Have you ever heard the saying, "keep the past in the past"? Today's episode is going to challenge that advice. Often, we don't want to unpack the pain in our past because we think that we are going to get stuck there, or that the pain would be too deep. The truth is, the echoes of our past are already affecting our present reality, and pursuing healing is so worth it, let's talk about why. Join us for this episode!
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Valerie McMahon, Denisha Workizer
Denisha Workizer 00:01
Welcome to Living the Reclaim life Podcast. I'm Denisha We're glad you're here for conversations that revive hope, inspire healing and encourage you to live a vibrant life with Christ. So grab a cup of coffee as we chat with today's guest, Episode 53. Do you know what that means?
Valerie McMahon 00:21
What does it mean to Denisha?
Denisha Workizer 00:23
That means that we have been podcasting for one year.
Denisha Workizer 00:27
This is where I wish we had those buttons that were like sound effects were like, yeah, like confetti should be flying right now. You guys 50 This is episode 53.
Valerie McMahon 00:38
Happy anniversary to us.
Denisha Workizer 00:40
I know. So welcome living the Reclaim life. This has been super fun. So Reclaimers because that's who you are. You are brave, brave women who are stepping into their story to reclaim their story from painful pasts. Right. Like, that's what we're doing. And we've each worked through it and are still working through it. And here we are in Episode 53. So this month, we are so excited to just bring we have so many amazing guests coming up this month. And so Valerie and I thought we'd kind of talk about why do we unpack our past right, we talk about reclaiming our story. And so I guess I should introduce you the Valerie is with us today.
Valerie McMahon 01:21
That's okay. They're getting used to me.
Denisha Workizer 01:23
We're just so comfortable with each other. That's awesome. So yeah, so Valentina. Today, we're going to talk about kind of set this up, right, we talk about reclaiming our story. But there is a first step to reclaiming our story. And that means, you know, identifying that we have something in our past that needs to be reclaimed. Yeah. And so as we step into that, there's I have so many thoughts on this, because, number one, I spent years saying, like, I'm not touching my past, I'm not touching it, right. And we have such a passion for helping women find hope and healing from a painful past through a vibrant relationship with Jesus. Well, in order to have that passion, I kind of had to have some victories with the Lord myself in that category. And for me, and I want to hear your take on this to Valerie, I feel like for years, I'm a stuffer. So if a high emotion, something a big emotion comes up, I am a stuffer. So I will take it and stuff it down. And what I realized is I was kind of stuffing it under a carpet. And then one day like in my late 30s, I looked down and suddenly there was this huge, like speed bump in the middle of my carpet of life. And I'm like, what is that. And then I started trying to walk over it and begin tripping over it. And tripping over it, for me looked like responding really strongly to situations that maybe shouldn't have been as strong. It looked like having just a lot of tenderness and kind of feeling stuck on my speed bump right in my carpet. And that was when the Lord began to say, let's look under the carpet. And I'm not even gonna lie, I was terrified. So that's what we're going to talk about today. Like, why do we not want to you we kind of have to look back to go forward. Yeah. And so what what makes us not want to do that? And what what's your story with this? Valerie, how can you relate to like that desire for healing, but the fear of looking backwards in order to allow God to take you
Valerie McMahon 03:26
forward? Well, as some of you already know, just as I shared, I mean, I grew up pretty much in a regular home not much was going on I made it it seemed like just normal life, you know, mom, dad, brother, and we went to church and, and everything seemed good, seemed normal, there wasn't a lot of issues or, you know, big stuff going on, or you know, dysfunction. But for me, when my brother committed suicide in 1999, like that was the probably the biggest rift, the biggest rift and my story, the biggest interruption in my story, and the reason why I start there is because at the time, you know, it almost felt like I was watching a movie. I was in college, you know, just like okay, what do I do with this? You know, I mean, I It's interesting, because after, you know, going back home and in the funeral, you know, I try to go right back to where I was, because I didn't