A Beautiful Kind of Broken

Over the years, I tried to mend my wounded heart by myself; unfortunately, I did not seek help in the most appropriate way.  I have learned that I can’t be, nor anyone else can be my savior; thus, often resulting in feeling rejected which created a low self-esteem…leading to despair…because in my mind, I could not be fixed or saved.  Therefore, I must come to the conclusion (on my own & my own time) that no one can “fix” me; except, for Jesus.

My Pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that I must learn to let Jesus love me, and I must love Him in return.  If I don’t do this…it will be impossible for Him to pull my weeds and replace them with flowers.  I have really come far despite my abuse and lack of knowing a lot about the Good News; but, I can cultivate a bigger garden if I let Him help me, and others are willing to continue to mentor me.

I will say that learning to relate to God as a new creation is a difficult concept for me. I want to attempt to hide my very being from Him. I am ashamed of my past.  I feel guilty.  I don’t feel safe. The safety issue brings several things to my mind…how could He let all this abuse happen (past and present)?  What kind of sick dad sends His only Son to be killed?  That is no way to protect, or make someone feel safe.  Because of my past…these thoughts have crept up in the back of my mind.  How can I feel safe knowing that He will take care of me…when these things have happened?

The Biblical truth is that I can feel safe with Him.  I am safe to succeed or fail.  I also understood that there is truth to making individuals feel safe in church, or community.  Through communities the restoration for my brokenness can take place.  For people like me, I may think that others do not have problems that they have it all together because of the hiddenness within our community.  Often times the ones that are struggling–try to become more hidden, or withdraw, from the community because of fear that their secrets might be “found out”.  I finally understand that.  First, I was told to tell my secrets, and now…don’t tell them except to one who claims he can’t help.  So what is the point?  I am so confused!  Telling my secrets only brought more pain with no outlet to deal with them.

Unfortunately, telling past secrets doesn’t get rid of the pain …it actually just opens the door (which is not understood by most) to help begin the process of healing. When left undone, it causes much more pain and anxiety.  So what’s wrong with learning the process of helping others?  That is what I want to learn how to do, so that I can use this brokenness as a gift to help others.  Unfortunately, I have been discarded as “too needy” and not worthwhile to nurture to bring out such a gift.

There are lots of beautiful broken Christians that are at battle with a real war inside of them.  I know that I did not originally want to reveal my past with a select few for fear of rejection, and not feeling safe enough to be forgiven when my sins of my past were exposed.  I almost felt that because I screwed up with trusting some that the lesson I learned is not to confess my sinful past, or abuse, because now I no longer feel safe.  I keep telling myself that it would have been best to have kept things hidden; although, hiding would not have changed any of the abuse, then or now.

I feel this safety issue is a very sensitive topic.  Is there a question that some may take advantage of this thing called grace?  Should one be walked through the healing process of confessing, being forgiven, and eventually being restored?  Could there be a difference between immaturity (lack of understanding Him) and someone’s sinful nature of worshiping idols?  Or is it a combination?  Should they be forgiven or just discounted as a failure to abide by certain rules or time frames?

Being safe doesn’t always mean to feel safe to fail.  It can also mean to feel safe to succeed.  I want to be encouraged to be the Bride of Christ, to be His Beloved, to be that Oak of Righteousness like I have heard in some sermons.  There is a difference between righteousness and holiness. If I understand correctly, we become righteous when we accept Jesus into our heart as our Savior because of His death on the cross.  Grace enables us to pursue holiness, once we are made righteous, by seeking His Godly character & applying it to our lives.

I must tell you that most individuals who have been abused have a hard time trusting anyone, especially Christians.  There are some who would be quick to judge the abused without knowing the whole story…my story (or anybody else’s story for that matter). That was why a support system was needed to be in place, to help me learn to trust.  Yes, I know I have a hard time breaking away from dependency of others; but think about it…I have had to depend on myself for years (since I was a child), and look where that has gotten me.

Why can’t some dependency be considered for wanting to truly understand His love?  The support system should be built out of love & compassion; not out of pity for the abused to be labeled as a project to be worked on.  Especially, if the project goes awry it could cause the building of the structure to be idled.  A safe and stable place should be built for the broken and for them not to worry about performance expectations…or trying to be healed sooner because of someone else’s time frame.

Remember, the abused person is trying to heal, and for this reason one should step back & say it is not about me…it is about the child of God who carries this pain.  No one really wants to be sick!  I never wanted this pain of abuse, or the memories of it that often triggers horrible feelings within my soul.  Far from it!  I never desired to be taken advantage by a perverted man who was supposed to love and protect me…be my trusted parent.

I needed to get to a place where I could trust God and feel safe–because of what had been done to me in the past, and even what is happening now.  I also needed to trust God with what I had done.  People who have been abused have lost their identity, and often need to be validated by those who believe in them.  It’s important to talk these things out, in my case the abuse, to be able to remove my wrong perception of the present and what might happen in the future.  Yes, specialized counselors (such as mine…Clifton Fuller) are great for this; but, humor me to read on.

Abused victims, or survivors, don’t necessarily know who they are.  Over the years I took on different identities as a form of protection.  Many worked for me as a child; but now it is a problem as an adult. Sometimes there are those who can & will victimize the abused.  They will plague them with chores, verbally abusive words, until they are completely sleep deprived from over exhaustion and utterly worn out.  This allows the victim to become more easily moldable into a certain state of mind by the abuser.  Does that make sense?  This is when the victim “freezes up” during certain situations, and does not respond or handle the current situation with finesse.  I know this tactic all too much.  I have continued to live in this state of confusion for most of my life.

