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Sharla's Story of Healing the Brokenhearted

"He's not just a somebody, He's everything. When you encounter Him, it's not just words."

(Listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.)


My name is Sharla. I am 62 years young. I’ve been married for 42 of those years. We’ve got three beautiful daughters, two amazing son-in-laws, seven fabulous, awesome, amazing grandchildren, with one in the oven. We’ll get to meet her in June. I am actually a pastor on staff at a church in the Dallas area and I have a little heart healing ministry that’s about 13 years old. I get to go do what I love to do, which is just loving on people and helping them connect experientially with Jesus, because I lived almost 50 years of my life not knowing that was even a possible reality.

The way I got here was...

I was the oldest of three and raised in a family. My dad was raised by a really angry, just kind of cruel, mean, alcoholic father. Dad did a much better job of raising, I think, his kids than my grandfather did raising my dad. But dad still came with, there was just a lot of anger, there was just a lot of unresolved pain in his own life and so I think I was probably more scared of him than I was connected to him. But we were faithful to go to church. We were at a very strong Bible based church. So we did church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Vacation Bible School, midweek devotionals. And we had this beautiful elder who would pass out gum to the winner of whoever could find the Scripture [verse] and read it. The first one there got the bubble gum and so I had a lot of bubble gum. I loved gum, it was worth trying for. So I knew the word of God really early on in my life and actually, it’s the only way that I knew to hear from the Lord. I mean, He spoke to me so clearly through the Word. It was just crazy, there were times that He would give me the specific scripture that would answer a specific need, or question that I had at the moment. So it was a beautiful way for me to interact with Him.


I also had a little sister who was born paralyzed from the waist down. So mom was really attentive to my little sister. She was four years younger than I was and so I didn’t have a whole lot of mom interaction after I was four, because my little sister’s like, mere existence, you know, was based on my mom. She had to feed her and had to change her…So she was a lot, you know, for mom to love on and to care for. So I wasn’t real connected to mom and then I was really kind of afraid of dad.

By the time I graduated high school – I graduated early. – I had all the courses, the credits that I needed to graduate high school. So my original plan was to go to college after I officially graduated. But in the meantime, I started making a lot of money. I graduated on a Friday night, and moved in Saturday morning to my fully furnished apartment. When you’ve got money, and you can pay the rent, and you can rent furniture from Aaron, you’re just set to go! So, much to mom or dad’s surprise, I graduated and then I packed my little things and I moved out Saturday morning. Then it wasn’t too long before I met my husband, Steve. He and I were the only two single people in this company and so before you know it, I was more interested in Steve and making money than I was going to school.

So the next thing you know, we are engaged and I wanted to wait until I was 20 [to be married]. I don’t know why that was important, but it was. So I turned 20 on the sixth of September, he turned 25 on the 12th, and then we were married on the 15th. Then we started off really early, having children; we were married in September, and by January or February, I realized that I was pregnant. And there’s those scriptures that talk about, something about “those that would lead the little children astray.” And it had to do with millstones around their neck and being on the bottom of the lake. And I thought, Oh, really, you know, I don’t want to do that! That’s not where I want to be! So I just radically shifted and started going back to church, much to my husband’s surprise, and shock, and disapproval because we had never talked along these lines, he had no idea what I was doing.

That began a 40 year marriage...

of me just faithfully trying to maintain this relationship with the Lord and raise these girls, you know, on my own, without his (Steve’s) support. At least he was very supportive in making sure that they did go with me. So he at least supported me in that way. But I think it’s because of that, since I didn’t have my husband to really kind of lean on for, just for spiritual help and direction and support, I think the Lord and I kind of developed a really special relationship. And again, He was speaking very clearly to me through the Scriptures. It was amazing how, how the Holy Spirit can just drop the exact verse that you need at the exact time that you needed, that would blow my mind. I’m like, I can’t believe that Scripture is even in there. It’s so appropriate.

At the same time that I was loving the Lord, and I was in His word…I lived in it. I mean, till two o’clock in the afternoon, I would have really deep devotionals and journal, and spend time. But it wasn’t until I was, I don’t know, this must have been about 2008, 2009. The girls are kind of, they’re older now. Two of them had graduated and moved out of the house. We made a physical move, and I had to make a church move. So at the new church, they were advertising, ‘We’re gonna do a new intercessory training for the intercessory prayer team, anybody that wants to be a part of that can sign up.’ I was like, that’s what I do! That’s how I can get connected at this new church and so I signed up. The next thing I know, I’m paying an awful lot of money and it’s a very long commitment. It’s a three hour a night event for like nine weeks. And I thought, Wow, they take this stuff really seriously. But okay, you are praying and interceding for people, if you’re going to do it, do it well. So I went with the program.

I began to realize the value and the beauty...

and the Lord's design about the power of feelings and emotions and how they’re trying to tell you something that you really need to know. And so, I had a friend who was going through that class with me and she had signed up for a session–because she’s really curious; she wants to know what this is like, and I’m just gonna sit in and be the role of prayer partner, and listen and observe. But I’m driving home the night before we’re scheduled to have this session, and my boss calls and she goes, “Hey, you know, we’ve got that corporate event coming up and we’re flying all these guys in and we need you to be wearing a baggy t-shirt, baggy jeans, tennis shoes, no high heels, nothing that would cause them to gawk at you.” And I’m like, “Well, okay. Thanks for the warning, because I certainly wouldn’t want that happening.”

As I’m pulling in the driveway, by the time I get parked, I can tell I’m shutting completely down and I have no idea what’s happening to me. So I make it into the house, and I get back to my room. It’s pitch dark, I’m in my chair, fetal position and I don’t know what’s just happened. It’s like the lights are going out and I have no framework for it. So I called my friend and I said, “Hey, this thing that you’re doing tomorrow night, can I have your spot? Because something’s happening to me that I don’t understand. I don’t know what this is, but I think the timing is right and I would love to be able to have your spot.” So she said, “Of course.” So we traded spots and I went in the next night.

