I struggle with something that has been medically defined as “body dysmorphia”, from an eating disorder I developed as a child. As a result— my view of myself and others physically is often pretty off.
Thankfully, God has been deeply at work healing me, in every way possible.
As God has been changing my perspective to match His, I have learned I just can’t rely on what I see, or what “feels” obvious.
I have traveled a long way from where I used to be. Physically in location, but also in many other ways. My reflex reactions to things, my understanding of what I see visually has been so skewed, I find I rely on other things to help me feel my way through life. I try to read people’s reactions, to gauge their acceptance of me through their words.
As a result, I don’t often see things the way others do and seem to expect me to.
It catches me off guard when others miss the heart of things I share, and get offended or misinterpret me.
I have always lookedat myself as though something must be wrong with me.
God has been at work at how I see me. He has refined some things, He has changed how I focus, He has shown me that what I naturally am tempted to focus on doesn’t match up with what He accurately sees at all.
I have sensitivities others don’t seem to. The way many appear to respond or react has said to me that I am the problem.
Lately though, God has revealed to me that sometimes He’s highlighting what’s wrong with others.
He has fixed me not for the world’s acceptance, but for His purposes.
He reveals broken areas for me to be used to pray for them, to demonstrate His grace, His mercy, His kindness— His love.
His ways are, sadly, definitely not my own.
So He has been humbling me. Not to be mean or cruel, but so I will be of use to Him.
So I can join Him where He is at work.
My flesh still wants to resist, to be prideful, to reject what is uncomfortable.
But to reject that is to reject His purpose for what He’s changing in me.
If that makes me look peculiar— even to other Christians— I have to live with that.
He has been weeding out some very ugly things that have taken root and grown strongly in the garden of my understanding and my heart, that have become my focal points.
He has planted seeds that are just beginning to grow the fruit of His Holy Spirit that lives within very imperfect me. His fruit is becoming my offerings of sacrifice as I give up the old me and allow God to direct the new me He is still bringing about.
So many very ugly things are always being plucked out of me to make more room for the fruit God loves.
I have been adopted by Him, changed by Him, groomed for His purposes.
Nothing else matters.
My focal point has to be Jesus. Everything that blocks Jesus from my view has to be adjusted, fixed, or removed.
Lately I’ve been missing a family type of environment.
Having a group of people to laugh with, cry with, and have things in common with.
Where we have lived for many years is a fluid-like community— people always coming and going, no time to form long-lasting friendships that won’t become distant connections.
Don’t get me wrong— I love where we live. Location isn’t what needs to change for me.
As an introspective person, some of my first thoughts in most situations is to dig around in myself to look for root causes.
This is no different.
So— here I go.
A few years ago, during all the lockdowns and internationally persuaded isolation, I went through one of the mostdifficult times of my whole life.
I’m not new to difficult situations. My entire life has been wrapped with overly complicated things. Being a military spouse in itself is a level of difficult you can only fully understand after experiencing it.
But— a few years ago, a deeper level of difficult hit me hard, knocked the wind out of me and the foundation out from under me— destroyed important things that kept some sort of hope in me alive.
In that situation, I realized— my corner was empty. I had not one person I could go to, that I could bare my soul to.
Thankfully, I have learned that Jesus is the One I always have in my corner.
(Putting a “pin” in that— that’s the happy, perfect ending to this post.
I’m in the middle of it, though.)
Getting back to my thoughts— I had No person.
Then— one very unexpected family member reached out to me and told me if I ever need to talk, he is there to listen.
That is the first time anyone has ever offered that to me— and meant it. That gave me some of the hope back. I don’t know how I could ever talk with him about these things, but just knowing he was willing to reach out— that just made all the difference for me.
Most often, after I get through hard times, I do find people who I can share with to encourage them in their hard times. Sometimes they even let me encourage them. Sadly, some seem to react negatively. One person even told me I intimidated her because I’ve just been through so much, seen so much, experiencedso much…
I can’t help that.
It’s just my life.
Because I’ve just gone through things, fought against them, pushed through so much, (usually alone), I have sincerely striven to be the type of person people can rely on to not have to go through things alone.
More than just about anything, I’ve wanted to be available— to be in the corner when someone who may not have anyone else, needs that.
Because I know what that feels like.
It makes the mountains seem impossible to get past.
But— with someone in our corner, we often move those mountains rather than try to overcome them. They are no longer intimidating.
My husband and I were talking recently about who we felt we could call at 4 am for urgent or emergency needs. What relationships have we formed that could hold up a need to lean on it?
Getting back to my “pin”…
I have learned through trial, error,—even personally devastating circumstances— that Jesus truly is always there.
I have learned that He is my Strength. He is my Fortress. He is my Provider. He is my Shelter in every storm. He is my Counselor.
He is mySavior— in every way, in every situation, in every relationship.
He always provides the people who will be the ones for that 4 am call.
He will provide for this need I have for a family type group that I fit in with, that I have things in common with., that will listen and not be intimidated— or offended— when I share my life experiences and what God has done in them and through them.
He will provide a group that is family-like that won’t make fun of and mock the things that mean a great deal to me, to others when they talk about me. Those who won’t shut me out or argue because they don’t agree.
People who enjoy talking with me and listeningto me.
People who sincerely value what I have to say.
Because He’s the One Who has made me realize just how much I need that.
**Disclaimer— If reading this will offend you— then don’t read it. Offense is never my intention. Also— this is about no one. As I attempt to get my thoughts written out, I want to acknowledge I am only an “expert” in my own experiences. I don’t know anything about anyone else’s. I empathize and attempt to understand . I’m not here to correct , inform or instruct.I’m just talking. I pray that God provides us all with His view.**
We all have experiences, and, most certainly have opinions, concerning parenting.
No two parenting experiences can be exactly the same. In general, there are billions of similarities. But, at the very heart— every single one is unique and cannot be duplicated.
From within and without, throughout my own years, I can see so many common experiences. What we often refer to as “stages” and “phases” for children— all of us have or will go through them.
As much as we focus on children, parents— I believe— also go through stages and phases.
