One never forgets what rises up inside as we walk into a room of other betrayed partners. It’s the kind of darkened shame even sunglasses can’t hide. It feels like we might as well have “not enough,” “failure,” or “defective,” written on our forehead. Bottomline, I don’t want to be seen. I don’t want to be known. And without a doubt, I never wanted to be here.
We’re tentative – “If I stand at a book table too long or linger over resources – those around me will think it must be really bad.”
We’re afraid – “I don’t want to know, what I don’t want to know. And yet, strangely I do.”
We’re heartbroken – “Will anything take away this ache in my chest. At times it feels like I can’t breathe.”
We’re mortified – “I looked across the room and saw someone I knew. Should I pretend I didn’t see her? Move to the other side of the room? Leave?”
We’re numb – “What if I cry? How embarrassing. I may start crying and not be able to stop.”
We’re conflicted – “I’m awkwardly tongue-tied as I don’t know how to greet others, ‘Glad you’re here,’ or ‘Nice to meet you.’ Seriously, I feel clumsy and inept at best.”
As we bravely stayed, the darkness began to lift. Somehow the room felt lighter.
That’s how it felt to be with over 200 women this weekend at the Prodigal’s Restoring Hearts Conference in Bellevue, Washington on Saturday, April 6, 2019. Jay Stringer, author of the book Unwanted, opened the day with a powerful word about the importance of sharing our stories as a way of extinguishing shame. He invited us to look for the ‘God Who Sees,’ El Roi, as we face difficult times. He spoke of a woman named Hagar who was sexually used, disgraced, and discarded. As a concubine she made history as a “baby maker” with another woman’s husband. Yet what could she have done? She had no voice or choice in the matter. Hagar fled to the desert, welcoming even the sting of death over the stares of contempt and public humiliation. It couldn’t have been a darker time for her.
Nahum 1:3 says, “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” I found this verse during my stormy times and betrayals with Connor. I cried out, “Really, God? Why is this happening to me? Where are you? I can’t see you amidst the pitch-black clouds!”
What do we do in situations like this, when we don’t know what to do and feel alone in the dark? On my refrigerator is Psalm 27:13-14 and it reads,
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!”
Guess what?! The goodness of God in the way of another God Sighting happened this weekend! It’s a powerful message I couldn’t wait to share with you all. I’ve included other pieces of the message that arrived, including the context (what was received and when):
Bev, prayer team, April 5, 2019, 1:21pm: If you attended the conference you’ll remember the Turn-The-Page exercise we did as we worked on one of your shame beliefs. I used the asparagus fern or “plant eating weed” and compared it with how negative beliefs (shame) choke the life out of us.
“Hi Sheri Keffer… =-)
I was in my backyard pulling weeds this morning…and you came to my mind.
I was sensing that I needed to pray for you…so I did. Was thinking about you as well.
So thrilled to hear what God is doing in your life, as well as the lives of others as a result of your passion and obedience to His calling. Perhaps there are spiritual weeds that need uprooting this coming weekend in lives as part of those in attendance for full restoration.”
Sharon, prayer team, April 5, 2019, 2:10 pm:
“I want to share a story with you and scripture from Isaiah 30:18-26, the Lord laid on my heart as I prayed it over the women and you this weekend…I’ll quote portions of it here:
On Wednesday, I was going to the bank and as I drove into the parking lot, I turned the corner too sharply and my car went up and over the curb and got stuck. I literally could not go forward or backward without hurting the car and going back up over the curb – either with the front wheel again or the back wheel. I got out to assess the damage, heartsick – but was surprised, really, that the car seemed to be okay, but I was stuck and didn’t know which “way to go”! I shot up a quick prayer to the Lord, “Lord! HELP!” and got back in the car and prayed again! “O Jesus! Help me!” And lo and behold a young man approached my car and asked me if he could help. He said he might be able to lift the car as I drove it forward or backward – but then he said, “Just a minute! Let me assess the situation.” He looked carefully and then said, “I think, if you turn the steering wheel all the way to the left, I can direct you and you won’t have to go over the curb again and you’ll be alright.” Oh my! So, I took him at his word and turned the steering wheel all the way left and when he told me to give the car an extra amount of gas to help it, I did and lo and behold, he was right! I didn’t have to go over the curb again. I turned around to thank him and he was gone!! I don’t know where he came from – but I pulled the car up to another parking place and just sat there thanking Jesus for His grace!
This story spoke to me in many ways. One is that when I thought there was “no way” – “no going forward or backward”, Jesus, the WayMaker, made a way!”
So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
So He can show you His love and compassion
For the Lord is a faithful God
Blessed are those who wait for His help.
O people of Zion…
You will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help.
He will surely respond to the sound of your cries…
…He will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go.”
whether to the right or to the left.”…
Then the Lord will bless you with rain…
So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure their wounds. (vs. 26b)
I bless the women and you this weekend, with
Jesus, your WayMaker making a way
where there seems to be no way!
I bless you with His voice speaking to each one…
saying, “This is the way you should go”!
(whether to the right or to the left!)
I bless you with the Lord’s rain of grace and mercy being poured out!
Bringing healing to His loved ones…
Curing their wounds
saying, “You are forgiven!”
“You are cleansed”
“You are free!”
“You are healed!”
