Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A I Corinthians 13 Kind of Love

I've wrestled with the ideas contained in this post because it seems counter intuitive to what I want. If the reader will bear with me, without judgment, maybe we can get through this together.

I Corinthians 13:4-8a describes how unconditional love looks. Each concept contained in it has the potential to (and probably should be)be broken down and an operational definition applied but that is NOT what I'm going to do here. 

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." 

My Significant Other (SO) was (and is) an amazing guy, but not without his faults. I took my time letting myself fall in love with him because I didn't want to rush into a relationship without knowing fully what I was getting into. To see the twinkle in his eye as we spent time together, made me feel wonderful and so deeply loved. He a growing relationship with God, and he he was a combination of all the things I'd been hoping and praying for since my divorce. 

Six months into our relationship, I went to an out-of-state professional conference where there was a possibility of running into someone I had once been involved with, but with whom I'd eliminated contact since my SO was uncomfortable with it and saw, with good reason, a potential threat to our relationship. I had unfinished business that apparently needed closure, even though I didn't know it at the time. I'll get back to that.

My SO was not without his own baggage that had reared it's ugly head within the first couple of months of moving in together. For the most part, from the time he was a teen until he met me, he'd been betrayed be each woman he'd been with. His hypervigilance helped create the environment for what was to come.

At Christmas time, my boss threw an annual fundraising Christmas party, which I attended alone, because my SO, who was on house arrest at the time, had violated his parole again, and had lost the privilege to come. (I didn't know he'd had permission until after the fact - a pattern I have noticed in reviewing today's circumstances.) When I returned home from the party, at a very reasonable hour, he had been drinking with his mother because it was her birthday, and he wanted to, bluntly put, stick a finger inside me to see if I'd been cheating on him. I was mortified and when I became offended, he became angry. 

This wasn't the first time his jealousy, had caused problems. I had a male friend who had seen me through a few difficult times and kept pointing me back towards the Lord in every circumstance. My SO's insecurities made it next to impossible to keep this friend because it would create an argument any time there was contact.

Back to what happened out-of-state a few months later at the conference... I had successfully managed to avoid the Potential Threat (PT) until the second to last night of the conference. The annual dinner dance was attended by most people, myself and the two friends I'd attended with, included. We ran into a fourth friend that we'd see each year and the four of us enjoyed a few drinks. When I returned from using the restroom, there was PT, sitting at our table. Everyone knew everyone, but no one knew that PT and I had a past. I panicked and didn't know how to extricate myself from the situation without it raising eyebrows, so I sat down and the group was now at five. 

Typically, after the festivities, many people would find local bars to continue drinking and talking, usually until the early morning hours. It was a way of blowing off steam and having fun. The group of five was joined by five or six others I didn't know and set off for one of the hole-in-the-wall drinking establishments. The two friends I'd traveled and been rooming with decided to leave and go back to our hotel around midnight or 1 am. I didn't want to leave with them, primarily because I needed a break from THEM. The "fourth friend" we would see each year had promised to walk me back to my hotel because the neighborhood wasn't safe.

I stayed behind and as that friend got drunker with his friends, the PT and I started to chat and catch up on each others' lives. There was a brief period of about 20 minutes, where the old attraction started to come up and I knew that if I had given any indication that I was willing, heading back to his hotel room would have absolutely been a go. I excused myself and went to the restroom and took the time to look myself in the mirror and ask the most important  relational question of my life up until that time: "WHAT DO I WANT? A QUICK ROLL IN THE HAY, WHICH WILL GO NOWHERE AND END MY RELATIONSHIP WITH SO OR A FUTURE WITH THE BEST GUY I'VE KNOWN? AND WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO AS A CHRISTIAN?" I knew the answer and decided for the best guy with a future. 

I rejoined the group, who was even drunker, and realized that I was not going to have my bodyguard walking me back to my hotel. While I'd been drinking and was far from drunk, I wasn't used to being in this kind of setting and this kind of situation. I didn't have an arsenal of ideas to tell me what to do, so I asked PT to walk me back to my hotel, since he was stone-cold sober. (In retrospect, asking the bartender to call me a cab would have been the way to go. This was all new to me.) The lobby of this hotel was huge and there were still quite a few people sitting around in small groups talking, despite the hour. (Remember, my roomies had left around 1 am.) We grabbed a couple of chairs and finished catching up with him. We talked about our respective relationships and he was genuinely happy that I'd found someone who made me feel so loved. Around 3 am, we gave each other a quick hug and a chaste peck on the cheek and said good night.

Around 11 the next morning, my SO called and woke me from a dead sleep, and I realized I was dealing with a slight hangover. At the time, I was unprepared to initiate a conversation about what had happened the night before so I waited until the afternoon. I planned to tell him because I believe in complete honesty. I was thankful to God and overjoyed to know that I had faced temptation, worked through it, and been set free. 

When I did talk to him again, I was sitting on the hallway floor of the conference center, with hundreds of people milling about, and telling him the truth...that I had run into PT, spent time with him in a group, he'd walked me back to my hotel lobby where we continued our conversation and said good night. My SO's reaction was so violent and unexpected - he was convinced I'd slept with PT. There was no calming him down or reasoning with him at that point, and panic set in. I realized that if I didn't fly home early to try to fix this, it was going to disintegrate. Talking by phone was impossible; I became so hopeless and helpless, I was feeling suicidal. What was the point? He wasn't going to believe me. I even called my therapist, but he wasn't available at the time

I paid the surcharge and changed my flight, navigating an airport for the first time by myself, so I could get home to rectify the situation and assure him that it wasn't what he thought. When I arrived home, he'd been snorting cocaine and was angrier than I'd ever seen him. He wouldn't listen to anything I was trying to say, and I was a cheater in his eyes. I kept trying to say that I hadn't done anything wrong and that was my second mistake. The first being that I spent time with PT. After hours of trying to convince him of my fidelity and that he didn't need to feel the way he was feeling, it started to sink in that, I could have handled things differently, and even spending time with an ex the way I did, while on the up and up, was a betrayal of his trust. I was finally able to go from panic mode, to empathy mode, and acknowledged the way he was feeling. 

After several weeks fraught with not knowing if our relationship was over, it seemed that we had settled back into our way of doing things, so I started breathing a sigh of relief. That is not the end of this story, but only the beginning. Even as I write this, I feel anger rising within me at my SO for not believing me and not forgiving me, even six years later.

Ever since, I've become a  pretzel, playing a mental game of twister (right foot blue, left hand yellow) in an attempt to demonstrate my love and trustworthiness, to no avail. I've become bitter over the years at the questions that sound more like accusations, and the anger that comes as a result of nothing more than his worries, suspicions, and mistrust. Worse, I've become a shell of who I once was. I have lost my voice, afraid to speak about anything or disagree, because it seems to confirm that I'm guilty.

After yet another fight this past weekend, I finally worked up the courage, or maybe it's a "what have I got to lose?" attitude and asked him how long he's been ready to walk and why. His response was a two-fold charge and my actions, tone, attitude, have all continued to condemn because because they're filtered through this lens of guilt, instead of the truth and I'm bitter and resentful at never having been given any time off for good behavior. 