For those of us who have and are raising up children, there are so many common threads.
Fear with anticipation (or dread) are the first responses— generally. I’m sure there are a billion ways to describe billions of “first time” experiences. But, from my view over the years, I’m recognizing our focus is often not uncommon— infinite dreams and fears, worries and hopes…
Every child is a unique and beautiful experience.
Notice, I did not say easy and fun.
Not every part of parenting, in any stage, is easy or fun. In fact, I’m not sure worry ever completely dissipates. It’s always lingering, somehow, in some way, in the background, in decision making, interfering with the enjoyment of the evolving relationships with our children, as well as with others.
Fear of making wrong decisions.
Confidence of making right decisions.
Rigidness of how things “have” to be.
The “easily offended nature” of feeling criticized. Often when someone isn’t even doing so, our worry or fear of somehow doing it wrong, or someone thinking we’re not doing it “right”, can transform into our feeling criticism from others— even when it’s not present.
Don’t get me wrong— there is plenty of criticism to experience!! From every direction possible, we all experience some forms of criticism everyday, at every stage.
I believe— when we turn our focus away from what we believe others think, to our one-on-one relationship with each child, that becomes what is important. When we interact with each one as an individual and we drop the wall expectation often creates— the relationship thrives. This can nurture every relationship, in every situation, as well.
When we focus on things we have decided is are faults— blaming ourselves, worrying about the opinions of other people— that stirs up frustrations, disappointment— even anger. In my experience, if that’s what becomes “nurtured”— that can cause a dysfunctional edge to the relationship.
I don’t think we even realize what poison pills expectations and concerns about the opinions of others tend to be.
Of course there is always some level of expectation that we hold— with ourselves as well as with our spouse/partner/the other adult influences, and our children. Expectations are a part of our “make-up”, in every role we find ourselves filling.
Expectations can be crushing, though. If we allow those expectations to guide us through our decisions and become our view of how things “should be”— they will become like a bulldozer of destruction.
Who can possibly thrive under the weight of someone else’s expectations for them?
As a mom of 4, I am astounded by how much love my heart can hold. And— with that infinite amount of love is also plenty of fear, worry, doubts in my decisions…
We parents, we stumble through a lot more than we may let on. What we most often let the world see is confidence, security, resolution— but underneath it all, the stuff we often protect from detection is a jumbled mess of emotions— guilt often takes shape, and can form into our reactive outer shell.
Being responsible for the protection, the provision— the life— of another human being as it grows into it’s own ability to embrace the complicated depths of parenting— that is the weight of the common thread.
Those of us that have embraced our roles as parents, we want our children to be healthy, happy, safe, and provided for in every possible way.
For myself, I now recognize similarities I have in common with my own parents.
I didn’t even know the worry and fear that form a constant state of feeling guilt— even existed.
As a kid, I could only form my opinions by what I could see and match them up to what others seemed to have, or what Hollywood portrayed as “normal”.
As a parent, now I can “see”. It’s an open-ended experience!!
As an observer of human behaviors, I recognize so many common threads.
They may manifest in infinite ways— but their roots began from the same seeds.
Thank God He is the perfect parent.
As we grow in understanding of all the perfect, amazing characteristics of our Creator— we can find that rest we seek— at times desperately seek.
The more I learn about God, the more I want to be like God with my own children.
That is an unlimited objective— never fully attainable, but always continuing.
I’m not the same person I was when the birth of my oldest “crowned” me as “mom”. I won’t be exactly the same when Jesus returns, or when Father God takes me Home.
While this isn’t a new thing, the intensity of this feeling is more than usual.
So, while I know the Bible instructs me to “Be anxious for nothing…” I am struggling right now with that very issue.
Circumstances far beyond my control.
Worry over family and friends.
Plowing a new course for my future career.
Weight loss and emotional healing bringing old buried memories and reactions to the overly-sensitive surface…
Anxiety hasn’t been an obstacle to me in decades. But there it is, staring me down.
Deep breath in, let it out slowwwww…
God is already there, plowing my path for me.
He’s got me.
He’s always got me.
I can do this.
One step at a time.
Breathing through the waves of panic that threaten to soak through my resolve.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ
Instead of giving in to anxiety, frustration or fear, I will pray. I will thank God for everything, because without Him, I couldn’t appreciate the good that comes from painful, hard times.
God has a purpose, God has a plan— for me. He will never fail me, He will never abandon me.
My first prayer is for God to help me surrender all that anxiety and everything tangled up in it, to Him.
All of it.
There is no sense holding on to that. It does not contribute anything beneficial to my life or my emotions.
Time to step away from the anxiety, and let God’s peace flood my mind, my heart, my body and my spirit.
🎵 “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.“🎵
I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to share my story of what God has done, and is still accomplishing in me. I’ll be honest— I’m recognizing a deep, breath-constricting anxiety as I set out to share this here. I have family that won’t want me to talk about it, some who still don’t even believe what I experienced. Fear or worry about what they think or feeling like I have to defend myself, have been my boundaries in the past. Being called a liar, or treated like a liar has been an anxiety-riddled prison. So much so, that just speaking in normal settings about everyday things triggers an anxiety that I “talked too much”.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts here, or if you know me personally, you may already know bits and pieces— or large chunks— of the circumstances that started out as my mold. The mold that God broke when I surrendered it all to Him as I finally hit my rock bottom, and circumstances, mistakes, and unGodly beliefs tried to crush me.
The picture I chose above is significant to me. So many things I can glean from it that describe my personal experiences. The water can represent so many things, but I see it as God wearing through the hard places to forge a path forward for me to follow. My path has been rocky, twists and turns threatening to cause me to get lost or stuck, or even follow a wrong path. Before God— it was just rock. No path. No safe place for me to set my feet, no clear guidance. No water.
My story starts with me as a child. Let me preface this with— this is not in anyway a “bash” attempt. Things happened that were out of my control— like everyone has had happen to some degree. For me, mine were devastating. Through them God made me a strong person, deep rooted in Him. He has proven Himself to me over and over, so many times.
He is trustworthy.
