’t do anything strange, just a gentle prayer of confession, repentance and invitation, asking Jesus to take the place of those blades, and fill her life again.
In a previous session Abigail had told me she doesn’t believe that Jesus died for her. She believed He died for the world, but struggled to grasp that He did that for her. Unbelief in this area, from encounters I’ve had, is often comes from a feeling of worthlessness, brought on by negative life experience. But believing that Jesus died for me, personally, and you, personally, is the core of salvation, so I spoke into that lie one more time.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked.
“Yes,” Abigail said.
“Do you believe Jesus is God’s son?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said again.
“Do you believe that Jesus died for you?” I asked.
“I believe He died for the world, but not for me,” she said.
“If you believe in God, and you believe in Jesus, then is the Word of God true?” I asked.
“Yes,” she answered.
“And if the Word of God says that Jesus died for you too, then is that true?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Do you believe that Jesus died for you, Abigail?” I asked again.
“Yes,” she said.
Lies run deep, and the only way to overcome their power is by replacing them with truth. And if it takes a thousand times, then I am willing to ask the questions as often as it takes for the truth to pentrate.
I explained to Abigail that the prayer would be one of repentance, as well as asking Jesus to take the place of the blades, and giving God His rightful place in her heart in life. When she was ready, I began….
“Heavenly Father…. ” I said, then, after speaking only a sentence, I paused, waiting for her to repeat after me.
Silence. More silence. I peeked. Abigail’s big brown eyes were wide open, staring at me.
I smiled. Maybe she misunderstood…
“Can you pray and repeat after me?” I asked.
“Not to ‘Father’,” she said, matter-of-factly.
It was at that moment I realized what I had done, without even thinking to talk with her about God as her Heavenly Father. In Abigail’s mind, associating God with ‘father’, created an unsafe connection, immediately shutting her down, allowing fear, condemnation and oppression to overtake her.
“I’m sorry, Abigail,” I said, “I didn’t even think about it. I can lead you in prayer without addressing Him as Father, but if I leave it there, I do you a grave injustice.”
I took some time to tell Abigail about God, as Papa–our ‘Abba Father’–and explain that when our earthly fathers fail us, God is our protector. He is the one who carries us through the trauma of what is done to us. He is our shield, our warrior.
I took the ‘big picture’ approach, and showed her how God shows Himself as a ‘Warrior Father’ to His children, His people, throughout the entire Old Testament Story. If anyone messed with His children, God rose to their defence. When they wandered into captivity, He let them run themselves into some dark places, but always He fought for them, and offered redemption.
“You need Him, as your Heavenly Father, the Warrior who fights for you, Abigail,” I said. “To not take you there would be to rob you of His protection, and leave you vulnerable.” When we understand God as our protector, we learn to fall on Him, rather than fight our own battles. And if Abigail was to win this, it would not be on her own strength.
I asked Abigail if I could pray and ask Jesus to reveal the heart of the Father to her, to lead her to Him, to be the mediator and ask Him to reveal His incredible love and acceptance. Instead of asking her to address Him as Father, or falling back on intellectual acceptance, I would pray on her behalf, standing in the gap for her pain, and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work. She agreed, and I again started to pray.
Abigail prayed after me, speaking truth over the lies, repenting, confessing Jesus as her Saviour, and asking Him to fill her life again. It was a moment of victory, a moment of triumph.
I handed her my Bible. “You’re going to need this,” I told her. “Find places I’ve underlined, or just hold it when you’re struggling.” I assured her that God will continue to heal her and, with time, she will be able to read and understand the Word of God. I remember well how hard it was, to a time, and also know how much I love the Bible now.
In the wee hours of the morning, I hugged Abigail good night, after hours and hours of battle.
It was a night well spent, on the heels of an amazing retreat with the women from Milverton Mennonite Church. I should have been too exhausted to fight, having lost sleep in the days leading up to that night but, instead, I felt exhilarated and ‘alive’, doing exactly what God created me for–worshipping Him, and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ that breaks chains of addiction, religion, sin, and every other bondage.
Abigail walked into the night, a smile on her face, and joy in her heart. I knew that she would be okay and, regardless of the battle ahead, she would make it through.