Category Archives: I’m a lot harder on myself than God is.

An Attitude of Gratitude ~ Part II

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Adopting an attitude of gratitude has been more helpful than anything else I’ve tried as I’ve recovered from my childhood. It was easy to focus on how awful I’d had it as a kid, but that didn’t help me to grow and heal. In fact, it only made me feel worse.

I spent years being angry at God for what had happened to me. In fact, that’s all I could see or think about. I devoted a great deal of time to informing Him about how badly He’d messed up my life by allowing Harry and my mother to abuse me as they had, by even placing me in that family in the first place.

What I didn’t understand was that God, because He’s GOD, and therefore Creator and Ruler over everything, including me, had the absolute right to do whatever He wished with my life, just because He’s God. What that means is that He didn’t have to ask my permission before He did something in my life. Specifically, He didn’t have to ask me, or explain to me, why He was placing me in the particular family that He put me in. He’s God and therefore sovereign, and doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about anything.

Woe to the man who fights with his Creator. Does the pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with him who forms it, saying, “Stop, you’re doing it wrong!” or the pot exclaim, “How clumsy can you be!”? ~ Isaiah 45:9, TLB (The Living Bible).

I love the way this translation words it, because that’s exactly what I was trying to do. I was trying to tell God that He had done it wrong by giving me those specific parents. As far as I was concerned, He should have given me much better parents. Parents who were nicer and more loving, as if God, Master of the Universe, Creator of All Things, had made a mistake. And I felt very angry, even enraged, about it too.

Looking back, I can see how incredibly arrogant and presumptuous I was in thinking that. I was displaying the same kind of arrogance Satan did when he decided he would assume God’s throne and overthrow Him, which of course, was impossible. The result of his presumption was that he got tossed out of Heaven forever, and thrown down to Earth.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ ~ Isaiah 14:12-14, NKJV.

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. ~ Luke 10:17-18, NKJV.

What I didn’t realize was that if He had given me different parents, then I wouldn’t be me. I’d be someone else with different DNA, a completely different genetic makeup, and completely different reactions to everything. Even more, I would also have a different relationship, or perhaps no relationship at all, with God, and the thought of that horrified and terrified me. I can’t imagine a life where God isn’t a part of it, nor do I want to.

So it seemed I had a decision to make, whether or not I was consciously aware of it. I could hold onto my anger at God, and reject Him and the salvation He offered through Jesus Christ. Or I could be smart and let go of my anger, and accept the grace, and the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

I knew that letting go of my anger meant accepting my past and the terrible suffering that went with it, but there was suffering either way, whether I stayed angry or let go of it. I’d already begun to feel like I was losing my mind because the anger had such a tight grip on me. I was breaking things (the windshield of my car, and one of my tires had fallen victim to my rage), and it felt like there was band around my head that grew tighter every day because I was so angry all the time. In addition, I’d begun to fear that I would lose my salvation if I didn’t let the anger go, because I was yelling and cursing at God almost constantly, and while God is extremely patient and long-suffering, I couldn’t imagine that He’d put up with my childish temper tantrums forever, all the Scriptures to the contrary notwithstanding.

And then I heard James Dobson say something on a Focus On the Family broadcast that brought me up short, and made me think that maybe I was barking up the wrong tree. I don’t remember what the subject of the broadcast was, but what Dr. Dobson said was, “We don’t have the right to hold God accountable.”

What that meant to me was that I didn’t have the right to question God’s sovereignty, which is exactly what I was doing. Human beings don’t have the right to question their Creator’s plan for their lives. God loves us, and because He’s Perfect He really does know what’s best for us. Being Perfect means He doesn’t make mistakes with regard to our lives, and in my case, with regard to my life.

There are times when I have a hard time with that concept. When I consider the absolute Hell I went through as a child, and the love I’ve gone without, because neither parent was willing to meet my emotional needs in any substantive way, which left me feeling like I was starving to death emotionally most of the time.

But I’ve come to realize that God didn’t make a mistake by giving me these parents, as difficult as my life with them was. He had a plan. I think that plan was that I would be able to form a relationship with Him that would be so far above and beyond anything I could ever imagine, one that would never have happened had I been born into any other family.

I’ve come to value my relationship with God far more than any other affiliation in my life, and I wouldn’t be willing to give it up for anything. Thankfully I don’t think He expects me to.

Even though I feel like there’s a gaping hole in me emotionally, I know there’s only One Person who can meet that need, and that Person is Jesus Christ. So I will eagerly await His appearing, and long for the time when I can see His beautiful face, and know Him as He knows me now.

E‘en so, come quickly Lord Jesus!!