He is Worthy to take the reigns of my life and be in control.
As a child, I don’t remember much. There are so many “holes” in my memory.
My dad struggled with mental illness, sometimes mis-diagnosed or misunderstood as he was a guinea pig of the VA. Had they understood more and accurately diagnosed him, maybe things wouldn’t have been as bad as they were.
Parts of my childhood are like memories of terrifying nightmares. Not all of it. We had fun family times, with lots of laughing and fun family vacation times.
Over the years I have gotten to where the nightmare things are being forgotten. I find myself wanting to cling to the good things.
I’m not going to get into the ptsd-invoking events, except to say I was in an abusive environment. My dad was a bit of a Jekyll-Hyde type— either angry/enraged, or joking and fun. He had bouts of depression, in there as well.
I never felt that security of stability with him. I was terrified of making him angry, or being spanked by him. I never felt loving type of discipline from him— he beat me.
At some point the sexual abuse started, but I can’t remember much about when. There are things he told me, and things he never told me. The most recent time he addressed it, about 15 years ago, he told not me, but everyone else in a mental hospital community room. Things I did not know. My husband heard it.
I was beyond devastated. Embarrassed and humiliated.
My mom tried to say what he said probably wasn’t true— but no way either of us could know for sure. That feeling of not even knowing what happened to me, or for how many years, is crushing. My dad saying those things about me— proudly— to strangers and my husband isn’t something she could even begin to understand.
That night I went back to my parent’s house and at the prompting of The Holy Spirit, I wrote my dad a letter, telling him that I forgave him.
When I think back, age 10 is where most of the memories start.
That’s when the eating disorder began.
We started spending summers living with my mom’s parents. My grandma poured her love into everything meal or dessert she made.
I needed love.
I ate so much “love”, I gained a bunch of weight the summer before. My dad made fun of me. We already had a dysfunctional relationship— making fun of me was salt in my deep emotional and mental wounds.
He was so vocal about women.
So, determined to not be made fun of or noticed, really, food became a type of poison, and my RN grandma had a poster on her bathroom door for what to do if I ate something poisonous— throw it up.
It started out once or twice a day. Then turned into food avoidance.
Over the next 10 years it developed into all-consuming rituals, every meal, every time I ate.
I am not going to regress back into describing in detail those rituals.
God has delivered me from those rituals, and from that “poisoned” mentality.
After a couple of years, it developed into more of a Bulimia, as God brought someone into my life that helped encourage me to eat.
By the time I turned 20, I was purging so much I started throwing up significant amounts of blood.
One particularly bad time, I called the ER and told the nurse I threw up blood. In the discussion, I mentioned making myself do that, and she said to me, “ Stop doing that!”
Let me tell you— that was so powerful!
In all those years, I never considered I could just choose to stop.
So, I stopped.
I never did it again.
In that time-frame, I was assaulted. Then I married someone who abused me, neglected me then raped me in my sleep.
And so, while the purging and rituals had stopped, my binging habits had not. Reaction to trauma made that all worse.
I gained weight.
Most would view that as bad. But here’s where I believe God’s deliverance began—
Fat did not kill me!
It was not the worst thing that could happen to me.
In fact, I began to find a comfort in men not paying attention to me.
My husband didn’t like that I gained weight. He was mean. He made humiliating jokes about me to our families. He did things that threatened my life. Then, he divorced me.
Devastated as I was— God saved my life, and then my soul through that divorce.
I turned to God.
I had missteps. My mind was still very much in the world, I didn’t understand God’s ways being different, or transforming.
Eventually I walked away from everything and every person I knew. After seeking God for His direction for my life, for weeks, I became convinced He was making a way for me by joining the military.
I enlisted, I traded my first military assignment to move overseas.
I completely left everything, and put my trust in God.
That was 28 years ago.
He provided me with a new husband. He promised and provided me with a beautiful daughter. He gave me 3 sons.
I never returned to the rituals of eating disorders.
I did however become a food and sugar addict.
God is in the process of both delivering and healing me from this, while raising me up to help others walk in His freedom.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt hope or excitement.
I have all hope, and I am so excited for the future path God is continuously carving out for me now.
Have you ever dealt with a Christian who refuses to demonstrate Grace, refuses to extend forgiveness?
That sting is worse than the death of a loved one.
Jesus was so clear when He told the Disciples that if we don’t forgive others, Father God will not forgive us.
This is such a big deal for our Salvation.
Eternal Life altering.
I believe this is the main obstacle causing the need for us to walk in fear and trembling down our narrow road towards our Salvation.
The two defining trademarks of Christianity are Grace and Forgiveness.
Grace and Forgiveness are the refreshing water our spirits thirst for. They cut through the hardest of hearts like water cuts through and wears down the hardest, sharpest of rocks.
No other religion practices those two things. When practiced carefully, they create this amazing domino effect of all the other attributes of Christ becoming part of our spiritual growth to become more like Him.
For ALL have fallen short— God forgives everyone who becomes appreciative and accepting of His forgiveness through the death, resurrection, and then Ascendance of Jesus.
God demonstrates Grace.
Who are we that we would refuse to do the same?
I will not remain where Grace and Forgiveness are not freely demonstrated towards me from anyone claiming to be Saved.
Because that is so toxic, that puts my own Salvation at risk. That affects my relationship with God— because in my anger I may fall into that same sin of unforgiveness.
I choose to walk in Grace.
I choose to walk in Forgiveness.
I know my true brothers and sisters by their own fruit of Grace and Forgiveness.
Not hardness of heart.
Not mean spiritedness.
There is a sin that grieves the Holy Spirit.
I believe that sin is Unforgiveness.
It sure grieves my own spirit.
As much as someone has hurt me, and i have had many, many opportunities to practice forgiveness to unforgiving, ungracious Nonbelievers— but lack of Grace and Forgiveness from a Believer is what I willfully choose to walk away from.
When Grace and Forgiveness are extended to me in a Christlike manner, I will return. Until then— I have to protect my own Salvation with fear and trembling to keep myself from my own heart hardening in Unforgiveness.
