Monthly Archives: March 2012

Forgiveness and Other Silly Ideas

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For the last week, I’ve been hanging. Just sitting. Sometimes the excitement bumps over so I thought I’d share.

I’ve read other blogs and commented lightly, kept up with emails, done a little work for a new friend. At the moment, I’m eating eggs and spinach. If envy hasn’t swamped your boat just yet, give it a minute.

*pause and think calmly whilst I finish eggs*

Thoughts go running by, most of which are not the least bit naughty. I killed several spiders but did not think badly of them for hiding in my covers preparing to nibble my flesh.  I took a few cleansing breaths before sending them on to spider heaven. I did not hold their wicked ways against them for, you see, that’s how spiders are. The very nature of spiderhood involves skulking and nibbling. You can’t fault a spider for acting like an arachnid.

I took several walks of a tranquil and peaceful nature and was sniffed inappropriately by a dog. This is not funny. In fact, it’s quite invasive. My thoughts remained all peaceful and stuff for, after all, dogs sniff. They tend to like aromas of a personal nature. They lick their backsides for goodness sake. I hold no grudge against this or any other pup for sniffing inconveniently. I did, however, glare at the owner who should  have used a regular leash instead of a twenty foot retractable line particularly with a dog prone to olfactory mishaps. After a few moments of near-naughtiness, I moved on with my life.

Ida Mae (you may be asking)—this is way cool but why-oh-why are you tormenting  us with the minutia of your serene and peaceful ordinariness?

*pause and discuss amongst yourselves whilst I get tea*

 

The Part Where The Accuser of the Brethren Shifts Blame. We are all Quite Shocked Really.

When I left the beast, I was accused of many things. Most are not appropriate for a PG-13 blog such as this, however two of the most common (and least interesting) come to mind.

  • I was told the anti-husband was not angry, no sir. Indeed, I was the one with anger issues. I even received a book in the mail on just this subject from one of his helpful new friends.
  • I was accused of the sin of unforgiveness and informed that I would not have my own sins forgiven. (The beast is quite helpful with it comes to scriptural interpretations and such, especially as applied to my flawed and deficient selfhood.)

Because I really do care, these accusations bother me. I do not want to be a bitter, angry woman going through life biting the heads off small animals. So what’s a girl to do?

This one prays a bunch. I ask the Father to reveal those things hidden in my heart He doesn’t much like. Through long years of association, I know He’s faithful to do just that. Most recently, He released me from this fear that I’m carrying about  a root of bitterness inside a heart too hard to know any different.

Let’s Be Clear

For decades now, I’ve taught the kids we are not responsible for someone else’s behavior. We are only responsible for our reaction to that behavior.

Be angry– sin not.

Anger in its purest form is not a sin. It is neutral, like any other emotion in a range the Lord provided. God gets plenty angry. Just like everything else, anger has a purpose.

We all know anger can be  mishandled. “Do not let the sun go down on  your wrath.” Right?  Anger dwelt upon, buried deep, allowed to ferment below the surface can lead to sin. The scripture describes this as a root of bitterness, springing up, defiling many. Pretty accurate description all around.

So am I angry? Not really. In fact, I had to *become* angry before I could find the motivation to finally leave.

I needed the energy, the force, the strength within the emotion to propel me to righteousness—to doing right actions. The fancy term for this is righteous indignation. I had to stop making excuses for inexcusable behavior, force my eyes wide-open to see the wrong done to my children. I had to get up and walk out, knowing I was right to remove them from the reach of someone who continually and purposefully harmed them at every opportunity.

But I do not live in a state of perpetual rage. I’ve got my moments sure but anger is not my go-to emotion. When I see injustice I feel sorrow. When I hear another victim’s story, I feel their pain within my own. When someone cuts me off in traffic, I figure their mommy didn’t teach them any better.

And when I recall abusive events, I bleed. I am not an angry person.

Unforgiveness?

Forgiveness is another matter.  I firmly believe half the reason I couldn’t  get free of abuse? Too much forgiveness.

*lets pause and think calmly on this whilst you put away your stones*

Our definition of forgiveness is much too squishy. My definition of forgiveness followed the typical party line:

  • Make Excuses
  • Find a Rational (rotten childhood, poor upbringing)
  • Forget (pretentious really but most of us are pretty good at faking)
  • Wipe the Slate Clean
  • Move on and Keep Quiet (never mention it again)

Forgiveness doesn’t broadly encompass all topics. We need to make finer distinctions. Forgiveness does not equal reconciliation nor is it co-joined with a case of self-induced amnesia.