No Shame Allowed

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Every once in awhile something happens for which, unaccountably, I feel so much shame that I can’t talk about it with anyone. I was able to talk with McT and one friend about it, but it’s taken me several days to convince myself that I need to blog about it.

In a previous post (A Cross Stitch, New Kitties, and Two Smoking Needles), I talked about becoming the proud parent of two new kittens. Well, on Wednesday, the 28th, five days after bringing them home, Margaret died.

She died! What am I to do? She died!

I felt such devastation that I was overwhelmed and at a loss for words, for action, for anything and everything. All I could do was cry out to God, “My God! Why? What happened?”

About twenty minutes before it happened, she had allowed me to pick her up and pet her. This was surprising to me, as she hadn’t let me come close to her at all before that. Then all of a sudden she let me hold her and pet her. I cuddled her for about fifteen minutes, then she got down and disappeared, and I continued to watch TV. Then I got up and tried to find her.

I didn’t have to look very far, because she was on the floor around the corner from the couch where I was sitting, and when I looked at her I could see that she wasn’t breathing, plus her mouth was wide open. When I touched her she was cold and stiff.

Shock coursed through my body. What did I do wrong? I left fresh food and water out for her ~ for both of them ~ at all times, and I made sure that the litter box was clean. Plus I changed the water every day. Surely I couldn’t have done something wrong, but maybe I did.

Did I kill her? I was terrified that I had done something to cause her death, but I couldn’t think of anything that I might have done. I had decided earlier in the day that I was going to take her to the vet the next day, because she needed to be seen, and because she had been acting like she wasn’t feeling well. But then she died before I got the chance.

I emailed the woman from whom I had adopted them, and told her that Margaret had died. She replied that she didn’t think I was responsible, that Margaret must have had some kind of undiagnosed heart condition. She said she would pay for a necropsy to find out the cause of death, but after doing some online research, we both decided that was way too expensive. I felt like I could accept her idea of an undiagnosed heart problem, so we both let it go at that.

So now I’m left with the confusion and desolation I feel because of her death, and the hole in my heart that’s there, even though I only had her for five days. And as I said at the beginning, unaccountably, I feel a huge amount of shame. I don’t know why, but I do. Somehow, even if her demise wasn’t caused by me, it must have been my fault. There must have been some way in which I was responsible. It’s not logical, I know, but there it is.

I wonder if at least part of it doesn’t go back to Harry blaming me for stuff that I couldn’t have been responsible for when I was little, and for the cult rituals doing the same thing. There was one particular ritual that they did when I was about two where I had to answer questions, and if I got the wrong answer, a man was slowly lowered into a bonfire and burned alive.

The problem was, the questions were unanswerable. There were no right answers, though there was no way I could know that, especially at age two. So I had to answer these unanswerable questions, get the wrong answers because there weren’t any right ones, and listen to the screams of agony of the guy as he was lowered into the bonfire. And the whole thing was all my fault ~ or so they told me.

Talk about the essence of torture, both for the guy being burned alive, and for little two-year-old me!

But I’m no longer living in that reality. I’ve been set free from that life, thank God. And interestingly, I named the other kitten Charlotte, and she, thankfully, is alive and well, even though she still won’t let me near her. I discovered in the process of deciding on Charlotte’s name, that “Charlotte” means “freedom”. Maybe that’s why God motivated me to name her that, I don’t know. All I know is that before I brought them home, the name Charlotte was the only name I could think of.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:32, NLT.

And this is the truth that will set you free,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10, NLT.

As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” ~ [Isaiah 28:16, Greek Version], Romans 10:11, NLT.

So, regardless of how I feel, I must go on what Scripture says. If God’s Word says I am FREE, then I AM FREE. That means NO SHAME ALLOWED!! I did not cause Margaret’s death, and I did not cause that man to be burned alive!!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ~ Galatians 5:1, NIV.

Taken Over By Aliens

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I’ve had a hankering for several days to just write, and when I feel like that I’ve found it’s best to obey the urge and start typing. The problem has been finding the time, but I’m here now…

So I’m going to write about whatever comes to mind, and I have some ideas.

There are times when I feel a great deal of anxiety, because it seems like nothing is going the way it’s supposed to, and everything is falling apart. During those times I’m much more prone to panic attacks, though I’m so pleased that I’m still self-abuse free ~ praise God for that. It’s just that, even though I’m no longer hitting myself, I feel like I’m disappointing God because I’m not trusting Him when I get upset. I should be turning to God when something bad happens instead of getting upset.

I tend to catastrophize everything, and I’ve done it my whole life. Instead of leaving the problem in God’s hands and trusting that He’ll take care of it, I automatically jump to catastrophic-worry mode. It always happens, as hard as I try to do it differently.

There are periods when I’m able to remain at peace, and rely on Scripture (Isaiah 26:3) when I get upset.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. ~ Isaiah 26:3, NKJV.

