I always associate Marvia Davidson with joy and worship, which is also reflected in her art (both fine art and creative writing). She is a wonderful, warm, supportive person, and you should definitely make friends with her on Twitter. It’s lovely to have her here to round off the year’s God and Suffering stories:
I remember always feeling broken, like something was wrong or amiss. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I couldn’t quite figure out why I was claiming Christ but not bearing his fruit. I was doing everything I knew to do to show I was his. I was striving and doing all the right things, and yet my soul was flailing. I was miserable and weary from trying so hard. Every two steps forward was also two steps, if not four, backwards.
Why wasn’t this Christian life working the way it had been preached from the pulpit, from the books, from the bible, from friends, from family? It wasn’t working. My faith was faltering, and I began to inwardly crumble.
I joined a recovery group at my church, and that was one of the best things I had ever done for myself. It was a bit jarring at step one – you’re not in charge of the world. Shock and indignation were my first response, but then I realized what I was doing wasn’t working. I was only imprisoning myself rather than walking free. I wouldn’t trade that process of recovery for anything. It gave me a chance for grace, empathy, acceptance, and sorting out lies so I could embrace truth.
For nine long, arduous months I met with seven other women. We talked about all our hurts, habits, and hang ups. We pressed in to truth when it was painful. We listened to each other. Nothing shocked anyone. We embraced one another.
I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t do all the work that I could have done, and therefore didn’t experience as much break through as I could have. I didn’t realize this until after recovery. Sure, I still attended the meetings, but I wasn’t doing the work. The hard truth pressing up against my heart was that I didn’t want to do the work. Maybe I thought just showing up would be enough. Showing up would give me grace. Just being there would heal the wounds.
Unfortunately, it’s not how any kind of recovery works. If I wanted true, authentic freedom, I was going to have to do some work. It was not going to be easy. It wasn’t going to be a one-time recovery deal either.
I love truth. I do. But, I hate the process of peeling off the band-aid of lies. It rips my skin, bruises me, and wrenches my guts like spoiled, rotten milk. It leaves me in knots of raw discomfort.
Yet, somehow, I knew in my soul it was what I was going to have to do – sit in the pain. Know the feelings. Honor what the heart was whispering. Notice the torrent of emotional duress – the highs, the lows, and all the undefinable in between. I just didn’t want to go there, but I got tired of living with crippling lies.
I got a call in early 2014 to join another faith-based recovery group. I’d been waiting nearly a year for an opening. I knew it was about diving deep into the issues and impact of various kinds of abuse. I initially thought I’d deal with one thing at the beginning. Funny thing about recovery – once you open yourself to it, it takes you down roads you didn’t know existed. Recovery grasps your hands softly, but firmly and says, “here, love, this is the way we’re going, but fear not. It won’t be easy, but this is the way out of this darkness. This is how we’re going to get to the light.” And before I could catch my breath, before I could fight back with a resounding no, I was on “that” road. There would be no going back . There would be no comfort in lying around in the shadows of shame, malignancy, or lies. I had to choose each day to move forward. The whole process wrecked me.
Imagine being warmly comfortable and clothed in the best winter clothes. You have the mitts, the scarf, the longjohns, the long-sleeve flannel or wool, and a hat to hold in the heat. Only problem? It’s the middle of the summer, and this is what you’re wearing. Your friends try to tell you it’s okay to shed the layers, but you think it’s safer to keep on all these clothes. Sure you’re a little sweaty, on the verge of heat exhaustion, and really wanting to shed the weight; but you can’t. You fear the nakedness of exposure. You fear the comfort of cool water on your warm skin. You fear how you will be seen. You fear the shame for having worn all those wintry clothes.
Picture it now? That was me for most of my life, but in this second recovery group, I learned I could shed the clothes, be exposed, and not feel threatened. I didn’t have to fear the opinions or judgment. I didn’t have to be afraid to show the real me. Not one woman in the room was disgusted when I bore my reality and sullied truth.
What was more important to me than being seen and heard by these women was grace unfolding. This group of women became the hands and feet of Jesus to me. I realized I didn’t have to try so hard. I didn’t have to strive. There was nothing for me to do because God had already done all the hard work.
My life hadn’t been working because I was trying to do what only Jesus could have done. I was trying to reconcile my life and restore it. I was trying to do the heavy work. I had been living as though Christ’s cross had no impact on my life. It grieved me when I first understood this, but it was part of my healing process.
Total acceptance of the gift of grace set me free from the performance trap. I couldn’t earn it. I couldn’t do anything to make it happen. The grace just was. It was there, always there. God kept showing up. He wanted my wholeness just as much as I did. Today I am grateful for the relentless pursuit of God’s healing touch in my life. I’m even more thankful for the confidence to bear my soul with women who are safe.
Marvia enjoys sharing the journey of life and living fully. She’s a Christ follower learning to just “be.” While her life may not be perfect, she is on the road to “be”-ing authentic in Christ. Her desire is to share love, light, hope, words, thoughts, dreams, faith, and whatever else seems good and prudent. She is drawn to encouraging, supporting, mentoring, and helping others. You will find her walking the rockity-bumpity journey of life in the wide open spaces of Texas, sipping tea, drinking coffee, splattered with sugary flour dust while baking with family, laughing and snorting loudly, or dancing ridiculously just because. You’ll find her writing and pondering at marviadavidson.com, or follow her on Twitter @MarviaDavidson.
[tweetit]”I remember always feeling broken” – @MarviaDavidson tells her God and Suffering Story for @Tanya_Marlow:[/tweetit]
[tweetit]”I didn’t have to be afraid to show the real me.” – @MarviaDavidson on God and Suffering and recovery:[/tweetit]
[tweetit]”This group of women became the hands and feet of Jesus to me.” – @MarviaDavidson on suffering and recovery:[/tweetit]
[tweetit]”My life hadn’t been working because I was trying to do what only Jesus could have done.” – @MarviaDavidson[/tweetit]
Over to you:
- When have you ever felt like it wasn’t safe to be the real you?
- Have you ever experienced a supportive community like the one Marvia describes?