I received an email today asking this simple question. What is something that has changed your life? As a Christian woman and entrepreneur of a Coaching business I'd love to say that God is the foundation for any lasting changes I've made. He is the author of my changed life. But there was a time when no amount of bible study or prayer could convince me that someone like me (the older, broken version) could actually achieve the permanent changes I had been seeking.
I spent my 20's praying for change. Every time I would run into what I considered a character flaw I'd read through every book I could find on changing that horrible flaw because it meant that I wasn't a good enough......fill in the blank.....yet. I'd memorize scripture and still feel unsettled about who I thought I should look and act like. At home I suffered greatly from depression and fought a daily battle to just get out of bed and pretended that everything was o.k. just so I could take care of our sons. At night I'd climb into bed with this horrible secret. I wanted to be changed but I felt like there was no hope for any real change for me. If I could just make enough changes I could erase my past. I told myself that if anyone really knew the messages I was hearing in my head that they would lock me away. I often wanted to run away but was afraid that I'd go to jail and my kids would be worse off without me than with me.
I spent my 30's running as fast as I could to stay away from any reminder of my past. I wouldn't spend very much time with my parents because they were a reminder of why I was so flawed. I got very busy, running to a filled up calendar and volunteering a lot of time at church in an attempt to stay ahead of what I started to believe was a woman who would never be able to achieve real joy.
I'd say, some fruits of the Spirit are just not for me. I tried and tried to experience joy yet I felt more and more numb.
In my 40's I worked and volunteered at a church six to seven days a week. I was always trying to outrun a very unfulfilled existence. I served in many ministries and one that I loved was the women's ministry and bible studies. What others saw on the outside was a changed life, but on the inside I spent every day berating myself for never being good enough. I truly loved God and I wanted to help other women experience real life change. I helped many women discover how to have a more connected relationship with God but I was still trying to run from my flaws by attempting to be better.... you know...that mom, that wife, that team member. If I could just be better, maybe I could grow that fruit of joy.
At 48 years old I had reached the end of all that running. I decided to get some help from a trauma coach. I had been running for so long that I just needed to stop. I quit the job, I quit doing ministry work and I almost quit my marriage. (Praise God I held on). I allowed myself the space to start to heal. I allowed myself to feel angry. I grieved almost 50 years of blame and shame for my sins. I started to get honest with my husband. I started to get honest with myself. God told me when I accepted Jesus that I was forgiven. I had a lot of beliefs about what I would need to do in order to truly be changed. I didn't realize that the enemy wanted to keep me in chains. No matter how many verses I've memorized or how many times I truly believed God loved me, I was holding back.
During a counseling session one day as I was looking at my husband, our counselor asked me to really really take a good look at him. Do you see how much he loves you he asked? It hit me! I felt like God was saying, Shel, do you see? You haven't believed John's love for you because you don't trust my love for you. I started to cry. A simple question changed everything. From that day, I really started to question my belief system, not in God or the Bible or Jesus's sacrifice for me, but the belief system the enemy had been whispering to me from a very young age. You can't trust. You can't really trust that you are loved, because you are so flawed. Those messages of damaged goods was on repeat every time I made a mistake or wasn't thin enough, or smart enough or had a clean enough house. Every time I wanted to have joy, the belief that it wasn't allowed for someone like me would be on repeat in my mind.
Somethings that have changed my life: the love of God and the gift of His word, and His sacrifice for my flaws, my sins, my broken places. And a miracle breakthrough in a broken belief system. It was so sneaky. I didn't even see it. For years I worked on improving myself to be good enough when God had already made me good. I wasn't broken. I was healed. I started examining my thoughts and getting really good at being o.k. with my feelings. When you spend your life telling yourself that you are not good if you are angry, you burry anger down deep and you drown in it. When you tell yourself that you are too much and not enough, you are tearing apart how God created you. You don't trust God's goodness. You don't allow the gift of the fruit of joy to truly be yours.
I love God's word to us. Unfortunately some times we have a hard time really embracing what He want's to tell us. I know that buried deep are some messages that got rooted in childhood that seem so real and feel almost impossible to break. I brought those messages into the light. I started to question them. Why did I think that way? Where did that belief come from? Am I trusting God in this moment? Why do I think it's dangerous to trust? The little girl in me, the one who silently cried in her bedroom, asking God to fix my broken world woke up to some hard things. Alcohol abuse, emotional abuse, learning disabilities that were undiagnosed, rage, terror, a rape, a girl who didn't trust she could really be loved.
Joy has changed my life. Most day's I feel it. Even when my old thoughts resurface and I tell myself that I'm not enough or I'm too much for other people to take, or I feel fear, I remind myself that I just need to sit for a moment and manage my unmanaged thinking and feeling. And I ride the waves of grace and forgiveness. I breath. I take a nap. I tell my husband my crazy thoughts. I listen to music that reminds me that I am not alone. I am healed. I will find that joy again, on the other side of this other emotion. It works for me. Getting help opened up a whole new life.
There are so many verses that speak to me as a Life Coach. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Test God in this, He will reveal His good purposes and plans for you. (my translation)
Psalms 119:105 MSG
By your words I can see where I'm going; they throw a bean of light on my dark path. I've committed myself and I'll never turn back from living by your righteous order. Everything's falling apart on me, God; put me together again with your Word. Adorn me with your finest sayings, God; teach me your holy rules. My life is as close as my own hands, but I don't forget what you have revealed. The wicked do their bast to throw me off track, but I don't swerve an inch from your course. I inherited your book on living; it's mine forever-what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what you say-I always have and always will.
Coaching has given me an opportunity to root out lies and replace them with truth. I used several professionals along the journey to discover the joy that was always available to me. I gladly share them with others who live in my community and want to be well. From my chiropractor Joel Kinch who taught me that God has created our body to heal, my Natural Path Doc, Dr. Adam Graves who took little needles and some cups and helped my body to purge my pain and helped me to see the trauma that was trapped inside. To my trauma counselor who coached me through deep wounds, Tammy Gustafson. To my weight loss coach, Corinne Crabtree who showed me the Model of Coaching and taught me how to be an amazing life coach and entrepreneur. To the Life Coach School for giving me some tools to get started on my coaching career and to Marc David, who showed me that the Psychology of mind, body and eating is an experience of gentleness and love and healing.
To God for his grace, his plan, his glory.
To my husband John who has taught me to look deeper and see that he's been telling me I am whole, and beautifully loved from the start of our journey together, thank you baby for hanging through the most painful places in my heart and mind and never giving up on us. You are my best friend and my love.
To my sons, who have gifted me with mamma hugs, encouraging words and honest truths. Thank you for your forgiveness and love. You have shown me how to have healthy boundaries and to let go of what other people think.
It's an honor to work with my clients who gift me with their stories and allow me to walk the journey with them. And I get to assign some really fun experiments in letting go and building trust within themselves. I love my job.
Girl, You've Got This! That is what God tells me every day. And I truly trust that God has got me too!!!
DammGirl Coaching LLC