“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
Labor Day weekend of 2022 will be a weekend that I will never forget. I already have tears welling up as I type. Sean, the kids, and I traveled to my husband’s family cabin in Colorado for some much-needed R&R. We got our rest but received so much more. The evidence of God’s mercy, lovingkindness, power, and grace met us on this trip.
Our last family trip to Colorado was in 2017; it was one of the most difficult trips we had been on as a family. 2017 was the beginning of the noticeable spiritual battle with my daughter, Victoria. Sean had just graduated law school, and a good friend offered his condo for us to relax and celebrate Sean’s accomplishment. His condo was on the third story. Victoria panicked at having to go up to the third floor. We were struggling to tell if she had a little altitude sickness or if something else was going on. Things progressively got worse while we were there. She was panicking on car rides to the point of us having to pull over so she could get her bearings. We had pulled over at one point on a look out so we could admire the view. Sean was trying to get her to come to the railing to see the breathtaking view, and she had a full-on panic attack. We had never seen her react like this before. The more we tried to help her the worse it seemed to get. The trip was so taxing on everyone that we decided to head home early. As we made the long journey back to Texas, she seemed to do a little better.
Thankfully, the Lord had begun opening my eyes to the very real spiritual battle that we as followers of Christ endure. At that time, I didn’t understand a whole lot about spiritual oppression, but I knew enough to begin to question if that was what my daughter was dealing with in Colorado. Her battle along with the battle of a few others that were in my life at the time caused me to dig into the Word of God and as many reputable resources that I could my hands on so that I could begin to gain understanding.
Now for some, a child having a series of panic attacks may not seem out of the ordinary. For my child, it was very out of the ordinary. For any child, it should be a sign that something deep down is not right. For Victoria, things progressively got worse. She was our child that was the most full of joy. Her nickname as a child was Smiley because she always had a smile on her face. Somewhere along the way, the enemy made it his mission to steal her joy. For a while, the enemy was winning the battle. Victoria got to the point where she was terrified to leave my side. She would literally walk and cling on to my arm often bumping into me as we walked. In the rare times that she was along, often when someone would walk in, she would be curled up in a ball on the floor sobbing hysterically. The only way I could calm her down was playing worship music, praying over her, and reading scripture. She also developed a social anxiety where she could not be in crowds. And…there was no way she could do anything that had any type of height or enclosed space. The thought of having being high in the air or in an enclosed space sent her into hysterics. It was heart breaking to watch.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that we were dealing with spiritual attacks, and I was mad. How dare Satan or any of his demons attack my daughter! Alone, I am no one special, but in Christ, I am the daughter of the King and Most High God. How dare he attack my daughter! I dug with everything I had in me.
Gratefully this happened at a time in our life when we were homeschooling because there would have been no way that she would have been able to function in a school setting. She would have had to have been medicated. Medication would have only relieved symptoms not dealt with the root causes. I am not against the use of medication when needed, but my preference is to get to the root of issues and deal with the cause so that the symptoms no longer exist. I prefer removal instead of a cover up.
Eventually, the Lord guided me to lead my daughter through deliverance from spiritual oppression enough to get her functioning again. We were able to identify a spirit of fear and a spirit of death that were tormenting her. The spirit of death came through her listening to and singing the lyrics of a song on the radio. I was relieved, but I still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to know for sure that those things, those demons that had been tormenting were all gone. Every. Last. One. Of. Them. I wanted that root cause completely gone, and I wanted evidence to prove it.
But…at this point, I had no way of knowing for sure. I was not ok with this. I knew that our God was a God of excellence…of completeness…of wholeness…so there had to be a way. I read what all the well-respected deliverance ministers taught about deliverance, but still, I felt like some part was missing. So…I kept searching.
In March of 2020, I had the opportunity to train with Don Dickerman ministries. Through Don’s ministry, the Lord taught me the key that I was missing. Victoria went to them for her first full deliverance session. She had several more mini-deliverance sessions with me as she worked through the strongholds of fear and anxiety. It is not uncommon at all for people to need a few more sessions for areas that have a really big hold on their life. Through deliverance, surrender, and coaching, Victoria learned how to resist the enemy and stay in a place of freedom. Staying free is a choice just as much as receiving freedom is a choice. Sometimes, it takes little work on our end to stay free. It can take a us some time to learn how to choose freedom and keep choosing freedom. God doesn’t require us to be strong. He actually encourages all throughout scripture to rely on His strength. Much of staying free is learning how to rely on His strength to keep us free from the grips of the enemy.
By default, in areas where we are weak, the enemy often comes in strong and creates a stronghold in that area. However, if we learn to surrender those weak places to Jesus then His strength and power lives is those spaces. Take a look at what Paul says about weakness in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 in the Passion Translation:
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.”
When we experience the power of Christ through us, it strengthens us. It gives us confidence and fortifies in us that we can and will overcome.
Victoria has been walking in complete freedom for about 8 months now. In planning our trip to Colorado, we decided to visit the Royal Gorge. If you are not familiar with the Royal Gorge, it is huge canyon in Colorado with a with a 1,260 ft. suspension bridge that spans 956 ft. above the Arkansas River. I knew that Victoria could walk across this bridge. I knew that my God had done a work in my daughter, and I wanted to put it to the test.
Post-deliverance, there is still some work that needs to be done. There is growing, trusting, building faith, testing self, continuous surrender, and reliance on the Lord. The places the enemy has attacked are often weakened places. Some people can overcome the spirit of fear in a deliverance session and want to go sky-diving. For most, it is a much slower process of learning to trust the Lord through things that would have not previously been able to do. If Victoria could even step up to the edge of the bridge without a panic attack, I would have considered it a miracle.
Before we arrived, I prepped her. I told her about the park, the canyon, and the bridge. I said, “Victoria, you are going to do this, and I am going to help you every step of the way.” She wasn’t so convinced. I told her that fear and anxiety no longer ruled in her life, and we were going to trust God to take her safely across the bridge. She was nervous, unsure, but was not adamant about not doing it. We had tried different things over the years to help her overcome, and she wouldn’t even consider them. No negotiations. This time was different. This time the enemy was gone for good.
She locked arms with me and her sister and walked straight down the middle of that bridge. She felt the sways…she saw the river 956 ft. below through the cracks of the planks…yet she never wavered, never cried, never panicked…even knowing that she had to get back across the canyon again to get home.
On the way back, she overcame another fear. We all wanted to ride the gondola back across canyon. Isabelle was nervous to get in the gondola so said that she would walk back across the bridge with Victoria while Sean, Caleb and I rode the gondola. At the end, Isabelle decided to go ahead and ride the gondola after Sean promised ice cream at her favorite spot. Victoria without hesitation said she would do whatever Isabelle wanted to do. She said she just wouldn’t open her eyes. Again, there is no way she would have even debated about this before. I was just happy she walked the bridge. I wasn’t even going to try for the gondola ride. Not only did she get in the gondola but part way through she opened her eyes and admired the breathtaking canyon.
In case you didn’t know, our God is a good, good God. He is faithful. He is merciful. He is full of grace. He does what He says He will do. We do play a part. We have to believe that He is…that He does…Scripture is not just words in a book given to us by God. Scripture is truth that we can stand on, believe in, and apply it to our life in a very real and tangible way.
I leave you with Ephesians 1:18: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” (that’s you!).
For more on Victoria’s journey, my journey, and the process of deliverance, get my book Arise and Stand.