I had heard God tell me to go deeper. I had heard him say this for years. I believed him; at least I believed in the value of the idea. But what I didn’t know is what it meant, not really. And I also didn’t know that the outcome of going deeper is an experience, an inhabitance of a place that has always been within me. A place real. A place tangible. But a place not so easily explained with words.
I will try.
So here is some context.
After my abortion when I was sixteen, the day I told my parents I was going to the mall in Sacramento to return gifts I received for Christmas, I continued to have sex; I continued to have physical relationships with guys. I was not upset about my decision to have the abortion. I did not regret what I had done. Rather, I buried the experience inside me, separated it from myself. And I continued with the behaviors I had convinced myself long ago were essential to survival: physical affection from boys (aka, for me, love).
Two decades after the abortion the facade began to crack a little. It started with self-contempt. And then sadness. And then anger. Confusion took a turn. And then shame. And then regret. And then pain. For the first time in twenty years, I was getting glimpses of what I had done. What I had really done: I had killed a child; I deserved death; I had rejected what He gave.
I let myself feel pieces of the pain. And I let God love me so it wouldn’t swallow me whole.
For ten years, off and on, God and I would speak about it. (This is when I first began to hear his voice.) He offered forgiveness. He offered healing. I let community speak truth to me. I let friends who knew and loved God to sit with me, listen to his voice with me. I flew to another state with Justin and we participated in a day of prayer with an older couple who loved God and knew that, in Jesus, there is always deeper healing of the heart, if we want it. I went through two rounds of psychotherapy. I spoke about what I had done with groups of women at my church; I shared it with friends. Two weeks ago I finally told the truth to my youngest child, my fourteen-year-old daughter. (The story of my abortion has been on my blog for nine years now; I had to trust God to protect my children from learning the truth about me until he let me know it was time for them to hear it.) For the past ten, now twelve, years God has led me to be open about who I am without him–so I can point to him, so I can show others his love and his glory.
But with God, and healing, there is always more.
This past week, when God was saying again, “Go deeper,” I didn’t know what He meant. “Go deeper” felt full of mystery. But I said yes. And this past week, as I sat in his presence in the mornings, I tried not to think too much. I tried not to to figure things out. I sat before him–he was sitting across from me–and I trusted that he was going to lead me in an experience where his invitation to “go deeper” was going to make sense.
And then Jesus came into the space, and this is some of what he said.
When you have wanted to be separate from me, when you have felt alone and caught in sin, you let shame trick you that you would not survive if sin was admitted, confronted. So you denied sin; you denied it existed, and your life became a covering of lies. And you didn’t let me in or even yourself in to love what was always meant to be loved: you.
Your body is meant to be shown love. It is not made to be hated. You hate the sin–and the sin is separate from yourself. It is not who you are. That is why confessing sin–acknowledging it–is so good and powerful. You acknowledge that I can deal with it, that my love is more powerful than sin, and sin can no longer control you. It does not have the power you think it has.
Love is powerful. It destroys sin. But more sin does not destroy sin. So without love, sin remains. And it causes more sin, and your heart grows weary with it. So you are discouraged and hide from yourself–who you see yourself to be: (1) a person capable of sin, (2) one who sins, without God, and (3) a person who is dearly loved and who can live fearless, blameless and pure in the eyes of God because of my covering of love over your whole life–your mind, your body, your heart, your soul.
And I began to realize how my body has memory. After years of healing–namely my mind and my heart–my body still housed residue from my sin. Our bodies, temples of God, carry in them wounds, scars, from when we separate ourselves from God. The body remembers how the heart attaches to sin, and this was a part of God’s invitation for me to “go deeper.” My heart and my mind and my body were in a fractured state. God is always trying to make us whole. To “go deeper” means to say yes, we want to heal.
And Jesus continued,
Remember the angels–and how, in heaven, some broke apart from God in their hearts, and so God, our Father, removed them physically from his presence? And Eve and Adam too broke apart from God in their hearts and had to be removed physically from God’s presence? The heart and the body are connected. They affect one another. How the heart feels, the body responds accordingly. And how the body feels must be managed by the heart. You must give both to the Father–and to me–for complete healing.
And I let Jesus touch my womb. I asked him to heal the trauma it remembers. I asked him to cleanse my body completely, inside and out–all the memories that the body has harbored, to wipe them clean.
And I heard the Father,
My child, be a child again. Be pure again. Be mine again. Be whole again. Your heart has been fractured. I bring you back to yourself, back to me.
And God pulled me out, separating me from the memories. And I stand with him, looking at myself. And I tell him this:
I stand with you, and I am separate from the memories now. I wear the white dress you place on me. I am pure and redeemed and whole and healed. I am brought back to myself because of your love, because you want me whole and not broken apart in many pieces. Thank you, Father, Jesus.
Would you like to join me in writing a poem about memories your body harbors? Let’s do that for the Loop Poetry Project prompt this week. What memory of joy or peace, trauma or hardship, is tucked deep within you? What does your body remember that your heart and your mind do not? Can you explain that in a poem? Will you let your body speak now? What words does it want to tell you it feels–to help your mind to know and your heart to understand?
Please share your poem below, and/or with the lovely community of beautiful, brave women in this space here.
From this one true heart,
When You Were Five Years Old
How can I still feel attached
to you. Your hand runs time
backward and I stay to hold you.
Sweetness folded into
where I’ve always kept
music and smells and memories.
All that has made me.
And I want to thank you for
my heart now shaped
into something beautiful.
Your small hand clasped
in mine. We walk together
where I will always see.