From the book....Jesus, Jack Asses and Jehovah Rapha -Healing the Inbetween

I grew up with intense emotional pain. I was the victim of molestation; both from younger males and an older man, who was a friend of the family. People will often say to me, "God let you go through all that so He can use you to help others." I used to say, "Yes. Amen, thank you Jesus."  But one day I was riding down the road talking to God and it hit me...out of the blue.  

When I believe that, I believe that God sacrificed my innocence to help others. Well isn't that what He did with Jesus? So it all sounds right on the surface, right?  

But on this day, I realized something deeper than that. I knew for the first time, deep in my soul, what that looked like in my mind. 

It meant that He, God, caused all that pain for me, an innocent child. 

I was angry at God for not protecting me from all the perverse evil pain I had endured. I was so deeply angry. It took a long time to get to that anger... but there it was. On that day,  He shined a light on it.

Wait a minute; He didn't cause it, He allowed it.

Take that apart. You are a parent. Your precious child is being molested by a pervert. You are watching it happen in real time. You think about it for a minute. You have a gun in one hand and are an expert marksman. You weigh your options.

You decide to turn your head while the abuse is occurring.  Even though you know you could pull your gun and shoot the SOB molesting your kid.  But you stop, holding the power to turn it around and you just watch it happen.

Because you think one day that child might help another heal from the same thing. You choose to submit your child to the intense emotional hell that will result. All, for the benefit of others in the future? What kind of parent would do that? Yet, is that not what we say about God, the perfect Father?  And after all, isn’t that what He did with His son, Jesus? Okay church people, bear with me for a minute.  Unchurch people you stay with me too.  There may be something to ponder here.

Why did God do that? Sacrifice His son, Jesus? He did it so that we can be free. Free to know Him, free to come freely before Him. So if God sacrificed Jesus for us, why would He then sacrifice us for another when the price has been paid? 

If you bought a car and drove it home. Your best friend sees it in the driveway. Because she loves you she decides to go to the dealership and pay for it. Problem is, you paid for it before you drove it off the lot. The salesman didn’t tell her that it had already been paid for. The price was covered and the title was in your name. She paid the same salesman you did, for the same car.  That doesn’t make sense, does it?

 But isn’t that what we say about God?

Entering Into Pain...

One source of deep pain in my life has been my Dad.

When people in church talked about honoring your father, even if he is or was a terrible father, guilt used to pile on me.  Guilt because we did not have a good relationship and for most of my life we had little to no relationship. Guilt from hearing "you can't be at peace with your Heavenly Father if you are not at peace with your earthly father." Guilt from hearing "if you can't reach your family, who can you reach." Guilt with "you may be the only Bible He will ever read."  

None of that took into consideration the fact that my father would never be pleased with me unless I chose the life he did.  One filled with drama, lies, and deceit. One based off him being two entirely different people- one with me and one with others.  He consistently and constantly manipulated and lied. He was always the victim, distant and unloving, while telling others how much he loved us. I always thought he loved my brother more than me. That was a child's view.

When I was a child I heard, with my own ears, him tell my mother that he would make both, me and my brother, move out if it would make her happy. I couldn't even drive when I heard that. He adopted both of us; but never really loved or connected with either of us. He always put others first and made sure we knew we were never "as good to him" as everyone else.  

People would tell me I should respect him because he adopted us and gave us a home.  They didn't know that in that home, I was molested, demeaned, lied to, beat down, beat up, and always told that I would never amount to anything or never be enough.  Maybe they did know or didn't want to address it.  Someone I went to school with told me recently, that what they remembered about my childhood was I was always so sad. Others may only remember how much I drank. I drank because that was the one time I didn't feel like I everything was wrong with me. When I was a child, I complained once about being hit and molested. My mother told me I could take care of myself. My father told me I was lying.

Then he made fun of me. 

As an adult and a Christ follower, I tried and tried to love him where he was.  I came when he called, I tried to make things better for him in his old age, and still it all continued in the same way it always had. He didn't attend my brothers funeral. He told everyone, including me, it was because he had heart problems and the doctor wouldn't let him. His preacher believed him to be sincere. I called his doctor, it was all a lie. He didn't even have heart problems at the time. He hadn't even talked to the doctor.  

So today I am sharing this because I needed to get it out. I am sharing because I hope it might help someone. You can love someone without buying into their lies or allowing them to abuse you. Removing yourself from an abusive situation can be the kindest thing you can do. It blocks the abuser from sinning against you to your face and gives them the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions. You are not responsible for their choices.  It is never a reflection on you, but always a reflection of where they are with themselves. It protects you and that is extremely important and too often overlooked. I did not understand this until last year. 

Most people I consulted over the years told me what I needed to need to forgive, you need to love, you need to be there.  You need  None of this took into account what I needed for me.  I needed to realize that you can not make someone love you.  You can not make someone want you.

Fathers are supposed to love their daughters but the reality is not all do.  Not all men are capable of being fathers, not all people can love.  While I have forgiven, forgetting is impossible, it's a pipe dream.  You can handle, heal, and grow from the pain but you don't ever completely forget.

I deal often with the after effects of how I grew up. I deal often with wrong thinking about myself due to the lies I have been told over the years. I deal often with the pain that childhood trauma causes long-term. The effects are deep and relentless.

So all of that said, here is what I want to leave you with- while God does make beauty out of ashes, never forget that a fire must occur before there are ashes.

Fire burns, it scars.

If someone shares their pain with you, don't revictimize them all over again by telling them what they must now do....tell them you are sorry. Enter their pain, put yourself in their shoes, weep with them.  
Then love them while God helps them pick up the pieces.

The first person who wept with me blew me away, I asked them why they were crying. I had just revealed something painful, and they said through tears, no child should feel that unloved. I am writing a book about allowing God to heal our hurts. It is about how people mistakenly misuse the Word of God to impede healing for abuse victims. It's about how to meet our Healer and allow Him into those deep places filled with hurt. It's about how it is a process, not a one-time thing. I don't know what I will do with the book when I am done, but I know for me, I need to write it. So there, I feel naked and exposed, yet covered by the most beautiful Grace all at the same time. That's what writing does for me, it helps me heal. Thank you for reading this deeply personal post. 

Jackasses or Jehovah...When Church Hurts

Jackass a word defined as a male donkey or one lacking in judgment and good sense.  Being in church has allowed me to experience both definitions.  We went to a nice Christmas play one year. I couldn't believe it when Mary came riding in on a real life donkey. There was plastic down to cover the carpet, I remember thinking the janitor must have been glad for that.  I have also encountered the other definition.  Those lacking in judgment or good sense. At times that has described me as well.  Instead of feeling welcomed into havens for the hurting,  many people leave churches scarred.  While looking for healing they receive more hurt. After much prayer, professional counseling and yes, coffee, I am sure this is not the way God intended it to be.  He is our Healer.  Yet often people, lacking in judgment or good sense, twist His words around in ways that hurt. Especially to those who have suffered deep inexpiable tragedy.  Don't misunderstand me,  I am not anti-church.  Church done well is a valuable community, a place of encouragement and a source of strength.  Yet often, in church, people experience the Jackasses, instead of  Jehovah.  I believe the Divine wants us all to allow Him into the places of our deepest hurts.  It is there that we see Him as He really is.  Be careful not to let the actions and ideas of well meaning Jackasses cloud your view of the Divine. If you are experiencing church hurt, I pray your wounds heal and you find true community and peace.  



Pin the Tail on the Donkey

Did you play "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" growing up?  You are usually blindfolded.  You try to pin the tail in the appropriate place on a picture of a donkey.  The person who pins the tail closest to the correct spot wins.  Have you ever felt like that in your spiritual life? Like you are walking around blindfolded and stabbing in the air, close but not quite where you should be?  I told someone recently that most of what I used to believe, I no longer believe.  Take a breath, before you tell me I have back slid, need an intervention or, my all time favorite "I was never saved anyway". So much about spirituality that I learned in my earlier years needed unbelieving.  I took much of what others told me and pinned it to my outline of what I believed about the Divine.  I ingested it, often through my own wounds and need to fit into a family.  Words from God are true.  Words from imperfect people, not so much.  Some of what I pinned to my belief was based on interpretations.  Interpretations of imperfect people intertwined with tweaks that bend us away from Truth.  These tweaks often leave us confused and hurting.  Do you remember how you felt as a child when you took off that blindfold? That feeling of sadness when you realized you were no where close to the tail end.  The realization that you would not be the one getting the prize.  If your spiritual life leaves you feeling sad, let me encourage you.  The real prize may be realizing that you pinned your tail on the donkey instead of the Divine. 

