Archive for the ‘Confessions of a Past Life’ Category


I’ve read a lot about religion lately.IMG_3527

The other day I remembered an orange button that adorned my leather purse when I was about sixteen. It claimed something like this:

Jesus is about relationship, not religion.

I recall when I saw it in a gift shop at youth camp, the concept grabbed my heart. It encompassed what I had been learning as a youth reading my Bible. Primarily the book of John, which I felt portrayed Jesus’ love for me the best because it was written by Jesus’ best friend on earth. I longed to spend time with my new friend and live in a way that made him proud of me. I didn’t get that his life for mine really meant just that. His blood covered over my sin. There was nothing I had do about it except accept it and be grateful.

But I grew up in an age of religion. Big time.

Right and wrong were about being right, and therefore someone else being wrong. Being right meant someone else had to be wrong. Good guys and bad guys. Church goers and “heathens.” Oh, I knew what the Bible said about grace and all that, but it also had plenty to say about not sinning. I took that to mean that the less I sinned, the more right I was. Which naturally meant other people who sinned more than me were wrong. Wasn’t that the standard?

No, that’s just plain dangerous thinking.

Does that mean I learned not to sin? Nope. I was pretty messed up and did a lot of foolish things based on my messed up perspective and my rebellion. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get it right. Fighting to be right left me frustrated and hurt others as well as myself. Until I learned the simplicity of repentance. That coming clean about my stuff, all of it, with complete honesty to Jesus and those I hurt is the only way to freedom. But that’s not religion.

When God created people, he wasn’t starting a religion.

He wanted a relationship with us. And each other in the same way he, in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), enjoys relationship in heaven. He is love, therefore he longs for us to love him and others. He even tells us that those are the greatest commandments. Makes sense that if we recognize his love for us and love him in return, he will give us the ability to love everyone he created.

His ultimate showing of his love was to come to us, giving himself up as a sacrifice to make a way for us to still be in relationship with him even when we choose to sin – to cut him and others off. Because let’s be honest; we’ve all had thoughts of wanting to do harm to someone at some point in our lives even if we haven’t actually followed through with it. And at some point, haven’t we all decided that our ways or plans were better than God’s?

On that basis, we need God’s love and forgiveness in order to have a right kind of relationship with him and with others.

The problem with religion, whether it’s Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or Mormonism (name any you want here), is they are all man’s way of trying to get to God when God already made a way for us to be in a relationship with him through Jesus. Even as Christians or followers of Christ, we can cling to our particular denomination and its traditions rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

But we don’t need to figure out a way to make ourselves right.

God did that for us. So all of our rituals whether they be worshiping a particular way or bowing down the right number of times or wearing a specific outfit do nothing to create a relationship with the creator of us and our world. We miss the point if we focus on those things. We miss loving God and each other. Especially when we insist that our way is the right way. Jesus said that he is the way. He is the truth. He is how we live rightly loving one another. And he is the only one who gave the ultimate example and lived again to prove it.

If we chose a relationship over religion, how would that change the way we live?

 

Read Full Post »


How many of us really know who we are?

Most of us have been shaped by words spoken to us in anger or impatience or from another person’s broken perspective. Who of us didn’t have some kid or kids at school tell us we were stupid, lame, ugly, fat or unwanted for some reason. I know I did. Repeatedly. Statistics show that most children have also suffered from the criticisms, insults and abusive words flung at by overwhelmed, scared or generally messed up parents (aren’t we all?). Many of us have felt the abandonment or rejection divorce brings. Four out of five have been exposed to some type of sexual abuse.

Is is any wonder we struggle to understand who we are?

God created us with a specific design and plan for our life. (Yes, even you.) He delights in the unique personality that makes us, well – us. He knows every nuance, every tilt of our head, all the abilities we possess and what makes us smile. And he loves it when we exhibit those traits. No wonder Satan, the enemy of God and us, whispers lies, uses the wounds others have pressed on us, and creates circumstances to distort the beautiful creation of God that we each are.

