When my life imploded more than a decade ago, I wasn’t sure I would ever recover. For years I’d poured tremendous energy into holding together an important relationship in my life, but the other person’s struggle with mental illness eventually overpowered my efforts.
Distortions and untruths were spread about me. I desperately wanted to defend myself, but I knew airing dirty laundry in public wasn’t the answer. I needed to trust God to protect me and to bring the right resolution. Church leadership admitted I’d done everything possible to heal the relationship, but in order to avoid controversy, they quietly let me go from my staff position.
The experience left me confused, wounded, and feeling utterly disqualified for ministry. On top of everything, although I’d been a freelance writer for years, I couldn’t get much published during my wilderness experience. The view of God I’d learned in childhood—that he was a capricious and judgmental deity—was reinforced.
But a lot of healing has taken place since then, and I look at everything with a new perspective. Instead of continuing to think I’m disqualified for ministry, I understand I’m now much better equipped. My painful journey taught me what it’s like to be a wounded Christian and why many believers are apprehensive about attending church.
Rather than being told they should obey Hebrews 10:25 and not forsake the assembling of themselves together with other believers, fragile Christians need to be offered a safe place where they can heal as they learn about God’s grace, mercy, and patience. And a little gentle humor along the way doesn’t go amiss, either.
Equipped with these insights, in 2011 I began posting weekly devotions on my blog at Wounded Christians.com (now Heartlifters.net). It was a way to process my own wounds and rebuild my bludgeoned faith while evaluating people’s responses to my meditations.
What I heard back surprised me. Not too many of my intended readers contacted me—although through the grapevine I learned I did have a following. Most of the communication came from friends and family members of wounded Christians. “I love your quirky humor,” one said. “You need to put these devotions in a book. I’ll buy copies for all my adult kids.” Others shared links to my blog devotions on social media.
By the time I attended a writers conference in May 2012, I had written enough blog posts to approach publishers with a book of fifty-two devotions for wounded Christians. Three editors agreed to look it over. I was thrilled. But June and July passed with no word back. The familiar feeling of rejection returned.
In spite of pressure to give in to despair, I was able to maintain control over my emotions because of what I’d learned in my valley-of-the-shadow experience. Here’s how my book’s introduction explains it:
Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, claims that no matter how many times he visits New York City, he’s always struck by the same thing—a yellow taxicab. That’s pretty much a description of what happens in life, isn’t it? There seem to be two kinds of people in this world: those who have experienced difficult times, and those who are about to.
Often we describe our reaction to setbacks by saying we feel as if we’ve been run over by a truck. Or maybe someone threw us under the bus. I took years to understand that the way I choose to perceive such experiences determines my chances of emotional and spiritual recovery.*
Choosing to trust that God was guiding my steps, I remained at peace as summer progressed. Then, while I was preparing to leave a Walmart parking lot on a hot August afternoon, an editor from Harvest House Publishers called my cell phone to offer a book contract. In February 2014, 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times: Promises of Hope and Encouragement from God was released.
Of course I’m thrilled to be published again. But even more important is that my view of God now lines up more closely with what Scripture actually says instead of what I’d learned from the teaching and modeling of misguided spiritual leaders.
An improved view of God usually brings an improved view of one’s circumstances. We have the power to choose our attitudes and viewpoints concerning everything that happens to us—even when we get knocked down by a yellow taxicab or wind up under the bus.
How has attitude affected your response to difficult circumstances?
* Adapted from: 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times. Copyright © 2014 by Diana Savage. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.
Diana Savage’s latest book, 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times: Promises of Hope and Encouragement from God(Harvest House, 2014), is one of ten books she has written or contributed to, including two Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. She has published more than 100 articles and speaks at regional writers conferences as well as a variety of other venues in the US and abroad. She earned her BA degree from Northwest University, her Master in Theological Studies degree from Bakke Graduate University, and is credentialed with the National Association of Christian Ministers. She has served on the board of directors of four nonprofits, as director of women’s ministries at a large West Coast church, and as development officer for a ministry to homeless children and their families. Diana is active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn; blogs at www.Heartlifters.net; and maintains a business site at www.DianaSavage.com.