The other day I finally watched the movie, “The Shack”, which is based from the #1 bestselling book written by William P. Young. I’ve read this book at least four times and it was really during a time when I was at my lowest point and my faith was really challenged due to the deep emotional pain I, myself, was feeling.
The book changed my whole perspective on God and forgiveness. But watching the movie brought back so many memories, triggers from my past pain, and ultimately a release that I’ve been unknowingly holding on to for years!
I don’t want to spoil the movie for you or, if you’ve never read the book, I would definitely recommend reading that first! Check out the book summary here, and if you find that you want to read the book, you have the option to purchase from that page too. Just click the link! 🙂
Here’s the thing, the story was about a man dealing with tragedy and finding his way through the healing from it all – his worst nightmare. In order for him to be healed, he had to revisit that place where the tragedy took place. For him, it was in that shack. That’s all I’m going to say about the story.
Now, let’s bring this to make it relevant for me, and maybe even you. You see, in that shack was the very thing that caused that level of pain that numbs your entire life!!! It is no secret anymore because I’ve written several books on this, I’ve talked about it publicly, I’ve shared with so many people, that my pain started when I was five years old. I was repeatedly sexually molested by my then-uncle. Then in my teen years, physically and verbally abused by my then-stepfather. Then in my adult years, spiritually abused by my then-church – who used my past pain to keep me stuck by using the word of God all the while telling me that God wants to use me but He can’t use damaged goods. I was called a Jezebel. I was called damaged goods. I was also called anointed. How do you put all of that together to make sense to someone who was seeking love??? I digress.
All of that mess was in my shack. A few more things were there too. Depression, suicide attempts (three), abortions, miscarriages, loss of my grandparents, hopelessness, neglect, abandonment, stalked by a crazy man, homeless and lived in my 2-door Ford escort with my 2-year-old daughter, shunned and isolated by so many, raped, scorned, the desperate need to be loved, failed marriage, failed relationships, left to die, anger, hurt, anger, anger, and more anger, confused about who God really is and how could He curse my entire family, questions that are left unanswered, low self-esteem, low self-worth, self-image nonexistent – I didn’t know who the hell I was or why I was even alive other than to be used for evil…my shack had levels and levels of pain.
Emotional pain filled my soul at one point. So, at the urge of my then-husband, I started going to therapy. That is where all of the mess that happened in my past came out. And what came along with it? More pain. It was even more painful for the pain to come out than when it first entered my soul… or so it seemed. My then-therapist wasn’t equipped to handle that. So I searched and searched for another one, but it had been years after that. In the meantime, I began to seek out the “why” from God. I always journaled, so I kept a record of my journey. I still have it to this day. One of them was turned into a book: It is Forbidden: The Untold Story of Child Rape Survival.
I eventually found a therapist, whom I still see today. She helped me navigate through all of those feelings I mentioned above that was in my shack. You see, I had to revisit my shack. I had to face all of those things that caused me to be broken. And don’t you know that when you are broken, you break others? Hurt people, hurt people. So I didn’t mention that past mistakes that can’t be re-written were in my shack too. Unforgiveness and forgiveness lived in that shack. Regrets were in that shack. Addiction to pain killers were in that shack. My therapist helped me face all of that.
A situation happened recently where a trigger struck me and shocked the hell out of me. A trigger I thought I was healed from. After being physically abused as a child, one of the promises I made to myself is that I would never let another man put his hand on me. Or he would die. A physical death. A harsh death. A death of torture. I am confessing to you that my mind and soul was damaged and poisoned by abuse that took place in my childhood!!!! All of that in my shack.
But I thought that aggression I had towards men was healed. I was in a healthy relationship with a man that adored me. I was finally in a place where I was not haunted by the things in my shack. Then it happened and I spazzed out!!! I became the Tasmanian devil throwing things, screaming, crying, mind out of control on how to commit murder. I was out of control and the calm, rational Jamie that has worked hard to be in control lost control in an instant. This wasn’t the first time I’d spazzed out, but there had been so many years in between, which had given me the impression that that part of me was dead and gone. It wasn’t.
I immediately went back to my therapist like the very next day, feeling disappointed and weak. Feeling like a failure and feeling damaged and broken all over again. Another shack moment I had. And she spoke these words: Jamie, Just because you are on the road to recovery doesn't mean you won't fall Click To Tweet
Those words released me from my shack moment. So I had to heal again from that trigger. Then I watched the movie, The Shack, and that one part, which I won’t say because you need to see it yourself, allowed me to cry that ugly cry and finally release that aggression!!! I met God. I was holding on to that aggression for years as a way to protect myself. But God is my protector. He protects me in ways I can’t even explain, even from myself! And now that I really think about it, the aggression was really a cover up of fear. The fear of being abused again. The fear of losing control again. The fear of being under someone else’s abusive control again. That day, in that moment, I gave that fear over to God, my Creator.
Let me say this: this emotional healing journey is just that: it is a journey. It is a process. And there may be moments where you have to face what is in your shack. But those moments are designed to heal you. Those moments are intentionally brought before you to release. Even if you’re afraid, release it. In whatever way you know how to release it. It may be crying, it may be screaming and spazzing out (as long as you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else). It may be in an artistic way such as writing a song, a book, a movie script, a journal, a poem, a painting, a dance… those are just some ways to release emotional pain. The goal here is to RELEASE it from your soul. To clear the path so God can fill it with love, joy, peace, forgiveness, contentment, strength, and it’s worth saying again, LOVE.
What’s in your shack? What do you have to face? What do you have to release? What have you’ve been holding on to for such a long time that it has become your comforter? Are you ready to release it? The only way to release it, is to revisit your shack. Face it head on. Don’t be afraid. You are not alone. You have the strength within you to face it. And you have the tenacity within you to release it. Trust the process. Trust your healing journey. The outcome of healing is far greater than living in misery and emotional pain for the rest of your life.
Love you to LIFE,
Founder & CEO of Matters of My Heart, LLC
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“My past does not define me, it refines me.”