Get out of jail – FREE!!

I’m going to blow a myth wide open. Here we go – ready?

Time does NOT heal all wounds.

How do I know this? Let me count the ways…

Back in October, I broke my big toe. Broke. My big toe. You know, the one that provides your balance, the one you can’t use your foot without moving every five seconds? Yeah, that one. The one on my left foot, to be exact.

So after much ado about, well, not nothing, I spent 6 weeks on crutches, and 8 weeks in a lovely post-op shoe, complete with large velcro straps. At least it was black.

And it hurt. DANG, it hurt. The first two weeks were a blur of pain meds and much groaning and moaning, mostly on my part. All for a fracture about 1/8 of an inch long, on my toe. A toe, for pete’s sake. I spent the next 6 weeks babying that thing, sitting on my rear on the couch so much that it created a groove in said couch, and generally trying my dead-level best to protect it so that it would get better, dang it!! After about 3 weeks, I was so done with that thing – couldn’t wait to get back on my feet.

But I knew if I did that too soon, I’d set myself back in the healing process, and then be stuck with ad-nauseum ‘Burn Notice’ re-runs till my eyes fell out (nothing wrong with ‘Burn Notice’, by the way, but anything when you’re a captive audience can be seriously frustrating). So I used the crutches, took the meds, and grudgingly allowed everyone to take care of me while I healed. Not an easy prospect, I can assure you. On the upside, my 13 year old now knows how to make my coffee. SCORE!

But here’s the deal. I’ve been off those silly things since November, and it still hurts sometimes. Yeah, I push through it and go about my business, but I can now tell you with frightening clarity any time the weather’s going to change. Yep – I have my very own built-in barometer. On my left foot. Brilliant.

So while for all intents and purposes, my toe is fully healed, I will likely live with the consequences of this little debacle for quite some time.

I wish a broken toe were the only wound I carried around.

Alas, I’ve lived more than 2 years on this planet, so unfortunately there are much older, deeper and more significant wounds in my life that are still causing me pain in other areas.

I was an awkward kid. Yeah, I know, no shocker there. Actually, I was fine until I hit puberty. Or should I say, puberty hit me. With a 2×4. Hard. You name it, I had it. Coke bottle glasses, acne, pudgy, awkward clothing choices (I’m being generous with myself here), and a perm gone horribly, horribly wrong.

It was like the perfect storm, all the right conditions converging at one time.

Picture day, freshman year.

Yep. If you look in my high school yearbook from that year (not like I’m gonna tell you or anything), there it is: the quintessential awkward high school photo.

I remember seeing that thing, and being horrified. The weird thing is, up until that point, that wasn’t what I saw in the mirror. But yet, there it was, in full Kodak brilliance. This must be what I really look like.

Well, being 14, this was devastating on so many levels. First of all, it provided what I believed to be an accurate picture of myself. Oh. Dear. Secondly, this must be what everyone else sees when they look at me.

So. Ouch.

Yeah, mark the wound, right there. 14 years old, desperate for acceptance, and this is what I see.

At that point, I had a choice to make. See, a voice was whispering in my ear at that very moment. It said, ‘Yeah, this is it for you, sweetie. This is the reality – it won’t ever change. Better just accept it and move on.’ I had the choice to either agree with that voice or not.

I wish I could tell you I disagreed with it, saw the beauty in myself, and went on to live a happy and fulfilling life. Can’t do that, because I would be lying.

I agreed wholeheartedly with that voice, and it changed the trajectory of my life. If what I saw in that picture was reality, and if it was really true that I was unattractive, I would somehow have to make up for it. And boy howdy, did I ever try to make up for it.

I knew then I’d never be the ‘pretty’ girl, so I became the ‘great personality’ girl. I became the funny, smart, sarcastic one, ready with a sharp wit and a wordy answer. I’d make you like me, darn it. I already had a bit of that, so I just magnified the things I saw as the attractive parts.

And it worked, to an extent. I became all those things, and more, through the effort of my own will. I’ve always been a big personality, but it got out of control at that point. I had to be the biggest personality in the room, ’cause if I wasn’t, I was deathly afraid I would be overlooked. I had nothing else to give, after all.

I became hard, and harsh, brash and unforgiving. Skeptical, cynical and tough. Nothing was getting through my ever-thickening hide. Nothing.

Fast forward about 25 years, and nothing’s really changed, honestly. I’ve refined my sarcasm, become well-read and opinionated, smart, funny – all those things I determined to become lo those many years ago. The shell had gotten thicker as the years went by, too. It was as if I had become the shell I’d created myself; fragile and jaded, but a shell nonetheless. Add to this the fact of my 16 year marriage, 3 kids, and – oh, boy – being the wife of an increasingly visible pastor on staff at a large church. Talk about bringing things to a boil.

