Joanie’s Story of Restoration

Will this hole in my soul be with me forever?  Is this as good as it is going to get for me, even with all that I have learned about my self and God?  I hope I can get to a place of really loving and accepting myself just as I am. 

It hasn’t been very long since I found the answer to these questions that had plagued my heart for so long!

God has changed so much about me and I couldn’t be happier or more thankful, but if the truth be told, there was still this awful hurting place inside me that was always there and I couldn’t be rid of it.  If I had to put a name to it, it would be inadequacy and underlying shame.  I continually felt “less than” like I just didn’t measure up.  I lived feeling overwhelmed and incapable of doing anything. I had thought to myself perhaps this deep feeling of inadequacy is my “thorn in my flesh” that God hadn’t removed from Paul’s life where he shares in 2 Corinthians 12:7 NLT, 

“…even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God.  So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me.” 

Maybe this is my thorn, this awful questioning of my worth, my value, this feeling of never being enough and always feeling less than everyone else around me.  It certainly would keep me depending upon the Lord and not myself!

As a result, I kept struggling, on one hand to accept this feeling of inadequacy and on the other hand, to fill this awful hole in my soul with something that would take this feeling from me forever.  Only I couldn’t resolve this inner conflict.   God’s best can’t be for me to live out my life like this!  So I had to ask myself, “Why do I continue to feel so inadequate, so insufficient all the time?”

About 30 years ago when I was 35 years old, I went through a life changing depression where I was hospitalized twice and was left searching for joy and hope.

I never wanted to have that depth of sadness, where I found myself making plans to take my life ever again.  So I started opening myself up to understanding and finding fulfillment in knowing who I am in Christ and believing in His love for me.   I realized how important it is to share my thoughts and feelings with the people around me.  I began to say no and yes and mean what I said and not just act nice to get people to like me.  I started being real and not just living by rules and regulations. I like to say, I began to live from my heart not just my head and this started to turn my life around.  My heart opened up and allowed God to really connect with me and I got to know Him as my Father the way He always wanted me to understand and know Him.  I remember the day during my dark and lonely times in the hospital that I decided to believe that God is who He says He is!   And if He was this real loving God, He would show me a better way to live and He did!

But now after all these years of living and finding my true self and joy in Jesus and truly experiencing His love, I still came up short in feeling adequate.  I carried around this wound deep inside my soul.   I tried to cover it over with the fact that Jesus loves me and that in Him I am adequate.  I would as much as I could admit my negative thoughts about myself and tried to replace them with the truth that I am sufficient in Christ but the wound was always there.  Paul shares in 2 Corinthians 3:4,5,

“Such confidence we have through Christ before God.  Not that we are competent (adequate) in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves but our competence (or adequacy) comes from God.” 

Something was definitely not connecting for me.  My feelings of inadequacy would always come back and the struggle was becoming unbearable.  I felt ashamed and less than everyone else.

During this time, God was faithful to help me in spite of this deep feeling I carried.  I have to admit it didn’t even matter if I accomplished something well or not, because before I even attempted anything I knew it wouldn’t be good enough.  I continually pleaded with God to take this feeling away from me and to give me His confidence and strength.  Most of the time, I functioned by trying hard to cover up this feeling or by ignoring it.

Then, something unforeseen by me happened.  Just when I had decided that this was as good as it was going to get and I would have to live out my life with this deep wound of not measuring up, God brought me to a place where I could find freedom. Through our move to the Island, I came to Centered For Life and began to attend the classes they offer on healthy living within community and meaningful relationships.  Here was something I was missing – the opportunity to live out the life changing truths that I had learned within a community and going deeper into my heart and soul to see what I was still lacking.  This was what I needed and I felt drawn to Centered For Life and the work that Debby and Steve Temmer were doing.

I had gone through a dark time and had emerged from my cocoon of depression ready to fly and live with the joy and hope that I had discovered.   Now, I was ready to go deeper, to find out why I was still struggling.  God was getting me ready to connect me with truth and reveal to me what I was still carrying around inside myself that was keeping me from living at a deeper level of freedom than I had been experiencing.  First I had to realize the problem living inside me and this would take me sitting in the classes Breaking Free and Staying Free and The Gift of Being Yourself and the class on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. 

