Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Healing from Life's Hurts, with Nancy Rach

Leslie Basham: When a woman has gone through years of abuse, she needs to be reminded of the truth. Here’s what Nancy Rach says to women in these situations:

Nancy Rach: You are precious in God’s sight. God did not make you to be abused. When we allow our husbands to abuse us, we are settling for something that’s not God’s plan in our husband’s life either.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Friday, June 20, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’re continuing a conversation today with Nancy Rach—that’s R-a-c-h. She and her husband Tom have been missionaries in Chiapas, Mexico for the past seventeen years. I had the privilege of hearing Tom and Nancy share about their ministry at my home church recently and was so grateful that Nancy agreed to come and share her journey with our listeners.

If you didn’t hear the first part of this conversation yesterday, you need to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and pull up the transcript or the audio for yesterday’s program. Nancy shared with us the journey the Lord has had her on about dealing with some of the abuse of her past—an incident that happened with a male family member when she was a child—and how the Lord has used the opportunity to minister to other women as a means of taking her into a journey of healing.

So, Nancy, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts, and thanks so much for sharing with our guests. I know this is really speaking into a lot of women’s lives.

Nancy R: Thank you, thank you. In Mexico it has spoken to lots of women’s hearts, too. I see this is really where the church needs to be working because there are so many wounded people wandering.

We started using bits and pieces of this with our ladies group at church. Every two months we’ll have a special night where I do this, and it’s helped the women become closer to one another because they understand what the other ones have gone through. They might not have understood before why sister so-and-so didn’t want to give anyone a hug or even say hello.

It wasn’t anything that was their fault. It was that she just did not feel like she deserved anyone telling her hello. I mean, that was how bad the trauma in her life had been. She couldn’t even accept a hello hug or a handshake. She just felt like she wasn’t worthy. And this is happening inside churches.

Nancy D: Wow, and it knows no geographic or national boundaries.

Nancy R: Right.

Nancy D: It’s true in Mexico. It’s true in the United States. And it would be true in every country of the world.

Nancy R: Right. People are hurting. And the more that you open up the opportunities to share your heart with their heart, and when they understand it will be confidential, it will be between you, then people can feel free to start sharing the wounds.

Nancy D: And for that reason, I’m going to ask you to tell some stories. But for confidentiality reasons, we’ll give you the freedom to be kind of general or to change a few details so we don’t give away confidences.

But I’m thinking back to what you told us yesterday that a lady who had a Christian bookstore there in Mexico came to you and said, “Women are coming to me who have pain in their backgrounds. They need help.” She asked if you could help. She, of course, did not know your story, right?

Nancy R: No. She did not.

Nancy D: When she first asked you, did you suspect that in order to help her with those women that there was going to be some work to be done in your own heart?

Nancy R: Unfortunately, one of the problems you can have when you suffer abuse is it’s easy to disassociate yourself from your own story. For example, when I was in the Dominican Republic for the conference . . .

Nancy D: Wait, just for those who didn’t hear, this was a conference where you went to . . .

Nancy R: Get some training, supposedly, and I was opening the door so the Lord could work in my own heart. I cried my eyes out all week long for everyone else’s story, but the day I had to tell my own story, there was no emotion. I could tell my story without crying.

Nancy D: And you chalk that up to . . .

Nancy R: There’s just a disassociation. It’s like, I can just talk about it and not really feel it. It’s like my feelings have been deadened to that situation at times.

So when this sister came to me, I said, “Yes, we can do something for them.” And I told her a little bit of my story, and we started a group for women. We had ten at the beginning.

Nancy D: These are women that the bookstore owner connected you with?

Nancy R: Right. In fact, I only knew two people in the group. We started sharing, and we started doing a few things because people need to learn how to interact. So we did things like, “How much personal space does one person need versus another?” And looking people in the eyes.

One of the more important dynamics or activities that we did was learning to say positive, powerful words to other people. So we put somebody in the hot seat, and everybody would have to say something nice about that person or to that person. And you find out it’s hard to come up with that, especially when it’s people you don’t know very well. But there’s always something. You can even just say, “I just love the color of your eyes,” or “I love the way you did your hair today.” Those little affirmations mean a lot.

But when you’ve been an abused victim and you’re the person in the chair receiving those, it is very hard to receive those.

Nancy D: I think it’s hard for anybody anyway.

Nancy R: Right. So we did a lot of crying, even just going around the circle and building each other up.

Nancy D: You talked yesterday about the walls that you put up. Is that some letting down of those walls?

Nancy R: Yes, it is. It is because you’re receiving good words. I have to be honest, when somebody says, “Oh, Nancy, I really like such and such about you,” or “I think you’re a beautiful person.” I think, Where are your glasses? That is part of my struggle with my abuse. I have a hard time believing when people tell me things. I will doubt them.

I will doubt the Lord a lot of times. I have to struggle with Him and say, “Lord, I know You tell me that I’m Your child, and I’m beloved and chosen, and I’m clinging to that, but sometimes I don’t feel that. But I have to take Your Word at what it says, and You said I am precious.”

Nancy D: What you just said is huge, because we tend to believe our feelings, our emotions, rather than the truth. We walk by sight rather than by faith. And that’s a message we just emphasize over and over.

Nancy R: And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian or a non-Christian. You fight with that. I have too many people say, “Oh, no. If you’re a Christian you’re not going to struggle with that.” No. You’re a Christian, and you should be honest about your struggle with that. The Lord knows our struggle.

Nancy D: And part of the journey is learning to counsel our hearts according to the truth rather than what my emotions tell me.

Nancy R: Right. We need to hear from each other, and this is where our group is so important. The purpose isn’t to counsel each other. It’s to reflect each other. And so I can say to you, “Nancy, why, when people come into the room, you do this?” or “Why are you sitting at the table and you kind of shrink when it’s your turn?” And I think, Why do I do that? And they have to start thinking for themselves. It’s a self-discovery sort of moment.

We let the Holy Spirit do the work. We’re just asking questions back and forth to each other. “Why do you do that?” Or we cry with one another and say, “You were a victim in this. It wasn’t your fault.”

Nancy D: Is it really hard for some of these women to even tell their story to the others in the group?

Nancy R: Yes. There’s different levels of sharing. There will be people who still are not ready to open up. They’ll say, “Everything’s okay. No, I don’t really have anything I want to share.”

Nancy D: So why do they come to the group?

Nancy R: Well, for example, if it’s my women’s group at the church, it’s just because they’re accustomed to coming on that night for the women’s group, and they didn’t realize we were going to be dealing with things that were really deep.

Nancy D: It’s a special group for women who have been abused or traumatized.

Nancy R: Right.

Nancy D: Are they ready to get some help and healing?

Nancy R: Well, everybody’s in a different stage in their journey, and they are there for some kind of help, but they may not know themselves how deep they want that help to go because you’re dealing with very deep, personal, sensitive issues, and some of it’s not just . . .

For example, one abuse case. It might be how they were raised that set them up for this abuse because they were looking for somebody to be that father figure they never had, and instead, they end up with an abuser.

Or it might be somebody else who married very young and had all these different problems that they were dealing with just from growing up—you have all your hormones and all that—and then they’re running into abuse or just the different things they run into.

Nancy D: I know you can’t give details or names, but just, as you’ve been ministering to women in this group or elsewhere, just some stories how God is moving, setting captives free. So many of our listeners have been in this place and are carrying that baggage. I want them to have hope that they don’t have to live in that private shame and pain and keep that buried.

Nancy R: I will share some stories. These are not ladies in my group, though, because in our group, what is said in the group stays in the group. Each person is the owner of their own story. The stories that I have shared in churches while we’re visiting this time, each of those people have given me permission to share their story.

