Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
by Toni Weisz/Abuse Recovery
Ephesians 4:29-32 and Numbers 6:24-26

Ephesians 4:29-32
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ forgave you.

In the Moody Handbook of Theology, Paul Enni defines God’s grace as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation. I did not grow up in a home where grace was displayed. I experienced and witnessed harsh judgment for the smallest offenses. As a child, this caused me to be fearful and to hide because I did not want to face this treatment from my parents. I went to a church that was big and dark inside and they spoke in a foreign language. The school associated with this church was very much the same. Students were hit with rulers when they disobeyed. Because I did not see grace and love in these formative places, I began to believe that my faith in God was based upon my good works: if I am good, I will be loved and accepted, but if I disobey, I will be severely punished. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t run to God when I was 21, unmarried, and pregnant. I was fearful that He too would judge me harshly and punish me severely.

During my adult life, I once again encountered a harsh church environment. My family and I attended a legalistic church for several years where it was all about following the rules with no room for grace. The Holy Spirit in me was so grieved that I could barely feel or sense His presence. At first, I didn’t recognize it, but I was experiencing spiritual abuse. Even so, I wanted to serve Jesus. If that meant wearing dresses 24/7and obeying ridiculous rules, then that’s what I would do. This spiritual oppression greatly affected my soul and inside I started slowly dying. Unfortunately, my children (who were in high school at the time) were also subjected to this spiritual abuse. I was so grateful when we finally got away from that toxic environment.

Similarly, I have experienced harsh treatment from other ministry leaders as well. In those situations, I felt like I could never do anything right and was always under a microscope. Every little thing I did was magnified and made into a public example. I was so discouraged. Until one day, God brought in a leader who was kind and gentle. She gave me permission to just be me and fostered a safe environment in which I could open up and share about the emotional and spiritual abuse I was experiencing. I trusted her and she truly encouraged me. It was so refreshing to have a leader that was sweet and kind, just like Jesus.

In our ministry, we want each woman to feel safe and know that she can share her story without judgement. We encourage her to use her voice, perhaps for the first time in her life. We want her to see the love of Jesus in our words and our actions. God wants our words to speak hope and life into the lives of the women He brings to our ministry and that is what we will always try to do. God has given us His heart for these courageous women. We are honored to walk alongside them on their healing journeys. You too are welcome here, courageous woman. Come as you are; we are waiting for you.

Closing Thoughts
What is Grace?
Grace is a gift from God; it cannot be earned.

Grace is overlooking someone else’s faults and loving them where they are.

I am so grateful for God’s overwhelming love and grace in my life. This grace compels me to love others, to extend mercy, and to be kind to all people. This grace humbles me when I think about what Jesus did for me on the cross…a gift I can never repay.

Number 6:24-26
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

 

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you judge yourself harshly?
  2. Do you judge others harshly?
  3. Have you received God’s grace?
  4. Are you able to extend grace to others?

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Abuse Recovery Support Group (ARSG)

My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are defined as techniques we use to help us cope with the stress, pain, and trauma we have experienced in our lives.

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms:

Avoidance and Isolation

Drugs and Alcohol

Denial

Busyness

Rationalization

Control

From my childhood I learned avoidance and isolation to keep me safe from unhealthy people or situations. Running and hiding is what I learned as a small child and I still used those tactics as an adult. Until I got into recovery and learned new healthy coping mechanisms. Praise God! Instead of avoidance God gave me a voice and I learned to communicate my likes and dislikes. I never developed a voice growing up but once I put up boundaries, using my voice was necessary to communicate those boundaries to others. As time went by, I felt more comfortable sharing my heart with others without fear of rejection. God also told me to stop running and hiding and to leave the outcome to Him.

Just recently I was triggered by a situation and my first response was to run away and to disconnect from this person. I see now that was a wrong response. I had to pray very hard for the Lord to help me in this area. We all have things from our past trauma that causes us to go back to our old ways of dealing with things, especially when we are weak, or vulnerable, or HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired). I am grateful for God showing me that by having healthy boundaries and by using my voice is the best way to live a life that is peaceful and pleasing to Him.

I started using alcohol and drugs at 12 years old when I was not getting the healthy attention I needed at home. I decided to start taking matters into my own hands, which was a defining moment in my life because as a result of that choice I would run to other things other than God when I was hurting. I just wanted a quick fix to avoid the pain I had accumulated all my life. I used people and allowed them to use me. My life was filled with regret, fear of rejection, depression, suicidal thoughts and self-hatred. I thank God for having mercy on this broken woman, who saved me from myself destructive lifestyle. I now run to Jesus to take my pain away.

