Tag Archive | Lord

An Unexpected and Undeserving Gift

Courtesies to live by!

Courtesies to remember in our daily lives!

No one told me that when I turned 50, I needed to take out an extended warranty. I was the person who dove after balls, and lifted things without properly bending down. Yet, when I turned 50, I began to quickly deteriorate physically! It hasn’t been pretty, and I don’t appreciate what’s happening to me! Despite me seeming to be falling apart, I recently received an unexpected and very undeserving gift…kind of like grace. It was definitely God giving me a much needed wake up call.

I will admit, I have begun to lose track of what’s important, especially in my daily walk with the Lord. I have forgotten many of the common courtesies about how I should live my life. I should love generously, be happy, help others, be grateful, and above all…count my blessings.

On the other hand I say, “What you talking about? Life is hard!”

I know what I’m supposed to do, and yet I’ve been miscalculating, and missing the prize altogether. I’ve been literally, and figuratively, missing the mark of the high calling of Jesus Christ. I’ve been stuck on family things, monetary things, not feeling well, and just not believing in grace…period!

I have posted the definition of grace before, but apparently I still struggle with its meaning. I’m like the prodigal son who hasn’t returned, and hoping to be forgiven.

Grace, n.: undeserved, unmerited, unearned, favor.

Grace is something that I most desire, but often feel that I’m not deserving of it for many reasons from past to present. I tend to forget that the amazing thing about grace is that it is an undeserving gift.

I know about God’s grace. It’s hard for me to fathom it at times. My daughter, Erica, is good about reminding me of this. She often talks to me, giving me pep talks, about how God’s grace is for the undeserving. Although it came at a big price, it’s freely given by God. His unmerited favor is that He sent His Son to die so we could live. He loves us unconditionally!

The word “grace” is music to my ears. Erica often makes me gifts with the words from the song “Amazing Grace” on them. I love it!

Now let me rewind to me turning 50, falling apart physically, and how His amazing grace has begun playing music to my ears.

I have had a mass in my stomach, and also in need of a hernia repair for a couple of years. I had been putting off surgery for many reasons: 1) I don’t like them, 2) I teach learning disabled children and they don’t like when I miss school, and 3) monetary reasons. I feel our monies could be spent better elsewhere.

Well, last fall things took a drastic change. The mass began to grow bigger, and was becoming more and more painful. I began to gain weight quickly. Then things took a twist. In December, I began to bleed. I ended up in the emergency room. The concern was endometrial cancer, and that took priority over the mass and hernia. Doctors began testing, but due to the holidays, appointments were hard to make with them. Early January, the doctor suggested I get a total hysterectomy. I was willing to do this, because I felt so bad. They would take a biopsy during this time.

I went to schedule the surgery, but to my surprise my insurance coverage had changed. My family pays almost $1,200/month for the various insurances we have. Yet to perform this surgery (because of the new laws), I was going to have to pay $3,000 up front for the hospital co-payment alone. This wasn’t including the doctor, anesthesia, and the rest of the hospital payment.

Tearfully, I had to tell the scheduler to stop! At this time we could not afford it. We are already in debt due to other family medical bills, and this would just have to wait. Since I couldn’t have the hysterectomy, the doctor said we at least needed to do a biopsy to check for cancer. I had cancer insurance, and if that were the case, then I could have the surgery.

Thankfully, the biopsy came back benign. We were relieved! I decided I would put that surgery off until a later date. In the meantime, the mass in my stomach continued to grow bigger. I knew it needed to be taken out, but we really don’t have the monies for that. We are just teachers, and we have a kid that was about to graduate college, one about to go to college, and one more at home. I just couldn’t think about it.

On Mother’s day, my oldest daughter texted me, and said she had a gift for me. She was about to graduate from college, and we would be going up for her graduation the following weekend. NOTE:Traditionally we don’t celebrate certain holidays, giving each other gifts, just because we try to save money. We are very blessed, and don’t really need some things…but family time is always good.

I texted back, and said I couldn’t wait to see her graduate, and that seeing her was gift enough.