Then that peace that passes by all earthly understanding of how peace is even possible, will flood my soul.
I pray that same peace will flood their soul, cut through hardness of heart, wash away jealousy and disappointment— and heal what I believe God wants to make beautiful.
🎵”I walk Salvation’s road, with fear and trembling Your way borne as my own As Christ is formed in me If ever I should lose my way If ever I deny Your grace Remind me of the price You paid Hallelujah I’ll live in remembrance…”🎵 Remembrance— Hillsong
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 trulyloved 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.
Mynorthern 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.
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 recognizewhere 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.
The human ability to adapt to most situations and changes, is astounding. Even more-so is the ability to overcome— to beat, win, conquer overwhelming circumstances.
There are an infinite number of human-interest stories about people who beat the odds— and often God is credited for a person’s ability to do what our minds consider to be impossible.
I personally believe God should always be credited. God created every individual with the ability to focus with determination. God often allows us to be in situations where that is necessary. He put within every form of His creation the instinct to survive— to fight to live.
We see that all throughout nature. Butterflies struggle to be released from their chrysalis womb. It’s often been noted that if a human feels compassion and tries to help them get out, they can get damaged and even die. Human compassion most often lacks understanding of the necessary process for their survival.
Birds push their young from their nests to activate their instinct to fly.
Humans often feel the same sort of desire towards our offspring, but the difference lies in the dynamic of personal relationship between adult and young adult, as well as extenuating circumstances. Every situation is unique within the human relationship system. Background extending through generations, environments, financial situations, educational opportunities, personal experiences, directional purpose… an endless number of variables and belief systems.
The enemy to personal achievement is getting ourselves stuck in a perpetual cycle of frustration. Once we get into that, it can seem impossible to get out. Sometimes we stumble into that, sometimes we’re born into or placed into it, completely outside of our control. So, we adapt. We do what we believe becomes necessary for our survival.
Fight, or flight.
Sometimes the hard decision is to stand our ground and fight.
Sometimes we “feel” the need to fight, but we’re misdirecting our energy towards what looks very much like it should be our target focus. But, like trying to box against our own shadow, it ends up exhausting and depleting us of necessary energy, even robbing us of relationships.
Many marriages break apart in divorce because one or both individuals feel directed towards fighting against one another. Many marriages could be salvaged if only each person realized their spouse is not their enemy. Many marriages could become stronger, if instead all that energy being used in fighting each other could instead be directed towards fighting the invisible enemy breaking them apart.
The definition of invisible enemy is unique to every marriage (though I believe the exact same force is behind it)— but the result is often the same thing— trying to inflict as much pain through anger and disappointment as possible.
Marriages become blurred “friendly fire” zones, convincing spouses each other has become the enemy. Fight or flight is often activated. Instead of fighting to protect the union of two individual souls— nasty destructive anger becomes a sharpened arrow that penetrates the bone and marrow of the marriage.
It’s not only marriages where this happens. Families step into this quicksand-type trap. Brothers and sisters, parents and children, cousins against cousins. Family is messy. It’s a solid ground for forgiveness to be planted and nurtured. Unfortunately the personal nature instead often turns it into a battleground.
I’ve found myself stuck in an awful, exhausting cycle of frustration. There have been occasional outside distractions of conflict— especially lately. There has been the threat of my own marriage becoming a battleground of destructive distractions and fiery darts.
It’s not been easy to lay down my own types of weapons, and surrender everything to God to “please help.” I’m not the same person, deep within my core, that I used to be. My instinct used to be to fight against anything that threatened to hurt me, and not flee from it, but to turn my back and walk away.
God has changed me. He’s opened up my understanding that His way has not been my way. His way is forgiveness, surrendering the hard stuff to Him, and allowing Him to bring the healing.
His way is far better than my way.
At the beginning of my year, on my birthday, I felt God speak into my spirit that He will strengthen me this year. If anyone reading this knows the history of me at all, you could understand that I believed He meant with my physical health. Since the birth of our last child, I’ve dealt with a weakness in my legs, I believe came about because in a moment of personal weakness I chose to have an epidural. Since the birth of my first child, 21 years ago, I’ve fought an increasingly tough battle against other health issues that doctors haven’t found a solid, treatable cause for.
Imagine my surprise that instead of my physical health being strengthened, the very foundation of my life nearly crumbled apart. Many things I had believed turned out to be far different.
God is strengthening me in ways I was so clueless about. But first— I had to ask Him to be my strength, to help me walk because my path was all but gone. Life blinded me, I needed Him to be my sight. I’m still trying to adjust my sight to what feels at times like this blinding darkness— you know, like when you’re eyes are used to some kind of lighting, and then suddenly it all gets shut down— and there is only an absence of light.
My understanding has a new grasp of Jesus being the Light of the world. I now better understand what it feels like to need Jesus to be my Strength. He’s taken my arm and is guiding me through, safely. He is my Shield. God’s Spirit gives me a comfort no other source ever could.
Now I am enabled to walk in a forgiveness that comes from outside of myself. A complete, and all-encompassing forgiveness that spreads a healing balm in every direction that it walks.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
Not covers-up. Not pretending the offense hasn’t been real or caused damage.
Covers. With a healing balm.
Throughout my lifetime, so far, I’ve been given ample opportunities to forgive some very deep-seated wounds.
I have been sinned-against, many times, in personally physical and emotional ways. Others I care deeply about have been sinned-against, and it’s been in my “nature” to want to pick up their offense.
Again I get to practice walking in forgiveness that the world tells me I shouldn’t extend.
I don’t belong to the world any longer.
I belong to Jesus.
His ways are far above what the world would have me practice.
People fail me. I thank God that He continues to never fail me.
1Cor 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.”
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.
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.
The Voice of the Martyrs Facebook Timeline headline says– “LAOS Pray that new believers facing angry relatives will not waiver in their faith.”
How many times has the Devil weaponized family and friends against believers?
The Devil has come to kill, steal and destroy– by any means necessary. Jesus said, ” “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:53
In Ephesians 6:12 we are informed– “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
How many times has the Devil weaponized someone at our churches?