During these sessions, while telling my story in community, I began to realize that I still had unresolved hurt that was coming out in my soul whenever I talked about my relationship with my parents, particularly my mom.  As these issues became clearer from taking the classes and talking with Debby, I found there was a link between my mom in particular that I had taken into myself from her life, things that were not my fault or my issues at all, but were very much a part of my soul and had effected my thinking about myself.  It was so deep that I felt inferior in my relationships with people and ashamed of myself when I would compare myself to others.  I even feared placing myself into situations that would make me look bad or where I could possibly fail.

Finally, after going through the first year of classes and my sessions with Debby, I felt hopeful that perhaps there was an opportunity to be free of this wound in my soul.  Debby suggested that EMDR would be something I should try, so we set up a time.  I remember doubting but hoping that this was something that would work.  I had tried so many times, hoping something would click and nothing had touched this wound.  So I prayed, “God would you please use this EMDR to take away this awful feeling that lives in me?  I am tired of doubting my self and feeling, at times, like I have to apologize for being me.  I know you love me and made me just like I am.  Help me to find healing and freedom.”

“God would you please use this EMDR to take away this awful feeling that lives in me?  I am tired of doubting my self and feeling, at times, like I have to apologize for being me.  I know you love me and made me just like I am.  Help me to find healing and freedom.” 

So I went with this hope in my heart.

The session was simple.  The truth was powerful.  I realized that I had taken on my mother’s feelings of herself during the time of her pregnancy and my birth that were filled with shame and fear and loss and inadequacy for her.  It was a hard and difficult time for her and I learned that for many reasons I was raised in an emotionally insecure atmosphere for the first few years of my young life.  Through EMDR, the truth was applied into my thinking it changed my life and touched that wound deep within my soul.  God used this truth as an oil to heal me, filling and saturating my hurting wound with His peace, quietness and confidence in place of the questions and awful thoughts of inadequacy that had filled my mind.  Now, I can hear my heart telling me I am sufficient.  I am adequate.  I am enough.  Why?   Because the shame is gone and finally I know and can believe within my soul that I am sufficient because Jesus Christ says I am.  My sufficiency is in Christ.  And I left that session that day with this wonderful knowledge planted deep within my soul and mind and I have kept it ever since.  There is no question.  I AM SUFFICIENT.  God’s Word in 2 Corinthians 3:4,5 had come alive in me!    The aching wound is not there anymore.  I smile as I tell you that I still give my self a test everyday to make sure that sense of knowing that “I am good enough” is inside my soul and the answer keeps coming back loud and clear – I am – because He says I am.  I can only be so thankful to God for the surprising ways in which He does things – when we least expect it He has something more for us!

I can’t help but liken my experience to this spring season we find ourselves in after the long and very frozen winter we have come through!  I feel the life and newness, like a breath of fresh air filling my heart and lifting me up with hopeful expectancy, like a little child looking up into the face of their parent with anticipation asking,  “What’s next Papa or what’s next Mama?”  God is so good and has something for each one of His children.

I hope you know and believe that God is at work in your life.  What would you like Him to do for you that neither you nor anybody else could ever do for you?   Believe that He is with you and working out His purposes and plans to give you a future and a hope,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV,

because He loves you and because that is the kind of Father God He is!  One that desires for His children to know Him and experience the life that He has prepared for them.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

Ephesians 2:10 NIV

Through this experience, God has shown me that although the significant people in our lives might let us down and we may experience great loss and hurt from the fallout of their choices, we are not in bondage forever to those emotions and beliefs that form inside us as a result.  His love and healing can truly right those wrongs deep inside of our souls regardless of the choices our significant person continues to make or in how we were impacted by them.  We can find wholeness in Christ.  We just don’t know the exact time or place or the way His plan will open up for us.  The point is to believe and trust Him even when we don’t understand.  He truly does make a way for us because He truly does love us!

I close with this verse that speaks to me of the wonder of our God:

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you,

who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” 

Isaiah 64:4 NIV 

Let’s wait on our God.  He has the plan!

 

Bobby and Joanie met in college and married on November 17, 1973. They have 3 married children and 16 grandchildren and  have been in the ministry for 43 of the 44 years of their marriage and have just recently retired.

Now they are entering a new season of their lives here on St. Simons Island, where God brought them to reside on March 5, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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