I had no idea what was coming on the upcoming college graduation visit!

We arrived on Friday night, the night before Erica was to graduate. I dropped my husband off at the hotel because he was tired. My youngest, Jess, and I went over to Erica’s apartment to pick her up. I thought we might go out to eat. As we drive up to her apartment, I see Erica and her friend Kelli walking up. Erica had borrowed her whole graduation gown to save money and was walking up with the borrowed sash. She nonchalantly said let’s go up and get your mother’s day gift before we go eat.

I said okay, and we all went up. She put up her borrowed sash. As she was doing this, I saw on a table with a plaque that had the words from “Amazing Grace”. I didn’t think too much about it because I just figured it was some of their apartment decor.

I noticed Kelli beginning to film, but that’s not unusual. These girls are quite the hoot posting many a funny video online, or on Instagram. But this was to be no ordinary film. I was about to receive an unexpected, and very undeserving gift.

Erica picked up the plaque. I was kind of being silly quietly singing “Amazing Grace”, when Erica began telling me something that I never could imagine.

She said, “Dearest Momma! This gift is to show you one thing. ‘God loves you!’ Even if the mass were not removed we know that God loves you perfectly, but He has generously provided a way for your surgery through the body of Christ. No, you did nothing to earn it and that’s what makes His grace so amazing! I love you very much, and I know my love for you cannot compare to the perfect, unconditional, passionate, and proud love that God has for you!”

While this was going on, Kelli was still filming, and affirming what Erica was saying. Kelli was also telling me that God loves me!

Finally, Erica handed me an envelope, and in that envelope was the exact amount I needed for the hospital co-payment. I was going to be able to have my surgery! After paying the initial fees, I would be able to pay monthly on the rest of the bills.

I can’t explain what came over me in those moments. I began backing up away from them. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions: thankfulness, feeling guilty because I didn’t deserve this, excited, tears of joy, etc. .

I mean what does one do with such a great and undeserving gift as this?

Oh, but the story gets better!
Erica, and several of her college friends, prayed about needs and wants. She lifted me up in prayer with a need, and these beautiful students gathered up monies, among themselves, so I could have a surgery.

Mind you these are college students: some getting their masters, some about to graduate, and some returning to school next year. Most of these students have their own debts to pay off, and here they were graciously lifting me up in prayer, and giving me an undeserved gift.

I had the surgery almost two weeks ago. The mass was the size of a plum, and they fixed a hernia as well. As I lay here in bed, recovering from my surgery, I’m reminded of a Bible verse that I love so much!

“the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;” ~Numbers 6:25

The Lord has definitely shined down on me!

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting most of the students who prayed for me, and who made it financially possible for me to have the surgery. I still can’t stop feeling a little guilty for this amazing gift. I have always had problems with asking for help, or accepting such gifts; but, I have been truly blessed. That said, I thank these students from the bottom of my heart. I can never repay you all except with the pleasure of you all knowing that I better understand that God loves me graciously despite my weaknesses. Thank you all for sharing, caring, and showing me through your actions that God loves me perfectly.

Thank you to Erica Hairston, Kelli Stenke, Kaitlin Daugherty, Paul Feghali, Jacob Imam, Jeremy Feghali, Drake Osborn, Allie Matherne, Joanna Calhoun, Katy Craft, Haley Barton, Madeline Sneed, and Carly Beckham.

These young Baylor University students have taken Acts 1:8 to heart. They are making a difference in the world, and furthering God’s kingdom. They are witnesses for Christ, and will go to the ends of the Earth. They each have many different gifts that God has given them, and I pray that you will continue to share those gifts wherever He sends you all. God bless each of you in your journey to love the Lord, and the freedom that you will bring to others spreading His word.

God is truly amazing! These young people help to restore faith within me. It’s been a distracting few years. The best way to deal with these distractions is to turn to God, read the Bible, and remember the common courtesies to live by. I’m so very thankful, and count my blessings…especially for God bringing these young students into my life. These students who love the Lord so much that they gave me an unexpected and undeserved gift.

