A couple weeks back, I opened up about my struggles with heartbreak. Check out the post, if you missed it! But, at the end of that piece I said this:
So, to answer my own question: Yes, I still believe in the power of love. I’m still a hopeless romantic and I believe that I will find love again one day, when it's time and when I’m ready–or should I say, when God says I’m ready. I’m choosing to trust again. I’m choosing to love again–but this time, starting with me.
After writing that piece, I felt the need to force myself to listen to love songs. Not all day long, but to push myself to try a song or two. It was a response. A response to the pain, the hurt, the struggle, the demon that was trying to hold me back from total freedom and restoration. It was uncomfortable, displeasing, but I kept fighting.
I was making the conscious decision to open myself to love again and therefore I needed to match that decision with intentional actions. Listening to love songs was a strategy.
So this morning when I woke up with love songs on the brain, it didn’t even faze me. I turned my bluetooth speaker to the highest volume and let the songs blast throughout my apartment. I found myself belting the songs. I grabbed my three year old and swung him around as we sang while making the bed and brushing our teeth. I was enjoying myself. There was no resistance, no constriction. No discomfort.
I was healed!
And a woman who had [suffered from] a hemorrhage for twelve years [and had spent all her money on physicians], and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His outer robe, and immediately her bleeding stopped. Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” While they all were denying it, Peter [and those who were with him] said, “Master, the people are crowding and pushing against You!” But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, because I was aware that power [to heal] had gone out of Me.” When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came up trembling and fell down before Him. She declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith [your personal trust and confidence in Me] has made you well. Go in peace (untroubled, undisturbed well-being).” (Luke 8:43-48, AMP)
The night before, I attended our weekly Wednesday prayer nights at church. At the start of these prayer nights, our pastor had instructed that we should also do a liquid fast on Wednesdays so that our spirits could be even more receptive to the move of God. Since fasting has basically become a lifestyle for me, it was a no-brainer. I choose to do only water on those days because I have personally experienced the substantial effectiveness of prayer & fasting. I always enter into the sanctuary with expectancy and God always meets, and even exceeds, my expectations. But, there was something different about this night. All day, I had an excitement in my spirit that I couldn’t explain. I just had a strong sensing that something was going to happen that night. It felt like I was getting ready to go to a party, or some sort of celebration. I changed my outfit three times–which is huge for me, because lately, I haven’t really cared much about what I wear. God was definitely up to something.
Seemingly randomly that morning, I got a phone call. It was my dad. He told me that a co-worker kept inviting him to church and would tell him about these prayer nights. He then proceeded to ask what the name of my church was, if they had this, what time it took place and if he could attend with me. I was shocked! Not because he wanted to come, but more so because of this sudden willingness to embrace the church that had in some ways “stolen” me from his congregation. You see, my dad is a pastor himself and has been pastoring for over 30 years. He moved from Port-au-Prince, Haiti with my mother and eldest brother in 1987 to the United States in order to fulfill a calling on his life to preach the gospel.
As a pastor’s kid, growing up I was always doing something in the church…whether I desired to do it or not. I was a Sunday school teacher for years, starting back when I was probably 12 or 13. Starting even younger, I was often forced to sing solos during Sunday services or special occasion nights. As time went by, I eventually became the praise & worship leader, coming up with the program for every second Sunday service, which was dedicated to the youth. However, it is important to note that we never did have a huge quantity of youth. There were mostly adults and seniors, but nonetheless, I did what I could to try and build up the youth ministry at my father’s church.
I had no idea what I was doing at the time. To me, I was just trying to create opportunities for the youth to actually build real connections and relationships. Probably because it was something that I craved. With all of my insecurities, middle and high school years were tough, so at least church could be a safe space for me to be able to open up and build life-long friendships. It was something that my parents would brag about all the time–how their church in Haiti had so many activities for the youth when they were growing up, and how they still talk to many of those same friends they formed friendships with all those years ago.
I am the type of person who does not like to do anything half way. I’ve always been. God wired me this way for a reason. Therefore, as I made the attempt to build this small community of youth, I would spend my own money to plan activities. I planned pizza + movie nights, wrote Christmas plays and got props, scheduled rehearsals for the ‘worship team’ (if you could call it that–our worship team was just a couple of teenage girls with no band), and I spent too many hours trying to find engaging lessons for Sunday school classes. Honestly, I think–scratch that–I know I was doing way more than I could actually handle. But, I didn’t mind doing it. The problem was that I was being constantly emptied out by serving, yet was getting insufficiently poured into.
And it brought up something that I have started to think a lot about lately: the costs of serving through having a career in ministry. Namely, I think about the toll that it can take on you; on your family, relationships, children, even your relationship with God. There were so many times as a child/teenager when I resented my parents for seeming to care and focus more on the dealings of the church. It seemed like the church was the top priority and this thus pushed their children into second, sometimes what felt like even third place.
