Giveaways, Guest posting

Healing is a Love Story

Healing is a Love Story

The thing that surprises people about my new book, Beads of Healing: Prayer, Trauma, and Spiritual Healing, is that it’s a love story. It’s the story of how God’s deep love carried me through trauma and pain, along the journey of healing, and to a place of complete peace. It’s my true story. Granted, it didn’t feel like a love story for a long time.

As the survivor of childhood trauma, I spent most of my life feeling separated from God’s love. I felt as if God had abandoned me in my time of greatest need, then left me alone to deal with the fallout. I struggled with fear, depression, anxiety, and shame. And while I was involved in the church, I also struggled with prayer.

On the surface, I didn’t know what to say or how to go about praying, but deep down, I believe I just didn’t trust God. I certainly didn’t believe God loved me. Though years of therapy helped me address my trauma symptoms, I was never able to get past certain issues. It felt like I was continually running into a wall when it came to my healing. After decades of this I reached a point where I was sick of being afraid and depressed. I began praying a desperate prayer for peace.

In 2012 I enrolled in a two-year spiritual formation program, thinking it would help me explore my calling. Little did I know, this was the answer to my desperate pleas for peace. The program was – first and foremost – about being still and listening to God. It was in the stillness that I began to express emotions that surfaced for the first time since the trauma. I grieved and raged and questioned and cried out. The wall came tumbling down.

In the space between my tears and words, I heard something new. I heard God’s voice telling me that God had never abandoned me in my time of greatest need. Indeed, God had been right there with me, helping me to endure a traumatic situation, then carrying me as I struggled to endure the aftermath. And God had been with me during all those years of therapy and desperate cries for peace. And God was here now. Because God offers a love that was, and is, and will continue to be deep and wide, merciful and healing.

This love story is not only mine. It may be yours, too. It may be that you, too, have experienced pain or trauma. It may be that you have struggled to heal, holding questions and conversations and pain that could only be addressed by God. Because, it turns out, we may deal with the physical and emotional elements of healing, but we often neglect the spiritual. Yet as spiritual beings, we need to address the spiritual effects of pain in order to heal fully. In this way, we will know – really KNOW – of God’s deep love for us. And we will recognize the love story that is our life.

________________

Guest Author Kristen Vincent

Kristen E. Vincent is an award-winning author, speaker, and artisan whose passion is spiritual
formation. She travels frequently to lead retreats and workshops. Kristen is a graduate of Duke
Divinity School and The Academy for Spiritual Formation (#34). She lives in Atlanta, Georgia,
with her husband, Max, a United Methodist pastor, and their son, Matthew. Kristen loves words,
the mountains, gatherings on her porch, and dark chocolate.
prayerworksstudio.com

GIVEAWAY

 

Kristen is graciously giving away a copy of her new book and a set of her prayer beads to one reader. Leave a comment to enter the giveaway.

*Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. 

**Bead images courtesy of prayerworksstudio.com**

Comments

  1. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Kristen, praise God for His love and healing in your life at the end of such a long and difficult struggle. I am so sorry for what you suffered, and rejoice that God has brought you to a place of deep peace . . . and through His precious gift of prayer. Such healing came to me as well after suffering with the pain and guilt of an abortion. Though after my initial apathy, God finally broken through my catatonic conscience and I confessed the horror of my sin, but still, I couldn’t find His love and peace. But through a remarkable incident of prayer, eighteen years later, God brought me great peace and, in my case, the ability to forgive myself. Through prayer, the Lord set me free. Thank you for your courage to share your message of transformation, healing and peace.
    Blessings,
    Lynn Morrissey

    Reply
    1. Lynn – I appreciate your kind words so much, and loved reading your own story of God’s healing work in your life. I’m thrilled to hear how you were able to find forgiveness and God’s peace. I pray you continue to hear God’s voice of deep love in your life. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
  2. What a beautiful story. I am currently enrolled in a program to be certified in spiritual direction and I deeply resonate with what you have shared. God’s love is truly “deep and wide, merciful and healing.” Amen.