We do not become suddenly stupid.

I forgave on a regular and continual basis. I did not hold a record of accounts nor did I demand repayment. In fact, with every infraction, we started all over. The problem here is the beast never actually repented nor did he *ask* for forgiveness. How could he when he believed he did no wrong? He was sorry all right—sorry he got caught, sorry I was upset, sorry I was rocking his boat with my feelings. He wanted me to shut up and move on so he could go back to doing the exact same thing, over and over and over.

Forgiveness is not:

  • Reconciling with someone who has not changed, nor has the slightest inclination to do so
  • Pretending nothing ever happened
  • Giving someone a free pass to start all over with no account for past behavior

Forgiveness means we do not pursue our own course of vengeance but turn the matter over to the Heavenly Court. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) Sometimes we forget that second part.

Our Father has promised to repay our enemies. When we forgive, we let go and let God be Who He is– Righteous King and Judge. We can do this because we believe and acknowledge His position, power and authority and we trust His wisdom and timing.

This whole subject of forgiveness came to a screeching crescendo in my mind and heart when a dear friend of mine stepped way outside her comfort zone and shared her agonizing story. Right now, she  is going through her own version of hell. In fact, she endured yet another slapdown just this morning.

Years ago, she found herself in a tight spot and took something that belonged to another. In time, she was caught and sentenced. She spent years faithfully repaying her debt. There is no doubt she repented and has offered her heartfelt apology again and again. The aggrieved party,  however, will not let go. This person hounds and pursues,  intent on destroying her life, livelihood, and peace of mind.

The former victim has become the abuser.

That’s unforgiveness.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

I have forgiven the beast but this time around, my eyes remained wide open. I recognize he has never repented. He has never acknowledged the sin of abusing, berating, and bullying his own family on a broad scale, much less apologized for the hundreds and hundreds of incidents he created along the way to punish us for our many sins against him. He fully believes that everything is the fault of one person and one person only (and that would be me.) Even now, when no one from his immediate family will have a thing to do with him, he refuses to accept any responsibility.

That’s fine. It’s now between him and his Maker. Someday, he will answer for what he’s done.

Perhaps with time, he’ll actually repent. That’s fine too, but I’m not counting on it.

After all, what can you expect? Like spiders and dogs, he just did what came natural.

Take My Memories. . . Please

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Sometimes the little divots in your heart smack a body upside the head, taking on weight once you come to an understanding with yourself.

Occasionally, someone From Today asks what my family looked like Back Then. Readers here probably get a picture of the typical dysfunctional family–  black nail polish, foaming at the mouth. Nothing could be further from the truth. We kept our tails tucked in our britches, thanks much.

In fact, we looked like the ideal conservative Christian family unit, just busting over with family values and stuff. Those who knew us back in the day sometimes have difficulty believing my story strictly based on the pristine appearance we trotted about in public.

That was my doing. The beast played along.

Well dressed and respectful–I saw to it, even if it meant beans for a week. I held my husband’s hand in public (when he let me). I called him baby. My husband called me sweetheart but only when anyone walked within earshot. Our home was always clean, the yard mowed, the bread homemade. If the wife didn’t laugh at the husband’s jokes, so what? That dear man was the stronghold of the family, clearly. The wife seemed mighty uptight. If the kids jumped when dad raised his voice, just showed how well he’d trained the kiddies.

Hard to admit now, but I wanted my husband’s approval and affection. If he only gave it with others looking, so be it. It was a game we played. I could sit close, hold his hand and, for a few moments at least, pretend everything was okay. We both knew the rules. When company backed out of the driveway, the atmosphere changed and we returned to our corners for the duration.

Red Flags Waving

There were signs of course if  a body knew where to look. The constant jokes about my cooking or cleaning or general lack of intelligence might have been a clue. The digs taken at the children’s expense, burrowing word by word into their softest parts carried an edge that bordered on the masochistic. So while some things were more obvious than others, nothing stood out and grabbed you by the throat. Except for one small little detail.

Our home looked like something from a magazine shoot. Sounds good, right? The insidious nature of this  lies not in the presence of possessions, but in their absence. Our home was devoid of personality.

The word memento comes from the same root as memory and therein lies the problem. Some of us do not want our memories. Not something you’d notice really, not at first. I sure did. I stripped that house with a vengeance, regularly and on purpose. Visiting the home of friends and family, I wondered how they could abide all those pictures and ticket stubs and trophies lying about. Never crossed my mind there might be a reason behind the sterility of my decorating scheme.

Hindsight and All That

Lying here in my single bed, roommate muttering to herself in the dark, I finally stopped hyperventilating long enough to understand the lack of family pictures on the walls of our home. For years, I said they interfered with the decorating. Now the truth haunts me—the sight of all those innocent little faces, the soft eyes so sweet and trusting. . . hurt too stinking much, even then.

What loving mother doesn’t  want baby pictures on the wall? Yeah, that would be me. In fact, about ten years ago, I stopped taking photos altogether. That wasn’t always the case.

When my firstborn arrived, I traded in the instamatic for a high quality Nikon 35mm, single lens reflex camera. I checked books out of the library and played with a few rolls of film until I could take reasonably high quality photographs. The oldest children are well chronicled.

When coupons arrived for the local photo studio, I dressed the babies in fluffy lace and/or cowboy chic and prayed they’d cooperate. In no time, a whole lineup of professionally framed sixteen by twenties lined the space over the living room couch. A huge portrait—very nice actually—of myself and the beast graced the space over our bed. Keepsakes, mementos and memories packed our tiny little home, for better or worse. And then we moved.

I remember standing in the much larger living room with the beamed ceiling and massively empty walls, looking through the box filled with framed faces and carefully folding the cardboard box flaps back down. I tucked the whole thing in a walk-in closet and said I’d hang the pictures another day, when I had time, when I found the level. I never did. About this time, the studio portraits stopped. Too expensive, even with  a coupon. My camera became misplaced. Film cost too much. Processing was ridiculous. Eventually, a single picture of each child made its way into the dining room. And then we moved again.

By now, photos were digital. I had a few  hidden on my computer (taken by others and graciously shared).  The kids sure noticed. My lack of motherly sentiment annoyed the kids and became fodder for an ongoing battle with the beast as he used this as another example of my lack of involvement in family life.

“Where are the pictures mama? Why aren’t there any of me?

“Someday. I’m a little busy at the moment and when I get around to it, I’ll frame a few and. . .”

Never happened. The single box of photos I’d taken back in the day with the fancy new camera went to the attic. The frames filled with portrait studio photos from the first decade of marriage sat taped inside the same ratty box.

I told myself I just wasn’t the sentimental type. When we all get to Glory, we won’t be taking our scrapbooks with us now will we? Might as well not get too attached to the things of this world. I could over spiritualize anything given enough time and rationalization.

When did pictures become too painful?

Sore Hearts

All I know is this– I still cannot look at the pictures of my babies without recalling the pain. How wrong everything was. How twisted their father became. I try. I really, really try. But I cannot separate the two because the two are joined somehow in my heart. He hurt me, he hurt them. I look and remember.

I recall where we were when each photo was taken. I recall the blow up before and after. I recall the humiliation attached to each image. I can’t escape. I remember how he hurt my babies, I remember their little faces, I recall how impotent I felt, the stunned disbelief that any father would treat  his own kids this way.

On quiet days, I sometimes pulled out the photo albums and peeked through. I carefully tucked the wayward thoughts inside and looked—really looked—at those beautiful little faces. I remember kissing those cheeks and running my fingers through the downy soft hair. I remember how they smelled after a bath and the soft promise of tiny feet that never touched the ground. But I can’t have the pictures out where a stray glance might bring on the bleeding all over again.

Some Things Never Change

When I left, I took no pictures, no scrapbooks, not one album. A normal mother would’ve chosen those first over clothes or books. I said I’d be back but lying to myself is wearing thin these days. I’ve had a dozen chances to retrieve the box in the closet and every time, something else of more vital importance found its way into the backseat—the immunization records, my real estate license, the cat toys.

I want my photos back. Someday I intend to stand toe-to- toe with the beast and demand their return. They belong to me and my children and their children after. That’s the way it is, the way it should be.

I’m just not sure I’ll ever want to see them again.

Update

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Hey all,

I’ve been a bit out of pocket for the last week. Thought I’d still post a few but that did not materialize. I kept up with everyone’s blogs but couldn’t really comment much. Hopefully there will be time for lots of catching up over the weekend!

Didn’t want anyone to worry~

Recommended: I Have a Dream by Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts

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There’s a short post over on Anna’s blog titled I Have a Dream by Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts. I can’t quote  here without giving away the punchline but anything that involves YouTube videos, rotten tomatoes (properly blessed, of course) and a rephrasing of Mark 11:27-33 gets my vote for Best Blog Post Before Breakfast.

Seriously guys– there aren’t enough tomatoes on the planet.

Sunday Shortie: Learning Communion’s Song

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Sunday Shortie,  written last week and squirreled away. Actually felt a little too naked at that moment to share. Today seems quite appropriate.

 

Thankfulness crops up in the oddest moments.

I spent the last hour trying to dredge up a little dirt. I write best annoyed. I’ve spent most of my adult years annoyed. I’m pretty dadgum funny when I’m annoyed.

Today I am not. Today I have nothing.

Now that is funny.

Never Too Old To Learn

Generally, the writing process goes something like this: I close my eyes and poke around until I find a splinter of a feeling. I probe the area, wince and squeal a little, look to heaven and throw up a few dadgumits at finding I’m not quite so whole as I’d hoped.

The words pour out all on their own, a birthing of sorts, filled with mess and confusion. Some days it feels like swimming  in the septic tank.

I edit and sculpt, then back off a bit. While I may feel completely naked dancing around out here in the light, I’m aware some things need covering just the same. Some stories are best told face to face. Takes time to evaluate just how much light will heal a wound and how much will sear the skin right off. You wouldn’t believe the stuff that hits the trash bin.

A few more moments in prayer, a final adjustment or two, then a confirmed coward hits the publish button.

And We Wait. . .

I agonize, more or less depending on how many layers are lying on the floor. Will anyone understand this mess of my days? Agonizing memories swarm the surface, followed by the litany of former friends passing judgment in the name of God. I hear their words fresh all over.

Night comes and I cry quiet into my pillow so the littles don’t hear, reliving the original pain and wondering if this offering of blood really matters and can I please go back to my box under the bridge now please-and-thank you.

Then the comments come in. I feel the soothing oil pour over these old wounds.  I reread the article once more, just to make sure I truly hear the voice of those gracious enough to share before hitting reply. The pain recedes almost without notice and—

Stops.

Fancy That

I’ve written as long as I can remember.  I do not ever recall this freedom before.  Perhaps the soul grinding work of uncovering the truths my heart wants to hide combines somehow with the corroboration of those who’ve walked this way already and the encouragement of those a few steps behind. I don’t know but I can tell you, something’s different.

So many years of isolation. Such a shame. I’m reminded we need one another. Each one of you, each visitor here brings their gifts to the party

Teachers teach. They head into the wasteland of all the nonsense assaulting our ears and bring meat to the table, words of life that ring with authenticity.

Encouragers encourage. They hit that reply button and type lovely things that make sore hearts sing again and middle age bloggers cry a little.

Storytellers share. A bit of their life, here and there, confirming our shared reality with tales from the frontlines. Our hearts blend together and we recognize truth together.

And those struggling to get through the next day do what we do best. We recognize our weakness. We bring our shattered hearts to the table and seek the Face of God.

Then altogether, we lift our broken bread to heaven and pass it round.

Such a Gift

When I started writing, I thought I’d produce an infinite number of posts. After all, with so many years wallowing, there must be thousands of things to say leading to the production of hundreds of highly annoyed online outbursts. But a strange thing happened on the way to the graveyard.

God is healing me through the process. I think we just may be seeing the Body of Christ functioning as the Good Lord intended. For that, I must thank each one of you. In your comments and emails, I recognize the gifts of God’s Spirit operating.

There’s life in this place.

It’s been a long time coming.

Recommended: The Lord is the Friend of the Lonely by Jeff Crippen

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Jeff’s written a powerful article over at A Cry for Justice titled, The Lord is the Friend of the Lonely Who Fear Him.

One of the themes that inevitably comes through in these stories is the incredible alone-ness of the victims. One recently told me how she felt after finally being able to leave her abuser, “I was grieving for my marriage, my home, my husband, and I was all alone in a new town.” Christians to the rescue? Hardly. Some of you are STILL alone. That is one reason we began this blog. We hope it is growing into a community of real Christians who “get it.” Don’t ever be afraid to contact us. We will believe you and do our best to affirm you and share some of the things we have learned. We will believe you. I wish we had a giant place and we could just tell victims, “come on down here. We have a place for you!” We should all pray that something like that might happen one day.

