Hello Plank, How’d You Get In My Eye?

I have a view. An opinion. About everything. I have a view about that opinion I have of everything— I’m right. Of course I’m right! Can’t you see that? What do you mean you look at things differently? There’s only one way to see things– my way!

I think if we’re all honest, we’ve fit that description at least at some point in our lives. The one where we measure everything against our own perspective, and toss away everything that doesn’t line up.

When I’m sitting in a movie theater, and a tall person sits in front of me, I adjust so I can look around them to see the screen, or I change seats. When I’m driving somewhere and there is road construction, I find a way around it.

When I have an opinion about something, or a judgement– a plank– I look around the log in my eye instead of directly at it. I don’t recognize it as a log, or an obstacle in my view. I accept it as part of the reality I “see”. I make excuses for it being there– “That’s just the way I am…”

God is doing something in me. It feels kind of weird, I’m seeing people different than I ever have.

Tonight I met unfiltered guy. I saw the speck in his eye. Then God showed me the log in mine.

God’s Word clearly tells us to come to Him as we are. As we are. Not “clean yourself up, behave with societal ‘normal’ behavior– you know– fit in perfectly!” Nope.

Come as you are.

Broken.

Discouraged.

Bitter.

Judgmental.

Hurt.

Offended.

Offensive.

Homeless.

Rich.

Weak.

‘Perfect’.

Intelligent.

Ignorant.

Annoying.

Pleasant.

____________. (fill in the blank)

“Come as you are.”

“Those who are weary will find rest.”

“Those who are hungry will be fed.”

“You who are lost will be found.”

“The hurting will find comfort.”

Come.

As

you are…

If God extends that to everyone, shouldn’t we as well?

God can handle it. With God working through us, so can we.

One Size Fits… Um No

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

Except that’s never how it’s taken.

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

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

Well, no. It won’t.

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

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

Because it’s the Living Word of God.

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

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

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

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

His ways are so much better than mine.

Your Discomfort Is Not My Responsibility

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When we started dating, my husband, bless his heart, listened to so many stories from my past. He was my true friend– still is. He didn’t live through the same kinds of pain, and maybe he didn’t really want to hear what I was telling him about– but he did. I know he did, because he can still tell me things I told him about back then. He listened, and he remembers.

There are moments when I’m reminded just how separated from most people my experiences have shaped me to be. While I no longer hold onto anger, grudges or the pain of most, those experiences are still very important parts of who I am and why I am the way I am. But– why have I had to have so many of them? I have too much to add to some conversations, and nothing to add to most. Small talk is easier now, but it used to be impossible.

How I wish I didn’t have so much to say about some very difficult things. Most people have one or two, maybe three tough life experiences. If I stopped to count, I could name at least 8– ranging from spirit-breaking to devastating to near-death.

I’ve met very few that could honestly say the same, to the same degree as my own.

This causes me to realize just how alone I really am.

Certain songwriters’ lyrics speak to issues and express feelings I haven’t been able to give my own words to. I was surprised to hear Plumb’s story recently. I thought for sure she must have lived through similar devastating life circumstances to my own, because her words reach down into depths I had forgotten existed in my own past. What she has experienced are not light matters, it just wasn’t what I expected because of the impact her music has had on me. NF is another one that has a few songs that reach the depths of my spirit and my painful past, sometimes so deeply I have to stop listening to it. Through his music, I would guess he’s at a place in his healing that I’ve already passed through in much of mine, so sometimes his lyrics cause me to go back to the negative view of things God has already visited and healed in me.

My point in writing this is– I know I will never “fit in”.  I’m ok with that, now, I just recognize it for what it is. I recognize and I now just accept that if I mention or blog about something that nearly broke me in my past, a rare few stop to listen/read.

They don’t hear what God claims as victory in me.

I think some would rather I stay silent about those uncomfortable things because they don’t have to acknowledge them. Some think I haven’t moved past things if I bring them up. Some feel uncomfortable if others hear.

It happened to me.

It happened. To me.

Don’t they think I feel uncomfortable having to live with those memories, and the shame attached to them?

