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Two Years in the Desert…Out of Egypt…Part One

Out of Egypt

Psalm 136:16-To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His lovingkindness is everlasting…

Two years ago I entered my desert place. After spending eight years in a church I loved, I had to leave. A situation had come about in which I had a dispute with some ministry leaders. I made my concerns known, but it wasn’t received well. I was told my concerns were unfounded. They were not, as others had the same concerns. After a harsh voice message was left on my phone, I did not go to church for four weeks.

Eventually my pastor called. There was no “Are you okay? We haven’t seen you in a while.” What I did get was “I suppose you know why I am calling.” We spoke for about an hour. I did agree to a meeting, and I mentioned Matthew 18 principles.

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’.

 

It was made clear I was not allowed to bring in my own witnesses, and he claimed he had heard nothing from anyone else regarding the concerns. It was going to come down to the pastor, them and me; but after much prayer and counsel from others, I decided that it was not in my best interest to go. It would have been them against me. Knowing how others had been treated in that church, I knew that not returning was my best option.  With great sadness, I left that church. Unfortunately, I lost contact with some friends. Was I shunned? I don’t really know, but it certainly felt that way.

Leaving that church was devastating to me. I was active in a recovery ministry, sang in the choir, and attended almost every event at the church. Later I would learn that leaving was so devastating to me because my identity was wrapped up in that church, and not in Jesus.

For a long time, I did think I was wrong about what happened. Maybe all these other people were right and I was wrong, so I started doing research about similar issues in churches. I discovered I was not alone in dealing with something like this. I learned a lot about authoritarian churches, holier than thou pastors, and that being a woman can automatically make you deceived, emotional, and unable to hear God correctly according to some pastors and christians. However, God would eventually show me things that would clear up many, many lies and misconceptions that I had been taught throughout my years as a Christian.  Some of it was painful, but I know now it was also necessary.

My prayer is that you continue reading this series, and at the end of the series, you will see how God orchestrated every step, and how He is beginning to restore the years of what the locusts have eaten.  Stayed tuned for the next post.

Asking for help…

Hello everyone. This is the last thing I wanted to do, but out of desperation, and a prompting from God I started a go fund me page. The last few weeks have been hell. I am struggling with clinical depression, and I need to move for my mental health. I can’t tell you why, but suffice it to say, there are things going on that are downright evil. I can’t be around it, and the only way for me to get away from this torture is to move. However, I have been out of work, as my boss won’t let me return until I can move from my hostile environment. But I need money to move. If you can, please consider donating. Thank you.

http://www.gofundme.com/vfcp5ds

Starting Over at 43…

It’s been a long time since I have posted, and much has happened. I have finally found a wonderful church who has been a very important part of my healing. For that I am grateful. I am currently in counseling with a certified therapist on staff at the church. Sadly, my marriage is ending after 23 years. My husband and I had been discussing separation, but I still had hope that things could work out. However, a circumstance arose that I believe was God’s way of showing me that my marriage is over for good.

The revelation of this issue in my marriage was a serious blow to my heart. I was, and still am devastated. My marriage had been through situations before, but none had affected me as much as this time. I asked my counselor why. Her response was that while I still had hope, this last issue was the thing that told me there is no hope left. I see that things will not change with my husband. It is a great loss, and there is a grieving process I will go through.

My emotions have been all over the place. I can go from angry to sad to being okay all in the course of one day. What I am learning right now is that it is absolutely okay to have what some would deem ‘negative emotions’ considering what I am going through. Personally, I despise the word ‘negative’ being put in front of emotions. Sadness, anger, depression…those are all considered negative.

I am also learning that it is okay to recognize that ‘today I am feeling…’. I spent years trying to fight these ‘negative emotions’. I have tried denying them, replacing them, wearing a mask, and outright lying. The only thing that got me was feeling even worse, both physically and mentally. I am learning to say ‘it’s okay that I feel…’ but to not let that feeling prevent me from doing what needs to be done. I find that accepting these emotions is far more freeing that trying to deny or stifle them.