know what else to do. You know, I was 21 I was living in Mexico at the time on a on a missions internship and I was like, Okay, well, I gotta go finish this, you know, I gotta go do that. And I'll tell you Tanisha just like I think two weeks being there. I was like, I literally could not go on you know, and I had to go home and but then I was like, okay, but in the fall, I got to go back to college. I got to keep going. I got to you know, reach my goals and I went back to college semester in. I was physically like I would get sick often because of that stuffing like I didn't know what to do with those emotions. And I look back to that part and God, God did a lot of healing there. But I realized how, you know, sometimes we don't even know how, right like, we don't know how to unpack our pain. And so we just keep going. And even though there was a little bit of healing on the way, I gotta tell you, you talk about tripping. It wasn't till the 20th anniversary of my brother's death, which was just a few years ago, a couple years ago, that it's almost like, it was almost like it had just happened. Isn't that interesting? Like, there was, it was like, you know, the anniversary, his death came up. And instead of celebrating with my family, like, I just like, escaped, it had to be by myself. And I'm like, what, like, where is this coming from? Like, I thought I had dealt with this. So I mean, that's just, you know, one instance of my story, realizing that, you know, there are layers, there are layers to our healing. It takes time, right, you know, you don't have to handle everything at once. But you know, the idea is, is that, like you started mentioned are our present reactions are present behaviors are present feelings are an echo of the past. And so for me, it was like, I didn't unpack all the pain, all the trauma of that when it first happened. And so, you know, life went on, and then I tripped over it, you know, 20 years later, but God, at that point, then God revealed more, but yeah, that's, that's a little bit of part of my story of Yeah, tripping over tripping over the unhealed pain, and then okay, what do I do with this, and I was nervous, I was like, you know, like, if I open this up again, if I open these feelings up again, then what, but I had to do that to even heal more. So
Denisha Workizer 06:50
I think you hit on something so important there is that it is scary to do that, you know, I had my high school years, I suffered three years of abuse. And I remember, you know, going into my even at 19, I kind of drew this line in the sand and was like, I am never looking back. And part of that meant I'm never going to address those feelings. Now. God had other plans, and I'm so thankful for that. But I remember feeling when people would talk about right, you know, something would evoke those emotions in me, I almost felt like I had a sweater on with a thread. And if I began to pull on that thread, and symbolically, I mean, like, if I pull on that thread, like if I begin to examine those big emotions, if I begin to examine that pain, that grief, then I was like, I was gonna pull this sweater thread until next thing, you know, the whole thing unravels. And then I'm naked. I mean, that is how I felt like it would just be so terrible. And I remember somebody asked me one time, you know, Tanisha, what happens if you just look back into that time? And have you know, have you thought about going to counseling or anything like that? And I remember looking at this is probably in my mid 20s. And I said, No. And they said, Well, why not? Like, do you feel like you have anything to, you know, to go back into to heal from? And I said, No, that just all sounds terrible. And it was kind of that sweater picture, you know, that I had? Oh, no, if we tug on that one, nobody touched that thread. You know, so and there's a lot of reasons that we don't, I was convinced that if I went back to unpack those big feelings, those big emotions, that there would be more pain, or that I would end up stuck in that space in my life that I would go back to 16 1718 years old and be stuck there. And like,
Valerie McMahon 08:40
you can't come out of it. Yeah. Yeah. And I had with, especially with my brother, I had the fear of opening up other wounds for other people. Does that make sense? It's like, you know, like, my parents, you know, okay, if I dive into this again, if I you know, if I want to heal in this area, and, and maybe they're not ready to am I am I gonna? Am I gonna hurt them? You know, so it's almost like that fear of like, what are other people gonna think? I don't know if you've experienced that, too. Yeah. What are other people are gonna think and, you know, can I handle this? Am I going to come back from it?
