Category Archives: Salvation

The Face of My Beloved

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There is nothing I desire more than meeting Jesus face to face. For me Philippians 1 and Philippians 3 say it best,

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. ~ Philippians 1:21, NIV.

All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in his death… ~ Philippians 3:10, GNT.

To stay here is to glorify God, and give witness to the saving grace and healing power of Jesus Christ. To die is far better, because then I would be where I most desire to be: in the presence of Jesus, meeting Him face to face.

There is nothing better!

 

Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear?

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I originally wrote this post back in April of 2013 for a blog that I kept on another blogging site. That blog was shut down by the website without my consent, and I was never able to get it back, so from time to time I’m going to repost some of the posts I wrote from that blog as they seem appropriate to what I’m dealing with now.

This post contains a letter that I wrote to my biological father to deal with some of the unexpressed anger and rage that I feel about what he did to me. My therapist suggested that I write it but not send it, so that’s what I’ve done. Here’s the post:

April 10, 2013 ~ I’ve come to realize that most of the anger I feel and/or express is misplaced and  misdirected, either at myself, or at the people in whatever TV program I’m watching at the time, especially if it’s something having to do with someone being raped or abused, or being treated unjustly or unfairly in anyway. I also get angry at certain news stories having to do with violence against children or women, or about registered sex offenders.

I’ve also found it interesting and a bit puzzling that I’ve never once felt, much less voiced, any anger towards my father for all the awful, horrible things he did to me. I have forgiven him, and I’ve never ever had any desire for revenge, but by the same token, I’ve also never felt any anger towards him. I don’t know if it’s because I’m terrified that he’ll come after me or because I’m afraid I’ll go ballistic if I start letting it out, or just what.

So maybe it’s time for me to do something about it. It’s not good to hold anger inside, especially for long periods of time, and while I’m getting better at not holding my anger inside, when I do let it out it’s almost always directed at the wrong person. So I’m thinking I should do something to express some of it towards my father, instead of towards me and all the other people who aren’t supposed to get it. My therapist says I should write him a letter, but I wouldn’t have to mail it to him. So that’s what I’ll do.

May 15, 2013 ~ I think it’s curious and probably significant that, after I start thinking about writing a letter to my father to tell him how angry I am at him, even if I know he’ll never see it, all of a sudden I avoid this blog like the plague. I wrote the first part of this post at the beginning of April and now it’s the middle of May.

Up until now I’ve always avoided dealing with any real feelings about Harry, and I think the reason is because I’ve been afraid, terrified, actually. Terrified that I wouldn’t be able to control my anger, petrified I’ll go ballistic and do something I’ll regret later ~ all because I’m panic-stricken at the idea of no longer hiding my true feelings about him. As I was sitting here thinking about what to write, I beat a retreat in the middle of this paragraph to play solitaire. Sometimes it helps me to think. Actually I think it’s an excuse for not having to think or write about what I’m supposed to be working on. Anyway, I started playing Solitaire and it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to (I was losing game after game) so I got more and more frustrated, and I ended up hitting myself a whole lot. Which is the point of all this in the first place: I get angry at myself instead of getting angry at the person ~ Harry ~ who’s the one I should be getting angry at.

So I’m going to step out in faith, and instead of being afraid of the anger, I’m going to get angry at the fear, and I’m going to start writing that letter. So here goes.

Harry:

First, I have to say that there are certain things about my childhood for which I’ve always been grateful: the piano lessons, and the love for classical music that you and Mom instilled in me, plus the keen intelligence, analytical mind, and desire for knowledge that have made me a voracious reader, and given me a life-long love of learning.

I have a lot of things to say to you. A LOT. You’re supposed to be my father, at least that’s the title they gave you on my birth certificate. I have to tell you, however, that I don’t buy it. You’ve never been a father to me. I’ve had a lot of memories of things you did to me when I was a child that no father should ever do to ANY child, much less his own daughter ~ that no human being should ever do to any other human being. Even animals shouldn’t be treated the way you treated me. So I have a hard time calling you my father.

You abused me. You abused me physically, verbally, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually. You made me hate you, and you made me hate myself. Everytime you abused me you told me you had to do it because God hated me. Everytime you abused me you told me I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face. I don’t know why you felt the need to say those awful, hateful things to me. It took me many, many years of healing before I could believe that God didn’t hate me, and many more years after that before I could believe that anyone, much less God, could love me. I’m still working on whether or not I’m ugly. I think I can finally say that I’m not ugly, but I’m not sure I can take it any farther than that yet.

I’ve finally decided that maybe you told me those things because you were projecting onto me how you felt about yourself. However, that’s no excuse for that kind of cruelty! Do you have any idea the kind of pain just those two statements spoken over and over into my life have caused me? Agony! Do you hear me? Agony! You caused me years and years of anguish and agony, plus nine suicide attempts just from those two statements, not to mention the torment from all the other horrific and terrible things you did to me.

You abused me within an inch of my life. The only reason I survived infancy is because God gave me the ability to become multiple.

You forced us to lie about what you were doing to us so you could keep on beating, raping, and otherwise assaulting the life out of us. You told us that if we ever told anyone what you were doing to us you would kill us, and then you played Russian Roulette with your revolver between our legs to make sure we believed you. There was no way we could have known back then that the gun was loaded with blanks. We were children, tiny children, so we had no choice but to believe you, and we had to become liars that no one could trust as a result. You stole our integrity,  our innocence, our childhood, and our hope when you did that, because you left us with no recourse and no ability to seek rescue.