In searching for my true identity (in the image of God), I needed to know that I was of equal value as any other human.  My brokenness may come across as being “too needy” or “desperate” for some; but in actuality, I needed to understand my value as a person–which I don’t always see in myself.  For this reason as well, I feel that God might use me in other’s lives to learn how to build meaningful relationships with certain kinds of broken people like me.

In essence, my survival thus far, should be a blessing to others, and build  confidence that His Kingdom can be furthered by understanding the certain kind of brokenness found within me.  Those survival strategies that I learned as a child could be used as gifts to help reach others.  By recognizing their strategies, or walls they built up, I might be able to be help some of them; unfortunately, I am still unlocking some of those gifts to be able to be helpful.  It would be easier to unlock those gifts with encouragement.

In losing my identity, I also lost the true identity and nature of God.  In a sense, I am a child (a new creation), and I need to start over with the faith process.  I may need to have the basics of faith told to me more than once.  I will need to have Grace explained in depth.  I will need to understand God’s characteristics on an intimate level.  Truth is that because of my abuse, even though others may find it hard to believe, I can trust that I am in a safe place and I will not be rejected for my past, or sins.

We are all unique, and each one brings a different gift to the table.  In fact, I want to be a blessing to the community as well, and not be treated like a project.  I don’t want others to feel they have to help me because God would want them to help me; but, to help me because they have a real compassion to help me for who I am…and not knowing of what or who I could become in His Kingdom later.

I need to stop hiding behind my mask and become a beautiful kind of broken.

I shall heal your broken heart with My words of love. My truth shall prevail over all your trials and tribulations. I see your fears and sorrows; your struggles, your pain and suffering, and I shall not abandon you in your hour of need. My mighty right hand is already stretched out to heal and give peace and abundant life. I am at work. I am Jehovah – I AM THAT I AM.”

When Did My Faith Become Real?

When did my faith become real?  I believe receiving faith is never-ending; therefore, my faith becomes more real with each “real” season I experience.  I recently told a friend that my current season of tribulations was like a bad reality TV show, and that I sincerely hoped that it would not be picked up for another season.

All joking aside, one of the worst trials I have ever had to go through was when I was a child.  I was sexually abused.  That terrible season has left many battle wounds and scars that still have not completely healed.

That experience led me to live a life that was not always conducive to spiritual growth.  I lived in fear of others…especially men.  My relational skills were lacking, and thus my communication skills followed suit.  Because I let my anger get the best of me, I became one who began to contribute to the pain of others.  The pain I caused was mainly due to my own selfish idols, and of my own making.

I was like a horse wearing blinders.  I could not see the pain I was causing others because of the pain I harbored inside, or even the pain I was causing myself.

As a result of my past abuse I have carried a backpack full of idols, pain, and fear.  I lack self confidence.  I am a skeptic when it comes to thinking that my Father could give me the grace of forgiveness that I so desire.  Even though I did not wish this abuse on myself, in the back of my mind I always wonder if I deserved it.

My husband, Sam, has explained his take on the situation.  If I had gone into the doctor’s office to get a physical, and several days later I got strep throat…did that mean I wanted to get strep throat?  Of course not, nor did I expect to get it.  Strep throat  causes many to become quite ill.  In fact, I usually get a headache and nausea along with it–making it a triple whammy!   Under the circumstances, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I never asked for the strep throat, and I certainly never asked for the abuse. My friend described the abuse like an illness that was given to me.  I couldn’t help it!  It was given to me.  I was so very young, and the abuser had no right to pin the abuse on me as my fault.  To threaten me with harsh words, and fists to body…warning me to never tell or he would beat me up.  No child deserves to be treated with such disrespect. To be made to feel like scum, and then told that no one will ever want them because they were tainted.

I believed him!

I have always wanted to run in a race; but, definitely lacked the passion to train.  Trust me, I am no runner.  When I was at Baylor University I was on the track team; but, as a javelin thrower.  Running was definitely not my forte.  In fact, one year I did not qualify in the javelin for the Texas Relays, so I had to run the 10K.  It took me an hour and six minutes to run that race.  The man who ran the half marathon passed me up.  BTW…now I would be lucky to walk a 10K.

Now I am remembering that I have this awfully heavy backpack, and I am thinking how do I run with a heavy backpack?  I see the military, or fitness gurus running with heavy loads to train; but, I don’t want to train with a heavy backpack.  I am not a fitness guru, and I definitely don’t want to train with a heavy load.  It would be extremely hard!

So how do I lighten the load in my backpack?  I have carried the load for many years.  I have become quite attached to my many idols, and I don’t know which ones should stay or go.

Then my Heavenly Father suggests to me to give Him my backpack.  I asked Him, “Why do you want my backpack?”

He answered, “Because, I love you, and I want you to run to me. I want you to fix your eyes on Me.  I have made a promise to  carry your heavy burdens, and I want you to run the race that is set before you.”

Okay, so even if I were to give Him my backpack, how would that help me to see Him?  How would that allow me a clearer vision to be able to run to Him?

I know now that I lacked a true passion for recognizing my Father, and his promise that He made to me.  I lacked faith and hope in the words He was telling me to obey.   I must really enjoy my bad reality TV show because that’s where I was headed…back to “seasons gone bad.”

I tried to focus on Him; but, I could not see Him at all.  I only recognized my stepfather, and all of the horrible things he had done and/or told me.  He was no father to me.  He did not protect me, or love me.  I became scared…so much so, that a couple of times during the race I considered suicide as an alternative to facing my fears.  Truth is, my own hindrances of my own  idols were causing  me to lack the faith I needed to run the race…to run the race with patient endurance.

I wanted to hurry up and train for the race my way.  I wanted to be in control.  In the back of my mind I wondered if I could run the race by myself?  Did I really need my Father?  Could I train without any help, because asking for help might mean I was weak?  I certainly did not want to look weak and unworthy to anyone.  I mean my stepfather did say that no one would want someone as worthless as myself.  I wanted to believe I could prove my stepfather wrong.

