Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Process of Healing

Leslie Basham: As a new believer, Marcia Arnel knew she was forgiven. But she needed some help in healing from years of abuse. The pain came out one day when her boyfriend tried to take advantage of her.

Marcia Arnel: I had a breakdown in a sense and a fit of rage and running and even getting loud and screaming at him. Coming from that situation, I realized I needed help. I realized I couldn't do it on my own.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, January 30. Let's join Nancy as she introduces today's story.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Sometimes the greatest beauty in a gem or some other article comes out because it is set against such a dark backdrop. The story we've been hearing this week is one of those kinds of gems. We've been talking with my friend Marcia Arnel, and she has shared with us just very candidly out of her own heart and background the story of abuse and alcohol and drug abuse that she experienced growing up in a very chaotic, dysfunctional family.

It has all seemed very dark, very black, very miserable and a lot of failure. Not only that of her parents, but Marcia, you've shared with us some of your own failure and the wrong choices that you made as you got into high school and into college.

But as we wrapped up yesterday, you were beginning to tell us about the beauty and the wonder of God's grace that came into your life when you were a college student. A friend invited you to church, and then you went with that friend to a women's retreat and began to hear the truth--the Gospel, about the grace of God and the love of God.

God drew your heart. You responded to Him. As you were sharing with us yesterday, you received His love, His forgiveness, His grace. You realized that your body was the temple of the Holy Spirit, and God gave you repentance that you had not treated it as His temple ought to be treated. You were converted. You were born again.

The Scripture says, "If any person is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away; all things are become new." Even as I'm sharing that verse, you broke out into a big smile. Tell us what happened and about the change that began to take place after you had this conversion experience.

Marcia Arnel: Well, the reason I was smiling is that 2 Corinthians 5:17--that's my life verse--that I'm a new creation in Christ. The old things have passed, but new things have come. I've claimed that verse many, many, many times since I've become a Christian.

God really--it was exciting the work He began in my life so very quickly. My hunger and my desire was just to be around other Christians and to be in fellowship with them. I remember returning to college that next year and going up to a Christian student union table when it was group or organization time. They had asked me what denomination was and I said, "I just want to be around people that love Jesus."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That was something new for you, wasn't it?

Marcia Arnel: Definitely.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Because the friends you'd had in the past tended to be people who were involved in sex and drugs and alcohol. So all of a sudden you had a new desire in your heart to be with people who loved the Lord.

Marcia Arnel: Yes, and to be around people who knew what the word morals and values meant and what it meant to be pure. Those were all just new words to me. I just wanted to be around people who could influence me in that way.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What created in you the desire for that which was moral and pure?

Marcia Arnel: After I went to that retreat and God began to draw me to Himself, He put women into my life who really began to direct me and show me what I needed to do next, which was to get into His Word and to learn truth and to surround myself with people who knew of Him and loved Him. I just followed their guidance. Obviously, the Lord led them into my life.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Obviously, God put new desires in your heart. The Holy Spirit was now living in you and was giving you a desire to be a holy woman of God.

Marcia Arnel: Definitely.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: A lot of women who have come to Christ out of the kind of background that you had would have to deal with issues of shame, of guilt and might really struggle to believe that they were truly forgiven. Was that an issue for you?

Marcia Arnel: It definitely was. I had been living that lifestyle, and it doesn't change overnight. I still continued to go to dance clubs and to be with my friends there, but now I became the designated driver. I no longer would drink.

I would still have relationships with guys, but feel it was wrong when things began to happen. I realized that I wasn't supposed to be in those situations, just an awareness came into my life. But at the same time I didn't know how to make that all change. It was something I desired inside of me, but I didn't know how to go about it being different because it had been my life for so long.

Just slowly over time, the Lord just began to bring new people into my life and new friends that told me the truth, that encouraged me to memorize Scripture, that encouraged me to believe who I was in Christ. I did believe that God had forgiven me, but my actions and my attitudes still showed that I truly didn't believe I was forgiven. I believed I still had to run back to old boyfriends. I believed I still had to go into the situations I was in--the dance clubs and different things like that.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So you didn't overnight find that all of your relationships and activities and behavior had changed. As you went back into dating relationships, how did those start to change?

Marcia Arnel: Well, I realized at that point that my choices in the past were bad because my belief system wouldn't have been the same. Now that I was a Christian, I was encouraged to date Christian men. So I had met a young man who was a Christian and I thought, Great! I'm finally doing the right thing. Maybe it's all going to work out just fine.

But this young man, although claiming to be a Christian, wasn't necessarily walking in the truth of the Lord. One instance--we had gone on a date and went back to his house. We began to kiss, and he wanted to continue on further. I had said no, but he continued to press the issue physically. I really just had a breakdown in a sense and a fit of rage and running and even getting loud and screaming at him.