The works of the enemy thrive in darkness. Just as our Lord delights to see us free and whole, it is our enemy who keeps us bedded in shame, hiding behind closed doors, terrified to speak. Confusion, fear, torment– all from hell itself.

Whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been, no matter what happened–you did not deserve the nightmare of torment.

I’ve gotten to know Jeff virtually and I’d like to encourage survivors to prayerfully consider sending your story as he requests in this article. There is power in our collective testimony. As we break the isolation of our suffering and speak out, others will take courage.

No matter where you are on this journey, you have something to contribute.

You may have nothing left but you own the truth of your story, your life, your experiences.

Invasion of the Peace Snatchers, Nighttime Edition

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For the last three nights, I’ve wallowed in dreamland nonstop. I wake in the morning with head pounding, jaws clenched pit bull tight, not quite able to recall. . . was it a nightmare?

Don’t think so. I’ve had my share of those and this doesn’t feel quite the same. No heart-grabbing, couch-shaking terror on waking, just this vague impression of disquiet shadowing the day.

This morning, I remember.

The beast outlasted me.

Dreams and Other Realities

In the dream, we’re on a weekend visitation to my former home. The kids are small. My closest friend comes along for backup. Both my parents are there. The anti-husband ignores me and spends the entire visit working the crowd—fetching coffee for my folks, playing quiet games with the children. He caters to each  individually in the way they like best and they love the attention.

He never once sends a disparaging comment my direction. He doesn’t criticize in any way. As the night progresses, he wins them over, one by one. The dream plays on for hours.

Until finally, it’s just my best friend and I standing by the kitchen table. He wraps both arms around her. A genuine embrace. He pulls back and looks into her eyes with open affection.  Then again. He’s holding her in his arms until she melts. He pulls back, just a little and begins chatting, laughing, flattering. She turns, visage glowing and says, “You have to admit, he’s really something.”

And then, for the first time all weekend, he looks me full in the face and stares me down. I know this expression. I’ve seen it a thousand times, in a thousand places, for a thousand reasons—

—unadulterated venom.

He doesn’t try to charm me any longer, it’s not worth the effort. There’s no pretense. In his face I see covert, unspoken rage. This is the truth, witnessed for decades. Hatred both glaring and defiant that no one else will believe.

I turn to the kids and tell them to pack up their toys, we’re leaving. They’re tired. They don’t really want to go—and his expression changes. He turns away, starts playing to the crowd again, clowning, pretending this is all just one big fun time. He heads off to assist everyone getting ready to leave.

I’m left standing alone. I’m so tired and. . . he’s won.

When You’re Beat

I don’t like my dreams invaded. But there’s a measure of reality here I can’t shake this morning.

Recently a close friend lost their home in a natural disaster. I got the news from the beast along with a play by play of all he’d done to assist them in their suffering. There’s no doubt he did all those things and much more, front and center. First to arrive, last to leave. Helping, organizing, working the crowd of my former friends. People I love. People he hardly spoke to before my departure.

He possesses a weapon I’ll never muster—his hatred energizes him, fuels his efforts to see me discredited, to ruin my relationships through winning over my friends and family. He’s entrenched for the long haul and it scares the crap right out of my wounded soul. Lying, insinuations, innuendo all wrapped with deeds of kindness, individually crafted to flatter each insecurity. He will see me alone, isolated and discredited. Or else.

It’s how I imagine the devil worked the crowd until a third of the angels fell right along with him.

Wish there was a happy ending here, but I just don’t see it this morning.

 

 

 

Recommended: Kellie Holly: Reacting to Insinuations in the Verbally Abusive Relationship

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Kellie Jo Holly over at Healthy Place just posted a great article on verbal abuse titled, Reacting to Insinuations in the Verbally Abusive Relationship. I laughed all the way through and her article is not one bit funny. Sometimes a big wad of truth has that effect on a body.

His comment came out of the blue as he readied himself for work. “Some people don’t think,” he stated calmly. My mind raced to figure out what he was talking about. If I were in a normal relationship, I would have simply asked, “What do you mean, honey?” But I wasn’t in a normal relationship.

During the few seconds it took me to connect the dots between his statement and what he really meant, he didn’t say another word. He gave me the courtesy of remaining silent as my mind raced to find a way to avoid a fight that evening upon his return.

