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Entry # 7 One Friday night right before Thanksgiving, Jan and Chuck invited Jesse and me to their home to meet their Bible study group. I really felt uneasy about going, but I agreed to go because I loved being in that home. Since I have spent the last twenty years hiding within myself, fear literally takes over my mind and body now if I have to get in front of a large crowd. Fear was working overtime that night as I walked into Jan’s living room with over twelve people waiting there to greet me. As soon as I got there, I headed straight towards Jan’s recliner, which has also become my favorite place to sit. Only this time, Jan had a chair sitting in front of the fireplace and told me to sit there. After introducing Jesse to everyone, they took her to Jan’s daughter's room to play, and it was just me there facing all those strange faces. It was so hard for me to look at each one of them as they introduced themselves to me. Jan saw my fear and quickly started reassuring me that it was going to be ok. Chuck looked at me, and said, "Sonja, you thought you were here to meet us all, but we have other plans for you in mind." Well, I tell you right then and there, my heart felt like it was coming straight up out of me. I started shaking and just sat there with this look of total fear on my face once again. All of a sudden, each person was handed an envelope. Chuck said there were letters in each one of those envelopes that they wanted to read to me. The first letter was a story about how all these people in that very room wanted to help the girls so that we would have shelter and food for the Holidays. There was $200 in that envelope. After reading it out loud, that person stood up and gave me a hug, and then handed me the letter. I was so touched that all I could do was just sit there with tears coming down my face. I didn't really understand what was going on. This went on and on all the way around the room. Each person read their letter to me with a story of how they wanted to help me. Here I was, someone they knew nothing about, yet they had been in prayer about me for weeks. I just could not believe this was happening. Why would these people do this for me? I was not anyone special in their lives. One of the letters was a story of how they wanted to give me money to go out and spend on my girls so they could have the kind of Christmas they deserved. There was even one for me. That letter told me to go spend all this money on myself so I could have a special Christmas too. I have never had anyone give me a gift like that, other than what the girls would make for me in school. Jan had also been talking to Jesse and knew she loved science, and has always wanted a telescope. After all the letters were read, Chuck went to the kitchen and brought out the biggest telescope I have ever seen for me to put under the tree for Jesse. By then my voice was shaking uncontrollably, and tears were still coming down just as strong as when that first letter was read. I tried to tell them how humbled I was that they would do this for me and my family. I wanted them to understand what a life-changing experience this night had been for me. Chuck looked at me and said, "Sonja, it’s not over yet. We have two more surprises for you." A man and woman came out of the kitchen just as soon as he finished speaking. They started to tell me how blessed they had been to be able to buy a new mini-van, and they wanted me to have their old one. Just as simple as that, he walked over to me, handed me his keys and gave me a hug. I just stood there trying to grasp what had just happened, not really understanding if this was for-real or not. Chuck said, "I have one last letter for you." He read the letter, and it said that he wanted me to be able to use the van right away so that I could find a job and take care of my kids. So he was paying for the first three months of my car insurance. Each person came to me, formed a line, and then they gave me a big hug and "Happy Holiday" wishes. I actually hugged each one of them back. I haven’t embraced anyone the way we all did that night in many years. It was all so touching to me. I left that house with a new van and over $1,500 in cash. I also had a gift to put under the tree for Jesse that I could never even have dreamed of before. That night I found myself saying out loud, "Thank You God," not only for the great gifts that had just been given to my family and me, but also for the fact that He actually showed me what it is like to receive His total gift of Grace. I, Sonja Brooks, who has spent the last twenty years being mad at God, yet He still brought all these people to me. They even saw value in me and wanted to help me help my girls. My heart was consumed with Joy, and for the first time in many years, I felt love coming back into my heart. Entry # 8 As I began to heal and start the real work of my recovery, I had many personal battles within myself. I believe it was because I yearned so much for my heart to have a true spiritual experience with God so that I could validate all this hard work that I was doing. I wanted to believe that God really does want to love me as His child. Yet this spiritual experience never seemed to come to me, and I had this deep emptiness inside me because of that. I think that is why I would keep going back to those memories of my dad telling me I no longer mattered in life. It was that, and the fact that I had given my soul to Satan. Even though I could hope about some things again, I still could not hope about being forgiven of that. At the beginning phase of my recovery, I