Last night as I lay in bed with my husband, there was a “scene” that began to play in my mind. This is nothing unusual because I experience this often. This scene involved my husband causing me emotional, mental, and physical pain, and the end of the scene involved a rape. Again, nothing unusual for me. However, at the part where my husband was raping me, I realized this is not something I wanted to continue doing. So, I prayed, “Lord, rewrite the script”. Immediately upon saying those words, I heard myself praying, “Lord, remove the imprint from my brain”. This is when I realized that my past experiences were continuing to live within my brain, my memory. I continued to play the events of my life over and over again, nightly.
Though some may not understand, this was a comfort for me, this was my lullaby each night.
My bedtime story involved people I loved and trusted hurting me. This is the scene that replayed in my mind each night before I went to sleep.
I was raped in my childhood, and I have been involved in abusive relationships. Though I have received healing from God, the events themselves have been imprinted in my mind, and kept coming to the forefront to torment me. The odd thing is that I found this comforting. It was something I was used to, something I could depend upon, and something that was not going to allow any surprises.
This night, God decided enough was enough! He showed me that this replaying of past negative events keeps me in bondage. Though this was not something I consciously did on my own, it was a routine that kept me bound to my past, bound to people who hurt me, and this bondage kept me from moving forward.
Picture yourself tied, tightly, to a sturdy pole or object, or picture a dog who has been chained to a tree. In this scenario, you and the dog can only move forward so far before the chain stops your forward progress. You can run forward at full speed, but when you have reached the end of the allotted reign, you will be forcefully snatched back to your preapproved space of “free” movement.
This is what God had to show me. He had to show me that these “visions”, scenes, and remembrances were not from him, but from the enemy. These were on constant recall because by remembering where I used to be, the bad situations, the abusive relationships, the people who took advantage of me while saying they loved me, and those who intentionally hurt me, I would never be able to fully trust or walk into my destined future. I would always expect the bad, the worst of others towards me. My unconscious thought, “If I expected the negativity, it didn’t hurt so much when it actually happened,” was both erroneous and detrimental to my moving forward. My recollection of events caused spiritual debilitation. Even though I walked around every day doing the things that needed to be done, I was hindered spiritually, because I was fearful of going beyond the chain. The chain was safety. If I were to be released from the chain, like any other creature that is trained, I would still stay in my allotted free area, never venturing further.
Though I walked in forgiveness, I was still stuck in my past. I expected my husband to hurt me intentionally. I expected him to take advantage of me. I expected him to figuratively rape me, which is to forcefully take something of value from me. So, because of this, I fought him tooth and nail on things that really were minor issues. I erected a wall so that he could not hurt me too badly. I was guarded and untrusting of him. Now, this man has done nothing but love me and love me well, but because I still had the imprint of all past hurts, rejections, and rapes on my brain, I still responded in a learned manner.
I learned to protect myself from those who hurt me by putting up walls around my heart. I learned to protect my body by keeping my distance from those I didn’t want to touch me. I learned to protect myself from rape by giving it up first, so there is no forceful taking. I learned to protect my heart by not giving it fully to anyone, lest they take advantage of me and hurt me deeply. These learned behaviors I took into my marriage. And these learned behaviors were wreaking havoc in my life.
So, on this night, that I lay with my husband, God showed me that I was holding him accountable for other’s actions towards me. He showed me that I was hindering myself because I believed the worst of people, and in essence believed the worst of Him. God loved on me so that night that I cried, silently for hours. I cried a releasing cry. I released all those who have caused me pain or hurt, either intentionally or unintentionally. I cried a healing cry. I cried as God healed me anew from all that I have experienced. I also cried as God took the imprint from my brain. Memory of an event is one thing, but brain imprinting is something altogether horrible and lasting.
When a traumatic experience is imprinted on the brain, naturally, it causes you to respond to people and things in a certain way. However, spiritually, it will gradually cause a depletion of faith, because you rely on your recall of events in order to respond versus God’s kingdom way of doing things. In God’s kingdom, I must leave the chain behind and move forward. Philippians 3:13 indicates that though I may not be the best, the richest, or the most successful, I must forget the past, and move into the future.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,”
I also have to believe that the work God has started in me will be completed by him, according to Philippians 1:6:
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
And, finally, I have to remember that if I do the will of God, He will ensure I have all I need. This includes peace, love, and trust. He will also surround me with people who possess these traits, because He promises that He will withhold no good thing from me if I walk upright.
Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Psalm 84:11 – For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
So, today, I reach around my neck, and unclasp the choker that has held me bound for several years. I roll my neck to get used to this feeling of freedom. I focus on what is in front of me. I drop the chain that limited my movement. And I take off at a full sprint towards my future, pressing towards the mark, for the prize that Christ Jesus has promised to me – Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”