Tag Archives: restoration

Recommended: What About the Children? by Cindy Burrell

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Wonderful post over at Verbal & Emotional Abuse by Cindy Burrell:

For an abuse victim who dares to reveal to her friends and family members her inclination to leave her abuser, she often hears something quite different than what the pastor asserted. She will more likely hear, “What about the children?”

There it is: an emotional trump card, a ticking time bomb. Any convictions about escaping the emotional harm she and her children might face on a daily basis are at once upended and she finds herself catapulted into visions of an unavoidably disastrous future. Could it be that perhaps separating from the abuser will only make things worse? Is it true that a child is better off in an abusive household where both parents are present than in a broken home?

Really appreciate the insights from someone further down the road. You can read the rest of the article here.

Prehistoric warm blooded bear-like creature that has nothing to do with Cindy’s post.

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.

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.

Forgiveness Matters

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These days, we’ve got some mighty squishy ideas about forgiveness.

Jeff Crippen recently wrote another brain-niggling article over at A Cry for Justice titled,  The Lord is Merciful and Gracious but He Does Not Forgive His Enemies:

Every victim of abuse, especially Christians, know what it is like to be pushed and prodded with “as a Christian, you are required by God to forgive your abuser.” Too often this pressure includes the demand that the victim reconcile with the abuser, and it leads to being deceived by the typical false repentance abusers love to claim for themselves. Here is the principle:

“God does not forgive His enemies. He never has, and He never will. As His children in Christ, we are to reflect His character and attributes. Therefore, this has profound implications for how we deal with our enemies, who are also the enemies of the Lord.”

And a followup article here to clarify a bit more:

Now, think about this. Do YOU have authority to forgive sin? I mean, do you possess that authority and ability within your own self, simply because you are you? No. Any authority given to any human being to forgive sin is really authority that resides in Christ alone. When we pronounce a person’s sins forgiven, it is only because we do so by the authority of the Word of God. The sinner is not forgiven because of my words, but because of Christ. This is why there is forgiveness only in Christ and nowhere else. Ultimately, if a person will not have Christ, then their sins remain unforgiven. Only Christ can forgive sin, and He can do so only because of His work of redemption for us.

Acts 26:19-21, Matthew 3:7-8

First off, let’s make a distinction between those who genuinely repent and, as a result, bring forth works of repentance. These we are urged–make that, required to forgive if we want our own sins forgiven when we repent ourselves.

As believers in Christ, we have repented right? We’ve agreed with God that our selfish, unloving actions harm others. We’ve agreed with God that His authority on the matter is righteous no matter how much we might squirm, no matter how we try to justify our gluttony, gossip, lust or murder. If we have not repented, the point is mute. If we continue to cling to our own sin, thinking we know better than our Creator, all bets are off,  just saying.

But when we approach the throne in genuine repentance, willing to accept the consequences of our actions here on earth, ready and willing to make full restitution for the harm we’ve done, fully trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus to restore us to fellowship with the Father, then we must forgive those who have done the same.

Apologizing is fine when you bump someone in the checkout line. It’s great when you’re late to a doctor’s appointment and the nurse looks pissed whilst holding instruments both sharp and pointy. In fact, it’s a really good idea for all manner of thoughtless bumping about in any area of everyday life. But an apology is not sufficient when we sin against each other.

I’m sorry but saying sorry does not equal repentance.

In this day of  inch-deep, pop-christian culture, apologizing is nothing but cheap emotional blackmail to lure the naive and undiscerning into dropping their guard for a better shot on the next go-round.

By definition, an enemy  has not repented. They took up arms against us, intent on our harm and destruction and the fact that they are still an enemy means they have not laid them down. They do not believe they need to repent and they will rip us apart at the first glimmering opportunity. In fact, they fully believe they are justified in their actions and if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll see the apology dance as just one more weapon in an overstuffed arsenal.

The Priesthood of the Saints

I’ve come to see forgiveness as a sacrament– something extended to others as part of our inheritance and position in Christ. After His resurrection, Jesus said this:

John 20: 22, 23

22 And having said this, He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit!

23 [Now having received the Holy Spirit, and being [b]led and directed by Him] if you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.

Its a lot harder to discern true repentance and to struggle before the throne with our responsibility as a child of the King. Instead of offering a blanket of easy forgiveness for every offense, how about we trot ourselves into our Father’s presence and present our case?

What if this Christian life is more than just a sanctified spreadsheet of good works to check off before departure? ( Forgive everybody? check. Love my enemies? check. Cast out demons? check.) What if being a born again, child of God involves a relationship with our own High Priest where we must hear His voice, stay before Him until we know His heart and then faithfully obey His righteous judgements?

What if learning and growing in this intimate relationship with the Divine is the key to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven here to earth?