Do you remember our habit of picking our cuticles? We started doing that at a very early age, as young as age two. Do you know why we did that? Because you told us we couldn’t tell anyone what you were doing to us, so we had to come up with a way to tell people without using words that we were in peril. So we picked holes in our cuticles, sometimes to the point of getting them infected. Tragically for us, our efforts were all for naught, because no one ever caught on or reached out to help.

You used rape as punishment for wrongdoing, and you kept changing the rules so we never knew what they were. It didn’t matter what we did or how we did it, it was never good enough, so no matter what, we were wrong and had to be punished, which meant you had yet another excuse to rape and/or hit us. I don’t know what we did to become the brunt of your rage; I doubt we did anything. We think you just needed a scapegoat, and we were small and weak enough that we couldn’t fight back.

And then there was the time when we were three when you decided that just raping us yourself wasn’t enough; you needed to spice it up by getting your friends involved. So you orchestrated a little gang-rape with four of your cronies. I don’t know what you were hoping to accomplish that day, but it certainly couldn’t have been anything good.

Do you have any idea of how traumatic that event was for us? That one incident was so devastating, so damaging to us that it, and you, caused the creation of 12, that’s right, twelve, new alters. It was so horrific that Catherine Belinda, the core personality, decided she’d had enough of your lies and betrayals. She determined that she couldn’t stand your abuse any longer, so despite the risk and menace inherent in your threats, she resolved to tell someone, anyone, what you were doing to us. But God and the rest of us, knew that you meant business when you said you’d kill us if we told. So God and the rest of us hid Catherine Belinda away and put her to sleep, and kept her that way for the next fifty years. In her place a new alter was created to run things. The new alter’s name was Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, but she answered to Catherine Belinda’s name so no one would notice or suspect anything was different.

You know, all we wanted was to be accepted and loved. That’s all any child wants. Was that too much to ask? We don’t think it was, but you couldn’t even give us that. A child is a gift from God, yet you treated us like trash. You acted like we were your personal property to kick around and beat up as you pleased. We were a small, innocent child! You were nothing more than a cowardly bully, picking on your own daughter, someone who was too small and defenseless to stand up for ourselves. If you’re going to pick on someone, pick on someone your own size!

I think the thing that hurts me more than anything else about all the horrors you visited on me/us throughout the years of my childhood is that you made it nigh unto impossible for me to have a relationship with a man, or with God. I’m terrified of men and I’m terrified of sex. As a consequence I’ve never been able to consider even going out on a date, much less anything more serious, because I might have to let him touch me, and ultimately I might have to marry him and have sex with him.

Fortunately, as far as a relationship with God is concerned, God had other plans, and it’s only by His grace and mercy that I’m alive to tell this story, or that I know anything about Him at all. I owe my life to God and to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and it’s only because of His healing power that I’m able to trust Him or believe in Him. I will never be able to express enough gratitude to God for all He has done for me in setting me free from all that you did to me. One thing you should know however, is that the God of Love who healed me won’t allow me to hate you anymore.

That’s right. Jesus loves you just as much as He loves me or anyone else, without reservation or condemnation, and because He’s healed me, He’s helped me to forgive you for everything you did to me. And yes, I have forgiven you. I don’t want revenge, I don’t desire any kind of evil to come to you, and I wish only good for you. This teeny weeny paragraph stating my forgiveness may sound a little simplistic and trite, like nothing more than a bunch of platitudes after my great long letter expressing a lot of pent up rage and vitriol. In truth I was only expressing my heart and my truth as I saw it. But my forgiveness is real and heartfelt, and the ball is now in your court. It’s your choice as to whether you will accept or reject it, because with my forgiveness, I’m also offering reconciliation with you and the possibility of a relationship. I don’t know if that’s something you desire, but my offer is there if you choose to accept it.

That’s all for now. I wish peace with God and health for your body and soul. I know that you now suffer from emphysema and are on 24-hour oxygen, and I wish healing for you from that as well.

Blessings and Peace,

Sarah

Well, thankfully it’s finished. As an addendum, I want to add a little bit of history to bring the story of the multiplicity aspect up to date.

As I said in the middle of the letter, at age 27, in October of 1980, I changed my name from Catherine Belinda Pfaff to Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. At the time I was only just beginning to have memories of being abused and I had no idea I was multiple. I thought I was changing my name to cut myself off from a heritage of abuse, and I thought I was choosing a new name. So I chose three names that were Bible names or words with really good meanings, and that meant things I had never meant to anyone before: Sarah means, “Princess,” and Sarah, of course, was Abraham’s wife and the mother of Isaac. Abigail means, “a father’s joy, or a joy to the Father,” and Abigail was one of David’s wives, and a virtuous woman in the Bible. And Kuriakos means, “belonging to God” and is used twice in the New Testament.

In reality, I was already Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, but I was consciously unaware of it. Everyone inside decided that the name of the body, which had been Catherine Belinda up until then, should be changed to match my name so there would be more congruence between inside and outside. It made sense. Catherine Belinda was hidden away and asleep, and had been for a long time, and would remain that way indefinitely, so it didn’t make any sense to keep using her name. It made much more sense to use my name because I was running things, so we found a lawyer amongst the people at my church, and we went to court and change it to my name. And strangely enough, the change wasn’t at all hard to adapt to. It was like that should have been my name all along. I’d had this weird feeling for awhile that Catherine Belinda was a name that belonged to someone else ~ which turned out to be true, interestingly enough, in a strange sort of way. Plus all my friends said that Sarah Abigail fit me much better than Catherine Belinda did. Funny thing! Maybe that was because Sarah Abigail was actually my name and Catherine Belinda wasn’t.

