Category Archives: Suffering

Ideas Flitting In and Out

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I’ve tried to think of a good title for this post, and I finally came up with the above offering. I thought of My Brain Has Flown the Coup or possibly, I Have No Idea. Or Is It Ideas? Or maybe, Depression Is a Mack Truck and I’ve Been Mowed Down.

That last should tell you something about my state of mind, and it’s also the main reason why I haven’t posted in almost a month (my last published post was on May 14th ~ Of Life and Death, and Life Again). The main reason I’m so depressed seems to be because of the death of Ravi Zacharias, but I don’t really understand why that would be so. I know where he is, and I know that I will get to meet him in person one day, as well as, and even more importantly and marvelously, the fact that I’ll be able to meet Jesus and greet Him face to face ~ always my fondest and deepest desire.

But for some reason I just can’t seem to shake this deep funk of a depression that I’ve fallen into, and it started when I heard the news that Ravi Zacharias was dying, and then that he had died.

It feels like I’ve fallen ~ or been pushed or thrown ~ to the bottom of a deep, deep, waterless well, from which there is no exit. And if I cry out for help the only answer I get is the echoes of my own shrieks and cries. The darkness is so thick that I can’t see my hand in front of my face, but if I feel for the walls, my fingers touch slimy stones up as high as I can reach. I feel like I’m about four years old, and I’m terrified. Someone has thrown me down here somehow, and abandoned me here, and I don’t know why.

What did I do wrong?? 

What did I do wrong??

What I’ve just described has all the earmarks of a memory, and I wish, oh how I WISH, I didn’t have to be alone while it’s coming up!! I know God is with me. He’s always with me, but it would be so much easier if there were a physical, trustworthy person here. I haven’t seen McT in person ~ in his office ~ since the quarantine began in March. I’ve had phone appointments with him, and I’ve so appreciated his willingness to do that, but there are times when you just need a physical presence. He does read these blog posts, however, so I know he’ll find out what’s going on soon enough.

In light of what just surfaced, and from what I’ve come to understand about Ravi’s position in my life, if I can word it that way, vis à vis him being one of only two or three positive male role models that I’ve ever had in my life, maybe this depression has been about feeling abandoned when he died. While I know that Ravi didn’t abandon me, I think his death triggered this memory, and the abandonment contained therein.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel! What could a four year old child possibly have done that would have warranted being treated like that?!?!

I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them! I FORGIVE THEM!!!

I forgive them, and I ask God to forgive them. I pray that God forgives them.

Now I just feel inexpressibly sad. Sad for the little girl that was me, who had to live through such hell. I used to hate her, but now I love her soooSOOO MUCH!! She was so incredibly brave and courageous! I’m crying now at how valiant and lionhearted she was throughout the years of her existence. If it hadn’t been for her the rest of us would never have made it. That was Catherine Belinda for you! I celebrate you, Catherine Belinda, and I thank God that He created you!! I thank God that He created you first!!

God is good. God is good ALL the time, and I love Him so!!

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT.

Of Life and Death, and Life Again

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This will probably be a bit of a hodge podge post, at least at first. It’s been a long time since I did any writing, here or anywhere else. I don’t know, being quarantined seems to be messing with my mind. I’ve been having a hard time concentrating.

I’m signed up to take an online class with RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries). I thought it would provide structure, and give me something to do with my time, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I can’t concentrate on the lectures enough to learn the material. Plus we had an assignment for the second week of class, and I couldn’t generate enough interest to make myself do it. In my own defense, it was kind of a complex assignment, but I could have gotten it done with a little planning. So, in summary, I’m probably going to have to drop the class, which I really hate having to do. I hate giving up on anything, especially something I’ve paid for, and especially something academic.

I’m terribly disappointed in myself because of it, but I don’t know what else to do.

At the moment I feel like nothing more than a huge ball of boiling emotions. If someone were to ask me a question right now I probably wouldn’t be able to answer them, because all these feelings would get in the way.

Ravi Zacharias, the head of RZiM, was diagnosed a few months ago with cancer. He’s been receiving treatment at a cancer hospital in Houston, Texas, but last Friday, his daughter sent out an update saying that his doctors are sending him home because they’ve done all they can for him, and no other treatment options remain, as his cancer is very rare in it’s aggressivity.

Which basically means they’re sending him home to die.

Ravi Zacharias is someone I’ve grown to greatly respect in the years since I began taking courses through the RZIM Academy, and even before that I’ve always held him in high regard for his stance on the Bible, and his general wisdom and Christian worldview. But since I began taking these courses, I’ve grown to love him even more, and this news saddens me greatly.