Once I figured out what he meant, I felt compelled to discuss it with him (defend myself). I said, “That isn’t true. I am not irrational, my thinking is clear.”

Can we just cut and paste about half my life into the above? I love that line– “I wasn’t in a normal relationship.”

*cue epic music

 

Doom and Other Realities of the Abused Woman

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Today I’m remembering a life filled with disasters that never happened. For years, I lived with a sense of impending doom, usually of a mundane variety—a car just waiting for the most inopportune moment to break down. Kids plotting through the night hours  to break something (arms or legs usually).

Occasionally, I cranked up the wattage. The ringing phone meant  news someone crashed, burned, perished and/or drowned in a two inch mud puddle. Why else would anyone call? I could run the entire scenario through my brain in the twenty seconds it took to find the cordless phone.

Besides the ongoing drama of an apocalypse that never quite materialized, I also carried a suspicion that any unexpected beneficial happening would be followed hard on by an equal and opposite negative event. An unexpected five hundred dollar check in the mail meant the washing machine was about to go out and the replacement would cost six hundred easy. (The Good Lord was especially generous that way.) To ice the cupcake, I told everyone of His provision and testified to the goodness of the Almighty.

Life was out to get me, I was screwed. I made Debbie Downer look like Pollyanna. I thought this was normal. Hard to live when you’re busy watching for the bus with your name on the bumper.

A-n-y Minute Now. . .

One day, whilest walking in the neighborhood, I spent a quiet  moment reflecting on the mercies of God in a horrible world. My oldest was in Africa—the first kidlet to fly the nest as well as the country. As I trotted about waiting for the sky to fall, I remembered the Father’s assurances to my heart that this trip was okay—to sign the release forms, give my blessing and let go. Everything would be fine.

I expected a call any moment with news of my son’s departure from this earth. The phone bulged the back pocket just in case, ensuring I’d know first. I couldn’t bear the idea of hearing the news from  beast.

I was resigned. My blood pressure hovered around the rupture-an-artery mark.

Images of the funeral played through my mind unbidden. I chose the songs we’d play. I tried to imagine the tears, the grief. I comforted myself with my Lord’s promise and thought how truly things would be fine because this child would be released from his suffering here in the world and would surely be better off in heaven. I replayed the Father’s assurances, knowing I’d press on, everything would eventually be fine. I knew God was faithful.

And right there on that road, I heard Someone I knew pretty dadgum well speaking straight to my heart.

“Is that really who you think I Am?”

Excuse me?

I Have an Enemy and it isn’t God.

And then without a word, my spirit flooded with the understanding of the goodness of a loving Father who tenderly cares for His children. I remembered times of actual sorrow and saw those compared side-by-side with the expectation of disasters that never materialized. I recalled the tone, the touch, the gentle fingerprints all over His loving care and how He held my heart in His hand. I saw How He prepared me for each transition and contrasted that to the gloom and doom of my everyday experience.

I saw—all at once—just  how twisted my thinking had become.

Never once had it occurred to me that I was being robbed.

Robbed of joy.

Robbed of peace of mind.

Robbed of blessing of every variety—spiritual, financial, interpersonal.

John 10:10 “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, then; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Here’s the thing: For years, I did not know my enemy. I was living with the devil. Every good gift, every blessing was tainted and/or stolen. That tends to happen when you’re sleeping with someone who’d rather see you dead.

The fear, the torment, the pain had to go someplace. The more I denied my marriage was the problem, the harder I kept  trying to find a slot to file the overflowing animosity pointed squarely in my direction like a laser sighted missile.

The bible says that God is good and I believed that. Somehow, I blended the reality of my hell on earth with a religious explanation that made no sense whatsoever. I lived every day with someone who  both hated me and had no natural affection for his own offspring. Looking back, it’s not so surprising really that I thought my world was coming to an end.

Denial is a Funny, Funny Thing

Let me assure you—I don’t live in that cesspool  any longer. Once I recognized the enemy for who—and where—he was, I got the message pretty fast. Getting out of a toxic environment improved my outlook instantly. My kids tell me I look fifteen years younger. Looking through the pictures, I believe they’re right.

With every moment, this remarkable joy grows sweeter. It takes practice to learn to walk in freedom. Sometimes I still feel the pull of old ways of seeing both my God and this fallen world. But these days, I’m assured I can trust the future to the One who tends to sparrows.

When and if sorrow comes–as it does to all of us walking here below– I rest knowing Who will rock me in His arms.