“I’m afraid,” the tearful young woman told me as we sat in my car. “I know I should be grateful we were able to get pregnant, and I am. But I’m terrified I’m going to be a terrible mother.”
I knew her story; how her childhood in a single parent home was marked by neglect and verbal abuse. I met her when she was eighteen and beginning to embrace a fully surrendered relationship with Christ. She chose to believe God’s truth when He said He loved her. That was enough. He was enough. She was enough. It was beautiful to see the transformation.
Ellie reminded me of a golden sunflower, the way she flourished during her college years. None of her friends were surprised when the man she married said that the first time he saw her he was drawn to her beautiful heart. He said her sense of calm confidence was irresistible.
And it still is.
That’s why it was a surprise when she and I were leaving her baby shower and she tearfully confessed her fear to me. She told me she was so frightened that her heart hurt.
My car was filled with gifts for her baby girl, and around us echoed the many blessings that had been spoken over her. To everyone else that evening she had appeared radiant and ready to step into the next season of her life. None of them would have guessed that deep inside, she was hiding a soul wound.
“A soul wound?” she repeated when I suggested that was the source of her pain. “What do you mean?”
“I think we all have soul wounds from times in our lives when the enemy tries to destroy us.”
I parked in front of her apartment, and we sat together in the stillness of the warm night with the windows open. The only sound was the rustling of the palm trees.
“Some soul wounds heal quickly,” I told her. “Others flare up when triggered, the way fear triggered yours tonight. Those fiery darts, aimed at your heart, need to be removed.”
She turned to me with tears still welling in her eyes.
“I want God to do that. I know He doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. He didn’t shoot the fiery darts at me. I want it to be gone. I want to heal completely.”
I reached for her hand. “Then tell Him.”
We prayed, and there was no doubt that God’s Spirit had done an important work in that moment. He removed the lies. He touched her tender heart, and the healing began. Fear was stripped of its power to torment her over the wounds from her childhood.
“How did you know that was what I needed?” she asked.
“I’ve been where you are. For many years I tried to hide the wounds from my childhood.”
She looked surprised. “I always thought you must have had an ideal childhood. You’re such a good mom. You and your daughter are so close.”
“The closeness I have with my children is the opposite of what I experienced while I was growing up. I was shamed for what I said or did or how I acted. Some awful things happened to me in my teen years, and I never told anyone. I knew I couldn’t say anything to my mom.”
“But you’re like a mom now to so many young women. How did you get there?”
I grinned. “I guess I made good use of my soul wound. I became the mom to my daughter that I always wished I’d had. You’ll do the same. Your relationship with your daughter will be completely different than what you experienced.”
The dim glow of the streetlight seemed to add warmth to our conversation as Ellie leaned against the headrest. We talked about how God gives us beauty for ashes and how He uses the difficult experiences in our lives to strengthen us on the inside so that we can be a help and encouragement to others who go through the same hurts.
Ellie isn’t the only young woman I’ve had this sort of conversation with. I noticed that many of them wanted to talk about the moment in their preteen years when they realized their body was changing. The way their mom did or didn’t come alongside them at the onset of puberty had a deep and lasting effect on how they viewed themselves and their bodies.
One woman in her 50s told me she knew the exact moment when she disconnected from her mom emotionally. It was the morning she woke up and found she’d started her period. She told her mom, and instead of a hug and some help, she was given a five-dollar bill and told to ride her bike to the store for supplies and bring back the change.
“From then on, I figured everything out for myself,” she said. “It took a long time before I let my mother know any of the important things that were happening in my life.”
Another woman told me she had thought she had cancer. I nodded and shared that cancer was my conclusion too. I was ten and had no idea why I was bleeding. When I told my mom, she said, “Don’t you know what that is?” The shame kept me in isolation.
“I felt isolated too,” The woman told me. “I kept my cycle a secret for months because I was so frightened. A girl at school finally told me what was happening, and she and her friends laughed at me for not knowing. After that, I felt I couldn’t trust my mother to protect me or be my go-to source for necessary life information.”
After hearing many similar stories, I decided to be preemptive when my daughter was nine. I set up a special party for the two of us to celebrate that her body would soon do what God created it to do. I explained just enough for her to understand and answered all her curious questions.
When she pulled the tissue paper from her gift bag, she found all the supplies she’d need along with her favorite chocolate, lip gloss, and a few other girly treats.
Our simple afternoon party allowed me to be the one who welcomed my daughter into womanhood. She and I still value that sacred moment. That was the day she leaned into me as her haven. I became the safe place she could always come to.
The pain I carried for so long from my own coming-of-age isolation was healed. Jesus did that. Is the scar still there? Yes. But I no longer feel the hurt.
What about you? Is it time for you to ask God to remove those fiery darts from where the enemy tried to take you down and let the healing begin? You will be amazed at what can happen when you begin to make good use of your soul wounds.
Robin Jones Gunn is the bestselling author of nearly one hundred books with more than 5.5 million copies sold worldwide. Her popular Christy Miller novels continue in the Christy & Todd: The Baby Years series. Robin’s passion for storytelling has taken her around the world—she’s been a keynote speaker in Africa, Brazil, Europe, and Australia as well as in Canada and the US. Among Robin’s nonfiction titles are Victim of Grace and Spoken For, which she coauthored with Alyssa Joy Bethke.