I learned quickly that training, and running alone, did not seem to be working for me.  Training by myself, I noticed that I seem to fail every time. I was extremely out of shape.

I wondered do I really  to need the “Author and Finisher” of my faith to help me train for this race?  Does He really know what path to take to get to the finish line?  Would He really be the only One who would be able to keep me from “jumping the gun” at the start of the race, and would certainly keep me from facing disqualification?  Would He do this for me just because He loved me?

I had to really dig deep inside to see what I really desired.  Did I want to continue carrying my heavy backpack, or give it freely to Him? My faith was lacking; but, He told me, “Come ye who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  He was telling me to cast my burdens upon Him, and He in turn would help me cross the finish line so that I could rest.  I definitely need rest.  I look horrible!

With His help, I found the faith, hope, and strength to go the distance…even when I could not always see the finish line. I knew that I would be able to reach the prize–which had already been fulfilled by Him.  I knew that He would give me rest.

I have decided that my faith in Him should not be just wishful thinking, but having a true passion; a trusting confidence that His promise of grace is for me–despite my past secrets, my present idols, or my future mistakes.  Through faith, God’s grace gives me freedom to be me—broken and scarred.

So when did my faith become real?  Every time I step out the door and experience various seasons.  Just putting one foot in front of the other, and walking out the door.  Now that’s having real faith to me!

 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.”  ~ Hebrews 11:1

Are You More? You Are More!

We all have some kind of God given talent.  Why is it so hard for others (including myself)  to recognize our talent?  Even worse, why don’t others knowing they have one…just don’t want to share it?  Isn’t the purpose of the body of Christ for us to come together as a community of believers to share, grow, and pray with each other?  Shouldn’t we be lifting each other up to Him, and all for the glory of Him?

Maybe there is more?  Maybe we are more?  There are so many people who have great talents to share, and in many different kinds of ways; such as through poetry, good communicated thoughts, through art and music, and even from experiences or intuition that allow for sharing of wisdom. People might begin to realize that they have the potential to be more than they think they are…or even more than what others might expect.

I love Tenth Avenue North‘s song, “You Are More“!  The making of the video (http://tenthavenuenorth.com/videos)  is a testimony in and of itself.  The band members are lighthearted in the making of the video; but, definitely get their points across.  The making of the video and the song should both be viewed.  Below is a portion of their song:

“‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done, 
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been, 
But where your brokenness brings you to.,

This is not about what you feel, 
But what He felt to forgive you, 
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made, 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You’ve been remade.”

  ~ Tenth Avenue North  “You Are More”

The band, and the producers, had people write in words and/or phrases that might include mistakes they have made, things they may have been labeled as, or painful experiences or secrets wanting to hide.

The lead vocal, Mike, reassures us that we all make mistakes.  No one is perfect (but Christ).  He also reaffirms that the good news from the gospel tells us that despite our mistakes…and because of the blood of Jesus…we are made new.  Do you hear that!  We are made new!  We are made in His image.  We can be forgiven for our past mistakes, our heinous secrets, or whatever lies the devil wants us to believe.

The fact they used real people in the video made it more apparently real to me.  Also, at the end when the water flows over the chalkboard, like art or a beautiful poem, I hold a visual in my head of these mistakes being washed away.  I can have a clean slate because of what He did for me!

…going back to the wisdom from others.  Not all wisdom needs to be taken as the “only” way.  That is why we have the good news of the Gospel.  We also have learned and trained pastors to help us better understand the wisdom that has been bestowed upon us—through His words.

So if we have good news to share why is there a lack of sharing it?  Could one person  do all the “reaching out”—trying to make a difference?  Of course not.  The problem may be that others don’t have the confidence to share.  More sadly, others may have not found their strength to share.   Sometimes a strength may come about from a weakness made known.   It could be right under their noses, and they not even realize it.

There is an exception to this rule.  The only One that could reach to everyone–did just that for us.  Jesus took it upon Himself to make a difference in our lives, and for our lives, by letting us pin Him to the cross.  In essence, we abused and neglected Christ by standing by, and doing nothing, watching Him suffer.  He gladly did this for us.

There is so much pain and affliction in this world.  I could not even make a dent in the list; but, one very dear, and close to my heart, is that of abuse and neglect. I realize this topic can be very broad with many different types; but, nevertheless…abuse is abuse…no matter how you look at it.

It is also a topic most don’t like to acknowledge because it is dark, and holds many secrets.

Abuse and Neglect can be an act or failure to act on the part of [the one being abused] which could result in serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; sometimes even death.

Lots of people don’t understand abuse; because frankly, unless they have experienced it…they can’t comprehend it. 

The sad thing is that many have been abused, and don’t even know it. I have had people tell me that they have never been abused.  After getting to know them, I may hear them tell a story of an incident that happened to them. In all aspects, it sounds like abuse to me.

There are no criteria, or levels, one experiences in order for it to be known as “abuse”.  It looks different to each individual; however, some abuses are blatant and are definitely noticeable. I would hope others might learn the warning signs, and try to reach out to those that have experienced such things rather than looking upon them as if they were a leper.  This may compound the issue, and break trust within the person needing help.

There are different coping skills for different circumstances.  Finding a healthy coping skill is important for healing to begin.  There are lots of resources; but, it is a matter of being able to utilize some of those resources.

The community of church is a great resource for helping survivors of abuse.  This allows for sharing, praying, and encouraging.  It not only can be a blessing to the one receiving; but, for the one giving.

