Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back


January 22, 2013 by A Girl Like Me

It’s almost 8am this morning and here I am retyping everything I had written for you guys today. This morning I woke up with a deep sense of conviction that my post, well it was a vague attempt to show you Jesus. I was honest, but only at surface level. I wanted to show you enough, but not too much because if I did, you’d see me for who I really was, and no one ever likes to be exposed. But isn’t that what the enemy wants from us? Fear? Fear of exposure. Fear that if we really let the weight of the darkness that breeds inside us out into the light that we will be met with rejection and dislike? So I am starting this post over. Ironic too because starting over is exactly what I want to talk to you about.

It’s been almost eight years since I took my first steps into a counselors office. I remember the fear and anxiety that swept over me as I entered her office not knowing what would happen. I sat down, and we began to talk. As we moved deeper into the chasms of my heart, something glorious happened. I was getting better. Shackles that had been clenched so tightly around the weight of my body were beginning to crumble and I could feel as though I was breathing again for the first time. It was wonderful. It was painful, tiresome, and painstaking yet somehow redemptively glorious all at the same time. After several longs months, I walked out of her office told that I was fine. I had been healed.

It’s funny how those words “You’ve been healed” can give you such a feeling of empowerment but also a feeling of expectation as well. For years I lived life as though I had conquered all my demons. I did my work. I did the hard thing. God certainly would have healed me simply because I was humble enough to go. So when some of the same old lies, the same old wounds, and even wounds I never knew existed began to resurface into tiny holes in my heart and mind, I wasn’t prepared.

Like anything satan tries, it’s sneaky and cunning. You never see really whats coming until one day you look at yourself in the mirror and you have no idea who’s looking back at you. And that is where I came to last week. You see, the lies had come back but I ignored them. I mean, I was declared healed so they of course weren’t of any damage to my soul, right? But that’s what the enemy wants. He wants us to take this idea that healing from our past comes in this one magical moment never to be dealt with again. But the truth of the matter is, healing, true godly healing, takes a lifetime. So here I was on this amazing cruise ship with my husband when God hit me square in the face. It was almost as if I could hear Him saying, “Heather, I’m not done with you yet. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like you worked so hard and have come so far to find freedom only to be smacked back in the face once again with all of your pain? Why would God do that, you might ask. Why wouldn’t He let us suffer once and be done with it? To you, I say this:

Sometimes God has to take us backwards before He can move us forwards. 

Proverbs 16:9 tells us that “The heart of a man prepares his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” I could tell myself all I want that I’d never be burdened by my past ever again, but if that were to be true, I’d never need Jesus again. I’d never be faced with my own depravity so that in joyful adoration I could run into the arms of my Father, allowing his grace and mercy to sweep over me and bring me peace. If I never let Him thrust me backward into my pain, I wouldn’t be sitting here in my robe, sharing with you. I’d never have moved to Tennessee, met my husband, or been a mother. Each of those times God had to take me back. Back to my sin so that HE could redeem it, and thrust me forward onto the plans he had laid out for me.

Are any of you there girls? Battling the truth that healing won’t be one pretty little package, but a lifetime of peaks of valleys. Is God asking some of you, much like myself, to take a step back into to your pain, back into the mistakes you made not so that He can wound you deeper, but so that He can heal you more fully? If that is, take hope my friend. For “The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

I don’t think Hosea 6:1 could have said it any better than this: “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.”

Next week, I begin my journey again. I’ll take another step into a new office. I’ll feel the same rush of anxiety and fear I did those eight years ago. But this time I go in with a new perspective. This isn’t the end, nor is it the beginning. It’s just another step. Another step taking me back to pain, but taking me forward to my Christ. And so I begin to walk.


25 thoughts on “Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

  1. Jess says:

    I am in that EXACT position and have been ignoring it for months… I’m scared to take any next step because I don’t see how freedom could come from my bondage. I know God is big enough, but I’m not. I’m terrified to take that step into an office. Sand terrified is an understatement.

  2. Beth says:

    Oh Heather. I am with you. Everytime I step into my counslors office. Everytime, I sin and do exactly what I don’t want to do I am thurst back to my brokeness, my hurt, my fear, and my weakness. But it is only in all that that God can bring redemption. It is only in that the sun can rise from the ashes of a broken life. We have to break so that He can heal us. Thank you for sharing and bringing me the consoltion of knowing I am not alone. I am proud of you and you have my prayers!

  3. kiya12 says:

    Reblogged this on kiyanguolenja and commented:
    Sometimes God brings just the words you need to hear.

  4. B Brabo says:

    Thank you so much for sharing- this really encouraged me today. <3

  5. Liz says:

    After 3 years of my husband and I trying to have a baby, and one miscarriage later, this is exactly what I needed to be reminded of. This whole process has broken me down so badly that some days I feel as if my spirit, my soul, is dying (like today). Thank you so much for sharing — that we are being broken down to be built up again. Only this time we are new and we are stronger :)

  6. Natalie says:

    Thank you for your openness. This is so perfectly timed. I’ve been struggling with exactly this, why this again. I thought I had overcome it. Thanks for the hopefulness of your post and God’s word.

