By Nona Jones
The Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, meaning we were crafted with loving care and precision by the hands of God. But when people we look to for affirmation of our worth treat us as though we’re expendable to them, it crushes our soul and fractures our identity.
I didn’t have the language for it then, but looking back on the day my mom put me out, I now realize that the sickness I felt in my heart was the pain of being disposable. Although I had a relationship with Jesus by that time and had been under enough teaching to know God loved and cared for me, there was something deeply painful about having the one who brought me into the world tell me to my face that she didn’t want me. She had said it many times before, but when she said it that day and told me to get out of the house, it broke me yet again.
To this day my greatest struggle has been the pain of being disposable to people. It’s such a raw area that I once told a guy at the outset of our relationship that, if his intentions weren’t good, to please not play with my heart. I told him I couldn’t take being hurt, and he assured me he would never hurt me. But not long after assuring me he wouldn’t hurt me, that’s exactly what he did. He was enamored of the idea of me—the beautiful, accomplished girl who other guys wanted. But he discarded the real me—the person who needed love and support because of deeply rooted insecurities.
My mom was the same way. She felt personal triumph for my accomplishments and how good they made her look, but when it came to nurturing and protecting me, the person, I was expendable. This type of treatment bruises your spirit and makes you question whether you’re even worthy of the kind of love your heart thirsts for. And you can begin to think something is wrong with you. You can begin to believe you are defective.
Maybe this has been you. You know what the Word of God says about you in your head; but your head isn’t the problem. You have a head full of Bible verses affirming your value in Christ and can rattle them off to a friend in their own time of insecurity. You have a head full of teachings from empowerment conferences around the country and share quotes on social media to encourage other people. But a head full of information can’t help you when it’s your heart that’s the problem. Your head knows what the Bible says about you, but your heart sees what the person does to you, and the conflict between the two makes you sometimes doubt whether God really has a purpose and plan for you.
As I sat alone at the kitchen table in the neighbor’s trailer that day, I prayed for God to help me see what he was doing in my life, because I couldn’t figure it out. I was 12 years old and couldn’t envision anything more than what I was feeling, so I asked God to help me see the truth in his Word. I had memorized two passages of Scripture by then, Psalm 1 and Psalm 23, so I prayed using those Scriptures because words escaped me.
“Lord, I don’t want to walk in the counsel of the ungodly or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of scorners. I delight in your law and meditate in it day and night. You plant me like a tree by the rivers of water so I can bring forth fruit in my season. Lord . . . when is my season? I can’t see it right now. I can’t feel it right now. You are my Shepherd, and I know I should not want, but God, I want peace. I need peace. My heart hurts. I need you to restore my soul and to lead me in the paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. I feel like I’m walking through the valley of the shadow of death right now, but you are with me. You always have comforted me. You’ve never forsaken me. I trust your Word; you are preparing a table before me in the presence of those who hurt me. Because of you, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And I promise I will dwell in your house forever. Amen.”
It was in that trailer, with nothing but my pain sharing space with me, that God helped me begin to realize how deep his grace reaches into the depths of our pain. As I prayed his Word, I felt the Spirit of God envelop me with the assurance that he had the situation under control. His Word became the mirror I desperately needed in order to see myself through his eyes.
When we look at our situations through our natural eyes, they can make us feel helpless and hopeless because we have no power in and of ourselves to change them. Yet when we look at our situation through the lens of God’s Word, we come to recognize that our broken places are never beyond his reach and therefore are never beyond his repair. We need God to help us see ourselves the way he sees us because our brokenness distorts the reflection we see in our mind’s eye.
While forgiveness is necessary to release our offender from our future, grace is necessary to release ourselves from our past. The word grace appears many times throughout the Bible to describe the spiritual healing we receive when we entrust our lives to God through faith in Jesus. Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Grace rescues us from the pain of our past. Grace reclaims our identity as chosen by God. Grace restores our value as precious in his sight. Grace reestablishes the relationship that was severed in the garden of Eden. Grace is the supernatural power that allows us to see ourselves and our situations as God does.
We invite God’s grace into our lives when we surrender our wills to his Word and submit our pain to his purpose.
Adapted from Success from the Inside Out: Power to Rise from the Past to a Fulfilling Future by Nona Jones. Click here to learn more about this title.
In Success from the Inside Out, corporate executive and leadership speaker Nona Jones takes you on a personal journey to discovering the difference between success that empties, and success that fills.
Many of us aspire to achieve position, wealth, and notability in the hopes that those things will erase the pain of the past. But for those like Nona Jones who have experienced trauma, success requires more than a changed mindset—it requires repairing a broken spirit.
Nona was appointed to an executive role with a Fortune 100 company at only 23 years old. Since then, she has led award-winning initiatives in public affairs, brokered multi-million dollar business deals, addressed the United Nations, and championed juvenile justice and education policy reform in the halls of Congress—all under the age of 35.
Then in one of the largest wake-up moments of her life, Nona realized that her past battles were waging a present war. Though she tried to push away the memories, her childhood trauma continued to affect her emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically—until she made a pivotal decision.
Success from the Inside Out charts the course of Nona’s breakthrough—a course that can also lead you out of the storms of your past or present. Through her own remarkable story and insights, Nona helps you:
- Claim victory at the place where the defeat happened
- Recognize ways you use work to cover up inward brokenness
- Still the voices in your head that say you aren’t good enough
- Choose not just empty success but fulfilling success
- Map your mile-markers toward your biggest goals
- Push through from brokenness to breakthrough
As Nona writes, “I’ve discovered that the only thing stronger than the power trauma has to change you is the power you reclaim when you acknowledge its effect on you.” Success from the Inside Out is an empowering guide to finding healing from the past so you can move with freedom and hope into the future.
Nona Jones is an international speaker, preacher, author, and the head of global faith-based partnerships at Facebook. Previously, Nona held executive leadership roles across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. A graduate of the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program, Nona was named one of Essence magazine’s Under 40 Women to Watch. Nona and her husband lead a church together in Gainesville, Florida. You can follow Nona at www.nonajones.com.
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