Category Archives: Help for Healing

Ida Takes on the Almighty and Gets Owned in the Process

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Today was one of those days you’d like to hit the delete key.

I’m a school nurse. You can imagine, I hear some sad stories. Some are heartbreaking, some are a shame, some are just so much foolishness.

Today involved CPS, a criminal investigation and one of the most vulnerable little girls on our campus. While caseworkers and cops paraded about interviewing everyone in sight, I wept in the clinic. The afternoon was devoted to thinking of all the various ways to inflict damage via bandage scissors ensuring a certain perpetrator would never hurt another innocent child again.

Sometimes, it just hurts to breathe–

There’s just no way to let something like this go. The man who harmed this child harmed everyone who knew and loved her. Collectively we grieved today, separately we gnashed our teeth and blamed ourselves for not being omniscient demi-gods with the power to rewind the clock. We pointed fingers, assigned blame, looked backwards with perfect 20/20 clarity and thought of a thousand ways any one of us might have prevented this if we’d just been a wee bit more suspicious.

This evening, I had myself a nice little rant-fest directed at the Almighty.

Why? Why didn’t someone protect her? How on earth did they get away with this without anyone noticing? Oh and, by the way—why are the wicked free to roam around, picking off the vulnerable like prey in the first place?  Why don’t You come on back already and put a stop to this, we’re getting slaughtered down here!

Dear God above, please make this stop–

Right in the big middle of my righteous indignation, I saw Jesus during His thirty-three years walking about our fallen planet. With a clarity that bespoke divine intervention, I saw the crowd around him, liberally sprinkled with murderers, pedophiles, thieves, and adulterers cleverly disguised as upstanding citizens.

Solomon wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. And while surely wickedness has increased as we approach His second coming, none of the sins around us are anything new. Which leads logically to the conclusion that, in His oneness with the Almighty, Jesus had to know that murderers and rapists and child abusers were lurking about, carrying on their evil and yet, never once did he threaten to castrate anyone with bandage scissors.

In my semi-hysterical frame of mind, this seemed a bit odd.

And then I remembered—He came the first time around as the sacrifice for sin. He saw each and every one He met as a candidate for forgiveness, no matter how wicked.

He did not come to condemn the world. He came to save the world. He called them all to repentance. The rapists and the murderers and the pedophiles and the thieves and whores and gossips and gluttons. He came to save them. He did not come for the righteous, He came for the wicked because they were the ones who needed a physician.

Someday, He will come again as the Lion and all this evil and the suffering that rides shotgun will end. But in the meantime, Jesus died—on purpose—to save sinners. All the pitchforks in the world will not save our society—it  will not fix one damn thing. Only rebirth and repentance can transform evil. In the meantime, we are all given the space and time to repent.

So am I saying we just need to forgive the criminals and move on? Not hardly.

I’m saying that my desire to inflict harm on one shameful sinner would not change a thing. But what would this world look like if those who did their evil in darkness repented and brought forth works of repentance? What if we stopped pretending that everything is a-okay, that all the nice looking folks are just exactly what they look like on the surface and start calling sinners to repent?

True Story (with possible omission in detail because it’s been awhile)— 

A young man from my hometown robbed a convenience store. He shot and killed the clerk and did not get caught. Not long after, this murderer accepted Christ and experienced a radical rebirth. Old things passed away. He spent every moment of his life trying to make up for his crime. He preached to the young people in town, warning them against alcohol and drugs. He became a youth pastor. He married and became a father and loving husband. He preached Jesus and repentance and salvation through Christ alone. And he kept his secret for years.

Then one day, he did something totally unexpected, something that made headlines all over the place. This upstanding citizen walked into the police station and turned himself in. He left his church, his wife and his sons to go to prison for the foreseeable future. He told his stunned friends and family who clearly thought he’d lost his last marbles that he could no longer live with himself.

You see, words alone were not enough. Works alone are not enough. This young man knew a secret and bravely worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling.

Following repentance, those who harm others must make restitution in kind. When John said to bring forth works of repentance, this is what he meant. When Zachias said he would pay back everything he stole, this is why. He didn’t offer to clean the temple, teach Bible Study or go to counseling. He gave back what he took and compensated his victims for their loss by giving extra.