All I could take into that room was just a heaviness...

and this tunnel that I was in, that I didn’t understand and all of these emotions that I didn’t even have language for. And because of the style of the ministry that this was, and the power of the emotions, all I could bring in was the pain I was living in. As we begin the prayer session, it’s like almost instantly, the things that I was feeling, they took me back to where I was five years old. I’d gone across the street to see if my little friend could play. He wasn’t there, but his dad answered the door and his dad looks at me through the screen. He’s like, “No, he’s not here, but come on in.” And I’m like, Okay. – This is fifty five years ago, you don’t say no to adults, you do what you’re told to do. – So I went on in.

The next thing, you know, he was actually violating me. I wasn’t there too long and thank you, Jesus, my mom was not ever one to call or check up on me, but the phone rings and it was mom. So I was able to leave and I went back home. Of course, I never said a word to anybody. Which is what kids do, you know? They know that was incredibly weird. It didn’t make sense. They have no framework for it. But at the same time, you don’t share your story and you don’t typically talk to mom, dad, especially if you’re not in a really close relationship with your mom and your dad.

So during that session, going back to that place and recognizing how wrong that was, and that it was okay to be angry. – Oh, that was another thing, I was never allowed to be angry in my family. – So being able to recognize that it really is okay to be angry. This is worth being angry about, but then realizing that that little five year old has been carrying that anger, at a level that I didn’t realize was even still there. So during this ministry session, they asked if I would be willing, if this little one would be willing to let Jesus have all of that anger, even though it was real and it was valid? Did I feel the need to hold on to it? Or would I be willing to let Jesus have it?

It was in that moment that I saw Him.

Like, I saw Him for the first time. And as I handed in my anger, He was there, just delighted. Like, He’d been waiting my whole life to be able to take this from me, because He knew what it was doing to me. And then I remember the facilitator going, “Are you sure the anger is really gone? Check around.” And I look back and I’m like, “Oh, I’m so sure it’s gone.” [And they said,] “Okay, tell me a little about that.” And I said, “Because He’s standing right there and He’s holding it and it’s in this beautiful bank bag with this beautiful gold cord. And He’s letting me know that He’s so glad to have it, and there’s so much value and He’s so glad that I’ve entrusted it to Him. That it’s beautiful to Him because of what He wants to do with it.”

So, there’s just something about having a really personal encounter with Him. I’d loved Him and chased Him my whole entire life, you know, and I thought I knew Him because we had such beautiful interactions through His word, but to see Him and to experience Him and to feel… Something about my life was just completely shifted, changed, and transformed in that moment. As well as, like, the whole trajectory of my life. Because from that moment, I realized, Oh, my gosh, I’ve lived all these years, and I had no idea that this was available. And I know there are a lot of other hurting people that are probably being told, you know, just…They’re using a lot of scriptures to justify not managing, not checking out their emotions, or processing them or knowing what to do with them. So they’re just doing the best they can.

I just thought, Oh, my gosh, I don’t want anybody else to have to...

live all those years, and walk in that type of lifestyle. Pursuing Him, but being afraid of Him, not knowing that you can actually sit down and have personal interactive encounters with Him. And so that suddenly was a whole new direction. I was able to start facilitating ministry sessions. I’d go offer these ministry sessions before I’d go to work and I’d have sessions scheduled after I got done at work. All weekend long. All I wanted to do was help people really connect with Him this experiential way that I knew was available now. It was maybe a couple of years after that happened, I was able to quit work altogether. I was able to start a little nonprofit ministry, to do just this, to help train and equip people how to facilitate sessions, and how to bring, you know, these heart connections and this type of transformation and healing to the deep wounds of the heart.

That was about 13 years ago and since then, I just can’t tell you the countless hours that I get to sit with people that love the Lord, that have been raised in the church, and are having the same experience that I did. They’re coming in trapped in cycles of defeat and despair, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, fear, powerlessness, shame, guilt, and just encounter after encounter, we watch them come in hurting and leave transformed, because they’ve seen Him. They personally have heard from Him. They’ve experienced Him and there’s just something about Him when He walks into the room, it truly shifts, it changes everything. Because He’s not, He’s not just, He’s not just a somebody, He’s everything. He is peace. So when you encounter Him, it’s not just words. There’s an experiential encounter with Him that says more, that does more, than words could ever.

It’s just hard to portray how you see Him and how you experience Him through words. I think that’s what is hard for me, knowing how real He is and how much He wants to come alongside you, and He wants to partner with you. He wants to give you His perspective about all those things that we have perceived as traumatic or painful, embarrassing, humiliating, shameful. He’s got a completely different perspective, because He knows what He wants to do with that. And just to know how easy it is to connect with Him, and to go to these places…For the most part, I think we, as the Western Church, try to know more about Him, and try to apply the scriptures intellectually. We’re trying to talk ourselves into things that our hearts can’t receive, because our hearts have been wounded. It’s our hearts that are actually needing an encounter with Him.

You may not understand it, He’s really hard to understand. You really can’t know all that there is to know about Him, apart from being able to actually experience Him. And that’s what He’s longing to do. He’s longing to draw us all into experience and safety and peace and empowerment, and joy, and rest. It’s not just the pain that He wants to walk us through. He wants to do life with us and have fun with us.

He created you. He thinks you’re amazing.

He enjoys you. He’s fascinated with you. And it’s just my heart that one of these days, the church, as a whole, will be awakened to the reality of His nearness, His joy, and His delight and His pleasure over us, and that we can begin to believe Him so that we can enjoy Him back. You know what I mean?

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