Let's review the two primary charges, both of which I've been found guilty of and condemned to a life sentence and continued punishment:


How does all this tie into I Corinthians 13? After realizing I'm still in jail and without serious help, will remain here, I needed to explore the real meaning of love and what it looks like. I don't believe he loves me in this way. Rather, it is conditioned upon how we get along, how I respond to him (or worse, react), and whether there is something that reminds him of my guilt. He would die for me. He would crawl across glass for me. Much of what he does is for me/us. This still isn't the kind of love God wants for us. He wants the kind of love for us that keeps no record of wrongs. He wants the kind of love that hopes and trusts and perseveres and believes the best

I've been just as guilty of failure in many of these areas, but the one thing I've worked on time and time again has been forgiving him for the many offenses he's committed. It seems wrong to bring them all up here, but the purpose is two-fold. First, I need to regain my voice and actually talk about the impact his sins have had on me, and second, to forgive on a much deeper love. 

Over the years I've forgiven him for:



























I feel like weeping as I go through and list his wrongs because there have been many and I don't want to remember them. Now I understand why God has me making the list...He needs me to go deeper in forgiving my husband. 

I know he has his own list. I can't fight that list anymore. He's going to do what he does, and that's between him and God. 

Am I defensive? Absolutely. Do I have an attitude? Yes. Do I have a chip on my shoulder? You betcha. 

That's not where I want to stay. The way I've gone about things has been disastrous for us. While I didn't bring up his offenses to him, thinking that I was being forgiving, I did take each one as information and change how I viewed him, along with how I reacted towards him. 

I want to be in a marriage where I know we forgive each other and I'm not consistently fighting against unforgiveness for his love. I want to know that my husband is working diligently to be patient and kind with me, isn't seeking only what he wants, but what's best for our family, who doesn't get angry with me on a daily basis when I mess up (because as much as I try not to, I will), who doesn't hold my sins against me, who protects me not just from the world, but from himself, who trusts me, who has hope for a better future for our relationship, who hangs in there and doesn't threaten to leave because he's fed up. 

I have a lot of work ahead of me, to change all of the bad habits I've developed over the six and a half years of our relationship. We have a lot of stuff to work through and I don't know if he is interested in changing anything about himself. I will continue to work on me, submit myself to the Lord's scrutiny, and allow Him to challenge me, correct me, humble me. Help me, Oh Lord, to forgive my husband completely and more importantly, CHANGE ME!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Psalm

This past Saturday, after yet another argument with my significant other (SO), I found out that a friend from high school, with whom I'd been close on Facebook, died unexpectedly that morning. I was already in quite a vulnerable state, since my relationship seemed so rocky and I was feeling incredibly confused about what I'd done wrong...again.

I broke down and wept, ready to give up on life and trying to wrap my mind around why so much was going wrong at the same time. Earlier in the week, we had applied with a local organization for financial aid to help with our rent. The situation was not hopeful, despite my best efforts and the hours of work I had invested to make sure all the necessary paperwork was complete. This, only days after being released from the hospital and far from full health and strength. 

Both of our businesses (we're self-employed) were falling apart, despite what I thought I'd heard from God about establishing mine within a year. That deadline is April 1st. Despite everything I'd done, clients were disappearing and my income was dropping significantly. Where was the establishing He'd promised?!

While talking to another classmate, an hour after the initial news, I was told that another person from school, with whom I'd talked a few times about very serious matters, had died the prior month. I fell apart and wanted to revert back to my old addictive habit of cutting to numb the pain. Thoughts of suicide were not far off. I wanted to run away, disappear, start over, and stop feeling.

While this battle raged within me, there were the competing thoughts that, all of this was an attempt to stop what was happening for the Kingdom of God. I started a small prayer circle via text with three friends from my old church less than a month ago. The Lord had renewed a passion for intercession and fighting through prayer for heaven's will to be done here on earth. At the same time, my SO returned to a men's group and was growing in his knowledge and understanding of, and relationship with all three parts of the Trinity. I was excited and hopeful, and knew that God was working in both our lives. These trials were designed to prepare and strengthen me, and I was hoping US, for the works of the Kingdom. The question running through my mind was, "How am I going to go through this? Will I let the enemy of my soul detour me and take me away from where my God was leading me? Would I stop praying and fighting because the price was too high?" I knew my answer would eventually be, "Hell, NO!" but I had to go through the questions to get there.

Feeling alone, I picked up my journal and what came out was a Psalm that flowed without thought but full of feeling and as I wrote, I wondered if this was the way it happened for David. This is that Psalm.

Lord, I am beaten, down, on the verge of giving up, quitting, running away. The enemy has been trying to run me off, make me disappear from the face of the earth, no longer useful in spreading the truth of who you are and setting captives free. He wants to see me dead, or at the very least, disabled. Why do I keep fighting? Why do I keep trying? 

I will fight as long as there is breath in my body. I can't go back. As much as I might want to, I can't. Back is death. Back is loss. Forward is victory, no matter the outcome. 

The person I depend on the most has forsaken me, left me for dead. My best friend has turned his back on me, seeing me now as an enemy. Restore me, Oh Lord! Bring back the joy we once shared. Do battle for me, Lord. Do not let the enemy encroach any further. 

Enough! Oh God! How much more can I take? How much is enough to accomplish your purposes, your will? Why do you not act? Why do you not move heaven and earth to help me? Where are you? Why do you delay? Where is your hope? Your peace? Where is your salvation? 

Act now, Oh Lord, to save! Come quickly to rescue us! How long do we have to stay in the grave? How long will death rule over us? How can we move in power when we are dead? Do you care? Are you working? 

I don't know what you're doing but I cling to you. Who else can I turn to? Who else has the power, the authority to act? You alone are ruler of heaven and earth. You alone are above all things and sit as judge on your throne. Seated above all things, you judge right and wrong. You as perfect judge, can decide in my favor. You alone can order my enemy to cease and desist. You alone can set all things right. I entreat you, Judge of the Universe, to battle for us. Set us free, Oh God! Silence the accuser. Slam him into the ground and make him turn tail and run. Run him off in your great power. 

Act quickly, Oh Lord! My strength is failing. My eyes are swollen with tears. My body aches from shaking. Where are you, my Father?! Why do you leave us to rot? Can we do any good if we are corpses? Because we are dying. The enemy has been having a field day, capitalizing on all of our hurts, fears, and sin. He knows all the buttons to push. 

But you know those buttons all too well. You can turn him away and seal off the buttons. You can take the buttons away through your great power. Your fame goes before you. Your reputation speaks for you.

So why do we not see the One behind the history, the testimonies, behind the great works you did when you were here? Do you care less about your people and your creation than you did then? Do you care less about us than you did about your people Israel? You rescued them time and time again with miracles so great that your fame was made known to all the nations. Are we not important to you? How can we be any good to you if you don't show up? 

You said you would take care of us. You said you would fight for us. You said you have overcome the world. If we are hated because of you, then we need your power to move through this world. Save us, Oh Lord! Move in power! Rescue us! Make us strong enough to survive the plots and plans and snares of the enemy. Restore to me my family, my best friend. 

Search me, Oh Lord, and wherever there is sin, eradicate it. Humble me. Make me to seek your will and your ways. Strengthen me to stand, Make me run towards you, towards the battle line. 

Do not let me be put to shame. Do not humiliate me in front of my enemies. You promised a feast in the Valley of Death in front of those who seek to destroy me. 

Give me your plans and vision, Oh Lord! Infuse me with more power, more strength. Plant me firmly in good soil on the banks of your River of Life. Let me drink deeply of your life-giving water that satisfies and restores my soul. 

You say that goodness and mercy will follow me all my life. Where are they? I'm being chased all over by fear and hate instead. Where are your guards? Where are those you assigned to protect me? Why do I keep missing you? Why do I not hear you clearly? Why does resurrection not come? Where is your truth that sets us free? Where is your abundant life? 

I will keep seeking you, always. I don't understand your ways. They are too glorious to comprehend. With my last breath I will praise you. Even when I am close to death, I will still seek you.

The enemy wants to kill me, to steal from me, to destroy me. You came to destroy him, so do it! Why do you wait? My strength is failing and I've all but resigned myself that the enemy will keep trying, over and over and over again. 

Take my tears, for they are many, and add them to the bowls filled with my prayers. Let them soften you to move NOW! I wait for your salvation. I wait for you to move. I will perish, and my world, too, if you don't act now. Show me who you are. Reveal yourself to me. 

Show me that you care for me as much as you did your son. Am I not an adopted daughter? Do I not have the same hopes and expectations and permission to enter your presence? Do I not move you to compassion for me, for us? You alone are our salvation. Only you can win this battle. Do what you need to do but only if you will strengthen me and bring your peace.     March 19, 2016

On March 21, in my daily time alone with the Lord, I was scheduled to read Psalm 30 out of The Message Bible. The Lord was gracious in letting me know He heard my cries.

I give you all the credit, Yahweh - 
you got me out of that mess, 
you didn't let my foes gloat.

Yahweh, my God, I yelled for help
and you put me together.
Yahweh, you pulled me out of the grave,
gave me another chnce at life
when I was down and out.

All you saints! Sing your hearts our to Yahweh!
Thank him to his face!
He gets angry once in a while, but across
a lifetime there is only love.
The nights of crying your eyes out
give way to days of laughter.

When things were going great
I crowed, "I've got it made.
I'm Yahweh's favorite.
He made me king of the mountain." 
Then you looked the other way
and I fell to pieces.

I called out to you, Yahweh;
I laid my case before you:
"Can you sell me for a profit when I'm dead?
auction me off at a cemetery yard sale?
When I'm 'dust to dust' my songs
and stories of you won't sell.
So listen! and be kind!
Help me out of this!"

You did it: you changed wild lament
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I'm about to burst with song;
I can't keep quiet about you.
Yahweh, my God,
I can't thank you enough 

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Christian/Believer/Christ Follower...whatever you want to call it

This has been the most important decision of my life...that of confessing I'm a sinner and need a Savior. Generally, I have no problem owning it directly if need be, but more often than not, I find I'm more of an "undercover" operative. I am like Paul - I am all things to all people so that I may win some to the cause of Christ (totally paraphrased). Whether it's prefaced with "the Bible says" or "Jesus said" or "God says" or if it's woven in without, the Truth is the Truth regardless. His Word doesn't return void.

Where I fall short, and this is where fear comes into play, is sharing my beliefs about controversial topics. Perhaps first and foremost, is the question of whether Christianity is the only true religion. Before I delve into this idea, I must first make the disclaimer that I prefer the idea of relationship to that of religion. Christianity is the only belief system that points out our inability to reach God. We cannot because of our sins. If we say we are basically good, then how do we compare with Mother Theresa or Gandhi? What makes it different is the idea of a Savior. All other religions require man to make his way to God. Christianity is God reaching out to save us.

There are many Christians today who believe otherwise. These brothers and sisters see many paths to God. I want to share my beliefs to offer another way of thinking. I believe the nation of Israel in the Old Testament was a foreshadowing of the New Testament Church. The OT is replete with admonishments from God not to get involved with other nations, worship their gods, or participate in their practices. He was calling them to be holy, a fancy word for "set apart." The call is still the same today. We are to be "in the world but not of it." We are to be "holy, even as He is holy."

Having said that, I see some believers who tolerate, support, or even encourage those who are seeking truth in other religions or belief systems. Where is the concern for where they will spend eternity? Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." Do we believe this? If not, then what else can be dismissed in our faith?

I'm not talking about a converation laden with blame, guilt, coersion, and the like. Imagine yourself in a relationship with the most wonderful person. Always forgiving, always loving (unconditionally, no less), always looking out for your best interests and succeeding, always there with you, no matter what you're facing. You can't ask for anything better. Now, you have a friend that is involved with a less-than-desirable partner. A cheat, a liar, a user. Inflicts unnecessary burdens and is a relentless task master. How would you approach this friend? Tell him or her not to settle? Tell them what they can look forward to in a real relationship? Of course, these kinds of talks take all shapes and forms. Let the Lord lead.

While it's true that Christianity and other belief systems may share some similarities, I believe that Christianity is the baseline from which to measure the others. I believe that Truth can be found in many different, unexpected places. That doesn't mean that we run to those places looking for more. We have the saving Truth we need in Christianity. 

Here's my caveat...I cannot even begin to understand God's soveriegnty, His love, His righteousness. Because He loves us all and He desires that none perish, He may very well have His ways all planned out to incorporate every last man, woman, and child in His kingdom. Until He reveals that to me in this world, I will choose to hold as Truth that Jesus is the only way to be saved.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Facing the Fear

It's been ages since I've even thought of expressing myself in writing, let alone actually did something about it. Wait a sec, that's not quite true. I've often thought of speaking out on facebook about how I choose to live my life or weighing in on such heavy issues as politics, same sex marriage, and the like.  So why did I not follow through? The most dastardly of emotions...fear! 

So much of my life I've lived from a place of fear and the need for self-protection. My behavior has often been driven by a belief that I am not acceptable for who I am. That, in fact, I will be judged by what I do and will be found lacking. It has been difficult at times to hold on to my true identity as a child of God. That, and that alone is what makes me worthy. It is not me, but Christ within me, that makes me "right" with God and therefore, it does not need to matter what others think. That's actually easy for me to say, but difficult to implement in my own life, especially when I have no evidence to back up my claims that I am right with God in my life's choices.

The fear creeps in unnoticed, insidious in its ability to appear as nothing but smoke or shadows. I find myself avoiding anyone from whom I feel the need to hide parts of myself. The result? I become more and more isolated from others. As this happens, my anxiety kicks in and shame is soon to follow.

These two are my red flags that my thinking has become seriously skewed. As I trace them back to the original fear, I have to examine what triggers the fear. This most recent episode can be tied directly to a conscious choice I made early in August. This choice has left me in a position of potentially having to defend myself, something that I've avoided throughout my life as well. Why should others be allowed to judge my decisions without understanding that I take nothing lightly when it is controversial. I pray about it. I look for understanding in scripture. I talk about it with the man God brought to me. I seek out counsel from others at times. Most importantly, if I don't receive a direct yea or nay when facing a choice, I make the most humble decision I am capable of. That's right, I said humble. I make my choice with the attitude of openness. I remain open to the very great possibility that I could be waaaayyyyy wrong and please, Lord, show me the truth.