I just don’t feel comfortable on a nationwide program to tell their stories without their permission, but I can tell some other stories without names. We’ve had a lot of different kinds of stories that just tear your heart out.

We had one person, to look at her, you see a very timid person. She always drops her eyes. She doesn’t want to talk to anyone. She started to open up one night about a friend who had cancer. It was the first time she’d actually shared anything with anyone, and she started to cry. She said, “It just hurts me that my friend is going through this, and I don’t know how to help her.”

She said, “I don’t know what to say to her.” I grabbed her close, and I gave her a hug, and I said, “You know, you can always hug her.” And she just started crying even harder.

Well, the next time we had one of these groups, she started to share how she was abused as a child and that, to her, any touch was a bad touch because she had been so abused. The stories that she told were of extreme abuse, physical—switching, and that kind of thing.

And this is a young woman who’s now trying to raise two children, and she doesn’t know her own limits now. She’s afraid to do any discipline because she doesn’t want to abuse her children as she was abused. But as she’s shared with the other sisters and with me, she has grown in grace, and you can see she’s come out of her shell.

She no longer stares at the floor when she meets people, and she’s got more confidence. She is slowly learning how to raise her children and discipline them. That’s been a very big challenge for her because of where she was at.

But before, it was very easy for other people to sit in judgment on her and go, “Why didn’t so-and-so take care of her kid? Why is he doing this, and why didn’t she tell him no?”

Nancy D: You don’t know somebody else’s story.

Nancy R: Her story was different, and we have women that suffered physical abuse by their husbands for years.

I had one women in one of my Spanish classes. One of the things the Lord pushed me into one year was we made water tanks in barrios. It became evident that a lot of women couldn’t read in Spanish. And I said, “Do you want to learn how to read in Spanish?”

And they said, "Yes."

And so I said, “Well, I will teach you.” So we had a little Spanish class once a week.

One of the ladies couldn’t come very regularly because her husband was a drunk. When he came home, he would beat her if he thought she had been at the class. He didn’t want her to learn how to read. So she would come whenever she could get the opportunity, when he wasn’t going to be around, because she didn’t want him to know she was learning how to read because he didn’t like that it was empowering her to be less timid or whatever.

That was just a brief instance of running into an abuse case in the barrios.

My husband one time was going to make a water tank for a family. He said to the woman of the house, “Can we take this fence down and put the sand here?” (We were having a truck delivering sand.)

She said, “We can’t do that without asking my husband.”

He said, “Well, your husband told me it was okay.”

“Well, we can’t do it unless my husband’s here.”

Well, my husband was starting to get frustrated. The husband said we could. Why couldn’t we take it down? And the brother working with him said, “Tom, don’t do anything. Wait until the husband comes, because you don’t know how much abuse the woman has suffered at the hands of this husband.”

Nancy D: So she was fearful.

Nancy R: She was fearful. Even though he’d already said it was okay to do it, but she didn’t want it to be done because a lot of the abusers abuse for irrational reasons. You can’t guess when they’re going to be violent. And it happens terribly.

Nancy D: So what can enable a woman like that, those last couple you described, to step into a new way of thinking?

Nancy R: It’s really the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will set something to work inside of somebody, and they will start to look for the help.

Nancy D: And if you’re the helper in that situation, that woman comes across your path, you’re going to look her in the eyes, and you’re going to have compassion. What are you going to say to her?

Nancy R: Well, first of all, that she has value, that she is precious.

Nancy D: That’s a big thing, right?

Nancy R: That is a big thing, and she probably will not believe you. It depends on how long she’s been in that situation and putting up with the abuse. A lot of times, if it’s a mother who has children, even though she might not leave because of the children, she also might not have admitted to herself that it is actually abuse and she doesn’t deserve it.

So if you try telling her, “You don’t deserve this treatment,” she may not believe you. She may just go ahead and continue to put up with it because it’s what she’s known. Chances are her father (especially in Chiapas) was abusive, too. So she went from one abusive situation to another.