Happy Birthday

Today would have been my brother David's 52nd birthday. He and I were never close.  Our relationship was a product of a crazy making childhood.  As adults sometimes even the best intentions to heal things don't work. Today I am thankful to be able to see him through the eyes of others.  I see a wife who loved him well and cared for him like no one else could have. I see friends who grieve still for no longer having time with him here. I am thankful to have seen these things and thankful to Lisa for sharing parts of him with me that I had never known. In the last couple of years I have had to face that things I blamed him for in our youth, he was just as much a victim of as I was.  The truth is sometimes people who should love you and protect you don't. Freedom comes when healing comes.  The fact that he is on my mind today in the way that he is shows me that I am free from that pain.  I wish he were still here for Lisa, I wish he were still here for his friends. God answered many prayers even though our relationship was never mended on this earth.  Today I say Happy Birthday to David, the rodeo clown, the crazy cow rider, the beer drinking buddy.  The husband to Lisa who wouldn't take any crap off you.  Happy Birthday in heaven. 

Dark Places, Familiar Faces

Someone told me once that I didn’t write because I didn’t want to go where writing would take me. I thought they were wrong, but in truth they were right. Darkness is ugly and the truth often hurts, why does anyone want to go there, why would anyone need to go there? For some of us we have to go there to face the truth about our pasts in order to clear out confusion and chaos. Sometimes as children the truth hurts so bad, you have no mechanism to deal with or process the truth so you unconsciously cover the truth with lies. As children we want to believe that our parents care for us, we want to believe that the world is a good place and good people win. Reality says ….not always and sometimes…not so much. C.S. Lewis said, “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable. Think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad”. In my life (disclaimer..this is real and raw), I remember a time when I thought, “I couldn’t be being abused because my parents love me and they would never let that happen”. I was in my teens and I remember almost coming unglued at that point, because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the truth. Then it went away, somewhere deep and would rear it’s ugly head at the most inconvenient times later in life. Like, when I saw a persons name who abused me, or when I felt safe and secure, or the most out of control. Circumstances have occurred recently that have allowed me to see the reality of what I have dealt with or not dealt with my whole life…..things happened, my childhood was twisted, my family relationships were twisted, this caused other relationships to twist, dark places in my mind are filled with familiar faces. Those faces have haunted me for years. I have tried to lay them down, give them to God, begged Him to put the pieces together, all the while not really wanting to see what it looks like when the pieces are put together. I have ran from the truth because it hurts, it stings, it burns and it cuts deeper than I can say. People who love me have thought I should be healed by now, I should be free, Christians think I am not where I need to be in my walk with God because I have to look back and going back is ugly, it brings out the worst in me. It causes me to be hard and angry and feel things that I would rather not feel, it causes me to retreat, pull in and pull back when I am dealing with something because the pain and anger can be so intense at times. I may respond to things using old coping mechanisms or say things in a way that I normally wouldn’t. My story with my family is not one of those that ends with a happily ever after… just ends. I had to let go of the fact that I wanted a happy ending a few years ago because the reality is we don’t all get happy endings and those who think because we serve God, we get one, don’t fully understand Christ and suffering, in my mind. Dark places being filled with familiar faces is a tragedy that happens more than we like to admit, bringing Christ into those dark places doesn’t change the darkness, Christ heals, darkness wounds. Healing doesn’t mean restored relationships or a better outcome, healing means facing fully the depth of the darkness and not allowing the dark, to continue to dictate what happens in the light. Familiar faces in dark places will not be the death of me……it will inspire me to live more fully, laugh louder and more often, walk in true love and not waste anymore time longing for love from people so toxic that the very air around them reeks with agony.

Freedom Calling

There are times when my heart feels so heavy, Like the hurt that’s inside has nowhere to go. Then my Savior reaches down and exposes those wounds way down deep in my soul. He reminds me of how much He loves me, How he bled and died on that tree. To free me from chains that would bind me, Because Satan doesn’t want me free. The blood of Jesus covers me, Where I have been and what’s been done to me It is there that the demons try to slay me But I know Christ has won the victory. In this fallen world that we live in there are days I find it hard to see those are days my Lord will remind me The blood of Jesus was shed for me. My sword must be drawn, the full armor of God on This battle is not for the weak I am learning how to fight ecause His face is what I seek. When I see Him it will no longer matter His presence is more than enough to smooth out all the rough edges and rest fully immersed in His love