The problem that arises from this situation is that some, who have been sheltered, may not be as accepting of the brokenness as the one whom it involves.  The one, who is dealing with the pain of the abuse, may feel as though they are being judged.  In most cases, the abused person desires to know that His grace is real, and to be accepted despite their heinous secret—their brokenness.

Trust needs to be made, so that healing may begin.

There are lots of Biblical resources that are accessible to those needing encouragement.  I would hope that His body might utilize some of those resources to help the afflicted.  Sometimes, not knowing what to do, the body may ignore the warning signs rather than aggressively seeking to help  heal the part that is ill. But, these are very rare instances.

Other resources may be groups that have people who have survived particular abuses.  They have the knowledge, and experience, to help with coping skills, give encouragement, and direct further—if further direction is needed.  There are many books, blogs, websites, etc. with a plethora of information.  It could be as easy as a click away to get some of the help needed.

Reading  books about surviving abuse is great; but, having an actual human that will share (or is able to share) their experience of how they found hope and changed their coping skills, is vital to the process of healing.  That is why a need for a “close” community is important. One wouldn’t go to a Chemistry class if British Literature was what was needed to be learned.  The same goes for a group that understands the abused person’s particular needs.

I realize that I [one person] can’t inform the people of the world, nor do I desire this; but, I do desire that we bond together, and gather as a community to inform.  Who knows, we might begin to make a difference in each other’s lives…and maybe that would help us in the community of the people of the world.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” ~Matthew 18:20

Where is My Love? Where is my Hope?

The question arises, how can a “faithful” Christian have such depressed thoughts that they may consider hurting themselves?  Even worse, what if they actually take their own life?  Could it be an alternative to facing their fears of rejection (broken trust), shame & guilt from some heinous secret, or a feeling of worthlessness and disgrace?

The Bible does say in Romans that we all sin and we all fall short.  We are human living in a fallen world.  But, knowing that we were sinners, God sent His son to be pinned and die on the cross for our sins.  Christ took our desperation and turned into something great to live for.

Granted most people, at least one time in their life, have probably had thoughts of ending it all (suicide).  The amount one dwells on suicide, or letting it consume their being, plays an important part in the level of depression one may be experiencing.  We live in a valley of shadow and death; but, within that valley there is life.

Christians are definitely not immune to trials.  Being a Christian does not solve all problems; but, it does assure one thing—His forgiveness of all our sins. This is great news!  Also, a lot of people think that Christians are “exempt” from the worst of these things.

HELLO!  So not true!  The devil works overtime to put Christians in a head lock that is impossible to get out of…on their own. Look at Job, Paul, and Moses…they were in some “real” messes that they became desperate enough to want to die.

You may be thinking, “What kept those ‘men of the Bible’ from doing the ‘unthinkable’?” It was love for  Him! It was hope in Him!

God intends for us to live a life that He desires for us…a life that includes Him.  God promised us a life of hope, love, grace, and mercy; but, He never promised a life where bad things would never happen to good people.

The truth is that the more we “live” our lives for Him, and through Him, the more the evil one tries to breakdown the life of His body in us; thus, trying to destroy us.  Because God gave us the freedom to choose, the evil one uses it to his advantage.  Satan tries to convince that harming each other, or to telling lies to disgrace…is the way of this world.  Sadly, many fall for his trap, and cause much pain for others…including myself.

The “world” can have two different meanings: 1) the world (biosphere) we live in, and 2) the struggles that we experience while living in this world.  Sadness and depression is a natural part of life.  God gave us these emotions (as well as many others) as a way of dealing with the brokenness of the world we live in.  It is the degree that we carry these emotions that can be detrimental to self, or others. Sometimes the reactions of our emotions may be due to an early childhood type of abuse; therefore, it is a way of coping.  The problem is as adults those same coping mechanisms don’t work the same way as they did with the child.

The key, in overcoming severe depression, is community…with others. Community can be within a group of church members, or within a support group outside of church.  Both can be vital in the healing and recovering process of the oppressed and depressed.  Research shows that a committed community, to those that are inflicted with brokenness, can become a vital part in the healing process.

We often need help from others to make sense of what is going on within our inner-selves, and to help us break out of patterns of sin and brokenness. Such freedom to discuss our inner-selves with another person creates a bond whose acceptance is not based on performance but on unconditional love.

The devil does not want hope or love to be found.  He will do everything in his power to divert the attention from Him to the lies of desperation that make us feel worthless (which pleases him the evil one).  He seemingly causes a feeling of overwhelming disgrace that begins abounding in once joyful hearts.  Depression can often become more agonizing than physical pain.

The Bible says that people are of great significance because of being made in the image of God—for His glory.  We have become adopted into God’s family. We learn that it is not what we’ve done to deserve to be a part of His family; but, what He did for us.  Christ’s death is the reason for our acceptance by God. He promises to never let us go.

This “amazing grace” that God has given us should lead to a life of dedication to Him…allowing us to fight the ongoing battle against the world of sins. God uses the trials of our life to help become more aware of Him, and to have a desire to be more like Christ.

God sometimes uses difficult trials to discipline.  In the fight against the evil one, hope is vital. We must listen and draw near to Him.  We must be encouraged that this is His sign of His love.

We are reminded that we don’t just struggle against our own idols, or sins; but, against “spiritual forces of evil” in the idol “world” of sin.  We must learn to put on the full armor of God.  We must wear it every day and always.  This will provide protection from the devil’s “fiery darts.  We also must “pray just to make it through the day”.

We live with many emotions.  We live with groaning hearts.  We live with rejoicing hearts.

Where is my love?  Where is my hope?  It lies within my faith knowing that there is a Lord, Jesus Christ, who sanctified me with His loving grace–by dying on the cross.