But– as long as I go out of my way to make everyone else feel comfortable by never mentioning publicly what has been constantly uncomfortable for me– it’s ok. Because they aren’t uncomfortable, and it’s got to be all about me making sure no one feels any discomfort around me because of circumstances outside of my control. That happened. To me.

I try very hard to be gentle in what I share. But to remain silent about it because of the expectations of others feels like I’m being shoved into that box I’m not meant to go into.

The comfort of others is not my responsibility, and it never should have been something anyone has expected me to go out of my way to ensure for others.

The subjects that were the main theme of my past are more than anyone was meant to carry. I’m not carrying that burden of protecting everyone from knowing what happened to me, anymore. That is not my calling. Because to not be upfront about what God has had to do in my life to help me be a normal, functioning woman, is to suppress the glory and praise God alone deserves. The discomfort or embarrassment others experience at hearing about what I have had to survive is not my responsibility.

I’m not going to be silenced by silent or verbal disapproval.

If they care at all about me, they will instead rejoice at what God has done and is still doing in my life– every time I mention it. They would praise and thank God for working unseen from most so that I am still alive, instead of them wishing, maybe, that I weren’t. If someone is embarrassed by something that happened to me because I mention it, the problem is with them, not with me.

People have to know what happened to me so they can praise and thank God for what He did when He rescued me.

And, He has rescued me. More than once.

If you have a broken limb, everyone sees the cast, and most will ask what happened. I’ve had a broken life, and if people were paying attention, they would have seen that. Since the things that broke my spirit are hidden, people want them to remain hidden so they don’t have to be inconvenienced by knowing.

I see that as a problem, never a solution.

That whole #MeToo campaign gave me hope that finally victims would be able to speak out, and be received with hearts of compassion. How disappointing that it’s become a mockery to victims, and I do not mean the fake ones paid to lie to ruin reputations! That needs to be exposed! Where is justice for the real victims of sexual assault? Not the “He said I look pretty.” garbage!

I am a survivor of real sexual abuse, who can claim victory. #MeToo #VictimToVictor #TheTruthHasSetMeFree

Those who don’t want me to speak out can #GetOverIt.

 

 

 

 

 

Suppression

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

First, I’ll share some of my background.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pick up the pieces and move on…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I Wish Some Understood About Sexual Abuse Survivors

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) We grieve over the robbery of our innocence. 

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

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

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

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

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


Dear Pastors,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So should we all be towards one another.

Sincerely,

Your Sister In Christ

Fighting An Invisible Enemy

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I have an invisible enemy. I’ve fought against it for as long as I can remember. This enemy does not fight fair. It hides in the shadows. I have exhausted myself many times throughout my lifetime trying to fight back, but it dodges every retaliatory jab.

My enemy catches me off-guard, though less often now. It strikes with the intention of crippling my efforts. It dismantles my credibility. Mocks my accomplishments, experience and concerns, rendering them invaluable– useless. It attempts to define me as “too emotional”, “uneducated”, “ridiculous” or “ignorant”. It laughs at me, or rolls its eyes with a sarcastic dismissal of my importance.

It steals my confidence– tries to steal my joy.

I’ve learned to stand back and just observe how this enemy attacks and come to recognize that part of its victory over me has been through the use of decoys. It’s as though I am blindfolded, and I think I know its location through a sound or a movement. But, when I attempt to retaliate, I punch through thin air, exhausting– even injuring– myself in the process.

It’s impossible to fight this enemy.

In an effort of self-protection, I surround myself with people who have proven their trustworthiness to me over time. People who value me and don’t laugh at my creativity, experience, or blow off my concerns. Sometimes those people disappoint me.

I have begun to realize, the best way to defeat this enemy is to guard myself during its assailment and then assess the damage.

The damage hardest to overcome or heal from is the friendly fire. I know my visible enemies will not care about or recognize the truth over their opinion of me, so their words no longer hurt me. But, those closest to me– their opinion becomes the fiery darts my enemy uses to go straight to my heart.

When I remember to hide in the shadow of God’s wings, the damage is minimal, often non-existent.  Psalm 63:7 reminds me: “For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy”. Hosea 14:7 encourages me that:  “Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon”.

