Category Archives: Mercy

Untried Yet Guilty, Not Guilty Yet Condemned.

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I have a VERY difficult time trusting men. I think I’ve long since established that, but, considering that I’m using it as the premise for the rest of this post, I feel like I should say it again.

Because of my background I seem to be predisposed to see every man as a child molester, regardless of who they are or what they do. If I see a father with his daughters in a restaurant or walking the street, I feel afraid for those children, even though I have no reason or evidence to suspect that anything bad is happening to those daughters at all. It’s especially true for girls, but boys incite fear in me as well, because the statistics say that boys are abused as well as girls, though the incidence is less. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

When I’m thinking logically I realize this is an unfair characterization, but I don’t seem to be able to change my way of seeing things.

This is just an observation, but it’s something I’ve been aware of for awhile, and something I would like to change. I could never think of being married to anyone, especially someone with children, because I’d constantly be afraid he was abusing his kids, and the marriage would quickly become intolerable, above all for my spouse.

There may be a few, a very FEW, who have escaped this unjust condemnation from me: God (and of course Jesus and the Holy Spirit); my therapist, McT; my pastor, Pastor Jack; and maybe Dr. Phil are probably the only ones who’ve made that list and haven’t fallen off by blowing it.

I’m always waiting for the other shoe to fall any time I begin to trust someone of the opposite sex, and in the past, they’ve never failed to fall short. Certainly Harry was the archetype for all the other people who were added to, and then fallen off my list, but there have been many other people since then who’ve also looked like they might be trustworthy, and then proven to be otherwise.

And it’s almost worse when someone starts out looking trustworthy, and then proves to be otherwise, because of the pain I feel when I find out they aren’t. There’s all the betrayal and abandonment I feel, plus the self-condemnation because I should have known better. I mean, I should know better by now, right?? After all these years you’d think I’d get it!

Thankfully, God is always trustworthy and faithful, though it took me many years to realize that and believe it. But I now know and fully believe that He is ALWAYS good, and ALWAYS faithful, and ALWAYS trustworthy. I now know that He will NEVER lie, that He will ALWAYS tell the truth. I’m so grateful for those facts!

God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change his mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:6, NIV.

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23, NKJV.

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.

At Least She’s Pooping!

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Sometimes a reality is so odious you’d rather it didn’t exist at all, but if you look at it from a different perspective, it turns into a silver lining.

Lily is my cat, and she’s twelve years old, plus I think she’s showing signs of aging. She throws up a lot, and she’s started pooping outside her litterbox, though fortunately, I’ve never stepped in it. Also, she meows a lot more, and more loudly, than she used to.

This is Lily. It’s an older photo, but it shows her blue eyes and her orange coloring. The vet says the black spots on her nose are called freckles. They’ve become much more pronounced since this picture was taken. She’s a flame-point Siamese. I think she’s beautiful!

Lily From the Side

I took her to the vet about a year ago to try and resolve the vomiting issue, and she said Lily had pancreatitis. So she changed her food, and said she might become constipated with the new food, and if she does I can use Miralax. The only problem with that is, she didn’t tell me how to use the Miralax, and I felt embarrassed at the idea that I’d have to ask her how to use it. Silly, I know, but that’s how I felt, because Lily has become constipated. I don’t know how badly, but she’s not pooping everyday. So I’ve started praying to God that He keeps her pooping.

Oh, the things we pray for! I think we must provide God with many occasions for amusement, though thankfully and mercifully, He’s answering my prayers, regardless of how ridiculous they seem to me. Plus just the fact that I’m praying means that I’m communicating with Him, which is always a good thing.

I know I should just break down and take her to the vet. If nothing else I got a notice in my email that she’s due for her vaccinations, so I could take her in to get the shots and while I’m there ask about the vomiting and the constipation, thus killing two birds with one stone. I’ve also thought of asking if she could be in the beginning stages of feline dementia. I didn’t know such a thing existed in cats until I started working on this post, but discovered, unhappily, that it does.

It’s taken me about three weeks to write this. First I couldn’t come up with a title, and then I had too many titles, so I couldn’t decide which one to use, and finally I landed on the one you see above.

The righteous cares about his animal’s health, but even the merciful acts of the wicked are cruel. ~ Proverbs 12:10, CSB.

Keeping a grateful mindset ~ an attitude of gratitude, if you will ~ sort of requires that I look for silver linings when I’m in difficult situations, and it’s become more and more natural for me to think along these lines as God heals me from my past. So rather than bemoan the fact that Lily keeps pooping outside her litterbox, I’ve started reminding myself that at least she’s pooping, which means she’s not constipated, at least not completely anyway.