And being Sarah Abigail Kuriakos has made a huge difference in my life, and brought me closer to God. Everytime I hear the names I hear their meanings, and God has used that to heal me a tiny bit everyday. Plus I’m no longer multiple. In October of 2001 I decided I wanted to seek integration, so I went to the pastor of the church I was going to at the time, and asked him if they could help me with that. I knew that the process of integration takes many years, often in excess of ten, if it’s done in therapy, and I wanted God to do the healing, not some shrink. So my pastor and some people in the church who knew of my background set up a team of prayer warriors, and they prayed for me once a month over a period of 18 months, and by the end of that time I was fully integrated. It was a wonderful thing. Instead of being many I was one ~ for the first time in my entire life! There was no longer any chaos or confusion inside. Blessed peace! Wow!! Praise God!! And the really cool thing was that the process was complete right around my fiftieth birthday. And just before the final integration was done, God woke up Catherine Belinda and brought her out of hiding so that she could be integrated into the whole along with everyone else. Amazingly, God had been watching over her the whole time, and had been causing her to grow while she was asleep, so when she came back it wasn’t a huge shock to her system. I was seeing a really good Christian therapist at the time, and she was fully supportive of the prayer group’s work. I remember the day when Catherine Belinda woke up. It was March (?) of 1999 and the day of the First-Brush-Stroke Ceremony at the Bowers Museum for Raúl Anguiano’s first mural, and I had been invited, amazingly enough. I was working at Pearl Arts and Crafts Store in Huntington Beach, and Raúl had come into the store for his art supplies for the ceremony and for the mural completion to follow, and I had decided that I was going to be there when he came in, come what may. So when he came in, I was there and I helped him get what he needed. He was such a nice guy! So he invited me to the ceremony, and he allowed me to come and watch him paint the mural afterward, over a period of weeks. Wow! And then he gave me a gift of one of his small lithographs, personally signed by him to me!

Well anyway, the day of the ceremony, I had this strange feeling all day long that someone new was using the body, that it wasn’t really me. My eyes felt hypersensitive to light, like I’d been in a very dark place for a long time, and my eyes needed to have time to adjust to the light. Fortunately I had a therapy session that afternoon before I had to be at the ceremony at the Bowers, so I spent my session talking about the weird sensations I’d been having all day, and what they might mean. We finally came to the conclusion that Catherine Belinda was waking up so she, along with everyone else could go to the ceremony at the Bowers. It seemed like God had planned it that way, so who was I to argue>

And then there was the whole situation with Klepto, who was a little four-year-old girl who stole things because that was the only way she knew of to get what she wanted. Of course stealing is, and always has been, absolutely antithetical to everything I am, so when she came out and started stealing stuff from work (I was still working at Pearl at the time), I got very upset. The first thing we did was talk to her and tell her she couldn’t do this. She had to take everything back, and put it back where she got it without getting caught, because I didn’t want to lose my job. Then, on the advice of my therapist, we changed her name to Elizabeth, because Klepto as a name was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. She came out one more time in a toy store where she tried to shoplift a game. Fortunately I came out and stopped her before she could leave the store with it, but it was rather embarrassing. And then she was integrated into the whole, and was no longer a problem, thank God!

So, God gave me the most amazing and wonderful birthday gift for my fiftieth birthday, and I’ve been eternally grateful ever since. I can’t thank Him enough. Certainly I’ve had my struggles since then. There was the whole seven-year period where I was angry at God because I couldn’t understand how He could allow me to be abused. It turned out that what I really didn’t understand was about God’s sovereignty, and that I didn’t have the right to challenge it, which was what I had been doing. And then I realized that all I really wanted to know was where God was when I was being abused. And ultimately God showed me. He showed me that He had been right there with me, protecting me by making me multiple, saving my life by creating new alters as they were needed. Each time there was an abuse incident that was severe enough to require a new alter, God put His finger on my personality in the exact spot where He wanted the split to occur. It was God who created Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, and chose her name ~ which gives the meaning of the names even more significance when I think of it in that light. Wow…

Well, I guess I’d better finish this and post it. It’s turned out to be VERY long, a lot longer than I expected, though all of it was important and needed to be said.

Until next time then…

Love, the Highest Ethic

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An ethic is defined as a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.

In Ravi Zacharias’ latest book, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, which was released in April, he wrote,

…love is the supreme ethic. Where there is the possibility of love, there must be the reality of free will. Where there is the reality of free will, there will inevitably be the possibility of sin. Where there is sin, there is the need for a Savior. Where there is a Savior, there is the hope for redemption. Only in the Judeo-Christian worldview does this sequence find its total expression and answer.

~ Ravi Zacharias, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 04/2019, pg 3.

I love this quote. I especially love the logic of it. It shows me that God is logical, in addition to all His other amazing attributes. He’s a God of love and He’s logical. How cool is that!

I’ve been on a kick about free will lately. I think the most important part of what Ravi Zacharias said here is the part about love, combined with the part about free will. Without love, free will is an impossibility, and without free will, human beings wouldn’t know how to love, because they’d be nothing more than robots, all of which means that free will and love are inextricably intertwined. And what follows after that is a kind of cascade of logic.

And then God brings it down to meet me where I live. God loved me so much that He gave me a free will so I could choose whether I wanted to love Him back, or reject His love. He could have said, I love you, and you will love Me back, and that’s the way it will be.

But if He’d done it that way, I wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter, and I would have been a love-robot, or a love-slave, loving God by rote. That wouldn’t have been real love, though, would it? That would be slavish obedience; Yes, Master, No, Master; not obeying because you adored Him so much that you would do anything for Him out of love.