    Reply
    1. Christine – Thanks so much for your kind words! It is exciting to hear of your path towards spiritual direction. My spiritual director has played such a critical role in my life, helping me to recognize God’s presence throughout my life and gently guiding me towards a place of peace. I pray you, too, are able to companion people towards mercy, healing, and experiences of God’s deep love. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
  3. Amanda

    What a beautiful testimony! I’m so thankful that God never leaves us, even in the darkest times. Thanks for sharing your story and for the giveaway.

    Reply
    1. Thanks, Jennie! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Like you, I am constantly in awe of God’s ability to transform pain into beauty. May you always find God’s presence in both the beauty and pain of your life. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
  4. Jamie

    The most important question that I asked in my journey of healing from childhood abuse was, “Where were you, Jesus?”
    A friend challenged me to ask and then prayed through it with me. God answered: in words spoken to my heart, in the pages of the Bible, and in my memories. I began to see my painful memories in a new way… I saw the ways that Jesus was there with me. To this day, as I continue to unpack memories of the abuse and abandonment, I continue to see Him there with me. It has made all the difference.

    Reply
    1. Jamie – I am right there with you! I, too, asked where Jesus was during my trauma. And like you, there were many places where I found the answer to my question. One in particular came from the book, The Shack, where Jesus tells Mac, the main character, that he (Jesus) never left Mack’s daughter for one second; that he was with her every second of her trauma. I’m so please to know you found that same assurance. I love that it came from your friend’s invitation to ask the question and then listen for the answer. So powerful! May you continue to see Christ’s presence with you in every aspect of your life, and may you experience his deep love for you. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
    1. Hey Kristen! Thanks for reading my blog. I’m so grateful to know you were encouraged by my words. That means a great deal to me. You are God’s beloved. I pray you claim that truth and experience reminders of it throughout your life. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
  5. A few weeks ago, I was overwhelmed by sadness as I sat in my church pew. It wasn’t for things in my own life, but for a world where so many things can be wrong. I keep a wool Prayer Rope in my purse – a gift from an Orthodox Christian. I took that role from my purse, and it brought such comfort to cling to the cross in that way. All this to say, prayer beads and such are not of my particular faith tradition, but I get it. I’m learning.

    Reply
    1. Traci – There are so many signs of sadness in the world, and I share your grief. I love that you were present in your moment of sadness and able to use the prayer rope to lift up your grief and listen for God’s words of comfort. And yes, prayer beads are new for so many of us (I am Methodist), but we are discovering how this ancient prayer practice can quiet our minds, remind us of God’s presence, and help us to experience God’s peace. Blessings on your continued journey towards God’s deep love. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
    1. Thanks, Andrea! I love your statement about inclusivity in prayer. I know in my journey that I’ve had to learn there is no wrong way to pray. This was so encouraging to me, and has allowed me to relax and experience new ways of connecting with God. I pray blessings on you as you continue your own journey of prayer. May you experience God’s peace. Kristen

      Reply
  6. Kathy Knight

    Thank you for your words honey. I can not describe with words the depth of my life long journey of healing that has come only through His Love. Only His Love. I pray that for you, all of the people who have silently walked with you were transformed as well in a degree as Christ has been glorified. I pray that I too can walk in the gap for others who suffering in their suffering and learn that God is for us.

    Reply
    1. Kathy – Such beautiful words you have shared! I am thrilled to hear how God’s Love has helped you heal. And you are so right that those who walk in the gap with us are themselves transformed. That is the gift of companioning others through dark times. Blessings as you continue to walk in the gap with those who suffer, helping them recognize God’s comforting presence in their lives. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
  7. Mariel

    This touched something in me. My immediate thought was for a close friend who is still struggling for peace and healing, despite having made many strides forward. My second thought was- I think this is for me. The description of holding God at arm’s length is still too relevant to me. I look forward to seeing what God may do.

    Reply
    1. Mariel – What a powerful statement! To know that your first thought was for your friend, but then to realize that this also spoke to you – that is profound. Good for you for listening and recognizing that insight. I, too, look forward to seeing that God may do with this revelation. Blessings in your journey. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
  8. kathy

    It is a great testimony to see a life transformed by the love of God. Each of your readers has a story to tell of the transformation by the power of His spirit, but you have convincing proof of God’s miraculous care and mercy. I look forward to reading more from your book. May God use your words to bring light to those who are struggling.