This young man brought forth works of repentance. The very real change inside his heart eventually burst forth in fruits of righteousness. He did the right thing. He gave peace to the family of his victim, he admitted his guilt, he accepted the judgment of the society in which he lived and paid the price because it was the right thing to do.

What must I do to be saved?

Ever wonder why Jesus told folks to go do things when they asked this question? Sell all you have and give it to the poor seems to conflict with salvation by grace alone. And yet, how can anyone who’s heart has truly been reborn into the Kingdom of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness sit all comfortable, year after blessed year, right there in the hog wallow of their former  existence filled with adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like? It absolutely makes no sense.

Furthermore, is it even possible for those dead in trespasses and sin to do anything so contrary to their nature as going to prison for a crime they got away with years ago?

So what if we stopped pretending that evil does not exist and start calling the wicked to repentance? What if the power of God to save the lost broke forth  mightily and those who commit atrocities in darkness came to the light and experienced the life-changing power of regeneration?

Ida Mae spends some time repenting—Again

I was wrong. I would’ve called fire down out of heaven and turned the man who harmed my little friend into a pile of rubble. You see, while I was sharpening my scissors, I forgot that whoever hurt my sweet little student is someone’s son. Someone’s brother, someone’s father, someone’s husband. Someone, somewhere loves that man despite what he’s done.

God loves that man.

So now, I’m praying he will be exposed so he will not harm another child. I pray that he will repent and the power of God will transform his life, taking him out of the realm of darkness and into the light of the Kingdom of Heaven. I pray he will one day call others to repentance.

I repent of my hard-heartedness but, dadgumit, I will also stop pretending that evil cannot possibly lurk about in perfectly respectable looking packages and tell anyone who’ll listen that Jesus died to save the worst of these.

This gospel of the Kingdom must be preached again and that’s just all there is to it. repentance

 

 

This was written awhile back but the emotions ran too high at the time to post. I’ve edited out the multiple exclamation marks and such but if it seems a bit raw, my apologies. Furthermore, it’s not meant as a theological exposition–just a moment of epiphany after a very long day.

Two Week Follow-up

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My two week hiatus is over. I’m feeling rested and slightly petrified.

After finally calming the crap down around Day Six, I spent lots of time napping, dancing around the living room to “I Will Survive” and “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart” and drinking fizzy fruit sodas. My blood sugar raged but the Inner Emo felt better for the exercise, thanks much.

Then the emails started. The beast tightened the financial screws which makes job-hunting higher priority than before. I’m no longer looking for work in my field and have cast the nets further adrift so to speak. Trying to find work after so long out of the loop is tough. Trying to find something that pays a living wage is worse.

Hate to be so cryptic but keeping identifying details to a minimum while updating is difficult on a good day.

All this sounds pretty rotten and–well, it is. But during the last two weeks, I felt my Father’s joy and His assurance of provision. He assured me that those who trust in Him will not be put to shame. He assured me that He keeps watch over His children and He will repay their enemies. And He assured me that He knew beforehand and made provision accordingly.

Like a Light in a Storm

Three months ago, I had a strange dream. I wrote it down, including all the odd details. At the time, the dream made me feel  better even though it made no sense and knowing it was from the Lord, I tucked it aside with other journal gems, then went on about my business, promptly forgetting the whole thing. It went something like this:

I’m in a store doing ordinary things which I wrote down. These things were quite specific and not the least bit scary and yet I am terrified anyway. I wake, screaming at the top of my tiny lungs for the Lord to come comfort me right-this-minute.

Only I wasn’t actually awake. I’m a little girl, maybe six to eight or so. I’m in a big double bed. The covers are horribly rumpled as I’ve obviously been fighting in my sleep, my head down by the foot of the bed. Beautiful soft light streams in through the window and I am squealing like crazy, crawling up on the pillows and calling for Jesus to come get me.

It’s the middle of the night. I may be awake, but I am little and I am scared.

All of this, I perceive in a bare minute. The colors, the lighting, the perception– much more than a dream. And in the split-second it takes to start squealing, I see my Lord, all warm and drowsy and stumbling over to calm down this wailing child of His heart.

Which wakes me up out of the dream-within-a-dream. I am no longer scared. I realize I’m home, I’m safe, my Lord isn’t the tiniest bit worried and I  have woken Him up for no reason as there is actually nothing wrong– no danger, no imminent threat, no looming destruction. The ordinary items that terrified me are not a threat. I tell the Lord that it’s okay, He can go back to sleep, I’m fine.

