Don’t Forsake The Assembling Of ‘Ourselves’ Together

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Hebrews 10:25.

How many times I’ve heard that– especially when I’ve missed a service at some churches. I’ve lost count!

I’ve exhausted and frustrated myself trying to jump through those hoops that lead to acceptance.

What about when the assembly forsakes it’s own members?

Like me.

When my health started to betray me, and I was going through some honestly scary stuff– where was that assembly then?

Not rallied around me, listening, praying and cheering me on with encouragement.

No. It was silent.

Unless I asked for prayer. Then– it prayed, maybe laid hands on me too– and then it went back to whatever else was going on, and silence for me again.

And let me tell you– I have had need of encouragement!

When I was struggling as a kid and teen with things I couldn’t tell anyone about, I needed that assembly.

When I nearly died, a few times, that assembly has been nowhere around.

When it was up to me to forgive some deeply serious and scarring offenses so I could be free to move on with my life and follow God’s path for me, where was that assembly?

When my dad passed away, and I was numb because our relationship was so screwed up, I needed the assembly.

How thankful I am that I have that close relationship with my Redeemer. He has always given me exactly what I need, when I need it.

But– God made us to need others. The Church isn’t supposed to be like a game of jump-rope where you just jump in and hope you don’t mess up the rhythm or get hit or tripped-up by the ropes. There is supposed to be a mutual-ness to it. Not a sizing-up, or a dressing-down. It’s not one-size-fits-all, and yet it’s supposed to be all for people.

The safest place on earth.

That’s what Church is supposed to be.

I always thought it was like a hospital for the sick, a resting place for the weary, and a nurturing place for neglected outcasts. Welcoming and warm…

I’ve struggled my whole life with fitting in, or feeling like I fit in. We all have our family issues and personality quirks, along with unrealistic expectations.

But when, as a kid, I heard several congregations singing about being “The Family of God”, my mind formed certain expectations that I honestly haven’t felt are unrealistic.

I see others laughing, spending time together, helping one another out. I’ve watched from the outer courts on so many occasions, like the envious little girl watching the big kids skillfully turn the jump ropes while the confident kids jump in and sing rhymes timed with fancy footwork.

So when I heard the song about being family– well– I’ve been looking for the evidence of that.

I’ve wanted to find one where there is a healthy father- figure for me, one where the women are not competitive, judge-mental, or seem to actually ignore and look past me.

I am so tired of the Church acting like the world. Or worse.

I want to find that true Family of God.

One where the assembly does not forsake me.

One where God doesn’t speak to my spirit to tell me the Pastor is my enemy, not my friend.

This is what is on my heart and mind today.

Unavailable

Usually I make myself available for others to talk with, to help with their online businesses, to help their friends with their online businesses…

It’s rarely convenient for me. But I value people and sincerely want to help others succeed.

I’m seeing how little that is actually valued beyond the moment it happens, so I’m stopping that part of my friendship offering.

If I kept a journal of friends and family seeking me out first to talk with and spend time with because they genuinely enjoy my company, because they take an interest in what I am interested in– it would be full of blank pages.

I have become that person that is an afterthought to everyone. I’m the convenient one to ask to buy things, or help get someone through some sort of a bind– as long as I don’t ask for the same in return.

I’m the person who has no value outside of political opinions. And if mine don’t match yours– I am valueless.

I’m the mom expected to help in the nursery or with the kids at church often, to pay my “dues” since I have kids– and if I don’t, I’m the mom everyone gets upset with.

I have been a giving person because I want to be. I can’t remember the last time I was given to. I rarely ask for advice or help– especially when I need it, because I already know I will be hard-pressed to find it.

I often say yes just because I know too well how it feels to be told no.

Well…

Now it’s going to be no.

No more helping online parties. No more sacrificing sleep to listen and be there for someone across the world. No more taking up someone else’s interests just to spend time with them.

I am right now feeling exactly how empty giving of myself has made me.

I am now unavailable. I doubt it will be noticed or that I will be missed.

Someday God will also be unavailable. Seek Him while He May be found– because instead you may find Him unavailable and at that point it will be too late.

3 fingers pointing back at myself at that reminder.

One Size Fits… Um No

I confess– I have a tendency to be a serial unasked-for advice giver. I can’t help it. I know others can glean from my experience-gained wisdom. Right?