Denisha Workizer 09:14
I think that too, with your family was involved in, you know, you're in your story with, you know, your brother, your family was involved in that. So there was that? I can I can see how you had that pressure of if I open this up. Yeah. Am I going to reopen it up for them? Exactly. Yeah. I think I really believe the lie, that if I go there, I'll stay stuck. But I think the truth is that for me, I was already stuck. I was already stuck in, you know, the pain from the things I experienced. I was already you know, walking that out in so many different ways. I was living out of the pain of my story. And I think I came to the point in my late 30s I really didn't have a choice if I'm honest. God really moved in that sovereignly but I think I finally came to the point where God was saying, Do you want your story to have power over you? Or do you want to have power over your story? Will you let me heal it? And for me, it was a trip to Las Vegas, where he began to just really, he sovereignly began to unravel my sweater. And what I came to realize was that I was safe with him. Right? Those big emotions, all of that they didn't feel safe, they weren't safe, but that I was safe with him. And so it kind of a crazy story. And I think I showed this once before on the podcast, but we were at a women's conference in Las Vegas. And there was like 19 people from our church. And we were staying at this Airbnb kind of really off the beaten path. Like it wasn't off the strip. During those three years of abuse. For me, I the first trip that I was taken on by this family friend was to Las Vegas. And we stayed in this hotel that was a, it had a triangle shaped parking lot. And I remember kind of walking, you know, he was a fit, trusted family friends that have been around, you know, since I was like eight years old. And my mom sent me on this trip with him. And I remember walking through the casino and smelling smoke, you know, everybody was smoking back then in the casinos. And I remember the smell of smoke. And then I remember us opening the door to the room. And I realized that there was one bed. And I remember I was 16 years old and the fear that just came over me like a wave. And so I remember I said, Well, where am I going to sleep and he's like, oh, we'll just sleep here. It'll be okay. And that was when the abuse started for me and went on for three years. But I remember standing in that hotel room, that first trip and looking out the window to this triangle shaped parking lot. And I just kept thinking, I wish I was out there. I don't want to be in here. I want to be out there. Why can I get out there. Fast forward to 2017. Okay. And we're in Las Vegas, at this women's conference, we leave our Airbnb, we're driving along the highway to go to the church that we're going to a conference at. And we drive past this hotel and everything in me before I even realized what was happening or what I was remembering. My whole body was like get out of the car. And I remember grabbing the handle, not that I've jumped out on the freeway, that's a little crazy. But my body was like, We gotta go, we gotta go right now. And my fighter flight kicked in, I was very vocht. And I sat in the car and started to have like, shortness of breath, all of these emotions. And I looked out the window, and I see this hotel with a triangle shaped parking lot. And from 16. You know, fast forward to my, you know, late 30s, early 40s. I forget when that was, well, five years ago. Anyways, we're not going to do math. But I just remember feeling like I was 16 again. And suddenly I was I was driving past the parking lot that I so desired to be in. But all of those emotions to the point guys in that car, I could smell cigarette smoke. And there was nobody smoking in the car. But that was how much my body remembered that that trauma. And so for me, that was my sweater. That was don't tug on that. But in this particular conference and time that the Lord took me into this was when he said, I am going to reclaim your body in the first place that was stolen. And he began to talk to me about reclaiming and what that meant over this trip. And I was on done during this trip. Let me tell you guys, I didn't have courage. I wasn't like, Lord, let's embrace my story together. You know, God, here's what I know, now bring forth what you want to heal. Like I was not open. I wasn't surrendering to Him. In fact, I was very closed off going, don't you touch my thread, Don't you touch it, it's gonna be bad. And he was so tender. And so I share the story for you guys that, you know, as you're listening, if you think there's something in my past that I don't want to, I don't want to touch, it just needs to stay there. It's too big. It's too scary. I don't want to touch it, I might get stuck there. I just want to encourage your friends that when the Lord begins to heal those places in our story, that are hard when he begins to take that step into our painful past that we can trust him. By the end of that conference, he had brought up a lot of things to me but he was so gentle to nurture me through that. And I remember walking into a breakout that was supposed to be on fear and I thought I can handle fear because everything in me was evoked like I couldn't sit in worship, I was a mess. And I walked into Carrie Garcia's breakout actually and it was on fear. And at the I can do fear I can do fear. We're not going to talk about sex. abuse, we're not gonna talk about anything else I can do fear. And she ends up unpacking what trauma, what trauma means. And I had never heard the word triggered. I didn't know what that meant. And I remember thinking, Lord, You are tricking me, you are like setting me up for healing, and I'm terrified. And so I share that because I was not a willing follower. I was not like, Lord, take me, let's let's go back into this and heal this. And let's unpack these bags. I've been carrying around with me, since I was 16 years old, that he was so gentle when he did it. And so and there's so many reasons, we don't want to do it. But it's so worth it.
Valerie McMahon 15:35
Yeah. Yeah. And I was thinking of that, Denise, just like, what? Why was it worth it? For you?