This is the day that the Lord hath made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it! ~Psalm 188:24

Another Brick in the Wall

It is that time of year…getting close to high school graduation.  There is a lot of excitement, anticipation, and relief that leads up to and follows this important milestone in life.  When I checked the mail today,we received an invitation to one such event.  My mind wandered and I couldn’t help but to remember my high school graduation…many, many years ago.

I was thinking about how we voted for “Most Likely to Succeed”, “The Funniest”, and of course the “Class Song”.  It seems our class was a little divided at the time on what should be the class song.  There were several who wanted Pink Floyd’s, “Another Brick in the Wall” and others that wanted the theme song to Lavergne and Shirley, “Making Our Dreams Come True”.   I will tell which one was chosen in a bit.

Today, while I was laying in my hammock, I was listening to the K-Love radio station, and Natalie Grant‘s song “Human” came on.  All at once all of these emotions and thoughts came swirling into my head.  They were actually interrupting my hammock time; therefore, I got up and thought I should write this before I forgot some important points…because I am getting to the age that I forget lots of things.

Now where was I?  Oh yeah, Natalie Grant’s song.  I have heard this song many times; but, I don’t think it ever made as big impression on me as it did today.  I am including part of the lyrics because it leads up to a thought I had.

Natalie Grant’s “Human

Every life has a choice to rise up to fill the void.
Every heart has a mission and we are called to be human.

We gotta do better than this ’cause we only got one chance to make a difference.
We gotta do better than this ’cause we only got one life that we’ve been given.

A little love, a little kindness, a little light in this time of darkness.
It’ll be what makes us different.  It’ll be what makes us human.
I’m human, you’re human, we are human.

We are marked with His image and we are scarred with indifference.
Maybe now we should listen; hear the cry of God‘s children.

It’ll be what makes the difference.  It’ll be what makes us human.

Wow!  Isn’t this wonderful that God has given us life, we are made in His image, and we all have a chance to make a difference…because we are human.  Will it hurt us show a little love and kindness toward others?  What about those (like me) who have sinned?  What about those who have been sinned against due to sexual abuse,domestic violence,  addiction, or maybe made fun of because they are different?  Would it hurt us to give a little of His Light to shine in a time of darkness for others?

Survivors, of any type of brokenness, often seek answers to spiritual questions from non-spiritual sources.  Most often this happens because they have been pushed away by people who said they were Christians (like me).  I am guilty of raining down on someone rather than being a ray of sunshine.  Sometimes pushing one away is easier than acknowledging the pain that another may have experienced.  This may cause more wounds which prolongs the healing process.  Sometimes the scarring for the survivor covers much of their body, and they may begin to hide their goodness deep inside.

You know  I claim to be an okay Christian, but guess what?  I sin and make mistakes all the time.  I’M HUMAN!  I don’t always reach out when I should.  But, on the flip side, I am also a survivor.  In some ways, we all are survivors of some sort of battle that may be unbeknown to us.

Because we are human we are in constant battle with the prince of darkness, and we need to remember to put on the full armor of God for protection.  God provides us with many pieces of armor; but, the belt of truth is an important place to start.

The definition of “truth” is the state of being sincere, in accordance with fact and/or reality.  We all desire to know the truth…especially His truth.  We want to know that His mercy and grace is real  no matter what secret we may have.  We want to know that we will not be rejected by Him even when our past comes to Light in this present darkness.

Others may claim that they understand what you have been through and how you feel– even though they may have never been through anything like that.   But, remembering that we are all human, each of our experiences are unique to us and the situation.  We all have a certain degree of understanding of each other’s pain.  Nobody’s experiences should be taken lightly.

Being human, we all have many different strengths and weaknesses.  The good news is that  co-habiting in this world together, we are able to share them with each other.  Unfortunately, some may not appreciate other’s weaknesses over their own strengths…but that usually means they may be overlooking their own weakness.

I believe God places people in our lives to help bring out these strengths.  Sometimes, others may have to work hard to bring them out…more like pulling, and sometimes it can be as little as a word of encouragement, or prayer.  I will say that establishing a trusting relationship can help; but not always necessary.  Either way, one can make a difference in another person’s life by doing as little as random acts of kindness.

Know that “Trust can take years to build, but only a second to break.”  When trust is broken one, or both parties, may feel that they have been betrayed.  A person can be good, and still betray the matter of someone’s heart; for instance, look at Peter denying Christ.

Betrayal is devastating; but, when those you thought to love you betray your trust…the pain is always worse!

When we become wounded we want to retreat and hide rather than facing our fears.  We become (pardon the cliche’) “another brick in the wall.”  That is where the darkness wants us to hide.  He wants us to join him in the wall just blending and having no confidence.  The darkness begins to make the wound worse by telling us lies.  He wants us to crumble and fall.

This was when I began thinking about Pink Floyd’s song and thinking…in a way we could use the words of his song as a rebuke to Satan.  Think about it, we could change the lyrics to make our rebuke.

“…We don’t need no thought control!   We don’t need your sarcasm!”   So, Satan leave those who are wounded alone!   All and all, you are nothing compared to Him.  “All and all, you are just another brick in the wall!”

“When someone betrays you, it can become their problem as well because they probably betrayed their own conscience.”  Being wounded we must go to God to cry out for healing; but, there comes a time to go back to the betrayer and confront them. Time doesn’t heal all wounds; so, if we don’t act “quickly'”, we give Satan a foothold causing the wound to fester.  The only thing that really heals wounds is the soothing salve of His forgiveness.

This led me to think about the Gimble/Fox song “Making Our Dreams Come True”  We could take the words of this song to make new matters of our heart.  “Nothing’s gonna turn us back now.  Straight ahead and on the track now.  We’re gonna make our dreams come true.  Doin’ it our way.”