    Reply
    1. Kathy – I so appreciate your comments about my story, and you are so right that my readers have their own stories to share as well! That is the beauty of God’s deep love: it surrounds all of us and reveals God’s mercy in our times of need. I am hoping readers will share their stories with me so that I can post them on my website, beadsofhealing.com. Blessings to you, and may you find signs of God’s mercy wherever you go. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
  9. Thank you so much for this. So much speaks here. I felt compelled to get prayer beads a couple months ago and started using them but then quit. I feel like I don’t know how to use them. (They came with prayers we can say and of course I started with St. Patrick’s Breastplate.) I do want to say that the Jesus Prayer saved my sanity during a particularly dark time, so I know about how powerful ancient prayers of the church can be.

    I have been interested in spiritual direction, but haven’t found someone that would work. (I haven’t looked hard yet either.) But I am reminded that when I was meeting with a spiritual director he midwifed me through some my own working through of childhood sexual abuse which brought me to the place where I could marry my husband, who has been a tremendous gift to me. That summer was pretty amazing with the healing people the Lord brought to me. I’d forgotten that connection…All Father MacFarlane did was listen and when he spoke he spoke from a quiet, good place. (He also told me to not worry so much about caring for the poor but to listen to my love for horses. I did land in a job that helped me fulfill the writing and teaching and helping the poor calling, but not quite then.)

    What you say here about listening to God seems to be something the Lord is saying to me. I often wake up saying prayers for people but have felt I need to shift those prayers to thanksgiving and maybe to listening. Kris posted an amazing Eugene Peterson interview that also spoke to this on Facebook. (Kris Camealy I guess the Lord is using you to speak to me!)

    At any rate thank you for this. Blessings and all good things to you.

    What you

    Reply
    1. Katie – I am so blessed by all that you have shared! I am thrilled to learn of your efforts to use prayer beads and the Jesus Prayer. Both are beautiful practices that can help quiet the mind as we connect with God.

      I really resonated with your story about Father MacFarlane. What a gift to have someone who could so gently encourage you to listen for God’s voice of healing. I pray you are able to find a new spiritual director who can usher similar moments of grace into your life.

      Clearly you are listening to the various voices in your life – including Kris and Eugene Peterson – which is a gift. May you continue to experience God’s love in the people and liminal spaces that surround you.

      Peace,
      Kristen

      Reply
  10. Tracey Layman

    I love my beads I made in your workshop at Duluth UMC. They’ve become such a tangible reminder of prayer especially when I didn’t have the words or one of my parents was sleeping at the hospital.

    Reply
    1. How fun to reconnect with you here, Tracey! I’m so pleased you love your prayer beads. It’s powerful to hear how they supported you when you could not find words to your prayers, and comforted you while you cared for your parents. May you continue on your journey of prayer, always discovering new ways to experience God’s peace. Kristen

      Reply
  11. Sometimes we need to hold the tangible to feel what we cannot hold. This is a beautiful reminder that the space between where I am and where He is…isn’t that big after all.

    Reply
    1. So beautifully said, Denise! That is indeed the purpose of prayer beads: to offer a tangible reminder of God’s presence, because God is indeed as close to us as the beads between our fingers! I pray you will be surrounded by reminders of God’s presence and deep love in your life. Peace, Kristen

      Reply
  12. Marge Woods

    You have touched me by your grace and creativity. Your messages are so true and the prayer beads are so simple but have so much meaning. Thank you for listening to the Lord, as I am sure you are on the path He wants you to be on; as you are helping so many people make it easier to pray. Many blessings, Marge

    Reply
  13. Barb

    Thank you for sharing your testimony and trusting God through your ministry. You have blessed us; we have grown. I look forward to reading your new book and continuing to share prayer bead ministry! To God be the glory!
    Your last two blogs confirmed two sermons that the Lord placed on my heart and I have been working on. Again, thank you.

    Reply

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