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Bravely Loving the Ones Who Hurt Us: When God Calls Us to Heal and Serve

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

By Amanda Schaefer

Brave Women Series - Amanda's Story


It’s raw and biting to remember who I was before I met Jesus. But if I were forced to make a list to describe myself, it would include depression, anxiety, fear, anger, neediness, stress, lack of motivation, self-loathing, and numbness. Ugh, what a list!


I have some early memories of being creative, gregarious, and outgoing, but they are rare flashes of light in an otherwise dark fog. A silencing fear pervaded my childhood. Every day it threatened to snuff out my tiny little light.


Like many, my family had its dysfunctional rhythms. As the youngest of three children, I followed along blindly, not knowing that there was any other way available.


When looking at pictures of me when I was young, my mother still says, “You rarely smiled.” She is astute enough to see that now but couldn’t see it when I needed her to. She had her demons, her traumas, and her battles too.


 

"When looking at pictures of me when I was young, my mother still says, “You rarely smiled.” She is astute enough to see that now but couldn’t see it when I needed her to."

 

Recently I asked my followers on social media to describe me. I wanted a fair assessment of how people see me in Christ. As I write this, my hands are trembling. Were they even describing me? This list seems too good to be true.


People said I am: God-loving, faithful, tireless, empowering, intentional, caring, encouraging, fearless, joyful, beloved, faith-filled, anointed, a light, and a truth-in-joy speaker!


If four-year-old me could have ever dreamed of being 58-year-old me, I wonder how her life might have changed.


I share this to help you understand my struggle when God asked me to move back home and care for my parents during the pandemic. Does it sound strange to think myself brave to consider returning to the home I grew up in? It sure felt that way!


The Holy Spirit had worked tirelessly over the years to help me heal and grow since Jesus came to save me. I had so many things to unlearn—a whole new identity to embrace.


I don’t know about you, but change is scary for me. Those people on the internet said I was fearless. I don’t think I am fearless at all, but I have become courageous because I will go where God asks me, even if I am afraid.


 

"I don’t think I am fearless at all, but I have become courageous because I will go where God asks me, even if I am afraid."

 

Each of us has defining moments. And this was one of mine. I talked the talk as a Christian author, speaker, and podcast host, but could I walk this walk? Was God asking too much? Could I actually do it?


My parents mean well, but they never worked on their emotional damage. They enabled one another and lived a co-dependent life. To others, they seem sweet and wonderful, and in many ways, they are. I am not judging them, but it would be foolish not to consider my experiences living with them as a child.


Since then, I have been redeemed. My failings, longings, and rebellions had been heavy chains. Jesus broke them off one by one until one day, I could breathe again. I could run and dance and twirl with the lightness and joy of a child.


They say you can’t get your childhood back, but God gave me his perfect Fatherhood, and as His child, I am forever young!


 

"They say you can’t get your childhood back, but God gave me his perfect Fatherhood, and as His child, I am forever young!"

 

Has God ever asked you to go somewhere frightening? Does your past ever cloud your ability to believe God knows best?


God was calling me to love as He does. To have compassion. To love sacrificially. To trust Him. He was asking for the healed Amanda to journey back to the place where I was wounded.


 

"God was calling me to love as He does. To have compassion. To love sacrificially. To trust Him. He was asking for the healed Amanda to journey back to the place where I was wounded."

 

It has been three years. It has been a season of caring, a season of serving God, and of honoring Him and my parents. The parents He gave me.


Like a Norman Rockwell painting, I was presented as a child to the world neat and tidy. My curly hair was tightly tamed with ribbons. Frilly dresses covered my skinned knees. The wild and tumble spirit inside me was controlled, restricted, and told to sit up straight.


I believe it was a covert mission meant to conceal the chaos on the inside. On some level, I think my mother knew precisely what she was trying to hide. She had standards set by her parents too. They carried their legacy of baggage too. No one had ever stopped to yell, “Enough!” Child after child just picked up their heavy loads.


God was calling me to help my parents unpack their bags. To be strong enough and courageous enough to do for them what they couldn’t do for me. He was calling me to love beyond the minimum, extravagantly as He loves. He was prompting me to do it, scared. This was an opportunity to grow, transform, and become more like Him. He was offering me a season of purification.


 

"God was calling me to help my parents unpack their bags. To be strong enough and courageous enough to do for them what they couldn’t do for me... This was an opportunity to grow, transform, and become more like Him. He was offering me a season of purification."

 

When gold is purified, it requires intense heat. It takes time. It is a process. And so was this. I can see what God was doing now, and I am convinced that bravery is trusting God more than what I think I know. He is with me and He is with you in every brave calling.


 

"I am convinced that bravery is trusting God more than what I think I know. He is with me and He is with you in every brave calling."

 

Four-year-old Amanda and I have met. We have become fierce friends. We dance and laugh and twirl together, and when life is scary, we go right to the Father. He reminds us how much we are loved, and in His presence, we are brave. Brave enough to be kind and gentle, forgiving and understanding. Brave enough to be the caregiver that I longed for, not the one I received. Brave enough to honor Him and my parents no matter how long this season lasts.


 

Brave Woman Manifesto


Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story. And by the way...


You are Brave!


No matter what you are facing, God has made you in His image, which means He equips you with His courage, strength, and power. I would love to connect more and give you a FREE gift - the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you’ll receive the FREE Manifesto, as well as recent blog posts, updated resources and personal details delivered only to my empowered email tribe.


AS A BONUS… Subscribers will also be the first to receive news regarding the book I am writing with Moody Publishers! SIGN UP for more info on my book’s release and availability.


 

About Amanda


Amanda Schaefer is a podcast host, an author, and speaker. She’s a storyteller and an encourager. She loves to create and everywhere that she goes she carries with her the goodness of looking through a lens of gratitude. Amanda shares that gratitude with others through the talents that she’s been given. She believes that following your purpose will not only be the most exciting and wonderful way to live your life, but that it will also be the way that you can change the world. Amanda believes that her purpose is to make the world a better place by changing her perspective and sharing the goodness she sees that is all around us even in the midst of difficulty. It’s more than looking at the bright side, it’s seeing the good that’s always been there one intentional moment at a time.

Connect with Amanda on her website acupofgratitude.org or follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Make sure to check out her podcast A Cup of Gratitude and subscribe for more encouraging conversations.

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