God wanted humans to love Him freely, not because they had to, and not because He’d commanded them to. So He took a risk, a huge risk, and created every human being with a completely free will so they could make their own choices. And if that person chose to reject God and His love for them, then so be it. But if that human accepted God’s love, then he’d receive everything in Heaven and on earth that God had to offer.

The way I see it, God gave me the most incredible gift anyone could ever present to me, the gift of salvation. And I didn’t have to do anything at all to earn it. It was completely free. All I had to do was believe it was mine and receive it.

I knew I needed to be saved, desperately, but I couldn’t understand why God, Master of the Universe, Creator of all Things, would want to save me, probably the worst sinner ever, though if He wanted to do so I wouldn’t argue with Him. I’d just accept it. I’m not one to turn down free gifts! Not me!

Even at that, it took me many years before I could trust Him enough to believe that He meant what He’d said in His Word, because of all the lies my father (Harry) had told me. He had to abuse me because God hated me, and I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face were the two main ones, because they were a litany he repeated over and over and over again until they were ingrained in my nervous system. The guy in the white robe posing as God, sitting on the throne, who sometimes looked like Harry, telling the others what to do to me in the cult rituals, was the other big one. 

It took many, many years of consistently reading and studying the Bible before God was able to replace the poison and lies with the truth. But it did happen, and still is happening even today. God is still healing me, because there are times where I find myself falling back into old ways, and believing old lies. It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but it does happen from time to time. Now I know that God thinks I’m beautiful. That’s a truth I hold onto very tightly.

The upshot of it is that I’m incredibly grateful to God for everything He’s done for me. Not only has He saved me so that I’m able to know Him, and I get to go to Heaven when I die, the best double whammy ever, but He’s healed me ~ and is continuing to heal me ~ from the worst childhood ever. And if that wasn’t enough, He’s supplied my needs beyond all that I could ask or think. I never knew I could be this happy, or have this kind of peace or joy! My gratitude to Him makes me want to serve Him, makes me desire to love Him back, just because He’s been so good to me!

I know I still blow it, I still sin from time to time ~ far more often than I’d like. But when I do mess up, I pray that God will forgive me, because I value much too highly my close relationship with Him to want to stay in sin. Humans can’t help but sin, simply by the very fact that we’re human, but once we’re born-again, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and He helps us to not sin.

And that’s, once again, where our free will comes in. We can still make choices one way or the other. The Holy Spirit, being our Helper, aids and strengthens us, if we’ll take His assistance, to choose the right way. He’ll help us to avoid temptation,

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT. 

Jesus called the Holy Spirit variously, the Comforter, the counselor, the advocate, and the helper, depending on the translation,

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me… ~ John 15:26, NASB.

But we still have to make the choice to take the Holy Spirit’s assistance. I still have to make the choice to take His help, follow His advice, and sometimes I don’t, I’m ashamed to say.

Interestingly, I can still feel God’s Presence with me, even when I do sin. He never leaves me, He never forsakes me, just as He promised in His Word,

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, ESV.

It makes me want to try ever harder to not sin at all!

God so amazing!

Author and Finisher

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I love the phrase, “…the author and finisher of our faith…” in Hebrews 12:2. It’s talking about Jesus, of course. I like the way the NIV puts it,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of [our] faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV.

It’s like my faith ~ my story ~ is a book, and Jesus is its author. He’s the One who began my story, and He’s the One who will finish it, as it says in Philippians,

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ~ Philippians 1:6, NLT.

I love the Bible. It always tells the truth. The verses I quoted above tell the truth about God’s activity in my life. And the cardinal truth can be found in this verse in Hebrews,

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, NLT.

Throughout my life ~ through all the abuse, all the times my mother tried to kill me, all the horrendous and terrible things my father did to me, all my suicide attempts, even during the period where I was enraged at God ~ through all of it, God was there, keeping me alive, shielding me from the worst of the abuse, and even protecting me from myself.

He’s never failed me, He’s never forsaken me, He’s never abandoned me, plus He’s given me beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, as it says in Isaiah,

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. ~ Isaiah 61:3, NKJV.

God has given me so much beauty in my life! He’s been so incredibly good to me, and He continues to be so on a daily, minute-by-minute basis. The cross is the best, most beautiful gift He could ever give me. It’s the best demonstration of true love anyone could ever give to another person, as it says in the Gospel of John,

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:13, NLT.

Justice and Mercy Both Win at the Cross

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God showed me something this morning. I was driving to a doctor’s appointment and listening to a song on the radio. The song reminded me of a Scripture verse I’ve been thinking about recently, James 2:12-13,

So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~ James 2:12-13, NKJV.

What I realized was, at the cross God got the justice He required for humanity’s sin because Jesus bore the punishment for our sins by dying for us. But God isn’t only a just God, He’s also a merciful God; two of His attributes are justice and mercy, not just justice. And at the cross God required justice, but He also desired mercy for His dealings with mankind. So He got justice by allowing Jesus to bear the punishment we deserved, and then gave us His mercy and grace as a free gift instead.

How cool is that?!

Instead of the justice and punishment we deserved, we got the mercy and grace we didn’t earn ~ and sonship! We became sons and daughters of God because we were adopted into the family of God!

All we have to do is receive His free gift of salvation by faith. We don’t have to be good enough, or clean enough, or anything enough. All we have to do is confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts according to Romans 10:9-10,

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.

It doesn’t seem like a fair exchange, does it? Maybe that’s because it’s not, but who am I to argue when I get by far the best end of the deal! I mean, all God gets is little ole, imperfect me. And I get Jesus Christ as a big brother, and saved, and redeemed, and the whole Kingdom of God, and Heaven, and a relationship with God, and EVERYTHING!!

