FREE TO LOVE
I saw her from across the room, where our class on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality had just concluded. My friend was pointing her out and asking, “Do you mind if we invite her to the beach with us next week? She would like to get to know more people.” We walked over and I was introduced to Kate. She is a beautiful woman with crystal blue eyes and a friendly smile, although somewhat reserved. She said she would get back to us in a few days. Her answer...yes, she would go.
The three of us, Kate in the back seat, were excited to have a day to soak up the sun! The conversation flowed freely as we shared our stories. I was shocked later as I sat on my beach chair next to Kate and heard that it was the first time in 22 years of marriage that she had ever gone away with women, without her husband. What? Who does that? And who DOESN’T do that?
The story she told was filled with the pain of rejection and abandonment. Lack of love and nurture. Abused as a child, her father would ball up the pictures he would find her coloring and throw them in the fire. She was not allowed to have fun or enjoy anything. He stole the joy from everything and ridiculed her every move. She was allowed to work.
Her marriage was no better. Explosive anger, harsh and cruel words, and moods of all sorts controlled the entire household. All the while, no one knew. No one. Her husband was a middle school teacher, adored and loved by his students, the faculty and the community. “I knew if I spoke up and told the truth, no one would believe me!” After a lifetime of duplicity and psychological abuse, Kate was struggling with severe neurological and physical issues, her body was shutting down.
And yet, she loved God and heard His voice. His pursuit of her heart was endless. At the same time she was dying inside and out, He was preparing the soil of her heart for new life. Calling her out of her wilderness, into steps of healing and freedom. Not knowing if she would ever be well again, she took them...speaking to her pastor and revealing the truth, counseling, emotional health classes at church, forming friendships with women.
Right after that day at the beach, I invited Kate to a One Step Ministries Retreat that I was in the midst of planning. I so wanted her to come meet Jesus there and receive the Living Water only He can give. She needed a space to breathe, receive hope and hear how precious she is to her loving heavenly Father. After a few weeks of prayer asking God to draw her and open the door of her heart, I received word that she was coming! The anticipation I felt was palpable, I couldn't wait to see what wonderful works God would do in her. Because He's good like that.
I was not disappointed.
Later she wrote this about her experience, "I am writing to thank One Step Ministries for taking the time to open my heart to more of God's love. It was a powerful experience to attend a retreat and see the humbleness and openness of the team. I appreciated Marti's mix of humility, grace, and truth. Her words are filled with the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, bringing truth to hearts. I found the courage to take another step toward being my true self in Christ. I appreciated the worship, the prayer, the words spoken by Paula, and the ability to meet new friends. The team provided a wonderful spread of food and warm fellowship with daughters in Christ. Thank you for providing an opportunity to sit with Jesus and drink from the well!"
Our mission accomplished: One Step Ministries invites people to walk in freedom with Jesus...one step at a time, creating deeper relationship with God and others.
A few months later, Kate sat in my living room along with seven other ladies, listening as I shared my story of God's amazing grace in my life. I was still almost unable to believe the words coming from my mouth...a broken childhood, salvation at 13 years old, huge disappointment in a destructive marriage, trust issues with God, His pursuit, the death and resurrection of my heart, my husband's heart and our marriage.
Kate sat in the blue swivel chair, taking it all in.
I didn't know it at the time, but God was already calling her to lay down the idol of her marriage and tell her husband she was done living like this. She had come to realize it was not God's design and she needed to stand for what is right. My story gave her the courage and strength to move forward and do it.
It changed her life.
Two weeks ago, Marti and I had the privilege of witnessing Kate and her husband renew their wedding vows, declaring God's love, faithfulness and the healing in their hearts and marriage.
They are free to love.
Freedom is priceless.