I remember going to my parents on more than one occasion and trying to communicate how I was feeling about all my responsibilities in the church. In all honesty, my delivery was probably not the best–God has brought me a long way y'all! But, the point is, I was trying to tell them that I just was just not being fed spiritually; that I loved the church and actually enjoyed serving, but I was getting burnt out by doing it all. When I reached this point, I was the only sibling (out of 4) who was still devoted to being completely obedient. Not to knock my siblings in any way! I think they were just way more brave and more outspoken than I was capable of being at that time. I lacked the courage and backbone to say no to what my parents were asking of me because like many, I was a people pleaser. So even if I knew in my heart of hearts that something was up, or if it distressed my spirit in some way, I would default to doing what I was told because I could not handle others’ disappointment in me. Therefore, I continued to serve, but from an empty place and in so doing, I started to drift farther away from God.
Is it my parents fault that I started to drift? No. But, did I maybe blame them a little? Yes. From my vantage point, my parents were just looking out for themselves; just trying to ensure that they didn’t look bad in the eyes of their congregation. They had to maintain the image of this idealized Christian family–an image that compromised my ability to be me in my fullest capacity. Unfortunately, people have a nasty habit of putting pastors and their families on pedestals, as if we are exempt from the missteps and trials that all human beings are subject to. This can be especially difficult to navigate as a young person because you are at an age where you are essentially supposed to make your mistakes, supposed to learn lessons and just be a stupid teenager. But, when you are not afforded the same grace extended to others in your same peer group, it can be severely damaging. I learned to perform, to fake it, to shrink, to hide certain parts of myself that were not well-suited for the dignitary, pomp and circumstance of the church. And without realizing, it was creating shards within my heart. So the brokenness that I had attributed solely to dealing with my failed relationship and subsequent divorce was actually so much deeper than I knew.
In hindsight, I can now zoom out and start to remove the focus on just me and my feelings to the larger picture of how the church itself, like many other industries, has its own politics and can be difficult to navigate. The Haitian church community in particular, can be especially challenging because the unwritten rules, codes and bylaws are circumvented by deep cultural traditions and beliefs that can work in opposition to the success, advancement, and health of the church body. There is a level of tension that occurs when religion is coupled with culture. This coupling under the right stewardship can lead to amazing results, but most of what I have seen is the destructive nature of such a combination.
As the Bible tells us, you can not serve two masters. So when you are serving in the Lord’s house yet attempting to commingle ethnocentric, culture-based ideologies it is a recipe for disaster. One is constantly at war with the other and that starts to matriculate down into the people. Dissension and division ensues. And worse still, is the divide that begins to take up space in the heart of the believer. They develop wounds whether or not they are aware. All of this is to say that oftentimes the source of our pain and heartbreak is usually much deeper and much more complex than we realize.
So let’s connect this back to my dad calling to accompany me to church. What I did not realize was that God was about to bring total and complete healing and restoration, not only to me, but to my entire household.
As we worshiped during service that night, the presence of God was so strong. With eyes closed and hands lifted, I could hear the deep vibrato of my father’s voice as he sang. Instantly, I was transported back to being a little girl in my father’s church–watching with awe as he led the congregation in song. My inner child was revisiting the places I had forgotten as an adult where hurt had taken place. Then, it happened! The pastor came onto the mic and voiced what I’m sure everyone was feeling: how the spirit was strong in the sanctuary and that we were standing under an open heaven. It was the perfect time, he said, to make our requests to God. Specifically, the pastor mentioned that the spirit of healing was present and if anyone was seeking healing, this was the time to receive it. He directed anyone who needed healing to touch the place on their body. At first, I hesitated, thinking that this part of the service was only for those who were maybe struggling with physical pain, ailments, sicknesses and diseases. But then, I heard a small, still voice tell me to put my hands on my heart. I knew I needed God to heal me of my broken heart and here He was presenting me with the opportunity to make it happen. Slowly, I drew my hands from my sides and lifted them, criss-crossing my hands over my chest.
What happened next is hard to explain in writing. The best way I can put it, is simply that I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit. As I stood with my hands over my heart, my eyes closed, deep in prayer, I felt my body begin to tingle from head to toe. I envisioned the hands of dozens of angels surrounding me, touching me with their healing hands. Tears began to stream down my face. This was it. My moment. My healing. I just stood there resting in the presence, allowing the spirit to do what only it could. The sensation was almost euphoric. I had such a sense of peace and calm like nothing I have ever experienced before. Here I was, standing in the middle of the miraculous. My broken heart, that had been shattered into a million pieces from church hurt, betrayal, failed relationships, divorce, unworthiness, unforgiveness–all of it was being mended in an instant.
My father being there with me at that moment can be interpreted in a few ways. First, he was representative of The Father (God) standing there with us through it all. He never leaves or forsakes us and always has our back. Second, it was to help me to identify a pain-point that I had buried so deep that I was no longer aware that it was causing any damage. In a way, my dad in that moment stood as a reflection of the church hurt that was burrowed deep within my chest from feeling neglected and unsupported as a young believer. Lastly, I think his presence there was to serve as a living example of Luke 8:40-42 and 49-55.