Being transparent is important, so let me share with you something I did in the midst of this anger I have. I got so angry one evening that I threw a water bottle across the room at the wall. I don’t usually do that, but this was also before he discussion I had with my counselor about being okay with my emotions. Was it the best way to deal with my anger? Nope. I know that. But I had been told for so long that ‘anger’ was bad. So I kept stuffing and stuffing and denying it until it exploded. I went to church the next day and told someone what had happened. She didn’t scold me, or beat me over the head with scripture. She held my hand and said “I’ve been there. I understand, and I am sorry your are hurting.” Words such as those were more healing than any scripture on anger could have ever been at that time.

To make matters worse, I’m broke. Before my husband left, he was the main breadwinner. I’m only going to be working on an as needed basis, even though I recently told my boss I am ready for more hours. (I took a few weeks off until my husband moved out due to stress as I also work in an extremely stressful environment). My boss ended up hiring someone else. You know what? I admitted today, to myself, that yes, I am frustrated. It’s okay. By admitting my emotion, I was able to get up and do my dishes and a few other things, instead of sitting here, fighting and pleading for God to take the emotion away.
Being able to admit how I am feeling has been a very freeing thing for me. I am human, I have emotions, and it’s okay.

Being Made Whole…

Luke 8:43-48

43 And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His [a]cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45 And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the [b]people are crowding and pressing in on You.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.” 47 When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has [c]made you well; go in peace.” (NASB)

Hello friends. First please accept my apologies for not posting in a very long time. I have been on a journey with God for the last few months which is nothing short of incredible; more on that in another post. Today I’d like to discuss the scriptures I posted.

For a long time I have been seeking healing from various things from my past. While I have had some, there are some issues where the roots have yet to be yanked out. I have ‘worked’ for my healing for many years, as did the woman with the issue of blood. I want to list some of the things I did that became ‘works’, meaning I tried to earn my healing. Hours of prayer, thinking if I prayed long enough and hard enough God would heal me. Reading books, blogs, articles, and more books on emotions, emotional healing, inner healing, being a better wife, mom, friend, woman, and on and on. Like the woman in the previous scriptures, I spent money and searched for cures, relief, and help everywhere.

I realized that for me and my issues, healing wouldn’t come in a book, a doctor, or counseling.* Sometimes we need what only God can give. Like the woman with the blood, I needed to touch the fringe of His garment. I want to look a little deeper into this ‘fringe’, because its significance is amazing.

The fringe (tzitzit) has many symbolic meanings. One is to remember the commands of the Lord and to proclaim them. Each tzitzit had a blue thread running through it, which symbolized something royal or divine. The tassels also were a symbol of authority.

This woman was brave enough to venture out into the crowds, even though she knew it was forbidden due to her condition. She at some point must have heard of Jesus, and in her area, I am sure she knew what the fringe represented. In her desperation, she was willing to do whatever it took to be set free. Making her way through the people, she reached out and touched the fringe…and was healed instantly.

The scripture says she was trembling when she came back, fell down before him and admitted she touched Him. Already being afraid, she then let Him, and everyone else know why she touched Him. Can you imagine letting all that were there know she had a hemorrhage for years that no one could cure? I imagine it would be profoundly embarrassing, especially in those days. However, even in her fear and embarrassment, she let them all know she was healed. Jesus said to her “Your faith has made you well, go in peace.”

I know what it’s like to suffer for years and feel like a pariah, like a lost cause.  The account of this in the book of Mark also. It says she suffered at the hands of physicians. I, too, have suffered at the hands of those who tried to help me. I suffered with the mantra of ‘pray more, have more faith, do this, do that, etc.’ While I am sure the intentions were good, it only made the situation worse as I looked to what I was doing to try and get my healing.

Often times we wait for Jesus to reach out to us, when what we need to do is just touch Him- just us and Jesus, in the middle of the busyness, the crowds, the naysayers. No travailing prayers for days on end. No books, no counselors, no ‘trying’ to heal. Just reaching out, and touching a small part (fringe) of Him can bring healing.