Such a deal!! It absolutely boggles my mind, and fills me to overflowing with such gratitude that I can hardly think straight!

Thank you, Jesus!!

Where Else Would I Go?

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I’ve heard it said that Christianity in America is on dangerous ground these days, because we have so many media choices to choose from that fewer and fewer people will be sharing the same metanarrative. But that’s not only true for Christianity. It’s true for every worldview.

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, a metanarrative is “an overarching account or interpretation of events and circumstances that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences.” Media can shape the kind of metanarrative we hold, and the fewer media choices there are, the more likely we are to share metanarratives with those around us. That’s the way things were before the information age arrived.

Now, however, everything is different, because we have the internet.

Now everyone can access information on all the various social, political, and economic systems, not to mention the whole range of religious worldviews, plus we can customize our media consumption to suit our own individual needs and whims. And because we have such a wide variety of choices, and so many different religious and cultural metanarratives to choose from, each different metanarrative, such as Christianity, is less persuasive and influential than ever before.

With all these choices, people are more likely to isolate and construct their own micronarrative, rather than engage in shared narratives with others.

My answer to all this is found in John’s Gospel, Chapter Six,

After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” ~ John 6:66-68, ESV.

In other words, regardless of how many micronarratives or metanarratives are out there, there’s only one narrative that’s going to save my soul and get me into Heaven, and that’s the Story of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross, and resurrection on the third day.

So no matter how many choices they present me with, my answer will always be, “Where else would I go? Only Jesus has the words of eternal life.”

Christmas Without Christ Is Just mas…

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What that means is if you remove the word “Christ” from the word “Christmas”, all you have left is “mas”, which isn’t even a word.

In other words, Christmas without Christ is just another day.

That is to say, Christmas without Christ is meaningless, and yet, more and more, people as well as businesses and institutions, are attempting to do that very thing: remove Christ from Christmas and turn it into something it was never intended to be. It makes me feel very sad that it’s happening, because, in doing that, people are missing out on the greatest blessing they could possibly imagine, if they would only receive it.

And all they have to do is acknowledge that Jesus, God’s amazing gift, is the real reason we celebrate Christmas. All you have to do is look at the word Christmas to see the truth of that. The word has nine letters, and “Christ” comprises two-thirds of them.

And for all the joy that Christmas is supposed to bring when its true meaning and purpose are understood, and when Jesus is brought in and involved as an integral part of its celebration (which I desire to do with my whole heart), every year at Christmastime I go through hell, because I feel all disjointed and fragmented and out of sorts ~ anything and everything but joyful.

I have some idea of why, but I’m not sure if what I know is everything about why, and even if it is, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be able to deal with the holiday better. The way I’m dealing with it now is to do a whole lot of avoidance and escapist behaviors, and I don’t think it’s working.

Why can’t I just enjoy Christmas for what it is without all the turmoil and confusion? And “for what it is” means celebrating it as Jesus’ birthday as a human baby, as God incarnate, and God’s Gift of salvation to humanity. I’m beyond exhausted with all the confusion and inner tumult and chaos I go through every year. I just want it to be OVER WITH!!

I don’t know that I want to do what other people do around the holidays. You know, race around like a mad chicken trying to find the most expensive gifts for all my friends because the best way to celebrate Christmas is to spend as much money on each person as possible.

I don’t think so! Not going to happen!

Jesus will still be the reason for Christmas for me, because Christmas is still meaningless without Christ. It’s still just another day as far as I’m concerned, and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.

Christmas, In All Its Wonderfulness, Which Is Why I Hate It.

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I hate Christmas. There, I said it. Sacrilege I know, but that’s how I feel.

There are reasons for the way I feel, mostly having to do with Harry and stuff he did to me when I was little.

For instance, when I was about five, I made an ashtray for him for Christmas. You know, one of those ashtrays made out of clay that little kids make in nursery school or kindergarten for their dads? Well, the one I made for Harry was rather large as ashtrays go, more like a bowl you put fruit in, and I painted it yellow with green spots. I was rather proud of that ashtray because I’d worked very hard on it, and all I wanted was for Harry to like it.

To my great misfortune, not only did he not like it, but he hated it. In fact he hated it so much that he smashed it, and then he raped me. In front of the family he gave marginal approval, but once everyone else was gone from the room, he told me it was the ugliest thing he’d ever seen, and he threw it on the floor so it broke into a thousand pieces. Then he dragged me into his and Mom’s bedroom and raped me.

It just occurred to me that his reaction was way over the top, and even my statement of it ~ that it was way over the top ~ is grossly understated. I mean, if you don’t like someone’s gift, you don’t have to react by breaking it and then beating up the person who gave it to you. If you don’t like it, just don’t use it.

I’m extremely grateful for God’s gift of Jesus Christ, for the fact that Jesus was willing, even glad, to divest Himself of His majesty and power as the Creator of the universe so He could assume human flesh as a baby in a manger, and live a sinless life so He could go to the Cross and save us from our sins.

What I hate is all the hypocrisy and folderol that goes with the holiday. People seem to have forgotten why we celebrate Christmas. All they care about anymore is seeing how much money they can spend on their spouse, or their brother, or their boss, or their dad, or their aunt, or their dog.

Their DOG, for goodness’ sake!

Or their cat. Same difference.

