introspection, reality, The Past

Translucent— Paralyzed (Do You See Me Down Here, Oh Lord?)

Merriam-Webster defines translucent as:

permitting the passage of light:

: transmitting and diffusing light so that objects beyond cannot be seen clearly

Clear, transparent

translucent water

: free from disguise or falseness”

I guess if I had a “theme” for my blog posts, this might be a defining term I’m aiming for.

I’ve been working my way through more NF songs, lately. Today, I have two on my heart.

The first one, I think it’s a deeply important one to address— “Paralyzed”. The second is the chorus from “Oh Lord”. (I think both can be a great mash-up.)

As the “Paralyzed” lyrics flow, they hit sensitive areas in my past that I buried or forgot about.

Oh, my God, thank You— he has described this lack of just everything— that I could never put a name to!!

I still have moments of this numb feeling, in certain social situations, I get struck with this— paralysis— NF has given it a name! I can define it! You have no idea how impactful and healing that is for me. If the “spotlight” focus of attention is on me— I still sometimes freeze up! When I leave social meetings, I sometimes have this weird ache— almost like that feeling when the numbness wears off at the dentist— in my chest. I feel vulnerable,

exposed.

I spent many of my youthful days going through the motions, disconnected from my emotions.

These lyrics transcend just words for me— they overwhelm my spirit with… I don’t really know what. Understanding, maybe? Relief?

I didn’t think anyone could ever understand. No one around me ever seemed to. But then— I was afraid to even ask, to talk about anything.

I just thought I was alone.

And then— I remember someone telling me they struggled with the same kind of eating issues that I did— and they gave it a name— Anorexia. I thought I had a friend I could identify with, that understood me. But— friendship with me wasn’t something she was interested in. In fact— she seemed annoyed that I had those problems too.

I was alone.

My whole life, all I ever wanted was to feel included, wanted, appreciated— valued.

Absorbing the lyrics from the NF song “Paralyzed”— they took me right back to those moments. Only, as I again felt them, I was also standing outside of it all, looking at it from a perspective of having been healed, or delivered, from the damage and circumstances that rendered me

detached.

I remember walking through my middle school hallways, realizing— I couldn’t feel anything.

I was emotionally numb.

I think that was when the self harm started for me.

I spent years hiding the scars on my arms and legs. They have faded, can’t be seen easily anymore, but I know exactly where they are.

When I wrote poems, I marveled over where the words even came from. I didn’t write thoughts I was meditating on, inspiration didn’t come from outer sources, dreams or conversations. I would wake up in the middle of the night, and I just had to write.

“Can You see us down here, Oh Lord?”

I wonder what I look like to God? I know all the encouraging words of Scripture— and I believe them.

I also know God sees what we can’t see or understand.

I think as the lyrics from “Paralyzed” grab my heart, make me catch my breath from overwhelming remembrance, understanding— and emotions I’m no longer detached from, flood all my senses— I see that God is outside of things, but He somehow still feels what we feel, He sees what we see— and so much more.

My world felt impossibly dark and devastating.

But God.

God’s Light has diffused the darkness my soul was held captive in. His Holy Light came into my life, and all that nasty darkness fled— Jesus set this captive free. He healed my heart and my life.

He restores my soul.

Daily.

As much as we often believe our childhood shapes and defines us— it’s not permanent. I believe that.

The damning, torturous grip that once had its hold on me, has been released.

God broke the fingers of that stronghold over my perception, that affected my decisions.

There are some who are in a similar place to where I was.

It can get better. Most often, circumstances aren’t permanent. There is nothing God cannot change, heal, repair, restore or improve.

You are not alone.

Nothing is too difficult for God.

“Intro:]
When did I become so numb?
When did I lose myself?
All the words that leave my tongue
Feel like they came from someone else

I’m paralyzed (Do You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed)
Where are my feelings? (Don’t You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed)
I no longer feel things (I have no feelings)
I know I should (Can You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Oh. How come I’m not moving? Why aren’t I moving? Ay yeah)
I’m paralyzed
Where is the real me? (Can’t You see me down here, oh Lord??) (Where is the real me?)
I’m lost and it kills me – inside (I’m paralyzed)

[Verse 1:]
When did I become so cold?
When did I become ashamed? (Ooh)
Where’s the person that I know?
They must have left
They must have left
With all my faith

[Verse 2:]
I’m paralyzed (Do You see me down here, oh Lord?)
I’m scared to live but I’m scared to die
And if life is pain then I buried mine a long time ago
But it’s still alive
And it’s taking over me – where am I? (Don’t You see me down here, oh Lord?)
I wanna feel something, I’m numb inside
But I feel nothing, I wonder why
And on the race of life time passes by
Look
I sit back and I watch it, hands in my pockets
Waves come crashing over me but I just watch ’em (Can You see me down here, oh Lord?)
I just watch ’em
I’m under water but I feel like I’m on top of it
I’m at the bottom and I don’t know what the problem is
I’m in a box (Can’t You see me down here, oh Lord?)
But I’m the one who locked me in
Suffocating and I’m running out of oxygen

[Outro]
Do You see us down here? Oh Lord
Can You see us down here? Oh Lord
Oh Lord, oh Lord
Can You see us? Can’t You see us?down here? Oh Lord
Oh Lord, oh Lord
Can You see us? Can’t You see us?”

Walking With God

Keeping It 100– Real

My youngest has become a superfan of NF. My whole family, I think, is a fan at some level, but my youngest, who is 11, surprises us sometimes by his choice in ringtones (Leave Me Alone!— NF song 😅), and what he has stored on his flip phone— mostly NF songs. The other day, he chose Therapy Session to play through the car radio. I asked him if he related to the words and felt like he needed therapy because of me, lol. He said “No.”

As I absorbed the impact of the words in the song, once again I was drawn into just how much they reflect my own heart. One phrase is “I was talking to fans
And one of them pulled me aside and said
“We never met but I swear that you know who I am
I been through a lot
I don’t know how to express it to people, don’t think that I can…”

Well, that’s me, for sure. I could have been that fan!

Another phrase jumped out at me, and has been bouncing around in my thoughts. It’s actually the inspiration for this post.

“This music” (my blog) “is not just for people who sit in the pews and pray at the churches
I’ve been rejected
I don’t expect everyone to respect it
I don’t expect you to get my perspective
What you expect from a therapy session, huh?

“I mean, I think sometimes people they confuse what I’m doing
I write about life, I write about things that I’m actually dealing with
Something that I’m actually experiencing, this is real for me
Like this is something that personally helps me as well
I’m not confused about who gave me the gift
God gave me the gift, and he gave me the ability to do this…”

“And he also gave me this as an outlet…”

This is me here—

The experiences NF has shared in his music are NOT the same as mine— the reactions, emotions, and scarred-over-wounds— they often are the same.

You don’t walk away, sometimes run away, from the things I’ve lived through and some things I have done, without wounds— some very, very deep wounds. Most are now scars— but

even scars hurt sometimes.

