I gave this testimony in Dutch on Sunday, 27 November 2016, on the day I was baptized. I’ve translated it into English.
Less than a year and a half ago I could only see darkness before me. I wanted to take my own life, despite being blessed with a loving and devoted husband and two precious kids. But every day I fought against the dark cloud of post-traumatic stress disorder, the Word of God my sword:
Romans 8: 38 – 39 (ESV)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
My brain spoke death wishes into me, day in and day out. I saw the broken body of my mother before me, a body being robbed of all life. All the images, sounds and scents spoke of a god who was determined to let his most faithful servants suffer excruciatingly before extinguishing them in their entirety. But again and again I spoke God’s Word against it all and listened to the Biblically inspired song I am not alone by Kari Jobe. My thoughts spoke death wishes, but God’s Word – Life. And more and more, my God dared me to entrust Him the darkness that spoke within me and the terrible fear and deep grief that the accuser was terrorizing me with and had terrorized me with in the past. God dared me to trust Him with my unbelief.
And a few days before my first and only EMDR therapy session I did. I turned His promises of comfort, hope and never forsaking Presence to Him and asked Him why He hadn’t revealed them in my life. And in my deepest cry, He kneeled before me. During my therapy session, He stretched His arms out toward me and I heard Him speak: “Come Anna, my child. Come lie here with me. I see you. I see your heart and it pains me. You’re angry, but I am too. SO angry. It’s not your fault, all the suffering and pain is NOT your fault. Know that there’s more. I’m putting everything back together. Trust me now. I want you to get angry. Let it all out. Do what your daughter does when she has a temper tantrum. Get really angry and I’ll hold you tight.” And He did. I felt myself unleash all my anger and all that time He held me tight. And ever so slowly, He encouraged me to rest on Him, safely up against His heart.
And then He showed me the past: fear-filled and grief-filled memories now soaked in His mighty, loving and hoped-filled Presence. I saw my little brother who I’d been unable to protect from repeated physical punishment walking hand-in-hand with Jesus as a little boy, I saw my Mum being carried upwards by angels and myself as a little girl covered in His outstretched wings. And for the first time in more than twenty years my eyes opened fully. He loves me. God doesn’t want to hurt me. His will is to gift me a living hope and joy, not to scare me or to reject me.
The suffering that I feel in people is His gift to me – not to hold on tightly to and to protect and comfort them in my own strength, but to let Him work through me, so that He can reveal . . .
His Father heart to us. A heart that looks beyond the behavior of His children to the grief and fear-filled abandonment beneath that our accuser has rooted deeply within us. And He picks this little heart up and holds it tightly in His hands as He speaks truth to it, again and again: “I love you. You are precious. A treasured pearl in my safe arms. I have always wanted you. Rest in me. I will never ever let you go.”
And this deep longing to know Him and to be known by Him is something He has placed in each one of us. It is this: His yearning birthed in me as a child that first led me down a path full of brokenness. But God my Father allowed me to go my own way, so that when He called me back home I could finally see Him as He truly is: filled with compassion, running toward me to take me in His arms and kiss me, just like the Prodigal Son. So that finally I could begin to get to know NOT religion better, but more and more of the One True God, Love Himself.
And that’s why I am now standing here before you. I am giving myself in baptism to fully embrace my Living Hope. To surrender myself fully to my Father’s will, whatever that may be. To fully release the control I grabbed hold of tightly as a child. To leave my old life, in which I was a slave to fear, sin and death, behind in the water and to stand up through the power of the blood of Christ into the Love of my God, my Father and my Life Himself.
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely[d] goodness and mercy[e]shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord