I love books that encourage growth, and where authors are vulnerable enough to share their stories and God’s power. This book is one of those books. It’s only through going deep and beyond theology, and it is only by going to these darker places in our history and lives that we can become healed and step into the light. A HUGE thank you to Ms. Toon for taking time out of her busy schedule to do this and share with us.
If you haven’t grabbed your copy of Marked by Love: Unveiling the Substance of Your True Identity, make sure to do so, today. Enjoy the following interview, dedicated to people everywhere who are seeking healing and finding their way to living out their identity, in Christ.
MW: Tell us a bit about your upbringing and childhood:
CT: I was brought up in an academic home, where culture and academic performance was prized. Unfortunately, because of unhealthy abusive dynamics, there was a lot of pain and confusion. By the age of 7, the message that value depended on performance was well entrenched in my belief system. Because of that, I distinctly remember making a vow to do the hardest thing I could think of– to become a physician. I didn’t know to run this by the God I was having encounters with. This vow directed my life in a way counter to His plans until I not only fulfilled that, but did so with flying colors.
“I distinctly remember making a vow to do the hardest thing I could think of– to become a physician.”
MW: When and how did you first encounter God?
CT: I was not raised understanding God or His gospel. However, I clearly remember times, mostly in the aftermath of trauma and pain of abuse, that the Lord would appear to comfort and sustain me. I would sneak read my children’s Bible and feel ashamed because this was looked down upon. When my family traveled across Europe as a small child, I would see a man on a cross everywhere in the cathedrals and even in our hotel bed headboards. I didn’t understand the gospel, but I knew this man loved me, and I loved Him. I also had this sense of connectedness to heaven, so much so that I had a fear that I was forgetting the way to heaven.
“When my family traveled across Europe as a small child, I would see a man on a cross everywhere in the cathedrals and even in our hotel bed headboards. I didn’t understand the gospel, but I knew this man loved me, and I loved Him.”
MW: In your book, you mention that at a younger age, you felt some anger toward God, as you felt your world around you disintegrate. If you could share with us, looking back, how do you now see Love pursuing you, even then?
CT: My heart started to turn away from the Lord at age 16, when my father left my mother, after 23 years of marriage. Our family, which was already spiraling, completely disintegrated in the aftermath. Losing pretty much everything that was dear to me created such a devastation and rage in me. But this was not safe to express, because my remaining parent was so compromised. That rage [was] directed toward a God that seemed to not care, if indeed He was so powerful.
I have a subchapter in my book called “Annoying Relentless Love” and that was what I felt even though, I didn’t want to have anything to do with this so-called good God. However, despite my walls, His undaunted pursuit was clear. He kept on sending believers to witness to me – uncanny, one after the next. His Spirit would come upon me with His love and joy, so much so, that teachers and coaches would say that they saw His presence on me. He had teachers reach out to me, who could see the pain and anger I so carefully buried. He also protected our family against threats of suicide, cutting, self-hatred, destructive peers, and eating disorders that threatened to take us out.
He led us to start a new life in a new area and was so patient as I pursued medicine, as if this would save me, versus Him. This continued in so many ways until, coming to the end of myself with flashback of sexual abuse at age 27, I surrendered my heart to Him in a very unceremonious but real way.
“However, despite my walls, His undaunted pursuit was clear. He kept on sending believers to witness to me – uncanny, one after the next.”
MW: “Love is naked and unashamed.” What are some practical ways in which we can deal with our shame, when it comes to getting to know God and being known by Him?
CT: Well, first of all, we really do have to get some basic theology straight. Otherwise, many will not be able to practically engage with God, Who hates shame, condemnation, and sin because they molests His kids and keep them in bondage.
We have to realize that shame and sin are a foreign entity arrayed against us. It is something that Christ bore as He was made sin for us on the cross (Isaiah 53:4-5; Heb. 12:2). In a mystical but very real way, it was in Him on the cross that we were made – not just given – His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).
Shame is so toxic, that only God can handle it, and He wants to strip it off of His kids. It is a false identity that literally exalts itself against the knowledge of God, Who made us to be in His image and likeness (2 Cor. 10:5; Gen. 1:26). There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus – that means it is illegal for the believer to be condemned (Rom. 8:1).
