“Iron sharpens iron, just as one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
This post will be a little lighter than the previous ones have been. Typically for me, Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for me to catch up on homework, rest up for the upcoming week, and take care of any business I need to. Last night and today were spent catching up and getting ahead on homework. I am approaching the busy part of the semester where things move quickly and it seems like everything is due all at the same time. Typically, homework doesn’t inspire me. Today was different. In my Foundations of Pastoral Counseling class, we had to write a brief paper over a spiritual issue we were struggling with and how we overcame it, using the various counseling models and methods utilized in the class textbooks and discussions. I feel like I’ve talked about this so much but I used my Season of Forgiveness and also how our women’s ministry at Summit played a role in helping shape my spiritual maturity.
I had planned on doing this post later after I turned in the paper and thought about uploading the whole thing, but I couldn’t wait. This isn’t the paper I’m handing in but I did want to pick out a few things I thought were significant and share these vignettes with you.
The main thing is—Iron sharpens iron. This is really what women’s ministry is all about—building that sense of community of love and trust within what has become a sisterhood. As a future counselor that will inevitably have to lead group counseling, this is really the model I would base my future counseling groups around.
Not to get into what I wrote specifically, but I chose the 4 most significant things out of my Season of Forgiveness to elaborate on. To whomever is reading this, what I want you to take away from this is not my history but the fact that God is the Healer, Restorer, and Perfecter of all things. I share these things because despite how dark these times in my life were, God was still God. Christ was still on the throne, and while I admit my actions were my actions and disobedience was a choice I made, it was me who moved—not God. He was faithful in my trials and through His healing, my story became my glory and my opposition became my opportunity.
These are things I’ve talked about and touched on in previous posts but I think this is the first time I’ve really opened up about them.
Many of you know about the year I spent in Shawnee and the reconciliation that took place recently. For those who may not know, I went to a small Bible college in Shawnee, Oklahoma 5 years ago. Things started out okay but ultimately, I suffered almost a full year of traumatic emotional and spiritual abuse. I came home for the summer completely traumatized and just a few days later, I began summer session at Bacone. It left its scars on me. For the longest time, I let that trauma and heartache dictate my life. I let it dictate my relationships with others and also allowed it to get in the way of how I related and connected to others. I was in Shawnee recently for a campus ministry event and saw the president of this college for the first time since I left in 2010. She hugged me, we had a brief conversation, and went our separate ways. It was only God that allowed me to be able to do that. When I saw her, I didn’t have harsh feelings. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t have any anger or resentment towards her. I was able to look at the situation for what it was—horrible and traumatic, but it made me stronger. It made me more empathetic and ultimately, my relationship with God and my own spirituality were mature enough where I was able to honestly say that I forgave the administration for what they did. I’m still working through the emotional side of it. While the scars will always be there, the sting and the pain are gone. I can wholeheartedly begin healing and moving forward with my life.
One of the darker sides to that year was that I was thrown up against my doorframe by a family member in an all-out dry drunk rage. I never talked about. I never went to law enforcement to report it, nor did I pursue any type of counseling to recover from it. I suppressed it and pretended it didn’t happen. I mentioned women’s ministry at the beginning of this post. The love, sense of community, and the strong bonds that have been formed have brought me more healing and more growth than any therapy session could do. In the past couple of years, my parents and I have done family therapy to help mend the brokenness that came from that year. The dynamic between my father and I has dramatically improved. God gets all the glory and praise for it. It was only through God that we were able to work past such a dark time in our lives. Our household and home are much more Christ-centered and our prayer life as a family is stronger than it has ever been before. I am a work in progress and God is not finished with me yet, but I am a far cry from where I used to be. God moved in my life in such a huge way where I was able to admit how wounded I was from this situation and how there was a small part of it that still impacted me. The scar that night left is tattooed over. There are days where it still affects me. I’m not going to lie or pretend it doesn’t. Those days are lessening in severity and are becoming few and far between. As strange as it may sound, I thank God for these experiences. Without them, I wouldn’t be as effective in my ministry or in my future counseling. They’ve played a role in shaping me. While I wish these crosses to bear weren’t mine, I’m thankful that the entire year of 2010 was what helped me become Sarah. I may not be in ministry today without the struggles and opposition that became my opportunity to share the testimony of how God moved.
The third situation had to do with a hardened heart. I came back to Bacone in the spring of 2015, still slightly bitter towards a couple of past mentors from mistakes and negative decisions that were made. When I first started feeling convicted, this was the first thing God brought to my mind when I allowed Him to fully search my heart. These mentors have become some of the most loyal people in my life and I have grown to truly and sincerely love them. For all intents and purposes, they have become the first people I go to when I’m struggling with my spirituality, struggling with something in my degree program, or just life in general as a Christian ministry student.
The last situation I mentioned is one that I am less than comfortable sharing, however, it is part of my life’s story. For those who don’t know, I am an adopted child. I was adopted at two days old. I have yet to meet my birth mother and birth family. For the longest time, I harbored so much anger, hatred, and resentment towards her for giving me up. What I failed to realize was that it was a spirit of abandonment I was wrestling with. I was also using it as fuel to feed my eating disorder and self-harm related behaviors. I was also to a degree, dealing with the abandonment of a father figure, despite having a strong one in my life. Instead of looking at it as a blessing that I had two loving parents that to this day, will do anything for me if I asked, I was looking at it from a standpoint of self-deprecation and self-loathing. I thought there was something wrong with me or that I was “damaged goods” for her to give me up and for my biological father to not be involved at all. My Season of Forgiveness began either right before or right after Christmas and is still ongoing. It was only in the past few months that I have really began to look at my birth mother through the lens of love rather than hate. God has allowed being adopted to aid me in my counseling. I have developed a strong passion for ministering to middle school and high school girls and I have a strong passion for wanting to work with families in the DHS and foster care systems on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
Throughout all of these experiences, God turned my great trials into greater triumph. He made beauty for ashes. He restored what was broken.
I mentioned women’s ministry at the beginning of this post for a reason. Without my girls, I would not be where I am today. My faith has grown so much in the past few months. I have matured so much emotionally and spiritually since getting plugged into a ministry like this. The women I have surrounded myself around are pretty much my extended family. I want to encourage whoever is reading this to get plugged into a ministry like this. You cannot survive life on your own. I’ve said this so many times and this is a lesson that I am **finally** starting to understand. I know that if I didn’t have my Thursday night crew, I wouldn’t be where I am today. At all.
Like I said, this season in my life is not over. I have plenty of work left to do. This post wasn’t planned. I was going to do another one but just felt the need to write this one really quick.
I don’t really have a strong way to end this but I do want to say that iron sharpens iron. We all influence and help shape each other. Something I’ve learned along the way is that you are who you associate with.
Speaking from my own life, I’m going through something right now where I’m having to pray and seek God about a friendship. Something that has been on my heart the past few days is the question “Are your friends investments or liabilities?” In the friendship I’m having to seek God’s wisdom and discernment about, I’ve had to ask myself that question. I definitely want to encourage you to surround yourself around positive people. Surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed and really want to help you reach the goals you have for yourself.
I think that’s really all I wanted to cover for this post. I have one post in mind that I really want to write that’s centered on something that took place in my New Testament Literature class a couple days ago.
Until next time,
Love and light,