SOME VISITORS to the Jesus Centre remind me why it is a privilege to work here.
Lisa was one. In her late 20s, like a little bird with a broken wing she came, on an afternoon when a women-only session was running. In fact, no-one had turned up and I was feeling like I was wasting my time, hanging around waiting for regulars to turn up.
Then I spotted her at the window. She was reluctant to come in, but when I offered her the option to talk privately, explaining there was no-one else around, she agreed. I sensed I had to be very patient and gentle (neither are my particular strong points!) if I was going to get her to unfold her story.
Lisa was desperate. She’d been diagnosed with a personality disorder and tried to commit suicide a few weeks earlier. She’d come because she was alone and so hopeless she’d decided to get out of the house before she tried to overdose again. Her voice was quiet, but I could sense her misery.
To Lisa, I probably appeared cool, calm and controlled. In my head, my panicky thoughts were, “I need to phone the emergency mental health team; this woman’s serious; I feel out of my depth!” But I managed to pray, “God, please help me to be gentle and give me the right words to say”.
Lisa unfolded her damaged soul, giving me an insight into what was causing her pain. I sensed God had brought her to the Jesus Centre because he wanted her to know that He loved her, cared about her, knew all about her and wanted to begin the process of healing.
So I took a deep breath and decided to tell her that. I asked her if she believed in God and if she’d like to write Him a letter to tell Him how she was feeling. As she wrote it, I silently prayed that God would help me to know what to say and do next.
Lisa wrote a beautiful and honest letter. She started simply with a cry: “God please help me”. Then she apologised for not living a good life, described the pain she was feeling, the abuse she had suffered – and asked God for help. As I read it out, I hoped she felt what I sensed: God wrapping His arms around her, reassuring her that He had heard her.
She started simply with a cry: “God please help me”.
I didn’t promise Lisa a quick fix or a magic wand to wave, to take away what happened. What happened to Lisa, happened. It was wrong, and it caused such pain, mentally and emotionally, that Lisa had developed a personality disorder to separate the adult from her abused child. None of that was going to change overnight – but I told Lisa that I believed God could heal the memories and the scars they left.
Lisa was visibly more relaxed and said she felt peaceful. Having assured me that she no longer felt suicidal, she flew away – with an invitation to return any time she needed to talk or pray again.
After she’d gone I sat for a few moments and thanked God for her, and the opportunity He’d given me to be there for her. Often in the Jesus Centre I can feel overwhelmed by people’s need, demands and suffering.
But that afternoon God had come down to earth. He’d begun to heal a broken wing. And that made all the difference.
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