But how do we find out who we are and become ourselves again?becomingmyselfbookcover

In her most recent book, Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You, Stasi Eldredge shows us how. Becoming Myself takes us straight to the throne of Jesus where we are loved, delighted in and encouraged. As we read, we are transformed by the renewing of our thoughts about ourselves, our God, our relationships and our world. With intimately honest stories that come from the depths of her heart, Stasi reveals how we can see ours more  clearly. While her primary audience is women, every person needs what God shares through Stasi in this book. It tops my “must read” list of books. It’s not only enjoyable and entertaining, it is a life-changing read.

 

In what ways have you lost yourself? How have you learned who you were truly meant to be?

 

Read Full Post »


I just finished a great book.

Not only did the riveting writing make it a great read, but the impact of the message kept me wanting more. I had a hard time putting it down. The characters drew me in as if I were making new friends, and I cared about their struggles. The author did a fabulous job of giving just enough plot sprinkled with back story to make me feel like I was reading a mystery. But there’s nothing mysterious about the truth presented. We are created in the image of God.

The unfolding story subtly gripped my heart.

The next thing I knew, tears were falling. Especially when I came to these excerpts:

He hasn’t treated me with respect. He wanted to use me for his own purposes. He wasn’t interested in what’s best for me. I can forgive him for that, but I don’t have to be in relationship with him. I don’t want to let him treat me, one of God’s creations, like that.

And…

All those things she said…they came from hurt. Deep, piercing pain. And I was never strong enough to stand against the power of that pain when it came out in her words.

Read it for yourself and see how it speaks to you.  Invisible

Thanks, Ginny. I have a feeling you wrote out of a place of your own pain. God’s using you to heal.

What is a book that has changed your perspective of yourself?

Read Full Post »


I’ve never re-posted a blog post before.

But this post encouraged me and reminded me of the past I left behind. It also gave me something to think about in terms of my current relationships and whether I am living in a healthy way. I felt it valuable enough to pass on.

Thank you to Diana for allowing me to re-post. If you’d rather read the post on Diana’s blog (where you can see her great graphics) click here.

3 Ways to Stop Worshiping the Abuser

November 5, 2013 By

I remember a story my mom always used to tell me.  She said,” Diana, how do you boil a frog?” I said, ” I don’t know.” She said, “A little at a time.”

You see when we put the frog in the water it was cold water. It wasn’t hot, no reason to jump out.  That’s what an abusive relationship starts out as – a cold pot of water. Then, after a time, the abuser lights the stove.  His behavior starts to change.  This may be accentuated with alcohol or drugs. Then the water starts to boil, as his actions become more and more controlling.  First he doesn’t want you to see your friends. Then he cuts you off from the family for some reason or another.  Then he won’t let you work.  Then he takes away the car, and the money.  And the water is so hot by then you can’t even imagine getting out.  So you don’t even try.

By this time, you are afraid when the sun goes down. You are constantly on edge trying to please “His Highness”. Anything to avoid a fight.  Especially when you have small children.  He says he wants the house clean and dinner ready by the time he gets home.  So you do exactly as you are told.  You tell yourself to “be the good wife” and not rock the boat.  You pick up after the kids all day, have the house clean, and a great dinner – but then he doesn’t come home. Until after 2am.  You pace around all night, scream at the kids because you are so angry, and finally get them to sleep.  You try calling his phone – but he turns it off.  So you wait.  Your whole world revolves around what he does and how you can please him.  He has become your God.  You would do anything for him.  As he walks all over you and squashes you like a bug.

Welcome to Abusive Relationship Training 101  This is not normal.  This is not healthy.  This is not a pattern you want to teach your children.  Real love doesn’t look like this.

Here are some ideas on how to start to change YOUR MIND.  What HE does is not the focus of this article.

