Guest Post by Alyssa Falkenstein
It’s often defined as an expectation or desire, but biblically hope is a confident expectation believing in a promise from the Lord, trusting in His strength and provision.
I didn’t grow up with much hope until I met Jesus.
Though I grew up in church I didn’t have an authentic relationship with the Lord until my teens, and it was a murky journey to find Him!
Many of my childhood memories are repressed, but a few traumatic ones stick out— like calling an ambulance because my mom passed out from drinking on Christmas morning.
I didn’t find out until I was 12 that the woman I called “mom” was, in fact, my maternal grandmother. It was an incredibly confusing time, but it made sense. Every time I hid in my room when she would scream and throw things, I cried for my mom and I never knew why. I thought I was crazy. Why do you want your mom? That’s who’s calling you names downstairs!
My negligent and mentally abusive childhood led to very painful teen years. My first time cutting myself I was only 8 years old, and it culminated in my worst session of self harm at 17 and three suicide attempts.
It was in this season that Jesus stormed in. I phrase it like that because the spiritual warfare over my life was intense, and looking back I can see that He wasn’t about to let me go.
After that last attempt to take my life, a friend spoke truth over me. He told me the spiritual battle that was happening for my life, and encouraged me to fight back. For the last few months of my life living in that house I marched through the hoarded piles of junk and read scripture and worshipped loudly and prayed for my rescue.
I had hope that didn’t make sense in the natural.
The Lord made a way for me to leave and never see that woman again. My mind thought that once I was free, I’d feel better. I didn’t understand mental health at all then.
I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was told by family not to do XYZ until I was “healed,” as If I was this broken thing incapable of being a wife or mom. Once I was “fixed” could I finally start living?
Here’s the thing I’ve learned about healing though- healing isn’t linear. Conditions like complex PTSD can show up randomly years later.
I wasn’t going to be magically fixed in one day, but I did have hope. I believed the Lord could heal me, I believed He could help me be a good friend, employee, and wife. Years of abuse weren’t going to unravel and be tied up in one fell swoop with one neat pretty bow.
Jesus has ushered in my healing in seasons. As I have learned to overcome those triggers, He’d show me a batch of new ones I didn’t know were back there.
Now, over a decade after leaving an abusive home, I still struggle with anxiety. I still have triggers because of my upbringing. But that doesn’t disqualify me! It doesn’t mean that I’m weak or my faith is lacking, it just means I’m human. Jesus equips me to be the wife and mom He’s called me to be.
He rescued me from despair and abuse and called me beautiful and worthy. He gave me a calling. Trauma, anxiety, depression… any form of mental struggle cannot take away the victory He won for us.
Romans 8 has been my life passage. Verse 28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ALL things. He did not cause my pain or trauma, but He can still make beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3 NIV) and redeem my pain.
Whatever trouble, hardship, or pain tries to separate us from the love of Christ, Romans 8 goes on to say “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Verses 39 & 39.)
Jesus’s heals, I have no doubt about it. He offers me hope continually, He is The Great Rescuer, as the Jesus Storybook Bible reminds my kids.
There is hope and freedom on the other side of trauma and abuse. The world is broken, and we won’t be free of pain until He calls us home. But we don’t have to walk through it alone.
We can still experience growth and joy! Abundant life was bought and paid for us. I believe this for me and you both, friend.
I don’t know the burden you carry, what was done to you, or the pain that might linger, but I do know that Jesus thought you were worth dying for. He wants to take that pain and turn it into something beautiful.
Even while healing, even in progress, while happiness is circumstantial, JOY is something we get to choose, a free gift we can receive as we hope for a brighter future. Hope, confident in God’s ability that is so much more magnificent than we can fathom.
I was a terrified girl with a shattered heart, certain I’d never escape the pain I lived in. Yet here I am, married with three kids, experiencing joy every single day. I’m living dreams I was afraid to believe in a decade ago.
It’s time to dream again, it’s time to hope for your future. Let’s walk together in this journey of healing, holding space for the hard and experiencing joy too. Both/and.
Alyssa lives near Lake Erie with her husband, three daughters, two cats, and one dog. She loves quality coffee and growing herbs in her garden! She has a passion for women’s ministry and equipping women in their God-given callings. You can connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and her website Hammer and Bee