Nancy D: So what could set that woman in a journey of healing and restoration, even though her circumstances may not change, at least initially?

Nancy R: Honestly, I think if the Lord brings somebody into her life, like a neighbor who is her friend and starts daily loving her and saying, “You are precious in God’s sight. God did not make you to be abused. And He honestly didn’t even make your husband to be an abuser.”

Nancy D: Right. That’s a violation of the image of God in him as well.

Nancy R: Right. “God has a greater plan for your husband, and you can believe better of him.” When we allow our husbands to abuse us, we are settling for something that’s not God’s plan in our husbands’ lives either. And that’s to put some of the responsibility on us, though they are still responsible.

But a lot of times what we have seen with the ladies I have worked with, when they say to their husbands, “That’s enough. No more.” And they’re willing to make that complete stand, and, if they have to, leave the house, the husbands start to pull back and say, “Whoa!”

Nancy D: You just changed the dance step.

Nancy R: Yes. You just changed the dance step. And, “There was a line? I didn’t know I was crossing the line.”

Nancy D: What I love, Nancy, about your story (well, a lot of things I love about it) is just the grace of God, the power to heal and to renew and to transform, as He’s been doing in your life. God takes those hurts and pains and wounds of our past and enables us to be a means of grace and healing and restoration in others’ lives. Your story has a purpose. It’s something God wants to use.

Nancy R: Right. We have talked about that with several of the different ladies. I won’t say which groups, but one of the ladies had been abused for forty years. We say she wandered in the desert for forty years. A lot of times it’s those desert stretches in our lives where we actually have been stripped away of all the other stuff that keeps us from the Lord, and He can finally say, “You’re standing on holy ground. Take off your shoes, and let’s talk.”

And then what happens, like in the case of Moses, He says, “I have a job for you now. You’re going to go, and you’re going to release people from their pain.”

“Wait, God! I’m not ready to do this. I can’t do this.”

He says, “Don’t worry about it. When the time comes, I’ll be there with you.”

Nancy D: It sounds like maybe this is something you’ve said to the Lord. “I’m not ready to do this.”

Nancy R: Right. I have. I really relate to Moses in the desert. “Lord, I’m in over my head.”

He says, “Don’t worry about it.”

Nancy D: Call somebody else.

Nancy R: Yes. And times when I think we’re just going to do something really light in a group . . . It may not even be my ladies group, it will just be someplace else we’re doing something light and suddenly somebody will open up with a story that is just awful, that you didn’t anticipate. It’s because the Holy Spirit has been working in their lives, and they’ve been waiting for that moment when they felt that they could share it with someone.

And so, when you least expect it, the Lord’s still working. You may not see it. I tell people, “We’re just spreading seeds or pulling weeds, but the Lord knows when the harvest is ready. We don’t.” And so, you just have to be available.

Nancy D: And, Nancy, I’m just so sure that there are many women who’ve been listening to this conversation who have their own story and hidden pain, shame-based living—some of them for decades. There are no quick fixes. There are no Band-Aids—as you alluded to earlier. But we do have a God of all grace who has come to bear our iniquities and our shame and our pain and take it upon Himself on the cross and who offers a journey of healing and grace and restoration to those who will take it.

There’s lots more we could talk about, but I know God has spoken to many of our listeners. I wonder if you would just pray for those listeners and ask the Lord to get them on a journey, send them to the place, to the person, to the resources that can help them take the next step—which may be just in this moment acknowledging, “I’ve got a need. I need to get help.” And just putting their hand up in the air and saying, “I’m ready to step into this.”

We have some resources here at Revive Our Hearts that are available, but God will show you where to go to get what you need. Prayer is the first, and that’s the starting place. That’s where we lift people to the throne of grace.

Nancy R: It is.

Nancy D: So let me just ask you to pray for those listeners right now, if you would.

Nancy R: Sure. Let’s pray.

Father, You have a plan for each heart and each life. Not a single stone that’s overturned in our path is by accident. You know what’s going on. You know each need. You know each heart and its stubbornness. You know how to reach each hurt.