P.S. If you would like to see the link to part of the video of this gracious gift being presented to me, please check it out: http://instagram.com/p/qwqcwTmQsk/?modal=true

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Get Back Up Again!

Forgiving doesn’t mean to forget about the pain.  It means to no longer let the experience hold you back for another season.  Only His abounding grace and mercy allows you to break free and to get back up again.  I will not give up!

Even though I may be one, and am surrounded by oppressors, I will never be totally crushed by them.  I will never give up, and I will continue to get back up again.

I may suffer embarrassments and become perplexed.  Often there seems no way out of my situation; but, I manage to survive.  I shall not despair…even if I am persecuted, driven hard, or ignored.  God will never desert me, nor make me stand alone.  Even though I may have been knocked down to the ground, I will never totally strike out.  No matter the difficulties that come my way, I will never give up. I’m stronger than the energizer bunny.  Yes, I have breaking points; but, when I recoup…I can get back up again.

I have become stronger and more courageous.  I have become persistent, more steadfast, and resilient with my faith.  I will try to remain fearless and determined no matter what obstacles lie ahead.  I will remain strong in the Lord despite my weaknesses.  I have the power of His words and the strength of his sword.  Victory will be mine!  I will be relentless on those that try to knock me down.  I will remember that I’m standing on Solid Rock.

Yes, we all fall short and sin.  We can be forgiven by Jesus, yet there are those who can’t seem to forgive.  Sometimes we can’t see past our own mistakes. I will be the first to admit that I make lots of mistakes.  I was in need of a change.  I finally realized that I was desperate for His grace.   It’s by God‘s mercy and grace that I, and others, can love and forgive and be able to make a change.

Our world is a broken place filled with broken people. Many often get a front row seat to this brokenness because God sends trials our way. These seasons bring us closer to Him.  So why do we feel that we have to grovel for forgiveness from others when Christ has already forgiven us?  Isn’t it what God does in the heart of a person rather than waiting for something to happen?   Shouldn’t we use some of our experiences to go out and further His kingdom?

There are  those who are called to walk with others through this deep personal pain. Gratefully, some have helped me to find my way through some of my seasons to stronger days.  It’s through a few confidants that only God  gives them grace to persevere and have good wisdom to give counsel. Sometimes counseling can be in the form of encouragement; sometimes admonishment. Sometimes people have to hear things they don’t want to hear…or say things they don’t want to say.

My pastor said that a good entry point into grace is in and through Christ…the One who liberates us.  Now we can become empowered by our obedience to live a life that He intended for us.

When we find freedom from our sin through Christ, not everyone allows us to be free from our sin.  I don’t feel very liberated when some may hold a grudge from something I have done.  I feel there are times that many (including myself) have a disconnectedness from “grace” within our own lives.

In the church we are called to help others understand His grace.  Not everyone seems receptive to “reaching out.”  If there is a disconnectedness…why not get reconnected? There are a few that seem to ask, “What’s in it for me?  How will reaching out to others empower me?”

I like what Robert Munger said, “The Church is the only fellowship in the world where the one requirement for membership is the unworthiness of the candidate.”

If we are a part of the body of Christ, we are called to encourage one another.  Don’t say that the community is like a family reunion and then never include some family to the reunion.  That’s wrong!  People get there hopes up thinking they will be included…just to be let down that they were just words.

Jesus is for everyone…especially His grace and forgiveness!

My new acquaintance, Mark Wilson, wrote, “A long time ago, Christian forgiveness used to be called, ‘the truth will set you free’.”   The problem is that not everyone feels that way.

Mark  noted that, “It is not possible to become entirely whole unless we are in relationships with the people around us. But as we give love and receive love – or learn to – then we can grow, heal, evolve and heal and become whole. We also can’t come to wholeness if we refuse to be an adult and grow up, take ownership of what happened to us and mature. What happened was not good, but ignoring it won’t heal it and won’t make it go away.

Mark also said it’s hard to under-estimate how important forgiveness is. If you refuse to forgive…the Lord’s prayer says that you will also not be forgiven. It’s really just that simple. If you refuse to forgive… you are harming yourself, and your own fellowship with Christ.

Try to think about if there is someone you know that produced sour fruit…in the beginning of the relationship.  Unbeknownst to you their fruit began to ripen.  Maybe you are blind to the changes.  Maybe you haven’t noticed the changes, or time has slipped by without concern.  For whatever reason, the fruit has become sweeter; but, because of our disconnectedness the new found fruit is not shared with others.  Instead, we may only remember being “snake bit”.

If we are truly liberated by Christ and we are members of his body…then maybe try to reconnect with the other member.  Try to remember that His grace is abounding with joy.  Why not share the joy of the fruit that has been made new and sweet with the one who was once sour. Reconnect.  Make a Difference.  Show grace.

Being faithful is the work of the Spirit.  We can’t do it alone!  Great is Thy faithfulness!

Faith is not what we look at; but what we look through.  It’s not what we have  focused our lives on but that which we should focus our lives on…on Him.  If we are God centered, then change becomes evident and we can make a difference in our own life and in others…to try and further His kingdom.  It won’t hurt members of the body to reconnect their disconnectedness.  What would Jesus do?  He would welcome any member to His body.  Again, His grace is for everyone!

Stay strong!  No matter what is thrown at you…don’t let it knock you down.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” ~ Psalm 46:1

God, my heart is truly, truly comforted by Your promises, by Your love and mercy; refuge and strength.  I want to establish myself, permanently placing myself in Your word and in Your works!!!  Thank You God for giving me strength and helping me to get back up again!

God Definitely Has a Sense of Humor!

I think God definitely has a sense of humor!

Got questions.org says, “Perhaps the best indication that God does have a sense of humor is that He created man in His image, and certainly people are able to perceive and express humor.  Having a sense of humor is the ability to perceive, enjoy, or express what is comical or funny. According to this definition, then, God must show an ability to perceive, enjoy, or express what is comical.”

Humor has its place in the spiritual life. There are many religious people who tend to take themselves way too seriously. Humor is important because it helps us to understand how God views us and the world.

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’.”  ~ Psalm 126:2

Please bear with me because I would like to write about a story within a story. I feel that it will be quite humorous…well at least to me, and a few others.  I also want to make a disclaimer. I’m going to mention an undergarment in this blog; but, I feel that it’s not too offensive.

I was taking my youngest daughter, and a friend, to see Tim Hawkins and John Branyan. These two gentlemen are great Christian comedians. Their acts make for a night of laughter. I love the fact that they incorporate how God has a sense of humor, and give examples of thus.  I laughed so hard, that I literally cried tears of joy.

Prior to the show, the girls and I had gotten some frozen yogurt .  On the way to the church, where the show was to take place, my youngest turned and told her friend that I write a Christian blog.

With all seriousness, my daughter’s friend turned to my daughter and said, “Your mom does something with Christian bras?”

There was a pause, and then I began to laugh.  I had to apologize because I was really not laughing at her; but laughing at what she said.  I loved it! Then I had to expand on what she said.

I told the girls that was a great idea!  I mentioned that my oldest is a college student, and that she had left one of the particular undergarments mentioned at our house–while she was home for the holidays.  I thought for a moment, and then went on to say that maybe I should write a bible verse on the undergarment upon mailing it back to her.

Then we all laughed about it!  What a great idea!

I’m not trying to be disrespectful at all.  I’m obviously not really going to make a line of undergarments with verses on them; but, I may surprise my oldest.

I love the verse in Numbers 6:25.  It says, “…the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;…”  I was thought that would be a great verse to put on the under garment!  She loves the Lord with all of her heart, and has a great sense of humor to boot.  I think she would think it was hilarious!

A week after we went to comedy concert, I was picking my youngest up from play practice, when I saw her friend’s mom.  I wasn’t trying to embarrass her friend; but, I had to recount the conversation that had transpired just a week before.

To my surprise, the mom had a great sense of humor as well.  She followed up by saying maybe I should write a verse of protection on the undergarment. 

