Life plans had obviously changed, and people were becoming aware of it. People at our home church in Grand Rapids knew I was back, but didn't know why, and I preferred to keep it that way for the time being. I still hoped to become healthy and return to Slovenia, so there was no point in telling them. People back in Slovenia knew I hadn't returned with Peter and Kristina, and although they knew I had been struggling, they deserved a more definitive answer as to why I didn't come back.
I wrote a letter to the church in Slovenia explaining what was
happening to me, and why I did not return. As it turned out, I also
shared the same letter with the small group of prayer partners we had from our
home church. They had committed to praying for us, and we certainly
needed prayer at this time.
The letter I wrote can be applied to many people’s situations. I
actually think it was God-given, and as such, I share it with you now. I
apologize for the editorial roughness, but it was written during difficult
May it be useful for yourself, or others you know.
"Many of us, if not all, have had a sliver at one time or
another. Usually these small foreign objects are easily removed with a
tweezers or a needle, leaving only a small wound that heals in a day or two
and is barely noticed. Other times, the slivers are a bit bigger or
deeper and require a little more work and pain to remove them, leaving a more
lasting mark. A bigger wound equals a bit more soreness at the site, and a
few extra days of healing; possibly a small scar. And then there are times when
the sliver goes really deep, and it is unable to be easily removed, so we leave it. It
may be painful and reddened at first, but after a short time we may continue
our life as usual, maybe even forgetting it is down in there unless the
area gets bumped or pressured, when once again a twinge of pain is released.
With this kind of sliver, after a length of time a mild infection develops
around it which eventually festers and forces the intruder to the surface where, after pressure is applied, the infection is released and the sliver can be
removed. True healing can then begin.
This is how it is in our lives when we encounter various hurts. Some
are small, easily taken care of, and cause us virtually no harm, while others
cut us a little deeper and take an extra measure of grace and time to
heal. Then there are the deep hurts of life which we experience; ones we
feel very painfully initially, but we quickly get back to our lives without the
real root or cause of the wound being removed and healed. It lies dormant
within us for a long time; sometimes for years without our being aware it is
still there. But God knows it would be unhealthy for us to keep these
things inside, so He begins the process of healing.
This has been true for me. In 1986, our firstborn child, Sarah, died
at 7 1/2 months from a rare genetic disease. This loss was devastating to
us and in effect, was like having a huge stake driven into my heart. There was,
of course, the initial normal grieving one would expect, but within three
months I was pregnant for Michael, and my whole focus changed to prepare for a
new baby. The pain from my loss was suppressed down; never to be dealt with.
There were occasional "bumps" over time which reminded me that the
pain was still in there, but it was never allowed to surface and be healed.
Then in 1990, we faced the death of our third-born child, Matthew, from the
same disease. The stake that had been driven into my heart with the death
of our daughter now was driven deeper, literally bringing death to a part of my
own heart. But because I had to be a strong Christian woman, and because
I truly believed I was okay, once again the pain and grief were pushed further
down, and instead of facing and dealing with my OWN pain, I set out immediately
to help other people with theirs. We started a support ministry to other
grieving parents just six months after Matthew's death, and very effectively ministered
to those who came for hope and healing. The problem was that I had so
effectively buried my own pain, I didn't know I needed to be healed!
We all have coping mechanisms which help us get through difficult times;
talking to a friend, going to a familiar store or favorite place, working, etc.
What I didn't realize was that about three years ago (2000), God began to
slowly remove my coping mechanisms in an effort to get me to the place where He
could expose my hurts (deeply buried slivers), and bring me to the place where
He alone could bring the healing that I need. Over these three
years, I began to increasingly feel that something wasn't "right"
within me, and it became more and more uncomfortable for me as the old wound began
to work its way to the surface.
Then we moved to Slovenia in November. The stress and pressure of
moving to a new country thousands of miles from home, having virtually no
friends to confide in, no family, the removal of all previously existing coping
mechanisms, in addition to the work of the Holy Spirit, proved to be just the
amount of pressure needed to bring my wound to the surface, exposing it along
with all the "infection" which had built around it for years.
Satan has been using this hurt in my life to feed me lies about my worthiness,
my identity in Christ, and about being able to give and receive love.
The reason I stayed in the States is because this is a safe place for me to
be healed, with people who know me, are strong in the Lord, and will help me
walk through this time of my life. As I am repeating frequently these
days, "consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you encounter trials of
many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops
perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature
and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4.
So we can be glad that the time of healing is here!"
Yes, the time of healing had come, but it would be a long, painful process; one that made me question whether it really was worth it to be healed.