I get some loving up anyway.

And then I actually did wake up.

How the Story Plays Out

For several days before the email of financial doom, I felt a need to go back and reread my journals. I remembered things, reread encouragement and replayed some of the sweet moments from time spent in His presence. Pretty nice stuff. I reread answers to prayer given before I knew to ask. Holy moments tucked in between panicky moments of desperation. I got a snapshot of the way the Lord has upheld and sustained me during this transition. Yeah, things stink sometimes. But, there is beauty in His sweet care.

The evening of the email’s arrival started off pretty nice. One of the kidlets had the nerve to get older than allowed for a youngster of my tender years so out we went for a little birthday sushi and a generous helping of family gossip. Afterwards,  dear child invites Mom to their favorite thrift store (some things definitely run in families). Nice surprise and lovely end to a wonderful visit.  We  drive over, park too far away after so much raw fish and part ways near the door as I’m more of a home goods kinda shopper and kidlet loves the clothing section.

Round the corner and there, hidden in the back tastefully arranged with a grouping of tacky ’80’s mauve and blue geese sits a vision from heaven– the most awesome little table to grace a thrift store in ages. A 1930’s, drop leaf office typing table, complete with wheels that raise and lower, a foot operated devise that actually works to lock the table down. The top needs refinishing but all the marvelous, industrial metal goodness is perfect.

The table is mine. I know it. I love it. It loves me back. We are meant to be united in decorating bliss. There’s a great big freshly painted wall back home with an empty slot in need of just such a wonder. I drag my treasure to the cashier, knocking various grandmother-types out of the way as I go. This baby needs to get bought and paid for pronto before some big city high brow sees what I’ve found and tries to wrestle it from my grimy clutches. After all that raw fish, I’m in no shape for a tussle.

Fourteen dollars and twenty minutes later, the table sits near the front door with a lovely sold sign attached. I threaten the cashier with immanent doom if she lets my baby out of her sight for one minute and head back to the book section. I have vowed to quit bringing home anything bigger than a matchbox but a quick perusal yields an armload of HUGE hardbacks meant to melt the  heart of any bibliophile. Someone cleaned off the coffee table. Whatever– they are  mine. I remark to the cashier that I have no place for these boat anchors and quickly calculate the probability of getting both the rolling table/cart and the huge box of books to the car.

At this point, I park myself near the door on a second-hand sofa and look smug. Occasionally the thought crosses my mind that I can’t possibly lift the book box and the cart but decide that God Will Provide and thus, turning religious, move on to more pressing matters like watching other shoppers gawk over my table until they see the sold sign. More smugness ensues.

Trust me, there is a point in here somewhere.

Eventually, my daughter and I get everything loaded with the help of a nice gay man who does, in fact, make a play for my table although my heart is hard to his cries for mercy as he assures me that he, and only he, can properly appreciate it’s wonderfulness. I snicker and head homeward, arrange table in place of honor, grab the laptop for a quick check and bam– the beast strikes again.

Don’t know if anyone else can relate, but the world stopped turning.

I am petrified. Bills loom. The little bit of personal credit in my own name is liable to be ruined. Important things must be paid or put off indefinitely. My kids will do without and there’s not much cuts closer to the bone.  I’ve tried to find work already. I see no answer, no solution, no promise.

Of course, this is not all technically true. I’m not exactly on the street. I haven’t tried Walmart yet and I hear they hire just about anyone. That doesn’t help however. Spiraling commences. I’m not thinking anymore and a big hot wad of Ugly wants to take me under. I see myself living in a box under the bridge, selling plasma and eating radioactive carp from the bayou.

After plenty of this, I head on to bed, get still and hear my Savior.

He reminds me of His promises. He quotes from my journals. The stories just read only nights before replay through my fear-soaked brain.

I can hear and I know– there’s a decision to make. I can chose to trust the One Who brought me this far already or I can head on into this shit-filled pit the beast so kindly dug and stay there for only the Good Lord knows how long.

This time, the good guys win.

Spiritual wrestling makes me hungry. There’s crackers and cheese in the kitchen and as I’m no longer headed for life as a bag lady, I head to the fridge instead for a midnight snack. I may be better but sleep is out of the question so I open up the journal I’ve been reading for days now and scroll down to the next entry on March 10th.