In Christ, you have already been judged irrevocably righteous. And you don’t fall in and out of Christ even if it feels that way. This is because of His performance and His faithfulness, not ours (2 Tim. 2:13).
And so, when we yield to that condemnation, rather than resist it like we would resist sin, we are agreeing with the enemy that somehow Jesus did a substandard job on that cross making us His righteousness. Condemnation/shame cuts off at the knees to manifest the very righteousness that was provided for us. It touts the master lie of separation from the God we are one with (1 Cor 6:17; Rom. 6:5; Rom. 8:31-38).
So we need to resist condemnation and shame.
We need to forgive ourselves and others, and receive the forgiveness that has already been provided for us (this is part and parcel of the covenant we are in; Matt. 26:28; Col. 2:13-15).
We need to recognize our old man (the fallen self) died with Christ and we rose a new creation created after Christ.
Our new man is one with Christ doesn’t rent space with that fallen false version of ourselves (Rom. 6:6; 2 Cor. 5:14-17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:8-10; Col. 1:22, 27; Col. 2:11, 13; Col. 3:3). Believers have erroneously been taught they have a sin nature that they need to kill of daily. Paul was saying his physical life was literally being threatened daily on all fronts – this was in the context of arguing that Christ died and was resurrected for all – not the issue of a sin nature (1 Cor. 15:30-32). What remains and feels like a fallen nature are actually compromised mindsets, habits, and stongholds. These are faulty programs that need to be renewed (Romans 12:2; 2 Cor. 10:5). But those mindsets, habits, behaviors, and stongholds are not our true identity – they are not our nature. The Bible refers to them as deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:12-14; Col. 3:9). We are to put those off and sink into the reality of who we really are – created in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24). This is putting off the old man and putting on the new man in our mindsets. Who we are has no shame and no condemnation because we were made to be His righteousness.
If with all that you still have a defiled conscience with sin (yours or others), you have the blood of Jesus to literally cleanse that defiled conscience clean (Heb. 9:14). Literally ask Jesus/God to wash your conscience with His blood to cleanse it. You were made to live naked and unashamed! THAT is how God sees you!
That is a WHOLE lot of truth to set you free – from the accusations of the enemy, and from the awful messed up teaching of a church caught in the religious letter of law that brings death. This is what it means to fall from grace (Gal. 5:4-6, Col. 2:11, Col. 3:8-9) – we turn away from righteousness by faith in Christ and our inheritance by virtue of being in Christ to try to earn them again. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there REALLY is freedom and there is massive transformation there (2 Cor. 3:17-18). And until we are experiencing it, we are not taking advantage of what the Lord suffered to give us! Free kids honor what He did!
You may need some help with all this, as I did. That is why, in my book I not only teach, but I also impart and provide what I call Love Encounter Breaks. In these, I facilitate encounters with God and His love to heal, restore and give direction. They are powerful because He is Love, and Love is unwilling to let His kids stay in bondage. Love never fails! So don’t hesitate to get that if you still need help!
“Shame is so toxic, that only God can handle it, and He wants to strip it off of His kids. It is a false identity that literally exalts itself against the knowledge of God, Who made us to be in His image and likeness.”
MW: Baggage and lack of forgiveness often stand in the way of us allowing ourselves to be known. What would you say is a good first practical step to forgiving someone?
CT: I personally hate it when I get great direction, but no practical handle to get there from where I am. We need to understand what forgiveness really means and does NOT mean that the harm was OK. It does NOT mean that we have to reconcile with someone toxic. It simply recognizes the following:
- This is about YOUR freedom!! Staying tethered with unforgiveness keeps you trapped and stuck in the area and with the people where you were harmed.
- It does NOT mean that what happened was OK. Your heart needs to be heard in every area and detail where it was compromised (whether or not there were mitigating circumstances);
- It does NOT mean you need to reconcile with a toxic person/toxic people. Trust is earned and needs to be restored if there is to be reconciliation. Sometimes, this is not possible for the time being or ever (people always have a choice to cooperate with God and own their stuff or not). God will never force you to reconcile.