Except that’s never how it’s taken.

If I’m honest, it’s also not how I take it from others, either, even though I try to be polite and respectful.

The old cliche’ about judging a book by its cover fits here well. How often do we hear or read something someone says and opine that we know the solution to their problem? After all– it worked for us, so it will work 1000000% for all– right?

Well, no. It won’t.

Nothing about me or my life is ever a one-size-fits-all fit.

Even Scripture is not a one-size-fits-all life application. I mean– it is– but it applies in endless ways. Some Scripture is the same for everyone. Like John 3:16-17. And most Scripture will help us achieve the same outcome as others, but it applies individually and uniquely over every life it touches.

Because it’s the Living Word of God.

It’s not a one-size-fits-most bandaid or covering. It’s the healing/repair balm uniquely designed to fit our specific needs.

God’s Word is not reactionary to us, it’s designed for us to respond to it.

Unlike our random acts of unasked-for advice-giving.

I have so much more to learn about letting God love others through me.

His ways are so much better than mine.

Suppression

With all the recent scandals from Hollywood and politicians, I’m again thinking about my own past of sexual abuse, and different reactions I’ve experienced about how I do/don’t do things.

First, I’ll share some of my background.

I was molested by my dad as a young girl. That in and of itself is still a humiliating experience for me. I’m still emotionally sensitive at times and in different situations. It’s just the first abusive situation I experienced, but it’s the foundation of abuse in my history, so it’s my focus today.

Bringing it up now and admitting my emotions can still be affected by the memories– at times, the nightmares– does not mean I’m not healed, that I haven’t forgiven him or that I am stuck in the past. These are some of the reactions I can count on getting nearly every time I mention it.

No matter the reasoning behind my dad’s actions against me– it still happened.

So, when I see and hear things people say to others, it frustrates me. Things like– “Pick up the broken pieces, and move on.”

Well– start where in picking them up? To me, this is like telling a person with 2 broken legs to just stand up and walk away.

Everything about me was broken. I say was, because God picked up my broken pieces, and He helped me move forward– towards Him.

But, you know who didn’t? People. The Body of Christ didn’t. Once when I asked for special counseling from a Pastor’s wife, she blamed me for causing problems with my reactions to having been hurt!

Much of my life I have fought to be heard. Most of my childhood I struggled with being seen and learning how to fit in. All of my victim-hood I’ve fought to survive.

You won’t believe the attacks of my mind, my heart and my body that I experienced as a result of what was done TO me. I fought to get away. I tried to run away. I tried to make it stop by taking my own life away from it– physically– forever. Thankfully God intervened and had Compassion for me.

These were my wrong reactions and thought-processes growing up– I cut because I was numb and that made me feel something. I starved myself because I deserved to be punished because I must have been an awful person for that to have happened to me. I clung too tightly to guys I just wanted to love me– I just wanted to be loved and valued. I thought if I removed myself, I would no longer cause problems for my dad– because he told me that.

My mom did all she could to protect me and handle an impossibly difficult situation. She sent me where she knew I would be safe during the summer years of my childhood– to her parents. I don’t know what they knew, I only know I was told to never ever talk to anyone about things. You see– I didn’t even know that my mom knew. I thought I was completely alone, and had to fend for myself all alone. But, she was looking out for me.

Pick up the pieces and move on…

When you’re self-perception has been damaged through the mental abuse of someone else that should be trusted to protect and build you up– how do you move forward? Where is forward? Which way is up? Because everything I knew was filtered through that experience and how others reacted to me.

It’s by the Grace of God and my mom that I survived my childhood years.

I am not hanging onto what happened. Talking about it doesn’t mean I’m hanging on to it. Hopefully talking about it will extend a lifeline to someone else who may need someone to look out for and reach out to them.

God has brought me through it, to the other side. I don’t need pity of the stuff of feeling sorry for me, or counseling.

My purpose for writing this is– those “encouraging” sayings do not help real people with real needs.

Picking up the broken pieces for me, at that time, meant the equivalent of picking them up and then walking barefoot through more broken, sharp pieces. I saw no clear path, until God in His Mercy reached out to me and pulled me out of it.

He had to carry me, because I was far too broken to walk on my own.