And then there’s those ridiculous ads for Lexus that they only show before Christmas. You know, the ones where they show someone getting a new Lexus for Christmas, with a huge, gigantic bow on the roof of the car. There are so many absurdities in those ads, the most apparent, of course, being the ginormous bow on top of the car. Another absurdity is the whole idea of just any ole schmo being able to purchase an expensive car like a Lexus, when most people are lucky to be able to buy a small economy car.

What CAN the Lexus people be THINKING!?! 

Oh, and don’t forget all the humungous light displays that are so popular now. ABC even has a show every year called The Great Christmas Light Fight that’s basically a contest throughout the country to see who can come up with the best Christmas light display, that has NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING to do with Jesus Christ. And tonight is this season’s first episode.

Oh joy!!

I don’t know but what there might be other issues I’m not aware of that also influence my feelings about the holidays. I wish I knew what they were. It feels like it would be easier to deal with present day realities if I knew what was in the past ~ kind of like the foundation of the past would make the present house easier to build.

Thankfully, I’m no longer experiencing the soul-killing depression I used to go through every holiday season, from the beginning of October through the middle of January. God seems to have healed me of that.

I can only hope that the issues continuing to hinder me from being able to enjoy Christmas for what it’s really about will be healed by the Lord. Then I’ll be able to accept those who celebrate it for other things, as well as commemorate it for the birth of Christ, which is the real reason we’re supposed to celebrate the holiday.

I can only hope.

Right!

The Continuing Saga of My Struggles With Mom’s Death, or Why Can’t I Cry?

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Well, it’s now May 8th, seven weeks to the day since Mom died.

I’m still struggling, though the issues are somewhat different. Now it’s more about realizing how much I miss what I had with her while she was here. And the frustrating thing is, while she was here, I didn’t know I had it.

Jeff says I was never, not from the very beginning of my life, able to establish a real bond with my mother, so it’s understandable that I wouldn’t feel much in the way of grief when she died. I can see where he’s right about that, but it still feels wrong that I’m not all broken up that she’s gone.

I still haven’t had a memorial service for her. I’m fairly certain there are people who would come to one, but I can’t seem to rev up any interest in planning it. I just want to forget about the whole thing and go on with my life, but I don’t know if it’s okay to feel like that, and even more, if it’s okay to do that ~ mostly because it feels like if I did that I’d be pretending my mother never existed.

I feel like my mother left a desert in my heart. I know that’s not true, because God has done a tremendous amount of healing in me, but somehow, that’s how it feels, and that’s the picture I get when I think about my mother’s influence in my life over the years. I guess I shouldn’t worry whether my feelings are right or wrong, and just accept them as my current reality. If I do that then I can ask God to heal what’s there and change my current reality to a new one that’s better and more God-honoring, as well as mother-forgiving, with no desert. Isaiah 35:4-6 says,

4Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” 5And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. 6The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. ~ NLT.

That’s what I want my life to be like: where flowers are always blooming, and hearts are always joyful, and God is easy to find. In other words, Heaven!

Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear?

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I originally wrote this post back in April of 2013 for a blog that I kept on another blogging site. That blog was shut down by the website without my consent, and I was never able to get it back, so from time to time I’m going to repost some of the posts I wrote from that blog as they seem appropriate to what I’m dealing with now.

This post contains a letter that I wrote to my biological father to deal with some of the unexpressed anger and rage that I feel about what he did to me. My therapist suggested that I write it but not send it, so that’s what I’ve done. Here’s the post:

April 10, 2013 ~ I’ve come to realize that most of the anger I feel and/or express is misplaced and misdirected, either at myself, or at the people in whatever TV program I’m watching at the time, especially if it’s something having to do with someone being raped or abused, or being treated unjustly or unfairly in anyway. I also get angry at certain news stories having to do with violence against children or women, or about registered sex offenders.

I’ve also found it interesting and a bit puzzling that I’ve never once felt, much less voiced, any anger towards my father for all the awful, horrible things he did to me. I have forgiven him, and I’ve never ever had any desire for revenge, but by the same token, I’ve also never felt any anger towards him. I don’t know if it’s because I’m terrified that he’ll come after me or because I’m afraid I’ll go ballistic if I start letting it out, or just what.

So maybe it’s time for me to do something about it. It’s not good to hold anger inside, especially for long periods of time, and while I’m getting better at not holding my anger inside, when I do let it out it’s almost always directed at the wrong person. So I’m thinking I should do something to express some of it towards my father, instead of towards me and all the other people who aren’t supposed to get it. My therapist says I should write him a letter, but I wouldn’t have to mail it to him. So that’s what I’ll do.

May 15, 2013 ~ I think it’s curious and probably significant that, after I start thinking about writing a letter to my father to tell him how angry I am at him, even if I know he’ll never see it, all of a sudden I avoid this blog like the plague. I wrote the first part of this post at the beginning of April and now it’s the middle of May.

Up until now I’ve always avoided dealing with any real feelings about Harry, and I think the reason is because I’ve been afraid, terrified, actually. Terrified that I wouldn’t be able to control my anger, petrified I’ll go ballistic and do something I’ll regret later ~ all because I’m panic-stricken at the idea of no longer hiding my true feelings about him. As I was sitting here thinking about what to write, I beat a retreat in the middle of this paragraph to play solitaire. Sometimes it helps me to think. Actually I think it’s an excuse for not having to think or write about what I’m supposed to be working on. Anyway, I started playing Solitaire and it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to (I was losing game after game) so I got more and more frustrated, and I ended up hitting myself a whole lot. Which is the point of all this in the first place: I get angry at myself instead of getting angry at the person ~ Harry ~ who’s the one I should be getting angry at.

