I walked through something called deliverance. The first time I heard about it was through a friend, who asked me if I knew what it was. My only experience with anything of that nature up to this point was a story I was told by missionaries who spent 5 hours casting demons out of a woman who collapsed in exhaustion afterwards. My friend assured me that the deliverance she was speaking of was nothing like that. She recommended a book called 2 Hours To Freedom, by Charles H. Kraft. After reading the book, I knew this was something I needed. Up until this point, I was living in a hole of fear. Fear and control, manipulation and fog. I was afraid of people, of dark places, of new experiences, of being left alone with my kids when my husband traveled. I was afraid of disappointing others, of what people thought of me. I was too afraid to speak to some people and I went out of my way to control situations so that I could keep fear at bay. I was controlling within my marriage and over my children. I was afraid of my husband leaving us. Walking through deliverance was one of the most amazing, incredible and odd experiences I have ever gone through. It was nothing like I expected or was afraid it would be. There was so much acceptance, openness and partnership, I felt safe. I felt loved. I cried a whole lot, coughed some, and was thoroughly prayed over. I felt validated and understood. I felt affirmed and I felt set free for the first time in my life. I walked out of the room lighter, peaceful and with a deep calm joy. For a few days I couldn’t stop smiling.
It was explained to me that unforgiveness gives the Enemy a stronghold in my life to hang out and bully me, specifically for me in the way of fear. Forgiveness is something that I have spent a long time learning and working through. For years it has been a major theme of my life. But sitting down and going a bit deeper, writing down on paper things from my past that came to mind, I discovered that the biggest area of unforgiveness I was still struggling with, was with myself.
What follows the act of becoming delivered is what is most important. I was encouraged to be vigilant and stand firm in my newly gained freedom. I had a list of things to pray, to stand against when the attacks came. And come they did. When you remove strongholds from within you, you basically step on a bee hive and have a bunch of homeless bees on the defense. The old frustration, irritation, temptation to jump in and control, the habit of fear – it all came back. But the differences was that now, with strongholds gone, these things didn’t overwhelm me or control me from within. They just buzzed around my head and shoulders.
At times it got so intense that I remember stopping in the middle of putting shoes on my screaming toddler, getting down on my kitchen floor and simply repeating the name of Jesus over and over, until I could literally feel the air around me open up again. Sometimes the most intense attacks came in the form of old habits, and bickering children. But now, all I do is simply call the “attacker” by name (annoyance, irritation, fear, strife, etc) and tell it to leave us alone, in Jesus name. I am still in awe of how the air literally clears when we practice this.
There was a day, while walking on the beach, when I remembered something we had been struggling through with my oldest son. We had recently learned of some traumatic experiences that he’d had gone through several years back, things that had I known at the time I would have taken swift care of. But he’d been bullied into not telling, tormented with threats of harm. Before any of this was revealed to me, I had flared up in frustration over his behavior. I had yelled, and there had been door slamming. We’d all been reduced to tears. When He was finally able to speak out the things that were haunting him, with the encouragement of a word of knowledge the Lord gave me, things changed dramatically in our home. But there are still moments of tense frustration. It was one of these moments I was encountering in memory. At that moment I remembered how crushingly harsh I had responded and guilt flew to the cracking of my heart like a swarm of vultures ready for an easy meal. Fresh guilt for not having known what he’d had to endure years ago, for not having known and rescued him. New flocks of guilt descended on top of the first flock, for not being more loving now, more patient now.
I was in tears. I was torn apart inside and sobbing openly right there in public. As if that wasn’t enough, memories flew in, memories of other moments where I failed horribly as a mom to all three of my children. When I had cut them down in sarcasm or snapped at them in rushed frustration. I was begging God’s forgiveness out loud, waves crashing and rushing toward my feet, seagulls calling above my head.
A familiar sound rose up from within my core, “As you have forgiven all who have hurt you, I have forgiven you. In the same way you have let them off the hook, decided to no longer hold them accountable for their offenses against you, I have let you off the hook with your children.
When I look at them I do not see your mistakes. I do not see wounds you have given them. When I look at them I see in each of them the beauty I placed within you to impart to them. As I have dealt with you, I will deal with them. As I have healed you, I will heal them. I will care for them as I have cared for you, and I will supply them with all that they need to overcome all that they have faced and will face in their futures.
I wish I could say that the whole swarm of guilt lifted off and all is well. It did lift. It did soar a respectable distance above my head and leave me be for a while. As I forgive myself, as I soak in the words spoken over me from within, as I sit and listen to others share their experiences of freedom and lessons of joy, of throwing off the shackles of religion, I see the flock of guilt hovering above me grow thinner. As I practice speaking out, “I forgive myself” I see the flock growing thinner still.
A continued theme as I walk forward in this new found freedom has been that God has let me off the hook. He no longer holds me accountable for the things I have done, or the ways in which I have failed. He sees me as radiantly beautiful, a luminescent reflection of Himself, mirrored in three incredible children who are healthy, healing, growing and loving. If God is not holding me accountable for failing, then who am I to keep myself dangling from the clutches of guilt?