And if I get upset enough to have a panic attack, I remember that at least I’m not hitting myself, and I’m very grateful for that.

Those are just two examples, and there are others I could list, but these are the only ones I can think of at the moment. I’ll probably come up with more after I’ve published this.

Isn’t that always the way? Oh well. If that happens I’ll have more fodder to write more posts!

I love being a blogger!

So that’s where things are at, and I think I’ve finally reached a stopping point. Thank you, Jesus! I’ve been wondering how I was going to end this. Silly me, but I couldn’t figure it out. But now I have, thankfully. That’s been part of the reason it’s taken me such a long time to write this. I couldn’t figure out how to end it, so I’d write some, and then put it away for a while. Then I’d come back to it and write some more, and yada yada yada…

But now I’m done. Oh, thank you, Jesus. I feel like it’s ending a little weirdly, but at least it’s ending.

I just realized that’s another silver lining!

How cool is that?

Christ Didn’t Die On the Cross to Save Ice Cream, Nor Did Ice Cream Die On the Cross to Save Me!

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In case you can’t tell from my somewhat lengthy title, I’m having a bit of trouble with ice cream. Or more to the point, with idolatry, and even closer to the point, a particular flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

 

 

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core

I’ve looked everywhere in my local vicinity and no one seems to have it. The Ben & Jerry’s website says you can get it at Target and Walmart, and Stater Bros has always carried it, but none of those places has it in stock, even though the shelf label is there.

You know how you get when you can’t find a product anywhere, so you start to fixate on it, and you get to the point where that’s all you can think about? Well, I’ve reached that point with this Ben & Jerry’s flavor. I’ve been hunting for it for a couple of weeks, and I feel like I’m going through withdrawal because I haven’t had it in so long, and I can’t find it, and I’m getting so frustrated!!

I know this sounds really ridiculous. You can laugh now, because I certainly am, albeit a bit ruefully.

I finally realized yesterday that it feels a bit like idolatry, thus the title of this post. So maybe I need to give up on my search and put my focus back on God where it’s supposed to be.

Then God gave the people all these instructions: “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.” ~ Exodus 20:1 and 4, NLT.

It’s not that I don’t want to put my focus back on God. It’s the idea of giving up my favorite ice cream that’s so hard to think about.

No! No!! Rats!! Harrumph!!

Yup, it’s gotta be done.

O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! ~ Psalm 34:8, NASB.

How did I let myself get into this position?? I can sort of see it happening if I think about it. First, I eat too much ice cream in general. I certainly don’t need the stuff. I mean, I weigh over 200 pounds.

That’s right, over 200 pounds.

But I like it sooo much!! It tastes sooo good!! And with little else to do because of the quarantine, I’ve taken to eating ice cream everyday. I’ve rationalized it by telling myself that Ben & Jerry’s comes in pints, so the serving size is small.

Well, not really! At 200 pounds even a pint is too much, plus I could feel the Holy Spirit nudging me everytime, telling me to only eat half of it, and I ignored Him.

Uh uh uh, naughty, naughty!! And after awhile He wasn’t prompting me anymore, so I knew I’d blown it.

I like it when the Holy Spirit talks to me like that. It makes me feel like we’re partners. So I repented, and now He’s nudging me again.

Phew!! What a relief! And I only ate half this time.

I’m so proud of myself! Obedience is a good thing. I can feel His pleasure when I obey Him, which makes me smile. 

What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. ~ 1 Samuel 15:22, NLT.

I don’t ever want to get caught up in anything resembling witchcraft, and it’s always been my desire above all else to please God, so if having His blessing means eating less ice cream, seems to me that’s a very small sacrifice to pay to get it.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

That’s right. Pleasing God is more important than anything else, so that’s what I want to do!

Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him

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Johannes Kepler, the great astronomer and mathematician said that. And of all the thoughts that exist, God’s thoughts are the ones I want to think. However, the Bible says God’s thoughts are higher than ours,

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the LORD. And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT.

So God’s thoughts are higher than ours. One place where you can find a whole lot of God’s thoughts is in the Bible, which is why it’s such a good thing to read and study it.

If you think about it, Isaiah 55:8-9 is also talking about God’s sovereignty, though if you leave it in context with the verses following, it’s also talking about the fact that God’s Word never fails, and always comes to pass, and part and parcel with that is the fact that God always keeps His promises.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, ESV.

