Habakkuk and Anger

                     Habakkuk paced the floor of his watch tower.  Arms crossed, brow furrowed, one finger tapping his lip.  Destruction, violence, fighting, corruption in the government, and perversion was running rampant.    The law God had previously laid down was useless and paralyzed.   God seemed oblivious, absent.    Why wasn’t God intervening?  Surely God, being all seeing and all knowing, was aware of it all.  Habakkuk could stand it no longer.   The anger and questions in his heart began to spew forth in verbal prayer to his God.  “Don’t you see God!? How long must I cry for help? But you do not listen?  The wicked outnumber the righteous!”   Sound familiar?

                      The things going on in our world today seem very similar to what Habakkuk described in his day.  Violence is abundant – murder, child abuse, children being killed in schools, corruption in the government, and the law seems useless sometimes.   God seems absent.   Do we have right to be angry and question God? Absolutely.    What do we do with our questions and our anger?   Like Habakkuk did, we take it to God.

                       I will never forget the session in which my therapist told me to take my anger and my questions to God.  I believe I looked at him and said “What?”  It was my belief that I could pray to God, but showing him my anger and questions was not allowed.  My therapist told me “God can handle it Mindy. In fact, God is the only one who can truly handle it. He’s a big man; he can take whatever you want to give him. You have to take it to him.”   So I did, I took all my anger and all my questions to God.  I told him all about what I thought was unfair in my situation, what I hated, I asked why, I screamed, I cried,  I told him I hated what he was making me suffer. I let it all out, not all at once, but every time the emotions and anger would begin to overwhelm me I let it all out to God.

                     God created us in his image, which means he created us to have a myriad of emotions including anger, and he created us to have questions.   He wants us to bring it all to him.  His word tells us to bring it to him in Lamentations 3:18-19:  “Cry aloud before the Lord, O walls of Jerusalem! Let your tears flow like a river. Give yourselves no rest from weeping day or night.  Rise during the night and cry out.  Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.”   If you pour water out of a pitcher you pour till it is empty.  God wants the same thing from us. To pour out our hearts till they are empty of all our tears, anger, questions, and all that is in there.

                      A relationship with God means being real, and in order to be real we have to give him our anger and questions too.   Habakkuk got real with God, I got real with God.   Will you get real with God?  Take your heart with all your questions and anger, whether they are about the state of our world today or a situation in your own life, and pour it out to God.   He can take it.

                       

 

          

Advertisements

January 16, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Being the Best

I gave up on having a list of resolutions for the New Year last year. Instead, I chose to start letting each year be about a word. Something I would focus on that would grow me in some way.  Last year as you may know my word was “Dream”.  And learn to dream I did.  This year my word is “best”.

    The idea for this began percolating in my heart a few months ago when during a conversation with a good friend she said “I just want to do the best I can with what I have been given. “  I have meditated and meditated on that very statement ever since until I knew that was what this year was to be about for me.  Doing the very best I can with what I have been given.

      This of course means doing the best I can with my finances, my time, my talents, my work, the things most people think about when considering this.  But it also goes much deeper for me.  It means loving the people God has given me in my life the very best I can.  It means accepting them for who they are and where they are in life.  Not a hard thing to do with the people in my life who are my favorites and easy to love.   This of course will be much harder with the porcupines in my life. We all have them- the people who are difficult to love.  The thing I must remember is God has placed them in my life for a reason so I must do the best job I can with loving them.            

                    I have been given so much grace and mercy that I want to give it to the best of my ability.  I struggle here.  I have blogged about it before.  They are my favorite toys and I don’t want to share.  That isn’t doing the best I can with what I have been given.  I vow to give the grace and mercy I have been given. Not begrudgingly, but freely.

                     I have been extended kindness, joy, peace, forgiveness, and acceptance.  God has given me these gifts at various times over the course of my life.  I do give these gifts to others, but I am not sure I do it to the best of my ability or even with a sincere heart.   I want to give these gifts away. They are the gifts that can truly make a difference in someone’s day or life.  I want to give them in very best way I can, with all my heart.

                    Finally, I want to do the best I can in each and every moment to stay present and be in the moment.  I don’t want to worry about the future, or agonize over a mistake I may or may not have made.  I want to do my best to stay in and absorb the now.  We are given each moment of our life for a reason and I want to be in the moment so I can know what the reason is.  I want to feel every joy, every laugh, every pain, and every tear, to the core of my soul.   I will do the best I can to absorb and be in every single moment I am given. 

                    What might be your word for this year? One friend shared with me that her word is “balance”.   I am not sure what yours might be, but I encourage you to think of one.  If you don’t that is certainly ok too.   The same friend who inspired me to be about my best this year also said something profound on the first day of this New Year.  She said “Let’s make it count.”  Absolutely.   Whether you have a word or not doesn’t matter.  Whatever you do, make this year and your life count. 

January 7, 2014. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Out with the old in with the new…

   At the beginning of the year I wrote a blog about dreaming.  I decided 2013 would be the year I would learn to dream.  I have to say it has taken me all year but I have finally learned to dream. 

   I have known for a long while now that my career as a nurse would one day end, and that pursuing my RN was not the route I was to take.   My answer to the question “What do you want to do next?” this year has been “I’m not sure.” And I wasn’t until this past week.  I know now what I want to do and what my dream is.  I will be honest it seems impossible.  It won’t happen without intervention from God.   This means I have to totally trust Him to make my dream come true, and if I remember correctly, I talked about that in my blog at the start of this year.  Trusting Him with this dream will be no easy feat, I can assure you.   Seeing my dream to fruition will take patience and hard work. It will be a matter of waiting on perfect timing.  It will mean trusting even when I don’t see anything happening.  I’m ready. I am ready for all it will take to see this dream through.  I want it that badly.   My dream is written in my journal, to remind me when I need reminding.  I can’t wait to see the ways God will make this happen.  It will be a journey.  I must be honest, I am excited about the destination, of course, but I am also incredibly excited about the journey. Why?

       The journey teaches me things.  2013 has been a journey. I lost a boy I loved with all my heart and soul.  The decision to not have children became permanent.  There were many, many tears shed.  I laughed so hard my sides hurt many times.  I feared, I hoped, I trusted, I got angry, I gave grace, I forgave.  I spent time with friends and family, and time with my husband. I made new friends.  I read books, and wrote blogs.  I went to the beach and Disney.   We found a church to call home.   I painted my first piece of art.  I spent countless hours in therapy.  I really started learning my role as a bonus/step mom to my bonus daughter.  I grew as a person and I changed.  I had moments of such utter peace that I finally knew what peace that passes understanding is.  I hoped, and I dreamed.  It was a journey. And although I have not enjoyed or even liked every second of it, I am completely grateful for every second.  Every moment counted for something, meant something.  The journey brought me to this destination: the last day of the year, knowing what my dream is, and looking ahead to the new journey.  I know there will be more of the same: peace, hope, joy, tears, Disney, the beach, family and friends. I might lose someone I love very much or I might not.  The journey holds many new joys and pains for me.  And I know I most likely won’t enjoy every moment of this next journey, but that’s all right.   Hit me with your best shot 2014, I will take the lessons learned on this year’s journey and use them.

    The destination is great and fulfilling, but there is nothing like the ride of a journey. Happy New Year!   I toast to my dream, and dreams coming true.

January 1, 2014. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Quest: Christmas series #2

                                                        Illuminate:  12/15/13

 

                         I remember the night I knew I needed saving.  At that moment, life felt as hopeless and dark as it had ever felt.    What I desperately needed was what the wise men had sought some two thousand years ago. I needed light, like a bright star shining in the dark, to help me see hope and the way out of my darkness.

                  That fateful night I had driven to a park near my house fully prepared to end my life.  I was done. I was a broken hopeless mess, wanting to come out of my pain, but yet too afraid.  Could Jesus give me any hope? Could any of His light reach me? I didn’t know.  I sat in my Dodge Neon, sobbing.  Praying what would become the first of my many honest gut wrenching prayers I would throw up to my heavenly Father. This is what I said: “Jesus, if you are really there, and my life isn’t hopeless and you can still do something with me, I need to know it, and I need to know it NOW.  If you don’t answer me Jesus I am done. I am over this life and tired of trying. I can’t go another step without knowing you are really truly there, and you really do love me and care about me.”   I sat there not so much sobbing anymore, but still a steady stream of tears rolling down my face, hiccupping, trying to catch my breath. And I waited.   I thought I would hear a scripture in my head, or a comforting voice in my mind whispering words of hope and love, but I didn’t.  Instead, I felt something, something I had never felt before.  It is hard to put this feeling into words; I can only describe it as a tiny beam of light coming into a crack in the walls of my darkness.  At that moment I had a choice: I could keep that tiny beam of light in my sight and follow it out of my darkness, or I could put some putty in the crack of my wall and shut it out.

           The wise men had a choice too.  They could follow the star in the East that would lead them to Jesus, or they could choose not to.  They chose to follow the star of Bethlehem, until it stopped, right over the place where the source of the light, Jesus, was.  Then they did something very profound. They dropped to their knees and worshipped him.  They gave precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus.  They chose to open their hearts and let the true light, Jesus, shine in.   They gave him all they had. 

     I took heed of the wise men’s advice and did the same; I chose to keep the tiny beam of light I could see and start following it out of my darkness.  I had a bit of a problem, though. I didn’t have any fancy gifts to give him like the wise men did.  I had nothing, NOTHING, to give Jesus but the broken, hopeless, crying, dark, angry mess that was my heart, and my tentative willingness to follow the tiny beam of light.   The beauty of it is that was enough.  Jesus was born that day some two thousand years ago, so that he could take my broken, hopeless, crying, dark, angry mess of a heart and heal it. He could pour his hope, grace, love, joy, peace, and forgiveness into it.   And just as the wise men did, many, many times have I bowed down in worship to my savior.

     Maybe you are like me and find yourself in the darkness, needing a light to find your way out. Jesus is that light my friend.  Make the wise choice and seek him.  Give him the gift of your brokenness, hopelessness, anger, or darkness. That is all He really wants- the gift of your heart.

    Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem, shine on.

December 15, 2013. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Grace Extension

                           I like receiving grace.  Receiving grace makes me feel good, because it frees me from my wrongdoing, my selfish nature, and allows me to keep moving forward instead of staying stuck.   But when it comes to giving grace?    I am like a spoiled child with my favorite toy, I am not about to give away my grace.   Why? Because giving grace away requires much more of me than receiving it.   Being on the receiving end of grace is easy; being the one to have to give the grace is hard, sometimes beyond my human ability.   Instead of doing the hard thing and giving, I act like a child and keep it.   And the act of keeping grace  keeps me bound.  

                    God’s second greatest commandment to us is to love our neighbor as we love our self.   We easily love our neighbor (those around us) when our neighbor does everything right.   When our expectations are met, when we are loved the way we want to be loved, when they extend grace to us, when our neighbor doesn’t show us their brokenness, we love them.  We are happy.   We easily give them grace, because things are good, nothing hard is required of us.   Then the “uh-oh” happens. They disappoint us, they hurt us, they don’t meet our expectations, and they show us their brokenness.  In these moments something more is required of us.  They need our unconditional grace and love, given without restraint and expectation.   When we are handed hurt and disappointment the last thing we want to do is give these two blessed gifts. Instead we want to be angry, hurl hurt back, and do everything we can to hurt them as bad as they hurt us.   And in doing so we cause more destruction.

   This is not God’s will for us at all.  First and foremost we are called to extend grace and love without condition or expectation because Christ first gave it to us. Secondly, you give it because it keeps you free.  In Galatians 5:13 Paul states that we are called to live in freedom, not to serve our sinful nature, but to serve one another in love. Notice he doesn’t say only when you are happy and things are good, in fact he gives no qualifiers or conditions to this call at all.   It is simple.  You extend grace and love because it keeps you free. Free from bondage of sin, free from the bondage of destroyed and broken relationships. 

      Lately I have found myself asking how I can live in the freedom of giving away love and grace, especially to people who have hurt me or not extended me grace.  As I previously said, I am a spoiled selfish child, grace and love my favorite toys.   Then yesterday the answer smacked me between the eyes.  I can give grace because God gives it to me, and his word tells me that His grace is sufficient, and that his power (strength) is made perfect in my weakness ( 2 Corthians 12:9).  I have no strength to give grace on my own, especially amidst hurt.  So I admit my human frailty and throw myself on HIS GRACE, and HIS STRENGTH.  Then and only then can I give grace and love with no condition and no expectation.  And I am free.