As I said, I feel incredibly sad, but I know I should be rejoicing, because, while he will die, death isn’t the end. It’s not like he’ll die and then just be a corpse rotting in a grave someplace. He’ll die and then move to Heaven, and he’ll get to meet Jesus face to face, which is the best of all possible realities. I can’t think of anything more wonderful, marvelous or amazing than to meet Jesus face to face. It’s my fondest hope and greatest desire. But I’d always hoped to meet Ravi in person here on earth, and if he dies that won’t happen.

I’ve come to realize that Ravi is one of maybe two or three good male role models I’ve had in my life, even though I’ve never spent any time physically in his presence. Just his wisdom and insistence on following Jesus and only Jesus have been formative for me in so many ways. McT is the same, as well as being my soft place to fall when I need it.

There could be more, but this is the first time I’ve ever allowed myself to think about having a male role model, because I’ve never permitted myself to trust anyone of the male persuasion enough to allow them to be a role model to me. I’ve never let anyone who’s male to get that close to me before.

Kinda scary, but I’m doing it.

Big step! Yay for me, thanks be to God!!

Considering that it’s probably taken me two weeks or more to write this, I guess I’ll finish now…

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. ~ Philippians 3:10-11, NKJV.

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. ~ Philippians 1:21-24, NLT.

The Beauty of the Cross

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This is Passion Week. For Christians it’s possibly the most important week of the whole year, with the possible exception of Christmas.

I am writing about this because, aside from it being vitally important to the church as a whole because of its central place in church doctrine, it’s what gives my life meaning. And it’s that meaning that I want to focus on here.

The Cross. The Cross of Christ. For me there is nothing more beautiful than the cross and the crucifixion. All my hope rests in the cross, because that’s where Jesus took my sins upon Himself. He bore the punishment that I deserved. The innocent Son of God was willing to leave His Majesty and Heavenly Throne, and all that that entails, to come down to earth and assume the body of sinful human flesh. He was willing to come here and be tempted in every way the same as we are, and yet He would do it without giving in to temptation, without sinning. Not even ONE TIME!!

How amazing is that??!!

That gives me hope that there’s someone out there who understands me. Who understands what I’m going through on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis, because He’s experienced the same things, yet somehow He managed to get through them victoriously.

Now you might say, “Well, of course He was victorious! He was God!”

But let me remind you, yes, He was God. He was 100% God, but He was also 100% human. So the human part of Him had to endure the temptation, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy. The divine part is what helped Him succeed, but there was always that human part too. We can never forget about that.

So the divine part of Jesus knew what the outcome would be. That He would triumph over death and Hell, over all Satan’s plans. But the human part still felt the need to pray that His Father would take the cup away in the Garden of Gethsemane if it was at all possible, and He sweated drops of blood during His prayers because He was so stressed about it.

Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There He told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him. He prayed more fervently, and He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. ~ Luke 22:39-44, NLT.

Also, the divine part of Christ knew that He would have to be separated from the Father during the time that He would take the sin of the whole world upon His body, because God cannot look on sin, so He couldn’t look at Jesus at that point. But when Jesus was hanging on the cross, the human part of Him was in agony because of being abandoned by His Father for that period, even though the divine part understood why,

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me,
and from the words of My groaning? ~ 
Psalm 22:1, NKJV.

And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) ~ Mark 15:34, NIV.

I’ve come to believe that the cup of suffering Jesus prays about in Luke 22:42 isn’t so much the physical suffering inherent in the scourging and the crucifixion, though granted, they are agonizingly and excruciatingly painful all by themselves. Rather, I think the suffering Jesus was praying about was the abandonment from the Father He had to endure while He was on the cross once He took on the sin of all mankind.

Think about it. The entire time Christ was on earth He experienced extremely close fellowship with the Father. The rest of us should be envious of that kind of fellowship! He could talk to God anytime He chose, and have no problem hearing God speak to Him. How many of us have bemoaned being able to hear from God like that? I know I have!

Many times He spent all night in prayer, and I’ll bet it wasn’t a chore, because He was talking with His Father. After one of those all-night sessions, He chose His twelve disciples,

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. ~ Luke 6:12-16, NKJV.