We cannot control what the Abuser does,

but WE CAN CONTROL OUR REACTION TO IT!

worship (verb)

  1.  to honor or respect (someone or something) as a god
  2. to show respect and love for God or for a god especially by praying, having religious services, etc.
  3. to love or honor (someone or something) very much or too much

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worship

3 Ways to Stop Worshiping the Abuser:

1.  Admit that you have put him on a pedestal

Yes, we did. We think we are trying to keep the peace, but in all reality there is no peace.  A relationship like this thrives on chaos and confusion.  The fights become more frequent and more intense as the relationship goes on.  The first step in changing this picture is to stop worshiping the ground he walks on.  He is not God.

This may be difficult as many victims have an idealized picture of what the relationship looks like.  Victims tend to idolize the “honeymoon phase” and ignore the “big blow out” phase.  We lie to ourselves.  If we told ourselves the truth, then we would have to DO something. This was one of the hardest things for me.  I knew how to live as the victim.  If I stayed the victim, then in my mind,  I always had someone to blame.

Taking back my thoughts was step one of my healing.  I didn’t have to worship him.  It was not my job to change him.  He was not who I thought he was, and that was the truth.  And I was not myself either.

2. Admit that even though he thinks he is GOD, he is not.

Another step to healing was to admit to myself that my thoughts could be different from his.  And I didn’t have to prove them to anyone.  I have my own thoughts and feelings. God gave them to ME when He made me.  The Abuser was great at telling me how I should feel, what I should look like, what I should do.  I gave my power away.  I gave my thoughts and dreams away to him.

No more.  I gave myself permission to think differently. Just because he said something, didn’t mean it was true.  I  gave myself permission to seek out my own truth, and ‘own’ my own feelings.  And I didn’t even have to tell him.  Talk about freedom!

One of the things I learned to say after years of therapy/spiritual counsel was, “I am sorry YOU feel that way.”  That helped me divide my feelings from that of my abuser.  It was liberating, it was awesome, and he hated it.  Be prepared at this point for the fights to increase.  Any sign of ‘unsubmission’ may irritate the abuser more.  Be prepared to walk away.  Have an action plan, and a safe house to go to at this stage.

3. Develop your own Spiritual Plan of Action and Worship

The last step that I did to de-throne the “king” was to develop healthy relationships with other people.  I chose to go to therapy and seek Spiritual Counsel.  I asked the abuser to go with me.  He did for a time, until he got thrown out of the office!  Yep, more than one counselor, and more than one time.  Then we started to go to church.  We would go together until we met with the Pastor.  I have had 3 different Pastors from 3 different churches tell me that I needed to leave.  That the abuser was not interested in change.  I left the abuser 7 different times in 8 years.  The last time was Oct 2004, and I haven’t gone back.  My kids and I got out, and with the help of the local YWCA Shelter, we started our new life.  I am not a frog, and neither are my children!

Now I am not a counselor, although I have been a patient.  I am not a Pastor, although I have been a follower for many years now. Having other people in my life that taught me about who GOD really was opened my eyes to who I had been worshiping all these years – the abuser!

 

Read Full Post »


I hate myself. 068

How many times have I thought this, whispered it or screamed the words at myself? Too many to count.

I imagine you’ve done the same. Quick to believe the worst, we punish ourselves, by rehearsing our sins, bad choices or the lies we’ve believed over and over. Don’t we?

And so we reach the final focus in our series on forgiveness—learning to forgive ourselves. I’d experienced God’ forgiveness, and chose to believe Psalm 103:12 that says he forgives as far as the east is from the west (which is infinitely far if you keep going around the circle).I had finally forgiven the people I loved who had hurt me, releasing them into God’s hands.

But I couldn’t forgive myself.

After all, it was me who chose the life I ended up living. My poor judgment caused the pain I suffered. God had tried to gain my trust and attention and pointed out the truth about myself and my situation. But I hadn’t been willing to deal with the truth. It was too hard, too scary, too painful.

I caused my years of heartache.