- That person/those people/institutions/whatever cannot pay you back for what it cost you – only God can do that. You are handing the matter and the people to God for His restoration and recompense – it is too costly for you to carry.
- Areas of unforgiveness are a huge open door for the enemy to run roughshod – you’ve been hurt enough – you need to shut the door on your ultimate enemy.
- You may need to forgive a sinless God (see below); and yourself;
- You are doing it as an act of faith by His grace – God will totally help you – He wants you free!
- If you find you need to forgive again, chances are there are nuances of heart compromise that still need to be heard. Your heart needs a voice!
- Forgiveness will give relief, but may not give total relief. This is because lies we believe, despite what we know in our heads, still can remain and cause torment. We need encounter with God to heal these.
“Trust is earned and needs to be restored if there is to be reconciliation.”
MW: “So many of us need to forgive a sinless God— not because He sinned but because we are injured in our hearts.” How have you experienced this?
CT: Hahaha! Great question – I had a lot of experience with this. In the areas where we truly have been sinned against or simply have catastrophic loss (measured by the compromise in our hearts, not by external standards), we often are very angry at God for “not being there” or “not doing anything”. Sometimes, God is represented to us as angry, mean, a taskmaster, unforgiving or simply not safe. As good little Christians, we often suppress our anger, resentment or flat out rage, because we know in our minds He’s sinless. But freedom comes as our authentic often subconscious heart is allowed to speak and the authentic God ministers to our hearts. He is never angry at our anger and blame towards Him, but He does want us free!
Practically, even before I recognized I was sexually and emotionally abused from a very early age, I was enraged that God would allow my family to become so utterly shattered. I felt that if He was so good and so powerful, He wouldn’t have let this happen – one loss after the next, after the next, after the next… I had an internal emotional Hiroshima and was sifting through the rubble, asking “God, where the hell were You?”
As He healed my heart one masterful strategic encounter after the next, I was TOTALLY swept away by His ability to redeem and restore! I was able to see Him very VERY clearly in the midst of all the loss – restoring me and restoring it!
“I had an internal emotional Hiroshima and was sifting through the rubble, asking ‘God, where the hell were You?'”
MW: Identity is such a big part of your message. Apart from looking at what scripture says, what would you suggest to someone who is looking to see themselves as God sees them?
CT: First of all, they scripturally need to understand that God is Love, and He is enraptured with His creation! There is so much I take people through in the book with this, because we have been brought up in a sin conscious/God is mad or at least disappointed mindset. We need to give ourselves permission to believe the truth that He really is absolutely wild about us. He sees us as His beloved poem to the world.
As the Lord ministers through His word, rightly interpreted, we then need to grapple with the unbelief, the insecurity, the self-hatred, and whatever else rises up balking at these most crazy good truths. This is where the truth we know in our conscious minds is undermined by the lies we believe often subconsciously.
We need to bring whatever is balking at the truth (fear, insecurities, worthlessness, shame, our experiences, anger…) to the Lord. We need to forgive ourselves, others, and Him. We need to allow Him to take us to the places of lies and minister to us right there. When we encounter Him – His love, His Truth, and let Him rewrite the lies, programs and even the memories on our hearts, we literally are transformed. We can believe in our heart of hearts that His love and His truth are so true that THEY become our default subconscious programs!
We often need help with this, which is why I lead people and facilitate encounters with Love (God is Love) in the Love Encounter Breaks. As we allow Him to minister to us for as long as we can and repeatedly go back and let Him minster to us more, we can get to the place where we see Him face to face. The unspeakable fathomless depth of love in His eyes literally transforms us. It takes time, because we are all in process. But we are worth WHATEVER it takes in the process going from glory to glory. Love is right there – masterful to help and lead.
MW: You mention that when we feel unworthy when love has made us worthy, then we are essentially behaving with an orphan and pauper mentality. However, as God’s children, we need to act like sons and daughters. What are three behaviors that show that we are acting as sons and daughters of God and not as orphans?
CT: Orphans tend to operate in 3 ways:
- Feeling alone (I have to do it myself – independence is fostered this way);
- Performance (always having to prove something; worth is based upon what I do);
- Wandering (directionless or feeling no purpose even in doing something the world would say is great); orphans can never rest.
