The human heart is a beautiful mystery. Within each of us is a captivating story of hope and sorrow, trial and triumph. Part of my story is that I am a recovering addict and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. These wounds fracture a person to the very core of their being and cry out for restoration and justice. My experience has been a long and important journey to regain wholeness, innocence, beauty and peace. I have learned that our interior world is full of dreams and visions, setbacks and stumbling blocks. Yet, in it all, we each have a deep desire, if only “seen dimly as in a mirror” (1 Cor 13:12), for an abundant life of eternal communion, joy and love.
Nearly all of us hold a great deal of pain within our hearts, and we often struggle with unanswered questions and unexplored chapters of our own story. We are connected to others by technology but still feel incredibly lonely. The desire for deep and meaningful connection is part of what it means to be human, but many times, we do not know how to begin the process of building relationships or how to be appropriately vulnerable with the ones we love the most.
Part of my story is that I am a recovering addict and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
For the past 10 years, I have been able to share my journey of encountering God’s healing love and mercy at conferences and retreats with audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the nation. As people experience the love and mercy of God, it allows them to open their hearts and share their stories of sorrow and resurrection as well. So often in life all we really want is someone to listen to us, to behold our hearts and to remind us of who we are—that we are not alone, that suffering is not the end of the story and that our deepest identity is found in being sons and daughters of God, who makes all things new.
To begin that process, however, we must honestly admit what has been lost. Recovering means to regain strength, balance, composure. Perhaps to put it more simply, it is the regaining of oneself, a journey that will not take place until we take an honest and ongoing inventory of the damage done to us, admit where we have gone astray in darkness and have the courage and willingness to be transformed, no matter the cost. True recovery is all in. Nothing will be accomplished by living in half measures.
My experience has been a long and important journey to regain wholeness, innocence, beauty and peace.
Advent is a wonderful time to enter more intentionally into this journey of healing. Jesus Christ comes to us as a small, vulnerable child to show us how to be human and how to trust. What are the areas in our lives that are shrouded in darkness? Where do we fear vulnerability and trust? It is in these very places that Jesus waits to encounter us and bring us new life.
The area of deepest need is precisely the human heart where God dwells. God is for us, and he desires our lives not to be hidden behind facades and shadows but to be lived transparently in the light of his love. As we begin the honest journey of opening up all the chambers of our heart to God and to people in our lives whom we trust, new life begins to grow and bloom.
This is what I witness as I see people encounter Jesus in their lives. I see them regaining new life and new hope even in the midst of suffering. They are regaining their very selves in Christ. Jesus shows us what it means to be human: to have a heart fully open to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. May it be so for each one of us. The journey is worth it. And so are you.