  7. Kelsey says:

    Thank you so much for this. After getting over a giant life struggle, after healing, all you want to do is sweep it away forever. But just because you are healed, does not mean that there isn’t more to overcome or more to learn from. It doesn’t mean that same struggle might creep in on the back of the enemy, when you least expect it.
    How uplifting that we are armed with Christ!

  8. Bethany says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It makes some stuff in my own life, like a conversation I had yesterday with my boyfriend that went in directions that neither of us expected, make sense. I’m hoping to work on a nonfiction piece about struggles I’ve been through for my final creative writing project before I graduate college; I hope that through writing it, God teaches me and redeems me even more.

  9. That is exactly how I feel right now with the therapy. Thank you so much for putting that almost indescribable feeling into words. It seems like every session is like putting salt in a wound, every door that I’ve deadbolted, screwed, planked up, padlocked shut… falling back open. And each time it feels like all the bad stuff is happening all over again…remembering all of my darkest secrets I don’t dare tell hardly anyone…Some I thought I’d forgotten….and I just felt like having to remember was the same as stabbing me in the back. It just hurts. I never realized until now that it could heal. That it was God, healing me, releasing all the pain I never wanted to feel but dealt with, sometimes without even knowing it. PTSD is a hard thing to overcome, the memories can be CRIPPLING. But now I notice each time a terrifying memory comes flooding back, I hear a soft, soothing voice telling me it’ll be okay.

    So, it is with great thanks I write this Heather. I never opened my eyes to such a beautiful thought on healing before. Keep on writing!

  10. Chelsea says:

    Wow…thanks for sharing. My heart is with you as you step back into that counselor’s office and continue this ongoing process of healing. I also have found that the moment I start thinking I’m doing alright and that I am forever walking in freedom from “this day forward!” is exactly when I fall back into bondage again. Choosing freedom and healing is an everyday decision, though I often wish it was over and done with just like that.
    And yet the joy will be that much greater after such a long battle. I’m hoping to return to counseling for my 2nd time and though I anticipate it to be just as difficult and as painful as before, great things WILL come through it. Rom. 8:28 promises that.
    Thanks for the encouragement and honesty…it is much appreciated and a huge blessing.

  11. Kristen says:

    Like everyone else, i want to say thanks for sharing :) I too go to a therapist/counselor, because of anxiety and perfectionism. For a long time i thought that wow, I must be doing a horrible job because look! I am back to feeling like i did when my relationship with Jesus did two years ago… haven’t I learned anything?! But like you said, God takes up through the valley so we can look on the mountain and thank him, so we can learn, so he can move us forward.

  12. hollinisley says:

    Wow, Heather, that was vulnerably beautiful! I, too, like you have been to counseling. Recently my counselor/mentor/friend under harsh circumstances had to move away. Although with today’s technology we are able to stay in touch. I am thankful for your example to your readers, me. Thank you for being real and vulnerable. It is not an easy task. I am currently required to share my life timeline with a class where we practice group therapy. We are all social & behavioral science majors. It is an interesting class. I have a hard time trusting the instructor for the course due to many compound factors. I have to choose to make the choice that would honor God. So, I know what that means. =) be blessed as you continue forward!

  13. Ruby says:

    To be honest, I thought I was getting better. I thought that I didn’t need a counselor for my problem anymore until, just a few minutes ago, I did something stupid again and I realize I still need the help. I thought I had taken a huge step forward but right now I feel like I took 3 backward. Pls, pray for me. I really need it.

  14. Kimberley says:

    I cannot tell you how much that meant. Thank you so so much for being so vulnerable and open. I have been thinking suicide today, right now and I decided to open this post and read it in hope of something. Having been seeing a counsellor for a long time, I’ve come to a place at which I feel as if I’m not normal, and a ‘stuff up’. Thinking, Christians are’nt supposed to be in a place of hurt and distress, we should be living in the joy of The Lord and never ‘down’. The expectation created when people tell you you are healed and how amazing it is to see, it feels I cannot be in another space, I need to fit into this, and feeling anything else deviates from the expectation. I feel I may explode. Knowing that someone else of such great faith who leads so many and is in such an extreme position of influence also struggles, and hurts, and is’nt afraid to share that, is encouraging. Thank You. I pray that God reveals Himself to you more in this time, and that you rest assured in the knowledge that He is with you always.

  15. Tabitha says:

    Heather, thank you for being so wonderfully honest and vulnerable and I’m glad God had you re-write this and gave you the ability to go there. I have been walking through this truth myself (and have repeatedly). God brought such great healing to my life, healing form guilt and shame and pain, that I never thought possible. But the lies associated with those feelings do creep back in and then God reveals other stuff, sometimes deeper aspects of the same thing, and walks us through that. Walking through the doors of a counselor is a terrifying thing and I am proud of you, the other ladies here, and myself for doing that exact thing as it’s needed. May God walk us through continual healing and may we be humble enough to be honest that we need Him to.