BTW, if you were wondering what became our class song, it was “Making Our Dreams Come True” by Gimble and Fox.  We took a chance and made it.  Go ahead and  take a chance trying to make dreams come true.   But, instead of “doin’ it our way”, how about we try doin’ it His way!

His way is to put on His full armor of protection, and not let those words of deceit pierce us when we are wounded.  We should try being a little “human” and make a difference in the life of others.  Don’t be “another brick in the wall”! Allow His Light to shine through you by showing a little love and kindness on someone’s brick in the wall!

Light at the End of the Tunnel

One afternoon I began to reflect about the circumstances that have happened to me over the last couple of years, and how I have come to place where I am now.  I thought about the many ups and downs, and the many turns I have taken to get here.  How I should be 

Even in my darkest night, He has shown me His Light at the end of the tunnel.

Had Christ been trying to reveal His Light to my heart?  Have I been blind to His attempts to shine on me?  If I would slow down and take time to remember all of His gracious acts, my confidence in Him would be strengthened and my passion to know Him would be greater.  I need to draw near to Him so that I can better understand Him and His amazing grace.

Because of my childhood abuse, I have often longed for an exclusive relationship with others.  I want to be intimate– not like a sexual intimacy—but to share my thoughts, ideas, concerns, and to grow with others learning about the Kingdom of Christ.

With that being said, I understand that no human could ever fulfill the job description of being my exclusive other in a relationship. My expectations have been formed in my mind.  It’s really no one’s privilege to be in an exclusive relationship…except for God.

Frankly after the sexual abuse that I experienced from my step father, I had no desire to have an exclusive relationship–especially with a Father whom I really did not know much about.  What if He would be like my step father?  I only imagined that His anger was much worse than my step father.  I was frightened.

Then I thought about the love of God.  I had never thought about being intimate with God.  I began to look at Him in a different Light.   When I began to think about the things that I recently learned, and had read, I found that God was quite stimulating.

I never really thought about God “wining and dining” me.  That He truly considers me to be His bride.  I knew that He would love me and protect me like no other.  I never thought about God having exclusive rights of me. As an added learning bonus, I was excited to read about being given a special name on a white rock that only I will know that that it’s He who is calling me.  How cool is that?  Very intimate indeed!

In lots of ways I still behave like a child; for instance, I can be too needy for some—desiring more attention than deserved.  I also believed in such a way as to have child-like faith.   I thought there would be someone to love me unconditionally (here on Earth) and protect me from the evil–like I had experienced as a child.  I passionately wanted this  love to happen to “me”, and more importantly–for “me”.

I had not realized that my thoughts had become all about “me”…my own desires, selfishness, and of course – my pride.  All these things had become my idols.  I always thought that idols were people, or material things.   I never really thought about my emotions as being idols.

Although I have been/felt betrayed, abandoned, and even mocked; I had not realized that I was letting the load of shame and guilt take control of me.  They were becoming and being made my idols.  I was in a whirlpool of idolatry.  I know that others have alluded to this many times, but it is hard to get a stubborn person to look into the mirror to actually see them as they are—broken and scarred sinner.

I found out I had a lot of anger that had  become deeply rooted inside of me.  My anger varied from different things, to certain people, and even to my God.  The poison that built up inside of me was festering and being shown as contempt for self, and others.  It even brought me to the point of considering suicide as a choice rather than honestly facing my fears and anger.

Jesus does comfort all who mourn!  He bared all of my sins and iniquities on the cross, so I could live.  I have no right to take that away from Him.  Only He decides when it is right for me to meet Him in Heaven.

I have learned that people are human, and I should not expect more from them; to be all “healing, loving, and protecting” to me.  But, I do think God sends those that surround us as confidants, or “attendants” on His behalf.  They are placed in my life to help me understand the wisdom that has been bestowed before me.

I have discovered that I have much insecurity.  I do not always understand what is being taught.  Not wanting to acknowledge that I really need help, I blow up in a fit of anger.  In essence, I hurt those that I really care about, and really need.  There is no excuse for my behavior.  I can only ask for forgiveness.

Again, I have been thinking about the different pieces of the puzzle that others have been trying to teach me.  They have patiently tried to help me piece it together. Once the puzzle is together, I should realize that Jesus is the best, or exclusive, gift I could ever dream of receiving.  He is, and should be, my all!  He is on the side of the brokenhearted!  He is my champion–my knight in shining armor.

True brokenness will lead me to Him, and help me to break free from my idolatry of shame; the shame I have carried from my past into my present.  I learn to be repentant, and not let my pride always get in my way. I shall have faith that He will lead me to the Light at the end of the tunnel.  He passionately desires this for me…to learn to find my way toward Him.

Christ is my everlasting Light,  and the darkness of my past shall be no more.  I see the Light at the end of the tunnel.

Why Take the Time to Answer the Child’s “Why”?

Oh to be young again and to have the kind faith that only a child can have when they look up to their family.  In the early years the child really depends on their family a lot.  While growing up the child can be quite dependent on certain members of the family, asking lots of questions.  Usually a child seems to know what family member can be trusted, and is willing to listen to their many questions.  The other family members should not be offended.  The child will grow up and become more dependent learning to love all of the members of the family.

Having the privilege of being a parent and a teacher, I have witnessed children asking many questions of “Why?” or “How come?”  There are days I love those little inquisitive minds, and other days I just don’t have the patience.  I try to answer their questions with a smile, and take their questions seriously; but, I have been known to give sarcastic answers on occasion.  No one can be perfectly happy answering all questions asked, nor is it expected.

When it comes to the Bible, I often ask questions of clarification…because frankly, I don’t understand a lot of what I am reading, hearing, or maybe I am interpreting it wrong.  If I am unsure of what His word is trying to reveal to me, I think–go ahead and ask questions.  Didn’t Jesus say, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these…”?