And there’s the dream. I’m munching crackers and reading all this incredible detail from the first section of the dream which I’d forgotten as it made no sense whatsoever. After all, it wasn’t scary and yet I was terrified. The part which I kindly left out earlier to make the story much juicier. . .

. . . the part where I’m in a store. And I’m terrified. And I find a rolling table that might be a cart and I’m trying to get it out of the store. Except that I have a huge box of heavy books. And I can’t figure out why I’d buy these great big books.  I know I can’t carry both the books and the table and everyone wants my table and it makes no sense whatsoever to be frightened of rolling tables and books but I am and . . .

I am Fine.

At that moment, crackers falling out of my open mouth, I know, beyond a doubt that my Father knows everything. I’ve heard this all my life but the reality of experiencing trumps the head knowledge of hearing any day.

Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is watching. He knows. He gives me a dream three months in advance and makes sure I find it again on the day I need to hear from Him so desperately. He knew where I would be, what I’d be doing, how I’d be feeling and that I would squawk like a trembling baby bird in a rumpled nest.

He gave me some loving up ahead of time.

Now isn’t that something?

I’d like to say that everything is all better now but circumstances have not change quite yet. I know they will. Not how or where or when– just that they will. I may panic again tomorrow.  I wish I could say I’m strong enough to remember this little miracle when the crap hits the fan again– which it will– but I am not.

What I can tell you is this.

If I squeal, my Savior will come and pat me until I’m better. And for now, that is plenty good enough.

Day Six-ish: Ida Gets Called on Her Crap

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Well then.

I’m alone in the house for the first time in so many years I can’t begin to recall. Do not know what to do with myself.

So today, I did the only logical thing and went online job hunting, mapped out a three year life plan and scheduled something for every day left in vacation-land. Then I painted a bowl of fruit-like objects.Came out pretty good although the spherical shapes continue giving me fits. Whatever.  They’re in a bowl, I like them. Then I took a bath.

Whereupon the Lord above invaded my space (metaphorically speaking) and poked me with sticks. He said (not so gently either, mind you)  that a) I was suppose to be resting and b) I was not resting one bit and c) I needed to call every single person with which I’d planned all sorts of bone-tiring excursions stretching into the foreseeable future and cancel already.

So I did. But I am not liking this one bit.

I have cleaned the bathroom, done every bit of washable laundry, scrubbed every available surface and painted all the fruit I can stand. Final assessment? I do not know how to be still.

Okay fine. We had some wine and flat crackers on the sofa, I spent some time remembering all the wonderful things He’s done so far and I promised to be good.

Please pray for my sanity folks. It could be a very long week.

Day 3: Ida Gets a Little Retail Therapy

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Day Three started off quiet. Too quiet.

As soon as I noticed the quietness, I sprang out of  bed and scanned the street for city employees of any variety. Seeing as the coast was clear, I made the usual morning trek around the stations of the cottage– potty (now fully functional, thank you Mr. Plumber), coffee pot, laptop.

Then I painted this:

This is called, blank paper.

For us artist types, there’s an annoying little ritual before getting along to the fun parts.  One tapes a perfectly good sheet of paper to a board, then slops water all over. It now becomes rumpled and crinkly.  This is called ‘stretching’ but it’s a lie as the paper is not stretched, its just lumpy. Once dry, its called ‘done.’

It’s also boring and slows down the creative juices but I do it anyway because all the cool kids do  and artsy types always ask, ‘Did you stretch the paper first?’ So I do so I can say yes.

Then I painted this:

This is called, scrap paper with some swishes, but I promised pictures so there you go.

Then I painted this:

This is called, Ugly, but I was getting bored by this time. An executive decision was made and off we went to God’s Store for a little within-my-budget retail therapy.

And I got this:

*PICTURE REMOVED FOR PRIVACY CONCERNS.

This is called, Loot.

Let’s all pause now to contemplate the total awesomeness of this haul.

