If you came over from Encouragement for Today, welcome!
Deanna Allen is one of the fiercest women of faith that I know. She’s tireless, as long as it has to do with Jesus.
She’s unafraid to walk into a jail cell, because on the other side of those bars just might be a woman who desires to know Christ. It’s my privilege to share her story in this last week of #forgivetolive Challenge.
Rather than sharing her own story (which is powerful), she is sharing the story of those who impacted her the most.
This is her story.
by Deanna Allen
I never could have imagined.
I have seen God do mind boggling things but this one might have just taken the cake. For years I walked an intense path of personal recovery. I followed Christ with my whole heart through all the pains and traumas of my childhood.
Together He led me on a journey of restoration that covered every form of abuse, neglect, abandonment and into my life of addiction, performance and rebellion. Penned within these childhood journals were chapters that included the eighteen-year-long divorce my parents devoted their lives to.
Their dedication to the destruction of each other brought my brother and I tremendous emotional turmoil. Throughout our childhood and into our adult lives our parents spit venom, flailed accusations, made threats, and vowed horrific things.
For over thirty years my parents carried deep hatred toward one another.
I could understand my mother’s wounds suffered at the hands of my father’s abuse. I could relate. I could sympathize with my father’s accusations of infidelity and perfectionism. But having had Jesus forgive and set me free of so many wasted years and unnecessary tears, I didn’t understand letting such bitterness defile every good thing for over three decades.
I have had the revelation of the forgiveness I have received therefore I am able to love much. A verse I relate well to can be found in Luke 7:47. It says “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Ten years ago I lost my brother to suicide. And even in that hardest of times, peace was not restored between my mother and father. I’d accepted that forgiveness was highly unlikely between them. I should just be happy about the relationship I had with both my parents. I could walk in forgiveness. I could demonstrate the love of our Father. I could be the example of Christ, I could break the pattern of divorce in my family and show my children a Godly heritage. I could do my part.
And that would have to be enough.
Then my father became terminally ill last year. For many months God poured His love for my father into my heart as I cared for him. I was overwhelmed by the level of love and grace God gave me for the months leading up to his passing in our home.
I thought I couldn’t have been more thankful for the relationship I had with my dad. In his last days I sat bedside watching him wrestle with going on to heaven. I prayerfully considered all the things that might be holding him back. Unresolved matters, regrets, fears, etc. One morning as I walked toward his room where I’d spent every minute of the past several days, I had a thought that I knew was beyond me.
I felt the Lord say, “You should ask your mom if there’s anything she’d like to say to him before he goes.”
That was intimidating. The words from Prov. 3: 5-6 came to mind:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
I decided to call my mom and make the invitation before I leaned on my own understanding too much.
I explained to my mom the countless women around the country I had counseled and prayed for who had never had the opportunity to make peace with their past. I shared how they had felt it impossible to have closure because someone they had needed to forgive had passed away leaving a sense of permanent incompleteness. I prayed as we spoke and was dumbfounded when she indicated she wanted to come see him.
I sat in the Holy presence of the Lord as I witnessed my mom hold my dad’s hand asking his forgiveness for years of bitterness. She thanked him for giving her the greatest gifts she had, her daughter (me) and my six beautiful children. She asked him to say hello to my brother for her and give him a big hug.
Neither of us were able to contain our tears. My father, who had been primarily unresponsive at that point, opened his eyes and looked right at her. He then looked at me with a puzzled and confused look but remained peaceful. I explained to him that it was okay she was there. He looked back and forth between the two of us several times but allowed her to keep his hand in hers.
I never could have imagined the love of God could move through such a mountain of pain, anger, and years of pent up emotion through two people who barely have a relationship with the Lord.
God showed me that His love is more powerful than anything and can break through any barrier. Through the tears, HE melted away decades of bad memories leaving peace that passes understanding for not only my mother, but for me and my children as well.
I have shared this story on several occasions at various events where I’ve spoken including prisons and juvenile halls nationwide. I have a living testimony that shows the power of Isa. 58:12 ESV, “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets to dwell in.”
I will never stop believing for the restoration of families. I will remain faith-filled that peace can be restored in the streets we dwell in.
That peace starts in the hallways of our homes.
In our marriages, in our families, and that restoration can be experienced not only for past generations but future generations as well.
I believe it. I’m living it. I’m committed to it.
And I’m praying that you will too.
Is there someone from your past that you haven’t forgiven? As you read Deanna’s story, did you feel that gentle tug of the Holy Spirit that said, “it’s time”?