And boil they did. Strange emotions were making appearances at very weird and inappropriate times. Reactions I’d never had began to surface for no apparent reason. It was as if my wound had become something more than even a barometer in my life; it had become the thermostat.

Pain will organize your life. When my toe was broken, the whole family revolved around it. Alan’s day was structured around helping me shower and dress (yikes!), and my kids were on constant call, as I couldn’t do the simplest things for myself. I mentally calculated the time between med doses, and going out was a ridiculous exercise in humility, as I couldn’t even get in and out of the car without help.

This pain was organizing my life, too, only in much more subtle ways. My every waking thought, conscious or not, was how to keep you out, and how to make you see that I was valuable anyway, despite what I looked like on the outside. If you haven’t tried that, let me assure you, it’s quite tiring. A constant push-pull of keeping you at arm’s length while trying to show you how cool I am. Protecting my shell.

I had spent so many years carefully constructing the facade I wanted you to see, and it was beginning to crumble. I found myself on weird crying jags, for apparently no reason. I began to have bizarre dreams that would keep me rattled for days. I was exhausted. I tried and tried to fix it on my own, because, well, you know, I know how to fix me. Yeah, that’s worked out well.

I was a captive, in a prison of my own making. The enemy didn’t really have to do much – just that one whisper all those years ago, and then the occasional ‘I told you so’ over time. I created the walls, brick by brick. I installed the bars over the windows, to keep you from peeking in, or so I thought.

And the world agreed with me. Keep ’em out, it said. Protect yourself, at all costs. I did just that. I knew, or thought I did, that if I let you see the real me, you’d run screaming. Or if you looked at me, and stuck around anyway, I had to give you something of value to make you stay. Had to convince you, and me, of my worth.

But Jesus came to set the captives free. Oh, that’s good right there. ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’ The truth wasn’t some doctrinal statement or nice scripture, all wrapped up in a pretty bow. The truth was when God showed up and spoke the truth of who and how He made me. When God speaks, stuff happens. Worlds are made. Light shows up. People get formed out of mud.

And captives, like me, get set free. He spoke His truth to me, and word by word, the bricks came down. You’re beautiful, He said. You’re who I made you to be, exactly the way I wanted you. You can trust Me.

So a few days ago, the facade came down. Not without its own pain, mind you. Having spent years behind a wall of my own choosing, carefully controlling who gets to see what, to step out from behind that is scary at best. But for the first time, my wound is not controlling me. It’s been healed. And unlike my toe, which may or may not give me fits from time to time, this wound is gone. For good.


19 comments so far

  1. swimomswim on

    Awesome post, Nancy. I love you too!

  2. Erica Flynn on

    And, that’s me above there…

  3. Susan Bautista on

    Thank you a ALOT for sharing that!

  4. Felicia Putnam on

    Awesome! Bold vulnerability! Rejoicing with you, and the best is yet to be!

  5. travis gates on

    excellent word thank you!

  6. Cassie on

    Wonderful post! Thank you for your williness to be transparent, honest and bring words of hope and encouragement!

  7. Jeremy Martin on

    Great post! I too am battling some things as of late. As you know I am quite transparent with others sometimes to a fault), but God has been using events over the last week or so to expose some things in me. I am trying to hear what He is trying to tell me.
    Congratulations on your growth and freedom you have experienced this week.
    Glad you blogged too, I love your writing.

  8. Becky S on

    I love your openness. Thanks so much for sharing Nancy. Your blog opened me to hear some words Alan spoke to me this summer about giving my wounds time to heal….I was in too much of a rush to “get on with things” and God took me through a detour so I’d have to slow down and take time to heal.

  9. Marissa Star on

    My friend!!!! There are flies talkin’! And yet i don’t need to be the fly on the wall of what God is doing in your life to know … it must be the season of “undone” … but I can’t help but feel His glory is looming over head!!! I’m kinda sitting on the end of my seat waiting to see the fruit that comes from this freedom. And remember … I’m a big BIG fan of who you are … and can’t wait to see you come into the fullness … because you KNOW theres FULLNESS sista!

    Blessed to cross paths with you in this season! Now coffee pleeaasseee! I’ll bring it to you and your toe … I hear the weather may change again ;P!

    Great Love! ~Ris

  10. Michelle Vargas Benami on

    Great, now I have to stalk your blog on a full time basis…..:0)
    This post was incredibly powerful, incredibly well written. You are anointed, sister!

  11. Mel on

    Um…that’s me too….

  12. Lisa Taylor on

    powerful stuff. i walked through this and made some fiercely bad choices because of it. i think i’ve finally come out the other side because of a settled peace that was never there before. hope you can appropriate that long before i did. it’s there waiting for you and the exhale is scary, but so good when you can finally let go of the desperate grasp on the parts of your life.

