The Lord has prompted me to share my story of intense struggle followed by Divine Inner Healing. About 4 years ago (2006) I began attending an Order of St. Luke Bible study every Tuesday night. I felt warmly welcomed by this group of people. They made me feel accepted and loved, and for me, this was something brand new. I'd struggled to fit in with groups my whole life.
The following year, I began having some mild panic attacks, strange episodes of anxiety, feeling like I couldn't breathe. I thought maybe I was trying to have heart attack. I went to the ER and the doctors told me they could find nothing wrong with me. When all of these panic attacks started, I stopped attending our Bible study, out of fear.
The panic attacks worsened and the bottom fell out for me. I spent a couple of days unable to sleep and my husband recommended that I take one of his pain pills to help me rest. This only made things worse. I felt like if I fell asleep, I was going to die. I just knew it in my mind and heart that I was going to die if I went to sleep.
After two days of no sleep, I began to experience non-stop panic attacks; one right after another. A feeling of fear, a gripping horror that I was going to die, would overwhelm me. Even though I'm a registered nurse, I didn't recognize my symptoms as panic attacks. Having worked in the ER most of my nursing career, I knew panic attacks can be a symptom of a heart attack, for some women.
On the second ER visit, it turned out, there was no heart attack. They finally convinced me to take a Xanax, after letting me see the x-rays, lab results and the EKG that confirmed I was not having a heart attack. I went home and about an hour later, I began to realize that the Xanax was helping this overwhelming feeling of imminent death go away. I finally fell asleep for a few hours.
When I went to see my doctor, he told me that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. He put me on two medications for anxiety and sent me home. I never went to a counselor, because I was too afraid.
As you can imagine, it was nearly impossible for me to go out in public. I remember leaving stores many times because I couldn't walk in the door. Waves of panic would overwhelm me. I spent months at home.
I felt a deep need to get to the bottom of these problems. WHY was all of this happening to me at age forty-four? Was I over-traumatized from working as a nurse for more than ten years in ER and ICU? Was it a result of the severe abuse I suffered while married to my ex-husband? I spent a lot of time thinking and trying to figure out what was going on.
I finally got the courage to come back the OSL group. I sat listening to them talk about a woman named Norma Dearing, who was scheduled to teach at our OSL healing conference. They said she'd written a book called The Healing Touch. Someone loaned me a copy and as I began to read it, I was floored by the Lord Jesus.
I'll never forget the third chapter of the book, where Norma explains that we sometimes look at God the way we see our earthly fathers. I broke down! I could see that I'd put God into the same shoes my own father had walked in. I saw God as overbearing, domineering and judgmental; all of the things my dad had been towards me as a child.
God began to speak to me about the deep-seated issues that raged inside me. Through Norma's book, and the Word, God opened my eyes to see the walls of bricks I had built around myself. The visible symptoms of this wall in my life were easy to spot.
For one thing, I was overweight. I didn't overeat because I wanted to be a big girl. No, I used food as my "drug of choice" to medicate away my emotional turmoil. What was showing up on the inside was simply evidence of the bad memories and horrible feelings stuffed deep down inside of me.
God, in His wonderful, Fatherly way, showed me how to forgive my natural father for all of the things I held against him, even those behaviors and attitudes I perceived as being mean and abusive towards me. He showed me that by forgiving my earthly dad, my relationship with Him, as my heavenly Dad, could also be healed. Only when I could see how much He really loved me could I move on to enjoy the life he wanted me to have.
Forgiving my earthly father was a huge step. It was not a one day process, in fact, it took many weeks. I would sit for long periods of time and pray before God and ask Him to show me the next step.
Using Norma's book as a guide, layer after layer of unforgiveness, pain and bitterness peeled away. Brick by brick, the wall of defense began to fall away from me. In forgiving my father, I was able to see and perceive God in a much different way.
I was also able to forgive my ex-husband for his abuse and mistreatment of me. Even though I believed I had already forgiven him long ago, and had even spoken it out loud, God showed me areas of offense and anger I still held in my heart and had even hidden from myself.
The Father's tender, gentle manner with me, allowed me to trust Him again. I needed to be able to trust Him, for even more things were to come. I was making good progress reading Norma's book. I'd begun taking down the walls and allowing God to go deeper in my heart, highlighting the things that were still lurking deep inside.
But one day, as I was taking a shower and rinsing my face, a huge surge of panic hit me. It was so overwhelming that I ran out of the shower, and headed towards the front door, about to run outside, naked! I simply couldn't deal with the horror of what I was feeling and what I saw in my mind.
Then I began to cry as the revelation came to me. I began telling my husband about the day that a man tried to kill me when I was 7 years old. This was it! This was the real bottom of the barrel that God had wanted me to see. The man, a dentist, had spent 2 hours trying to smother me to death. I fought him so hard that he would have to stop, and then start again.
Until that very moment, I had not known what was really going on. The panic and terror I felt as he sat smothering me, looking at me, mashing on my mouth and nose, I'd never allow myself to actually process the man's true motive.
But as I lay there, crying aloud in the presence of my dear husband, shell-shocked at the memory of that traumatic event and barely able to breathe, God revealed to me the man's evil motive: He was trying to kill me! Why had I never realized it? I'd surely built up a protection mechanism in my mind to completely block out not only the memory of the event, but the intent behind it.
Then I heard God's voice say audibly in my mind, "You have to forgive him...."
Now I cried even harder, telling my husband, "I don't know how to forgive this man." But I knew God was right. I knew I must forgive him, but I simply did not have the power or the ability to do it. God would have to help me!
The agony, anger and fear from this experience was so deep inside me that it felt like my inner-most being was being ripped to shreds. Tears poured from my eyes and sobs rose from the depths of my soul, sending waves of emotion that beat upon and finally broke through the walls surrounding this wounded heart. As the emotional storm raged on, I simply let go and gave it all to God, pleading for His help.
The first few days after this revelation, I tried to block the memory of it out of my conscious mind again, but God wouldn't let me. Finally, after 2 weeks of praying every day, I could finally say the words. "I forgive you."
The words came easier than the actual feeling and inner confidence that I'd forgiven him. In fact, the wound was so deep that nearly a year went by before I began to feel the true peace of real forgiveness for what I had experienced as a young child.
During this long period of healing, God was very patient with me, showing me that dealing with this memory was like peeling a scab off a giant, festering wound. God's miraculous touch, through the power of His Holy Spirit, washed away the infection so the wound could begin to heal. God showed me, in my case, it was like taking antibiotics, which takes more than one day to work. This was a healing process.
My whole outlook on life began to radically change. Though I continued to over-eat, God even began to work on me about that bad habit. He showed me that I was still using food as my emotional crutch, my addiction.
Instead of drinking alcohol or taking an illegal drug when life situations would get tough for me, I would eat. I'd often gorge myself, trying to stuff my emotional turmoil away so I wouldn't have to think about anything painful.
But through His mercy and grace, God showed me that I really can handle whatever trials life brings, as long as I depend on Him to help me.
It's amazing to me that I survived those dark and difficult days of healing. God had gently guided me, leading me safely thorough the pain.
The OSL people, without even knowing all that I'd been going through, were always there, supporting me, and helping me with prayers for healing. What God did for me, He can do for anyone. I only had to be willing to allow Him to literally do open- heart surgery on me, so He could get to the deepest part of me, clean me out and change me forever. It was not easy and it was not painless, but looking back on it, it was more than worth every minute! Thank you Father!
By Brigitte Ross-Black
Editing Assistance by Janet Edwards and Glenda Pettey
Published in the September/October 2010 edition of The Sharing Magazine, an OSL Publication - click on link below.