So the divine part of Jesus had the hope of the resurrection in mind, but the human part of Him experienced fear ~ for example when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (see above, also Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42). His divine part would have enabled Him to overcome the temptation to give in to the fear felt by His humanity, but He felt it nonetheless. Plus God sent an angel to strengthen Him, which probably helped a lot,

Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. ~ Luke 22:43, NKJV.

I wonder how many times we’ve had angels helping us and we didn’t even know it!

My pastor, Pastor Jack Hibbs, said something during his sermon this morning that made a whole lot of sense to me, given my life, and given what I’m writing about here. He said that people lose hope when they become afraid. I think that’s part of what’s happening during this pandemic we’re all going through right now, but it’s also relevant to me.

When he said that, I realized that’s why Harry was able to steal my hope throughout my childhood. He put me in constant fear and terror of being beaten and/or raped, plus he kept threatening me with his revolver if I ever told anyone about what he was doing to me. And he made me think that God hated me as well. So I was always afraid of him and of God, of being physically harmed and/or dying.

Then I found out that everything he’d ever told me was nothing but a pack of lies.

What a RELIEF!!! 

I didn’t have to be afraid anymore. God wasn’t who Harry had made Him out to be. All of a sudden I could hope again.

HOPE is the OPPOSITE of FEAR, and I received hope from the cross when Christ took away my sins and broke the power of death over my life. And at the same time He broke the power of death over me, and gave me hope, He also broke the power of fear over me.

Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard?

I think so!

Of Thoughts and Knots

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This post will be a bit of a milestone because it’s my 100th post. How cool is that? I hope it’s been as meaningful for you as it’s been for me!

I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I’ve had lots of thoughts zooming around in my mind, but no way of getting them beyond my skull. So I finally decided to start typing and see what falls out.

So here I am…

As of today, April 7th, California has been on lockdown for 20 days. I’ve been out three times ~ or is it four, or maybe five ~ to buy food or go to McDonald’s for a mocha frappé during that time. I was able to get groceries via Instacart on my birthday, and I’ve ordered embroidery floss online from Amazon and DMC so I can work on the samplers I got myself for my birthday.

Aside from that, I’m watching TV ~ Say Yes to the Dress, and a couple of fun shows I found on the Home and Garden Network, namely Fixer to Fabulous, and Home Town.

I’m also reading my Bible, about four chapters every day. I just finished the Book of Hebrews and the Book of James, two of my favorite books, along with Romans, Genesis, Jonah, and the Gospel of John.

On Saturday I realized all of a sudden that this is Easter Week. I don’t know how it slipped by me, but it did. It will be strange not going to church for Easter Sunday ~ actually Resurrection Sunday would be the proper terminology, seems to me. But because California is still on lockdown, and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future, online church is what we’ll have. However my church’s live-streamed services are really good. Even before everything got all messed up they were live-streaming the services and posting them on Facebook Live as well. But now they’ve really ramped up the online stuff.

Every weekday the online church has something going on every hour from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., and every age group is represented in the activities. My church is kind of a megachurch in southern California, called Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, and by megachurch I mean that regularly about 1500 people attend each service. My pastor, Jack Hibbs, is a wonderful preacher who teaches right from the Bible.

About eight years ago, in 2012, I was looking for a new church. I had started listening to Jack Hibbs on the radio, and I really liked his preaching, because he didn’t mince words and taught straight out of the Bible, and I very much liked that. So I decided to check out one of their services to see what they were like. And when I got there I knew immediately that I had found my church.

The two things that really captured my heart were first, that Pastor Jack loves babies. He does baby dedications every service when the country isn’t on lockdown, and babies trust him enough to go to him. And second, Pastor Jack isn’t afraid to address political issues from the pulpit. I really respect him for that.

I’ve made a tradition for myself of watching the movie The Passion of the Christ every year sometime between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. It’s a very difficult movie to watch, but I’ve found it to be the most accurate depiction of what Christ actually endured during His trial and crucifixion of anything I’ve seen, and I feel a need to remind myself of what He suffered to save my soul. And this is my way of doing that.

So that’s my main job for this week ~ to watch The Passion of the Christ. I might watch it more than once, depending on when during the week I watch it the first time, partly because it’s done with subtitles in two or three different languages, none of them in English, and I find it interesting to watch without and again with subtitles.

This post is turning out to be train-of-thought writing, which is partly why it’s taking me so long to finish and publish. As something occurs, and it seems important enough to write about, then I have to figure out the best way to say it ~ and then, of course, write it down. So everything is coming out in dribs and drabs.

Would that it came out in a river, so I could write and publish it all at once!

It’s so frustrating when it feels like I’m writing slower than molasses in January!

Oh well… I guess I’ll just keep word, word, wording along until I reach a finishing point. Hopefully that will be any word now!

Ever onword…

I started working on my cross stitch sampler. You know, the one I got myself for my birthday? I showed you a picture of it in Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. As I was stitching this evening one of the strands of thread got a knot in it, one of the most frustrating things that can happen to someone who does counted cross stitch. I still can’t figure out how it happened, because I wasn’t stitching when it happened. I wasn’t touching the thread at all.

It must have been magicSo now I have to try and get the knot out, because otherwise I’ll have to throw that strand of floss away ~ and I HATE wasting embroidery floss.

GRRR…

That’s how I feel about that knot. HARRUMPH!!!

So now I’m working on letting God have the problem of the knot so I can go to sleep.

And I think I’ve finally reached a point where I feel like I’m done writing this! Yippee!!

This post has been pretty disorganized, and I apologize for that. More than anything it’s been a chronicle of my week in quarantine ~ and it’s been a disorganized week, thus my disorganized writing.

And now to turn out the light…

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. ~ Psalm 4:8, NIV.

Update: when I woke up the next day, I took the embroidery floss that had the knot in it into the bathroom to see if I could get it out, and lo and behold, I was able to after much prayer. God showed me how by using two needles to tease it out by gently working on different parts of the knot. Oh my goodness, but I was SOOO HAPPY when, all of a sudden, the floss was knot-free, because the knot vanished just as unexpectedly as it had appeared.

Also, I never managed to watch The Passion of the Christ because when I went to put the DVD in the machine, I couldn’t find the disc. So

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57, NKJV.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! ~ 2 Corinthians 9:15, NKJV.

No More Secrets

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I’ve always had an extremely difficult time talking about being raped, especially if I’m talking about it with a guy. There’s something about saying the words that makes it too real, and makes me terrified it will happen again. So I never talk about it with anyone, not even with God, though technically I don’t need to talk about it with Him, because He already knows about it, and He knows my needs before I ask,

When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! ~ Matthew 6:7-8, NLT.

Even though I don’t need to talk about it with God because He already knows about it, I feel like I should talk about it with Him. It’s a matter of trust rather than foreknowledge.

The real reason I don’t like talking about being raped with God isn’t because I know that He already knows about it. It’s because I have a hard time trusting Him with it. He allowed me to be raped the first time, and not just once, but multiple times, by the one person you’re supposed to be able to trust in all the world ~ your own father. So if He allowed it once then how do I know He won’t allow it again? You know, God’s sovereignty and all that.

But then there’s the whole thing about Harry’s free will, and here’s where I get confused. God is sovereign, but He can’t go against a person’s free will, otherwise He wouldn’t be just. So He couldn’t go against Harry’s free will. But what about my free will? Harry chose to rape me and beat me within an inch of my life, and I had no choice. I guess from a human standpoint, the one who wins is the one who’s the strongest, and that definitely wasn’t me. It was Harry. He was bigger than me, and stronger, so he was always able to overpower me. It definitely wasn’t fair, but it’s the way things were, and I was stuck with the consequences.

So where does my free will come in? My will comes into play once I reach adulthood and the abuse stops. At that point I can choose what I want to do with what’s been done to me as a child. I figure there are a number of different paths victims of child abuse and child sexual abuse can take. You can become bitter and seek revenge on your abuser ~ never a good idea as far as I’m concerned. It’s been proven that holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness will make you sick. Plus, the Bible says that God won’t forgive you if you don’t forgive others,

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NLT.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t ever want to be in the position where God is refusing to forgive me because I haven’t forgiven someone for something they did to me, when all I have to do is forgive that person.

Now you might say to me, But you don’t know what they did to me! It’s true, I don’t, but I’ve had to forgive people for some pretty egregious and horrific things that were done to me. Just read Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear? and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I wasn’t able to forgive anyone on my own. I could only do it with God’s help, but that’s the point. I had God’s help, and with His help it was entirely possible. Without His assistance I could never have gotten it done. Not ever. But with God all things are possible (see Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27).

I’ve had a great deal of time to think this through, and I spent years being enraged at God in the process, because I couldn’t understand why He would allow me to be abused so horrifically. It just didn’t seem fair to me. Why was Harry’s free will acknowledged and allowed to run roughshod over me ~ another human being with a will supposedly just as free as Harry’s ~ while my will was ignored and tromped on at Harry’s expense and for his pleasure.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that my view of the situation is extremely limited, and I need to trust God, Who can see the whole picture. I need to trust that He can see the whole picture, and that He has everything well in hand,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV.

It’s taken me a long, long time to come to the point where I can release it into God’s capable hands ~ and recognize that He is able to take care of it, and that He does know what He’s doing ~ and He knew what He was doing all along, even when He allowed the abuse to happen in the first place, though I still have a hard time with that idea. But if I realize that He created me with the strength to handle it, with His help, then I can ~ sort of ~ see that He knew what He was doing from the beginning.

Once I can allow myself to trust God, and I mean really trust Him down to my deepest core, and with my innermost secrets ~ which He already knew about anyway ~ then it will be easier to allow myself to trust other people. At least I think this is true. I know I’m getting better at trusting McT, and at talking about hard stuff with him, and maybe that’s an extension of trusting God more.

I hope so!

No more secrets is my goal, since God knows them all anyway.

Resolution? What’s a Resolution?

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I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I never have. I don’t do it because I know I won’t keep them, and I don’t want the sense of failure that I know I’ll feel once I’ve fallen short of the resolutions I didn’t keep.

What I do instead is commit in my heart to work each and every day to grow in the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God. This means I cultivate a discipline of daily reading and study in God’s Word, as well as doing my best to remain in fellowship with Him by praying constantly, which I think of as simply talking to God. I don’t always get the reading done, but it’s constantly on my mind, and I use Scripture all the time in different contexts. So even if I’m not actively reading and studying my daily chapters, I’m still wrestling with interpretation and meaning as I’m talking about it with others, or posting verses on Twitter or Facebook.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV.

And probably more important to me than anything, I pray for God to continue healing me more deeply and fully from my childhood.

I don’t want to sound like I’m holier-than-thou by talking about the way I worship God, because I most assuredly do not see myself in that way. I’m well aware of my sinfulness and need for a savior. But this blog is about my progress as God heals me from my past, and it’s also about my life with God as I learn about Him and grow to know Him more and more deeply. And as such, if I don’t talk about myself and my life, and what I’m doing to grow and heal, then it might be a little weird, seems to me.

I could be wrong about that. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but I don’t think so.

But that’s neither here not there, because, as I’ve stated, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. And thus far, I’m doing well. Exceedingly well, in fact. This year I’ve had some pretty significant victories, the most exciting of which is that I’m no longer hitting myself. Yup, the self-abuse has stopped. For good.

You can’t imagine how amazing and marvelous and exciting and wonderful that is to me! I struggled with this problem on a daily basis for about forty-five years, and I had no control over it. The least little frustration or the silliest mistake would cause me to fly off the handle and hit myself or scratch myself badly enough to draw blood. There were times where I gave myself a black eye, and the scratches on my face or arms looked like I’d been attacked by a wild animal.

It was incredibly embarrassing, because it was only infrequently that I didn’t have some kind of injury on my face or body, and they were almost always visible. If I was able to go a whole week with no self-abuse I would begin to hope it had gone away, and I constantly prayed to God to take it from me. I also constantly repented for doing it in the first place. Basically I felt like I was living in Hell all the time, and I couldn’t tell anyone about it, because it was just too humiliating.

Then about six months ago, at the end of June, it stopped. I don’t remember what was going on around that time, and no one prayed for me about the self-abuse, but I had continued to beg God for freedom from it. I was playing my online games, mainly June’s Journey and a couple of others, something I talked about in a previous post (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and one day I realized that the frustration of making mistakes as I played no longer bothered me. I was able to tell myself that the mistakes didn’t matter, that it was just a game, and so what if I made a mistake.

So what, indeed! I finally realized that, given what happened to me throughout my childhood, anything that occurs now is so insignificant by comparison as to be irrelevant. Seeing my life from that perspective makes it so much easier to understand in terms of the overarching theme of God’s loving involvement and protection, while placing the day-to-day events where they belong ~ in the larger tapestry of my whole life, with no single occurrence assuming greater importance in God’s overall scheme of things.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:10, NLT.

I love this verse! The word “masterpiece” in the Greek is ποίημα or poiēma. Most other translations use the word workmanship, while the NIV uses handiwork. We get our English word poetry from it.

So my life is God’s masterpiece, a beautiful tapestry of His design, while individual day-to-day events are threads woven in, but they don’t influence the overall outcome, unless it’s to enhance the beauty even more. And it’s all in God’s hands and according to His design.