The sovereignty of God is one of those mysterious aspects about God that I’ve had a hard time understanding, both with respect to my own life, and with regard to the way things have worked out in other people’s lives for whom I’ve spent time in prayer.

There have been a number of people over the years, who all had cancer of one kind or another, whom I prayed for to be healed. After the first one died, leaving a wife and a five year old daughter behind, I decided I wouldn’t pray for cancer patients to be healed any longer. It was too painful when they died, and I felt like too much of a spiritual failure.

I realize that was probably pretty selfish of me, but I don’t think I can be effective before God when I pray for people if I’m fighting my own feelings of insecurity while I’m trying to pray for someone’s healing. So, while I do pray for people to be healed of other illnesses, I don’t pray for people to be healed of cancer. I direct my prayers in other directions when I’m praying for people with cancer.

Part of the reason for this is that my sister died from colon cancer back in August of 2008. I watched her die ~ and it was horrible!! The cancer metastasized from her colon to her lungs, so ultimately, what killed her was lung cancer. The cancer in her lungs asphyxiated her. Her oncologist said one of her lungs was okay, but the other lung was so bad that he was surprised she could breathe at all. He said her bad lung was one huge mass of cancer and blood clots. It made me hurt just to hear him describe it like that.

In addition to just having cancer, she had problems with her chemo drugs. For some reason they caused her to have hallucinations and delusions, but she didn’t know that’s what they were, so she didn’t ask her oncologist about it, because she was afraid he wouldn’t believe her, but would refer her to a psychiatrist, who she was sure also wouldn’t believe her.

What she did instead was talk to me, because I have a background in psychiatric problems due to my own issues and experiences. It was actually kind of amazing that she talked to me at all, because throughout my life my sister and I never got along. So all of a sudden, we were talking and relating peaceably like friends, with no arguing or bickering. It felt like a miracle.

God used her cancer to heal our relationship, a small silver lining out of the horrors of her disease, and something for which I will always be grateful.

Ravi Zacharias is someone else who died of cancer. I’ve come to realize that he had a profound influence on me, and now that he’s gone I feel like an enormous hole has been ripped in the fabric of my life.

The Bible says that God has numbered our days, and that He knew everything that would happen to us before we were born,

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. ~ Psalm 139:16, NLT.

I understand that to mean that God knows everything, including when we’ll die ~ and I’m assuming that also means how we’ll die ~ before we’re born. And while I know we have to die from something ~ I mean they have to put something on your death certificate afterall, even if it’s nothing more than cardiac arrest.

However, I know from reading my mother’s death certificate that the immediate cause of death, for example, cardiac arrest, is just the beginning. There’s a secondary cause, and a tertiary cause as well. But if you think about it, cardiac arrest doesn’t mean anything for a cause of death. Everyone dies from cardiac arrest, because everyone’s heart stops when they die, and that’s all cardiac arrest is. So using cardiac arrest as a cause of death is meaningless as far as I’m concerned.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that I need to trust God. As hard as it is, I need to trust that He knows what’s best for me, He knows what He’s doing in my life.

His sovereignty is a good thing.

Let me repeat that. God’s sovereignty is a GOOD thing.

Even when I can’t see what’s up ahead, God can, and He always has my best interests at heart. He will always do and plan what’s best for me. I have to trust and believe that about Him.

I have to always remember that God and Harry are two diametrically opposed people and figures in my life. God is not Harry and never has been. And Harry was not God, thankfully, even though he tried hard to make me think he was.

These are truths that I must continually remind myself of until they are fully integrated into my very wiring, they are that much a part of who I am.

So, in closing, God’s sovereignty is a GOOD thing for me!!

Hallelujah!! Thank you, Jesus!! Thank you for birthing that truth in my heart! Please help me to keep it there, and please make it grow!!

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!!

Feeling the Divide

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Earlier today I discovered that someone had used my debit card to steal $139 from my checking account using a website in Toronto, which meant that there was also a $1.11 credit card issuer cross-border fee, because the charge was made in a foreign country. The website was one I had used before, but the last time was over a year ago, so I knew this $140.11 wasn’t mine. So I immediately called my bank and disputed it, which meant I had to cancel the debit card and get a new one.

The lady on the phone told me it would take about ten days for the new card to arrive, as well as ten days for the $140.11 to be restored to my checking account, at which point I told her that I needed the card today, because I had to buy new batteries for my TV remote. The last batteries I bought only lasted one month.

