We hear and talk a lot about intentional growth, intentional service, intentional obedience, but not as much about intentional healing. I believe God wants to bring about wholeness, which necessitates deep and total healing, but I also believe we need to cooperate with Him. I’ve seen it go two ways: I’ve seen those who become a perpetual victim, believing life “happens to them”, hiding beneath a blanket of emotional darkness. I’ve also seen those who firmly grab onto what Christ has done for and in them, moving one step at a time toward the abundant life God promised. I’m not saying it’s easy, nor instantaneous, but Christ died to set us free from EVERYTHING that might hold us back or beat us down.

If you read my article on unpacking suitcases, you’ll remember the journey to emotional freedom can be a rough road. Perhaps that’s why some never take it, or turn around halfway there. But today Diana E. Butts, author of Deliver Me, encourages you to keep on keeping on! Christ came that you may have abundant, vibrant life. Although she talks specifically about the pain and shame of abortion, the principles apply to all of us. We’ve all got shame, regrets, those things that hold us back and keep us from grabbing onto the life God plans for us. But God says, “No more! Come to Me that you might live.” He’s waiting…

Intentional Healing for Haunted Pasts by Dianne E. Butts

Are you silently suffering because you’re living with a secret? If a past secret is haunting you, it’s time to get intentional about your healing.

But how might a person get intentional about such a thing?

As I gathered stories for my most recent book, Deliver Me, I talked with many women and men who have an abortion in their past. That may not be your secret, but I learned a lot from them about what they suffered and how they found healing. Each one of them became intentional about their healing, and then God led them to people who could help them, most of whom had “been there” themselves.

From their example, I gleaned two actions a person can take to be intentional about healing from something in their past:

1.)  Find or Give Forgiveness

Almost all of the ten women who shared their abortion stories in Deliver Me expressed in one way or another that they truly believed they had committed the unforgivable sin—that one sin that God would never forgive. They were wrong. That’s just another lie from the devil. There is only one sin God cannot forgive, and that is to reject the Savior He sent: His Son Jesus Christ. All else can and will be forgiven when we bring it to Him. Here is His promise:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9, NIV. [  http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=faithful+and+just+to+forgive&qs_version=NIV1984  ]

Others may suffer because they are the victim of someone else’s sin. Unfortunately, in Christian circles there is often an attitude that we need to just “get healed of that.” While wounds may heal, they still leave scars. We can experience healing and at the same time we may also have damage that we will live with for the rest of our lives. It is hurtful when the church, or anyone else, overlooks this or communicates that it is wrong. It’s not wrong. It’s just life. But you can still be intentional about your healing. The key is forgiveness.

I know. I felt you tense as you had a strong reaction to that f-word. You may be thinking, I will never forgive them! I found it extremely freeing when I finally discovered that God was not asking me to forgive for the sake of the one who sinned against me, but for my own sake. My anger and bitterness wasn’t harming them at all, but it was eating me from the inside out. Forgiveness is not letting them off the hook; they still must deal with God on what they’ve done.

If you think it is impossible to forgive someone, I recently saw this video about a man, Kirk Martin, who forgave two teenagers who sexually abused him as a child: [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7dpGWYZMDc&list=PL4C1619755B165CD1&index=17&feature=plpp_video  ] I found it truly amazing.

Whether your secret is your own sin or you are living as a victim of someone else’s, your first step to intentional healing is forgiveness.

2.) Seek out help.

If your secret is a past abortion, you are not alone. An estimated 43% of all women will have at least one abortion by the time they are 45 years old. [http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html ] Many people report significant symptoms after experiencing abortionhttp://www.sbpcc.net/post-abortion_help.htm ]. But the good news is there is help. Most pro-life pregnancy centers offer individual counseling or group classes that walk participants through finding God’s forgiveness and healing and you can find the center closest to you at www.OptionLine.org.

For other secrets that need healing, God knows what you need and where you can find help. Seek Him and trust that He will lead you.

Comfort from Scripture

For your comfort, here are the theme Scripture verses from Deliver Me found in Psalm 116. [ http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm116:1-9&version=NIV1984 ]

8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, 
   my eyes from tears, 
   my feet from stumbling, 
9 that I may walk before the LORD 
   in the land of the living.

No one can change the past—whether it’s a past abortion or another secret you’re suffering in silence. But we can grab hold of the present and choose intentional healing for our future.

Deliver Me:

She stares at the test strip, palms clammy, breathing uneven. She’s never felt more alone. Tears blur her vision. Panic edges in.

An unplanned pregnancy can leave emotional wounds that take years to heal. The options are many: abortion, adoption, keeping the child. The questions are even more: How? Why? Where can you go for help? What do you do?

Deliver Me: Hope, Help, & Healing through True Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy explores each of the choices and their after-effects, highlighting the most sensitive moments women and men in unplanned pregnancies face, and how it affects grandparents, friends, and other loved ones. You’ll find:

  • More than 50 intriguing true stories
  • Facts and statistics about unplanned pregnancy
  • Practical help
  • Valuable resources

Whether you’re a woman currently facing an unplanned pregnancy, a man whose partner is there, a friend or family member wanting to help, you’ll find hope in the stories of others who walked this road and faced the same decisions.

Is your pregnancy experience in your past? Regardless of what its outcome was, you’ll find kindness, compassion, and healing. You’ve dealt with the pain long enough. It’s time to discover your healing.


Dianne E. Butts has more than 250 articles and short stories published in over 50 Christian print magazines, including the Salvation Army’s War Cry, Young Salvationist, Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine, Today’s Christian Senior, Enrichment Journal, On Mission, and Encounter. She regularly writes for the online magazine http://www.TheChristianPulse.com. Her work has been published in Great Britain, Bulgaria, Poland, Canada, and Korea.

Dianne has contributed to seventeen compilations including Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Best Stories of Faith, God Encounters: Stories of His Involvement in Life’s Greatest Moments, For God So Loved the World…He Created Chocolate!, and Zondervan’s New Women’s Devotional Bible.

Find her online: