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
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
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.
“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:
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!