Harrumph!! Lousy batteries!! And I can’t take them back to the store where I purchased them because I don’t have the receipt.

Arrgh!! Rats!!

I have a feeling I indirectly brought this on myself. I’m having a very difficult time making it to church on Sundays. I think I’ve mentioned before that I would make an excellent hermit (I Would Make a Great Hermit), and my hermiting desires are making it extremely difficult for me to do what I know is God’s will and get myself to church every Sunday,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another ~ and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV.

I’ve become aware that I’m not requiring enough of myself ~ especially in the area of church attendance. It was kind of like a revelation, and once I understood the problem, I could no longer ignore it. I could no longer skip church on Sundays just because I didn’t feel like going, even if they did live-stream the services ~ which they’d been doing for the last couple of months. I’d been using the fact that they were live-streaming the services as my excuse for not going. As long as I could watch the live-streamed service it was okay if I didn’t attend the service in person. I knew in my heart that I was lying to myself with that excuse, but at least I was hearing the Word being preached.

And then God showed me that I wasn’t requiring enough of myself, and that I had to start going to church again. It was no longer enough to watch the live-streamed service on my computer.

Rats!!

like staying home! I don’t want to leave my apartment!!

I made it to church for one Sunday after that revelation, but no more after that. After that first Sunday I knew I should continue going, but I just didn’t want to. I could feel myself making a conscious decision to not go ~ to disobey God and His Word,

To go against what you are told is like the sin of witchcraft. Not to obey is like the sin of worshiping false gods. You have turned away from the Word of the Lord. So He has turned away from you being king. ~ 1 Samuel 15:23, NLV (New Life Version).

I knew I was being disobedient, but I couldn’t stomach the idea of leaving my apartment to go to church, so I stayed home, and asked God to forgive me for not going. Basically I used His grace as a convenient crutch, or should I say I abused His grace, something I’m not proud of.

And then the money was stolen from my checking account.

That sequence of events made an immediate connection in my mind. I don’t think God was punishing me for my disobedience, but I think it’s possible that my rebellion might have opened the door for the devil to gain a foothold. So I picked myself up and repented, truly this time.

And no matter how much I don’t want to go, I’ll make myself go to church!

As this whole thing evolved this afternoon and evening, I’ve felt extremely disappointed in myself, and I’ve had a hard time believing that God will protect me from the consequences of my behavior. I know He’s forgiven me, because His Word says He has, but actions have consequences, and I deserve to bear the brunt of those actions. I deserve the consequences. I don’t want them, but I deserve them, and that’s what I’m struggling with now. That and feeling like God is disappointed in me. That right there is very hard for me to deal with. I hate thinking that God could be disappointed in me!

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.

The Continuing Saga of the Monster’s Death

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It’s been five or six days since Harry’s death, and I’ve had some time to cogitate on what that means for me. You wouldn’t think there’d be any meaning at all when someone dies who had pretty much no relationship with me, but he had a hugely destructive influence on my childhood, so regardless of whether there was any current relationship, it’s going to mean something to me when he dies. The problem is to figure out what that is.

The first conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m taking too much responsibility on myself for whether Harry accepted the gift of God’s grace. While Jesus commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, ultimately the responsibility for making the seeds of the Gospel bear fruit is God’s problem,

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. ~ Mark 16:14-15, NKJV.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV.

I love this passage from Isaiah. It says so many things to me. It tells me that God’s Word is alive, and that God will always make His Word bear fruit. It also says that God always keeps His promises ~ that He can always be depended upon to do what He says He’ll do, and He’ll always be faithful to keep His Word. In addition it says that God loves His Word ~ at least it says that to me. He loves it enough, and cares about it enough, that He will work to protect it and make sure it comes to fruition anytime it’s spoken.

So if I’m worried that I should be doing more to make sure that Harry makes it into Heaven, I’m worrying way too much. If nothing else, the decision was made the moment he died. Once he’s gone, there’s nothing more any human being can do to influence Harry’s decision, or God’s judgment about Harry’s destination. Plus a friend reminded me a couple of days ago that when someone ends up in Hell, they’re there because that’s where they want to be.

I guess I have a hard time believing anyone would actually want to be in Hell, because I know a little of what Hell is like, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

All that aside, I’m feeling bereft. I never had what most people would call a father. Certainly Harry wasn’t a father to me, and I never felt loved by my stepdad either. He tried, but I think maybe the damage done by the time he came around was so extensive that he couldn’t get beyond it to relate to me as he would to any “normal” person.