Here’s the most revealing question– How many times has the Devil weaponized us?
Deception hides amongst the well-intended. It thrives on emotional reactions. It drives misunderstandings and miscommunications as a destructive force, tearing through walls of relationships as though they are nothing but smoke.
Make no mistake– the Devil intends to use us to tear down everything God is doing.
May God grant us all discerning eyes and spirits, increasing our sensitivity to where He is at work so we can join in with Him through prayer, supplication and surrender completely to His Holy Spirit.
We need to ask Him to reveal where we may be, now or in the future, deceived by His enemy and the enemy of our souls. Lay aside every assumption and belief of being “right”. Step back and just wait for Him to reveal what He is doing, where He is working– who He has chosen to work through.
We cannot allow ourselves to be weaponized– used– by the Devil.
To surrender everything we believe, everything we “know” to Him– recognizing that He knows all and sees all– that is wisdom. It is necessity— right now.
Who’s “tool” are we? Who’s purpose is being fulfilled through our actions and treatment of others?
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” 2Cor 10;3-7
Have you ever stood out on the beach and just yelled into the wind? Did anyone hear you?
Social Media traffic is the online wind, tainted by “deboosting”, “algorithms”, “shadowbanning” and the bias of those enforcing them.
That’s a part of what I’m thinking of as I type this on my Social Media platform.
But, it’s more than that.
For me there has been a recurring theme of a sense of being unheard, undervalued, even unseen.
I found at times I could use that to my advantage in a defensive/protective kind of way– I could leave a room and not be missed. I could stay quiet and no one notices or tries to talk with me.
I can’t begin to describe that deep lonliness I’ve just learned to live with.
Why don’t some people want to hear me?
Some are so engrossed with what they want to say, others are lost under the clutter of words, ideas and opinions.
Writing has been my out-source. Sometimes I feel free to say whatever I want to say.
Except I’m not.
Because what if someone reads something they find offensive or hurtful?
It’s always about everyone else.
What about me? Do I ever get to just talk and be heard?
When can I openly share my heart and concerns?
I could tell some crazy and awesome stories!
I could even share bits of wisdom from firsthand experiences.
I think I’m pretty funny. (Don’t ask my husband though, lol!)
I’m pretty creative.
My topics of passion and pet peeves have “evolved” through experiences, trials and life lessons learned from that popular school of “hard knocks”.
One thing has always gotten me through the silent times, the emptiness, and the “I don’t quite fit ins”.
Because when no one sees me, hears me, or values my input or presence– God always has. And He has always let me know.
I’ve seen Him transform lives. I’ve seen Him heal people– He even healed me! I’ve seen miracles!
It’s sad that some will just never know what God has done because they won’t stop talking and listen to others.
Talking has always been a struggle for me. The anxiety after talking in a group setting is suffocating. Did I say too much? Did I talk too long? Did what I say make any sort of a difference to anyone? My spirit feels anxious, restless, even worried.
I know this problem is not with others– not most of it.
It’s how I react, how I relate, how I believe I’ll be received.
Having been told I was “in God’s way” from someone who’s opinion I deeply valued has had an almost crippling affect on my life.
Having been told that I’m “poor in spirit” has stuck with me through decades of church relationships and church leadership. I think that’s because I’ve heard so little to counter-balance and cancel that out.
Where Scripture has admonished us to build up one another– I’m not a “one another” worthy of that, it appears to me.
Tearing down is for strongholds, not for people. Not ever for people.
I’m guilty of having torn others down in my past.
I guess it’s taken feeling like that outcast that helped me wisen up and learn the necessity of speaking life– and life abundantly– to one another.
This is my invisible enemy that fights me often. I wrestle not with flesh and blood– I know this too well.
I have people I do talk to, though my list is growing smaller by the year.
There will, however, always be One on that list. That is in no way a sad or depressing thing. I have the ear and attention of God attuned towards me. That is humbling– so very humbling.
I just caught a live sermon from Elevation Worship about transitioning. As I listened, it hit me– that’s what I’m going through!
I’m in such a weird place right now.
I don’t mean physically, or emotionally. Not really mentally– just in life in general.
I’m not young anymore, but not old. In my heart I feel maybe 15-20 years younger, but in my body I feel way older than I am. Maybe that’s part of that thing I was diagnosed of years ago.
I’ve got two grown kids, and two at home. I’ve been a spouse and home educating mom for so many years now– much of that kind of isolated.
I think I’ve grown up now. Transitioning into a different mindset, a newly focused one– who did I grow up to become?
I’ve been defined by what I do for far too long now. I’m not satisfied with definitions and labels deciding who I am for me.
I’m caught in the middle of a transition.
And, sometimes that makes me a bit weepy. Sometimes I feel impatient for it to just be finished so I can step into the newness of being transformed into a better, wiser person.
Being caught in the middle feels chaotic, tumultuous– even ugly.
Looking through pictures to post here about transitioning, I found some interesting ones that helped me change my own perspective on being caught in the middle of a transition.
Like this dandelion caught in the middle of transitioning from a wildflower to seeds carried off by the wind.
Or the transition of day into night, with the sun captured, creating a breathtaking view– caught in the middle of the daily transition.
There is always a lot going on in the middle of a transition, but even if it feels awful, when we surrender our control– or lack of control– to God, He makes it a beautiful thing, with a beautiful change.
So, while I’m in this place that feels weird and lonely, often designated as the listener with nothing of value to say– God sees beauty in the process, and hopefully in me.
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,it isthe gift of God;9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” NASV
My husband had a conversation with someone dear to us that has inspired me to work through some thoughts I’ve kind of held on to for awhile now. I say kind of, because I’ve shared them with him but no one else.
I want to talk about grace– actually– point out a lack of the narrative of grace.
Grace is the difference between Christianity and every other religious belief.
Grace is humbling. Grace removes our efforts from the act of Salvation.
Grace should be easy to demonstrate and practice, a relaxation of criticism and fault-finding. But, in reality, grace is tough.
Grace removes blame. Grace replaces pride and self importance.
Grace removes accusations of other Christians.
We have many, many, many excuses for why it’s not first and foremost in our mindset, actions and view of others.
We look at what others do and we jump to some pretty strong conclusions about them and the condition of their soul, because of their choices that we don’t agree with.
We judge the container of their soul and think we’re in the right.
Only Jesus Saves.
Not doing the “right” “approved” things.
Not going to every church service possible and exhausting ourselves while not being ministered to or admitting what our needs are.
Not having a perfect house.
Not only reading “accepted” books or playing “accepted” games.
We don’t lose our Salvation by watching movies or shows that have garbage in them.
Our part in the Salvation process is confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and believing in our heart that He died on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, rose again on the third day, and He ascended into Heaven to wait for the time to return to rule and reign on earth for 1000 years. And then– go out and share the Gospel of peace and grace.
That is our part.
Jesus makes the changes to the desires of our hearts.
He is continuously perfecting us until His return.
Allow me to clarify: I’m not talking about outright sin. Some things are not in our best interest. Some things are stumbling blocks and we know what we need to avoid in order to have the best relationship with Jesus that we can– like we should also do with others.
Before every Christian there is a measure of grace.
Christians should be so full of grace that it coats every word and deed we do.
So– why isn’t the main narrative grace?
Which narrative will you fall for? Accuser of the brethren, or grace?
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NASV
As a child until young adulthood, I didn’t expect anything good to happen for me. When it did, I would brace myself for it to be ripped away from me, because then I wouldn’t feel disappointment– because I just “knew” *I* didn’t deserve good things like everyone else did.
I carried that belief with me until I made the decision to stop just letting things happen *to* me.
I had been rejected, abused, trash-talked and the butt of family member’s and some “friends” jokes my whole life. I was convinced I was stupid, good for nothing– worthless– because I was told I was by people I thought knew me best. I thought I had to believe them.
Someone even told me they wished I had never been born. Everyday it was confirmed that I “was just in the way.”
Inner wounds and scars are tricky things. People react with compassion and understanding to outer wounds and scars, but fail to recognize that some behaviors are more than likely the evidence of inner wounds, of deep scars only God Himself can see and heal.
And He does heal them.
This is what Romans 8:28 reminds me everytime I hear it. For me, it’s deeply personal.
It’s evidence of God reaching out for me– to me– because I’m not in the way of His plans and purposes– I am a part of them.
He took my life, and He repurposed it. He refashioned it, reshaped it into something He can use. He has taken all of my bads and made them into part of His continuous story within my life.
He takes all of the bad, and uses it to help others know that He is Jehovah Rapha– The Lord Who heals.
I used to worry that people said things to me because that was how God saw me, but the more I learn His Word, the more I can see He has always had compassion for me, has always accepted me. He carefully made me, and where abuse and rejection had trounced and marred me– He picked me up, reshaped me around all of those circumstances, and He reminds me that if those bad things hadn’t happened, I could never understand the depth of His love for me, and His forgiveness towards me. He helped me forgive those who have acted with selfish ambitions– with little or no concern for how it has affected me.
I still have “people trust” issues.
What I no longer have is God trust issues. He has proven Himself reliable.
Nobody says, “I wonder what it would be like to walk in their shoes?” about abused children.
No one daydreams about being yelled at, called names– or worse.
No one envies the child with the broken spirit, no one celebrates their choice to fight to survive.
One of the strongest memories of my dad was the time I walked into our living room and he just started yelling at me about how much he hated me, how I was just in the way– how he wished I were dead and had never been born.
I reacted to that, at first, by contemplating ways to take myself out of the way. Then– I called my best friend.
She helped me realize the best way to help myself would be to remove myself from the situation. So– I planned a vacation, where I could strengthen my will to continue to live.
I was in high school at the time. I planned for a two week vacation from my life. I took time off from my job, I arranged for a place to stay, and I told no one except the person I stayed with where I would be.
That saved my life.
It was inconvenient for others, I know. Some worried– and they should have. They should have been worried more about my state of mind before I took my time-out, than the fact that I left.
I only used a week of that planned two weeks.
I was introduced to a life I had never known before that, but it was just enough to realize– that also was not the kind of life I wanted to live.
I woke up to some harsh realities, and I walked away from some permanent options that would have become permanent mistakes– had I chosen to take them.
I had always had a secret life of envying others who had dads that were loving, kind, and healthy. Dads who’s hugs were not dangerous, where insults were not the “norm”– ones that cherished their daughters.
My dad, he had a rough childhood. He probably had a secret envy life, as well.
I forgave my dad for his failings, years ago.
I made sure my own children had what I envied of others (God made sure too) because I knew what I had missed. I don’t blame my mom for my dad’s issues. It’s never been her fault.
I love my friends who have had wonderful, nurturing and healthy relationships with their fathers. But, it’s like bumping an unseen bruise to know that that’s something I will never get to know firsthand.
I’m old enough that I’ve forgotten many things I’ve experienced. That ache at what I was robbed of is always there, though, silently throbbing under the surface.
I’m so very happy for others, but my heart silently envies and daydreams about what their lives must have been like.
I’ve attempted to try on their shoes, but my callouses and bruises keep them from fitting comfortably, I’ve never been able to walk in them.
I’ve heard more often than I can count, that God is my Father. True– He is. He is a good father.
As awesome as God is, I still have a lack in my heart for a loving, mentally healthy, earthly dad. That’s my reality. Acceptance from God has been more healing than anything anyone could offer. This is why more mentally healthy, accountable-to-others, Christian men need to step up inside the church. There are people of all ages missing healthy relationships. We are so quick to just expect God to mysteriously fill every void and heal every affliction, when God gave us to one another.
Jesus made sure his own mother had someone to step in to fill the void He was leaving. What an amazing example of compassion and understanding! We lack nurturing, healthy relationships inside our church families. Our own members are hurting from devastating wounds and circumstances, and we busy ourselves with programs, not recognizing the deep needs right in front of us.
God help us to be what our own family-in-Christ needs us to be– what You call us to be.
God has given us shoes to wear. Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. Shouldn’t we wear them at all times, starting inside the Church? And if we don’t wear them there, if we take Abaraham’s burning bush approach and take them off on Holy Ground– Jesus made it abundantly clear the need to wash one another’s feet.
In other words– we need to look after one-another, with the same intimacy as close, healthy, loving family.
We need to get this right so we can effectively affect and reach the world around us with God’s gift of Hope, Love, and relationship with Him through Jesus.
I’ve mentioned a few times that I have scars on my scalp from a “friendly” domesticated adolescent cougar “playing” with my head as his chew toy. I’m thinking about that today because they hurt. Kinda bad.
So that got me to thinking– if my physical scars hurt so badly at times, what about those deep emotional scars? Sure I’ve gone through all those rituals of forgiveness, repentance for my part in some things, and trust in God for healing. And He has healed me– so much! (I’ve even felt Him heal my esophagus as I praised Him through singing– what an amazing, warm, wonderful feeling that was!) I wouldn’t be married again if God had not done major surgery on my mind and my heart. We just celebrated 20 awe-inspiring years!
Those of us operating in the American mindset think we have everything all figured out. We put things in neatly labeled boxes, organized by category, decorated prettily with descriptions, definitions and diagnosis.
But what if we’re wrong?
What if we take a box out of the organized line-up, sort through it and realize it really isn’t the way we believed it to be?
What if emotional pain is notalways as explained? What if it’s the manifestation of pain from emotional scarring?
The tough thing about emotional scars is no one can see them. Only the person who lived the experience can feel and remember.
Incidentally– that’s exactly the experience of Christianity. Only the person who has experienced Divine interactions can feel them and experience their reality. That doesnotinvalidate that person or experience, just like it does not invalidate one who has emotional scars. The experiences did happen, they did have an impact on the person they happened to. Jesus didSave the Christian, His actions and the Holy Spirit interactions continuouslyimpact the Believer, though it’s deeply personal.
Do emotions exist? Do memories represent past experiences? Does pain from emotional wounds and scars ever manifest in our reactions, responses, emotions and beliefs?
I think maybe the “professionals” are really just guessing– and maybe they have guessed wrong in some things.
Maybe we look at mental health the wrong way. I don’t think PHD’s have all the answers because I don’t think they have been asking the right questions– many times they are just masking the symptoms, not getting to the core and root of what they diagnose– not looking for a healing solution.
Only God has all the answers, only God knows all things, sees all things and understands the “why” of all things. He has promised in His Word that we can call allto Him and He will answer us– He’ll show us great things we don’t know. Do we believe that?
I think I do. Sometimes. When we step away from the bindings of what has been explained to us with human understanding, and seek Divine understanding, God will show us, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to teach us, to comfort us, to empower us.
How much of that have we stepped out in faith to embrace?
We cling to our diagnosis, definitions and descriptions as though those have life for us. The One Who holds all knowledge islife. My desire is to cling to Him.
I fall short.
Do my emotional scars manifest sadness through their pain? Anger? A desire to be comforted? A lack of trust in others?
I honestly think maybe they do. Maybe that’s part of their intended function as God has designed them to protect where we once were wounded.
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?
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.
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.
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.
God has sure been stirring up a lot of things in my heart and thoughts lately.
One of the recurring issues I deal with is that I am still missing out on a father figure for my life. I understand that Scripture teaches us that God is our Heavenly Father, and He has never disappointed me.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am 40-something, and I still wish I could just have a normal conversation with my daddy. I have never had that. I have missed that, and struggled not to envy what others have been given.
There are so many people, of all ages, who have not had real, or healthy relationships with their parents. Where are the Godly men who will step up, and allow God to use them to replace what has been stolen from so many?
“When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:26-27 NASV)
He understood that those relationships are of utmost importance.
We are missing so much with our individualistic approach to Christianity. We are missing out on so much.
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.
Since no one really reads my blog, I can pretty much say what I want to, and not many will know, none will care.
I feel sick to my stomach. I feel like crying. I want to yell. I want to find a way to shut down the avenues connecting to my past that keep trying to lock me into who people thought I was.
Some people have family who actually like them, who speak highly of them, and build them up. But, not me. I have family that hates me. Even worse: they falsely pity me. (This does not include my husband, who really does know me, likes me, and builds me up.)
I hate my family. I hate my past life with them. I don’t want anything to do with them. Ever. Unless they repent and stop trying to lock me into a negative prison made from their own inaccurate judgements.
I feel sick because people I thought of as trusted friends would rather look at me through my family’s poisoned, unclear perception. I am never seen or heard, because my family’s opinions are so LOUD.
Do you know what it’s like to grow up with a family member who was more unstable than stable? Do you know what it’s like to be abused by a family member, only to have other family members cover it up and accuse you of lying about it? Do you have any idea how devastating it is to just not be believed, or even to be treated like you’re stupid, crazy, dishonest, or invalidated? How do you rise above that? How do you overcome those tremendously large, jagged mountain-like obstacles?
Well, I have chosen to just walk away. From all of it. I forgive. I can forget. But I refuse to subject myself to it anymore. I refuse to allow it any room to be attached to my identity.
Thankfully God has seen. He knows the truth about me, and my past. He knows the obstacles I face because of my family. He knows my weaknesses, and He knows my strengths. He created me to be a fighting survivor in order to overcome what He foresaw my struggles would be. He has taken hold of my life and reformed it into something useful. My identity is no longer in my family or my past. My identity is hidden in Him, safe.
People may think the worst of me, or believe they should pity me. But, God knows the reality, the truth. And, because of that I can rest in Him.
I am safe, secure, and where I belong, in the Hands of God. Under the shelter of His Wings.
My mom has helped me learn some things that I now have the opportunity to purposefully make sure my daughter gets from me.
1) Always have her back. Even if I don’t agree with her or she doesn’t handle things the way I would, never make her feel as though she has to deal with things alone.
2) No amount of money or possessions can replace a sense of being cherished or belonging.
3) I need to be approachable.