Hmmm!  I thought maybe I should write, “God protects us from evil.” ~ 2 Tessalonians 3:3  

LOL!

I’m sorry but I laughed so hard just thinking about it.  That was really funny!   I thought that the mom may be on to something.

Again, I’m not going into making a line of Christian undergarments; but, what a great laugh I have had recounting the story. I have yet to send my oldest her undergarment back; but, I still plan to do within the next couple of weeks.

Tim Hawkins and John Branyan even talk about how people ask them if God has a sense of humor.  They have both said that God definitely has a sense of humor.  You will have to catch their show to find out what they have to say, or check out their websites or videos.  They are definitely funny boys, and use their God given talents to make many laugh.

I’m thankful God made us in His image, and gave us a sense of humor to make our life here on Earth more enjoyable.  His word also states that, “A joyful heart is good medicine,…” ~ Proverbs 17:22.

Why not take advantage of the medicine God speaks of…having a joyful heart?  LOL

“I Can’t Carry It! But, I Can Carry You!”

Toward the end of Tolkien’s book “The Return of the King, Frodo says,

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.

Because of my past sexual abuse, I have a few things from my past that the hurts go rather deep.  I’ve thought…could they ever really mend?

My pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that, “By giving into the fear of darkness, it will only compound the pain and evil of what has already happened.  By you keeping things hidden it will gain power over you.  Remember, that God is Light and there is no darkness in Him.”

The hope in my brokenness is through the Light of Jesus; because through His Light all darkness shall go away.

My pastor also told me that I had been standing–waiting in the dark.

I have ignored the Light for many years.  While I had been waiting in the dark, I remembered that there was a light that had been behind the “door of my heart”.  I had been longing and hoping for the Light of Jesus to be shed on me.

Come to find out–Jesus’ Light had been there the whole time.  I just needed to turn around, truly see Him, and let Him into the dark places of my heart.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  ~Psalm 34:18

Looking back, I suppose Jesus allowed the memories of my past abuse to resurface because it needed to be dealt with.  Maybe the Lord was reopening these wounds, so that I could truly forgive my self, and others.

For years I felt intense anger, and had tried to ignore my emotions.  I was angry at my stepfather for the sexual abuse he had committed. I was angry about the memories that I had been left  to deal with.  I also felt guilty about being angry.

After studying Psalms, and learning about God’s emotions, I began to learn about my own emotions.  It helped to see some examples of how God felt about certain things; therefore, I was better able to understand, and was able to let some anger go as well.

It has been a slow process; but, I have made some progress.

I’m not going to lie,  opening wounds, is a lot of my own fault!  No one makes me hold onto the past.  The last few years I have been searching as to why I have harbored so much pain deep within.  I don’t want to pick at my wounds keeping them fresh; but, sometimes I find myself doing just that. While keeping them open, it has caused pain for myself, and others. It’s a vicious cycle that had potential to consume me.

In my desperation to find out answers of why others could not understand me…I began hurting them.  I hurt the very ones I cared about.  I might verbally be abusive, and this only compounded the feelings of guilt that I already felt. I began to feel that I was not worthy.  I felt that I was a mistake, or a disgrace, to all that were around me.  Once again the cycle was in place and continuing to gain force.

Sometimes, I couldn’t stand myself  for what I had done; thus, on occasion I hurt myself.  I felt that if I hurt myself–there would be some restitution for hurting others verbally.  However, most did not know that I had sought restitution…within myself.

I began isolating myself.  I thought that  isolating my self from others–would “save” them from me.  In my mind this is how I thought I should “handle” this type of situation. But, in isolating my self, it caused much pain of feeling abandoned…even if I was the cause of my own abandonment.

I have a friend Joey who recently told me that, “the one who abuses is usually the one holding onto their own personal wounds. They never really heal because they keep picking at the scabs, re-opening the hurts of the past and keeping them fresh. Then they lash out at whoever is closest to them, because the ones that originally caused the hurt are usually long gone. The wounding then becomes transferred to another victim. It becomes a vicious cycle unless the abused can short-circuit the circle of pain; thus, the need for a professional counselor to help me.  His name is Jesus and I thank Him every day!”