Top left corner: The most amazing vintage purse I’ve ever laid eyes on anywhere, in this solar system  or the next. Genuine ’50’s era, Atomic Awesome. Lucite handles *and* front piece, genuine chrome thingies and pristine interior. I’m going to be buried with this baby. $6.99

Top right corner: Tie-dyed maxi skirt *in my size* in the most wonderful shades of purple $5.99

Lower right corner: A hammered aluminum water carafe with Bakelite handle. Perfect condition. $2.99

Lower left corner: My new watercolor palette (not to be confused with a deviled-egg plate which it may have been in a former life and probably explains why it wound up at God’s Store in the first place. Now repurposed for a life of art and such.) $6.99

Underneath these four lovelies, nestled amongst the packing sits *more* loot– vintage jewelry including scatter pins and an old 1940’s sweater grabber/holder thing that looks like two roach clips attached by a chain  (no fair asking how I know such naughty stuff), a set of pillow shams in a lovely gold vintage print, a cool vase for cut flowers and so forth and so on.

I’ll spare the details as I’d hate to cause anyone to stumble into the Pit of Envy.

Meanwhile, Back at the Kleenex Box

Yesterday saw lots of things repaired that needed repairing whether I wanted to hear the clatter or not. Today was quiet and I didn’t know what in the world to do with myself. In the spirit of total disclosure– and for those reading along who might be going through something similar either now or in the future–here’s the fine print.

Overall, things are good. Feeling a little  jumpy/stressed/weepy still. I’m guessing those are just symptoms working their way through. I let myself cry for an hour on the sofa and didn’t try to figure out the reason. Had a little trouble sitting still which explains the trip out and the inability to get going on a watercolor project. I suspect soon enough things will settle and then I may not feel like doing a blasted thing.

Goodness, I sure hope so.

In the meantime, I’m going to go play with my loot.

Day 2: Happy Place is Loud

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Woke early this morning to joyous quiet which lasted all of twenty-eight minutes before jack hammers started up outside my bedroom window.

Yes indeedy. Jack hammers. I went outside in pj’s for visual verification purposes.

Jack hammering lasted until 2:32 at which time Loud Blowing Noises Made With Unknown Tool Thingies began. LBN’s lasted until five minutes ago.

Much hand waving and lip reading combined with trots back and forth to the front door yielded the following information:

  • A major gas line in the neighborhood is leaking
  • This is not a problem and there is no need to panic
  • Oops
  • The leak is bigger than we thought initially and many more holes must be jack hammered into the concrete right-this-minute
  • No problem, no need for concern
  • Just for funsies we’re turning off your gas. Not because there is a problem or anything.
  • The other guys were suppose to fix this yesterday.
  • We are calling in bigger trucks and more equipment so this might take a teensie bit longer than first mentioned
  • Everything is under control
  • The gas company now needs to inspect the premises. Just for grins as there isn’t any real problem
  • Have you been burning that candle all day? No reason for asking as there is no danger to you or any other citizen within a three block radius
  • Really

On another note,  the tiny bathroom is currently full of plumber. Nothing inside said bathroom works. Not the sink, nor the potty, nor the awesome tub which is my nightly quiet place. The sound of Great Progress goes forth and we are hopeful for a successful outcome.

Mr. Plumber is very nice and keeps telling me how the Lord has blessed him, including a recent successful back surgery which has given him his livelihood back. I like Mr. Plumber very much.

In Summary

No painting, no music, no napping. Only jackhammers, job site foreman on the porch and plumbers who love Jesus. Not a bad day overall.

Did I mention we only have one bathroom?

There is no need to panic.

 

 

 

Burnout: Going to My Happy Place

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A few days ago, I realized I’m just about crispy fried. Hand shaking, nail biting, random crying, nervous edging. Not like those months right after leaving, mind  you. Just enough to know something needs to change pretty dadgum quick.

I wrote a few friends, asked for advice and prayer, then settled in for a nice vacation.  Not actually going anywhere,  but for the next two weeks I’m purposefully disconnecting from the thoughts, worries and activities that litter my days with reasons to freak.

This morning I realized just how often we all struggle with burnout and decided to share. I’ll post a quick update every day or so complete with pictures and a bullet point list of stuff that’s helping along with the crap that most decidedly is not. I’d love to hear your comments and ideas if you’ve got a notion.

Right now, the plan involves extra sleep which may or may not work out so well but I’m going to give it the old college try regardless. I bought a couple of how-to-paint books which look hard enough to engage the mind and easy enough for some instant gratification. My ipod is fully loaded and, I swear, I’ll drug the dog is he barks one more time.