4) Listen, even when it drives me crazy to hear about her friends I’ve never met. It’s important to her to be able to share it with me. Also, that keeps me informed and interested. I know who is dating who, who just moved into the neighborhood, who I should be aware of, and what their ages are.
5) I need to be involved without being controlling.
6) Make time just for her, just because I want to spend time with her. I enjoy her company.
7) Help her find a sense of purpose by telling her what her strengths are, and what I admire about her.
8) Praise her and compliment her; critique things she does without harsh or mean criticism of her.
9) Teach her skills that will help her fit into society in a healthy way.
10) Help her value herself so she will make decisions that will be healthy and beneficial.
11) Don’t say negative things about her behind her back. When I share information out of frustration or as a prayer request, she knows about it and what I have said.
12) Don’t side with someone who calls her a liar. She isn’t always completely truthful with me, but I have never, ever known her to lie to someone, outright. And, even if I thought she did lie, we would deal with that in private and she would apologize to the person face-to-face. I will not take sides against my daughter.
13) Teach her the “why” behind each piece of instruction, guidance or advice.
14) Make sure she knows I separate her from her actions, decisions and mistakes. She is not what she does.
15) Let her wear my shoes and clothes sometimes. There is just something uniquely bonding about this with my daughter.
16) Don’t attack her for, or say harsh, mean things about, what I view as faults. My view is only one perspective, but she gets her cues at self-confidence from me.
17) Make sure she knows beyond any shadow of doubt, every single day, that I love her, cherish her, and my life is better because she’s in it.
18) I am careful to not expose her to things she’s not old enough to be able to process with an informative maturity. Raising children is like growing plants in some ways: I wouldn’t throw a rose-bush out into a blizzard just because I was tired of it being in the house and it’s too expensive to buy it food and soil. The same with my daughter: there will be no cut-off time for her, we won’t force her out of the house by a certain age. My hope is that we will help her become confident and prepared when the time comes for her to begin a new phase of life apart from us. I’m in no rush for that day, but I also won’t hold her back from embracing it.
19) Give her a healthy view of marriage. I think this is one of the best gifts my husband and I can give to our children, especially our daughter. As she sees how her dad treats me, and how I treat him, she will be able to discern the right relationship for herself. It’s so important for her to understand God’s perspective in marriage, because the world’s perspective brings no peace, no comfort, no health, and no longevity.
20) Make sure she has a firm foundation in Christ, while I encourage her in her own relationship with God, but don’t criticize when she doesn’t do things the same as me, or she isn’t passionate about the same things with God and church that I am. She is uniquely formed by God, and I trust Him to lead her in the direction that He has planned for her.
I hope I can pass on things that she will pass on to her own daughter someday, and so on, and so on…
My desire above everything is to bless my daughter. When a mother curses her daughter with negatives and harsh criticism, it affects every relationship and interaction she has, negatively. My hope is in blessing her it will do the exact opposite. I can already see some positive fruit from things people say to me about her, and how she is treated by her peers.
Well, what can I say about my dad? Where do I start? I guess I will introduce him to you.
He is James Roy Bennett Jr. He is the oldest of 3 children, the only boy, and both his parents have passed away. He’s a musician (plays/played the guitar, sings, and wrote his own songs, including one for me called Jami Michelle). He’s a disabled Vietnam era Veteran. He grew up under tough circumstances, in a tough house. Worse than many, but not as bad as it could have been.
I know 4 sides to my dad. The first side is tender. I remember him singing the song he wrote for me when I was very young, probably about 3. I don’t have many memories before the age of 10, but time, and God I believe, have been kind to me and allowed me to remember some good things that my heart holds valuable.
The second side is angry. While I was growing up, my dad faced so many obstacles, both because of his disability and lack from his own childhood. He didn’t handle things well, and for that reason I hated him for a very long time. He made choices that hurt me, and he was unapproachable.
The 3rd side is hilarious. He told the funniest jokes and usually had us laughing wildly on road trips. We played 20 questions for hours, sang “Jingle Bells” as he beeped it on the car horn through tunnels, and giggled insanely at his playing on words. He could also be crude and inappropriate, which made me so uncomfortable, but the fun stuff made all the traveling worth it.
The 4th side is vulnerable. I have seen my dad at his weakest, and because I was able to forgive him, that caused me to feel protective towards him. I’ve seen him in grave condition with a ventilator helping him stay alive, much like I’m sure he is now. He thumbed his nose at death then. I’m not sure he’ll do that this time.
Listening to others talk about their relationship with their dad has always made me feel cheated and even jealous. I wish I had my dad encouraging me, cheering for me, and playfully interacting with his grandchildren. We have all been robbed. He’s lived in nursing homes and hospital care since 2003. Military life has kept us at quite a physical distance from him while our relationship has kept us at an emotional one. My kids know the fun things about their Grandpa Jim, and a little about his strictness. They don’t know the man I grew up fearing and hating. My daughter has her own tender memories of my dad from when she was 3, but none of the fearful ones I have purposefully shielded her from. I see no purpose is telling his grandchildren the negative things, I won’t pass on my burdens about him to them. They deserve fun, happy memories.
I said my good-byes and made peace in my heart as we traveled back from Okinawa in 2009, not knowing if he would have passed on or clung to life by the time we landed. It’s been in the back of my mind that he will die at some point. So, it surprises me that I am having such a tough time dealing with it now. It surprises me that my heart is broken that he will probably never meet his youngest grandson and get to see his smile light up the room, or get to hear his crazy laughter. My boys won’t have the fun memories that our daughter has, won’t hear his silliness about things like driving over painted warnings, him yelling, “Watch out! A head!”
The “best” of my dad will be passed on as the condensed version, instead of experienced by them firsthand, while the worst will remain in the past, not known by them at all. I think that envelopes the meaning of “honoring your parents in the Lord“. God didn’t add, “if you think they deserve it” to that commandment.
Atunci când burniţa descurajării mă îngrozeşte, fă ca viaţa mea spirituală să înflorească.. fă să dispară ceaţa groasă care îmi învăluie fiinţa întreagă ! Fii Tu Soarele neprihănirii care să strălucească !