Walking Out Your Healing: A Love Story
by Tonya Mazzola (with Lauren Stinton)
When we’ve been through trauma—a death in the family, a painful divorce, a grievous loss—the enemy often comes and tries to instill fear.
Even after we’re healed, the fear might still be there. This doesn’t mean we weren’t healed, but there is a spiritual discipline involved in the aftermath of healing. We need to learn how to walk out the healing.
After my thirty-four-year marriage fell apart, the thought of letting my heart love and trust someone again was terrifying.
I was an Elijah House counselor, so I knew it was important for me to stay connected with my heart and not just bury it. But as much as I understood this concept intellectually, walking it out was hard.
One day while I was housesitting for a couple, the Lord told me to read the book of Ruth. He began sweetly speaking to me about being my kinsman redeemer. His presence became so strong in my little “borrowed room” that I began to cry, and His gentleness caused my heart to open.
In that place of openness, He said, “I’m going to give you a Boaz. I am going to give you a kinsman redeemer who is going to love you, and he’s going to love your children like they’re his own.”
That was not what I thought I wanted, but I knew I’d heard His voice.
I now had a choice to make: Was I going to trust Him in this new territory? Or was I going to say no?
After a Traumatic Experience, God Lovingly Draws Us Out of Hiding
When we’ve gone through a traumatic experience, sometimes we try to hide and don’t realize what we’re doing. We can even hide behind good things, but we’re still hiding.
Up until this point, I’d been telling my close friends, “I’m probably not going to marry again. I think I just want to be the Lord’s.”
That is a dear and precious desire, one God loves. I had reached a point in my mind and heart where I knew He would satisfy me, and I also knew I would be OK if I was alone. I’d been living like I was alone for a long time already.
But it took me a while to realize how much I was hiding. My fear and self-protection were talking, not my heart. I did not want my heart to be exposed again, and so staying single seemed like a great idea.
The Lord was asking me not to hide anymore.
God Gently Invites Us to Step Into His Faithfulness
A short time after God spoke to me about a kinsman redeemer, I felt Him say, “You’re going to meet somebody, and if he asks you, I want you to go out with him.”
I knew He wanted me to be open to this idea, and I wanted to be obedient. “OK, Lord, OK. I’m being open.”
Three days later, I met Sam at a wedding I was catering.
He was a divorced parent, like me. He started a conversation with my friend and me, and the next thing I knew, my friend conveniently made an excuse and slipped away. I found out later that she went and told all my other friends, “Don’t bother her! She’s talking to a guy!”
The wedding was in Montana, and as the sun set, the air dropped several degrees. I started shivering, and Sam noticed, so he took off his coat and put it on me.
He, of course, had no idea what this symbolized to me—but I was painfully aware! Boaz, spreading his garment over Ruth, because he was her kinsman redeemer (Ruth 3:9).
The inside of me practically shouted, “No way! Not this fast! No!”
I thought Sam was a nice guy, but I was not in a place where I could fully value him. I couldn’t say within myself, “Yes, I’m attracted to you. I like you.” All I could do was be faithful to step out in my healing and let the Lord lead me.
In this case, being faithful looked like giving Sam my number.
God Pursues Our Heart Steadily
Sam and I started going out. I had several opportunities to give in to my fears and run away, but each time the Lord encouraged me to stay.
A few dates went by, and I began praying about the future. I thought it would be so much easier if God just told me the right man to date. Didn’t He have a perfect guy picked out for me? I saw in the Bible that some of the marriages looked arranged, and so one day I asked Him, “Don’t You do arranged marriages?”
“I’m not doing that in your life,” He replied, “because I want your heart involved.”
He began to show me that my request for an arranged marriage was orphan thinking. I was approaching Him like a slave. “Just tell me what to do!” And not like a child, who can say, “Father, this is what I love. I would really like to have this.”
The Lord wanted my heart and took steps to have it. At the beginning of my relationship with Sam, I cried nearly every date. All Sam did was sit there with me and let me cry as the walls in my heart came down.
He was patient and gentle with me, and when he asked me to marry him, I said yes.
In the Recovery Process, We Can Trust God to Lead Us in Our Healing
All of us need to learn how to walk out our healing. At Elijah House, we call this often-messy process “sealing the healing.” The healing is there, but we need to stay connected with the Lord and figure out how to walk in the beautiful thing He’s done for us. “What are You saying? What are You doing? How are You leading me right now?”
Just as the Lord was after my heart, He’s after yours too. In your process of healing and learning to walk out that healing, don’t give in to fear when the moment of choice comes upon you. When He asks you to follow Him into unknown territory, He’s asking you to say yes to a gift.