So, as I said, I feel bereft, regardless of the fact that Harry wasn’t in my life, and hadn’t been since he left when he and my mother got divorced when I was ten. It’s strange, because he was never a father to me, yet now that he’s gone, I miss him like he was, though what I’m missing may be the hope that he would become a father to me.

I’ve been hunting for a surrogate father my whole life, and everytime I thought I’d found one, something would happen and he’d go away. I finally gave up looking. I can sort of see why it’s not good to trust in an earthly substitute, but sometimes you need a pair of physical ears to talk to, and a pair of physical arms to give you a hug, and sometimes you need them to be male ears and arms ~ and I could never find that, not anywhere. It turned out to be impossible.

As I was talking with McT about this today, he got me thinking about the few times I saw Harry after the divorce. I can probably count them on one hand. There were two before my stepdad adopted my sister and me so we’d have his last name. Then there was a gap of twenty years or more, until I was about thirty-three. I hadn’t had any memories yet, and my Aunt Priscilla, Harry’s sister, suggested I visit him in West Virginia where he lived with his second wife. I hadn’t seen him in at least twenty years, and the first thing he did after I got there was take me out and buy me five pairs of underwear.

At the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about that gift, but it didn’t feel as truly weird, perverted, and inappropriate as it has since come to feel. When I told McT about it today, immediately his face got all scrunched up, and he said that it was a really inappropriate gift for a father to give his daughter.

I stayed with Harry and Elizabeth for a week, and all I remember about that time, aside from the underwear gift, was that Harry and Elizabeth argued a lot, and it was all about me. All these years I thought it was because she was jealous of me, but as McT and I were talking about it today, it came to me that they were arguing because she was telling him that his underwear gift was bizarre and wrong, and he was arguing back because he couldn’t understand what she was saying. To him, giving your daughter underwear was a perfectly natural thing to do.

EEeeewwwww!!!!

I know someone whose father gave her a red bra for her sixteenth birthday, which I always thought was really wrong. It’s strange how I couldn’t see that Harry’s gift of underwear to me was just as strange until I saw McT’s reaction. I guess I was too close to it to be able to see how weird it was, but now I get it really well!

Like I said above, EEeeeeewwwwww!!! Now it gives me the creeps! Back then it made me feel a little strange, but I had no idea why, because I’d had no memory of being abused by anyone, much less by Harry. In fact, I had no memory at all of the first ten years of my life. Those years were a huge blank for me. Since then God has been filling in the void with substance, though sometimes I’ve found myself wishing those years had stayed empty, because not knowing at times feels better than knowing.

And interestingly, it was after I got home from that visit that I had my first abuse memories, and they were perfectly awful ~ and I was in a therapy appointment with McT when they came out.

The only other meeting with Harry that I remember was a short one. I don’t remember when it happened, except that it was about thirty years ago ~ in the nineties, I think. The only thing I remember about it was that it ended in a fist-bump. Fist-bumps have only been popular in the last two or three years, and when he gave me one thirty years ago, I perceived it as him rejecting me and pushing me away. It felt incredibly off-putting. Now, I think, it’s supposed to be sign that someone is cool. Maybe that’s how he meant it, I don’t know, but that’s not how I took it. So maybe I misread his signal to me in that instance. Maybe I need to ask for his forgiveness.

So now I’m left with what to do with all I’ve discovered, and the first thing I know I must do is forgive. Always forgive. Forgiving has become foundational to who I am, and it’s not hard to forgive Harry, or anyone else who’s hurt me. The only one I have a problem forgiving is myself, though that’s getting easier as well, thank God.

This has been a really long post, I know, but this is a difficult topic, so I hope everyone will read the whole thing all the way through. Mostly, I want to give glory to God for helping me to think everything through with the proper insight, and for helping me to see Harry through the eyes of Jesus ~ as God sees him.

I know Jesus loves Harry as much as He loves me, or anyone else, so I have no right to hold unforgiveness or hatred against him, so I choose to bless him, and I wish peace and healing towards him.

I hope and pray he accepted God’s gift of salvation before he died! Glory to God for the cross!!

The Monster Is Dead

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I just got a phone call from my cousin. It seems that Harry, my biological father, died yesterday. He was 93 years old. I haven’t seen or heard from him in about forty years. Basically he wanted nothing to do with me, and had made me persona non grata to him. It felt like I had ceased to exist for him.