  16. Kaylee says:

    It continues to amaze me how perfect God’s timing can be. How he sees us right where we’re at and says “I’ve got just the thing for you…”
    like he did for me tonight, with this post.
    God’s let some old struggles come to light again again in my life recently, and I have to admit that I’ve been neck deep in them and its been killing me.
    Killing my pride, because I thought I was past it, killing my hope because I couldn’t see a way out, killing my faith because I thought God had given me the victory over these areas.
    But what I’ve come to realize is that God cares a lot more about my heart than about how many days I can stay clean, but I’ve been more concerned with counting the victory days, than about truly resting in his grace.
    So I am thankful that I have a God who loves me too much to let me live that way.
    He puts me through trials like this so that I can experience who he really is, so I can see my need for his grace, so I can trust him when I have no control, so I can humble myself and let him redeem me instead of trying to save myself. So even though I’m not exactly comfortable with where I’m at, and I may not know exactly what he’s doing or what path he’s taking me down, I’m positive that its better than where I was at, and its for my good and his glory.
    I have a counseling meeting with my pastors in the morning and before reading this post I had such anxiety in my heart. I was dreading every second of it, transparency is not one of my strong suits, neither is communication. But seeing you write about your life, hearing your perspective about counseling, about how its isn’t the end or the beginning, but just a step closer to my savior, really changed the way I’ve been viewing it. Yeah I may have to rehash the whole sinful story that lead up to where I find myself today, I’ll have to let people see me for the mess that I am, I’ll have to face the fact that I’m not over it, and that I’m not fine. But this time I know that Jesus Christ makes up for every area that I’m lacking in, that he is orchestrating my steps toward restoration, and that he’s not done with me, he doesn’t condemn me. And I am completely drenched in his grace. And those are things that I’ll never be able to praise him enough for, or fully comprehend. He’s held onto my heart every time I’ve fallen back, so I know with out a doubt that he’ll hold me as I make my way closer to his heart.
    Thank you so much for this post,
    You two honestly have no clue what an impact you make, or how much God uses you to encourage and guide hearts like mine, who desperately need some raw honesty mixed with solid Biblical truth.
    Can’t wait for the next post :)

    • Greta says:

      Heather, thanks so much for sharing. I applaud you for taking a step back and into therapy. I hope it helps. I have been realizing lately that I am really struggling again. My therapist moved this summer and I haven’t been since. I’m scared to have to look for another one…. Finding one that I trust enough, and then digging up all the pain again. I totally want to just be done with this chapter in my life, but as I try on my own the pain just keeps coming up, it won’t go away. I know this time though, that I am going to include God.

  17. Emily says:

    Wow…I’m in the exact same place. Man, praise God that we are never alone in our struggles and that He meets each of us where we are. After reading this (and picking my jaw up off the floor because it amazes me how you and Kelly keep writing about what I am dealing with) I couldn’t help but think of 2 Cor. 1:3-5: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (ESV)

  18. I went to counseling as a freshmen in highschool. I was cutting and told my youth pastor, therefore, I was placed into counseling. After 3 weeks of going, I was told that I had just “messed up” and I was fine, I had just made a mistake. I never wanted to go back to counseling. (Obviously) It was probably one of the worst experiences I had, and hurt me more then healed anything.
    This year, lies and past hurts caught up with me. After being bitter and hurt by my previous experience, I couldn’t even tell you how scared I was to go back (to a different councelor) on my own terms. But, I won’t forget how freed I feel everytime I walk out of that office. I’m still working through life, but thanks for your voulnerablility. I’ve been there. I hope you start experiencing God in ways you never did before and in ways you never expected to come from this. I know I did.

  19. susieyao says:

    thanks for writing the blog, heather. i like the part when you wrote “I could tell myself all I want that I’d never be burdened by my past ever again, but if that were to be true, I’d never need Jesus again.”
    that was what i prayed this afternoon. i wished that healing happened all at once and it’s enough. i wished my past would not interfere so much with my present. but the brokenness are just too many and without that constant battle with our wounds and sins we would not need Jesus.
    God bless.

  20. Joy Comes in the Morning says:

    God is with you, Heather. This was so perfectly timed I can hardly believe it. Thank you once again for your honesty.

  21. Louannie Flores says:

    I love this; I needed to read this today. It seems like I always forget the real meaning of being forgiven, and I go back into the hiding, but hiding is just making Christ blood uneffective in me. I want to surrender it all. So “two steps back, to steps forward” :) Thank you for posting this!

  22. Marissa says:

    Man, I needed to hear that. Except I don’t do counseling. I was forced to do it in middle school and high school and I’ll walk in once but never come back. I know that God doesn’t need to use counseling to heal us, so I sort of rely on that.

  23. rachel says:

    I’ve been struggling a lot lately with depression and I stumbled upon this blog post. I was consdering giving up on God bc I felt like all my efforts of trying to overcome were ruined but now I understand God is breaking me to build me back up. It’s hard to not feel bitter towards God when I struggle but I’m starting to understand why God is allowing this to happen

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