Sons and Daughters
- They can connect with God’s Presence and are confident that God will always back them up one way or another; they operate dependent on God knowing apart from Him they can do nothing, but they are never apart from Him – even when they sin;
- They get their identity from who God says they are and from that place they will do great things. But they know who they are apart from what they do.
- They are able to connect with God’s purposes for them and their lives knowing that they were created for greatness. They can really rest and operate from rest.
MW: We live in such an ideological time of many disagreements and much division. What are practical ways in which we can truly embody Love, to others?
CT: The very first thing we need to recognize is that love is not a work. We sometimes need to make a very definite decision to let love flow through us. But we were created in Love, by Love, for Love, to be loved, to love! Loving one another is what we are to be famous for. That means, first things first, we have to camp out and let Him love, love, love us and love us us so more – in all the pretty places and in all the ugly places. As we cultivate on a regular basis our connection with the Person of Love, love flows effortlessly from us. We also have cultivated the intimacy so we can “hear/see/sense/feel/receive thoughts from the mind of Christ” to know what love looks like in individual circumstances.
“As we cultivate on a regular basis our connection with the Person of Love, love flows effortlessly from us.”
MW: Why is the Christian definition of Love so powerful and unique?
CT: Well, first of all, Love is a Person – not just what He does. He is the Source of all love, whether or not people know Him, accept Him or recognize that He is the Source. All creation was created in Love – it is the glue that holds everything together. Love is all about other people – not about what we can get from them, but what we can give to them. Love is not self-seeking – it is other-centered. Love never fails!
“Love is all about other people – not about what we can get from them, but what we can give to them.”
MW: What inspired you to write Marked by Love?
CT: I knew and it had been spoken over me that I was to write. I had false starts for years, because God had to work in me so very deeply and comprehensively the very things I was to write about. I had the be healed, transformed and to learn my identity so unshakably that I could release the very things that transformed me. When it was time, the book had a life it it’s own, and I essentially wrote it in a few months.
MW: You mentioned how God spoke to you while you journaled. There are spaces for journaling in the book. Is journaling a discipline you still engage in? If so, how have you found it helpful?
CT: Journaling was my lifeline to hear from God – especially in the places that were so shut down. I now hear/see pictures from God pretty effortlessly, because it is an intentionally cultivated lifestyle. However, in places that I still need clarity or have pain, journaling is still my go to. It also serves as a reminder of God’s words to me on paper – that I can go back to; it is an indispensable help.
MW: What was it like when you realized being a doctor wasn’t fulfilling your heart?
CT: I felt trapped – as if I was in a skin that didn’t fit me. With the massive debt of an ivy league school to pay off and the years of sacrifice to get there, it was no small undertaking to release it. But releasing it felt like freedom. I had to let go of what I knew wasn’t what God had for me, and I had to do this before I knew what He did have for me. It was a step of faith, but God leads by peace and there was great peace letting it go in my spirit. He was walking me out of many things and walking me into what He did have for me. The Sons/Daughters of God are truly led by the Spirit of God.
“It was a step of faith, but God leads by peace and there was great peace letting it go in my spirit.”
MW: “God often speaks volumes through what we often think is ‘secular.’” What are some secular things through which God has spoken to you?
CT: Absolutely! He speaks through the secular all the time, and I love it – He truly can’t be contained! Often songs that are totally secular seemingly are so God. For a season, He ministered to me through the “You Are So Beautiful” song. I played it over and over and cried – He was singing it to me! Secular movies often contain really brilliant God themes – even if veiled. “The Matrix” really ministered to me about false realities that are created by the enemy of our souls. Recently, I had a lovely new age woman come up to me and told me that my son was an angel in disguise and had a huge call on his life. Now she doesn’t get Jesus yet, and she’s probably opened herself to some stinky spirits. But the truth of who she was made to be by God caused her to see some really get truths. No, my son is not an angel in disguise – sons of God are much greater than angels. He has mild autism and the Lord told me when I found out I was pregnant with him, that he would be a preacher. I have warred using this prophetic word and subsequent visions of Him whole and in purpose to manifest who he is and his purpose. And she totally saw his great purpose. And now I get to love on this lady, seeing her and calling her to be who she truly is – knowing the One Who created her in love. He is already all over her – she just needs to awaken to that fact. But if she never does, I can just love her. Truly, when you have eyes to see, you see Him everywhere – Love is uncontainable!