As far as I’m concerned it was his loss.

This news is a bit of a shock to me, and I find myself a bit unsure of what to do with it right off. I’m fairly certain that he wasn’t saved, though I prayed for him on multiple occasions, that God would send laborers across his path to minister the Word to him. I believe God answered those prayers, but as long as I knew anything about him, he was an atheist. I can only hope that any seeds that were planted bore fruit before he breathed his last. I have to trust that God did exactly that, because He’s the One who makes His Word bear fruit,

The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NLT.

As I said, I don’t know what to do with this information just yet. While he was alive, I had the hope that I’d be able to reconcile with him, that I’d be able to tell him that I’d forgiven him for everything that he did to me. (For those of you who don’t know what that means, my post, Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear?, will explain it to you.)

I find myself feeling kind of fragmented and jumbled up as I think about this. For one thing, I find myself feeling more grief at Harry’s death than I ever felt when my mom died. It’s not that I loved Harry more than I did Mom, not at all. If anything I loved him less because he made himself so incredibly unloveable. I always felt a great deal of ambivalence about both my parents, and about my stepdad as well. Even when all three of them were alive I felt like an orphan most of the time, and now that they’re all gone, at least biologically, I am one. Spiritually I’m not, because God said He would be a Father to the fatherless, and I can always feel His presence with me,

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. ~ Psalm 68:5, NIV.

I’m wondering if the reason I feel more sadness with Harry’s death than I did when Mom died is because I was able to resolve things with Mom much more than I was with Harry. Plus Mom always wanted me around, and Harry didn’t, so I spent many, many years desiring a relationship with him ~ a desire that I was never able to bring to fruition. Plus I’m fairly certain that my mother is in Heaven, where I don’t have that certainty at all with Harry.

Now that he’s gone, my prayer is that God will grant him mercy in His dealings with him at Judgment Day. If he must end up in Hell, then let him go to a level that’s not as bad as it might be, if such a thing is possible. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll end up in Heaven ~ just maybe!!

I can only hope, and I trust in God’s goodness and mercy.

I Won’t Hide From Evil and Neither Will God

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There’s a lot of beauty and good in the world, but there’s also a whole lot of evil. And while I think it’s good to focus on the good and the positive so that God is glorified, I also believe that to ignore or deny the evil that’s in the world would be foolish, and would actually glorify the devil more than if we worshiped him outright. A quote from C.S. Lewis might explain this better than I can,

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. ~ from the Preface of The Screwtape Letters*

Something I’ve been thinking about lately: The Bible says in the Book of Psalms that God has numbered our days,

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. ~ Psalms 139:16, NLT.

I understand that to mean that God knows what will happen every day of my life, from the day of my birth clear through ’til the day of my death. What I’ve been thinking about is the day of my death, or more generically, the day of every person’s death. What I’m curious about is, does God ordain how a person dies, or just that he dies on a particular day? I mean, there are an almost infinite number of ways someone can die.

The reason I’m asking this is because when someone is murdered, (unless they’re killed in their sleep so they aren’t aware and wake up dead), they must experience extreme terror and horror right up to the moment of dying. I’m trying to understand what might be going through their mind during those hours and moments of extremity leading up to the moment of their death.

I’m also trying to understand how God fits into the picture. If someone is killed in a way that makes their last hours and moments full of mind-numbing, heart-stopping, hope-stealing and screaming terror that was caused by the person who murdered them, was that method of death ordained by God? I find it difficult to understand how God would want someone to experience that kind of negativity right before they die. If they’re already saved and they die like that, at least they have the hope of heaven. But if they’re not, in the minutes and hours, and sometimes even days, of terror and horror and fear before they’re murdered, how can they be expected to think clearly enough during that time to be able to call out to God for salvation?

Scripture says that God is both a just God and a merciful God. I’ve heard it said that since He’s both just and merciful, if someone dies in an unsaved state, He will take them where they’re at spiritually, and judge them based on their works. I don’t know how true this is, or if it’s true at all, but that’s what I’ve heard. A scriptural basis for this might be found in the Book of James,

For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~ James 2:13, NKJV.

Given the scenario I’ve described above, where someone’s ability to seek God is severely compromised, and the best he or she can do is cry out for help, God’s mercy is what is most desperately needed, not His judgment.

I could be wrong on that, but I hope I’m not.

 

*C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters, HarperSanFrancisco, ©1942, Harper edition 2001, p. ix.