Denisha Workizer 15:43
It was worth it. Because something I thought was so big. It was so big to me. I mean, it was bigger than me, it was bigger than God. In my mind. It seems so big. But when I allowed him to tend to my story, when I allowed him to begin to reveal where he was in those moments that I didn't even know the Lord during that time, I didn't come to lortabs 23. But he or 21, actually, he began to reveal though, that he was in it, and that his heart hurt with my heart, and that he wanted to rescue and restore those places in my story. So it was worth it. Because I think I gained a huge trust in the Lord, that He is that trusted father, it was worth it. Because now I have such a different perspective on that time in my life. And I am a firm believer that when we are courageous to address our past, that our victory in the Lord can become a victory for other people. And here we are, reclaim story, write that story, seeing that hotel and God beginning to heal that. I don't think he could have moved me to where he wanted me in purpose and calling until I was ready to face that pain.
Valerie McMahon 16:55
Yeah. And you can't write you can't walk other people through it and tell you, you've heal to like we like to say I mean, even if you're just one hour ahead, when one day I had one year ahead of somebody else, like you can take their hand and say, Hey, come with me. I can walk with you. But I love what you said Tanisha to just as we look at our past, whether you know you knew the Lord or not what you said, I thought this was so, so beautiful. You're like Jesus was going to walk with me like Jesus was going to go back into my story with me, right? And that's what you were saying? Like, it's scary when we don't feel safe. And maybe we don't feel like we have anyone to share with her walk, you know, say, Okay, if I tell this person, like we've talked about the past, if I tell this person, they only knew then what? Which is why, again, we have reclaimed story to help women understand that we are here to walk with you. But I just I loved what you said about you know, you're like, Okay, Jesus, I'm ready. And he's like, Okay, let's go. I'm gonna walk with you. So,
Denisha Workizer 18:03
and I was kicking and screaming. I mean, literally, I wasn't. So I understand. You know, when women come to us, for instance, you know, income to reclaim story. I understand that resistance to you know, there's something so big right now. But friends, I just want to tell you that, you know, we can't fix our present without understanding how the past is playing out for us right now. And so it's worth it. I just want to say it is so worth it. And I know, we could talk for hours on the benefits of allowing God to heal our story and sitting in a safe place with other people who understand that. So, Valerie, what are your thoughts on either why it's worth it? Or just next steps to unpacking our story, allowing God to rescue and restore our stories, I guess first means that we have to admit that we're stuck. Yeah. So then what?
Valerie McMahon 18:57
Yeah, yeah, I think, you know, kind of back to my story about my brother, you know, when we were honoring the 20 years since his death, which was May of 2019. I had struggled with kind of running when things were hard, but that ended up being a year where I actually literally ran away because I was in it happened one weekend, where I just took off, and I didn't tell my family until I got to my destination. And and for me, that was that was the turning point. You know, it was kind of kinda like you in Las Vegas. You know, it was like, that was the turning point. Like, wow, you know, like, I was even like, surprised, like, I can't believe I did this, you know, but it was, it was kind of the idea of like, okay, I have to stop running. I have to stop running. And for me, you know, at the time I was I was seeing a counselor. And you know, I mean, she was one of the first person I texted and I said, Hey, I've run away You know, like, I know, I'll come back. But you know, this is what I'm dealing with. For me that was just a first step is engaging and embracing the why, why am I doing this in the present? And how does it connect to the past? So that really is the first step we have to, we have to embrace, and then we have to be willing to engage in it. And, and so yeah, I would say that's, you know, that's the first step
Denisha Workizer 20:24
in the passage that comes to my mind when you say that is Proverbs 20, verse five, and it says, A man's heart is deep waters, but a person of understanding will draw it out. And that's, that's what we get to be to other people, as we reclaim our stories, even if we're in process, right? This is a lifetime journey of reclaiming, you know, things that have risked being allowing God to rescue and restore us, I mean, 66 books of the Bible, right? Genesis to Revelation is all about God, rescuing and restoring us. And so that's, that's what we see, when we begin to reclaim our story and unpack our past.