Then I know, the only thing that ever matters is God. He sees all, knows all, and He’s with me every step of the way, guiding me with the light of His Word, working through me regardless of how useless or unimportant any person believes me to be.

God is my strength, and He helps me defeat the intentions of my invisible enemy, by praying and believing God’s Word– His promises. Every time.

The Spiritual Damage Of Anorexia

I’m a former anorexic and bulimic, reformed through Christ. This post has been a long time coming.

To look at me now you can’t tell I was near death at one point from practicing anorexia.

The Spiritual consequence is what I want to get into with this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about that before.

Fasting is an important part of our growing relationship with God. When we fast unto God, we deny our flesh to set aside our physical wants and needs temporarily to focus on seeking God. We fast to repent, seek God, grow in our faith and understanding, and to actively put Him completely first. The focus is God, not our body, not the avoidance of food.

Anorexia is a tool the devil uses to corrupt that. Fasting not only becomes an obsessive practice of focus on ourselves. Opportunities open for the demonic to gain footholds in our lives, choices, beliefs, vision, perspective and practices. The devil sells us the idea we can obtain perfection.

When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God sees us as perfect because Christ is in us.

Through the practice of Anorexia, the devil causes deformity within our spirits and our understanding. The devil clouds our vision, and converts our perception to a distorted view and belief system– the belief that our body is the enemy we need to fight against.

The Bible is clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds, new creations through Christ Jesus.

Striving for perfection, we work hard for acceptance and approval of the world. But like a small kid in a game of Keep Away, or Monkey In The Middle, we never lay hold of it. The constant effort steals focus, energy, confidence– reality. The bar gets raised higher. It’s always just… out of…

Reach

God accepts and approves of us because of Jesus. We don’t have to prove our worth to Him because Jesus showed us how much He values us by dying on the cross, and rising up again. We are wanted, welcomed by God.

Jesus made it possible to have acceptance from our Creator. We can have a relationship with Perfection Himself, and He is working to make us the best version of ourselves– for His glory.

We have a choice: We can work really hard for a distorted version of perfection that’s never within reach. Or we can rest in God’s approval and meet Him in the changes He makes as He perfects us His way.

I have experienced both. I prefer God’s way.

Scars– Survivor’s Thick Skin

I have scars.

Some are easily seen. Like the one on my hand where I got stitches from grabbing a knife out of a distressed friend’s hand. He was threatening self-harm.

Tonka The Mountain Lion

Some are hidden. I have scars in my scalp from an attack by a playful young mountain lion my aunt kept and adopted from a hunting trip. When my fingers locate the indented bite marks my hair now hides, it seems as though the scars remember the trauma– the pain. All that blood… I can still almost taste the metallic flavor as it as  gushed out of the fresh wounds, covering my face. The rush of fear– I had no idea how to get away from Tonka cougar’s implanted teeth in my scalp. The tears. The shock as my aunt just stood there, watching, with what I remember as being a curious and possibly slightly amused look on her face. Her husband grabbed a towel and somehow got my head out of Tonka’s clenched jaw. I don’t remember being separated from my new “friend’s” grasp. I vaguely remember being in the ER, having my head bandaged. The rest is hidden in my memory, deep beneath those still sensitive-to-touch scars.

There is a Proverb that says– “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) I’m not sure I can apply this one to what happened with Tonka.

Then there are inner scars that no one person see. The ones that form over our emotions. The ones that guard our hearts. They cover our memories, stretching over wounds as a protective layer. They remind us to avoid people and situations that cause us pain. They encourage research into preventative measures. They might even be what makes us want to build up protective walls– to keep similar pain out.

Maybe they are the walls…

I have hidden scars. From an abusive childhood. From people who called themselves my friends, but never really followed through. From a devastating first marriage.

I have other scars I call regrets. Wow did I do stupid things! I had no self worth. I was beat down by the words of my dad on a regular basis, convinced what he said about me was how everyone saw me. Worthless. Good for nothing. In the way. Why was I even born?

I am thankful that God swooped down and rescued me the times I almost gave in and gave up.