Now as Jesus was returning [to Galilee], the people welcomed Him, for they had all been expecting Him. Now a man named Jairus, a synagogue official, came [to Him]; and he fell at Jesus’ feet and began begging Him to come to his house; for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as Jesus went, the people were crowding against Him [almost crushing Him].
...While He was still speaking, someone from the synagogue official’s house came and said [to Jairus], “Your daughter is dead; do not inconvenience the Teacher any further.” But Jesus, hearing this, answered him, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe and trust [in Me and have faith in My ability to do this], and she will be made well.” When He came to the house, He allowed no one to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother. Now they were all weeping loudly and mourning for her; but He said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead, but is sleeping.” Then they began laughing scornfully at Him and ridiculing Him, knowing [without any doubt] that she was dead. But Jesus took hold of her hand and spoke, saying, “Child, arise!” And her spirit returned, and she got up immediately; and He ordered that she be given something to eat. Her parents were greatly astonished [by the miracle]; but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened.
What I failed to realize as a child/teenager due to my immaturity is the importance of zooming out of a situation and taking yourself off center, in order to understand the bigger picture. My overzealous pursuits were from a genuine place of wanting to serve, but it left me so focused solely on me that I failed to consider the weight of the responsibility of leading a church that fell on my father’s shoulders. I do not remember ever once asking him how he felt or if he needed something, or remember him talk about feeling overwhelmed with the many duties that coincide with leading a life in ministry. But now, I understood that the healing was not just for me. Like Jairus, in the scripture above, my father had a daughter that was asleep for many years. I wonder what kind of toll that took on him; wonder if he felt guilty for having to choose between the church and his family at times; wonder if he ever felt responsible for any of his children’s drifting. But here was God giving even more than we bargained for by providing healing for both child & parent.
What a mighty God we serve. He heals all our sicknesses and diseases and always does exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ever ask, think, or imagine.
My heart was sick, and I’m guessing my dad’s heart was too…and here was God putting us back together again.
So this morning when I woke up with love songs in my mind, I felt it was God’s announcement that I had been given total restoration. Not only was I healed from the heartbreak of my marriage & divorce, but also from all of the hidden pains that had accumulated in my heart over the years. Pains that I could no longer detect, but that were acting as a chasm– secretly annihilating the light and love out of my heart so that I was rendered incapable of authentically receiving it. Like those two stories from Luke 8, I was no longer asleep and made fully whole.
And since I’m sharing, I’ll bring you in on another unexpected announcement from God. Most Americans celebrate the start of the new year on January 1st. However, according to the Jewish calendar, the year begins on September 25th. In the blog post, “Making the Choice to Love Again,” I included how at the start of 2022, I made an oath, swearing that I would focus on building this year and I declared a fast on all men. Over the weekend, I attended the last Woman Thou Art Loosed conference that is held by TD Jakes ministries. This conference was life-changing for so many reasons. But, there was a moment during a sermon by Dr. Carolyn D. Showell where she said "God was resetting us; that the person we’ve been until this hour, we would not be in this next hour." And then she said “and it's New Year’s Eve ya’ll.”
My spirit leapt when she said that and I immediately thought back to the oath and my fast from men. What was being communicated was that I had completed my year. My oath was fulfilled.
So, I guess my fast is over. I did not see that coming. But, the more I walk with God, the more I discover what a great sense of humor He has.
To be clear, I am in absolutely no rush to jump into a relationship.My reason for including this is to share how incredibly thankful I am that whenever it does comes time for that new special someone to come into my life, I'll be able to enter the relationship being fully healed and whole. So, for anyone that is dealing with heartbreak, wondering if you will ever be able to love again; or like I was, if you'll ever be able to hear a love song or watch a romantic movie and not feel totally uncomfortable, sad, angry, and bitter all at the same time: I’m living proof that it is possible, but only when you allow The healer to come in and go to work on your heart. You have to also bear in mind that the journey to healing takes time! I have been at it for almost a year and a half. But because I was doing the work (i.e. therapy, surrendering, renewing my mind daily, and praying like crazy), when the moment for complete + total healing presented itself, I was in position to receive my breakthrough.
SO STAY IN POSITION!
I hope this encourages you to keep pushing, keep moving forward, keep pressing and never lose hope. Your miracle is on the other side of your trial–and trials only come to make us stronger. Though it may tarry, it will surely come (Habakkuk 2:4). Therefore, hold fast to your vision of whatever breakthrough looks like for you and rest assured that God has already worked it out. He's going to meet you at the level of your faith! For me, it brought healing to my broken heart while also restoring family wounds that were buried in the abyss of my soul. Please know that whatever you are believing for, whether its healing from a broken heart or not, God is going to give you double for your trouble. If He can do it for me, He can do it for you. Just believe.
I am so ready and excited to live this new season of life with a completely restored heart.
Let’s see what this new year brings!