Deanna will drop in today and pray with you or answer questions. Get ready. She’s a prayer warrior and her whole goal is to see people live free, no matter where they’ve been, what they’ve done, or what has taken place in their life.
I love that about her.
If you need a resource to take forgiveness deeper, please check out The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness.
Onward & Upward
Deanna Allen, Christian Author & Speaker
Founder of Abundant Place Ministries
Join my newsletter or my Blog at www.abundantplace.org
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As I licensed professional counselor, it is evident that unforgiveness and the accompanying root of bitterness that unforgiveness creates DOES trouble and defile so many! It is wonderful when forgiveness results in reconciliation, but there are times when reconciliation is NOT possible. In those cases, the Lord extends His grace and freedom to the forgiver. What a beautiful story, and what a tragedy that it took the death bed to be the place of forgiveness and healing that troubled this family so many years. May God grant us all the grace to forgive daily any offenses against us, so that no root of bitterness can take place and grow that will trouble us and defile many. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said; “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the heal leaves on the heel of the one who has crushed it.” May we all walk in His love and forgiveness.
Praise you for your testimony. It brings with it the hope of God’s resurrecting power. This is an answer to the question I’ve been asking God about the future of my marriage.
I will cling today to God’s truth in
Prov 3;5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Is 58:12: And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets to dwell in.
That message is woven throughout The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness. We change whether anyone else signs up for the transformation or not. Forgiveness isn’t allowing evil to continue. Reconciliation may be an end result, but sometimes we love and forgive from a distance as a person runs into their consequences so they can find mercy and change for their own life.
I hope you’ll consider The Unburdened Heart as a tool for your patients. My husband, SIL, and daughter are all licensed counselors and they have found them to be a good tool to put in their clients’ hands.
It’s not a typical “just forgive” or “forgive at any cost” book, but a powerful book that gently comes alongside to help them find freedom from the burden of unforgiveness or pain from the past.
Thanks so much for your comment. It’s appreciated!
Today I pray that the peace of God which passes understanding floods your heart and mind. I pray that whatever circumstance you may be facing will be surrounded by the presence, wisdom, guidance and discernment of the Holy Spirit. I pray that any chains that may be wrapped around your heart or mind will be loosed in the Name of Jesus. I pray that chaos will cease, crisis’ will be resolved, restoration will come, truth will reveal itself and you will be set free in ways you never thought were possible. For every mountain that is standing in your way — I, with you, declare — God is bigger. For every impossible situation you are facing — I, with you, declare — with God nothing is impossible. Whatever is holding you back, pains of your past, fears of your future, lack, I encourage you to continue standing in faith and that promises of God. Have a fabulously blessed day and may you experience the love of God at a deeper level than ever before.
In Him and all for His Glory -Deanna
These words of encouragement are beautiful. I have been,along with my two children
through a divorce which happened 20 years ago. It has been a long and painful
road but God has been good. There are so many broken
dreams to wrestle with and the hardest part is knowing
that other people’s lives were affected-mainly our beloved children.
Forgiveness is a daily necessity. I believe our hurting families
will be reconciled at the foot of the cross. Forgiveness is the answer for healing and God brings
it in miraculous ways. It is the only way
only way to survive such trauma. I knew to start forgiving immediately
but I did not consider that I need forgiveness too as I was not directly
responsible for the ultimate failure that an unwanted divorce
brought. I see that it is a piece I need to ask God to help me with.
My ex boyfriend and I broke up and decided to wait on the Lord for a decision whether to get back together or not. Our relationship had a lot of hurts on both sides. A lot of insecurity, jealousy, and trust issues. It’s going to be two months that we’re separated and the situation feels very hopeless for me because I don’t know what to do. I don’t know whether we should be friends or whether we should not talk at all. The thing that keeps me most anxious is not knowing if this man is the one for me.
My only thought is that if you ask God to open and close doors as He sees fit, regarding this relationship, you will get a clearer picture of His will.
I am moved to tears. I too was abused threw my whole child hood, abused by my first husband, left with 3 kids at 20 years old with no survival skills, no hope for the future, no one to call on. I gave my children to CPS and contemplated suicide. I turned to drugs and alcohol. Long story short…I worked real hard and got my kids back, lost them got them back….. My kids are 32,30,and 28. I surrendered to Jesus in February 2010 after my 2nd DUI. I never gave myself completely. I have been having a close, wonderful walk with him now since this past November 2012. I have been so bless and he is changing my heart and just guiding me and loving me and doing so many wonderful things to put me right where I need to be. I am still having a very hard time forgiving me. next in line is my half brother Steve and my ex husband Ronnie. I have forgiving my mom and I even led her to Christ in 1999 where she stayed and to this day walks daily with him. May God bless you and your wonderful heart. I want to get into Jail, Prison, abused shelters ministry.