And I like to personalize it, because then I feel like I’m actually praying it directly to God about me,

Thank you, Father, that You will keep me in perfect peace because my mind is stayed on You, because I trust in You. ~ Isaiah 26:3, NKJV, Personalized.

You know, when I’ve ruminated on a verse of Scripture, repeating it to myself over and over, it has the desired effect. If the verse is Isaiah 26:3, I end up regaining the peace that I lost when I got upset in the first place, which is wonderful, because I hate losing my peace, and I can’t imagine it’s terribly pleasing to God either.

On top of everything else, I’m going to have to take my computer in to have it worked on. About six months ago I noticed a tiny screw had come out of the bottom of the computer, and I couldn’t put it back in no matter what I tried. So I took it to my computer guy, and he told me, of all things, that my battery is swelling.

My battery is swelling?? That really doesn’t sound good. In fact it sounds just plain weird. Kind of like my computer has been taken over by aliens (if I believed in that sort of thing).

The problem with taking my computer in is that I’d be without it for however long it takes them to replace the battery, and during that time I’d have to use my iPad for everything, including blogging here. And I REALLY don’t like writing on my iPad. I mean I seriously HATE it. It’s a total pain. It takes longer because you have to change keyboards everytime you want to use a number, or you have to capitalize a word, or add punctuation. It’s just a royal pain. So you have to change keyboards, and then you have to change back to the original keyboard. BLECK on the whole process!

And besides all that, my iPad ~ the iPad on which I’m supposed to type this blog ~ isn’t working all that well either. I broke it a couple of months back, because even though I’m no longer hitting myself, I’m still having a big problem managing my rage and anger. I’m not hitting myself, but I’m taking it out on other things ~ like my iPad.

Poor thing! What did it ever do to me? It didn’t do what I wanted it to. But that’s dumb. It’s an inanimate object, and when it does something, it’s only responding to something I tell it to do. It’s a computer, and computers are only as smart as the people using them.

Of course, I don’t know what that says about me…

Actually, I don’t think it says anything about my intelligence. What it does say is that, as I’ve already determined, I need to learn how to control my anger, which is something I’ve known for a very long time. I just haven’t made a concerted effort over the long term to do anything about it. I also think I’ll make it the subject of a future post.

Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity. ~ Ephesians 4:26-27, CSB.

I Need to Fire the Judge.

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Every once In a while, I mess up really, really bad, and last Saturday (July 11) was one of those times. And when I do I’m incredibly grateful for God’s mercy, and for King David’s ability to encapsulate my feelings in the Psalms. Psalm 51 is a particularly good example,

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. ~ Psalm 51:1-4, NLT.

King David wrote Psalm 51 after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet concerning his sin with Bathsheba and his conspiracy to have her husband murdered on the field of battle (see 2 Samuel, Chapters Eleven and Twelve).

And then I asked God to forgive me, because I so desperately needed His forgiveness.

So what actually happened? What did I do that made me feel such guilt and shame? As it turns out I was playing a new game on my iPad, and while the game itself was relatively harmless, at various points during the game it would offer timed challenges where you could earn extra coins if you could complete a level within a certain amount of time, for example, twenty seconds.

Now, I’ve never done very well with arcade-style games, or timed games of any kind, and I don’t play them as a general rule. They put way too much stress on me and have always been sure-fire triggers for panic attacks and self-abuse. When I downloaded this game there was no indication that it was an arcade game, or that there were any timing issues at all, so I thought I was safe.

Then I started playing it and discovered differently, but the timing challenges didn’t happen very often, and they were doable within the allotted time, so I didn’t worry about them.

Until…

Until I reached the upper levels. Once there I ran into a timed challenge that I could not beat no matter what I tried, at which point I absolutely fell apart. It drove me into a panic attack, and I started hitting myself ~ something I haven’t done in many months. In fact, it’s been almost exactly one year, because I wrote a post about God healing me of the self-abuse on July 16, 2019 (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and interestingly enough He healed me of it in the context of playing a computer game.

So I had a panic attack and started hitting myself. Looking back, I feel a lot of shame about that, because I feel like I should have known better. I should have known better!! The problem is, when I get into situations like that, I can’t see the panic attack and subsequent self-abuse coming. I’m just blithely playing along, trying to complete the time challenge ~ and failing.

I guess that should have been my clue, that I kept failing at it, because I hadn’t failed at any of the other challenges, and I failed at this one every single time I tried. I should have stopped after two or three successive failed attempts, but somehow I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see that necessity, so I kept on trying until it was too late and I had reached the point of no return. It was at that point that my face was sweating and I was calling myself bad names, and after that was when I started hitting myself.

Once the self-abuse started, I kind woke up and realized what was happening, and all the rage at myself drained out of me. But I still couldn’t forgive myself. Not yet. Because, like I said earlier, I should have known. I should have KNOWN!!

I’ve always had the hardest time forgiving myself. I can forgive anyone, ANYONE, but not myself. Well, and my sister…

But even she’s easier to forgive than I am. But I’ve come to realize that in making that determination about myself, I’m really saying that I know more about me than God does ~ and that’s simply not true. And I’ve already come to understand that I would make a rotten God (or god; I Would Make a Terrible God).

McT and I talked about this situation during my phone-appointment last Tuesday, and we decided that what’s really going on is that I have a mean internal judge ~ probably all three parents internalized ~ both biological parents and my stepdad ~ who won’t let me accept that I’m human and therefore imperfect, and liable to make mistakes. When I was a kid being abused in the cult, if I made a mistake someone died, and it’s quite difficult to break that connection in my mind.

So McT and I decided that I need to fire the judge. What I really need to do is ask God to break the connection in my mind between the mistakes I was forced to make in the cult and the people who died as a result of those mistakes ~ because the mistakes were unavoidable. I had no control over them. They were forced on me by the people conducting the rituals.

My parents fostered that perfectionism at home as well. I can remember times when I would spill a glass of milk at the dinner table, and my mother would accuse me of doing it on purpose if I didn’t act abjectly remorseful.

Then there was the time after I left college when I decided to enroll in a local secretarial school. I completed the program there with the highest score anyone had ever gotten at that school ~ 99.2% overall ~ and when I told my stepdad about it, all he could say was, “Why didn’t you get 100%?” I was crushed after he said that. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough.

Now, I certainly don’t want to dwell on the past, but these particular events were times that, in essence, branded me. They left scars that only God can heal ~ and I believe He will do just that, just as He’s healed me of all the other things people have done to me. I believe He can and will break the connections between what happened to me in the cult and the consequences of those things, so I’m no longer trapped into doing things I don’t want to do ~ like hitting myself, because God didn’t want me to be abused in a satanic cult in the first place!

You are not to sacrifice any of your children in the fire to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. ~ Leviticus 18:21, CSB.

“The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the LORD. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it. They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” ~ Jeremiah 7:30-31, NLT.

It’s comforting to me to know that God didn’t want me to be abused in the cult, that it never crossed His mind! Knowing that has really helped me in my healing process, especially with regard to some of the lies Harry told me ~ for example, that he had to abuse me because God hated me. It’s so easy to forgive him for telling me that, because I know he was seriously deceived himself when he said it.

I thank God for His healing power in my life, and for His goodness to me!!

Not So Bad After All

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Well, here I am again, writing about everything and nothing at the same time ~ but at least I’m writing. It’s early on a Sunday morning, and I wonder if I’m trying to waste time so I won’t be able to make it to church. God forgive me, I don’t know why I’m doing it, but I’m not sleepy so I haven’t gone to bed yet, and it’s 7 a.m.

I don’t want to go to bed after the sun comes up!

I wish I could break out of this frustrating place! I’m stuck, and I don’t know why I’m stuck, or what I’m stuck on. I just know that I’m stuck. I can’t seem to be consistent or disciplined with anything. Or maybe I’m disciplined at not being disciplined, to wit, I’m being consistently inconsistent.

I seem to be really good at sabotaging myself, and not much more at the moment, though at least I’m writing about it, which is new and different. I never used to do that. I used to just sit and stew about it ~ or hit myself ~ if I was stuck, so I suppose this is an improvement, albeit a small one. Though maybe it’s not so small, because I’m not only writing about it, but I’m also not hitting myself, and that right there ~ not hitting myself ~ is a huge accomplishment.

So, while there are some negatives, there are also some positives. But as I was sitting here earlier in the evening, goofing around, I had the feeling that I should just be patient with myself, and cut myself some slack.

Even though it feels like I’m not making any progress at all, that’s simply not true. Even though it feels like I’m just sitting around all the time being incredibly lazy, that also is not true, though I can’t see how. And even though I’m not doing any regular Bible reading, it’s okay. And the reason it’s okay is because it’s all temporary.

Each of these “Even though…” problems I just listed is temporary, and God wants me to stop worrying about them. In other words, I’m doing better than I think I am.

I’ve always been my own worst critic.

I can sort of see why the one about Bible reading might be okay, because even if I’m not actually sitting down and reading a chapter everyday, I’m interacting with Scripture on a regular basis in one form or another.

So, God, please help me to show myself the same kind of grace that you’ve given me! Help me to not be so hard on myself! And thank you for setting me free from self-abuse! I praise you that I’m no longer hitting myself!

I love You and I praise You!!