I was at church the other night and had a word spoken over me. (That also had some influence on this post.) While I cannot recall everything that was said, I do remember this: “God has seen the years of emotional abuse, and there are some…things that have affected you physically too. He is working a healing in you. He sees your heart for the lost, and your experiences will help to bring many into the kingdom of God.”

It was just me, reaching out to Jesus, touching the fringes…and I am being healed.

 

*Although I am a strong supporter of counseling, and reading books on different subjects and issues we may struggle with, especially in cases of abuse, there are times when we can make a work out of trying to get our healing. That is what this post is referencing.

**I do believe that Jesus can heal instantly. For me though, it is usually a process. I understand that everyone’s experience may be different.

Negative Emotions…the New Taboo

no feelingsToday I want to address something I see quite often in Christianity as of late. The subject is our negative emotions. I come across posts almost daily that tell us to ignore how we feel if it seems to be a ‘bad’ feeling such as anger, depression, hurt, etc. I have been trying to wrap my brain around this and I can’t. There are hundreds of instances in the Bible that talk about our emotions. I did a web search about scriptures on emotions, and the first two pages were all about controlling our emotions. I do not disagree that controlling them is a good thing, there are many scriptures that state we should. But I was looking for actual scriptures that showed people in the Bible showing emotion!

Matthew 21:12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” NASB Jesus overturned the tables. He called them robbers and thieves. I think we can all assume He wasn’t smiling when He did it. He didn’t pat them on the head and say “Oh, it’s okay.” He got angry! Anger can be justified.

John 11:35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus wept and was deeply moved. His friend had died, and I believe he had also wept over their unbelief. ESV  There is obviously a time and place for negative emotions.

 Luke 22:44 “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” ESV This is an actual medical condition in which someone feels such great agony it causes their blood vessels to burst and their sweat mixes with blood. In Matthew 26:38 it says  Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”ESV.  Jesus felt such sorrow, it felt like death to Him.

So why, when someone comes to us with their sorrow, their anger, their sadness, do we not validate them? “You shouldn’t feel like that” is one of the most hurtful things you can say to someone. They may have every right to feel that way! Are we trying to produce christian drones who walk around with no feelings? Why? So others will think we have it all together? That is not living an honest life. It is not living in reality. Can our emotions be misdirected? Yes. However negative emotions are our internal warning system that something is wrong. If we want people to come to know Christ, they need to know they can come angry, depressed, hurt, scared, or with any other emotion they might be experiencing at the time. Can God heal them and help them work through it? Absolutely! I will leave you with this…

Ecclesiastes 3: 1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

God gave you your emotions. Never be ashamed of them. No one has the right to tell you how you can or cannot feel.

You Didn’t Cause It, You Can’t Control It, You Can’t Cure It.

You also don’t have to contribute to it….

There are hundreds of blogs and websites on the internet about marriage. How to improve it, save it, sustain it. Many of them give good advice, many of them don’t. I want to discuss the ones that don’t. I feel that many of the ministries and blogs rely on formulas. If you do A and B you will get C. Christianity is not a formula. What works for one may not work for another. When it comes to dealing with someone who is addicted to something such as  sex, food, drugs, and alcohol, standard marriage formulas or ideas do not work. I am a recovering alcoholic, and I want to share some things and let you know what may work better. I say may, because every one is different. Hopefully sharing what worked in my life, and what didn’t, you will have a better idea of how to deal with a spouse who is an addict.

You cannot make someone recover. You cannot love them enough, yell enough, or cry enough to make them stop. Trying to be a better wife or husband will not change them.  Enabling them to continue in their behavior under the guise of love will not make them stop, it will make the problem worse. Enabling behaviors are calling in sick for them, bailing them out of jail, paying their fines, babying them or having sympathy for them if they are hungover or dope sick.  It’s okay to have empathy, but not sympathy. Sympathy is ‘you poor thing’ and making sure they eat, drink, etc. as if caring for a sick child. Empathy is ‘I am sorry you feel so bad.’ and letting them take care of themselves. However, if they are unable to eat or drink anything and keep it down or have the DT’s you must get them medical attention. I think you understand what I mean.