While this is sometimes my type of therapy, I am open and honest in sharing here to possibly reach out to maybe even one person who needs soneone to step up along side them, and show someone really does understand.

That is always my intent here.

Always.

So, I am going to be misunderstood.

I am going to be “corrected”.

I am still going to be told I should write about “happy, positive things”.

I am going to be given advice I don’t need.

I am going to make some people uncomfortable.

I want to apologize, because that’s in my nature, but I won’t. Because this is how God made me.

I don’t need a therapist— I have God. God’s Holy Spirit is my counselor. His Word is my “self-help” book.

I have this blog to sort out things. To help me see things, to work through them.

I get it all out or my head and my heart, sometimes here, sometimes in prayer privately.

I have learned that how to let things go, to give them to God, is to NOT try to lock them in a dark closet, or sweep them under a rug.

To get them out into the open, to look at them fully, to examine the roots as much as possible, to confront them— to surrender them to Jesus.

And then I move on.

Sometimes I bring others into my process through my blog posts— but not always.

Sometimes it’s just between God and me.

But— you, whoever and wherever you are, are always welcome to look here to find understanding and hopefully some degree of God’s healing.

Everyone needs to be heard, to be understood— to be identified with.

That’s my intention— always.

I am not the perfect writer. I am not perfect in any way— ever.

I am just real.

Because that’s how God has made me to be.

http://www.absolutelyrics.com/lyrics/view/nf/therapy_session

“Yeah, I gotta say like a month ago
I was talking to fans
And one of them pulled me aside and said
“We never met but I swear that you know who I am
I been through a lot
I don’t know how to express it to people
Don’t think that I can but I got that mansion CD on rotation
That’s real for me Nate, you do not understand”
It’s crazy for me
Kids hit me up, say they slitting they wrists on the daily
This music is more than you think
Don’t book me for just entertainment, it’s entertaining
Hearing these parents, they telling their kids
My music is violent, you gotta be kidding me
I guess that your definition of violence and mine
Is something that we look at differently
How do you picture me ah?
Want me to smile, you want me to laugh
You want me to walk in the stage with a smile on my face
When I’m mad and put on a mask, for real though
I mean, what you expect from me?
I’m tryna do this respectfully
They say that life is a race
I know my problems’ll probably catch up eventually
I do my best to be calm
How you gon’ write me and tell me you slaughter my family?
That’s just a glimpse to the stuff that get sent to me
These the parts of my life that’ll never see, woo
I am aware it’s aggressive
I am not here for acceptance
I don’t know what you expect here
But what you expect when you walk in a therapy session?

Therapy, therapy session
Therapy, therapy session

This girl at the show looked me in the face
And told me her life’s full of drama
Said that her dad is abusive
Apparently he likes to beat on her mama
I got so angry inside
I wanted to tell her to give me his number
But what you gon’ do with it right?
You gon’ hit him up then he’ll start hitting her harder
That’s real
These kids, they come to my shows
With tears in they eyes
Imagine someone looking at you
And saying your music’s the reason that they are alive
Sometimes, I don’t know how to handle it
This type of life isn’t glamorous
This ain’t an act for the cameras
You see me walk on these stages but have no idea what I’m dealing with after it
I put it all in the open
This is the way that I cope with all my emotion
I’m taking pictures with thousands of people
But honestly, I feel like nobody knows me
I’m trying to deal with depression
I’m trying to deal with the pressure
How you gon’ tell me my music does not have a message
When I’m looking out at this crowd full of people I know I affected?
Ah, I got some things in my life, I know I should let ’em go
Let me jot it down, let me take a mental note
I put it all in this microphone, think about that for a minute
What is the point of this song, I’m just venting but what you expect from a therapy session?

Therapy, therapy session
Therapy, therapy session

What you think about me
That doesn’t worry me
I know I handle some things immaturely
I know that I need to grow in maturity
I ain’t gon’ walk on these stages in front of these people
And act like I live my life perfectly
That doesn’t work for me
Christian is not the definition of a perfect me, woo
I ain’t the type to be quiet
I ain’t gon’ sit here in silence
If I wouldn’t say what I say to your face
Then I promise you I wouldn’t say it in private
I am not lying
People go off on my page and I’m trying to quit the replying
But this is ridiculous
I’m passionate man, I really mean what I’m writing
You want me to keep it 100? Okay, I’ll keep it 100
I see a whole lot of talking on socials
But honestly, I don’t see nothing in public
I kinda love it, yeah
“Why don’t you write us some happy raps?
That would be awesome
All your music is moody and dark, Nate”
Don’t get me started
You wanna know what it’s like if you met me in person?
Listen to my verses
This music is not just for people
Who sit in the pews and pray at the churches
I won’t reject it
I don’t expect everyone to respect it
I don’t expect you to get my perspective
What you expect from a therapy session?

I mean, I think sometimes people they confuse what I’m doing
I write about life, I write about things that I’m actually dealing with
Something that I’m actually experiencing, this is real for me
Like this is something that personally helps me as well
I’m not confused about who gave me the gift
God gave me the gift and he gave me the ability to do this
And he also gave me this as an outlet
And that’s what music is for me
When I feel something, whether it’s anger
Um, it’s a passion about something, or frustration
Like this is where I go, this is, that’s the whole nfrealmusic thing man
This is real for me, I need this, this is a therapy for me”

Reality Check

My Complaining Heart

Yesterday was not my best “me” day.

Between Covid reactions and my own physical health issues with limited mobility, I am out of practice for busy-ness.

For years, I’ve maneuvered through the maze of living with an immune disorder. I’ve managed my time carefully when I can, because honestly being overwhelmed with just doing whatever and always being busy becomes a crushing weight— and then fatigue takes over everything.

I need peace of mind. I need intentionality in my daily, weekly and monthly schedules.

One day at a time.

One activity at a time.

Yesterday started out with a plan for me to not be busy.

Then, like life does— a wrench was thrown in.

Nothing about what I needed to do was tough, or a big deal.

Combined— more of the ugliness God has smoothed away, manifested.

The combined events— A/C in my car is busted, my window won’t easily roll down or back up, had to walk farther to my vehicle without my cane, had to also bring my dog, the back gate needed to be closed, then bad traffic…

Did I mention the A/C in my car is broken? (It’s so hot outside…)

Then— it rained. Of course it had to rain while my window was stuck open.

I got to my destination, got my cane and walked (hobbled) up to where I needed to pick up my son and his friend. In the rain. Then I had to wait in line. In the rain.

Some days I just don’t have much strength to stand very long.

I am so disappointed— heart broken really— that our culture does not even consider making things easier for those with physical disabilities. Like, I mean— sure there are handicap parking spots— but many times they are farther away than any other specified parking spot. It’s less about actually helping than it is about just making sure there is one.

Yesterday my disappointment nearly turned into disgust. Not even one person in line acknowledged my difficulty. No eye contact. No offers for me to go ahead of them. No offer for a chair folded up against the building.

I did what I needed to, and then I found the coordinator and asked for a way to make that situation manageable for me. Because if I don’t, no one even thinks to do that— or cares.