Things not to do:

  • No job hunting
  • No serious blog post writing until vacation is over
  • No worrying over things I can’t control anyway (I am cracking myself up over here)

Thoughts and prayers much appreciated.

Email Address

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I’ve been swimming in the dark here at Thoroughly Christian Divorce. Some have found me due to persistence and dogged determination for which I think you should all get badges in sneakiness. I love writing new friends and I’m not ashamed to tell my story. In fact, nothing I write here is a big secret and when I left, I promised myself and my children to stop covering for the anti-husband.

So while I’m not trying to be all mysterious and stuff, certain circumstances still in play make it needful to blog anonymously or not at all. As a writer, the choice came pretty easy.

All this smoke and mirrors stinks for various reasons. I like connecting with real people. I love email. I want to interact. Some day soon, I hope circumstances change again and I can own my name. Until then, I think I’ve found a solution.

I’m working on a website for work stuff and along with hosting, I get free email addresses (so fun!) so I’ve set one up for this blog.

thoroughlychristian  @ webwrinkles.com

Just remove the spaces.

I remember when first venturing around the internet trying to find help I could not, would not  comment on blog posts for fear of getting busted by the beast. If you’re in that boat, believe me, I understand. Please feel free to email privately if you want to discuss anything.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Recommended: Kellie Jo Holly: The Power-Control Dynamic and Abusive Anger

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For every woman ready to move on and leave all the crap in the backwash, here’s an eyes-open gander on a topic most would like to forget about already.

An abused man/woman/mother/child can become abusive. The simmering anger fueled by our impotence to stop the pain can be redirected at innocent bystanders. We know it, we’ve seen it, we’ve probably tried it out a time or two, truth be told.

Here’s a lovely quote from an article by Kellie Jo Holly, “The Power-Control Dynamic and Abusive Anger.”

Like Kristen, I also heard myself say things that I thought I’d never say. I witnessed myself act out angrily in embarrassing and hurtful ways during and after my marriage. My abusive anger never once helped my marriage, and it holds the potential to ruin any healthy relationship I ever have.

Let’s just say that I learned how to be an abuser from an excellent teacher and could continue that pattern in my life if I chose to do so. Like Kristen, I choose not to use those tools any longer because I am not interested in hurting other people so I can retain/gain power or control.

The problem was that I knew two ways to behave: I could abuse or submit. I did not have any other tools in my toolbox. It’s like trying to build a house with only a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench. Both tools will work, but there are so many other tools that would make the job smoother!

 

Once again, Kellie Jo nails one for the home team.  Well done~

You’ll find the complete post here.

Recommended: Kellie Holly: After Leaving Your Abusive Relationship

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A few weeks after leaving the beast, my car broke down in the Walmart parking lot way after dark. Scary place at the best of times but sitting out there all alone in a new town with no way home, I arrived on the threshold of a full on panic attack.

I had no idea what to do. Years of programming made me think I couldn’t make a move without the husband’s input. My first impulse was to swallow my pride, admit I couldn’t function without him and dial the number. No doubt he awaited just such an opportunity.

Fortunately, better sense prevailed. I sent out a half dozen frantic texts/phone calls to anyone vaguely within driving distance and waited in my car until someone answered. I prayed for wisdom and . . . I. . . waited. I remembered that I now resided in the big city. I could call a cab if all else failed. I could leave the car where it sat until morning at which time, I’d do the same thing anyone else would do– I’d call a mechanic.

Eventually an old friend rode in to the rescue. We tried to jump the car and blew out a fuse. He drove me home and the next day, the mechanic took care of everything including my wounded pride by assuring me I’d handled things just fine. I did not contact the beast, I did not explain what happened, I simply charged his credit card for the bill and kept contact minimized. When he sent an angry email asking for an explanation, I told him the car needed repairs and nothing else.

Once you’re out, you must get free. It takes time, deliberate thought and patience with yourself. Only you understand how many nooks and crannies your jailer claimed inside your thinking and only you can root him out.

Kellie Jo Holly addresses this issue in a new post, After Leaving Your Abusive Relationship:

When I left my ex, my life didn’t change immediately. I obsessed over him and our marriage. I imagined conversations we might have the next time we met. I woke to his voice only to find he was not in the house. My heart raced around the time he would normally return home from work.