So this was my big victory for 2019, and I’m grateful every day for it. To be free of something that had tormented me for about two-thirds of my life is a truly huge weight lifted from my shoulders. It was a bondage that made me feel like Sisyphus forever having to push his boulder to the top of the mountain, only to watch it roll to the bottom, where he’d have to start all over again.

I can’t thank God enough for releasing me from that oppression!

I’m eagerly looking forward to another resolution-less year of knowing God more profoundly, loving His Word more deeply, and receiving more healing at His hands. Plus I’m hoping to lose some weight, because I got this cool machine called a StreetStrider, which is an elliptical that can be used both indoors and outdoors. I’m also considering looking for a job, maybe maybe just maybe, though that’s pretty scary.

Just means more healing is needed…

Ever onward with God!!

The Should’ve Beens That Weren’t

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The cross. I could rhapsodize on that one subject for the rest of eternity and still not have covered everything that could be said about it. The same holds true for the resurrection. Those two topics are a source of endless fascination for me, because Christ was willing to go through the agony and shame of the cross, regardless of the pain and suffering that it meant for Him, because He knew what was coming. And I’m thinking that Satan didn’t know what was coming, because of what it says in 1 Corinthians 2,

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, KJV.

I love this passage. For one thing it tells me that the devil is not omniscient. So while he is powerful, he’s not all-powerful, and he’s certainly not as powerful as God is. And this passage also says pretty specifically that it was Satan, through evil man, that crucified Jesus Christ, just in case there was any doubt.

Because of the cross there are all kinds of should’ve beens that didn’t happen. Like I should’ve gone to Hell, but I won’t, thank God. Like one of my nine suicide attempts should’ve worked, but they didn’t, praise God. Like one of my mother’s attempts to kill me should’ve succeeded, but didn’t, thank God. Like I could’ve been abandoned by God, but wasn’t, amazingly. Like I should’ve been the one who was crucified instead of Jesus Christ, but wasn’t, incredibly.

That last one, that I should’ve been the one who was crucified instead of Jesus Christ, gives me pause when I consider it. I don’t like to admit that I’m a sinful person. No one does. But I am. I’m full of pride. I play online games more than I should, and I’ve refused to stop playing them when I’ve sensed that my playing them isn’t pleasing to God. I don’t read my Bible nearly enough, nor do I spend enough time fellowshipping with God. I also watch far too much TV, to the exclusion of doing other things that need to be done, like cleaning my apartment, and washing the dishes.

It was my sin, and the sin of the rest of humanity that put Christ on that cross, and it was His love for me and everyone else that kept Him there. I find that kind of love incredibly difficult to understand. That someone would be willing to go through that kind of hellish agony for me, so I wouldn’t have to, is unfathomable to me, and there’s only one possible response I can make to such a gift. I could reject it, but I’d be a fool to do so. So I choose to receive it, and praise and thank God for it.

Hallelujah!!

I Would Make a Terrible God

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I would not want God’s job, not for any amount of money or the most amazing and desirable gift. For one thing, I would make a lousy God. I just don’t have the wisdom needed to do all the things God has to do, and make all the decisions He has to make. I have a hard time managing my own affairs, much less trying to oversee anyone else’s life.

For another thing, I wouldn’t want the responsibility. God must have incredibly thick skin to do what He does all day long without caring what people think of Him. I mean, He wants people to love Him because He wants a relationship with them, but He does what’s best for each person without regard for whether they’ll be happy about His decisions or not. There aren’t too many people who’ll be happy about having to suffer, but sometimes that’s what’s needed for the development of a person’s character. And I’m convinced that God is much more interested in our character growth and maturation than He is in whether we’re happy or not.

I realize that makes Him sound like a bit of an ogre, and He’s not. He’s a good God who loves His creation. The Bible says God is love,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. ~ 1 John 4:7-8, NKJV.

It doesn’t say that God feels loving, though I’m sure He does. It says He IS LOVE. In other words, love is a part of who He is, not just how He feels. There’s a difference, and it’s reflected in His actions, as it speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV. 

You could substitute the word God everywhere that the word love is used in that passage, because in essence they’re synonymous words for the same thing, because, as I quoted above in 1 John 4:8, God is love.

God feels intensely and deeply, but He’s not moved by His feelings, nor is He ruled by them. Feelings are notoriously unreliable, and if you let yourself be ruled and led by them your life will be stormy and unstable.