I got the boys, then took my son’s friend to where he stays while his parents work. The handicap parking space is at the farthest end of the parking lot. The easy access drop off route is blocked off by cones. I have to walk up hill, in the rain, step over high curbs… then back to my car.

My son’s friend held the door open for me and patiently waited for me to slowly walk (hobble) towards him.

Frustration had nearly overwhelmed me. His kindness washed the frustration away.

Such a sweet, dear boy.

Then I realized— it’s raining.

This weekend I nearly passed out (not exaggerating) from the heat in my car with busted A/C. The rain cooled down that heat and made the entire trip manageable.

God provided for me and I nearly missed it— because of my complaining heart and my ugly attitude.

I can look back and see miles and miles of things God has done.

Yesterday, I realized I can look forward and see miles and miles of what God will continue to do.

Yet— He walks with me through it all.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of fatigue and rain— He is always with me, providing for me, taking great care of me.

How many times have I missed that as I looked at what’s affecting me, instead?

God's Heart, Walking With God, What life has taught me

Communication— Let’s Talk About It

1 Cor 13:11-13 “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 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. But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

The struggle is real.

Effective communication is a skill we Americans have lost.

This information age has severe relational consequences.

Personality clashes are enhanced by our lack in effective communication skills.

We are all at a disadvantage.

We all behave like children, at times, insisting on getting our own way while not hearing what others have to say.

And, we avoid. Unfortunately, avoiding dealing with things — that never resolves anything.

But, head-on resolution isn’t what most feel comfortable with.

Where is that middle ground?

Many years ago, I was included in an uncomfortable confrontation about me. God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit, and told me to not let myself get pulled into it. My character was attacked, and what did I do? I let myself get pulled into it, which backed me into a corner of having to defend myself.

It was ugly.

Over the years I’ve heard God’s Spirit tell me to not get pulled into the middle of situations where I’m left having to defend myself. Situations where I instinctively want to fight back, to attack. I’ve learned to remove myself from the “line of fire”. Sonetimes I have to ask Him—How??

How do I stop myself from being dragged in?

I’ve found directly confronting issues is the most effective way to resolve conflicts.

Sadly, in some situations, no matter how I try to confront issues, the people involved react as though I’m attacking them. There seems to be no separation of issue vs personal attack, no matter how I try to explain things. And I’ll find myself, again, backed into that corner of having to defend myself.

I don’t attack people.

I confront issues.

I wish communication was this easy thing.

When I was newly married, pregnant with my first child, I was given some wonderful, Godly advice I still strive very hard to stick to.

When in the tug-of-war of an argument, lay down my end.

As soon as I feel defensive, I know— I need to stop tugging. God never intended us to exert our own strength against one another in our relationships. Jesus should be our strength.

Sometimes laying down my end includes walking away. Sonetimes it means just waitng for the dust to settle so calm, rational resolution can happen.

Sometimes it means I don’t return fire with an argument— instead I tell my husband I love him, and I kiss him. (True story.)

Sometimes it means I have to pray through the uncomfortable inability to get resolution.

In the end, when I stand before Jesus, I want so much to be able to say I valued the relationships—the people— He has given me more than I valued appearances of being “right”.

I’d like for others to value me the same! Not to be directed by opinions of me or past mistakes, or infused by reactions to things misunderstood— with no option or ability for my clarification.

Situations throughout my life have evolved instead because the focused value was placed more on a mistake or failure than on me as a person! I have a failed first marriage that exhibits that! I’ve had to block people, or shut them out of my life, because where I failed or misstepped is their valued focus. I am not. How I feel or what I am going through is not.

That weight can be crushing.

I think that’s what makes my road with Jesus so very narrow— maneuvering the snares and pitfalls Satan loads into situations where God’s instructions for us through His Word and His Spirit (as well as Jesus’ example for us) aren’t closely adhered to.

Unfortunate things happen all the time. Misunderstandings happen all the time.

Confronting issues should be the focus, I believe.

Attacking one another should not.

What would Jesus do?

How would Jesus respond?

Would He allow Himself to be backed into a corner, and just be attacked?

He removed Himself, went off by Himself. Except when it was time for Him to pay the world’s sin’s cost.

Jesus valued the relationships He built up with His disciples— His family, His friends.

He valued people.

I’ve never seen in Scripture where Jesus quickly jumped to conclusions. I’ve never seen Him react, close off listening, and just do whatever was easiest and quickest.

Oh— but I sure do that!

I am woefully deficient in behaving like Jesus. Thankfully I can talk with Him— about everything (no matter how difficult, embarrassing, self-loathing, or angering it is!!). I can resolve things, and I can walk steadier— in His strength— on my narrow road.

God’s Will is the goal— live as peacefully as possible with others.

Ultimately peace through God’s grace and Jesus’ strength, is my goal.

That peace that surpasses all of my understanding.

God turns everything around for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The stuff that He turns around shouldn’t be the focus, it’s what trips me up every time.

Jesus should always, at all times, be my focus.

Treating others the way Jesus treats me should always, at all times, be the focus of my intentions, at the center of my heart.

People are so important to Jesus that He died for us all!

People need to be that important to us, as well.

introspection, Reality Check

The Hoarding Church

How many Bibles do you own?

How many Bible apps do you have?

How much Scripture do we have on the walls of our homes, on the wallpapers of our devices, or set aside on our note apps?

How much Scripture do we have written on the tablet of our heart?

God’s Gospel of Salvation, Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness has been collecting around our homes and churches for generations— sometimes even covered in dust, cobwebs, or buried under stuff.

There are so many focal points we have picked and chosen from Scripture— and from the store.

It all becomes blurry clutter.

Meanwhile— there is Jesus— forgotten as we look into our giant mirror of how spiritual we are. Binding this, loosing that, tattling to God about faults we’ve assessed in other ministries and people— misjudging, condemning, looking down on others while we pat ourselves on the back for how good, “spiritual” we obviously are, elevating ourselves in our own eyes.

“At least I’m not falling into that sin…“ “Thank God I’ve never done that, or I don’t do it anymore…”

Clanging gongs of obnoxious noise.

Maybe we need to become minimalists with our Christian possessions.

We have so much “merch” (😣cringe😖) for God.

Every bit of it is going to burn away.

Every possession we hold dear to our heart is going to turn to dust.

Every opinion we hold in our high (or low) world-treasured “self-esteem” is going to be dissolved.

Maybe God is disciplining Believers right now so we will get back to simple and humble.

Jesus left everything to provide the only way for an ungrateful creation, trapped in a deadly game of sin.

There is one letter difference between sin and Son.

We need God’s Son, who crushed sin because it had us trapped.

Now— we can be trapped by too much “good”, I think.

How can we find a direction when we are surrounded by so many good things?

How can we focus on accurately, adequately using the tools God has provided through His Spirit, when we are sifting through all of our manmade “Roman’s Road” and doctrinal tools?

How can we clearly hear God’s Spirit speak to our spirit when we have so many commentators, opinions, translations and versions to sort through?