was able to continue each week even with this emptiness simply because I was so humbled that these wonderful new people were in my life. They were willing to share with me the wisdoms they had learned and their personal experiences of their own journeys of recovery back to God. That allowed the small piece of my heart that opened up at the Road Adventure to continue to get stronger and stronger. I would have moments of feeling like God was going through me but not staying in me. I have even felt joy and warmth at times in these last few months after having small victories in my battles with my demons of darkness. What would torment me the most was how I could feel those great moments of victory in defeating those demons (having so much joy in getting my heart on the path to healing again), and then almost immediately go right back to those feelings of unworthiness and self-destruction whenever something else challenged me on this new journey I had started. I didn’t realize it at the time, but each new experience I was having (like all the gifts at Christmas that were given to the girls and me and finding a new job in a Christian environment that challenged me personally) was bringing to life a new spiritual awakening within me. So when God would see that I was ready to receive that spiritual experience I longed for, I would be ready to embrace it. Even more importantly, I would then believe in the truth of it and Him. I began to work harder and harder each week, promising to stay completely honest in my walk, no matter what the effects of that would be, in each new step I took. I felt such a great sense of appreciation for all these people who, like me, were working on their own recovery but, at the same time, were being teachers to me. I was so grateful for a safe place to go to, a place that allowed me to go into the very camp of the demons that sought to destroy me and to have victory in getting back each piece of my heart that they had stolen from me. Last Sunday, our pastor said something in church that was so profound to me that I immediately wrote it down. He said; "Rely on good friends, the friends of faith that bring compassion and patience to your life, but know that those same friends cannot heal you. Only God can do that. They can, however, help you find the way to begin that healing process with God. Jesus begins at our greatest points of need, and he alone is more than enough." I am feeling that Celebrate Recovery is that power of circle coming around me to help me find my way to God to heal. Somehow each week I have been drawn to come back to Celebrate Recovery, though I could not hold my head up in the beginning to see the eyes of all those who had committed to taking this journey with me. However, I was able to actively listen and allow the small pieces of my heart that would come back to life each week to become lighter and brighter as a new layer of darkness peeled away from my soul. There is a saying that I now have in my journal that describes me so perfectly in the first months of my recovery, and it goes, "The heart can hear and feel what the eyes cannot see." Entry # 9 Three months have gone by since I started working on myself at Celebrate Recovery. Most of my time has consisted of just sitting and listening (along with a whole lot of crying) in small groups. Small group, which is the last hour of our recovery, is where women sit together and share thoughts about life and their recovery process. You have to state your name, what you are recovering from, and then you have three minutes to share what is on your heart. I always managed to get my name out and what I was recovering from. As for the rest, how could I share my thoughts if I couldn’t even hold my head up long enough to see who I was sharing with? So I just sat there and said, "Pass," when it came time for me to share. That became the norm for me every Friday night for the first few months. Then came the Friday night that was to be the breaking point for me and become the first huge step of my recovery. Our leader told us at the beginning of the meeting that this was the Friday night we had to pick our buddy for our recovery process. He said I want you all to stand up, look around and find a buddy. Girls have to pick girls, and boys have to pick boys. While I had made some really good friends there, and my best friend Jan was sitting at my table, I was starting to feel fear come fast and hard all throughout my body. I’m telling you, at that very moment in time, I saw everyone in the room literally going farther and farther away from me even though we were all at the very same table. It seemed as if they all immediately picked up their buddies, leaving me just standing there all alone. I saw myself on the other side of the room with not one person wanting to pick me. They were all larger than life in their joy of having someone to share their process of recovery with. Then there was me, this little tiny speck of a person, all alone in another world of rejection and despair. A part of me was saying, “Sonja, stay. You need to be here and face this.” Then there was an even-louder part of me that was saying, “This is where I have to leave you behind now. I cannot let someone who betrayed me so badly befriend one of my own children.” Right that very second, I grabbed my car keys and ran out of that building as fast as I could. All the time, I was hearing this loud voice (that I perceived to be God) saying, “Leave now, your time here is through.” My daughter Jesse was in another building at the day care, and I didn’t even go get her. I just ran straight for my car so I could get as