When I was deep into my alcoholism I had many people begging and pleading for me to stop. We addicts can be selfish though and I believed that they were my problem. If everyone just left me alone and did what I wanted, I would be fine.  When the begging and pleading didn’t work, they enabled me by watching my son, giving me money, bailing me out of jail and more. The more they did to try to ‘help’ me, all the while telling me it was because they loved me, the more I took advantage of their ‘help’.

What actually helps an addict? Letting them hit their bottom. You must pray for them, but it has to be the most dangerous kind of prayer there is. “Whatever it takes God.” You have to be willing to hold them accountable for their actions. The Bible has many scriptures about holding one another accountable, and none of them say ‘unless it’s your spouse, then you can’t hold them accountable for anything.’ (Yes, I have actually heard and read that advice.) Different people have different bottoms. Some lose everything. Some fearing the loss of everything will open their eyes. Standing by them, not saying anything, or doing anything, will only lead them further down a destructive path.

Sometimes, separation is in order. I know many may not agree. However, many children have been taken from homes of addicts, even if only one spouse was using. Many addicts become violent when using, and your child’s safety is paramount, even over your marriage. I grew up with alcoholics, and I can tell you the damage that was done is still being repaired by God, at 42 years old. If you decide to separate, you can ask them to go into rehab or attend meetings before you or they return home. Be an encouragement if they are trying to find treatment or meetings, but don’t do it for them. When they do get into recovery, be their biggest cheerleader, but make sure they have some recovery time under them before you begin restoration. Often what happens is the spouse will attend three or four meetings, the other gets excited and restoration begins, only to have the addict go right back out once they are together again.

Keep praying, and then pray some more. But also be an active participant, don’t just leave it up to God. Often God will not do anything until we take that first step in confronting them. I recommend Celebrate Recovery. It’s a 12 step Christ based recovery program. The addict as well as those that love them are welcome at these meeting. This program has been instrumental at keeping me sober and growing my relationship with Jesus. You can find meetings by clicking on CR groups and info here-http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

Feel free to ask me questions regarding this topic or CR in the comments.

Spiritual Schizophrenia

voicesProverbs 11:14- Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.

The bible often tells us to seek the counsel of the godly. I do not dispute this in any way shape or form. Lately I have been seeking counsel on certain areas of my own life. However, the problem I am finding is that it seems the more people you ask, the more answers you get, and every single one of them could be different. So we then have to wade through what we hear, and search the Word to see if the advice we are given lines up with it. That also can create a problem because we must take in the whole counsel of God. One person’s solution may be different from another as God does not deal with every person in the same manner.

What ends up happening is we have all these voices bouncing around in our head, and we end up more confused that before we sought out help. Sometimes we are afraid if we don’t take one person’s advice they will get angry with us. I believe there must come a time when the only counsel we seek must come from God alone. His Holy Spirit is the ultimate counselor. He is the one who truly knows the entirety of the situation, the people involved, what will work and what won’t. He also knows our hearts, and sometimes what we want is someone to agree with our choice, even if it’s the wrong one, so we feel better about making said choice. God, though, will never send us down the wrong path.

There have been times in my life where I thought I heard God speak and answer through another, but those situations didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. Was their counsel wrong? Maybe. There have been times I thought I heard God directly and the same thing happened. Did I hear God wrong? Probably. But it’s okay, God can take the detours and put us back on the right path. He’s good that way! I now know that while counsel is good and biblical, at this time in my life I need to hear God alone. It doesn’t mean I will not continue worshiping at church or not ask others opinions or advice, however I will limit who I seek advice from and I will absolutely make sure I spend more time alone with God, His word and His Spirit when seeking guidance. In the end, He’s the one I will answer to. Not man.

(Note- In no way am I discounting the seriousness of actual schizophrenia, but this term came to mind as I was contemplating this article)

Proverbs 11:14

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