We rely on our t-shirts to let people know our opinions, our beliefs— show that we are Christians.

The bumper sticker on our speeding van, as we rush to the next event.

We’ve resigned ourselves often to ask for prayers of healing and protection— but how much of that is because we are about the Lord’s work, and how much is us simply pushing through our daily life of chores and schedules?

Where is Jesus in all of the Church business and doings?

Do you see/hear/feel Him, in any of it? A little? A lot? An overwhelming amount?

Honestly?

Have you heard of Smith Wigglesworth? I am struck by the difference in how he was just reading a newspaper on a bus, and God’s Spirit began working deeply in every person there, and how we now wear a hat that asks something like “Got Jesus”?

He had Jesus, and everyone around him was affected by Jesus in Him.

Every finger and both thumbs stick into my ribs— I am so guilty.

How much Christian clutter is holding our heart captive, squeezing out Jesus?

What do we really value?

If what we value will burn away, dissolve, or involves I, me, or them— I think maybe it’s time for a deep, strong purge.

It sure is for me, anyway.

What life has taught me

God’s Will?? I Think Not!

Apparently there is this school of thought, some believe supported by Scripture, that being the unfortunate victim of abuse is “God’s Will”.

Obviously they don’t understand how wrong of a conclusion they have come to. Nor do they get the depth abuse reaches into the spirit, the soul and the foundation of someone deeply traumatized by abuse.

Never once was I drawn to God because of a comparison between my earthly abuser and my Creator.

Never.

No, it was not God’s Will for my dad to psychologically abuse me! I am, to this very day, still dealing with the affects of him telling me he hated me and wished I’d never been born, coupled with how I was just always in the way.

No, it was not God’s Will for my dad to physically, sexually abuse me. I despise what he did, so much, I developed eating disorders to try to purge it out of my system! He violated my trust, my innocence— my body!

No, it was not God’s Will to witness his guinea-pigged drugged-up confused mindset that had him convinced he was like God, and loved my mom so much he had to kill her— tried to kill her.

No.

My God does not Will sin’s ugliness into anyone’s life.

God does not willfully direct sin to deeply traumatize people.

God allows many things, but He does not Will them to happen.

I have never had a healthy relationship with my dad, or any kind of redeeming father-like relationship with anyone.

In my life I have felt a desperate need for someone to accept me and just be part of my life as a mom, dad or sibling type.

That hasn’t been something anyone has been willing to do.

That has been what has driven me closer to God.

Not the abuse, not a comparison.

The lack of those relationships.

I have given up on anyone within the church stepping into that kind of role in my life.

I have never given up knowing God will fill that lack with His love, His acceptance, His delight in me.

His Character is defined all throughout Scripture. And, while He has directed harsh judgement against some by directing those obedient to Him to carry out that judgement in Old Testament times—

Never once do I see Him telling a father to molest his daughter.

Never once do I see Him telling a father to tell his children how much he hates them and wishes God never created them.

Never once.

Reality Check, Strong Woman

Managed

My eyes are opening.

At least, they are trying to open.

They’ve started to open before, but then I shut them. Again.

Everything on the surface looks fine, looks good even.

But then something happens, and they start to open again.

In the past, just as they are beginning to focus, to recognize…

I am lulled back to sleep.

This time, I’m staying awake. I’m rubbing my blurry eyes so I can focus more clearly.

I’m making out a shape with some color..

I see…

I see control.

I am recognizing when I make any kind of decision without it being discussed and approved, I provoke the frustration and anger that guard control.

When I start to walk in my own decision making, and I begin to feel like my “old” self again, it creates an unbalance in the control system.

As soon as I begin to relax, to just enjoy, being refreshed and confident naturally— the beast begins to wake up, cranky from lack of control.

I see it now. Clearly. With eyes that are awake.

I recognize it.

I see the prison it has created.

It’s not unpleasant.

I’m not unprovided for.

But I’m not free.

My confidence is challenged.

I’m not encouraged to be at my best.

In fact, I recognize I am actually encouraged to not be my best.

I am often alone.

I am often drained of “will” power, exhausted, by reactions.

This is my own doing, for allowing this to overcome me.

The things that energize me are discouraged— subtly, yet effectively.

Being able to just relax and be myself is subverted by the lag of distraction, and the oh so subtle injection of unresponsive disapproval .

A hesitancy to respond.

An obvious attempt to squelch anticipation or even excitement.

Like a bug being squished as it’s headed in a specific direction with an intended purpose.

That’s my ability to make plans without lengthy discussion, or simply do something spontaneously and un-dissected.

My abilities are bogged down by lack of attention or acknowledgement.

My accomplishments are overlooked, or even torn down.

I have taken the path with the least friction, and just laid everything down— because— what’s the point?

But now I have my focus on it.

I see it.

The beast of control will be challenged, openly.

I want my “me” back.

I want my confidence back.

I want all of the appreciation, encouragement, and full support I’ve poured in to now be reciprocated.

I’m not ok with being managed.

Not anymore.

Ephesians 5:13-14 “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

God's Heart, The Past

You Saw Me First

If I could describe my life as a mash-up with how God has always been there, it would go something like the following:

Accidents, mishaps and hospital ER trips— Your protective Hand was covering me, keeping me safe from far worse.

Deepest loneliness, hurts and deep-seated rejections— You’ve always accepted me, held me close to Your heart of hearts.

You are the only One Who has truly loved me. The only One Who has consistently been there through everything.

There in my happiest times, rejoicing with me.

With me in the sad times— comforting me in Your arms of perfect Love.

My northern star, the compass of my heart…. You are the voice that calms the storm inside me
Castle walls that stand around me
All this time, my guardian was You
It’s Always Been You Phil Wickham Who stood with me in the fire?
It was You, it was always You
Who pulled me out of the water?
It was You, it was always You
And who carried me on their shoulders?
It was You, I know it’s You, You

You have never born false witness against me, have always encouraged me through Your Word and that still small voice speaking to my heart of hearts.

You have lifted me up, You have had my back. You have been my Guide to get out of the muck and the mire threatening to suffocate the life out of me, draining me of the will to fight, the will to live.

It’s Always Been You.

It’s only been You.

So Will I Hillsong United. You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die.

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

The sum of my life is simply— You’re the One who never leaves the one behind.

4 Luke 15:4-7 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?5 And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ 7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

I am that one.

God's Heart, Walking With God

I Remember Who I Was

Have you ever watched someone restore a damaged painting? I find it fascinating, the level of dedication, determination and affection the one restoring it demonstrates. The knowledge of every painted stroke, the understanding of what and how— tedious work, for sure.

Have you ever heard a song that grabs your soul’s focus almost immediately?

This song, Thank You Jesus For The Blood , has done that to me, from the very first line.

I was a wretch. I remember who I was. I was lost, I was blind, I was running out of time.”

I instantly remembered.

In the midst of everything I have going on in my life, everything I am struggling with, all I am endeavoring to push through and overcome, I was instantly transferred right back to that moment my soul heard Him call my name and tell me to turn and follow Him.

My life was the messiest of messes. I was being crushed against my rock-bottom.

He saw me. He reached into my soul, He called my name. My name. He knew my name.

He gently helped me to my feet. He patiently cleaned off all the smudges, He worked out all the mars in the clay of my foundation. He tended carefully, lovingly to the tears, the worn spots from the misuse, the abuse, of others who didn’t know how to properly care for me.

He looked into the depth of my soul, found all that is of value to my Creator. He applied the Blood to every detail.

He Saved me for Eternity, He rescued me with the redemptive relationship no one on earth deserves.

I haven’t deserved such Divine, Perfect attention.

He gave it to me freely, liberally— permanently.

I never have to go back. I have continuously walked forward. Sometimes I’ve crawled, and at times I have danced with Him.

My beautiful Savior.

It’s beyond just His love for me.

He sees me— all of me. He knows me better than anyone ever can.

Uncategorized

Our Changing Worldview

1 Cor 13:11a “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;

When I was a child, my whole entire view was about me. My immediate surroundings, how big everything seemed, my interactions with family members, wanting to be liked and approved-of by everyone I interacted with. There was always some level of security I sought through confidence in what I knew, routines, and things being consistent.

As I grew older, my view started to include people I cared about, and people I looked up to— outside of my immediate family. Friends, friends’ parents, neighbors, my parents friends, kids at school, teachers, and pastors.

I learned about the world around me and what I could trust through how my parents reacted to things and interactions with me.

As I continued to grow and mature, the response or reaction from others became my “thermometer”. I developed a sense of right and wrong, and learned how to take up the offense of others as though it were also my own. And— sometimes it became my own. Sometimes I saw past it and looked at it in a different perspective.

I began to develop discernment.

As I grew into an adult, my experiences, surroundings and environment changed— several times. I left home under stressful circumstances— independent and determined to make my way, in my way, alone.

Thankfully God placed people in my life to help me propel through all those twists and turns in my personal life story.

I learned from a pretty young age who was in my “corner”— and who was not.

As I ventured into my adulthood story, I learned some really tough lessons in humility and that few people would have my back as I tried to have theirs.

Trust had been a recurring theme in my life— or most often— lack of trust. It’s been an uphill battle to find trustworthy people who support the extremely imperfect me. Letting my guard down has burned me more tines than not.

Now, as I look back through so many years past, the second half of 1 Cor 13:11 makes so much more sense: “when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” Ok— I’m not a man per se, but as a human I now understand I don’t have the full picture.

I also recognize that for some parts of the picture, I have a clearer understanding than some others. And, for some parts, I do not.

Now my worldview has changed into a much wider view. It’s no longer about me— it’s about my children, and as they grow up and venture into their own lives outside of my parental decisions, my worldview includes those who are important to them. Oh, we disagree on various viewpoints and opinions, but the heart connection moves us far beyond that.

At least for myself it does.

I have learned that God’s view is complete and perfect, and I can always trust Him with what I don’t see, or know. He knows all , sees all— is everywhere, at all times. Nothing is hidden from Him or outside if His reach.

That brings me great comfort and security. That’s where my peace of mind lives.

He also has given me a deeper discernment, and with that a confidence that He is helping me see and know things not for the sake of my having knowledge— but so I can pray and I can recognize where He is at work. That is the entire purpose of discernment— to differentiate between where He is, what He is doing, and the absence of His involvement. It’s not to focus on where and what the enemy are up to— it helps us to be aware, yes. But our focus should always be on our Creator and our Savior. This is what His Spirit has taught me over the years.

Now I’m finding that God has completely changed my heart, mind and worldview focus. It’s no longer a tiny area just involving how things affect me. It’s about so many other things, and how those things affect other people and situations. It’s now an earth-wide view. It’s an Eternity view.

I want to see through God’s eyes, not my own opinions and misunderstandings. I want to care through God’s heart, because mine gets tempted to wax cold.

I want to pray for what’s on God’s heart, I want to be aware of what’s on God’s mind.

So much has been centered around our individual selves within our church environments.

There really is so much more.

There will always be “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.” 1 Cor 13:12

There are new things illuminated as we seek God for what He wants us to see, know and pray about. I want to participate with Him in what He’s accomplishing— through praying and through recognition.

God's Heart

Giving God What’s Broken

In our culture of Christianity, it’s become easy to sing our promises and confessions of faith.

Do we follow through? When the service is over, do we reflect on the weighty words we’ve sung in praise, adoration and promise to our God?

I can’t say, with a clear conscience, that I have.

When I sing about surrendering it all to God, and beg Him in song to “take it all”, do I really know what I’m asking of Him— what I’m giving to Him?

Lately I have been playing Animal Crossing with my kids and husband. I have this neighbor— Buck— the “neigh”bor that annoys me the most. He’s brash, loud, yells in my character’s face, and he sneezed on her. I mean— the nerve! Lol! In real life, I wouldn’t want a neighbor like that. So, I’ve been trying to get him to want to move away. I give him boots, which he always hands back, saying he doesn’t want my trash.

My point in sharing that is— God *does* want our trash. He wants the worst parts of us— the things we dislike about ourselves, the stuff we hide from everyone else.

He wants our broken hearts. He wants our ugly, horrible thoughts. He wants that anger that seemingly comes out of nowhere. He wants those feelings that cause us to do exactly what we hate…

He wants our trash.

Because then He can make us better. He can make us stronger. He can repair the broken pieces of our hearts and lives. He can calm the storm that rages in our emotions. He can help us see things clearly, without worry, fear or distortion.

But, we have to freely give them to Him. He won’t just take them. He is never forceful with us.

He just wants to make us the best us we can be.

🎶All to Jesus I surrender

All to Him I freely give;

I will ever love and trust Him

In His presence daily live

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee

My blessed Savior

I surrender all

All to Jesus I surrender

Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;

Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit

Truly knowing that Thou art mine

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee

My blessed Savior

I surrender all

All to Jesus I surrender

Lord, I give myself to Thee;

Fill me with Thy love and power

Let Thy blessing fall on me🎶

Reality Check

Focal Point

Have you ever felt invisible?

Have you ever been the sounding-board for someone who doesn’t really see you while they are talking?

Has there ever been an expectation of you to be available to fit into someone else’s schedule?

Have you ever just wanted to not— just for a little while— be available when it’s expected of you?

Have you ever been broken by something completely unexpected?

Have you felt pushed and pulled into expected directions you just don’t feel like going in?

Have you ever tried to pick things back up after being let down?

Have you ever felt like you needed a vacation from your own life?

There’s this song I loved years ago, called Disappear from Out Of The Grey. The idea in the song is the desire to disappear into Jesus— like John the Baptist said— more of Him, less of me.

Well, I did disappear— but into my marriage and my family.

I’m still seen by God, though, even though I don’t feel worthy to be seen by Him. Because I know I am a broken fixture in this world, and I can’t fix what’s broken about myself. There is no doctor, no hospital, for invisible wounds, and my brokenness is invisible except to God— Who really sees me.

I can rest in Him because He sees me. I’m not His sounding board. I’m not empty, I’m not weak because He fills me, continuously, with His strength and love.

As long as He is my focal point— I can push through the emotional labors of this life. I can stand up under the weight of the roles I’m expected to play. I can be who He created me to be.

Physically I can’t do what I used to. Thankfully my spirit still can, through Christ Jesus Who is my strength— He is my focal point.

Because of that— I am okay.

Isaiah 40:31 NASB Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Reality Check

Fear and Trembling

In this day and age of prosperity doctrines and praying all the bad away— because happiness is this American church’s focus often— sermons or teachings on working our Salvation out with fear and trembling seem to be MIA. Maybe you hear them, but in my circles and resources, I do not.

Today I’m thinking about Job. I don’t know about you, but I cringe at the thought of everything he went through— and all at once. First he experienced peace, and then trauma, loss and devastation all at once as Satan attacked him on every possible front, from every possible angle— with God’s permission— I think we overlook that important fact.

I think God was teaching Job Who He Is and all He has done. God said to Job, “Who is this that questions my wisdom
with such ignorant words?” Job 38:2 Obviously Job had been acting, and reacting to what happened to him, without much knowledge of all that encompasses God.

So God told him.

It’s easy to read God’s response as angry and intimidating. The fact that God speaks from the Storm lends to the idea God is angry or annoyed. But— what if He wasn’t? God allowed the storm, but He did not cause it. If He were angry, do you think He would have been the cause? Does this all come across differently if, instead, we read it with a calm, yet sarcastic voice? With what seems accusatory, what if we inject an underlying sad tone? I mean, God definitely chastised Job, while He also turned the tables on Him— “answer— if you know…” But— look what it took to get Job to a teachable place!

God help us to not need to be brought to brokenness in order to receive truth and the healing Salvation He freely offers to each one of us.

In Job 1:1 we see: “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless–a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.”

Job knew enough to fear God, which is the beginning of wisdom. He knew enough to do what God required and Job wanted his children to be right with God, to be saved from God’s wrath at sin. Was he arrogant about it? Maybe. He certainly, it seems to me, didn’t know enough to be in a relationship with God— the reason God created mankind. Job was trying to do everything right, his heart actions were right with God. But— he lacked that relationship with Him.

What if we read God’s next words with no anger or frustration, but instead with a firm gentleness that educates Job, while also giving him an attitude adjustment.

Imagine yourself, standing (if you can) before God— just you, no spouse, family, friends or pastor— and having Him confront you with these questions. How do you think you might answer— if you can?

“3 Brace yourself like a man,
because I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
5 Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
6 What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
7 as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
8 “Who kept the sea inside its boundaries
as it burst from the womb,
9 and as I clothed it with clouds
and wrapped it in thick darkness?
10 For I locked it behind barred gates,
limiting its shores.
11 I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.
Here your proud waves must stop!’
12 “Have you ever commanded the morning to appear
and caused the dawn to rise in the east?
13 Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth,
to bring an end to the night’s wickedness?
14 As the light approaches,
the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal;
it is robed in brilliant colors.
15 The light disturbs the wicked
and stops the arm that is raised in violence.
16 “Have you explored the springs from which the seas come?
Have you explored their depths?
17 Do you know where the gates of death are located?
Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?
18 Do you realize the extent of the earth?
Tell me about it if you know!
19 “Where does light come from,
and where does darkness go?
20 Can you take each to its home?
Do you know how to get there?
21 But of course you know all this!
For you were born before it was all created,
and you are so very experienced!
22 “Have you visited the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of hail?
23 (I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war.)
24 Where is the path to the source of light?
Where is the home of the east wind?
25 “Who created a channel for the torrents of rain?
Who laid out the path for the lightning?
26 Who makes the rain fall on barren land,
in a desert where no one lives?
27 Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground
and make the tender grass spring up?
28 “Does the rain have a father?
Who gives birth to the dew?
29 Who is the mother of the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?
30 For the water turns to ice as hard as rock,
and the surface of the water freezes.
31 “Can you direct the movement of the stars–
binding the cluster of the Pleiades
or loosening the cords of Orion?
32 Can you direct the sequence of the seasons
or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?
33 Do you know the laws of the universe?
Can you use them to regulate the earth?
34 “Can you shout to the clouds
and make it rain?
35 Can you make lightning appear
and cause it to strike as you direct?
36 Who gives intuition to the heart
and instinct to the mind?
37 Who is wise enough to count all the clouds?
Who can tilt the water jars of heaven
38 when the parched ground is dry
and the soil has hardened into clods?
39 “Can you stalk prey for a lioness
and satisfy the young lions’ appetites
40 as they lie in their dens
or crouch in the thicket?
41 Who provides food for the ravens
when their young cry out to God
and wander about in hunger?”

Job 39: “1 “Do you know when the wild goats give birth?
Have you watched as deer are born in the wild?
2 Do you know how many months they carry their young?
Are you aware of the time of their delivery?
3 They crouch down to give birth to their young
and deliver their offspring.
4 Their young grow up in the open fields,
then leave home and never return.
5 “Who gives the wild donkey its freedom?
Who untied its ropes?
6 I have placed it in the wilderness;
its home is the wasteland.
7 It hates the noise of the city
and has no driver to shout at it.
8 The mountains are its pastureland,
where it searches for every blade of grass.
9 “Will the wild ox consent to being tamed?
Will it spend the night in your stall?
10 Can you hitch a wild ox to a plow?
Will it plow a field for you?
11 Given its strength, can you trust it?
Can you leave and trust the ox to do your work?
12 Can you rely on it to bring home your grain
and deliver it to your threshing floor?
13 “The ostrich flaps her wings grandly,
but they are no match for the feathers of the stork.
14 She lays her eggs on top of the earth,
letting them be warmed in the dust.
15 She doesn’t worry that a foot might crush them
or a wild animal might destroy them.
16 She is harsh toward her young,
as if they were not her own.
She doesn’t care if they die.
17 For God has deprived her of wisdom.
He has given her no understanding.
18 But whenever she jumps up to run,
she passes the swiftest horse with its rider.
19 “Have you given the horse its strength
or clothed its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust?
Its majestic snorting is terrifying!
21 It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength
when it charges out to battle.
22 It laughs at fear and is unafraid.
It does not run from the sword.
23 The arrows rattle against it,
and the spear and javelin flash.
24 It paws the ground fiercely
and rushes forward into battle when the ram’s horn blows.
25 It snorts at the sound of the horn.
It senses the battle in the distance.
It quivers at the captain’s commands and the noise of battle.
26 “Is it your wisdom that makes the hawk soar
and spread its wings toward the south?
27 Is it at your command that the eagle rises
to the heights to make its nest?
28 It lives on the cliffs,
making its home on a distant, rocky crag.
29 From there it hunts its prey,
keeping watch with piercing eyes.
30 Its young gulp down blood.
Where there’s a carcass, there you’ll find it.”

Job 40:1 Then the LORD said to Job,
2 “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?
You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”

Do you have the answers?

Imagine Job— broken and traumatized, physically inflicted — all by the devil, who roars about seeking to devour each one of us— with God’s allowed permission.

God is God. He answers to no one, but He has limited Himself by promises and covenants that He always faithfully keeps.

Have you experienced any times of working out your own faith with fear and trembling? Hopefully not like Job had to be brought to.

Philippians 2:12-16 (NASB)
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.”

introspection, reality

Forgive Them? Why??

This is a recurring theme in my life, it seems. And not just little things— really big, hard issues. When things start to finally relax, suddenly it becomes necessary to exercise my forgiveness muscles again. I have lifted some of the heaviest issues with these muscles. I don’t see a need to flex them for vanity purposes— these are the necessary muscles for living a life that keeps me close to Jesus. They are the strength that is unseen, coming from an unseen force— Jesus, Who is my Mediator, my Intercessor— my reason for living. He keeps me continually moving forward.

I’ve been dealt some difficult cards throughout my life so far, most seem to fall under the category of betrayal. I don’t know if I can even categorize them all. The one thing they have in common, besides intense pain, is an attack on trust.

When the burden of offense against me is so heavy— a crushing weight, God reminds me that forgiveness lifts that burden off of me and puts it at the foot of the cross.

We can’t take anything with us when it’s our time to move on from earth— that includes the offenses and hurts from others. When we surrender them to Jesus, Who bore the crushing weight of every offense, past, present and future— we walk in the truest form of Grace and Mercy.

When we come face to face with the knowledge that Jesus said, while being crushed by all of the sins of this world— “Father, forgive them because they don’t understand”, we then have the tiniest of glimpses into what Jesus endured on that cross, in our place. He willingly surrendered to every betrayal we’ll ever experience.

That is why we forgive. Again. And again. And again…

“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…” Matt 18:21-22

God's Heart

Inward Brokenness

There is nothing like brokenness of spirit and a broken heart to open or change your view of things for previously unnoticed perceptions.

Like the words to songs. As I relived some memory lane through songs I haven’t heard since my most recent bout with brokenness, I realized I’m seeing things differently. Where before I sang them with the confidence of being enveloped by the Love of Christ, this time that same Love permeated into the chasm coated with reactionary numbness that tries to dull the pain. It caused a different reaction, a realization that now I understand more than before, and perspective that grants revelation to a new depth of understanding.

“Clothe me in white, so I won’t be ashamed…” has a deeper meaning to me now. In order for God to clothe me in white, my soul is bare before Him. He sees everything— nothing is hidden from Him. In the past I’ve known this. Now I more than know it— I experience what it really means— He sees me. He sees my deepest shame, my pain, where I have been abused and cast aside. He’s taking the outer garments I thought I had to wear that I believed covered me, but instead caused rejection of me— and He has clothed me in His acceptance. He’s thrown-out the old garments of being shamed, and He’s covered me in His forgiveness, His righteousness, His approval!! And though people may attempt to shame me— I will not be ashamed because I know Who I belong to— no matter what. The not being ashamed, that’s for me to live out. It has nothing to do with how anyone treats me or talks about me— I am not ashamed of who I am, because of Jesus.

When I sing “set a fire down in my soul, that I can’t contain, that I can’t control— I want more of You God, I need more of You God…” and I tell Him through singing that I want Him “…to pour it out…“ I understand that I need to be intentional about what I am asking Him to do— because He will give me more.

What will I do with the more that He gives to me?

When I sing about how “ I will dance, I will sing, to be mad (not angry FYI) for my King, and I will become even more undignified than this…” Baring my naked soul with unskilled dancing is the most vulnerable thing that I could do. I can boldly approach God’s throne of Grace in this manner— it should be an easy decision— casting off everything that weighs me down.

This is the way we should all be with Jesus. It’s a process we each get to face as individuals.

“…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Eph. 4:22-24

The likeness of God, is Salvation through Jesus. We have the promise of eternal life with God through Christ Jesus. As we lay aside the old life and choices, we begin to understand the why’s concerning God and His Word. The why’s are important, because without that understanding, we will never be able to really lay aside our opinions that don’t line up with Scripture, or forgive the person who may actually be trying to sin against us 7×77 times daily.

introspection

Inside the Broken

I’ve had this post bouncing around inside my head all day, wanting to just get out.

As a kid, I remember waking up in the middle of the night with a sudden inspiration for writing. It was usually a poem. I recall just looking at the words I had written down, marveling at the picture they painted–amazed that they had come out of me! I wasn’t a clever person. I wasn’t anything special. I was just a kid, a pre-teen, with no special writing training.

I was inspired. I believe, by God. He gave me what to write. No way I could come up with all those phrases and word pictures all by myself.

So, as a child, I was inspired.

I also suffered from PTSD. As a child.

Everyone has hardships in their life. Everyone has obstacles to overcome, people who don’t believe in them– situations beyond their control to push through.

Not everyone has the same things, situations– people– to push through.

For instance– not everyone has survived a cougar planting its teeth in their skull. I have survived this. I’ve lived to tell that story.

That’s a story I can freely share, an injury I can point to that people show interest in hearing about.

Those scars can be seen by anyone, even felt by someone who cannot see. Those scars filled in what was broken, they made it stronger, tougher. But, even though I’ve been healed, which is what produced my scars– the scars still ache sometimes, reminding me that where they provide more protection than the skin surrounding them, there is still weakness within them.

What’s broken is not the same as it was before, after it’s fixed or repaired.

That got me to thinking about the word “whole”. How it has the appearance of being complete. But– inside of the word “whole”, is hole. The word itself defies its own definition.

On the outside, we appear whole. In reality, we might be broken.

My hair hides my cougar bite scars.

I recently heard someone speak on healing, and he shared what I’ve known personally for quite some time. Our physical issues can be the fruit of having been wounded in our spirit, but never getting full healing.

Outside, we give the appearance of being whole. Inside– there is a hole that needs God’s healing touch.

Outside defies the reality of what’s inside. Because it’s not seen with eyes, or felt with physical touch.

Except– it is.

It’s often what is rejected, abhorred, resisted, and can cause hard-heartedness.

It can be defined as quirky, character flaws, or just out right unacceptable. It exposes the lack of compassion of a dying world.

I’ve sometimes wondered what we look like to God, Who sees all, knows all, and is everywhere all the time.

He sees what the appearance of wholeness attempts to hide or disguise.

He sees the brokenness.

Like the doctor who examined my wounds and wrapped my head to stop the bleeding and protect my wounds from infection. God has done this for my spirit.

But, that doesn’t mean there is no sensitivity to what caused the brokenness.

I don’t go out of my way to seek out mountain lions to embrace, to face my apprehension of cougars.

I don’t go out of my way to seek people who are abusive, who break the spirits of others, to form relationships with. And trust me– there are far too many of those types out there!

I have, for years, openly sought out the people who would not do that. In my doing so, I’ve found very few that make the time or effort to look past my quirks, personality deficiencies and obvious flaws. I don’t form friendships easily– never have, I’m guessing never will.