Dare I say that Jesus was calling us not to only rely on “blind” faith, but to ask questions, seek answers, and find evidence of His truth within His word?

Lately, I have wondered that if I did not ask questions and get clarification, what kind of case for Christ would I be able to make to others.  Could possibly the same questions I had–be one day asked, from those of this world, to me?  Would I be well equipped to answer such questions?

It seems to me that there may not be enough encouragement for this question-asking and answer-seeking process within the family of the church. I am not knocking the church at all.  Most of the time, she does the best she can with those “little rascals” (like me) who tend to get off task. But, could the family possibly lack the understanding as to why the child may want an answer to their particular question asked?  Could it be the family is only confident answering the child’s obvious questions, and not their “super inquisitive” questions?   I fear some family members may think them not appropriate to the learning process.

The problem with choosing which questions to answer, and not answer, is that the child will leave their family and go out into the world.  If the child’s family has not prepared them with a solid biblical foundation, they might encounter others that could quickly convince them that His truth does not set anyone free at all.  The world may also say there is no grace or mercy in forgiveness of shame and guilt the child might have in their heart…for whatever reason they carry this burden.

Satan is always putting obstacles in the way of the child so that they will fall down. Without the proper nurturing of their spiritual growth, the family may see another soul fall away.  I would hope that the family would feel great sorrow for the loss of their child, if this were to happen.

At the same time the child should take some responsibility on their own; listening to their family, heeding what they say, and becoming passionate about learning His truth and grace.   Along with the growing passion of the child–the family may also grow to be confident in answering the child’s many questions, and not just the obvious questions.  By not ignoring the child’s questions—the child will become better equipped for the challenges of this world, rather than having the world challenge them.

Pardon the cliche’… but it definitely takes a whole family to raise a child.  Why take the time to answer the child’s “Why”?  Because if the child can learn the Truth of God’s Word early on and put on the full armor of God, then they will be better equipped to make a case for Christ when they enter the world.  Having that prior knowledge from having caring family could make the whole difference for survival in the world.  They will be confident knowing that their faith and hope is found in Christ.  All it might take on the family’s part is a little childlike faith. His Kingdom could be furthered by taking into account the innocence of the child’s questions, and taking the time to answer them.

“…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you…”     ~ 1 Peter 3:15

As You Wish…Broken For You

I definitely seem to be in a battle of Spiritual warfare.  It seems Satan is always trying to make me feel worthless; therefore, it’s important for me to surround myself with a “friend that loveth at all times.”  Knowing that, I am far from being a good friend; I can definitely get wrapped up in “my own little world”.

I was thinking about this on a bit deeper level. There are people in my life who are more like acquaintances.  They have really not touched the inner core of my personal being, and I seem to be able to carry on a nice casual conversation.  I thought this funny that I could  meet a stranger, whom I will never see again, and greet them with a certain nicety.

On the flip side, there are a few that I regard as trusted confidants; those that seem to “loveth me at all times”…even during my bad times. I am sure I catch them off guard with my “irrational” emotions.  I can only imagine being my friend can be rather taxing at times.  I definitely have a funny way of showing  loving kindness on certain occasions.  In the midst of trying to understand, or confront, my own emotions–I seemingly confront them emotionally & not always rationally.

One moment I can be positively nice, and in the next moment, I can confront them with some insidious remark.  I will say this is not a normal practice of mine.  Yes, I may say something totally ludicrous; but, not always hurtful.  I make no excuses for this behavior when it occurs. I must be sincere in asking for forgiveness when this happens.

…Switching gears with my ADD thinking…

God tries to confront me with His goodness.  Sometimes I consider Him to be “interrupting me”, and not think Him to be very important.  I am not always thankful for His “interruption” in my life.  Like my unwanted emotions on others, it “seems” as though God confronts me at unpredictable times.

On the other hand there seems to be times that I am encountering loneliness, heartache, and pain.  During these instances in my life, it “seems” to me that God is not “interrupting” me at all.  In fact, I feel as if He is ignoring me.

I have to realize that it’s not because God wants me to “suffer”; but, that He wants me to know that He has an “unimaginable” pleasure–for me.  His grace and mercy covers me in these dark times.  His arms are wrapped around me.  I just have to keep that in mind, and not think that He is trying to “trick me”.

Satan tricks.  GOD DOES NOT!

I am reminded of a quote that Westly tells Princess Buttercup in “The Princess Bride”,

Life is pain, Highness.  Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Again, God really does love me!  He is not trying to “sell” me something.  He loves me unconditionally!  In return, God desires for me to come to Him, and tell Him I love Him.  He is filled with great joy and happiness when I do so.  He is not out to “trick” me.

My husband, Sam, had me listen to a message by Jamie Lash one afternoon.  It reminded me of how I sometimes think God is “interrupting” my day.  That His will for me may be “interrupting” what I desire for myself.

     After listening to one of Jamie’s messages, a lady stayed behind to ask him a question.  She was obviously, like many, afraid to abandon herself to God’s will.  She asked Jamie, “What might God want me to do with my life?”  She was worried that He might want her to do something that she really did not want to do…or that was not her will for herself.

     Jamie went on to ask her, “What if your child was to come up to you, and say that he/she really loved you with all of her/his heart. Would you, in turn, laugh an insidious laugh and say, ‘I got you now!  From now on you will clean the toilet every day!  I finally tricked you!”

   The lady was offended and said, “What kind of mom do you think I am?”

    Jamie’s response was, “What kind of Father do you think God is?”