So I’m going to step out in faith, and instead of being afraid of the anger, I’m going to get angry at the fear, and I’m going to start writing that letter. So here goes.

Harry:

First, I have to say that there are certain things about my childhood for which I’ve always been grateful: the piano lessons, and the love for classical music that you and Mom instilled in me, plus the keen intelligence, analytical mind, and desire for knowledge that have made me a voracious reader, and given me a life-long love of learning.

I thank you for those things. As I said, I’ve always been grateful for them, and I consider them a gift. However, there were many things I got from you for which I cannot be grateful. That will be the subject of the remainder of this letter.

I have a lot of things to say to you. A LOT. You’re supposed to be my father, at least that’s the title they gave you on my birth certificate. I have to tell you, however, that I don’t buy it. You’ve never been a father to me. I’ve had a lot of memories of things you did to me when I was a child that no father should ever do to ANY child, much less his own daughter ~ that no human being should ever do to any other human being. Even animals shouldn’t be treated the way you treated me. So I have a hard time calling you my father.

You abused me. You abused me physically, verbally, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually. You made me hate you, and you made me hate myself. Everytime you abused me you told me you had to do this to me because God hated me. Everytime you abused me you told me I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face. I don’t know why you felt the need to say those awful, hateful things to me. It took me many, many years of healing before I could believe that God didn’t hate me, and many more years after that before I could believe that anyone, much less God, could love me. I’m still working on whether or not I’m ugly. I think I can finally say that I’m not ugly, but I’m not sure I can take it any farther than that yet.

I’ve finally decided that maybe you told me those things because you were projecting onto me how you felt about yourself. However, that’s no excuse for that kind of cruelty! Do you have any idea the kind of pain just those two statements spoken over and over into my life have caused me? Agony! Do you hear me? Agony! You caused me years and years of anguish and agony, plus nine suicide attempts just from those two statements, not to mention the torment from all the other horrific and terrible things you did to me.

You abused me within an inch of my life. The only reason I survived infancy is because God gave me the ability to become multiple.

You forced me/us to lie about what you were doing to us so you could keep on beating, raping, and otherwise assaulting the life out of us. You told us that if we ever told anyone what you were doing to us you would kill us, and then you played Russian Roulette with your revolver between our legs to make sure we believed you. There was no way we could have known back then that the gun was loaded with blanks. We were children, tiny children, so we had no choice but to believe you, and we had to become liars that no one could trust as a result. You stole our integrity,  our innocence, our childhood, and our hope when you did that, because you left us with no recourse and no ability to seek rescue.

Do you remember our habit of picking our cuticles? We started doing that at a very early age, as young as two years old. Do you know why we did that? Because you told us we couldn’t tell anyone what you were doing to us, so we had to come up with a way to tell people without using words that we were in peril. So we picked holes in our cuticles, sometimes to the point of getting them infected. Tragically for us, our efforts were all for naught, because no one ever caught on or reached out to help.

You used rape as punishment for wrongdoing, and you kept changing the rules so we never knew what they were. It didn’t matter what we did or how we did it, it was never good enough, so no matter what, we were wrong and had to be punished, which meant you had yet another excuse to rape and/or hit us. I don’t know what we did to become the brunt of your rage; I doubt we did anything. We think you just needed a scapegoat, and we were small and weak enough that we couldn’t fight back.

And then there was the time when we were three when you decided that just raping us yourself wasn’t enough; you needed to spice it up by getting your friends involved. So you orchestrated a little gang-rape with four of your cronies. I don’t know what you were hoping to accomplish that day, but it certainly couldn’t have been anything good.

Do you have any idea of how traumatic that event was for us? That one incident was so devastating, so damaging to us that you caused the creation of 12, that’s right, twelve, new alters. It was so horrific that Catherine Belinda, the core personality, decided she’d had enough of your lies and betrayals. She determined that she couldn’t stand your abuse any longer, so despite the risk and menace inherent in your threats, she resolved to tell someone, anyone, what you were doing to us.

But God and the rest of us knew that you meant business when you said you’d kill us if we told. So we all hid Catherine Belinda away and put her to sleep, and kept her that way for the next fifty years. In her place someone else was created to run things. The new alter’s name was Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, but she answered to Catherine Belinda’s name so no one would notice or suspect anything was different.

You know, all we wanted was to be accepted and loved. That’s all any child wants. Was that too much to ask? We don’t think it was, but you couldn’t even give us that. A child is a gift from God, yet you treated us like trash. A child is a reward from the Lord, but you acted like we were your personal property to kick around and beat up as you pleased. We were a small, innocent child! You were nothing more than a cowardly bully, picking on your own daughter, someone who was too small and defenseless to stand up for ourselves. If you’re going to pick on someone, pick on someone your own size!

I think the thing that hurts me more than anything else about all the horrors you visited on me/us throughout the years of my childhood is that you made it nigh unto impossible for me to have a relationship with a man, or with God. I’m terrified of men and I’m terrified of sex. As a consequence I’ve never been able to consider even going out on a date, much less anything more serious, because I might have to let him touch me, and ultimately I might have to marry and have sex with him.

Fortunately, as far as a relationship with God is concerned, God had other plans, and it’s only by His grace and mercy that I’m alive to tell this story, or that I know anything about Him at all. I owe my life to God and to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and it’s only because of His healing power that I’m able to trust Him or believe in Him. I will never be able to express enough gratitude to God for all He has done for me in setting me free from all that you did to me. One thing you should know however, is that the same God of Love who healed me won’t allow me to hate you anymore.