I was gone, but I hadn’t left him. My old routines remained. I continued to fear doing something wrong that he would discover. I cleaned the house, bought his favorite foods, and budgeted the money he sent me for four despite having only three of us in the house (our kids and me). When he called, I was afraid not to answer. When he emailed, I emailed right back hoping I met his time schedule for responding.

I continued to behave as if he would come home any second. I lived in chaos, attempting to attend to an abusive husband who no longer lived in our home.

I love Kellie’s writing. Here, she nails it– that semi-sick feeling when you realize your abuser moved into your brain without permission.

You can read the rest here.

Thanks, Kellie!

Hearing God’s Voice in the Rubber Room

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Love my journals.  Should they perish, Canadians would hear the  weeping and join the chorus, sorrow unmatched in this, or any other continent. Perish the thought–

My backups have backups. I fret each time the computer freezes which is silly as I have plenty of backups. Still, in the interest of International Peace and Good Will, I check my collection from time to time and make sure they’re all healthy and happy.

Nobody wants a chorus of weeping Canadians on their conscience.

Journals are kept in digital format, password protected. Without that luxury, I couldn’t journal as  the anti-husband could not see anything  negative or critical or his delicate feelings might be hurt. No, I’m not joking. Never mind that my thoughts and feelings were never safe with him. Not that I would know but I heard a rumor once that’s how its suppose to be with husbands and wives.

My journals begin November of 2005 and continue through last evening. In general, I sit down to chronicle every day or so unless something out of the ordinary happens in which case, I may write three or four times in twenty-four hours.

Over the years I started and stopped plenty of journals. This time around, something changed. This time, I was desperate.

Always before, I wrote only safe things in case I got busted. I colored in events with pretty colors when the facts were less than lovely. I left out hurtful events unless I intended to take the blame. I also developed a talent for punishing myself on paper,  a reminder to  do better in the future. This verbal playacting got old pretty fast and another half-empty journal joined the pile,  collecting dust on a closet shelf.

The password changed everything. Even so, I wasn’t so good at telling the truth. My reality was harsh, ugly. I refused to say what I really thought.  I didn’t know my feelings were valid, and  it was plenty okay because God knew what I was thinking anyway so who was I kidding? With time, I’ve gotten pretty dadgum good at laying out the trash and sorting through later.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

My reasons for writing were twofold—I was confused and needed to hear from God. At first, I had no idea why I was so confused.  Maybe writing stuff out  would bring clarity. Took time but that is indeed what happened.

As a Christian, I believe God is plenty alive  and He wants fellowship with His children. I believe in prayer. I believe in answers to prayer. I felt certain He wanted to speak but in the state I was in, I couldn’t hear a thing. I thought maybe by consistently recording experiences, thoughts and prayers, I could learn discernment.

There’s a Party Going On

Ultimately, there were too many voices.

I heard things alright. Lots and lots of things. Sometimes I heard my mother’s voice, telling me I was nothing without a man and if I couldn’t please my God-ordained husband, my life was a failure. I should lose weight, fix myself up, stop letting myself go. Since mom was still alive and talking plenty, it got pretty easy to tell when she was carrying on inside my head without permission.

Another voice sounded like mine. I transcribed its rantings on a regular basis. It told me I was a failure, I deserved to be punished for my faults, I couldn’t get anything right, there wasn’t any use trying anymore.

Give up, give in and die already.

Sometimes this one spoke in the background, more an undercurrent of hopeless, helpless frustration. Other times, it got really, really loud. The more I wrote these words down, the more I began to see their point of origin.

These lovelies belonged to the voice of my husband—not  his actual words, but the message received after so many years of trying and failing to gain his love and approval.

This voice needed a good crucifixion, sometimes on a daily basis. I’m still working on that.

God Said What?

I can’t tell anyone how to hear from God and that certainly is not my intention. After all those years of continuous verbal and emotional barrage, I wouldn’t have known the Voice of God if it bit me on the posterior. Which it didn’t, in case you’re wondering.

But over time, I learned a few things.

  • God doesn’t speak inside my head. All that chatter going on right and left came from someplace for sure, but it wasn’t Him.
  • Those compulsions that cropped up occasionally weren’t God either. 

Go back and check the mailbox right now! Write out a check to such and such ministry for one hundred dollars before you go to bed!!