WOW!  Through my brokenness, God reveals His goodness to me…even when I think He is “interrupting” my will.  This is great news!!  “No matter what my experiences have been with my “earthly” parents, or as parents to our children, we are to give voice to the cry within us for the Father who nourishes us and protects us.” (Dan Allender, “The Cry of the Soul”)

I think it very ironic that my experiences of pain, fear, anger, & shame (of the world I live in) actually bring me closer to the joys and mercies of God.  This is the way He intended for me to really live.  God delights in me!  He desires me to “dance with Him wildly”.  He goes to great lengths to keep me from pursuing others before Him.  He wants me to desire Him as if there were no other lover.  I need to remember how intimate He is…with me. I am His bride like no other.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith,

who for joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame…

~ Hebrews 12:2

Christ is not trying to “sell” me something, or even “trick” me.  Above all things, Christ bared my shame, so I could live in joy!  The least I could do is praise Him with adoration, and not confront Him with irrational emotions.

After all,  He was nailed on the cross and He did not laugh an insidious laugh.  Instead He said to me,

As you wish, my Beloved!  My will be done.  I became Broken for you!”

Two Unlikely Friends

I have worked at a summer camp for many years. In fact, this summer will be my 30th year to work at the camp. There is a beautiful place called Church Mountain that the campers and counselors hike up to every Sunday. The camp director, and good friend, Nan Manning tells a story about two unlikely friends. She begins the story something like the following…

“Just up the road from my cabin is the corral. Next to it is a field with two horses in it. From a distance each horse looks like any other horse. But, when you walk by the field going up to the corral, you will notice something quite amazing. Looking into the eyes of one of the horses they will disclose that he is blind. They have a milky looking film over them; thus, the name given…Milky Way. The camp owners have decided not to have Milky Way ‘put down’ and they have made a good home for him.

This alone is truly amazing!

If you stand nearby the field and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell ringing in the distance. Looking around to see where the sound is coming from, you will see that it comes from a great horse, Vindicator, for whom all the campers want the honor of riding.
Along with the other horses, Vindicator is let loose in the field to rest at the end of the day’s activities. The small bell attached to Vindicator’s collar allows his blind friend knows where he is, so that he can follow him to the food and be able to eat.

As I was watching these two friends, l noticed that Vindicator, the one with the bell, is always looking behind for his unlikely blind friend Milky Way. Vindicator is making sure that Milky Way hears the bell and is able to follow him. Milky Way does respond to Vindicator’s bell by walking slowly toward him…trusting that he will not lead him astray.

After eating, Vindicator returns to the barn for the evening to rest. He is always looking over his shoulder for his friend Milky Way to make sure he is following him.”

Like the camp owner of the horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect…or because we are broken. He watches over us and brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need. Sometimes we are blind like Milky Way and need to be guided by the bell of those who God has put into our lives to lead us. Other times, we are like Vindicator able to guide others and help them get to a point where they might not have made without the proper guidance.

Every one of us has the power to make a difference by reaching out to other. We should take a vested interest in the care of others. We need to get involved and be a part of another person’s world. We all have challenges and struggles. We all have some kind of brokenness and pain that we have experienced at some time or another. The biggest lesson we have to learn is that our choices can hurt or help others; therefore, learning to recognize those who may be blind may be difficult. Yet, don’t give up. We all have different strengths and weaknesses; but, the good news is that our weaknesses are sufficient through His strength. There are some who are gifted and are able to recognize when others are broken.

We must all think, “What can we do to help others overcome their brokenness, and reach their potential?” Making a difference may be being able to bring out someone’s weakness and help them turn it into strength. The strength is not to be advantageous for one’s self; but, to be advantageous in furthering His kingdom while helping others.

Establishing good relationships with others is a great start in helping others. Although we may not always “see” these relationships, it’s nice to know that they may be near. Sometimes it’s the hope that gives us faith in what we don’t see.

I have a friend who sends me surprise notes telling me how much I mean to her. That random act of kindness goes a long way with me. It’s like the “Golden Rule” that they remind of us so much at the camp, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you”.
Let’s try to “Do unto others” and make a difference by listening out for each other’s bells. We really don’t know what kind of brokenness that another person is experiencing. Your bell may be the only bell they can hear and may follow.

So look over your shoulder, and try not to leave anyone behind. You may be an unlikely friend that someone is following to His pasture.

…Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest… ~Matthew 11:28

Be Passionate! Have Hope!

God can heal a broken heart, but He has to have all the pieces.”

Only when we become passionate about dealing with our painful experiences can a deep healing take place that we desperately desire.  There is hope in healing, and hope leads to freedom.  Freedom will come when we have faith to trust in Him.  Truth is our hope is found in Christ; but, lack of faith can stand in the way of our passion to heal.

Ultimately the truth is that it is not within our power to always run the race, and to go the distance by ourselves. We will fail, every one of us, alone. That is why we need the Author and Finisher of our faith, the One who is able to keep us from falling. With His help we can go the distance gaining the prize of His life—that He died for our sins so that we could live.  Christ fulfilled what we could not see.

If the Gospel brings about true freedom, or I like to think “free to be me”, then in essence His message brings us hope.  Not just for today, but for the future of His Kingdom.  One of my Pastors told me that, “God’s grace gives us freedom from despair and pride.”  Truth is, that we can have hope to “carry on”, if we let His grace free us of our idols of our sinful nature.

Finally, I was thinking about a J.R.R. Tolkien poem:

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.”

I was thinking about how Christ did not much look like a King during His reign on Earth; in fact, he probably had similarities to that of a ranger.  The only crown Jesus wore was a crown of thorns.  But through the Gospel we find hope.  We learn the truth of God’s mercy, grace, and justice.  Knowing all of these things, we should be able to seek His Kingdom—where the crownless again shall be King…of all Kings.

Be passionate!  Have hope!  Truth and freedom came and He will come again.  Hallelujah!

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