Today we kick off our new Blog Series Restoration Stories. I decided to share my story as the kick off even though many may have seen it before when it was featured on the Broken Girl Blog last year.
I look forward to bringing you many more amazing Restoration Stories that will inspire and encourage you in the coming months.
Here’s my story……
Sometimes I don’t even know where to begin to share my story. God has brought so much restoration into my life and He continues to Restore me daily. Like many mom’s and wives we can lose ourselves and pour everything into our families that we rarely leave any room for ourselves. We put our health on the back burner and burn the candle at both ends. We buy the lies of the enemy and grieve our losses without the Hope that Christ offers us. We are wounded and broken and don’t know where to turn.
To fully understand my story, you have to know my history.
I was a broken girl from as far back as I can remember. My first fracturing came when my parents divorced when I was too young to even remember my parents ever together. My dad got custody of my two sisters and me while my two brothers went to live with my mom. Little did I know, we would not see our mother again for several years. My dad was broken. My mom was broken. My whole family was broken.
All the years of fighting and the tug of war of divorce left a vulnerable child without adequate protection who became an easy target for others. The next fracturing came from sexual abuse from not just one, but numerous people who were in my life from the age of seven to around twelve. From that abuse I became good at self-blame and began my search for love in all the wrong places. As I grew up I attracted broken people myself. I lived most of my life trying to pretend I was not broken. I was out of balance in almost all areas of my life. I was a person that carried those secrets for far too many years. I learned to operate in a false self, burying my secrets deep. Smiling on the outside to cope with those feelings of guilt and shame from my buried secrets, I tried to medicate with alcohol, drugs, shopping, and sex. There is no balance in brokenness.
I married a wonderful man in 1996 that did not know of my brokenness. When I became a mother three years later to twins, I was fractured by post-partum depression and then medically-induced menopause after a total hysterectomy. With my emotions now out of control I became a workaholic to try and escape the despair I felt as a broken mother. I ran my family into credit card debt three different times from buying things to compensate for my guilt of being an absent mother. I also bought things to fill all the aching voids I felt inside.
My next fracturing was the one that almost shattered me. In the spring of 2006, my brother died suddenly. He had lost his battle with addiction. By this time I had learned to hide my brokenness in the church pews practicing religious rituals. However, because of his death, I became very angry at God. I wanted nothing to do with Him. That summer, I found The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It was a life-changing book for me. I made a barter with God that if He was all that people claimed He was, I would follow Him…if He would deliver me from my smoking addiction. He was faithful and took that addiction away from me in 2007. I began finding comfort for my brokenness in God and His word, but still I did not fully trust God enough to surrender all my secrets to Him. In 2008, at age 38, I was fractured by a stroke that later uncovered diabetes. Right after came another fracture from my Dad’s sudden death later that same year. The months following my stroke led to an overload of doctors and diagnoses. Looking back now, I realize that all my health issues were a manifestation of trying to keep my secrets buried and turning to everything for comfort except God, The Greatest Comforter. I had revealed my secrets to my husband and a few others over the years, but it wasn’t until I released my secrets to God and became obedient to Him to let Him use them, as He wanted to, that He could finally do some of His best restorative and transforming work in my life. It is true, “We are only as sick as our secrets.”
My secrets of abuse, addiction, and debt were bad, but my biggest brokenness was from a secret I had buried for over 20 years. Abortion. Abortion affects 1.3 million women each year. It is the one topic that gets people really fired up. I have been in churches where pastors went on and on about the Sanctity of Life and many so-called Christians get so riled up over the subject that they come across as condemning.
Condemnation from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ only tends to make the isolation and shame worse for many wounded women. I saw no one offering to help restore lives after the effects of abortion or reaching out to these women to offer them Hope.
When I saw all my brokenness that was weighing me down by the shame and guilt I was carrying from my secrets, I cried out to God. He knew all my brokenness all along. He was waiting for me to release all of it to Him so that He could use it for His Glory. I wrestled with God for two years before I let go of the fear and let God strengthen me to the point of sharing my secrets with the world.
I clung to this verse in some of my darkest moments:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you. (1 Peter 5:10 AMP).
God did strengthen and settle me, but I was desperate to overcome my brokenness.
Then one day I saw: “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the words of their testimony;” (Revelations 12:11)
That was it! God was confirming to me that we only overcome by sharing our stories. Sharing how God has restored us.
There are far too many people not operating in the best that God has for them. Whether that secret be abortion, abuse, unplanned pregnancy, not finishing school or college, yelling at your kids, anger at your spouse, vanity, a critical or judgmental spirit, cursing like a sailor, having an affair, getting a divorce, self-hate, turning to pills, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, work, volunteering, or food for escape or comfort.
It doesn’t matter what it is, God can use it all to create something beautiful out of our brokenness. Vulnerability is not weakness; it is courage!
We can’t repair our stories until we share our stories. The broken, the ugly, and the messy.
Real Wholeness from our brokenness begins when we release ALL the broken pieces, all our (secrets, sins, struggles) to God. Only when we release it are we able to obtain real emotional deliverance.
My hope is that everyone will begin to Live R.E.S.T.O.R.E.D.
~XXOO Michelle Bollom
Michelle Bollom is Founder of Restored Ministries, http://www.restoredministries.org
Happily married to Joe for almost 19 years and mom to twins Connor and Curran. Michelle resides in the North West Suburbs of Houston, TX. She is a Lover of Jesus, people, words, and enjoys encouraging others.
If you have a Restoration Story- contact us, we would love to feature you in our blog series.