For those who are broken– you can Trust God. I promise! His ways are gentle and kind– and always perfect.

For those who are unbroken observers– Please– Allow God to work through you to reach out and help the broken with more than cute sayings that often feel more like salt poured into open wounds than healing balm.

Pray at all times, without ceasing, giving thanks to God above for one another. Especially those that you just don’t understand. Don’t turn a cold shoulder, don’t be short or abrupt– that helps no one, but instead often feels like condemnation poured-out on those who might be crushed under the weight of it. God is not in that.

Love is Patient. Love is Kind. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking– Love does not prefer its own opinion over the needs of others.

What I Wish Some Understood About Sexual Abuse Survivors

We live in a world full of people with as many backgrounds as there are people. No two are completely alike. In this mix, there are abusers, abuse survivors and the unaware.

The category I fit into is abuse survivor. I was molested as a child, harassed as a teen and young adult, and raped as an adult by someone I believed I could trust.

It’s been quite a few years since it all happened to me, and it surprises me to see how it still affects my thinking of myself. 

So, I’m going to address some of those things that I’ve learned, and some of the attitudes I’ve dealt with.

1) Rape and sexual harassment is never funny to a survivor. It’s never a light topic, it’s not something to be joked about. Words do matter— they conjure up memories— sometimes traumatic ones with deep emotions attached.

2) No, we can’t just get over it. Something was stolen from us, trust was violated, our spirit has been bruised. Healing over time happens but, often invisible to the natural eye, emotional scars remain. 

3) We grieve over the robbery of our innocence. 

4) Our body was attacked, and our bodies react to that— often through eating disorders, or even gaining weight in an attempt to self-protect. Stop the body shaming, they probably have some history of sexual abuse! 

5) We are often more sensitive to criticism because many of us have an unconscious belief there must be something wrong with us for someone to hurt us so badly.

As a Christian I rely on God to be my Comfort and my Strength, but sometimes I wish I could rely on my brothers and sisters in Christ more. Relationships aren’t often easy for me to form because I still, even after so many years of God restoring what the locusts had eaten, I still have trust cautions. 

All I hope to get across through this post is to encourage others to become aware. Be kind and sensitive. Hold back on criticisms. 

My Open Letter To Pastors Everywhere– You Need To Get This


Dear Pastors,

Over the past 20 years I have been moved from place to place, sometimes by God, sometimes for personal reasons. 

That is why I’m writing this.
I am no one special. I have no title, no grand purpose or calling. I am like many within your flock, under your care– part of your Divine calling and purpose.

I am a member of the Body of Christ, and that means something more to me than merely being a member of a local church.

I have been given talents by God, and I strive to use them to help further His Kingdom purpose.  I have been given a heart of flesh that longs to please God. I love people, I love Jesus, and I love serving God as He calls me to.

I have seen where church leadership has some blindspots. I am asking you, humbly, as one who loves God and people–  please– drop all defensiveness and listen.

I believe that God has called Pastors and all church leaders to love His people as He loves His people, not to just instruct us about the Word of God. Not one of us is in the same part of the narrow road, nor have we walked with the same steps or strides. In fact, there are some who are crawling, there are some who are stopped– waiting on God to give them clear direction– direction that oftentimes comes through you.

Every Pastor wants the congregants who are running the race perfectly, with all the energy necessary to carry out the plans and purposes of the ministries churches offer. There are people who are called and able to fulfill those Pastoral dreams. 

I want to tell you, many simply are not. Many are trying to work out their Salvation with fear and trembling. Some want to please church leadership, but they are burnt out by doing so. Some feel weighted down by life. Some have been crippled by life’s circumstances, and they can’t “perform” as is often necessary. These are the people you are leaving behind. These are the ones you are hurting. Some of these equate how you treat them with how God wants them to be treated– and that is breaking God’s heart.

I want to encourage you to look at every person as the individual that God has created them to be.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and God has entrusted you with the loving care to help nurture and grow even the most unloveable Christian.

I believe God wants to release His healing within His Body. Hurts caused by our own family in Christ. Reconciliations. Letting go of offenses. Repentance for how we all treat one another.

I believe He wants to begin from the top of the leadership down through the entire congregation.