He was my Comforter. He was my  Rescuer. My Protector. In later years He also became my Shield.

He brought people, one at a time, into my life. He worked through them to help me. He helped me find the path to trust and healing.

My list of traumatic life experiences is longer than many people’s. I hate that so much! Not because I would ever want anyone to experience more. Because each situation where the scars have sealed-off painful memories, is horrible.

I have fought a tremendous uphill battle just to be normal. I fought to have a healthy mind. I’m fighting to have a healthy body.

I have hated my life for most of my existence. Except where God made the changes that delivered me from being bitter, hate-filled and angry. I love that He has healed and transformed me to the me I am now. Believe me– I was beyond  repair. Consumed by anger for my dad. Filled with hatred for my neglectful, abusive, rapist-coward of an ex-husband.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real. I look at who I was before I allowed Him to walk with me, and I feel a sense of shock that He didn’t just have me removed from the face of the earth.

He healed me. He revealed a deeper love for me than anyone had ever shown to me.

All I ever really wanted was to be loved, to be welcomed– to be wanted.

God has given that to me.

The scars remind me.

One of my scars is sadness. You can’t walk through all I have and not still be affected in some ways by it all. God healing me does not erase those circumstances or all of the emotions still attached. I was still robbed of a healthy relationship with my dad. I remember the horrible words he said to me, how he hurt me in so many ways– physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually.

It all still happened.

It all no longer defines who I am.

Jesus has scars. Crucified on a cross. Nails the size of small railroad stakes pounded into His wrists and feet. Scars on His scalp from the crown of thorns. Scars on His back as His flesh was ripped apart by a whip called the “cat of nine tails.” He endured that for me. His scars remind me that His love and compassion are so deep, He willingly went through everything He did for me. I couldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have been able to look at my abusers and say to God the Father, “Father. Forgive them, for they know not what they have done.”
Jesus did that.

His scars remind me.

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Reflection: Looking At The Painful Past

I hate looking at my past. I hate remembering. I have set out so many times to write “my story”, but something always blocks me.

I think it might be “this” me hating the “old” me.

I don’t want to look at it through my memories.

Why would you?

Today my youngest was playing with a rubber band, joking about shooting it at me. Even something as silly and simple as that reminds me, like a scar reminds us of a painful wound.

What is the big deal about shooting a rubber band, right? If you could look into my memory, and “feel” with my emotions, you’d know. You might even hate it, too.

You’d see the man who molested me, aiming then shooting a rubber band at my butt as I laid on the couch watching tv. You’d feel the sudden surge of rage consume what might have been a semi-peaceful moment. You’d watch my leg shoot out, my foot connect to the back of his knee as he walked by. Full rage force. Knocking him off his balance.

The rest of that day is a black hole.

One thing I really want people to understand is that I don’t live in my past. I don’t need advice on how to forgive or heal. I have overcome tremendous odds, and I only have God to thank. My experience has often been that those who hear what I’ve been through assume I need their help, that I’m asking for help or advice.

I share my story because it’s God’s testimony of Him transforming an ugly duckling into a swan– the traumatically-challenged, nearly bitter woman into a trusting Christian.

If this encourages you, I’ve accomplished what I never used to believe I could. If it hits home, I am deeply sorry.

Please feel free to use the comments section to tell how God helped you heal or overcome a troubled, painful past. We all need to hear more about what God is doing to heal the broken-hearted; to set the captive free, transforming us into the likeness of Christ.

Why My Defensiveness Is A Reflex Reaction For Me With Some

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Last night, I had the most wonderful time having dinner, talking, then just listening to a dear friend. I learned so much about her, things I never would have guessed! It’s even easier to see why she is such a beautiful, loving, sincerely kind woman of God.

As is the usual case with me, it’s also hard to not also see that deep contrast between her life and my own.

Again I come face-to-face with why I have often felt a type of rejection from some I’ve hoped to get to know. I’m no Miss Congeniality or Miss Anything.

Often in my lifetime I’ve been left feeling as though I’m not worth people’s time. Some of that is cultural, sure. Some of it is personality-clash. I can be abrasive. I’ve even been described as a “bull in a China shop”.