I was in denial about the dysfunction in my home of origin and my home with my husband and children, for many years until I realized I cannot control another person and doing anything out of fear never has a good outcome. I don’t have the power to change another person only God does. So, I relinquish control to God to change others or situations when I feel powerless. I was in denial due to my fear of rejection from my parents and spouse so I obeyed ridiculous rules to be accepted and loved by others, but that never worked. When I finally received the love of Jesus in heart then I had the courage to stand on my own without fear of rejection because I knew God would never leave me or forsake me.

Busyness was a tool the enemy used on me for decades, his purpose was to keep me so busy that I would not have time to recognize my dysfunctional life. My striving for love and acceptance even from God, kept me working so hard to be worthy, I never stopped long enough to evaluate my life, my choices, my relationships, my unhealthy view of myself, God, and others. I was so messed up, but I could not see that, until God showed me my ways were not working. Back in 2010 I was so depressed I asked God to take me home because I just wanted to die. And He said, “Do you believe I can turn things around for your good?” and I said, “Yes Lord I believe that.” He said, “TRUST ME.” After that I got in ACA recovery work and inner healing group for 5 years. God was exposing the lies, with His truth, I was learning about boundaries and what that looks like and he showed me that I was enabling abuse from others by not using my voice. God had me stop from all serving at church and First Care, because I was that sick and needed God to intervene to heal me. God was so faithful and put the right people in my path and I was healed and set free from all the dysfunction in my life and I started experiencing true peace and freedom in Christ. In Jan 2013 I started this ministry. Praise Him!!! Thank you, Jesus.

I rationalized my abuse, thinking I must not be a person of value or else others would treat me differently. After my abortion, the enemy told me I deserve to be abused because of my decision to abort my child. My husband was very controlling and I and the children were required to obey ridiculous rules. I rationalized in my head if I don’t obey these rules, he will leave me. The enemy used that lie for decades to keep me in bondage and in a very unhealthy home environment. I am thankful for the day I had courage to say no, I am not going to follow these rules and leave the outcome in God’s hands. I was no longer fearful of him leaving, I trusted God to take care of me and He has. My relationship with my husband now is better than it ever has been. I now know that I am loved and valued by God and He doesn’t want me to accept abusive treatment from anyone; I don’t deserve to be abused regardless of my poor choices in the past. He loves me and wants me to use my voice to put up healthy boundaries and to protect myself from unhealthy people and situations. I cannot change my past, all I can do is learn from it and share my experience, strength, and hope with others so perhaps they can make healthy choices.

Control was a tool I learned to use when I was very young. I honestly believed I could control how others feel, what they do, and that I could control the outcome. That all was a lie. I had no control over any of those things. Areas I tried to control were how people reacted and behaved toward me. I tried to control what others saw in me by wearing a mask and I also tried to control how much I weighed by taking speed, diet pills, and purging after I ate too much. God showed me by relinquishing control to Him that I can be set free from these obsessions and torment. He taught me to love myself just the way I am and to relinquish all control to Him, because He will never harm me.

I am so grateful that today I have been set free from all my unhealthy coping mechanisms and I have learned new skills to help me cope with the pain and trauma from my past. I had to completely surrender everything and everybody to God. I no longer cared about what others thought of me, I didn’t obey ridiculous rules out of fear of being rejected, I now had a voice and God has taught me how to use it to express my feelings in a healthy godly way. I am no longer in bondage to my old thinking and my old behavior patterns.

In Romans 12:2 the Bible says do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…. Daily time spent with God in His Word and listening to the Holy Spirit has helped me to move out of the chaos, dysfunction, and misery into a peaceful, orderly, and fulfilling life.

What have you used to help you cope with the trauma from your past?

What are some healthy ways you use to cope with things now?

You are loved,

Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Our Perception of God and Why It Matters

Our Perception of God and Why It Matters

Colossians 3:2
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Romans 12:1-2
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I can’t remember where I got this quote from but it makes a lot of sense. “Science tells us that repetitive thoughts over time become physical ruts in the brain that effect reasoning, choices, and eventually our beliefs.”

What was your perception of God as a child?

Was He kind, loving, and approachable or cold, distant, and angry?
My perception of God as a child was that He was unapproachable angry and would punish me for the slightest offense, He was not a God of love but of wrath. I grew up in a church that I saw punishment for the slightest offense with rulers and scolding. The people there were very harsh and critical. And that God was all about following rules. I did not see the love of God there.
You can read my Blog under stinking thinking: https://myashestobeauty.com/stinking-thinking-my-distorted-view-of-god/

How did that affect you growing up?
Because of my distorted view of God, when I found myself in bad situations, I decided to take matters into my own hands instead of asking God what I should do. I didn’t think He cared about me. I was in such darkness I could not see His light at all. Because of the unhealthy relationships I had with others closest to me which were quite manipulative and controlling, I didn’t think I was worth very much to God or others. So, what does it matter what I do to my body, my baby, or others? But God was showing up ever now and then when I felt like He was there and He was interested in my life. But I would not come to know Him as my Lord and Savior until I was 34 years old.