As my children shared their hearts about all that had happened, I hated myself and my self-imposed blindness. They had come to me with their hurts from a dysfunctional family life, but I did nothing to intervene. I couldn’t forgive myself for the way they had suffered as a result of my leaving them unprotected over the years.

I was so intent on holding onto a dream of the marriage I wanted, that I sacrificed my children. I saw myself as the ancient worshipers of Molech, god of the Ammonites, who threw their children into flames as living sacrifices which God said, in Leviticus 20:1-5 and Jeremiah 32:35, was detestable (refer also to Leviticus 18:2, Deut. 12:31 and I Kings 11:5).

How could I do something so awful to the ones I love the most?

But in spite of my choices, God had been putting the pieces of my children back together. Still, I felt as if the damage was irreparable; that I could never make it up to them. How could crying and telling them how sorry I was ever be enough? How could my right choices and protection of them now make up for all the years I left them uncovered and vulnerable? My children were willing to work through forgiving me, but I was not willing to forgive myself. Then a friend showed me a verse in Job that spoke to my heart.

I felt my spiritual eyes open.

Jesus showed me the huge wall I had built around myself with my lack of forgiveness. It was keeping me trapped in places where He wanted me to be free.  I had been judging myself and keeping myself weighed down with the need for justice against me.

He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you.

Job 36:16-17

Jesus had already forgiven me and begun to restore my relationship with Him and my children. It was me not forgiving myself that kept me trapped. I had to let go of wanting to punish myself for not changing my life situation sooner.

I confessed my lack of forgiveness for myself.

God showed me His love for me in special ways unique to me, like seeing dolphins jumping in the ocean by my house. He reminded me of the good plans he had for me–even though I may not see them all yet. Through the Bible and other relationships, he taught me how to better love and help my children in their lives. My new freedom also brought the ability to let go of them. As I released myself from the guilt and shame I had been living under, I was able to let God work in His own way in each of their lives. That did more for them than me beating myself up on their behalf.

Forgiveness of God, others and self.                       DSC_0016

Each one holds an important key to the door of freedom.

Below is a link to a song that greatly aided me in the process of learning to forgive myself.

Wait for Your Rain by Todd Agnew

Have you forgiven yourself?

Read Full Post »


Hawaiian Honeymoon

Hawaiian Honeymoon

God forgives us. Now, He asks us to forgive others.

 

But you don’t know what they’ve done!”

Acted foolishly? Lashed out because they are in pain? Stubbornly chosen their own way?

Haven’t I done the same?

God reveals to us what we have done that needs repentance and forgiveness, and lavishes love and grace on us. Then He asks us to do the same for others.

 

Freely you have received; freely give.     Matthew 10:8

When God reminds us of the details of what someone has done to hurt us, He’s helping us deal with each issue, forgive it and let it go. Remember that last week we talked about how our lack of forgiveness hurts us more than the other person. God doesn’t want us to suffer in anger, resentment and bitterness.

At first, I felt guilty for reflecting on things done to me, but then I realized I could only forgive as I saw the full truth of what I was forgiving. Contrary to what many of us think, forgiveness begins when we can honestly acknowledge the hurt we’ve experienced.

Let’s say my sister used my car without permission and wrecked it.

(Just an example, I don’t have a sister.) If I don’t acknowledge the facts of the circumstances, how can I forgive my sister? If I deny it: “My sister didn’t do anything wrong;” or minimize it: “Well, after all, she’s my sister so isn’t it okay for her to take my car?” or ignore it, then I’m not forgiving her action or the fact it has hurt me.

Doesn’t granting forgiveness means I condone hurtful behavior?

I’ve wondered this, and also if forgiveness requires me to return to a painful situation. But I learned that forgiving doesn’t mean I must disregard or tolerate someone hurting me. It doesn’t necessitate continuing to live in a deceptive, dangerous or abusive relationship. Forgiving someone simply releases that person into God’s hands to handle it. When I was able to forgive, I could let go, and not go back.

Sometimes, a person’s lack of remorse can trip us up.