There aren’t many “boxes” I allow myself to be put in. I tend to fail under heavy-handed expectations. I am as God designed me, also molded from my unique life experiences, which also at times have borne the weight of heavy-handed expectations.

I have learned that not everyone is alike, not everyone does things the same, or reacts to expectation the same way.

I probably will never meet any human’s expectation.

I can only try to meet God’s. And, I fail… All. The. Time.

One of the toughest things to put into practice is listening when it feels like you are not heard by others– that’s where my reaction of defensiveness tries to overtake me.

My life is full of many amazing, even some miraculous testimonies of God’s work.

It’s easy to focus on things that happened because God was not in the circumstances. It’s best to focus on contrasts caused by God’s healing, intervention, love, kindness, miracles and His Mercy.

While the contrast between our lives is somewhat vast, my friend and I have one very important thing that is similar– the knowledge of Who God Is in contrast to who we are and how amazing it is that He loves us.

Don’t Talk About It

There is an unhealthy attitude. Within the Church. You may not want to hear about it. You may not want to listen. But, that will not make it go away. Confronting it will. Confronting it is the first step to healing.

And, the church needs some major healing and repairs.

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So, the attitude is this: if something about a church congregation hurts, disappoints, offends, or puts you off– don’t talk about it. Don’t talk to anyone if your feelings are hurt. Don’t mention that the lesson might not be quite Scripturally accurate. Do not show your true feelings, because the attitude is– “that’s unGodly“.

But that attitude is wrong.

Jesus never said “Blessed are those who pretend everything is fine when it’s not.” No, He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

Who are the poor in spirit? It includes those who have been hurt within the Body of Christ, sometimes from the Body of Christ.

We need to pour healing into our own.

I am going to talk about it, and we all should.

Because this pretending like everything is fine, it’s not worshiping God in spirit and in truth. It’s lying.

Everything is not fine.

And, it’s not ministering to the ones who need ministry the most– those that have been hurt. Often hurt by people within their own congregation.

I have been to several churches regularly since I turned my life over to Jesus, because I move around with the military, and sometimes God just moves me on to another church.

I have been hurt. I have been devastated.

By a church split. By a Pastor I respected like he was my own dad. By a pastor’s wife I hoped would be like a mom for me. Then I wised-up. I stopped trying to fill a need I sincerely believe God wants church leaders to help fill in their congregants lives.

But, it hurts.

Because that is a realistic, honest need. Maybe not for everyone. But it is for a lot.

How many people can actually talk about this disappointment, this failure in ministering to our own?

Most won’t because they feel shamed. They feel their needs are unimportant. They don’t know who they can talk with and be real with.

They get blind-sided with remarks about lack of faith, or about not trusting God enough.

It has NOTHING to do with not trusting God or lacking faith.

It has everything to do with not making oneself vulnerable to and not trusting Church leadership. Those God has put in place to represent Jesus. Many times, they are the ones who are not trusted. And, by every account, they should be the most trustworthy.

The most approachable.

God made people to need other people. God uses His people as His vessels to speak through, to pour His healing through, to help draw others nearer to Him.

I know, I know, God calls humans… so human weakness and faults… I get that. But, it goes way beyond that, into a seeming hardheartedness.

Why is there such an attitude of busyness, but not a deep healing ministry for everyone who walks through the doors?

God does not want Christianity to be a religion of individuality. I don’t believe He ever meant it to be such a hands-off thing.

God’s heart is for the hurting within the Body of Christ, not just without.

Who are the hurting within the congregations? Widows. New moms. New members. People moving from different communities, states or even countries. Divorcee’s. Military spouses and kids. Singles, of all ages. Teenagers. Homeless. Those untrusting of people.

The Body of Christ often can’t see beyond Its nose.

It’s time to wake up. Judgement comes to the House of The Lord first, and I do believe this is the 11th hour– perhaps even the 11:30th hour. Do we think God will “see our hearts” and just have His Judgement pass over His Body?