Ephesians 3:16-19
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

How do you see God now?
I now have finally received the beautiful redeeming work of Christ in my life once I was able to receive His love into the inner most part of my being, that truth changed me forever. Even after I was saved, I allowed people to abuse me and use me because I had no boundaries, and because I didn’t love myself, others didn’t treat me with love and respect either. But once His love permeated my heart, I had courage to put up boundaries and I started taking care of myself and loving myself. It was the most freeing and beautiful thing I have experienced, to know the love of God for myself. To feel and know in my heart, that no matter what I have done in the past He loves me.

How does He see you?
I am grateful for the truth from God’s word that every person is created in His image and is given intrinsic value and is created with a purpose for His kingdom. I am no longer bound to Satan and sin instead I am adopted into the family of God; I am a daughter of the King of Glory. He loved me so much He died for me on the cross. His love is so deep, and wide, and high that I cannot comprehend it, but I believe in my heart I am cherished and loved by God. And I will be with Him forever in heaven for all eternity. In July of 2017 we were having my extended family in town, my sister and brother and their families. As a result, I started feeling anxious and started feeling rejected by all of them, because you see they do not know the Lord yet, so I am not apart of their family anymore. Rejection was a huge wound for me and I can go there very quickly if I am not grounded in the Word. To Combat my rejection wound God had me write out specific Biblical truths about, “Who I am in Christ,” it goes like this:

Who I am in Christ

I am worthy
I am loved
I belong
I am accepted
I am adopted
I am confident and competent
I am a child of God
I have the Holy Spirit within me
I am victorious in Christ
I have a home in heaven
Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord
I will fear no evil

I am so proud of you for having the courage to step out and trust God to heal you.

You are safe her beloved sister.

You are loved,
Toni

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (NKJV)

Toni and the Team at myashestobeauty.com

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Will You Allow Jesus to Heal You?

Will You Allow Jesus to Heal You?

Abuse Recovery Support Group (ARSG)

Will You Allow Jesus to Heal You?

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 NKJV

Only Jesus knows what it feels like to be verbally and physically abused, mocked and spit on, and publicly humiliated as He hung on the cross naked and beaten and rejected by His closest friends. I believe only Jesus can heal us physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally from all the forms of abuse and trauma we have experienced in our lives. In Isaiah 53:5, the Bible says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Thank you for joining our first support group meeting on abuse. We will be covering all kinds of abuse from emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual. We want to give each of you an opportunity to share your stories and your hearts in a safe and loving environment so that the healing journey you started will continue. One thing I have learned through the abortion recovery ministry is that we need a community of women who have experienced the same things we have, in order for us to open up and be vulnerable. God is providing you with a group of sisters who love Jesus and each other, and who are courageous and committed to this healing journey. They are willing to do the work necessary to reach the next level in their healing as they grow closer to God in the process. They no longer want to settle for barely existing. No, they want more. They want the abundant life that Jesus died to give them.

In my home of origin, I never developed a voice because of the chaos and unpredictable home environment I grew up in. From an early age, I believed I had the power to make someone happy or angry by my behavior. That was a lie from the pit of hell, but I would not discover that truth until I got into ACA recovery work in 2010-2015. I have no such control, but this lie lead me down a path of people-pleasing that opened me up to all kinds of harsh treatment and abuse by others who would use and manipulate me. I enabled this behavior because of my need for love and acceptance. I did not understand codependency, emotional and verbal abuse, and how it was having an effect on me and the choices I would make in my life. I thought this was normal; it was my normal but, God knows it wasn’t His plan for the family.

I started rebelling at the age of 12, drinking Scotch Whiskey from my parent’s liquor cabinet, getting high at 13 and having sex at 16 and then, my abortion at 21. I struggled with depression as a teenager, and when I got drunk, I acted out and kicked out a window in my college dorm. I punched walls and was so filled with rage and hatred towards myself. After my abortion, these unhealthy coping mechanisms just increased in intensity. My abortion was the nail in my coffin. That act plunged me headlong into the dark pit of despair and suicidal thoughts. I just wanted to end this torment of a life; I did not see a way out.

Then one glorious day, I met Jesus and He forgave all my sins, and He began healing my broken body, soul and mind. It’s been twenty-seven years, and He is still healing and loving me. And it has been a beautiful journey.

What was your home of origin like?

How did that affect your decision making?

Did you make healthy decisions or ones based out of fear?

Have you received help in this area to stop this unhealthy cycle in your life?

The Abuse Recovery Support Group (ARSG) meets on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of every month, at 4:15 PM EST. More information regarding the Sunday calls is found on this page, Trauma of Sexual Abuse.

Please reach out, email us at arwsg4u2@gmail.com, we can help you heal from your past trauma with our loving and caring support group, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, prayer, and accountability.

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!