On the day Christ Church hosted the Secure in God Women’s Prayer Gathering, torrential rain cracked the skies. In spite of the incessant downpour, women came out in droves to pray and touch the heart of God. I’m convinced that we’re here on earth to help each other heal through prayer and by demonstrating mercy and kindness toward one another. It was an honor to be invited to serve as a Prayer Leader at the gathering.
Earlier that week, as I was fasting and praying about what God wanted me to share, I had a vision of thousands of lame women whose feet had been bound from the time they were children. Foot binding was an ancient Chinese custom that was practiced from the 9th century until it was finally outlawed in 1911. However, it was not until the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1940’s and ‘50’s that the custom was completely eradicated. Tragically, many of the women, who were themselves maimed, embraced the tradition of binding the feet of their daughters, crippling them for life. Hence, the custom continued from generation to generation for well over a thousand years. Can you imagine being a playful, carefree little child and having your feet bound? From the age of three or four years old, little girls would have their feet so tightly wrapped with strips of cloth that by the time they reached their teenage years, their feet were 3″ long and completely deformed. As young women, they were weak and powerless, totally lame and dependent on others, yet still held responsible for taking care of the household chores, in spite of their disability. After their homes were cleaned and swept, they would spend time sewing beautifully ornamented shoes to cover their horrible deformities.
Although the custom of foot binding was banned in China more than 50 years ago, I believe the Lord gave me that vision to show me that there are thousands of women who are lame. Perhaps not physically lame, but rather, we are bound and crippled emotionally and spiritually because of the wounds we’ve suffered from the time we were young girls. All of us are healing from what I call, the pain of shame. That is, somewhere along life’s way, someone hurt us, someone wounded us, someone shamed us, someone offended us and convinced us that we weren’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or even worthy of being loved. Some have had our innocence stolen. Some of us have been beaten, battered and brutalized physically and emotionally beyond recognition, until we no longer see ourselves as beautiful queens, much less, the daughters of the Most High God. Many of us have tried to cover up our physical and emotional wounds (just like the women of ancient China who crafted tiny shoes to cover their deformed feet). Although our physical wounds may no longer be visible to the naked eye, the emotional scars are still there, perhaps well hidden, yet festering just under the surface, until we explode with self-destructive behavior. Our deep emotional scars keep us lame and bound.
Many of us are crippled by the pain of the past. Day after day, we struggle to manage the weighty baggage of past hurts, wounds and injustices we’ve suffered, most often at the hands of a family member or even those we thought to be dear friends. Sometimes our pain is buried so deep in our hearts, that it takes years to figure out what’s wrong, why we act the way we do or why we always seem to hurt the ones we say we love. Unknowingly, we spend years building nearly impenetrable walls around our wounded hearts. Walls that harbor our pain of shame, our deep self-loathing–walls that keep us emotionally off limits and prevent us from trusting and loving ourselves and others. If the truth be told, often our emotional condition is the root cause of our physical ailments (that’s a whole ‘nother sermon)! I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be an emotional cripple for the rest of my life. I want to love and trust again. So the question is, how do we heal ourselves so that we’re free to love again and attain the promises of God to live full and happy lives?
Over the years, God has healed me of many hurtful experiences of the past that crippled me and kept me from being all I could be in Christ. Determined to be healed, the first bold step I have to take each day in order to live fully and have a closer walk with God, is to do exactly what Jesus did when he hung on that cross: Forgive. Yes, we have to forgive others and ourselves. For me, the latter charge of forgiving myself is often more difficult than the former. Self-inflicted wounds cut deeper each time we down ourselves, or discredit or invalidate ourselves. We crucify and cripple ourselves each time we look in the mirror and hate what we see. Each day, we feed our self-esteem a deadly dose of hopelessness through our own self-deprecating words: “I’m too fat, too skinny, too black, too pale, too tall, too short, my nose is too big, my hair is too nappy or stringy, my hips are too wide, my lips are too full or too thin, and I don’t measure up in the smarts department either.” When will we realize that this is the enemy of our soul talking to us and through us, assailing our minds, accusing us daily and trying to get us to believe all things contrary to who we really are in Christ? God says, we’re the apple of His eye, we’re beautiful in His sight, we’re His masterpiece, and we’re marvelously made. We’re awesome women!
Today, my challenge to every woman is to first, forgive yourself for self-inflicted wounds. Then forgive those who have wounded you. This is a tall order but I know through firsthand experience that it is possible to be healed and live full, happy lives. We can help each other heal through our prayers, kind words of comfort and encouragement. And as we receive our healing, it is in the likeness of Christ that we too become wounded healers for others who are suffering from the pain of shame.
I’m grateful to God for sending me friends like you who have prayed for me. Most of all, I thank the Lord for sending Jesus who was wounded for me and by whose stripes, I am healed. I believe that God is speaking to each one of us, asking the same question He put to the lame in the Gospel of John, chapter 5, “Wilt thou be made whole?” My answer, without hesitation, is Yes! I want to be healed. I choose to be healed! Today, as Christ poses the question directly to you “Do you want to be healed, what shall your answer be?”
Scripture References: John 5, Psalm 41, Psalm 139:23-24, Isaiah 53:4-5, I Peter 2:24
For more information on how you can book Phyllis to speak at your next meeting, please contact us by phone at (703) 927-6557 or via email at phylliscunningham.com.