Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Testimony, Part 4A - Longing for Love

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you."
[Zechariah 3:3-4 NIV]

Therefore, thus says the LORD, "If you return, then I will restore you - before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them."
[Jeremiah 15:19 NAS]

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
[Psalm 147:3 NIV]

As I contemplated telling the next part of my story, it felt a little like "airing dirty laundry," until I remembered that Jesus specializes in washing and making our lives clean and whole again. It involves a personal relationship that fell short of scriptural ideals in 1980-81; yet God revisited and restored many things through a "2nd chapter" that took place 25 years later. I hope that telling this story about how I experienced God's healing love in the midst of a complex, flawed and very human relationship will help to bring clarity and freedom to others who wrestle with similar issues.

When I stopped drinking in March 1980, I had no support system and no recovery program, so for the next 18 months I substituted new addictions. Without the empty calories I’d been drinking, I dropped about 30 lbs in a month and was ravenously hungry - not just for food, but for the love and affirmation I’d always craved. Until then, I’d handled most social situations with alcohol, so I found myself overeating at parties or just stayed home. I enjoyed the athletic discipline of jogging and dance classes, and became obsessed with physical fitness and attractiveness that gave me a sense of “power” or protection in this unfamiliar new world of sobriety.

Having graduated college with no idea what to do next, I took a job at a local bookshop for minimum wage, signed up for 3 dance classes per week (ballet, jazz, & modern) and went jogging every other evening. I was 22 years old and lonely, but I was in good shape! In retrospect, it seems to me that in my twenties, about 98% of my energy was devoted to how I looked or what other people thought of me - and I expected what they thought of me to be highly dependent on how I looked!

I was walking through the busy student center on my way back from the gym, long hair freshly blown dry, wearing red satin gym shorts and my usual aloof expression for self-protection. Suddenly a loud male voice called out across the hall, "That girl has the most beautiful hair I've ever seen!" Wondering who would dare to be so bold, I turned around to see an overweight, scruffy-looking "older" (27 year old) man coming downstairs from the college radio station with a classmate of mine who introduced him as Mario, the station manager. I thought he was incredibly rude and not very attractive, but he certainly got my attention. He told me later that was exactly what he intended - he'd noticed me before on my way to dance class and was determined to break through that aloofness he thought was "cool."

Mario had a lot of girlfriends before me – he’d married young and his teenage wife left him two years before we met, so he was definitely "playing the field." He had a real job (architectural designer) and a car (lots of college students didn't) and a fantastic record collection - radio was his hobby until the housing market crashed later that year and he took the station manager job full-time. He was jovial, popular, born in Cuba, and (as he still recalled a quarter of a century later) crazy about me. I was not at all interested in being just another one of his many conquests, so he had to woo me a little: he took me out for delightful meals, talked endlessly on the phone, and dedicated a song to me on his radio show at midnight. (Yeah, I admit, that one got to me - it was "Heart On My Sleeve" by Bryan Ferry - LOL.) He stopped seeing all the other girls and, eventually, we moved in together.

I'm not saying that to recommend it - in fact, quite the opposite. Mario and I didn’t know anything about God’s wisdom (see last week’s posting) so we had no idea how to conduct a healthy love relationship. I Corinthians 6:15-20 says that sexual intimacy makes two people "one flesh," whether they are married or not. That's one reason so many people have trouble letting go of old relationships - Mario didn't want to be with his ex-wife anymore, but somehow he was unable to fully forgive and be free of her. And why so many breakups feel like tearing apart your own flesh - because, according to scripture, that's essentially what's happening. We can numb ourselves with alcohol or drugs, close our minds or harden our hearts - but this is how the Creator says He created us: when we join our bodies with another person, we are also joining our souls.

Scriptural instructions for relationships put a lot of restrictions on sexual activity. Is God some kind of cosmic killjoy or squeamish prude who just doesn't want us having any fun? Far from it: God invented sex! Ever read Song of Solomon in the Bible? God is the ultimate Lover. When we give ourselves to another person, God wants us to enjoy the whole love package: intimacy, respect, honor, joy, promise, fulfillment AND passion. I like how Tony Evans says it: "Fire in the fireplace is a wonderful thing; fire in the curtains is a problem."

Mario and I were definitely "fire in the curtains" - passionate, combustible people with loads of insecurities. We loved, we fought, we broke up, we got back together, and so on. During one of our breakups, I cut my hair short for the first time since my mother butchered it in 5th grade (which was why it was so long and well cared-for) as if to say, "No man will ever get me with a line like that again!" Finally, after 18 months of trying to love and tearing our souls apart over and over again, I moved to Denver and enrolled in paralegal school, hoping to establish a new life on my own.