Coming from that situation, I realized I needed help. I realized I couldn't do it on my own. I called my mother and asked her if I could please go to counseling. I was able to go visit a counselor and share basically my whole life. It was a Christian woman. I was able to meet with her for only six sessions, but the Lord used those vitally in my life.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What were some of the areas of truth that this counselor helped you to see that really made a difference in your life?

Marcia Arnel: One of the first things that she had me do was to go back through the emotions and the hurts and the instances and the anger that I had felt inside me. I had never dealt with that. I had stuffed it for all my life. It had become part of the mask I was wearing. So that just began to be removed.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Was that kind of a matter-of-fact thing for you to do, or was there an emotional response? Did you struggle with doing that?

Marcia Arnel: I had such a desire in my life at that time to be cleaned of everything from my past. I was hungry to get help. She had encouraged me to get out everything--every single little detail--and not to hold any of it back. If she hadn't said those things, I probably would have been very matter of fact about it. "This is what happened. Done. Over with."

But by going back and going through every single detail, it really allowed me to conjure up all of the hurt and anger that I had been stuffing for so long.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know, Marcia, I'm so glad that the Lord directed you to a counselor who was a Christian woman and who was rooted in the Scripture. I think the direction that she encouraged you to go was really rooted in some biblical principles that are important for us as believers.

You see, she was encouraging you to do what the Scripture calls "walking in the light," to be honest and open and transparent about the needs in your heart, the longings and the hunger that had never been satisfied, the responses that you had had to those who had wronged you, the anger, the bitterness, the hatred.

She apparently knew, which you understand now, that is that you could not walk in freedom and in openness before God as long as you were doing what you had done for years, and that was stuffing those feelings, those emotions, and putting on that smiley face, pretending everything was okay when it really wasn't okay. So she was really inviting you, in a sense, to step out into the light.

The Scripture encourages us to"¦not for the sake of glorifying sin, not for the sake of just dredging up our past or dealing with repressed memories. God can make those memories go away, but in your case they hadn't gone away. She was saying, "You need to face these for what they are. Then you need to be honest about not only how you have been sinned against, but how you have sinned in your response to those who have sinned against you."

As is true with all healing and spiritual growth, there is a process. This was the beginning of a process for you--coming to have Christ in your life and then getting honest about your past, about the emotions, about the hurt, about the wrong responses. It was an important part of the process.

I know there was more to come in that process. The Lord was going to walk you into a beautiful road of forgiveness and healing and grace. But I think you've touched on something important here, and that is the willingness to be honest, to bring to the surface those things that we have stuffed or kept hidden.

I'm so glad that God has big enough shoulders to bear our honesty--for us to bring into the light the areas of our past that may seem shameful or that we may want to keep hidden or covered up. I talk with so many women today who are still covering, still stuffing, still not willing to walk in the light.

Could I say to any woman who is listening today who may be a Marcia--the details may be different, but there are things in your past that you've kept hidden, you've kept stuffed, you've never been willing to bring them out into the light. Maybe it's because you're afraid or you're ashamed or you can't imagine that you could possibly face those. Let me say that if Christ is living in you, then you can face them. You've got to face them. There will be grace when you're willing to face them.

For you, it may or may not mean doing what Marcia did and writing a letter, but I'll tell you what it probably should mean. That is just bowing your heart before the Lord. Even if you're just alone with Him, saying, "Lord, I want to be honest with You. I want to bring to the surface those things in my past that I've kept stuffed or hidden, those things I've been too ashamed to talk about, too ashamed to even talk about with You."

Bring them out into the light. Tell the Lord the truth. Say, "This is what was done to me. These are the people who have sinned against me. These are the ways I was wronged. These are the ways I sinned against those who wronged me. These are the ways I responded."

Tell the Lord about the hatred, the anger, the bitterness, the wrong responses, the wrong choices that you made, even influenced perhaps by childhood experiences over which you had no control. Be honest with the Lord. Then allow Him to walk you through a process of receiving His grace, His cleansing, His forgiveness and His wholeness.

*Song

Leslie Basham: If Nancy has been describing your situation, don't let another day go by without finding freedom. We have some helpful information on our Web site that will let you know what steps to take in finding healing from abuse. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

We'd also like to send you a very helpful booklet called When Trust is Lost. For more information, visit ReviveOurHearts.com or give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. Whatever you do, would you write to us and let us pray for you? If you've experienced God's healing, we'd like to hear your story. If God has you on a path to healing, we'd like to pray for you. We have a team that prays for our listeners' requests. You can send yours to Revive Our Hearts.

On Monday, we'll continue to hear from Marcia Arnel. As she grew closer to God, she discovered that she was growing in femininity. Please be back with us for Revive Our Hearts.

"Jesus Paid It All," Canticle of Praise, Moody Bible Institute Women's Concert Choir and Bell Ensemble.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministry.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.