Written by Joseph Hobbs. Published by Jordan Stafford.
I was raised in a rural farming community in south Georgia called Pleasant Hill. It was about 10 miles from the smallest town and 25 to 30 miles to the bigger town.
I spent my childhood on a farm where we were the only family with children—in a place where segregation was alive, and in your face. There were many Churches in the community and neighbors who claimed to be Christian, but it didn’t always seem like they knew God personally or lived by His standard to love your neighbors as yourself.
As a young adult, while I was struggling to forgive my neighbors, I moved to Minot, ND. I began to see, learn and experience love, value, acceptance, connection, and security with my new neighbors. I began to meet with people, have conversations and read the Bible. These were all new experiences for me and showed me something different. Sometime later I began to look at how Jesus related to his disciples.I was the fifth child of 11 children. I had parents who did not know how to interact with children, so they left me alone with no answers to my questions. I wondered why our neighbors treated us if as we were aliens and why we were labeled as slow, unintelligent, lazy and not human. I was ashamed of not knowing who I really was and by my father not knowing how to interact with me as a child, to explain what was going on. As children we learned how to stay in our place and not bring trouble to the family or community.
My journey with Restoring Your Heart began back in Georgia in the mid 80’s when I joined a small church called Grace Free Church. This is where I met Jack Larson who was the Pastor. I was going through a hard time at work where my co-workers did not want to work with me because I was the only African-American in the department. They devalued me as a person and tried to find ways to assassinate my character and name to make me leave. Going through this situation brought back many memories of what I went through as a child.
Jack and others in the church introduced the Restoring Your Heart ministry to me. RYH helped me to take a personal, relational and spiritual inventory of my life. I was literally hanging on to every word through the group interacting and sharing. The group helped me see the bad experiences, abuses, and pain from my childhood that I had not dealt with. I began to understand how unprocessed pain works. I had stored a lot of pain from my childhood in my body and did not know how to deal with it. One of my biggest breakthroughs came when I began to feel my hidden negative emotional pain that I had long suppressed. Being in a RYH small group helped me to work on my past pain and better deal with the situation at my work.
In the RYH interactive group and through RYH workbooks, I started learning how to deal with my wrong thinking, losses and hurts. I was hurt and I wept. I needed to have a fierce reckoning with what had happened to my community and me, how I felt about it and how it was still affecting my life. I learned that I had to grieve my losses before I could fully forgive those who hurt me as a child. Those who had stolen my life and the life of my community.
In 2002 when I lost my oldest son in a car accident, it pushed me deep into grief and the pain was very great. Restoring Your Heart stepped in again to help me to deal with my grief, to heal, and walk through the pain. I also attended a Compassionate Friends group (group that helps parents and siblings to deal with the loss of a child or sibling.) While in the group I saw how some people really deal with their pain and others do not. This was another great breakthrough where God and the Holy Spirit worked in my life with healing! I now understand why grief is the hardest experience to recover from.God took me on a journey to show me how to love my neighbor like He (Jesus) had loved me. I began to see how I had been impacted greatly over the years from those negative messages and was still being impacted during my situation at work. I learned who I was as a person and how to get my needs met in healthy ways. Some years passed and I realized that I could not really mourn my childhood losses or issues without figuring out how to feel the deep pain from my neighbors. I was taught that forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity. I used to think I understood forgiveness and believing in Jesus made forgiveness easy. Restoring Your Heart helped me to heal, love myself, forgive others, and truly love my neighbor.
As I was healing, God began to show me many people who were hurting, in pain and needed help. He has given me a passion for helping hurting people and Restoring Your Heart is the vehicle which I use to do this. RYH is a process that helps people become aware of how the hurts from the past have affected their present. We learn how to process our pain, grieve over the hurts, to heal, and to come to a place of full forgiveness.
It is still helping me to work through the process every time I facilitate a group. I continue to heal from past pain and experience greater freedom. So, I want YOU to join me in this ministry and learn how to help people through their healing process!
About The Author
Joseph Hobbs is part of the Worldwide Discipleship Association staff team and is a member of the Restoring Your Heart team. He facilitates RYH groups and helps write RYH materials.