Barbara, Therapist, betrayed partner, prayer team, April 5, 2019, 9:31 pm:
GOD IS RAISING UP A GENERATION OF STRONG EMPOWERED WOMEN WHO WANT TO LEARN HOW TO LOVE WELL. SHOW THEM THE WAY, LORD IN THE MIDST OF THEIR PAIN. EMBRACE THEM IN YOUR LOVE AND SERENITY THIS WEEKEND AND BEYOND.
Zoe Ann, an attendee at conference, April 6, 2019, 8:47 am: Zoe Ann came up to me 13 minutes before the conference started to share her experience as she drove to Prodigal’s Restoring Hearts from Coeur d’Alene to Seattle. She said it reminded her of our experience as betrayed partners:
Hopeless to Hope – by Zoe Ann
Lord, I don’t want to leave this familiar place…But I need to. I can’t stay. But exactly, where am I headed?
I’m already tired. Poured out – Exhausted.
My way is sketchy at best. There’s a storm predicted. Move me, LORD, to start out and get going. It’s all You.
Now I am on the road, but it’s uncomfortable. I feel unsettled, wary of what’s ahead.
I just need to take it one turn of the wheel at a time.
Big storm in an unexpected place! Confusion and almost no visibility on the road. HELP!
Got through that, “Thank you Lord!”
But now the pass looms ahead. Dark clouds gather overhead. Can I do this? It’s growing darker. I’m losing the light. I’m scared!
A long, dark climb. My view is obscured. Others’ lights seem brighter than mine. I’m getting tossed to and fro! HELP! Will the passage ever get easier? I’m gripping the wheel with all that I am…crying out to you. The twists, the turns, the storm, the darkness. I can barely believe that I will make it through this – frightening, unfamiliar, endless… passage.
Desperation prayers…the clouds part. Light appears miraculously guiding me to a beautiful place to call home. A new place, given by my loving and caring Father – His promise fulfilled – I am overwhelmed by His love.
A Promise in the Storm
Shanna, an attendee, took this photo the morning of April 6, 2019, before heading to the Prodigal’s Restoring Hearts conference:
“I couldn’t believe it! When you talked about the God Sightings today and showed the picture of the rainbow over the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, I was blown away. This is what showed up over my hotel, the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, this morning.”
Heather, a betrayed partner in California, texted me on April 6, 2019, 11:38 am She stopped at this waterfall while on a hike and prayed a blessing over the women during the conference:
“God, bless Sheri as she is an instrument of your love and grace. Bless these women and encourage them as they move through their journey to healing and let them share in knowing that your light guides us to restoration. Here is a clip from my climb today, 6 miles of waterfalls so far, sure feels like a restorative baptism. This is the exact spot where I said my blessing over you and the women at Restoring Hearts. I felt His presence. I thought a lot about my journey, and your journey, and Linda’s journey, and I smiled because I had such a peace, I felt held. And the thought about the other women made me cry but with hope, wishing they were on the trail with me to share in the feelings of hope. It doesn’t diminish the ugly, but that’s the place He put me in on Saturday when you were with these women of worth. Thank you for all you have done to encourage me on my journey.”
Linda, a betrayed partner in California, texted me on April 6, 2019, 8:51 am: Linda isn’t on my prayer team but is a betrayed partner who heard through the grapevine that I was speaking at Prodigal’s Restoring Hearts Conference. She started praying for you all. This is what she sent on Saturday morning while we were together. Look at the time stamp. This photo and story of the Silversmith came in 9 minutes before the conference started, right before Jay spoke.
There was once a group of women studying the book of Malachi in the Old Testament. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three, which says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” This verse puzzled the women, and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.
That week this woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot – then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.
The man answered “Yes” and explained that he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be damaged.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”
He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy. When I see my image in it.”
If today you are feeling the heat of this world’s fire, just remember that God the Father has His eyes on you.
– Author Unknown
As betrayed partners, we know what it’s like to be in a crucible of fire. And much like Hagar, we didn’t choose sexual pain. Yet, El Roi, “The God Who Sees” doesn’t miss us for a moment. Much like the silversmith we are too precious. His eyes are centered on you in the midst of the flames. Check out this God Sighting…the God of this universe spared no expense to pull several women together, some close, some far, one was even hiking, to bring a unique message just for you. Drink it in. Watch the video below. Dare to trust. God is alive and well. Believe it. He is the God who sees.
Anne, a betrayed partner, texted me on April 9, 2019, 8:51 am (Anne had no idea about the conference):
“When I think of El Roi, I think of God seeing each one of us, and how significant that is when we are feeling so broken. There have been so many times where you have reminded me that God sees me. And you’ve done the same with so many. I am sure there have been times where you have needed to lean into this truth as well. I came upon this video and just immediately thought of you.”
Linda sent this same video before midnight on Saturday, August 6, 2019, at 11:58 pm I was absolutely blown away (Again, Linda wasn’t on my prayer team, she heard through the ‘grapevine’ that I was with you all. She wasn’t at the conference, had no idea how Jay opened the day with Hagar, yet prayed and listened to what God had for us).
Remember how the day started with the story of Hagar, and El Roi, “The God Who Sees?” This is the video Linda sent as she prayed for us and that the Lord brought to Anne’s heart too:
Need I say more? See the ring of fire?
You are being seen in the center of where you’re at today. No matter where you are, no matter how big your storm, or how dark your path, El Roi wants you to know, He has His eyes on you.