These were some words to mull over.  These were strong words of wisdom.

I began to continue picking at my wounds–keeping them fresh and open.  I felt few seemed to understand me. I felt others didn’t believe that there was great suffering in my past.  I felt I had to defend myself to others so they could understand. I felt since they had not experienced that kind of abuse…that they may feel how that could have happened. I also felt worse when some didn’t want to understand my past at all…to be discarded.  I felt they were extremely insensitive.  I let these feelings cause great confusion within me.

Now, pondering what my friend said…I realized that Jesus is the best counselor.  My pastor and I had also talked about how the Lord had given me His Holy Spirit–to be my counselor/comforter.  He had been with me always, even when others were absent.  He walks with me right now!

I definitely need to hold onto this truth, even when my way seems very dark.  I know that there will be brighter days!

Knowing this I began to feel safe enough to take steps forward toward healing, and understanding Him.  I have learned that I could trust, and not all would judge me—no matter my mistakes. I was beginning to understand that I was not a misfit.

I tend to see things in night or day.  I am a perfectionist about some things and lack concern about other things.  My pastor told me that Jesus was less interested in me being perfect than in me knowing His mercy and grace.  The very mercy and grace that covers all of my mistakes.

Through great wisdom of many, I have begun to replace my thoughts of guilt with thoughts of His joy, truth, and grace.

Finally I am beginning to feel that I am loved, valued, and treasured.

I know there have been many prayers for me,  some like “Lord, keep Beth from lying to her self.  Pray that she will begin to see Your truth—Your Light.  Prayers like, “May You be a beacon of Light for her in dark places, when all her other lights go out.”

Right before Jesus died on the cross he said, “Into Your hands, Father, I commit my spirit”.

I need to commit my spirit to Him. I should no longer be powerless or broken from my past guilt. Through Jesus, I have the same power to resurrect myself from my pit of darkness, brokenness, and despair.  I should no longer feel guilt over my past.

Physically, on Earth, God could not carry my guilt; but, He told me to release it, let Him carry me, and finally be rid of it.

One of my favorite parts from “The Return of the King”, is when Samwise and Frodo are at the bottom of Mt. Doom.  Samwise begins talking to Frodo about the ring and says, “I can’t carry it for you! But I can carry you! Come on!”

The ring had caused open wounds around Frodo’s neck because of the weight of the ring.  Frodo needed to get rid of the ring; therefore, Samwise carries Frodo up Mt. Doom.  Eventually, Frodo was able to throw the ring into the fires…where it was destroyed.

God is telling me that He will carry me.  God would not have brought me to the abuse, and then back to the memories of it, or healing of it, if He could not bring me through it. His eyes are fixed on me.  Like the “refiner’s fire”, God begins to purify me of my past guilt, so that I can be made new in His Light.

Praise Him for His great strength, and Light!

Hidden Shame

Sometimes I had put up walls and hid–not to keep people out; but, to see who cared enough to break them down.

“Shame is a feeling deep within our being that makes us want to hide.”

I had hidden shame. It was such shame that stemmed from the feeling of being exposed (in my case I was exposed), being made visible, and examined by another who was rather critical of me.  Because of this feeling, I wanted to be invisible.

Experiencing this type of shame, my eyes began to turn inward–becoming an enormous self-judging problem.  I saw myself as a failure.  I felt as if I was a mistake, which made many mistakes.

As a child, I tried hard not to make mistakes.  I felt I needed to meet the expectations of others, or what I thought others wanted. I feared that others would reject me if I did not meet their expectations.

I equated some of my feelings of shame to the abandonment and isolation that I experienced from those important to me.  I apparently took this to be that I was not valued enough–to be taken care of.

As a child I was dependent on others.  Being valued was important to me.  When that support was missing, I am sure I began to unconsciously think I was unworthy–disconnecting within my world more and more.