                        

October 2, 2013. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The faith struggle

The blank computer screen sits here before me begging me to write, and I just stare at it not having a clue what to write about. But writers write, and I am an aspiring writer, so I must type something. The truth is there is so much swirling around in my brain and in my heart that I can’t seem to find a direction. I have many a blog idea floating around and yet nothing seems to come together.  I think I am going to float in the direction of faith, or rather my struggle with it.

                  I was raised in church, and I am very proud of that heritage and upbringing. However, it means in my adulthood I have had to decide if my beliefs are truly mine or simply a part of my childhood. I have concluded I believe what I was raised to believe.  That means I believe in God, I believe in Jesus and His death and resurrection. I believe the bible is God’s book to us.  My struggle is in my faith.  Faith is more than just believing; faith is putting my hand in God’s and trusting him.  Faith is belief in action. That is my struggle.

                    Why do I struggle? Why does anyone? Because life happens.   Life has knocked me down, life has sometimes handed me a giant bowl of sour lemons instead of sweet strawberries. I feel rejected and abandoned.   I pray and I pour my heart to God and I get nothing. Zip, zero, nada, in response. I feel like my prayers and anguish bounce off the walls right back at me.  And then I question God, I struggle in my faith.  I ask myself the question where is God in all this? Is God even still there, does He even still care?

                     Those are tough questions. I am not the first to struggle in my faith and I won’t be the last. I opened my bible to Psalms, and over and over again found that King David sometimes struggled in his faith.  He asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help?” (Psalms 22:1)  This is a man knocked down by life, and struggling in his faith.  He isn’t the only example.  Thomas one of Jesus’s disciples struggled too. He walked and talked with Jesus, yet after the resurrection needed proof that Jesus was indeed Jesus.  I imagine he was still so grief stricken by the death of his friend that he couldn’t process the man standing before him. He was struggling in his faith.  I think these examples and many others are in the bible to let us know this important principle: IT IS OK TO STRUGGLE WITH OUR FAITH.    So often I feel like it is not ok for me to struggle, question God, and hold back on trusting him.  But it is.  Why?

                      The struggle actually strengthens my faith. What? That’s right. I firmly believe my struggle strengthens my faith.  I don’t always get answers; I don’t always understand the journey.  But I know that every time I come through a time of struggling with my faith I find I have a little bit more than I did when I started, and that it prepares me for the next struggle.

                    Right now I am feeling rejected and abandoned, and that the situation is hopeless and beyond healing.   I am surprised these feelings are not causing a bunch of turmoil in the deep parts of my innermost being. But they aren’t.  In the deep parts of my soul I feel a peace, a peace that surpasses my human understanding.  My brain fires all kinds of tumultuous thoughts at me, and if I held on to them I would lose my peace.   So I do my best to let them go, talk thru it, and maintain my peace.   I am not hearing or feeling God in this place of rejection and abandonment.  I am scared of the outcome of this season.  I am struggling with my faith, and if indeed God will really fix it.  But here is what other seasons of struggle have taught me, and here is why I can have a peace at my deepest parts.   God hasn’t left me, He hasn’t abandoned me.  I may not feel Him but I know He is there listening to my cries for this broken hopeless looking situation to be healed.  I know that just as He takes care of the sparrows and the lilies in the field, He will take care of me no matter the outcome.  I know these things not just in my mind, but in the deepest parts of my soul.

     If you are struggling with your faith, be ok with where you are.  Remember it is ok to struggle and question God.  Remember that your faith will grow and be strengthened in this season, and it will prepare you for the next one.  Faith is a journey not a destination, so take it one day at a time.