So I think that in an effort to put this repeated pattern to rest, I need to come clean about who I am, the way I live my life, and why.

                                                                  Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Waiting on the Lord...

I find it so difficult to trust whatever it is that the Lord is trying to do here in my life. As I talked about in a previous post, I have been communicating with D, a person from my past, someone I went to school with from kindergarten through twelfth grade. He remembers us hanging out as kids, how scary my dad was, and that nobody was ever allowed in my house, all things that I cannot remember at all. But I trust his memories. Checking around inside, I find that everyone trusts him, with the exception of a part who calls herself Julia. This man was actually able to have a one-on-one conversation with her and all he asked is that she give him the benefit of the doubt. His intentions were not to hurt me.

After the initial revelation about the ritual abuse and DID, he took some time to process it but came back stronger than ever. He made a conscious decision that I should not have to pay for the sins of my parents. He realized that there were obstacles to be overcome, but he admitted that he really liked me and wanted to see where things would lead. We've spent hours talking. The level of honesty was amazing. Our communication was of the kind that I've never known before.

It has become necessary for him to seek sole custody of his kids because of issues with their mother. He's such a devoted father and feels things so deeply that it hurts him to take them away from their mother. He's hoping to also receive permission to move back here to be near family. The custody issue alone is a huge deal and emotionally draining. It brings with it a lot of unknowns and a restriction on his personal time that he would have devoted to getting to know me better.

Just finished chatting with him online and according to him, there is no possibility of anything developing. He feels badly about it, but after talking to friends, family, and his pastor, he believes that his focus must be on home and his boys. I agree. He just doesn't realize that I would be an asset to the process. We've agreed to be friends, and I can live with that. How can I do that, you may ask? B/c the Spirit of God in me is what attracts someone, and all I have to do is be myself.

Our chat continued. Things are completely messed up. He knows I'm angry and hurt. He's feeling stressed about a reservation that I made when we were supposed to be meeting up. He lacks the maturity to have an adult friendship with me at this point. He doesn't know how it works. It's so sad. And what's even worse is that I really think that God has been trying to orchestrate a relationship between us and his fear is what keeps it from happening. Now my own anger and hurt is what's likely to keep it from happening. I keep praying for a supernatural intervention, like Joseph received the angelic visitation telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The Lord has called me to fast the next three days and that includes fasting from contacting him. I don't know WHY God's asking me to do that. Things seem pretty hopeless at this point. He said that the friendship needs to find it's footing. I agree. But hey, at least it frees me up to move on with my life until he figures things out...does it? I don't know, now. If God wants us to be together, then should I wait for it to happen? Or should I move forward and God will bring him to his senses and it'll work out even if I've moved on? I still keep hearing God saying, "Watch and wait." He's been saying that all along. So I don't try to manipulate anything on my own.

D has issues. Of that I'm becoming more aware. He struggles with the fact that I have piercings...oh brother! My eyebrow and tongue are pierced. Big deal! he has problems with the fact that I have goth characteristics and appreciation for it's culture. He was a part of the dark side of that culture. He has a problem with the fact that I have abuse issues in my past. He's an interesting mix of conservative and liberal. He still thinks that one should dress up for church, but is angered that many in the church villify the homosexual lifestyle.

Today W&C prayed for me. They prayed that I would have only God's very best for me. I thought that D was it. He possessed so many of the qualities and characteristics that I have desired for so long. But if he's not God's best, then wow! whoever that is is gonna be absolutely fantastic.

And I talked with Hawaii Boy online earlier today. I miss him. He's been such a good friend and he really gets me. He admires me and appreciates who I am. He let me know that I have had an influence on his life in a positive way. I keep praying that he would find his way to the Lord. I think he's close. He expressed a desire to have a faith like mine, but he doesn't "feel" it. I think that he's envious of my confidence in my faith and how it guides me. His marriage is just about over. He's going to end it sooner rather then later. It would be difficult to stay away from him if he were single. Although he doesn't know Christ, his love and concern are intoxicating. Perhaps more so right now b/c I'm hurting from D's rejection.

Joel Osteen is on the tube right now. Never watched him, but there are some things that are reminding me of a prophetic word spoken over my life by Theresa Griffith. It was "Follow me. If you think you know where you are going, you won't follow me." I need to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord of the universe. He has His plan laid out for my life. Joel just said that my Boaz is out there. I'm unsure that I'm willing to try again. I take that back. I know I will. I just wish I understood why God drew me into a relationship with D in the first place and why He continues to tell me to "watch and wait." My inclination is to shake the dust off my feet and move on. Screw him. Who needs him? Am I that desperate that I want to hold on to someone who has been saying clearly that nothing is going to happen between us? No! I am just the kind of person who cares about people and knows that I have something to bring to any person because of Christ in me. It's not about me and my pride. It is about bringing the light, joy, and peace of Christ into those dark and difficult places.

So...when do I get my Boaz?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sins of the Father...

I find that the horrors of my past continue to follow me into the present. I don't think that I will ever be free from this legacy of isolation and despair. I have broken free, thanks be to God, from the influence of the group itself. The last (I believe) rope that kept me tied to them was my ex-husband, R. Parts of me recently revealed that he had been involved in perpetuating the mind-control programming and accessing alters to assure their continued involvement. Exactly what that involvement entailed, I am not clear. What is clear to me at this point is the following:

I have found it increasingly detestful to communicate with R in any way, but particularly by phone or text. Email is a last resort only when something MUST be addressed.

There was a period of time when he would call me, without fail, the morning of my therapy appointment. On no other day of the week would he call in the morning. That, of course, stopped during our separation and divorce. However, the week following the initial dicovery, he called and attempted to carry on a conversation, fishing for information about the current state of my life.

He never accepted and consistently supported my journey into truth. In fact, more often than not, he would attempt to discredit things that I was uncovering in my sessions. He also did not respond in a "normal" way to young child alters, prefering to yell at them and ignore them. Additionally, he would often push for a reconciliation with my parents. He willingly invited my mother in on the ocassions when she would appear on our doorstep.

My alters have shown me a conglomerate of pictures that include him holding an upside down cross, evil and malice evident in his face. They believe that our entire marriage was a set up, that the group intended for it to happen so that they could keep me exactly where they wanted.

What the group could not predict, nor prevent, was the working of Holy Spirit in my life. He opened my heart to the everlasting, unconditional love of the Father. He demonstrated His power that overcomes any and all evil. He has led me in His paths and exposed the plots of the enemy, setting him to flight.

I have recently reconnected with an old classmate from school. The first time we "chatted" online, I sense something that I can only call God's calling to me. There was a resistance within me to continuing a discussion and that was because I was fearful of becoming involved with him, even though it seemed to be what God was placing in front of me and saying, "Will you trust me and take it?" We have been talking online for hours now, and twice had plans to meet face to face. Both times they fell apart. Our discussions ranged from the mundane to the immensely profound and Truth was at the center of it all. There was open discussion about looking for a marriage partner, rather than simply dating for the hell of it. He posseses so many qualities that I have been longing for in someone with whom I could share my life: he's funny, kind, loyal, generous, spontaneous, sacrificial for his children, excellent parent, respectful, thoughtful, intelligent, seeking my best. He developed a faith in God after a time in the wilderness, making it that much stronger than if he had simply "followed the program" he had been raised with.