At times my shame felt proportionate with the situation.  Sometimes, I was able to laugh off the small instances, and move on; other times, I just wanted to hide.  There are times I still just want hide.  It’s like when I hid behind my hands.  It gave me a sense of not being exposed.

Sometimes in my sense of hiding, or going away, is where the thought of suicide came into play.  I began to self-devalue myself, and self-hate.  Why not? Others have thought that about me…or so “I thought”.

The anxiety that I experienced as a child was often due to the fear of punishment.  My thoughts would be when would my step father come again?  What have I done to deserve this?  Will I ever be good enough to warrant praise?  I thought I must be very bad to be so punished.  I would often feel guilty for upsetting him enough to do such things.  I would associate feelings of guilt with being punished.  Even today, I may apologize for something that I did not do (although I do lots of things that need apologizing for).

I felt completely alone as a child.  I was alone.  I was the only child.  Within the solitude of isolation is where I began to think I was unlovable and even invisible—that I was a big mistake.

In essence, I began to lose myself within my self.  I tended to “magnify” how I thought others were viewing me.  I may had the feeling of disgust for not living up to other’s expectations.  I wanted to be needed, be perfect, and to be loved and accepted by others.  When my expectations were eluded, or thought to not be met, I felt isolated…even when it is my own self doing.  I still do this at times.

I know that some of the unresolved, unspoken, and repetitive shame I experienced as a child has caused pain throughout my whole life. My shame has been rooted into my heart in a negative way. I let those negative messages fester over the years.  It became a part of my everyday life.  I had become what I thought I was—a mistake.  I was lost in the darkness, not attempting to see any light.

Over the last couple of years I have begun to let the Lord use my shame to make positive changes in my life.  Jesus began to open the door to my heart.  This was the door that I have kept closed for most of my life.  He has slowly opened that door allowing me to look back at the shame of the sexual abuse that I endured.

I have leaned heavily on that door–keeping it shut for many, many years.  It is not that I had forgotten about what happened, but I chose to place it in a part of my heart that I did not want to see, or open.  It was nice and dark over in that corner—trying to be invisible.  I did not want to look; but, Jesus has taken my hand, and He has begun to slowly open that door.

Once He opened the door the memories of abuse came flooding back. I could see the various acts that had happened to me as a child, and I was scared.

While standing at the door I have noticed that there was a light behind me, but not really thinking much about it.

What was Jesus trying to show me about my past?

All of a sudden, I thought about how I felt when I was pinned down by my stepfather.  How I felt completely powerless, naked, and exposed!  I was angry!

Then Jesus pointed out to me how His naked, exposed body had been nailed to the cross, and He, too, was completely powerless.

And uh yes…what’s your point?  I am thinking about me, Lord, not you.

Then I began to think about those who were near me, and did not take up for me.  The time the “friend” was in the chicken shack while her uncle did the unthinkable.  How there was no investigation about how I got all those bruises?  Why didn’t the doctor pursue what he had original thought—that I might be pregnant?  There was no investigation.  Others sat back and did nothing!

Then Jesus pointed out to me that He, too, had friends and family who stood by and did nothing to help.

I had never thought about it in this way.  Yes, I know the story, but had I never really thought about how abandoned Jesus must of felt.  I was only thinking of “me” and how I felt.

It is true!  Jesus, the King of Kings, was nailed on the cross, and not one person tried to help Him while He suffered.  And who did He suffer on the cross for?  He suffered for all those who were watching in the crowd.

In essence, I was in the crowd.  I was the one who shamed Christ.  I pinned him down with my sins.  I was the one who caused His suffering and the exposing of His naked body.  Jesus took my shame.  He did it all for me.

Jesus could have saved Himself, but He made the greatest sacrifice so I could live.  Jesus despised the shame so much that He endured the cross taking on all of my hidden shame and guilt that I pinned Him down with and gave me grace.  The grace that I had so desired is now the grace that I have received.  Thank you for His love and grace that has given me hope to stop hiding my shame!

“…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame,…”  ~ Hebrews 12:2

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

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