These turned out to be just another version of the same mess the anti-husband pulled, ordering me around, insisting I do it right-now-or-else with either option sure to cause trouble.

Write that check? Get in trouble with the anti-husband. Don’t write the check? Big trouble with the heavenlies. Over time, I learned these directives were not from my loving heavenly Father but another manifestation of that state of the double-bind the husband kept me in, on purpose, at all times.

(I have got to write that blog post on bounded choices. . .)

Another type of compulsion came with a whole bucket load of fear.  I have to get out of here. Danger-danger-danger-something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s wrong.

Once upon a time, I thought these feelings-out-of-nowhere were a form of discernment. Not so much. These anxious thoughts turned out to be triggered by some current situation recalling a past trauma which fanned those fight or flight reactions into a white-hot pitch.  By writing them down afterward, I learned to see where the little devils originated.

Writing about the evil force attacking me in the hardware section of the dollar store brought to mind the time the anti-husband went on a tirade over the drill bit I bought—

  • that he sent me into town to buy—
  • that I called him about from the store to double check the specifics—
  • that he swore later he never told me to get and besides that, I never called—
  • that cost way too much and—
  • how could I be so stupid?—
  • Women don’t know anything about tools—
  • you can’t send a women to do a man’s job—
  • why would I ever ask for a titanium bit when all I’m doing is hanging a picture?
  • which he would now bring up in front of company forever-and-ever amen.

Totally off-topic side note: These morphed into full-scale panic attacks once I left. They didn’t last as long as I  knew where they came from (thank you sweet journal). Then I could transfer all that emotion from the evil tools to the evil man who caused the problem in the first place. I still don’t like drill bits much but at least these days I can walk by without hyperventilating.

Elijah in the Cave

So how do you hear God’s voice? If I knew how to answer that question, I’d skip right over and tell you how many angels dance on the head of a pin. I’d glow with radioactive holiness. Everyone would stand amazed, basking in the reflection of all things pious and sanctified. I’d send out a few prayer cloths, dripping in overflowing saintly stuff and pass the collection plate.

Since this is not likely to happen anytime soon, I’ll start by confessing I use the shorthand version in general conversation that makes some folks cringe—God spoke to me and said this or that. Well no, not exactly. In our church from my younger days, we use to say, The Holy Spirit impressed upon me and I believe He’s saying—which  is probably more accurate as it implies the Lord may be talking but you might be interpreting His intentions all backwards.

Around here, it’s like this—

Sometimes a still small voice comes along, welling up from a place deep inside that isn’t so much a voice as a knowing. A bit of truth. It doesn’t sound like any other voice in my life. I try to pay attention to these whispers of substance and write them down, then put them on the shelf. I decided long ago that Mary had the right idea when she pondered things in her heart.

Nothing the Father says or does requires immediate action or else. If He leads, if He speaks, He will confirm and carry out His word. He’s got plenty of angels for all that right-this-minute stuff. We are His children. His delight. He loves us so dearly.

God’s word is truth. Learning to hear His voice leads deeper into prayer and study not away. It lines up with the proper study of scripture and it sets captives free. It’s consistent with His loving character but also with other aspects of His nature we might not be so familiar with like justice and vengeance so it’s important to remain open to the idea that we may have picked up wrong ideas and teaching along the way.

I’ve learned that my view of biblical marriage wasn’t His. He brought peace, joy and freedom. The religious teaching I learned as a young adult brought bondage, fear and a deathly fear of drill bits.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch. . .

Journaling pulled away the confusion of the moment and helped me see the truth.  I got things wrong. I made plenty of  mistakes. But I learned to hear with my broken spirit instead of these ears.

A quick point that may not apply to anyone but stubborn me–along the path to getting free, I realized my head was chattering way too much. In response, I shut down the whole she-bang. I figured if I couldn’t tell God’s voice from others, I’d just quit listening. This was so not helpful.

There’s a risk in seeking the Face of God. There’s a possibility of making mistakes. For those of us who’ve internalized the voice of our enemy, it’s a painful process to learn discernment. From personal experience, I’m saying—keep an humble heart, keep a deep love for the truth and the understanding of the Cross—humility, sacrifice, laying down our lives for others—and press in to Jesus.

In Him is truth and light and freedom.

The destination is worth the sacrifice.