What does this look like? More ministries for congregants, not just opportunities to serve. Listening more carefully. Being approachable, a healthy relationship attainable outside of jumping through specific hoops to prove worthiness of your time, attention and appreciation. 

Removal of any “hierarchy” mindset that in any way belittles your congregants in your eyes.

There are millions of Pastors, and every one of you is a unique individual created by God, just like all of your congregants are. 

I pray you will read this, that you will seek God concerning this. Not because I am asking, but because God’s Judgment begins in the House of The Lord. We all need to be far more sensitive to God’s Spirit than we are to the opinions of ourselves and others.

God’s love is not tough, it’s full of compassion, patience and deep understanding.

So should we all be towards one another.

Sincerely,

Your Sister In Christ

To Know Me Is To ______ Me

1Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (NASB)

I have a jumble of thoughts built up. Hopefully I can get them all out and place them in good order.

I’m thinking about God’s continuous cycle of revealing and healing. He shows us something about ourselves or our past that we haven’t seen through His understanding, He illuminates it, then He begins the process of healing.

The thing about God’s way of healing: it’s not always our way. We don’t even understand that that’s what He is up to, sometimes.

A root biggie in my life is enveloped by the Scripture I shared. To be known. A branch off of that would be to be seen, and another branch would be to be heard. The fruit that I want to grow on this particular crop in my life is: to be valued.

This probably shapes pretty much every thought, action, and even inaction I do, all the time.

There are so many things we place value on concerning people. What they do (job, talent, skill), what they say, where they have been. We value degrees, titles, clothing, monetary worth, status, and career choices.

I think we often forget to place value on the most valuable part of a person: them.

When my husband and I discipline our children, we often remind them that it’s the dangerous, unacceptable, or just all around bad behavior we are wanting them to change and correct, not them as individuals. Their worth is not tied into behaving perfectly. No matter what, we will love them, they will always be our child, though their choice in behavior may disappoint and frustrate us. Their behavior does not define them.

God defines them. He began the definition of each one of us as He knit us in our mother’s womb.

There are roots in my history that have become tied to how I perceive being valued. My parents weren’t the sort to hold conversations with me, or listen to what I had to say. They were focused on their own lives for various reasons, and the very best thing I could ever do was try to just stay out of their way as much as possible.

There were times I ran away, and they didn’t even know I wasn’t there. There were times I ran away, and they did know I wasn’t there, but I never heard a conversation about how I might have been in danger, or how I had or would be missed. I heard about how it made things look, or how things weren’t so bad for me, or how next time they’d  put me in Juvie. I had no self worth, because I never saw my parents reflect that back to me. Except when I did something that reflected on them in a good way, like doing well at a concert. My worth became tied into playing my violin well.

I remember times when I shard things with my mom that seemed super important to me, things I didn’t have anyone else to share them with, and she would roll her eyes, sigh irritatedly, and tell me how stupid it was, or something to that effect. She still does that, and it still tries to affect my perception of my worth.

I feel like I was robbed of a healthy mom-daughter relationship. Because of that, I purposely go out of my way to tell my kids how important they are to me. I don’t ever want them to believe they are not valued just for who they are, because I know what that feels like. (Of course, a clean room would also give an added pleasant bonus…)

I think that’s why God carefully took me under the shelter of His wings when I was pretty young. I always remember His being there, going out of His way to give me something I needed to help me want to carry on. He made me aware of a deeper purpose that He has given to me, deeper than any person ever could. He reflected my own heart back to me when I was heart-broken at trying to help a friend who tried to commit suicide, then told me they never wanted to speak to me again. He fixed that, and He worked, and I didn’t have to lose that friend to suicide or hatred. He made Himself known to me before I knew myself at all. He showed Himself to be real. Nothing can ever convince me God is not real, because He simply IS. There is no unbelief that is more powerful than God’s reality. It doesn’t take much to find Him, either. One just has to sincerely want to know Him for themselves.

God is at work healing some pretty deep hurts in my life. After all the healing and work He has done, sometimes it’s tempting to want to ask Him, “Are You ever going to be finished in me?”

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I do know that answer: Yes. When Jesus returns.

Anyway, I got the jumble of thoughts out, and here I am at the end of this blog entry. You’ve now had a glimpse into my head, heart and life. I hope something good will come out of that for you.

Thanks for reading.