Lord, please pour out Your healing in all those who are hurting, who are lonely, or who just don’t know who they can trust. Please reach out to the broken-hearted, and minister to their every need. Soften the hardened hearts towards the weak, the hurting, and the ones who don’t seem to measure up or step up under the heavy weight of human expectation.

Lord, please help Your Church to walk in Unity, as well as to walk like You did as You prepared the way for us.

Please help us to make ourselves ready, to clothes ourselves with Your love and compassion for all. Remind us of our own weaknesses that You strengthen, and help us to be encouragers and extensions of Your healing Grace. In Jesus Name, Amen– So be it.

So What?

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This is what my insides feel like every time I try to write my story. Gut-wrenched. I describe that feeling to my husband as killer moths flapping around in my tummy.

Every time I tell a portion of my story it feels like someone reached inside of me and yanked a piece of me out.

 

I wasn’t supposed to tell. But I did, and cops were called. I wasn’t supposed to talk to anyone about it, but I did. I had to. It was destroying me from the inside-out to not try to get someone to hear me. Then the worry and fear of having told would try to destroy me from the inside-out. I told someone, and then the one who hurt me, who tried to intimidate me to stay silent, tried to take his own life. Part of me grieved and blamed myself. Part of me wouldn’t miss him, would be relieved.. Which then kicked-off a worry-guilt-hatred cycle.

All that turmoil I felt for years, so many years ago, comes right back when I am writing my story. It’s agonizing and spirit-crushing to remember, to admit it all in writing.

I was molested as a child.

I was raped as an adult.

I was emotionally and verbally beat-up both as a child and as an adult.

But I’m not anymore.

I’m not anymore…

The feelings, as I recall things and relive them in my memories, they are tumultuous.

I’ve convinced myself what has happened in my life, all I have survived, is nothing special. Everyone goes through traumatic things at some point. And then as I tell someone something I realize– I have a unique story to tell because so many things have happened to me.  And I lived through them, and passed through to the other side where things are instead normal.

It will take me awhile to write my story, because there is so much to it, and very little is easy to pass on to others. Part of me goes in to all I write and share.

Please be patient. Please stay with me, even if it takes awhile. What God has done through every experience is nothing short of miraculous.

Exposed

I hate my past.

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I hate the parts of my personal story that involve my past. I don’t like who I was, I don’t like what I lived through. I abhor my reactions and choices. I despise where I had no choice or that I had no one to help me, to comfort me, or just talk with.

Yeah, I hate my past.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to get my book written. I hate reliving it. I hate thinking about it. I hate how when I am in a group of people and I just want to fit into the conversation, I feel compelled to share my experiences so I can identify with others. And I hate how vulnerable and

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I often feel when I tell something deeply personal.

Who really wants to hear about the horror experiences of my childhood and teens, and for what reasons do they want to hear about them?

Who cares? About me?

I loathe feeling like other people think I’m competing in storytelling. I hate how it just feels normal to me that I have gone through so many things, and then I see that look of shock on the face of someone I’ve opened up to- then I realize, my life has been anything but normal.

It’s like a thorn in my side.

The parts I don’t hate about my past are when God shines through, as a warm, magnanimous Light, as if He has given my heart the most loving hug.

Healing me, bringing completeness to my injured, abused soul.

Exposure reveals the miracles and even the heart of God throughout my life.

Hating my past has helped me to love and appreciate God. Living my life, I’ve learned there is no one more trustworthy and faithful than God.

Before and After: A Matter of Perspective

Here is my dad David was able to get a picture tod

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been 2 months since my dad’s passing, wow, to the day. My timing isn’t planned, just lucky coincidence.

This picture accurately represents something unexpected for me.

My dad is smiling here. He was happy because my husband was able to visit him.

When my dad was alive, it wasn’t his smile I remembered, or his comforting shoulder hug when he walked up next to me after not having seen me for a long time.  It wasn’t the twinkle of kindness and love in his eyes when he looked at me during my short visits so far and few between the passing time. It wasn’t his jokes, or the happy tone behind all he said.