I knew that it was important to share my past with him sooner, rather than later. I felt it only fair that he know exactly what he was entering into. Little did I expect that his objection would be on the grounds of his children's safety. Their safety never was a question in my mind. I thought about his need to understand the spiritual implications involved, his disturbance with my having many alters and what that would mean (am I crazy?), I was even prepared for skepticism. Instead, he believed everything I said and immediately thought about what it would mean for his kids. Again...reasons to love him.

Now, however, I have to struggle with the very real possibility that he may end this relationship before it even begins. I have no idea what I can say, if anything, that will provide him the peace that he needs to continue in this, sans fear for his children's safety.

In a current conversation, he is asking me to go back IN the group undercover in an effort to bring them down. Amazing man that he is, he spent hours today reading about ritual abuse. He continues to believe that it happens, but finds it difficult to accept that there is NO WAY to prove it. I don't understand all of what God is attempting to do here, but He's doing something. My task is to allow God to continue His work without interfering. And without getting defensive or feeling the necessity of proving myself.

In turning to my pastor for prayer covering, the word that he gave was, "Very slow is very Good." What does that mean? My idea of slow, others' ideas of slow, and God's idea of slow are very different. I am beginning to realize that perhaps the reason God brought D and I together is to open his eyes to something more. His sense of injustice would be invaluable in the fight against this atrocity.

It enrages me that I am having to pay for what was done to me by possibly losing this relationship. My father, mother, and other members of the cult are the ones who sinned and I am the one who suffers...first by having a husband who was involved, now by possibly losing a potentially great relationship. Shouldn't I be reaping the rewards of loving the Lord? I recognize that I share in the sufferings of Christ...where's the ressurection life that also comes?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Ultimate Betrayal

How's this for total bullshit? I just came to realize, via many parts inside, that my now ex-husband, R, was part of the abuse I experienced. What a fucking asshole! The pieces are not all in place but this much I know...he knew what was taking place and helped make it happen. They're also starting to let me in on knowledge about our whole marriage being a set up by "the group."

Some of you may understand this and others may not, but people involved in the cult are at in levels of society, including doctors, lawyers, police officers, and the military. They are also in other jobs that carry less power, such as blue collar positions. Such was the case with R. We worked together and I was married at the time. We knew of each other, but didn't know each other directly. One day I left for lunch and got about a half mile from the office when I realized my tire was flat. Great! Just great! What to do now? Walk back to the office in high heels? Call for assistance? Just then, R pulled up. He just happened to be going to lunch at the same time, to the same place, taking the same route. He gallantly changed my tire and as we talked, it turned out that we had both gone to the same high school, he grew up in a Dutch Christian Reformed Church, his parents and mine square danced together. It was uncanny how many things we had in common. And of course sharing the stories from high school just fostered the connection between us. It didn't take long for him to seduce me, although he'd likely say I pursued him. What I believe now is that long-hidden programming was triggered that made it impossible for me to resist the temptation to be with him. I quickly divorcd my first husband and moved in with R. Or rather, he moved in with me.

The courtship was volatile, filled with low-level phyiscal violence, verbal abuse, and alcohol. But what I thought was love that I felt, was actually fear. On some level, I knew that I was SUPPOSED to be with him. If I had known then what I know now, and if I had had the personal relationship with God that I have now, I would have run for the hills as fast as I could. I remember sitting outside our villa on our honeymoon and saying to myself, "This was a huge mistake and now I'm locked into it." I had no skills or ability to set limits and boundaries, so I didn't know how to stand up for myself. After years of being abused by my family, I didn't know that I COULD say no to something. I thought I had to go along with the program.

Within a few months, I was on a prescription tranquilizer to help with my nerves, which were beginning to fray. The fighting was constant and I felt hopeless that things would change. There were many times I grabbed a kitchen knife and seriously thought about cutting myself. I had not been a self-injurer at any other time in my life, but it was looking better all the time. Looking back, I think that the cutting would have been an attempt to strengthen the dissociation and get me "back on track." Six month after the wedding, we got into a fight and I took the whole prescription, which landed me in the hospital ER. I was given the option to stay for a week in the psych ward, which I gladly accepted (how many people WANT to be there?) because it meant a week of peace in my life. While there, I started to learn new skills that would allow me to say "no" and make choices that were better for me.

My counseling continues for two years and at one point, I was feeling suicidal again. I distinctly remember sitting on the floor in the dark of my bedroom and thinking I had a choice: I could kill myself or I could reach out to my pastor's wife, C, whom I barely knew. Thank God I chose the latter. When I met with her, she explained that God is intimately involved in my life and the struggles we have are not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces in the world. It was as if a lightswitch was flipped and things made sense. I didn't suddenly remember the ritual abuse, but I at least began to understand that God was personal...huge for me.

Needless to say, the changes in my life were not well-received by R. When our church went through a major split, he wanted to go with the "others," effectively removing the influence of my pastor and his wife, W&C. I fought tooth and nail to stay put and he capitulated. At every turn, my personal and spiritual grown were challenged. I was accused by R of being in a cult (how ironic), taking the spiritual things too far, discounting any revelation or understanding that the Lord provided.

There was a time when I began cutting myself. I remember it started just as a tiny scratch, wondering how it would feel. It escalated to doing it every day. Eventually, it became something that I did to either prevent dissociating or to enhance the dissociation to protect myself and other parts. It was also a way of punishing myself for perceived wrongs, and at other times to keep from physically lashing out at others, R in particular. Most of the time, he turned a blind eye to the cutting. When he did pay attention, he was angry and told me I was crazy. He cared little that he was provoking and eliciting that kind of response. In no way am I absolving myself of the responsibility for my choice. It took me a long time to realize that I really did have a choice to handle things in a different way.

Over the years, trauma and stress would trigger a switch and other parts would make their presence known. Whenever this happened, he would became angry and unresponsive. He reinforced the incident that caused the switch in the first place. At times, a younger part would come forward and he would treat them like an adult, rather than the 4 or 5 year old that they were. As memories would surface, he would discount and discredit them. At times, he would tell me I was crazy and should be locked up. He consistently defended my family, saying what good people they were. There were times that my mother unexpectedly appeared at my door and he invited her in.

There were other connections, as well. His mother kept my mother up-to-date about goings on in my/our lives. When our house was being built, his brother took both mothers to see the house in progress. Even though we had buried a Bible in the foundation and the house wasn't even complete, I felt an evil presence before we even moved in. Now I understand why. R's brother bowled and drank with my brother every week, so another source of information was available to my family.

Every time I made progress, he would make attempts to set me back. At times, he aligned himself with a family in our church who were Satanic plants, bent on destroying the ministry there. He repeatedly chose this person over me until he realized that their time was limited and the Lord was forcing them out. Then his tune changed. I remember during one time of group prayer in which R was involved, it very clearly came to me that there were spirits of blasphemy and degradation present. I kept it to myself but shared it with my pastor's wife later. Since we didn't know what Randy was involved with, these spirits didn't make sense and it seemed that I misheard. Now...they make perfect sense.

