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  • Janyne McConnaughey, PhD

My Readers are BRAVE!

(I have been blessed by so many who have written to me and shared their healing paths which included both reading BRAVE: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma. and accessing trauma-informed therapy. Michelle's healing, which she describes in this guest blog, is evidence that deep healing is possible. Thank you for sharing the hope with others! )

Diamonds Out of Dust

by Michelle Sherrard

I was thrilled, honored and humbled when Janyne asked that I write a guest blog. Jesus Christ receives ALL glory and praise for without Him and His servants, this point of my healing would have been inconceivable.

My healing began in July, 2018 as a direct result of Janyne’s book BRAVE. Within reading the first chapter, I knew the utilization of EMDR was key and God’s call was now.

Within 3 weeks of receiving the book, I prayed for a Christian female counselor. God blessed me with a Christian female counselor specializing in women with traumatic pasts. I began therapy as a deeply wounded child trapped inside a woman’s body.

My toddlerhood years were spent in a very abusive home. I lived with an older brother, a younger sister, and my cohabiting parents in a filthy apartment in the slums of Detroit. I suffered from sexual abuse, malnutrition, abandonment, neglect, and severe isolation. My sister suffered from much of the same. We were always dirty and unkempt. My sister died at 6 months as a result of asphyxiation. My brother and I were placed for adoption.

I was adopted into a loving, supportive, and nurturing home in June, 1984 when I was 3 ½, joining an adopted brother who was 14. Sadly, just 23 months later, after gaining some semblance of stability, my world would be shattered as I again faced sexual abuse, this time from my brother in May of 1986 at the tender age of 5.

I became the first person in my biological family to graduate high school and then receive a bachelor’s degree. In spite of the wonderful Christian family I was blessed with, being highly active in the church, accepting Christ as my Savior at the age of 8, and the three international mission’s trips I enjoyed, I harbored deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, low self-esteem, and low self-worth. I could not believe that God loved or valued me, or accept any form of positive affirmation.

These beliefs and feelings resulted from my childhood abuse and they would only strengthen as I grew. I would hear the same degrading, devaluing messages from outside sources as I suffered verbal, mental and emotional abuse form adults outside the home; culminating with a hurt and broken spouse.

This childhood abuse deeply embedded this message into my very core. “I don’t measure up; I’m not good enough.” This constructed “The Wall.” Each future displeasure, correction, verbal, mental and/or emotional abuse served to reinforce that message. For 36 years these thoughts and feelings would continue to fortify “The Wall.” Though healing, I still struggle with these negative subliminal messages received in childhood.

But GOD… He saw my pain. He heard each cry and saw each tear. He walked with me through the fire… and He continues to walk with me.

Following is a sampling of God’s miraculous work in me, showing how He is making diamonds out of my dust.

January 15, 2019.

I began to realize that I was good enough, I did measure up. It was not my fault. Light began to penetrate “The Wall” for the first time in 36 years. It never occurred to me that I was being tormented by incorrect internalized messages caused by my abuse. I began to literally feel the weight lift from my shoulders when my child and adult selves could say in agreement, it was not your fault.

May 7, 2019, “Freedom Day”.

This is the day God validated me. I knew God understood me. I’d been struggling deeply with an area for years, misunderstanding its two-fold nature. I saw it only as one enormous negative behavior. Finally, the clouds separated, the Son appeared and illuminated the issue as He had intended.

Later, I attended my church’s prayer service, overcome with tears, realizing God did not condemn me for that behavior. We sang a song about God’s grace, I realized for the first time, God’s grace was for me. As the service progressed, He lavishly poured out His love for me as He seared His love letter on my heart:

“I don’t condemn you. I don’t judge you. I died on the cross for you. I love you. I’m angry at those who hurt you and did this to you. I delight in what you have been learning. I’m sorry you have to go through this. I cry with you.”

May 22-27, 2019. (This final miracle recounts my abusive marriage.)

I do not enjoy amusement parks…

But God… He has a sense of humor and this 6-day stretch was a ride that would surpass the wildest of rollercoasters worldwide.

Therapy revealed a profound subconscious rage and anger toward my ex-husband. I had great desire to kill him and was incapable of seeing him as anything other than an abusive person.

But God…

Three days later, I began seeing my ex-husband as:

  • The innocent baby who God created.

  • The hurting child within.

  • His happiness for me that I’m beginning to heal. Genuine remorse for his role.

  • No desire to kill him.

I recently penned these words during a time of reflection…

Diamonds out of Dust

One day I woke dull and weary.

My cup was empty, my life was dry, my strength was gone.

I had nothing left but tears of frustration, anger and rejection.

I asked my Lord why my marriage had faltered so, why I couldn’t go another step.

He lovingly looked down at me and said, “My child, this was not the path I wanted for you, or for him. Out of love, I gave you both free will and you exercised it freely. But it allowed for grave danger to enter. Once, the poison had its deadly grip, your choices, born of childhood pain, took their course. It was with deep sorrow that I walked beside you every step of the way. Sometimes, I even carried you.

But what joy, delight and great pride

I take in you, my child,

Over what you are learning and how you are growing.

And it is now that I am making diamonds out of your dust."

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