 

September 1, 2013. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

My naked soul

    I just yesterday finished a book that resonated with me so deeply it has inspired me to write.  The book was “Best Kept Secret” by Amy Hatvany.  The plot is essentially about a woman, a mother, whose husband leaves her.  Forced to raise her son on her own, she spirals down into the world of addiction, specifically alcoholism.  The book chronicles not only her downward spiral but her recovery process as well.  That is what resonated with me- the recovery process. While I am not recovering from alcoholism, I am recovering from childhood sexual abuse, and the recovery process is in many ways the same.  As I was reading, and when I was finished I had a thought, a rather profound thought.  How many women are out there suffering? How many women that are someone’s wife, mother, daughter, friend, aunt, and coworker are addicted? How many are struggling with wounds so deep that they don’t know how or where to begin to voice or process the pain? How many of these women are hiding behind a smile and the pretense that life is a bowl of cherries?

      Why do we hide? Why do plaster a smile on our face and keep going? Why do we pretend that life is big bowl of cherries when inside we want to curl up and die?  The answer sounds so simple but is really quite complicated; we are full to the brim of shame and guilt. We believe so many lies about ourselves, that we don’t where to start looking for truth.  We are afraid that if we open and let out what is consuming us, we will be judged, rejected, and discarded like trash. Mommies fear losing their babies, wives fear losing their husbands, and we fear losing our families.   All this fear holds us back, heaps on more shame, guilt, and lies in a soul already overflowing.

                    Sometimes, something happens and we can’t hide any longer.  Some women get caught in their addiction and get put in treatment, others admit they have a problem and seek help. Some of us finally admit we are drowning in our pain and cry for help. Then the hard part really starts. Turns out living with the pain is easy, recovery is hard. I am going to share with you a bit about my recovery process, in hopes that a woman suffering somewhere will read this and find the courage and strength to get help.

                       Ripping open my soul and exploring the trash that lies there in front of a therapist has been and still is,  like being naked in front of a room full of people.  Admitting I have problems and pain is like exposing me to the worse possible weather elements imaginable. Admitting all the wrong I have done, and the hurt I have caused has been embarrassing and humbling. Asking forgiveness to those I have wronged is torture, forgiving myself sometimes seems like an unattainable goal.

                 The more shame and guilt I have uncovered and dealt with, the more that seems to float up to the surface.  I have had to learn to let it go, to be ok with me, to accept and love myself. For each lie I have uncovered, I have had to replace it with truth, and try that truth on and wear it until it becomes comfortable.   I believed the lie that in recovery there would no more dark moments. The truth is there has been dark moments and dark days. I have been frustrated with the journey, when I have taken steps back instead of steps forward; I have gotten so exhausted I think I can’t go another step. And sometimes the pain has been so bad I have begged God to let me die, or I have contemplated ways of doing it myself. I have wanted to curl up in my bed and take a break from life I have been so overwhelmed. I have worried my strong, loving husband to the point he has feared he would come home and find me dead. There have been days I am so anxious doing the simplest tasks has been like climbing Mt. Everest.  My relationships have changed, and as I have gotten rid of the all the pain, shame, and guilt I have been left with feeling of emptiness.

                        People have told me you go to God; He will take this away and deliver you. I have begged God to instantly heal me, to take all this way. He hasn’t, not any of it. He has made me walk every single difficult, tear ridden, painful, screaming step.  Only then did I find the healing.  I have been unable to pray anything but my tears sometimes, but I know each one has been precious to Him. I have lost my faith and my hope in Him, only to discover that He always gives me just enough grace and strength to go on.

                    Here is the silver lining: in all this there is hope. The eye of the hurricane is always calm, so know that somewhere in the midst of the storm raging inside you there is calm.  And as with all storms, this too shall one day pass.  Recovery is a process, and it can be a rather lengthy one.  Be patient with the process. Give yourself grace, and care, not harsh criticism. This has become an essential truth in my recovery process.  All that emptiness I feel I know will one day be filled up. I am discovering who I am without the shame, pain, lies, and guilt. I have less dark moments and dark days. When I do have them I find light and truth. You will too.   Remember this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.   All of us have pain and struggles. Find a group, go to AA, get a good therapist or counselor, do what you need to do to be well. You are worth the time and energy.  God loves you, and even though it might seem like He has abandoned you, I can assure you He hasn’t.   Let your tears flow, pour out your heart to him.   He will give you the grace and strength you need to go on.  You, your tears, and your pain are incredibly precious to Him.  You can do this; you can recover and be well. I am, and if I can do it, you can to. Be well and be brave my reader friends

August 22, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

« Previous Page