far away from that place as I could. As I made it out to the middle of the parking lot, someone grabbed my shirt and screamed, “I am not letting you run out on me this way.” I looked around, and it was my good friend Jan with at least ten other people behind her. She began to tell me to stay. I kept crying and saying, “Please let me go. I have to get out of here right now.” As we stood there, people started surrounding me and laying their hands on me. I heard someone say, “Can I pray for you, Sonja?” By that time, there were over twenty people that had me inside a complete circle in that parking lot, so I agreed. All of a sudden, I saw this red-headed young man lift his hands to the heavens, and he started to command Satan to leave me right that very second. He said, “I Rebuke You, Satan, In the Name of Jesus for My Sister, Sonja." I couldn’t believe it. Why would this man, who barely knows me, say that? If he only knew what I did to make God so mad at me, then he would stop and say, "Take your keys and go, Sonja." Still he just stood there in that parking lot, circling around me and never changing his demands for Satan to leave me. It was strange to me, hearing him yell at Satan to leave me, when all these years I thought it was God who was controlling the circumstances of my life and my children’s. Could this be what my new friends talk of when they talk of God’s unconditional love? Have I been fighting and believing the wrong things all these years of living in this life of destruction? As he kept praying, my tears began to just flow from my eyes in a way they have never done before. Instead of tears of fear and defeat, I began to feel all the hardness and darkness, which had not yet left my heart, start to leave me. I began to pray inside myself, still being afraid for my voice to be heard by others. I prayed silently to this God that I am trying so hard to come to. It felt as if my tears were becoming stronger, and they flowed even faster than ever. Then there was a voice in me saying, “Sonja, I am here. I have always been here, right in your heart and soul. This very second, I have your heart wrapped in my hands. Through your tears, you are releasing your doubts and fears from your heart and replacing them with my trust and love. It is that trust in me that is going to give you the courage to defeat this demon that is once again making you run from me. Let it go and let me in, all the way into your heart." Right then, I held my head up, looked into the eyes of my new friends and said, "I will stay." That night I finally got that real spiritual experience I have been yearning for. I have heard my friend, Michelle T., from Celebrate Recovery talk of spiritual markers that have come to her during her recovery process. In the beginning, when people would talk of spiritual things, I always became confused because I believed I had no soul or spirit in me. Therefore, this spiritual marker thing would be a concept that I could never conceive of for my life. But I now believe that I have seen proof of this, for I have now seen one person's goodness actually passed down to another through the people that have come into my life this last year. My daughter Jesse, who I was always afraid to hug or say, "I Love You" to, came to me a few weeks ago and said, "Mom, have you noticed that when Michelle hugs you, she does it really hard and long?" I kind of laughed it off at the time, but I know now that that was a spiritual marker that God was leaving on Jesse through Michelle each time she would share her hugs with her. You see, those hugs are coming straight from Michelle’s heart to Jesse. In her heart are little pieces of God’s love that are coming straight through her to my wonderful little girl. God needed Michelle to do that for Jesse to show her how it is to be hugged by someone for real since her own Mommy could not do it at this time. I am grateful for Michelle and her gift of hugs that she gives us each time she sees us. Then there is my good friend Jan, who came to me one day driving her blue Isuzu Rodeo with her heart in her hand, who has stayed by my side each step of the way on my journey of recovery. How can I forget Thomas T., Michelle’s husband, who took the time to lift his voice all the way to heaven to pray just for me even while he was fighting with his own recovery? Of course, I have to mention Chuck, Jan’s husband, who is a very wise man that helps to guide lost souls in need of healing and always manages to go the distance even in the hardest of times with me. I am grateful for this whole new group of people that I now stand hand-in-hand with each Friday night, building this amazing unbreakable bond with. These are my spiritual markers of God’s love given to me. They are the most perfect of memories for me to hold in this new heart of mine to help validate His presence in my times of weakness. I have now let God's Grace and Love into my heart, all the way in, and this time I am not letting go.

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  • I'm healing hoves
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  • after 20 years of emotional abuse from my family, I have finally taken the steps to comeback to God's Grace and Love. I have been in recovery at Celebrate Recovery for two and one half years. These journals I will be adding from my first book are my encounters of my first two years of recovery. I am writing a second book Healing Hooves it will be a story about my 12 year old daughter who is wheel chair bound and how she found reached to great elements of success thru horse thearpy
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