In no way does this negate our personal accountability before God. We are to guard our hearts, allowing Him the space and time to do His job and trusting that He will,  refusing to seek personal reckoning or vengeance and guarding against  a root of bitterness that might take hold and spring up, defiling many. These are all personal, internal, heart issues. Before our own Master we stand or fall. And so do our enemies.

Its a whole lot harder to wrestle with our own fallen nature, our own desire for vengeance, our anger, bitterness and wrath before the heavenly court.

Maybe it’s time we grow up.

Screaming in the Basement

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Stephen King talks about the boys in the basement helping out with his writing. Since this is Mr. King, there’s no telling what he really means, but in the context of craft, the idea is to give yourself plenty of information, then let the subconsciousness go to work. When the boys send something up,  write it down before it gets away.

I see dreams this way. Things I can’t quite get my literal mind around squealing like pigs in the dark time. Whatever. I wish they’d shut up already.

Still, I had a doozy last night and spent the eternal sixties between three and four this morning checking under the sofa.

Would You Like to Share With the Class?

Instead of regaling you with my bothersome imagery, I thought we’d play a little. Perhaps we could share and get a little insight from each other.

Here’s one of mine to get you started:

I’m sitting in a nasty swamp. Over to my left, I see the beast playing with another man. They are carrying on big-time and ignoring me completely. I notice that other folks are arriving but they are smart enough to be getting into boats before going out in this murky mess. I start getting anxious and decide to head to shore.

When my feet hit bottom, I feel snakes slithering around in the goo and promptly get bit on the foot but by this point, I don’t care. I’m getting out or I’ll die trying. That’s when I notice the alligators swimming back and forth between me and the shore. I plunge on ahead, expecting to lose an arm or a leg any second.

Once out– appendages still intact– I have no idea what to do next so I go sit in a little changing shed  (down here, that’s an semi-open shed where you shower off and change into your bathing suit or back into clothes.) I sit on the hard wooden bench and watch out the open door. I’m waiting, but don’t know why.

Then the alligators start marching by. They’re walking in line past the door. I tense up, all quiet hoping they don’t spot me but of course, this is a nightmare. The lead gator swings his big ugly head my direction and. . .

. . . they all turn into zombie gators, walking upright on their hind legs and headed right for me. I am trapped inside this stupid shed which is the worst place on earth to be in case of zombie-gator attack.

The End.

Your turn.

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.

Poem: The Things that Keep Our Hearts Apart

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Digging through some old stuff this morning and found a poem written several years ago. I’m thinking someone might relate.

Folks have called me brave but the scariest thing I ever did was going into the throne room, covered in the mess of my life and staying at the feet of the Holy One who made the stars. 

***

Born for this other place, tucked away inside Your heart.

You pierce the cellophane holding me captive to this narrow

little world and I see— Your eyes, crinkled at the corners.

Bathed in kindness,

backlit with mercy.

Anything, my Lord. Just say the word.

You sit, take my hands and smile that smile I love beyond bearing.

You’re after something.

What will it be this morning?

My humiliation with the oatmeal?

Shame on toast.

I reach inside, toss corruption at Your feet but You aren’t distracted.

Who am I kidding?

You know the particulars that keep my heart insulated from Yours.

You held a penitent sinner, forgave my transgressions with a sigh of negation long time passing.

You cleaned away shame on a couch long ago, holding tight, wiping my mouth while I spit blood and renounced the works of darkness.

So what keeps us apart?

I wanted to do better. I promised You more.

A pledge of faithfulness beneath a bleeding tree—

–Broken on impact.

Your eyes speak forgiveness but this fickle memory spits out data while Your arms caress my back.

Your faithfulness reminds me of my failing.

Wandering eyes. A harlot’s heart.

You deserve better.

Kindness, goodness, virtue.

Not a snarling hellcat with a thousand regrets packed in a suitcase, banging on Your door.

I throw myself at You because I cannot suffer apart from You a moment longer.

This mercy lies beyond understanding. How can You look at me that way? Your eyes full of longing, Your hands more eager than my own?

And so You dig.

You hold out hands scarred by my failures

ask for things Your sacred eyes should never see.

You say You’ll have it all, not one held back.

Because I trust You—

Because every word is Truth—

Because I can’t live apart from You one moment longer.

I’m staying right here, holding this hand, holding You to my heart.

I choose to believe You want this woman.

Mercy beyond reason.

I’ll never understand Your kindness in this lifetime.

So You’re stuck with me, how does that feel?

I’ll throw myself against Your side a million times until

the ugly keeping our hearts apart jars loose, piling

up at Your feet. Until it’s on the floor, out of our way, crushed

beneath heels strengthened with favor.

I’m never going anywhere without You again.

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!

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.

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.