Valerie McMahon 21:02
We don't, I was gonna say, like, you know, part of, sometimes we don't want to open up our stories, like, okay, like, what, what is the truth? You know, what, if there's something there that I haven't known, and, you know, sometimes we can be afraid of the truth. But then, as we know, scripture, you know, says, The truth will set us free. And I think, you know, and we do, you know, that is a promise from from Jesus, you know, says you will know, the truth and truth will set you free. But that, that is often that fear, it's like, but what is the truth? You know, we're afraid of what it is, but then once we're able to embrace it, then we do find freedom.
Denisha Workizer 21:43
So yeah. And that reminds me of, you know, to know that I was already living out the pain in my story. But knowing that that truth would set me free would actually give me power over my story, instead of my story having power over
Valerie McMahon 21:57
me. Yeah, as we've been able to introduce, for the first time, the last few months, you know, an in person Life Group. And we have, we've had about 16 ladies here locally. And Denise, I'm sure you can attest to when when these women signed up for this group, right? We said, this is an identity study, we're going to be going through a book, you know, and gosh, who, you know, all of us, I think, right? We can probably agree, we struggle with our identity at some point. And so we had these women come in, but wow, like I yeah, I think we all weren't prepared for what God was going to do. And I, and I think the beautiful thing I've seen is that, you know, most I would say, you know, some of us knew each other, but not, there wasn't one person that knew everybody. So we were all walking into this vulnerable place. But we created it as a safe community. And wow, I mean, we're almost to the end of walking through it. And we've seen so much healing, so much embracing of the story, because we're saying like, me, too, and oh, and you too, and, and there's just been this openness. And so wow, there's there is so much power in embracing our story and walking alongside other people who are saying, Yeah, I'm ready to embrace my story. There's that power of, of community of healing community that's like, says, Okay, I'm ready. And yeah, it's been a beautiful journey to watch that.
Denisha Workizer 23:21
And one of the lies I think that the enemy gets us to believe so much, and why we don't share things is either one past hurts, right? If we've been hurt by someone we've shared with the wrong person. Yes. But I think the enemy loves to have I think you're the only one. Yes, you're the only one that's ever gone through that I was convinced for years that I was the only one that went through the abuse I went through. And then the more I started talking to other women, there was so much freedom in that safe place of them saying, you know, I thought I was the only one. And you know, guys, there's there's really nothing new under the sun. And there are other women who have experienced what you've experienced, regardless of what your story is. And now, you know, we're in year three of reclaimed story. And I can officially say that I don't think anything shocks us. Because we know God's heart for the you know, for women, and we know that he is so faithful, I think of the song mighty to save, but he is so faithful to rescue and restore us. And there's nothing that surprises him. Yeah. So we want to leave you with some next steps today. For some of you, you may think, Oh, I've unpacked I've been unpacking my past I've sought healing for those things that have those places, you know, where I've stopped, got stuck in my story. And I also know that just like me in 2017, there are many of you listening who have thought, I'm not touching that. Don't pull that thread. And so can we just encourage you today? First of all, we want to say continue listening to this podcast this month. We have some amazing guests coming on to talk about the power of unpacking our past why that rear View Mirror is so important in finding healing for today. We have an identity class as Valerie talked about. We have so far it's in person, but a spiritual timeline class that was undoing for me in a beautiful way. We'll talk about that another time. So we have that available, our blogs will always link up to just reinforcing the message of hope and healing through a vibrant relationship with Jesus. So and join the conversation, which you just, we just want to ask you to take a courageous step, and join the conversation on Facebook on Instagram. And I know we all have thoughts about social media, but we really try to create a safe place for women to share what's going on to put encouragement out there to put out things that challenge us and move us forward in our story towards hope and healing in Christ. So we have a private Facebook group called Living the reclaimed life. And Valerie and I are working behind the scenes on so many more things that we can't wait to open up and share. But for right now, we just want to say join us Would you join us? You're with like minded women. Women who have had Harmon are stories, women who have felt stuck, and women who are relentlessly pursuing Jesus for hope and healing. So stay with us, be sure to listen to the podcast, join us on social and also our private Facebook group living the reclaimed life. And we want you to know one more thing before we go today. We are here. We truly are here. We have an email address that you can reach out to that's easy to remember it's connect at reclaim story.com. So feel free if you need to take that one brave step into a safer place, email us and then we can we can provide a lot of other resources for you as well. So thank you so much for listening today. Guys, it is worth unpacking our stories. It is worth looking in that rearview mirror and saying okay, what was behind so that I can go