I'm not writing this to moralize; most of us can relate to being imperfect human beings with God-given desires, trying to meet our own needs without benefit of God's instructions, and hindered by the residue of past pain as well. Mario didn't want to get married because he'd been hurt so badly by divorce; no matter how much he loved me, I always felt like "second best" and somehow dishonored by that. We had a lot of baggage on both sides that neither of us knew how to deal with; just getting married wouldn't have solved our problems either – we didn’t know God, so our source of love was each other, and people make lousy gods.

Whether we intend to or not, when we join ourselves with another person we open ourselves up to a lot of unseen influences. Both people bring their mental, emotional, and spiritual stuff into the "oneness" of physical union. Covenant relationships like marriage or godly friendship should empower people to share good things within the protections of committed love, where negative things can also be addressed with God's help. And God's Word provides freedom, forgiveness and healing for all of the many ways we fall short. But ignoring God's laws is sort of like choosing not to believe in the laws of physics - gravity works, whether we understand or intend or desire its results... or not.

After I became a Christian in 1982, I prayed a prayer like the one at the end of this posting to break "ungodly soul ties" - those bondages of mind, will and emotion that can happen through broken marriages, past sexual unions, even imbalanced friendships or family relationships. Declaring our repentance, forgiveness, and freedom by faith in the authority of Jesus' Name can bring powerful breakthroughs and healing – which is why I’ve included the prayer below. It’s a great starting point, although we still need to ask God's guidance in how to walk out His will day by day for each specific situation and relationship in our lives.

As I said above, writing this story made me feel vulnerable, but I think it's important to tell "real life" stories so that we don’t sterilize our testimony while the gap between religion and reality gets wider and wider all the time. Sometimes religious people oversimplify - pray this little prayer, do these ten steps, or whatever. God is a real God who brings real healing to real people. The prayer below is powerful, but there's a lot more to letting God heal our hearts and bring our relationships into balance, and there's a whole lot more to this story...

God’s idea of “happily ever after” is higher and better than anything we can come up with on our own, and He is more than willing to lead us there. Are we willing to seek and follow Him on that path, one little human step at a time? As we’ll see in next week's posting, our willingness to walk in God’s will for our relationships can have eternal consequences.
To be continued...


Prayer to Break Ungodly Soul Ties

The model prayer below, from Chester & Betsy Kylstra’s book Biblical Healing & Deliverance, can be helpful in breaking unseen influences that hinder us from experiencing God’s best for our lives. Sincerely speaking this prayer over each relationship where there may be ungodly influences or soul ties – even if the other person is deceased, or to bring a current relationship into divine order – can help us to walk in the freedom Christ purchased for us on the Cross.

Father, in the Name of Jesus, I submit myself completely to You. I confess all of my emotional and sexual sins, as well as my ungodly soul ties. I choose to forgive each person with whom I have had an ungodly soul tie [be specific].

I ask You, Lord, to forgive me for my sin that resulted in ungodly soul ties. Lord, I receive Your forgiveness. Thank You for forgiving me and for cleansing me.

I choose to forgive myself for this involvement. I will no longer be angry at myself, hate myself or punish myself.

Lord, I break my ungodly soul ties with [insert name]. I release myself from him/her and I release him/her from me. As I do this, Lord, I pray that you would cause him/her to be all that You want him/her to be, and that You would cause me to be all that You want me to be.

Lord, please cleanse my mind from all memories of ungodly unions so I am totally free to give myself to You and to my spouse.

I renounce and cancel the assignments of all evil spirits attempting to maintain these ungodly soul ties.

Lord, thank You for restoring my soul to wholeness. I choose to walk in holiness by Your grace. In the Name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen!


  1. Wow Gina, what a testimony.
    We should proclaim what the Lord has done to us. Our loving Savior took the broken pieces of our life and restored it so that we could have joy again, peace with Him and life, abounding life even to share our past without pain any more.
    Blessings my sister

  2. Thanks for sharing Gina. I don't have much knowledge on soul ties. It's a new expression to me, so I thank you for bringing it to light. It surely puts certain things into perspective for me. May God continue to strengthen you and give you more grace as you relive your pass.

  3. Sonia & Jemma - Many thanks for your prayers & encouragement! God is pouring out His grace as I write and I pray His healing and freedom for those who read this story also... Our lives are truly His masterpiece! God bless you both