Since we've split, R has made feeble attempts to keep in contact. A text here or there about a friend's health, asking me to watch the dog while he goes out of town, showing up at church out of the blue, making sure he knows that he broke up with his girlfriend. I give him no information.

I am very grateful to the parts who finally were able to step forward and tell me the truth. While R's influence and ability to cue programming was diminished a long time ago, being fully cognizant of his ploys makes life so much less complicated. It is easy to see through his tricks and there is no grey's all black and white for me now. There was a time when I loved him, but that time has passed. I realize that "there but for the grace of God go I." There is no difference between he and I. Both raised in the cult. God saw fit to rescue me from hell. I don't know why me and not Randy, but I do pray that he would come to know Christ during this lifetime.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"Let's Talk About Sex, Baby..."

Okay, so the whole post is not going to be about sex. But it'll be in here somewhere. I went to my second ex's (R) house this afternoon to see my dog. I had sent him a text making sure it was okay and he wanted to know what time I would get there and when I'd be leaving. No problem. Curious, though. Not usually an issue. While I was at the house, I got to snooping. I looked in the kitchen cabinet to see if he was still giving the dog his pills and I noticed a prescription bottle for Lexapro, an antidepressant, in his new girlfriend's name. I'm not stupid. In fact, I'm quite astute. Since an antidepressant like that is usually taken once a day, either morning or evening, it meant that she was staying overnight with him, which meant they were having, God forbid.....SEX!!!! I felt sick to my stomach but just had to confirm it for myself. I'm watching myself go up the stairs into the master bedroom. The first thing I noticed is that the bed was made. He NEVER made the bed when we were married. He was obviously trying to impress the stupid woman. Yes, I called her stupid and I'll explain why a little later. I noticed that he didn't try to impress her too much because he had a bunch of empty beer bottles on the nightstand. I went into the bathroom to see if she had any things there and felt a sigh of relief escape when there weren't. But I just couldn't help myself and went over to the nightstand, arguing with myself the whole time that this was an invasion of his privacy, I wouldn't like it one little bit if he did the same to me, I wasn't going to like what I found, blah, blah, blah. But it didn't stop me. I just had to pull open the drawer and yep, you guessed it. Empty condom wrappers. I was ready to vomit. Not because I felt cheated on, but because they've only been dating a little over a month and it is just so typical of him. He just couldn't keep it in his pants. He's a man-whore, in my opinion. He gets an urge and has to follow it to its full completion.

It crossed my mind to wonder what she thought of his sexual prowess. In the 16 years we were together, it pretty much sucked. My first ex was pretty great. I orgasmed every time, until I started having sexual dificulties (which I now understand were a result of the ritual abuse I experienced). And Hawaii Boy, whoa baby. He was, hands down, THE BEST. So what made these two great and R not? Their attitude towards me and lovemaking. They genuinely cared about me. It was about expressing their feelings for me, not some sex act to get their rocks off. R was a selfish lover. Yes, he tried to please me at times, but it was really about him feeling good about himself, not for the sheer pleasure of satisfying me. I tried many times to explain what I needed and how I liked things, but he never could break from his own ways. There was no being "one."

In any case, this discovery prompted me to take the initiative and ask a friend to help me get the rest of my belongings out of the house and soon. I realized that being in the house, keeping tabs on R in one way or another, was just keeping me tied to him and that is something I want to completely end. Let the chips fall where they may.

I'm beginning to acept with my whole being that R and I are not going to reconcile and that's a very good thing. When I stopped by last week, I noticed the brand new 55" flat screen tv and the flat screen computer monitor. This man does not have that kind of moolah. He owes money out the wazoo and even if he got his yearly bonus, it would not have gotten him out of debt and bought the new electronic toys. The man has a spending problem, along with a drinking problem, and both appear to be getting worse.

Oh, did I fail to mention that his new girlfriend is a bartender? How convenient. This is why I think she's stupid: she's a bartender dating and sleeping with an alcoholic with a spending problem who is only recently divorced and has not worked through his own issues. Any woman in their right mind should run for the hills.

So this is what really got my goat. As I was pulling out of the subdivision, a perky blond in a blue mustang was pulling in. I knew right then and there that she was "the one." Sure enough, out of state license plates. So I did a U-ee and followed her. She pulled right into the driveway I had pulled out of not more than two minutes before. What a close fricking call for her. If she had shown up while I was there, I don't really know what I would have done. I can't believe she had the balls to show up only a few minutes after I had told Randy I'd be leaving. Little miss "shit-don't-stink" acted like she owned the place. (Okay, now I sound like a stalking bitter ex-wife.)

This is when I lost it. I drove to the local Starbucks and sent him a text that read, "You're girlfriend cut it pretty close. I passed her on my way out. Hope you're using protection. I didn't when I was in HI." That was how I dropped the bomb on him that I cheated on him while we were still married (even though he had already told me he wanted a divorce). All I wanted to do was hurt him like he had hurt me during the course of our marriage. I was absolutely shocked that he didn't respond. I thought for sure he wouldn't have been able to resist the bait. I have to say that I'm pretty impressed that he didn't stoop to my level. I was pretty disgusted with myself. I was not acting very differentiated.

Differentiation is a term used by Murray Bowen to describe a person's level of autonomy and ability to make well-thought-out choices about how to respond, rather than reacting from an emotional, gut-level place. Differentiation from R is something that I have been diligently working towards. Felt like all my hard work went to hell in a handbasket. Oh well. It felt good at the time and I've calmed down since then, so I can make better choices.

My emotions have been all over the place this evening. Angry with him for treating lovemaking so casually, angry that he could move on so quickly and easily, angry that he's making a mess of his life and he is completely oblivious, angry that he threw away the best thing that will ever happen to him, angry that he is deliberately taking steps away from the Lord. He's making choices that take him ever further away. I don't know how the Lord is going to possibly break through to R and woo him back. It saddens me. I feel so much relief every time I drive home from whereever I happen to be because I know there is peace in my home. I know that the Lord has big plans for me and He is taking care of me carefully and thoughtfully. He led me out of the danger zone with R and into a place of green pastures. I don't truly know from day to day where He's leading, but I follow anyway.

I have no excuse for my extramarital affair. I can explain it, but not justify it. I'll talk more in another posting about the ins and outs (no pun intended) and my journey to forgiveness.

Monday, January 19, 2009

For Everything There is a Season...

My life has changed in so many ways over the last two years. More times than I can count, I thought about posting and for whatever reason(s) decided against it. So now I am ready to come clean. I'm tired of hiding and trying to live a life in which parts of me are kept secret. First, a timeline:

July, 2007: Things with R's niece, whome we had raised to an adult, came to a head. I had to tell her to leave our house because of a major violation of our private space and her complete indifference to what she had done. Her disrespect reached a level that was no longer tolerable. The result was a widening chasm between me and my husband that was never resolved.

August, 2007: I was re-evaluating my marriage and wondering what God was expecting of me. Things were becoming increasingly unbearable and I was falling apart. I asked Him if I was supposed to stay or go and I heard Him say, "You are free to leave." I felt so relieved that He wasn't expecting me to stay in a situation that was tearing me apart. It didn't mean that I was going to immediately take that as my out and divorce my husband. It just meant that I could start thinking about taking care of myself. I began recognizing feelings of inadequacy and wondered what had happened to the woman who was unafraid to take on the world and believed that she could do anything. I made a conscious choice to set a time limit of one year for things to begin drastically changing in my marriage or I would have to consider separating to save myself.