The thought of my dad when he was still alive wasn’t anything warm and fuzzy.  It was sadness that he was in hospital or nursing home care. It was frustration that so much of a normal relationship with him had been stolen from me because of mental illness (also PTSD misdiagnosed and neglected) and his “guinea-pig” status with the VA. It was anger that he was so unpredictable, I never knew what to expect when I was able to visit him. My mom claims he had no “filter”, what I know as practicing self-control and taming the tongue. The last time I saw him when he wasn’t being kept alive by machines breathing for him, he told my husband some really awful things, stuff he said he was confessing to concerning me. There are so many holes in my childhood memory, some of what he said I  can’t even verify.

He was moved around so often by the VA that I rarely knew where he was, and he did not always have access to a phone for me to call him. My mom stopped remembering to tell me he had been moved, it became part of her normal life. And, the truth is, I often cringed at the thought of talking with him on the phone. What would I say? What would his frame of mind be?

The most surprising aspect of his passing is that all those fears and negative emotions have just sort of evaporated away. I am finally free to feel the good feelings when I think of him now. My guard can be let down, I don’t have to defend myself, or prepare for the worst. I don’t have to remind myself of the bad things.

I never once wished him dead- well, after I forgave him, that is. So, there is no guilt to deal with now. Life circumstances kept my family and I far away from him, so again, no guilt about any of that. It was out of my control.

I can let the little girl I once was think about my dad and remember what I loved most about him.  No more guard, no more self-defense, no more cringing as I think of him.

My heart is free to remember safely now.

To Know Me Is To ______ Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.

Wounded Reality

thThere is a phrase in our society I have heard quite a bit. It’s “victim mentality.” I often hear, “Don’t be a victim.” “You’re not a victim.” There is a growing disdain for those victimized who don’t handle the aftermath the way society thinks they should: Jump back into life like it never happened. Forgive and forget. Act “normal”.

There is a complete phase of victim-hood that seems to get ignored: having been wounded.

Supposedly victims of rape, incest, emotional and mental abuse, and other things are supposed to lick their wounds and fit right in with everyone in society. They are supposed to heal their own wounds, invisible to everyone else so maybe that makes the wounds seem nonexistent or unimportant. If they are a Christian, they should expect that God will heal all their wounds without anyone else, they “just need to trust Him”, “need to have faith”. When it doesn’t work out “perfect”, then the wounded are accused they “don’t have enough faith”.  Maybe it’s not the fault of the wounded at all. Maybe the members of their church lack compassion. Biblical compassion.

I don’t expect much from the Godless world, they don’t know any better, but they do actually demonstrate a bit more kindness than we Christians sometimes do. I submit to you that within the Body of Christ , there are times we are wounding our wounded by placing unrealistic expectations on them, sometimes we even neglect their actual need. God created people to need people. So, why is the Church sometimes dismissive of the very real needs the wounded have? Why do we tend to see those wounded as whiners, “needy”, or ridiculous? Where is our compassion?

I don’t see this in every church, or even the one we are part of now, but, over the past three decades, I have seen this many times.

Physical wounds need the help of others to be stopped, repaired and healed. Someone applies pressure to stop the bleeding. Someone rescues someone from the vehicle of an accident. An ambulance takes the “victim” – wounded – to the hospital where an entire team and staff work to save the life, repair the damage and stop the bleeding. Careful instructions are given to the wounded victim, and follow-up appointments are made. Prescriptions and bandages are given.

Shouldn’t the Church be more like a hospital? What one-on-one care is given? Who stops the bleeding of the wounded heart, the mind and emotions? Who applies the healing balm? Who helps with the repairing, and the healing? Who gives the prescriptions of Scriptures, and bandages of prayers and encouraging words? Obviously Christians know the answer is the Holy Spirit. But, who are the willing vessels He works through?

I hope I am.

The last thing that wounded people need to feel is left alone to find their own healing. Church, The Body of Christ, is unique from everything in that we give and we get, as members. It’s when things are unbalanced and the giving is stressed, but the getting can tend to be neglected, or vice-versa, that it becomes dysfunctional. I think there should be a healthy balance of both hospital-like and service for God, but maybe my own expectations are too high. At any rate, I see such a need that my heart aches to help fill. I hope others see it, too.