I have scars on the outside of my head, and scars on the inside of my head.

Sometimes they both ache.

An Honest Perspective, The Past

What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

We live in a timeline of illusions. Photoshop and other apps often help us give the appearance of faked perfection. Movies and tv shows take us to other times, places, worlds, universes, and realms of perception. Even Reality shows are not very “real”.

We are so caught up in a culture of perfection that the imperfect, as defined by popular societal opinion, is often thrown by the wayside.

We measure others by a set of standards we’ve been told everyone should just fit into, or else they are wrong.

Worse– we measure others by the standards we have set for ourselves, and that our parents or spouse have set for us.

If we are honest, we can admit: anyone who doesn’t conform is wrong and not worthy of our time.

In Christian circles, I see so much of this “Put your pretty face forward” junk. “Think Positive!” “Focus on the prosperity God wants to give to you!” “Be happy! The joy of the Lord is your strength!”

I’m caught in the middle of imperfection. I used to be able to fit into an appearance of perfection. Now I have way too many openly apparent flaws. I’m ok with that, but a lot of people are not. If some things were suddenly reversed, I’d have it made! Like, if being overweight were looked at as a trophy of having carried and cared for 4 children, for instance. I’d fit right in there!

My imperfections on the outside are right there for everyone to see.

My imperfections on the inside aren’t easy for anyone to see unless I draw attention to them. Like I’m about to do. But, it’s going to get ugly. Because some of my memories just can’t be prettified. They can’t be made into happy ones. There is no prosperity to be gained from them.

I have found it difficult over the years to find people who can, or want to take time to try to identify with me. My life has never been average, but I rarely invite anyone in to look at it.

These days we are drawn to dark things, but not the kind of dark that I have faced– the kind of dark that makes you beg for the Light.

It’s intense. That’s not my fault. I didn’t author my life.

I’ve just survived it.

I don’t know how anyone else would have lived through– survived– the kinds of things I have had no choice about. I suspect they might treat other imperfect people with more compassion and understanding.

I’m drawing this out because I don’t want to write about the dark memory that’s been on my mind.

When a bone is broken, there is something on the outside to make that apparent. Lots of pain. Bruising. Swelling. It can be x-rayed, set or fixed with surgery and put into a cast until it heals.

When something happens in our lives that causes us to be broken inside, there are no x-rays, no setting or fixing, no doctor that puts a cast on it until it heals.

Yes, God heals us. But, that’s not what this is about.

There is no bandage that is able to heal the memories of what I have seen and experienced as a child with an abusive, mentally ill parent. The legacy I have been left by my dad is painful memories. There is no amount of  “Put on your pretty face and be happy because the joy of the Lord is your strength” that I can apply like a balm of Gilead.

Happy is not the same thing as joy.

I have an inner joy because Jesus Christ has given me eternal Salvation. I have an inner sadness because something has been stolen from me that has not and can not be replaced: my dad. Even while he was still alive, things could never be repaired into a normal, healthy relationship. Because he wasn’t normal or healthy.

He was broken.

eye-background-4488x2973_14676

No medicine could fix him. In fact, for years, it made things even worse.

Sure, talking with a counselor often helps with inner healing. But, let’s be honest: what’s been seen can not be unseen. And the darkest memory I have fits into that category. I don’t really think about it often. I remember that it happened but I don’t actually look at the memory.

Because it’s the crippling kind of painful.

I feel an anger and a sadness I don’t want to acknowledge. It makes me feel like crying, but the tears are stuck somewhere deep.

It’s the horrifying picture of when my dad tried to kill my mom on Mother’s Day of 1980. I witnessed it. I might have even helped stop it. But, what I remember is that nothing I said, or yelled in desperation seemed to have actually been heard by my dad. I heard my dad shouting early on that morning, and I opened my bedroom door to find my mom lying on her side, under our dining room table– under my dad– curled up in the fetal position. My dad was pounding his fist against the side of her head. She was crying, trying to get him to stop.

I nearly lost my mom that day.

When I stop to really think about what happened that day, Mother’s Day is not a happy day for me.

When I gloss over it and instead think about how I am now a mom of 4 amazing miracles, there is happiness.

So, is the answer to just gloss over it all the time, and never really remember? I don’t think it is.

I can’t change the fact that it happened. I can ignore it, but it’s going to pop up in other areas.

That deep anger creeps into my interactions and reactions.

The sadness tries to take over as depression, but I don’t usually let it.

There is a gratefulness that we didn’t lose my mom that day, to God and the family member that made my dad stop before it was too late.

I don’t think I’ve let myself think about the full impact of that.

My mom was almost taken from us in a horrifying way.

There is nothing to make that memory “pretty” or happy. That day impacted me deeply. It’s a thread sown into the tapestry of my life. I can’t remove it, or ignore it forever.

It caused something in me to break. No x-ray machine will show where the breaks are, or help anyone diagnose how to help it heal.

I can’t explain how it’s made me want someone to reach out to me. I can’t talk about it. The rare times I’ve tried to, people get put off because they don’t know how to react to it. It’s not the kind of thing that societal advice applies to, there is no Joel Osteen quick fix.

It’s not pretty. It’s not happy. It’s not the popular kind of “dark” or traumatic.

There is no box my life fits into comfortably, without trying to conform me to some unrealistic expectation.

I once asked a Pastor to counsel me, and she told me I didn’t need to be counseled. She finally agreed, but ended up she blaming me for reacting badly to things– like crying and irritating my dad when I was a baby.  I was told I need to just “let go and let God.”  I have done that, and I still hurt when I remember. I still feel angry.

I forgave my dad. I moved on.

But it still happened.

I appreciate my mom’s strength. She never divorced my dad because she made a covenant with God when she married him– For Better Or For Worse. Many marriages end with things less worse than what my mom endured. She stayed with my dad because if she had left him, he would have no one. She felt compassion for someone who behaved like a monster to her. In this day and age of impatience and perfection– who does that??

My mom is a brilliant example of loving someone unconditionally.

Am I advocating for someone to stay in a marriage they are not safe in? NO. Absolutely not! I can’t tell you how much I wished she would divorce him throughout my childhood.

God protected us all as she honored Him. I believe that. I’ve seen proof of that more than once.

Before my dad died 3 years ago, my oldest son wanted to make sure he was Saved. My dad said to tell my son that he loved Jesus. I’m sure he had to work out his Salvation with fear and trembling because there were still some ugly things that had a hold of my dad’s understanding.

But, isn’t it good that God has made Salvation so simple “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10 NASB) We like to make it more complicated.

Mother’s Day is coming up. This year it will be tough for me to not remember that day so many years ago.

cry-4550x3217_13476

I’ll try to acknowledge and embrace my inner devastated, heart-broken, frightened child as I also embrace my beautiful children who are like the sunlight lighting up that darkness.

I understand what I’ve survived God has used to make me stronger, but the scars will always remind me of the brokenness I’ve suffered and what God has brought me through.