This is Kelly (and her rescue pup, Pumpkin!)
Her drink is an iced chai latte.
Rather than meeting at Two Cities itself, which is currently closed to in-house customers, we got our coffees to-go, made our way to a nearby park, and spread a quilt underneath the cottonwood trees. Kelly knew exactly what she wanted to talk about, and like every other Sips&Scripts meeting, I felt inspired when we parted.
In fact, at a particularly poignant moment in Kelly’s testimony, the grey clouds parted and the sun suddenly emerged covering us in warm sunlight. I think you, dear readers, will also feel the warmth from the words Kelly shared with me:
“After my traumatic split from my husband, I could not get back to church fast enough. I knew it was where I needed to be.
I love my church, but it’s a large church; and it never felt bigger than when I returned.
I knew I needed to get more plugged in somehow. When I discovered that the church was advertising Rooted as a program to deepen one’s faith and relationships with other Christians, I knew it was exactly what I needed.
I signed up. I showed up. I had no idea what to expect.
What happened as a result of Rooted I could have never hoped for in my wildest imaginations. My life was completely changed by the end of the 10-week program.
What happened as a result of Rooted I could have never hoped for in my wildest imaginations. My life was completely changed
We were a group of 15 women, including two facilitators, who met weekly to go through each step of the program with the Rooted manual to guide us.
The most impactful step of the program was the week on strongholds.
A stronghold is anything that blocks a person from having a fruitful relationship with God.
My stronghold was a direct result of the trauma I endured at the end of my marriage: anger, bitterness, and an unwillingness to forgive my ex-husband for what he put me through.
The Rooted guide included a script on strongholds that has two blanks for each person to fill in— one blank for the stronghold and one for the opposite— whatever will glorify God if the stronghold is released.
Here is the script with the blanks I filled in:
Father, I come before you in the name of Jesus. I recognize the power you have given me by the blood shed of Jesus to demolish spiritual strongholds in my life. I confess that I have given a foothold to sin and I renounce the stronghold of bitterness. I claim the truth of forgiveness by the authority of the name of Jesus Christ. Through your power, I take back the ground I surrendered to the enemy. I pray you will enable me to trust and obey your Holy Spirit so that this area in my life will be in conformity to the image of Christ. Amen.From the Rooted workbook
I read this aloud, and then all of the women took turns laying the hands on me, and the leaders prayed for my bitterness to be released and for me to embrace forgiveness. (Adelaide’s note: this is where the sun broke through the clouds and some tears broke past my eyelids)
When I woke up the next morning, I was a completely changed person. I was no longer angry. I learned how to forgive. I understood what forgiveness truly is.
I was ready to call my ex-husband and forgive him right there. Forgive him for the years of emotional and physical abuse to me and the emotional abuse to my kids.
To paint a picture of how deep my bitterness was, I can give you a story that illustrates how far the abuse went:
It was one of our final days in our rental house before we were supposed to move. My then husband had burned all of my jeans in a barrel and had taken my wallet, my phone, and my keys. He forced me onto the back patio and locked me out there. I was trapped and I couldn’t call anyone. I just remember lying there, crying out to God for help.
I heard a knock on the patio door about 45 minutes later, and I saw the faces of my parents standing there. My parents were in another city at the movies when my dad said he felt a spiritual tug right in the middle of the movie to leave and come check on me.
I later discovered that a lot of my ex-husband’s behavior was from the use of illegal drugs and other addictions like a compulsive gambling problem. He had a lot of secret demons and I bore the brunt of all of them.
Since Rooted, I have spoken to him on the phone and offered my forgiveness. He was not receptive to it, but by offering forgiveness, I am freed.
…by offering forgiveness, I am freed.
The bitterness has left my heart, and I’m not bound by anger anymore.
Ironically, holding on to anger doesn’t do anything for the object of our anger. It’s self-consuming; it only hurts me. But strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, I don’t really get angry any more since Rooted— at least not the way I used to.
Here is my favorite verse about forgiveness:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”Colossians 3:12-13
I know now that not forgiving can be wrapped up in all kinds of other things— sometimes it’s pride. Sometimes it’s a defense mechanism. Sometimes it’s woundedness. But regardless of the source, refusing to forgive comes from the enemy. Now any time someone does something to me that hurts me, I forgive them because look who laid the ultimate price. He forgives us for our daily sins. If He can forgive me, I can forgive my ex-husband.
If He can forgive me, I can forgive my ex-husband
Offering forgiveness sometimes means getting down on my hands and knees and asking Him for help with it. I’m human. But so are the people who need forgiving. People don’t mean to be the way they are, but it’s human nature. It’s our fallen way.
My marked transformation after Rooted resulted in a calling to help people the way that I was helped. I wanted to see people’s lives change the way mine was changed, so I went on to facilitate Rooted after my initial experience. I have facilitated three times since then.
I have witnessed some incredible things through Rooted.
In one of the sessions I facilitated, there were six women and four of the six had been through abusive relationships and divorce like I had. Only God can assemble a group like that.
Another incredibly memorable experience was during our service project which is one of the steps in Rooted. We chose to go to a home for seniors with Alzheimer’s. We sung hymns, accompanied by an acoustic guitar, for three hours for the residents.
I remember one woman in particular who was wheeled over to us holding tightly to a baby doll. She knew every single hymn and sang along with us. We brought so much joy to those seniors that day.
And of course I have to mentioned the relationships that are gained through Rooted— we share our most intimate thoughts and feelings and just love on each other—it’s like gaining a new family. Having a community like that is so important for weathering the challenges of life. In fact, that’s why it is called Rooted: a deeper prayer life, the truth in His word, and a family forged from honest conversations are my roots now. I’m rooted to the ground when the winds of the world start to blow out of control.
I’m rooted to the ground when the winds of the world start to blow out of control
In fact, at the peak of this COVID crisis, when the normalcy was starting to go out the window, some of the Rooted girls and I met at the church coffee shop to talk things through (before social distancing was in place), and just pulling into the parking lot made me feel secure.
The church, which once felt so large and overwhelming is now my safe place, my home.”
The conversation that occurred on that quilt is not one that I will soon forget. Kelly has been through such darkness, and yet, there was no darkness in her when she spoke of these things. Kelly such exuded joy and light for what she has found through Rooted.
And the sunlight breaking through the grey clouds to cover us in warmth as she spoke? That wasn’t a coincidence. As nothing that comes from Him is.
with His love,
To learn more about Rooted and search the offerings in your area, click here to visit their website.