What a wonderful and beautiful heart warming story. Forgiveness is very important. I have not forgiven some people and it has affected every part of my life, even to this day. I’m praying that God gives me the strength to approach these people and extend to them my forgiveness the way Christ forgave me. Me finding this Blog and story about forgiveness is a sign to me that God wants to help through this huge step in my life
I have come close to forgiving them but have not been able to do it. Can you help me take this step?
Thx for the inspiration that families can be restored.
Please pray for me. I am torn what to do and I pray for peace from The Holy Spirit. My brother physically assualted my elderly dad while my dad was recovering from hip surgery. My parents did not report the abuse for fear of shame coming to the family in our community. The right thing to have done was report the abuse, but my parents always worried about what others think (outward appearances—that our family must appear perfect—when all was never perfect and that family secrets are to be family secrets. I was abused as a child—severely to the point that when a doctor wanted to report my father—the tears from my mother and the plea to the dr not to report the abuse won the dr over. I was a helpless child then and had to accept my life. My brother, the one who assaulted my dad, has recently assaulted me, during an uncontrolled fit of rage (he hates that I am a Christian) and while I know in my heart it is right to call the police, as the assault took place in a public place and I did not know what further my brother was going to do during his rage, I did call police. I called for I do not feel it is right to be physically hurt by someone just because they have lack of self-control and anger issues. I am being pressured to forgive my brother, which I actually have, and I am being pressured to a GREAT measure (even with threats) to drop the pursuit of a restraining order (which I have not done so at this point). I have always loved my brother, I pray for him, and feel I can love and forgive him from a distance and will feel safer with a restraining order in place to set the boundaries. I am torn because many family members are telling me I must TOTALLY forgive, meaning to them: I act as if nothing ever happened, and just drop the pursuit of the restraining order; basically family members are trying to corner me in by saying if I was a “TRUE” Christian (and the ones telling me this are NOT Christians), they say I will just let my brother go and not pursue the restraining order. My brother expresses no regrets for the abuse done against my father, nor toward me, and from what I hear, he is planning to hurt me/try to destroy me/my reputation by putting forth false accusations in court. Please pray for me, anyone who is willing and if anyone after praying for me has any insight/wisdom to share with me I would appreciate you. Thanks in Christ’s Love—
J, I am praying for you. I know where you are emotionally.
Continue to ask The Lord for guidance concerning your brother, but also know that nowhere in Scripture does God condone abuse. Ephesians 4:26 tells us not to sin in anger nor to allow the sun to go down on our anger. Your brother is lashing out in anger and it appears to be escalating. The PFA will protect you and, IMHO, should be left in place until it expires. For many, anger is an addiction, gives them a sense of power when they feel powerless, and becomes a built-in defense and excuse for their behavior. It is a cry for help and a difficult addiction to break.
I am sure you are hurting, but remind yourself to trust God each day. Allow Him to lead you to the still waters during this storm (Psalm 23). God knows that you have forgiven your brother, He knows your heart (Luke 16:15). Seek to please Him and not the unbelievers that continue to pressure you in this trial, they will continue to be weak to the enemy’s attacks. When you are feeling anxious, go to Phillipians 4:4-9. When you are afraid, read Psalm 91. In all of this, remember to forgive yourself, just as God forgives you:)
Peace and blessings to you, sister:)
I spend the entire first chapter talking about what forgiveness is and what it isn’t in The Unburdened Heart. What your family is asking you to do is to condone evil and let it flourish. I think you are strong and courageous to say no, but to also leave the door of your heart open to forgive and love your family as much as it is possible due to their actions. Pray for them. Be truthful with them. But your brother’s (and father’s) actions are there’s to own, and the consequences are also theirs to own. Our Heavenly Father desires that we all come to that place of asking for forgiveness, of transformation. He desires more than this for your brother. More for your father. But sister, more for you as well.
Wow what a gripping and emotional story. I love what forgiveness can do, and how God restores brokenness when we allow Him to come into our situations. Forgiveness gives us power to live
again…and not live with deadened hearts.
Your story is profound and I am going to share it with many.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and the power of our God! I am on my own journey of healing from childhood wounds. Some days, I feel like the mountain will not fall, but today I am reminded that God can move even mountains. I pray for courage to be able to face the hurts of my past and experience freedom and healing.