Father God, we are guilty many times of trying to live life in our own power and handling everything that’s beyond our control to handle. And we struggle with our perfectionism to be in control and to not let things hurt us when really we should just cling to You and cry out our lament of the pain that’s in our heart and allow You to heal us.

Father God, You are the Great Healer, and You know, Lord, each heart that’s listening today that needs a touch of Your Spirit. We pray, Father God, that You would put hope in the heart that’s hopeless and faith in the heart that’s struggling to find faith. Would You reaffirm in each heart that You are there; that You have not abandoned them; that if they seek You with their heart, You will be there, and You will lead them and guide them?

We just pray that You would put in their paths different people that would be Your hands and Your arms, and they would hold them close and allow them to cry the tears they need to cry and to hear the words of affirmation that You have for them, that it’s not their fault. As a victim, they are not responsible for what happened in their heart and in their lives. Would You begin the restoration process, Father, and would You start building in their lives the walls and the boundaries that You want and help tear down the walls that they’ve built themselves?

We pray, Father God, that You would be glorified in all of our words and our actions, and that You would be glorified in the hearts that are redeemed, in the name of Jesus, amen.

Nancy D: Amen.

As we’ve been having this conversation, Nancy, there’s a passage that’s come to my heart. I often quote it, or read it, here on Revive Our Hearts because it applies to so many life circumstances. It’s a picture of what Jesus wants to do in the hearts of those who have been abused or traumatized or in different areas of bondage.

It’s an Old Testament prophetic passage speaking of the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. It talks about the ministry He was to have. In fact, in the Gospels Jesus reads this passage, and He says, “It’s talking about Me.” So we know it is.

It’s found in Isaiah chapter 61, and it says:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, [and I just wonder if this might not be the start of the year of the Lord’s favor in the life of some listener] and the day of vengeance of our God (vv. 1–2).

God also, in His time and way, will take vengeance on those who have abused and not repented of that.

And then it says, He will

. . . comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called [this is the people who were in prison, they had the mourning, the grieving, the ashes, and now they’re going to be called] oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, [and what’s the outcome?] that he may be glorified (v 3).

And I just think of that woman with her eyes downcast, that woman who can hardly talk or can’t receive any positive word or is just kind of bowed over with the shame, with the pain—maybe never told anybody what it is. I just think that’s a word of what Christ has come to do, what He wants to do. He wants to take those ashes and give those women instead a beautiful headdress, to take their grieving, their mourning, their faint spirit, and give them instead the garment of praise and the spirit of gladness and to make them a planting of the Lord, a fruitful, vibrant, vital work of the Lord. He wants them then to be instruments in others’ lives.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, Nancy, and He’s anointed you to proclaim this good news to the poor and to set captives free. So now Jesus is working in and through you in the lives of other women, and that’s a beautiful redemptive story. It’s a story I believe that He wants to work out in many, many other lives as well.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Nancy Rach have been talking about the healing that Jesus provided for your pain.

If you missed any of our series with Nancy Rach, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, and listen to the series, “Healing From Life’s Hurts.”

I hope you’ll send a link to someone you know who could use this message, and you can also order them a CD.

Music:

Peace, be still. Peace, be still.

And I’ll tell you about this music track. It’s “Peace Be Still” from the CD, Hidden in My Heart, Volume 3. All the songs on this CD focus on Jesus. It’s a great way to meditate on Him throughout the day.

When you help make Revive Our Hearts possible with your gift of any size, we’ll say “thanks” by sending you “Hidden in My Heart, Volume 3.” Call with your donation to 1–800–569–5959 and ask for Hidden in My Heart, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We’d love to send one CD per household this month.

Well, next week’s teaching from Nancy is so practical and convicting. She’ll help you recognizing complaining in your life and show you how to be free from it. I hope you’ll listen to the series “Cultivating a Contented Heart.” Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

 

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

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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