That’s right. Jesus loves you just as much as He loves me or anyone else, without reservation or condemnation, and because He’s healed me, He’s helped me to forgive you for everything you did to me. And yes, I have forgiven you. I don’t want revenge, I don’t desire any kind of evil to come to you, and I wish only good for you. This teeny weeny paragraph stating my forgiveness may sound a little trite, like nothing more than a bunch of platitudes after my great long letter expressing a lot of pent up rage and apparent vitriol.

In truth I was only expressing my heart and my truth as I saw it, plus this is the first time I’ve ever expressed my anger towards you all in one place and directly towards you. But my forgiveness is real and heartfelt, and the ball is now in your court. It’s your choice as to whether you will accept or reject it or not, because with my forgiveness, I’m also offering reconciliation with you and the possibility of a relationship. I don’t know if that’s something you desire, but my offer is there if you choose to accept it.

That’s all for now. I wish peace with God and health for your body and soul. I know that you now suffer from emphysema and are on 24-hour oxygen, and I wish healing for you from that as well.

Blessings and Peace,

Sarah

Well, thankfully it’s finished. As an addendum, I want to add a little bit of history to bring the story of the multiplicity aspect up to date.

As I said in the middle of the letter, at age 27, in October of 1980, I changed my name from Catherine Belinda Pfaff to Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. At the time I was only just beginning to have memories of being abused and I had no idea I was multiple. I thought I was changing my name to cut myself off from a heritage of abuse, and I thought I was choosing a new name. So I chose three names that were Bible names with really good meanings, and that meant things I had never meant to anyone before: Sarah means, “Princess,” and Sarah, of course was Abraham’s wife and the mother of Isaac. Abigail means, “a father’s joy, or a joy to the Father,” and Abigail was one of David’s wives, and a virtuous woman in the Bible. And Kuriakos means, “belonging to God” and is used twice in the New Testament.

In reality, I was already Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, but I wasn’t consciously aware of it. Everyone inside decided that the name of the body, which had been Catherine Belinda up until then, should be changed to match my name so there would be more congruence between inside and outside. It made sense. Catherine Belinda was hidden away and asleep, and had been for a long time, and would remain that way indefinitely, so it didn’t make any sense to keep using her name. It made much more sense to use my name because I was running things, so we found a lawyer amongst the people at my church, and we went to court and changed it to my name. And strangely enough, the change wasn’t at all hard to adapt to. It was like that should have been my name all along. I’d had this weird feeling for awhile that Catherine Belinda was a name that belonged to someone else ~ which turned out to be true in a strange sort of way. Plus all my friends said that Sarah Abigail fit me much better than Catherine Belinda did. Funny thing! Maybe that was because Sarah Abigail was actually my name and Catherine Belinda wasn’t.

And, being Sarah Abigail Kuriakos has made a huge difference in my life, and brought me closer to Him. Everytime I hear the names I hear their meanings, and God has used that to heal me a tiny bit everyday. Plus I’m no longer multiple. In October of 2001 I decided I wanted to seek integration, so I went to the pastor of the church I was going to at the time, and asked him if they could help me with that. I knew that the process of integration takes many years, often in excess of ten, if it’s done in therapy, and I wanted God to do the healing, not some shrink. So my pastor and some people in the church who knew of my background set up a team of prayer warriors, and they prayed for me once a month over a period of 18 months, and by the end of that time I was fully integrated. It was a wonderful thing. Instead of being many I was one ~ for the first time in my entire life! There was no longer any chaos or confusion inside. Blessed peace! Wow!! Praise God!! And the really cool thing was that the process was complete right around my fiftieth birthday. And just before the final integration was done, God woke up Catherine Belinda and brought her out of hiding so that she could be integrated into the whole along with everyone else. Amazingly, God had been watching over her the whole time, and had been causing her to grow while she was asleep, so when she came back it wasn’t a huge shock to her system, or mine. I was seeing a really good Christian therapist at the time, and she was fully supportive of the prayer group’s work.

And then there was the whole situation with Klepto, who was a little four-year-old girl who stole things because that was the only way she could get what she wanted. Of course, stealing is, and always has been, absolutely antithetical to everything I am, so when she came out and started stealing stuff from work (I was working at an arts and crafts store then), I got very upset. The first thing we did was talk to her and told her she couldn’t do this. She had to take everything back, and put it back where she got it without getting caught, because I didn’t want to lose my job. Then, on the advice of my therapist, we changed her name to Elizabeth, because Klepto as a name was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. She came out one more time in a toy store where she tried to shoplift a game. Fortunately I came out and stopped her before she could leave the store with it, but it was rather embarrassing. And then she was integrated into the whole, and was no longer a problem, thank God!

So, God gave me the most amazing and wonderful birthday gift for my fiftieth birthday, and I’ve been eternally grateful ever since. I can’t thank Him enough. Certainly I’ve had my struggles since then. There was the whole seven-year period where I was angry at God because I couldn’t understand how He could allow me to be abused. It turned out that what I really didn’t understand was about God’s sovereignty, and that I didn’t have the right to challenge it, which was what I had been doing.

And then I realized that all I really wanted to know was where God was when I was being abused. And ultimately God showed me. He showed me that He had been right there with me, protecting me by making me multiple, saving my life by creating new alters as they were needed. Each time there was an abuse incident that was severe enough to require a new alter, God put His finger on my personality in the exact spot where He wanted the split to occur. It was God who created Sarah Abigail Kuriakos, and chose her name ~ which gives the meaning of the names even more significance when I think of it in that light.

Well, I guess I’d better finish this and post it. It’s turned out to be VERY long, a lot longer than I expected, though all of it was important and needed to be said.

Until next time then…