This is a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way, and I’m still learning it. It’s not an easy one to grasp, but I’ve discovered that if I found my life on the solid rock of God’s Word, my existence, both day-to-day and longterm, is much more peaceful, joy-filled, and productive than if I live according to the shifting sand of my emotions. I still stumble, of course, but it’s much easier to pick myself up and go on, because I can always call on God. 

Just so long as I remember that being God is God’s job, not mine. And I would make a terrible God anyway.

The Gadarene and Me

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I’ve always felt a great affinity for the Gadarene demoniac, whose story is told in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-37. As the story goes, Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee and landed in the region of the Gadarenes  (some manuscripts say Gerasenes; still others read Gergesenes), because Jesus had told them to go to the other side of the lake, and land there.

When they disembarked their boat, they were immediately set upon by a demon-possessed man, known as the Gadarene demoniac, so called because he had many demons, and he had been unable to live in civilized society for a long time. Luke 8 describes it well,

As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town. ~ Luke 8:27, NLT.

The passage also says that people had tried many times to restrain the man with chains and shackles without success. Each time he’d simply broken the chains and torn off the shackles, and then was driven into the wilderness by the demons who possessed him, deserted and abandoned by everyone who knew him,

For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was guarded, bound by chains and shackles, he would snap the restraints and be driven by the demon into deserted places. ~ Luke 8:29, CSB.

Over the years I’ve mentioned several times to a number of people that I’ve felt like I could relate strongly to this poor soul, but each time my feelings were discounted. I was told that any feelings I might have for this man couldn’t be real because I’d never been possessed by a legion of demons as he was.

I hate it when someone treats me like that. By denying my feelings, they’re denying who I am as a person. No one likes being disrespected like that ~ because that’s exactly how I felt whenever someone told me that ~ completely disrespected. And it’s taken me all these years to understand that, and to figure out that those people were wrong.

It’s not a matter of whether or not I’ve been possessed by one or a million demons that makes the difference. What makes it so I can relate to this guy is the fact that I understand how he FELT. Because whether or not I’ve been possessed by any demons at all, I’ve experienced the same feelings he did. I’ve felt abandoned and rejected, as he surely must have felt when he was driven from his home and forced out of his town, both by the demons that controlled him, and by the neighbors and friends who feared him.

When I was multiple there were times when a child alter would come out. If that happened when I was out in public, my behavior would get a little strange. It would look like I was talking to myself, or all of a sudden I would start talking like a small child, or I might have a panic attack and begin hitting myself. That kind of behavior in a public place is terribly off-putting to other people, and I had very few friends, because most people who knew me weren’t willing to put themselves in the position where they might be embarrassed by my weird behavior should I be triggered by an environmental cue into having a panic attack, or switching into another alter.

So while I’ve gotten used to being alone, and most of the time even enjoy it, there used to be times where I got lonely, because most people didn’t want to be around me. Now I really like being alone, at least partly because I never feel alone. I can always feel the presence of the Holy Spirit with me and in me, and I talk to God all the time ~ my version of prayer, I guess.

Once I realized that God had been with me throughout my childhood, saving my life and protecting me from the worst of the abuse, I understood that everything He’d said in His Word about never leaving me nor forsaking me was actually true.

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.

This promise is quoted from the Book of Joshua,

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. ~ Joshua 1:5, NIV.

I find that promise to be cause for great rejoicing, and very comforting. For the first time in my life I have someone who is willing to keep His promises, who will always tell me the truth and not lie to me, and who will always be with me wherever I go. Also, if the Bible is any indication, and if McT is telling the truth (McT is my therapist and I trust him), then God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit actually like spending time with me. McT says I’m a delight to be with.

I’m not quite sure what to do with that information. The most obvious thing would be to accept it as true, but I want to ask McT how he knows that. He said that he himself finds me delightful to be with, but he also said that God thinks I’m a delight to be with as well.

So how does he know that? ‘Tis a puzzler for me, and a delightful one at that, pun intended.

And on that note I’ll end, at least for now, but I’m sure this is a topic I’ll be revisiting often.

I’ve Made Peace With My Past

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I probably could have broken this into two posts, but it felt like it was important to keep it in one piece. So here goes…

I’ve spent the majority of my life hating and regretting my life, and wishing I’d been born to different parents, in a different family, in a different life than the one God gave me. I was also angry, even enraged, at God for placing me in my family of origin, because I felt like He’d done it on purpose, especially considering that He knew what would happen to me in that family. The Bible says God knows the end from the beginning,

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” ~ Isaiah 46:9-10, NIV.

What that said to me was that God knew from the beginning of time that He would place me in a family where I would be abused within an inch of my life, where my mother would try to kill me during my infancy, and my father would play Russian Roulette with his revolver between my legs to threaten me if I told anyone what he was doing to me. Yet He still chose to put me in that family, knowing in advance the terror and horror I would experience throughout my childhood, and knowing as well that I would barely survive to adulthood.

I could not understand how God could do this to an innocent child! What had I ever done to deserve this?

What I couldn’t appreciate or comprehend at the time was that the being I knew as God was completely different from the God of the Bible, and the God of the Bible was who God really was. The one I knew as God was actually patterned after Harry, my biological father. That God was mean, impatient, egotistical, angry, abusive, a rager, selfish, violent, and He hated me. That God had told Harry many times to abuse me and rape me because He, God, hated me.

I didn’t know it then, but that God was actually the devil working through Harry, trying to obliterate me, because God, the real God, the God of the Bible, had a plan for my life, and the devil didn’t want God’s plan to come to pass.

The devil tried hard, to be sure. As I stated above, My mother tried to kill me a number of times during my infancy by drowning me in the bathtub, or suffocating me with a pillow, but was unsuccessful because one of my alters, Deadsally (I had to become multiple in order to survive), would come out each time and make me stop squirming so my mother would think she’d succeeded and stop trying.

Also, Harry started threatening to kill me when I was about two, as I related above, and in addition, I tried suicide nine times as an adult. Fortunately none of those attempts succeeded either.

I’m so glad that God is more powerful than anything the devil can do!

I spent a lot of years feeling angry at God for what I endured, because I didn’t understand that God, being God, and therefore sovereign, can do whatever He pleases, and even though His plan might look perfectly terrible to us, ultimately it’s a good plan. It’s all a question of His sovereignty over my life, and I have to be willing to let Him have control,

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? ~ Romans 9:20-21, ESV.

I have to trust that God knows more and better than I do, and I’m so grateful for God’s kindness and patience with me as I learn to trust Him. And I’m so grateful that He was willing to patiently wait for me to find out that He’s the exact opposite of everything the devil and Harry made me believe He was, and is.

I discovered that God was a good, kind and loving God over a period of years as I read the Bible from cover to cover several times, and then allowed people to pray for me, and then, finally, over the last four years, I took some online classes through Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). The courses I took were through RZIM’s Academy, and they were wonderful. They helped me to increase in boldness, and become less fearful when talking to other people about Jesus ~ something that had always been a huge problem for me. They also helped me to be more logical in my thinking.

The class that helped me the most, however, was the one called “Why Suffering?” This course was life-changing for me, because it helped me to see my childhood in a whole different light.

The class presented a new theory of theodicy that really helped me to see things from a new and different perspective. The term “theodicy” was coined by Gottfried Leibnitz back in 1710 to vindicate the existence of an all-good, all-powerful God given the presence of evil in the world.

In the “Why Suffering” course, one particular theory of theodicy was proposed, called the Non-Identity Theodicy Theory. This theory was originally put forth by a man named Vince Vitale, who did his PhD dissertation on it, and the “Why Suffering” course was kind of formulated around it. I’m glad it was, because learning about it set me free.

The basics of Vince Vitale’s theory are that when I think about myself in the world of suffering that we all live in, I’ve often wished myself to be in a world with much less suffering. And then I’ve thought, “Why didn’t God create me in that other world where there’s much less suffering instead of this suffering world that I’m actually in?” But wishing to be created as me in that other fantasy world with no suffering is actually a philosophical and biological impossibility.

I know this because I’ve wished for this very thing with my whole heart many times. Why couldn’t I have been born into a different and better family with parents who loved me and didn’t beat the crap out of me every time I turned around?

As a result of taking the “Why Suffering?” course, I’ve come to realize that my wish, wholehearted as it was, was an impossible one to grant.

Rats!

The reason was all too logical. If I was born into a different family with different parents, I wouldn’t be me, because I would have different DNA. Once I saw that, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to come from a different family, because, while it meant that I wouldn’t have suffered the hell of my childhood, it also meant that I wouldn’t have the close relationship with God that I do.

And my relationship with God has become the greatest and sweetest treasure of my life, one that I wouldn’t give up for anything, not even at the cost of gaining a better childhood with better parents.

I’m reminded of the passage in Mark’s Gospel,

‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age…along with persecutions ~ and in the age to come eternal life.’ ~ Mark 10:29-30, NIV.