    • nancysmithonline on

      Lisa – that’s what happened Monday. It wasn’t so much a settling, as a new way to see God, and me. I think I had sort of resigned myself to ‘this is the way it’s always going to be,’ which sounds good, in a way, but isn’t really reality. Now I see me the way HE sees me a little more clearly, and that changes everything.

  13. Robb Brewer on

    Well written, Nancy; and well lived. Thanks for being vulnerable.

  14. Rebecca on

    BEAUTIFUL! Your writing. Your vulnerability. Your passion for God! Your freedom & healing. YOU! So very beautiful.
    With much love & respect for you~

  15. Juliana Hanbridge on

    great post Nancy! I can totally relate! Sometimes I think we feel that these experiences from childhood don’t matter. But then something triggers a memory and we realize they do matter, I was hurt by it. Awhile back someone from YHS “friended” me. This person lived on my street and I waited with her at the bus stop every morning. From about 6th grade – 8th grade she made my life miserable every morning. Picked on my hair, my clothes, my family, my friends. Whatever she could think of. She was down right mean mean mean! Well, she friended me. And I just couldn’t do it. A person I hadn’t thought of in years pulled up all those hurt feelings again. In fact I responded to her friend request and told her, due to the way you treated me when we were kids at the bus stop, I can’t be FB “friends” with you. And guess what? She told me she was very sorry, and she didn’t even remember!!! Can you believe it?
    But let me tell you something Nancy — some of the best times I had in HS was sitting in front of you in 10th grade Ecomonics. I thought you were a fantastic person, and I missed you when you moved away.

    Love ya!

  16. Bonnie Billingsley on

    I honestly can not say I don’t know anyone who has not experienced this to a degree. I know I have, this is definitely hard to admit for a lot of us. Way to take out your sword and stab that nasty witch king. You are so lovely! I am so honored to have you as my friend!

  17. Jeanette Thomas on

    Nancy, Had some time at work and came across this old post of yours. It gives me hope. Where you relied on your charisma and humor to draw people in, I hid myself away into a deep corner of myself afraid to get close on any level. I have taken a few steps out of that corner, but it is good to know that God can and does heal these hurts. There is hope. My husband is stepping into the professional ministry field and that spotlight on me is quite scary. Thank you.

  18. Babs on


    I’m not sure how why I’ve not read this blog until today–considering it was written so many months ago–but today HolySpirit drew me here … [here] to this specific blog post.

    My spirit perked up as I began to read, but my soul immediately became unsettled as I continued. While the details are not the same, the theme of this testimony is achingly close to my heart. I can feel HolySpirit’s gentle touch on my wound, still yet unhealed, being exposed through your words. I’m uncomfortable as I write this because my wound has been exposed before, but I’ve always found a way to replace the old bandaid with a new one with fresh adhesive.

    “My every waking thought, conscious or not, was how to keep you out, and how to make you see that I was valuable anyway, despite what I looked like on the outside. If you haven’t tried that, let me assure you, it’s quite tiring. A constant push-pull of keeping you at arm’s length while trying to show you how cool I am. Protecting my shell.”

    I have lived this. I still live this. My soul cringed and my spirit ached because I see myself in these words.

    God has used the wisdom and knowledge and hearts of pastors at Gateway to bring me so much further down my road of healing than I can even list. I know I’m not who I was when I started attending Gateway four years ago. But this … [this that you’ve written about here] … is a wound I have yet to let God really get to. It scares me.

    I know He’s spoken so much to me about who I am in Him and who He has created me to be. And my head understands this. Really. It does. But I know, especially this morning as I read this, I know my wound keeps it from settling in and opening me up to experience and be a part of everything else that’s waiting for me.

    I stay away for fear that I won’t be accepted. Or I get involved only to back out somewhere down the road because I don’t feel adequate enough to stay involved. I don’t fully join in because “what if I don’t fit in?”. What if I’m not? … [fill in the blank].

    Gosh, as I write this I’m even thinking, “What happens when Nancy reads this comment? IF she reads it? Will she think I’m pathetic for vomiting up all my stuff right here on her blog commenting space? She didn’t ask me to divulge my crap here. Didn’t even invite me to.”

    See the mind games?

    And yet, I’m still writing. Writing because I feel that if I finally am vulnerable enough to admit to someone other than my best friend or husband that I don’t dive into fellowship–especially with women–because I’m afraid I’ll be “seen”, then maybe it’s the step of faith that will finally allow God access to the one place that keeps me hidden. Because somewhat hidden is safe. Safe to me, anyway.

    But I know God so desires to heal [this]. It’s the only reason I signed up for Titus 2 on Thursdays. Because I know I had to obey the nudge to “put myself out there” … especially in a room filled with women. My spirit says “go!”, but my soul begs me to say “no!”.

    And then I read this. And I know even more surely. God desires to heal [this].

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