September, 2007: Became so depressed that I was barely functioning. I was ready to risk all the years of schooling by simply dropping out of my master's program in the last leg of the journey. I could hardly get up in the morning and found it next to impossible to do what was expected of me by my internship site. While not suicidal, I was checking out of life. After talking to my therapist, I decided to see the doctor and once again try an antidepressant. In the past, others had not worked, had walled off other parts, or made me feel even more depressed. It was hell coming off of them back then, but I simply did not have a choice this time around. If I didn't have some kind of medical intervention, I was going to wind up hospitalized. It took five days of not eating, sleeping, showering, or functioning before the side effects started tapering off.

October, 2007: I took my licensing exam and passed!!!!

December, 2007: The month from hell. My husband was hospitalized for several days just before Christmas with strep, bronchitis, and a multitude of other symptoms. In everything I did, I was thinking with sadness about the possibility that in a year, we might not be together if things didn't change. He came home on Christmas Eve and the following day, while spending time with his family, things seemsed so good. I have two specific memories of that day: 1) hugging and kissing him in the kitchen of his mom's house and thinking that I didn't want our marriage to end-I loved him; and 2) looking around at some of his family members and realizing that I would miss them if things did not work out. I was especially reminded of his brother-in-law who had died the previous July.

A few days later, we attended the wedding of a friend's son. We danced together and had a wonderful evening. I was thinking about how much I loved him and felt a deep sorrow for the distance that had grown over the years.

New Years Eve came with a bombshell. We went to dinner and in my attempts to talk together about the past year and the year to come, he told me he wanted a divorce. I was shocked, hurt, and angry. He didn't even have the guts to come right out and say the word. All he could say was that he couldn't have another year like the one just over and that we both deserved to be happy and it wasn't going to happen together. I had to ask him several times if he was asking for a divorce. He finally said, "Yes." I remember thinking,"So this is what it's like when your spouse says they want a divorce." I noticed it wasn't awful, but there was a pit in my stomach. I felt empty. I realized that God had taken the decision about whether to stay or go out of my hands because R had made it for me.

January, 2008: I moved out of the master bedroom and bath. He seemed to think that even though we were divorcing, it should not prevent us from having sex and cuddling at night. That was just too much. I found out that within a few days of his asking for a divorce, he signed up for Yahoo! personals.

March, 2008: This month deserves a posting all its own. Suffice it to say that I went to Hawaii for a work-related conference and became physically and emotionally involved with a married man. The day I came home, my husband asked if we could go to counseling together. While I was gone, he had become lonely and wanted to do something to try and work things out. I became stubborn, dug in my heels, and told him it was too late. I was coming down from an incredible high that included someone showing care and concern that I had never experienced in my marriage and could not even fathom the emotional rollercoaster counseling with my husband would entail. Each time we had attended counseling in the past, it had failed miserably and we ended up worse off than before because more truth had been spoken. I struggle now with what might have happened if I had, in fact, been more willing to try at that time.

April, 2008: My mother-in-law became seriously ill and passed away. I was caught between wanting to support my husband during that time and going with him to the hospital, and feeling like a total fraud because I was playing the good wife when he was divorcing me. This was when his family found out about the impending divorce. I was able to be there for him when he was at home, and did all I could to make it easier for him to spend as much time as possible with his mother. I took up the responsibility of handling all the food for the funeral. While it was incredibly uncomfortable because I was on my way out of the family (and not by my choice, mind you) it was also important for me to show my love and concern for him and his family as a whole.

May, 2008: I defended my portfolio as the final step towards my graduate degree. I passed, with no revisions necessary. Started working at a counseling agency and was also offered a position at my internship site.

July, 2008: Met with the lawyer and began the divorce proceedings. We decided to use a mediator to iron out all the details. We walked out of there angrier than before and it took several attempts for he and I to negotiate and renogiate the details.

August, 2008: Officially graduated from Governors State University with my Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling!

September, 2008: Moved into my co-op Labor Day weekend. I was helped by my soon-to-be ex and his brother. Took several weeks to get unpacked and settled into a routine. The divorce was final on the 24th. Afterwards, my ex and I went to lunch and ran errands together. Looking back, I wish that I had began the emotional divorce much sooner, but hadn't realized how attached to him I continued to be.

October, 2008: Hawaii Boy showed his true colors and decided to pull "into his shell" because his life was messed up and he needed to figure things out. His timing was just perfect...a week before Halloween, even though he knew what that meant for me. Again, another posting is necessary. That month, I went to dinner with my ex and told him exactly how I was feeling about him and what interfered with our being together. He wanted to just "enjoy the fact that we were getting along without fighting." Not enough for me.

November, 2008: Went to a friends for Thanksgiving dinner and then over to the ex's. He made dinner for his family and invited me to come by. I couldn't leave fast enough because he was drunk. He wanted me to stay over because it was late. I couldn't do it.

December, 2008: This is the second year that December just seems to suck. Invited the ex out for dinner for another "talk." This time around, he wasn't as open to my honesty. He became defensive and at one point even suggested that I go to lunch with my mother, one of the perpetrators! He also stated that we would probably never know what had happened and if the ritual abuse actually happened. Of couse some parts of me wanted to strangle him but held back. I told him that I couldn't be around him anymore because it hurt too much because of my feelings and my desire to BE with him.

Shortly thereafter, God challenged me to "let him go and that He couldn't do what He needed to with R if I was holding on to him." I wrestled for days because of my fear that I wouldn't get R back. But I also knew that God loved him more than I ever could and that no matter what, God loved me too. I am still struggling with letting go.

A couple weeks later my ex invited me to come for Christmas Eve dinner and I had to decline. I had a meltdown the day after Christmas. A week later, (another New Years Eve) he told me he had started dating a girl from IN. I felt shocked, hurt, dismayed, betrayed, angry, helpless.

January, 2009: Had my pastor and his wife over for dinner. We had a really great talk and I was challenged by a question posed: "How does a person change his/her thinking when they are used to thinking about themselves in a certain way?" In other words, how do I go from thinking of myself as a spouse in relation to R and thinking of myself as a single person? From that point on, I started stating out loud that I am single.

I started teaching a developmental psych class for my alma mater. Two classes under my belt. Think I'm gonna like it.

So now you are up to date with the basics of my life over the last year or so. For some of these things I plan to go into more detail over time. I just needed to get back into this for now. I know that it's not likely that anyone I know will be reading this anytime soon. I guess that's okay. Not sure I'm ready for some of them to know so many intimate details. But at the same time, I don't want to allow the enemy to use shame to keep me quiet, especially since I have been forgiven and I know that I am FREE in Christ! That is my identity. Not one of guilt and shame. So here we go. Hold on everybody!

Friday, June 01, 2007

We're Baaack!

