Rising from the Ashes: A Woman's Journey to Self-ForgivenessFeb 01, 2024
God's Warrior Woman ~ Natasha's Story
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” - Ephesians 4:32 KJV
Have you ever felt lost in your own despair?
There was a time in my life when I used to cry myself to sleep. Not on the rare instance where I was hit with a sentimental memory, or after watching a sappy movie on TV. But rather on a nightly occasion.
I would lay in bed night after night watching the invisible hands on my digital clock tick as each minute passed by. Ten o’clock became eleven, became midnight, which somehow would turn into 3 am; when I would finally fall into a restless slumber, just to wake up a few hours later and begrudgingly climb back onto my hamster wheel. Knowing that the minute my head hit my pillow that night I would start the whole thing over again.
But there’s beauty in starting over. Even if we can’t understand the reason for the pain at first. And sometimes it takes repeating our mistakes to finally wake up and see what’s truly going on.
As humans, we are often our own worst enemies. And when we allow regret, shame, and confusion to become our narrative, we are denying the image in which God created us: after His own.
When we allow regret, shame, and confusion to become our narrative, we are denying the image in which God created us: after His own.
My struggles with anxiety and OCD (and yes, many sleepless, tear-filled nights) stemmed from a deep-seated regret, and the inability to allow myself to heal.
Growing up, I always had a love-hate relationship with my body image. My life revolved around my weight, the scale, and my perceptions of both. I struggled with balance, discipline, self-acceptance, and allowed other people’s opinions of me to dictate my worth.
Then, when I was about eighteen years old, I suffered a trauma which left me in a pretty dark space mentally.
This one moment, this blip on my timeline that I never in my wildest dreams planned for, nor thought would happen to me, changed the course I had been on and ripped my life’s plans to shreds.
I didn’t value my worth, and my anxiety and depression skyrocketed. I developed an eating disorder, and spiraled into a pattern of self-destructive behavior.
My already-poor body image plummeted, and I viewed my body as something to be ashamed of, not a temple worth caring for.
The decisions I found myself making were so far misaligned with the values that had been ingrained in me from a young age. I didn’t recognize myself anymore.
This lasted for a handful of years, but by the grace of God I was able to find my way home. I metaphorically woke up one day and realized I couldn’t keep living in the way that I had, and if I did, I knew these bad habits would end up destroying me.
I slowly but surely started making necessary changes in my life. I adopted healthier behaviors, lost 75 lbs, and somewhere along the way ended up pivoting my career path to help others do the same.
I started praying more, reading the Bible again, and turning back to God to help guide me through and out of my darkest moments. I became a champion of women with similar stories, encouraging them to realize their circumstances do not define their worth.
And I leaned on God to forgive me for my past.
But despite all of this, I still found myself in the same place every night. Crying alone in the dark wondering why I was continuing to feel this overwhelming sadness and shame.
I would pray during these nights, repeating Psalm 23 for comfort until I would fall asleep.
And then one night I truly believe God nudged me. He made it so perfectly clear that I couldn’t believe it had taken me this long to realize it.
Even though God had forgiven me for all the things that I had done that I felt shame and regret over, I hadn’t yet forgiven myself.
I will still holding myself over the coals believing that I was shameful and unworthy.
I knew that what happened to me all those years ago was not my fault, but I was continuing to live in the regret of all the decisions I chose to make after it happened.
I hadn’t forgiven myself for how I chose to cope with the unthinkable. For straying from God, for living a narrative I didn’t want to adopt, but did so for a period of years anyway.
And that was why I was still struggling.
Most of us are taught the premise of forgiveness from a young age. If we want God to forgive us of our sins, we must forgive others.
In the simplest of terms, when you do wrong by someone you apologize, and then the politically and ethically correct action from the other person is to forgive.
Just like we are called as Christians to forgive others, we also have to learn to forgive ourselves. It’s often not an easy task, but through our weakness we can lean on God’s strength.
I was allowed to forgive myself and move on, that I could be washed whiter than snow and that I was worthy of peace was like a weight being lifted off me.
Realizing that I was allowed to forgive myself and move on, that I could be washed whiter than snow and that I was worthy of peace was like a weight being lifted off me. I felt a calmness wash over me unlike anything I had ever experienced.
I was worthy of forgiveness. And furthermore, I was allowed to move on.
Sometimes bad things happen to us. Sometimes we make bad decisions. We are all imperfect. But we serve a perfect God who loves us, and just like the one lost sheep - God wants us all to return home.
If not for God, if not for prayer, I would still be crying those sleepless nights. But prayer was the catalyst for my healing. Even through the hardship, prayer brought me closer to the Lord so that I could hear what He was trying to tell me, and I could lean on His strength to make me whole again.
Make sure you check back next week for another Warrior Woman!
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Natasha Funderburk is a wife, #boymom, Health Coach by Day, Digital Marketer and Freelance Writer by night. Her articles have been featured on sites such as Her View From Home, The Huffington Post, and The Today Show Parenting Team. Fueled by Jesus, coffee, and carbs, Natasha spends most of her time watching her son play baseball, writing her feelings, and searching for snacks.
You can connect with Natasha at https://saltsparrow.com, Facebook , Instagram and Pinterest.
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