MW: Our ministry is all about witnessing to those who don’t know Christ. What are ways we as the church can show non-church-goers that they are marked by Love?
CT: Oh my – I just love that! When we really camp out encountering God and how He has marked us as His and for His lovely purposes, love will just ooze out! People will be drawn to us because they are sensing something they are longing for – that they were made for. They were made for the Person of Love, to be loved, to love. Anything else is counter to their design. When we see people through His eyes, we will fall in love with them – whether they know God or not. We’ll see past sin, false religion, and all the ugly. We’ll love them and something inside them will be given the opportunity to respond – even if over time. In loving them, we can be patient, knowing that it’s our job to love and Holy Spirit’s job to reveal Christ to them. It won’t be about changing their behavior or getting them to church, although Love will eventually draw people up higher in all sorts of ways. It’ll be about loving them just as they are and helping them love themselves. Wherever we go we can be spread the fragrance of Love. And that is intoxicating! All sorts of practical ministry will flow from that heart. And it will look unique to each individual – Love expressing Himself through them in their glorious flavor.
“When we see people through His eyes, we will fall in love with them – whether they know God or not. We’ll see past sin, false religion, and all the ugly.”
MW: What is Encounter Ministries all about?
CT: Participating and overseeing Encounter Ministries was service in my mentor/sister’s ministry and part of my training and equipping for my own ministry. It helped me learn to draw upon the anointing of God and to help connect others to Him where they needed it. Encounter Ministries included an inner healing ministry. We also did prophetic coaching, healing ministry, dream interpretation, healing massage, prophetic art/portrait photography, and encountering God in recreational activities.
MW: What is a special tradition you and your family engage in?
CT: I love to celebrate holidays and seasons. God is a god who loves to celebrate life and joy. In keeping I love to decorate my home for the seasons and holidays. For Christmas we have many traditions, but I’ll highlight 2. Christmas Eve, we go out to look at Christmas light displays and come home to go around, each family member reading Luke 2 (the Christmas story) verse by verse. Christmas day, we celebrate pretty typically in our jammies. But in the afternoon, dressed up or not, I make a big formal Christmas dinner, decking out the table with all the crystal, fine china, and silver flatware that my German mother and grandmother collected and passed down. Bringing them out each year is like reacquainting ourselves with old friends. It reminds us of them – their love of beauty and hospitality. There’s something timeless and heavenly it brings, even as we celebrate Jesus’s birthday.
MW: Define Christianity in one sentence:
CT: God is Love and there was so much love in the Trinity, that it spilled out into His creation and drove Love to the cross to draw all things, especially His precious children, back to Himself.
Author bio: As an MD in residency, Catherine’s life was radically transformed when she encountered the real Jesus, who walked her out of years of heavy bondage. In the process, He birthed a deep compassion in her to reach out to others with the love and power of a wildly passionate God who heals, transforms, restores the broken, oppressed and infirm and releases them into powerful destinies. After 4 years practicing as a board certified Internist, she retired from medicine to raise her children and wholeheartedly pursue God’s call on her life.
In 2016, she founded Imprint, LLC, dedicated to restoring wholeness, revealing identity, and releasing destiny through the unveiling of God’s imprint of love uniquely expressed in every person. In 2017, she released her first book, Marked by Love, which takes the reader on a wild encounter with God as Love to discover their true identity, through the lens of the imprint placed upon every person by God, the Lover of our souls. Because of the book’s wonderful reception, she followed up with a Marked by Love online course, workbook, leaders’ guide, and Rare and Beautiful Treasures mini-book, with more books to come. She is a sought-out speaker and coach and resides with her husband and 3 powerhouse children in Colorado.
You can connect with Catherine here:
Get a free chapter from Marked by Love, here.
Until next time, read Marked by Love, and keep witnessing!