Many of you may have been wondering where we've been these last several months. We've been ever so self-protective. Unwilling to risk and share what's been taking place in our life. And frankly, I'm not sure that we have the energy to divulge too much right now. We're just thrilled that we could get back on to our blog. We spent much time and energy trying to remember our old username and password so we could link it to our new gmail account. Funny how some things just slip your mind. I'm sure somebody inside had all the info and was just laughing their asses off, watching the rest of us struggle with that. I hate it when I can't remember simple things. And not everyone inside is cooperative. So we made educated guesses and eventually hit the right combo.

Soon I hope to sit down and right about at least some of our ups and downs. Mostly downs, sad to say. There's this fear, however, that as we share painful things, others will be hurt in the process - people that we face regularly. We're angry and hurting and can't seem to get past it and we don't have the balls yet to tell them face to face. Some inside are so afraid of rejection that they just keep hiding their pain. Others have received the message all too often that their anger is unacceptable. So I guess the decision that must be made is whether this blog is for them or for us? By keeping my mouth shut, I'm letting them control me, something that has gone on for far too long in my life as it is. So the challenge becomes making decisions not based out of fear but out of choice. I can choose to post and damn the consequences. Let the chips fall where they may. It is what it is. And so on....Not posting doesn't change what's going on and maybe posting will change what's happening for me, at least.

I acknowledge that this post is much less coherent and fails to really have a point. But I just wanted to do
something to get my voice back. So we're on our way. More soon.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Strings that Strangle

One reason I appreciate blogging is b/c I can use it as my personal soapbox - to discuss things that I don't have a forum for in other settings. So here's my latest pet with strings attached.

Recently, I was approached by a family member on my husband's side. She and her fiancee live together and are raising her daughter, his three kids, and their two kids. It's definitely a "his, hers, and ours" type of situation. They're both very responsible adults who are employed and going to school to better themselves. She was hospitalized three times in the last six months, without insurance, resulting in a tremendous amount of debt. By the time she called me, they were five days away from being evicted. She had tried, unsuccessfully, to get a loan. The father of her oldest daughter had completely screwed up her credit. Her fiancee has never established any credit. She was turning to me as a last resort, hoping that I could co-sign on a loan. I knew that was impossible, but my husband and I talked about it and were able to give them some money - certainly not enough to cover the back rent that they owed. This was not a problem for us. I felt great in being able to give from what the Lord gave us.

Silly me, however, mentioned that our church has a benevolent fund, from which they help people in need. I volunteered to check and see if they would be able to help. This fund was set up a few years ago and as far as I was aware, it was to help ANYBODY with a financial deficit. My husband contacted one of the committee members and explained the situation. At one point, that committee member talked to me to hear my take on the situation. I explained that rather than an out-and-out presentation of the gospel to this family member, I was working at establishing a relationship with her. I also stated that I thought our church giving a monetary gift to complete strangers would send a powerful witness to them. At the time I was told that they were uncomfortable with giving money towards rent because they were "living in sin," and the committee felt that they would be sending a wrong message. They wanted to meet and pray with, and minister to, this couple and somehow find a way of communicating that living together is not God's way. In and of itself, I can see their point. I was also told that the money was really for members of our body and that smaller gifts could be given to those outside the body. They weren't saying, "no," they were simply attaching strings to giving this "gift." The committee discussed it again and came back with the same answer. They couldn't give them any money without insisting they meet and pray with them.

C'mon. Webster's defines gift as, "something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation." Isn't salvation a gift? We had nothing to do with receiving the gift of salvation. It was something that Christ did for us when we were still strangers, enemies, and sinners. We didn't have to jump through hoops to get it. Don't misunderstand - at no time did the committee say that they would only give the gift if they agreed to stop living together. They only wanted to tell them that what they were doing was wrong. Great first impression of Christianity, wouldn't you say?

I think that the committee has things backwards. Christ initiates a relationship with us. Once that's established, the Holy Spirit convicts us of the areas in our life that need to change. The key is relationship. If that's not there, Christianity just becomes a religion of do's and don'ts. Even new Christians aren't inundated with, "Now that you're a Christian, you have to give up this, and change that, and don't foget to do such-and-such." Well, actually, some Christians are more concerned with that...too bad, because then we usurp the Holy Spirit's place in the person's life. The woman caught in adultery was told to "go and sin no more" after meeting Jesus. In that same story, Jesus told the crowd, "Let he that is without sin cast the first stone." Well...I want to say, "Don't get me started," but I'm going to get started.

Two of the committee members sit on their high horses making these decisions and insisting that they pray with people and inform them of "God's ways," while they themselves are malicious gossipers, sticking their noses into everybody's business, and praying prayers for people in such a way that they judge and condemn them b/c they personally don't like what certain individuals are doing, not b/c it goes against God's will. And you know what? If it were almost anybody but these people, I would have found a way to honor the committee's request. However, with these two, I firmly believe that it would have caused more harm than good. Okay - enough said.

One might ask for additional Biblical support for my position of giving in spite of what the person is doing. How about Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana? Isn't it quite likely that there were at least a few people who were already drunk? And yet, He still did it. Was he condoning drunkeness? No. Did He insist on talking to those people first, before creating more wine? No. Or how about when Jesus fed the 5,000? There is no way that every single person in that crowd was living a righteous life. Still, He fed them without strings. How many of those were in the crowd shouting, "Crucify Him!" shortly before His death?

In Matthew 26 Jesus talks about the difference between sheep and goats. The sheep are those who gave something to eat or drink, invited in strangers, clothed others, and visited those who were sick or in prison. Anytime this was done for "the least of these, my brothers" it was really being done to Jesus. The goats are those who saw these needs and did not fill them. I will grant that Jesus says, "my brothers," indicating that these things were done for other believers, but this passage is also used to support ministries helping unbelievers, as well. In that vein, I would add "helped keep a roof over the heads of six children and two adults whom I was trying to reach through you."

Our church is supposed to be committed to helping those in crisis. It's part of our vision statement. I don't know about you, but being a few days away from eviction pretty much qualifies as a crisis. Here's another way of looking at the situation - it's a crisis that they're living together because it's sin, but the bigger crisis is that they don't know Christ. What is more important? Giving a gift while telling them that we don't agree with what they're doing or giving a gift in an effort to imitate Christ's giving His life to reconcile us to Him?

How about common grace and saving grace? Louise Berkhof says that common grace is, "…(a) those general operations of the Holy Spirit whereby He, without renewing the heart, exercises such a moral influence on man through His general or special revelation, that sin is restrained, order is maintained in social life, and civil righteousness is promoted or, (b) those general blessings, such as rain and sunshine, food and drink, clothing and shelter, which God imparts to all men indiscriminately where and in what measure it seems good to Him." (emphasis added) I've seen him protect life and send miraculous healing to those who are not saved. Put another way, God gives some things even to those who deny His existence, hate Him, couldn't care less about Him, or worship something that is not Him. His purpose in doing this is because it's His kindness and goodness that leads to repentance.

The last I heard, they were still in their apartment. The small contribution from me and my husband was enough to show their intent to get caught up with rent. Beyond that, however, I think that the Lord is hearing my prayers, asking Him to be Jehovah Jirah to this family, in spite of the fact that they are not yet saved. Too bad that our church couldn't see their way clear to being a part of His plan. Let's not forget that in the giving, one is blessed. What a blessing our church missed out on. When the time comes, they will not be able to say that they played a part in the salvation of these two people and their children.