I’ve struggled with forgiving someone when I sensed they were more concerned for their own suffering as a result of being caught than because of pain they caused. But forgiving is to free me. So I’ve asked God to help me let go even if the other person refused to apologize, excused their actions or didn’t seem sincere.

Sometimes, I wasn’t willing to forgive because I was holding onto pain as proof that I deserved justice. I felt like giving up the pain was giving up my chance to make things right. But God is the one who brings justice. He is the one who will hold the person accountable for their behavior. It may be now or later, but He will call them to account. When we let Him deal with the situation, we are free.

Forgiveness really comes back to trusting God. When we believe He has everything covered it’s easier to be gracious towards others.

What has kept you from forgiving someone?

Read Full Post »


DSC_0005Last week we looked at repentance and forgiveness.

I shared how God showed me every detail of things I had done that needed His forgiveness which led me to godly sorrow. And how God has already forgiven us so all we need to do is acknowledge our need.

But what about me forgiving?

I’ve found three areas in which I need to forgive: God, others and myself. Believe it or not, our forgiving isn’t about the other person. Our lack of forgiveness towards others ends up hurting us, not them. We become resentful and bitter, and it carries over into anger at everything in life. That is not the abundance that God has for us.

Often, we don’t even realize we are unforgiving.

This happened to me with the Lord. Through a series of circumstances, God arranged for me to attend an event in which a particular man who has a ministry of speaking prophetically to people was to be sharing. I didn’t want to be there, but it was a required activity because of something I was involved in so there I sat.

Arms crossed, I was convinced this man was a liar and would mislead people. You see, he had given my ex-husband and me a prophetic word exactly six years to the day prior to this event. He claimed that God would be offering us a “turnaround time” in our lives. I had copied the verse he provided and slipped it into my Bible. I read that promise every day for years. But, shortly after that night, our business failed, we lost our home and within a couple of years we were separated. Again.

I felt angry thinking about this man speaking to us.

The circumstances I lived through weren’t my idea of a turnaround! I took notes of each scripture to prove my point, but I knew our pastor would never subject us to someone who would hurt his congregation. The conflict in me grew.

At the end of the service, I couldn’t get to my car before tears began to fall.

I don’t understand, Lord. How could you speak through a man who lies?”

Driving to a nearby cliff overlooking the ocean, I sobbed my heart out without knowing why.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

I parked and wailed some more, throwing all that had happened to me at God with whatever verbal force I had. Confusion, anger and despair swirled through my head and heart.

When my emotions abated, I heard a whisper in my mind.

Your life did turn around.

I thought about that. It was true. As a result of those awful circumstances, I had finally chosen to get out of a bad situation. I lived in a beautiful place. My children and I were happy. Our church family was safe, and we were all healing. My life had completely turned around. The situation was simply different than I had expected. I thought my business would thrive, the mortgage company would deal honestly with me and my marriage would be saved.

Suddenly I realized I had been angry with God for those six years.

Tears began again as I faced my anger at God and told Him how sorry I was. He hadn’t betrayed me. The prophetic man hadn’t lied. I had misunderstood and harbored bitterness in some closed off place in my heart. I forgave God and the man. And I asked Jesus to forgive me.

God is so good.

Peace washed over me and filled my car. God knew I needed to forgive Him. He orchestrated circumstances so I would be in that meeting. I hadn’t been happy about that initially, but now that I realized it had been for my good, to bring healing and freedom, my anger turned to gratitude.

Sometimes we need to forgive God.

While it’s natural and even okay to ask God “Where were you when____ happened to me?” or “How could you let___ happen?” or “Why have you done this or that?” we can get stuck in the questions. Sometimes God gives us answers now. Sometimes later. Often, not at all. But if we pit our understanding against his wisdom, we may land in a place of anger. And He knows that in the end, our lack of forgiveness will hurt us more than it hurts Him.

Is there something you need to forgive God for?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 355 other followers

%d bloggers like this: