It Wasn't Me

Life After Redemption

The Hope of My Heart….

It is so easy to get distracted from our purpose, higher calling. We live in this world, it permeates our beings. We find instant, temporary solace, in distractions from our troubles and pain. It is much easier to sweep our cares away under the rug to be dealt with later than to confront our fears head on. Or is it? We have become blinded, desensitized to God’s healing touch. We turn away from healing choosing to stand on our own and power through another day where we get caught in the perpetual loop of strife and turmoil.

I have been guilty of this. Change is difficult. For me the familiar pain of survivor-hood was comfortable. Better the pain I knew than the tremulous hope that God could lift this burden from me only to bury me deeper in it again. This shadow I carry with me is mine, no one else’s. And yet somehow it owns me. Because I could not relinquish it to God, that trust in Him was incomplete.

Confronting my demons terrified me. I would rather pretend that it isn’t REALLY that bad; that they didn’t torment me at will. With every step forward, I fell further into the trap of anxiety and loss. I had seen this pattern play out in my mother’s life. A survivor of brutal physical abuse by an alcoholic father, her pain was denied by her family, dismissed, it never happened. And in her life, every time she reached out for help or acknowledged her weakness, the legion rose up and devoured her. Over and over again, they preyed on her. She was a survivor. But she never overcame her past. Until the day she passed away, she never had peace.

This legacy continued with me. A ‘survivor’ of abuse, the daughter of an alcoholic/drug abuser, I learned to enable and be the perfect fixer and co-dependent. I knew that I would never be the abuser. But I didn’t dodge the victim/survivor title. The lies by abusers, the lies of surviving… I learned that I could only count on me. Everybody else would fail to protect me or exploit me. I only had me.

I bought in to the title survivor because it sounded so much better than victim. But as I grew in Christ, I found that I didn’t even want to own that title. I am redeemed of my sins by His sacrifice in becoming sin on the cross for me. I get that. What about the sins of others? The injuries I have sustained?? I require justice. I don’t want to deal with these festering wounds, BECAUSE I haven’t seen the scales of justice balanced. So… I will stay right here and wallow in the infection of my soul. Thank you very much.

I have stood too long in the sun soaking in the words of man calling me away from my inheritance. The flashes of lights dance through my vision, blinding me to the danger all around. Until all I see is my own small world and all of the hurts I have gathered along the way. When do I lift my eyes to learn the truth of God in my heart? How far do we have to fall before we stop seeking validation in the fickleness of man?

I chose God. I choose to be an overcomer rather than a survivor. My pain does not define me and I don’t have to follow the path created by the past generations. I can choose to set down this garment of perpetual shame and step into the light of God’s promised inheritance. My heart does not need to stagnate in the shadows, but can soar into the heavens TODAY. The beauty of God’s redeeming promises is that it is NOW that He can heal us and restore our hearts into the fullness of hope that will overfill and destroy all of the pain that confined us.

The hard part is declaring that YOU cannot truly change without the grace of God. It is counterculture thinking; that I alone am lack the ability to be my own savior. My strength is limited by lack of heavenly perspective. Again, I choose God. He is the hope of my heart, my promise that pain is not His plan for me, that through Him I can be transformed beyond this world.

Romans 8:26-28
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The Evil Queen and that Prince of the Air….

The pollution of sin thrives and multiples in a fallen world. Unbelief clouds our judgment and keeps us separated from the grace of God. There is a striking contrast between the prince of the power of the air, ruler of this world and the image of God being the air we breathe. It makes me wonder what we are choosing to breathe…

The enemy comes in on a whisper, speaking half-truths that take root and cause spiritual blindness and deadens our souls. We become inured to the beautiful life given to each one of us, and we squander precious moments in exchange for the great lie.

The lie that tells we are greater than God, that our self-presence here is more important than that of any one else. We, in this culture, value achievement, competition, dominance, a d material acquisitions over sacrifice, love and faith. Out gaze is perpetually stuck on our own self-gratification. In essence we have become the evil queen from Snow White, asking our mirror “who is the fairest of them all?” The mirror tells no lies… but we still see what we want to see. Never asking what God sees in us. We will disregard the image of the beautiful queen and trade it in envy, failing to see our image melting into the decrepit hag as we seek to destroy those who ‘steal’ our glory or spotlight.

STOP. Our glory? It is a myth. Our triumphs are as temporary as our struggles. How can we boast in either one? Just stop.

Psalm 119:132-133132 Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. 133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. 

Back to the evil queen… she sought self-gratifying envious beauty – all external and quite temporary – when confronted with the truth that there was one fairer that she, her internal nature was revealed. Horrible, evil, covetousness; she seeks to destroy the beauty of another. She is completely polluted, corrupted by evil and she fails in her plot to destroy the light of another. Destroying someone else does not restore life or heal the wounds you carry, but it does reveal the presence of the “prince of the power of the air”, ruler of this world dwelling in your heart.

That kind of destruction will wage war in your heart. There will be a visible transformation, perhaps not as dramatic as the evil queen but what lives in your heart IS visible and will pour out on those around you. This tactic is perfected by the enemy’s quiet whisperings into our hearts and minds… and can completely undo the grace and portion that God is waiting to pour out to you.

As I gaze into the mirror seeking God’s truth for my life… is it my destiny to be consumed and defined by my experiences? Do I live each day presenting my scars – pleading for mercy for all my sins both present and future? When is it enough? In all my brokenness, where is hope? What does the mirror… strike that… what does GOD tell me about myself? Can I receive His truth and love for me, standing here in all my iniquitous mess?

The true beauty lies in knowing that we get to choose where we draw our breath. What fragrance do we choose to inhale? The sweet Holy Spirit presence that is promised to us or the smell of death and decay that hangs at the fringes of our atmosphere? What do you choose? When you gaze into the mirror and seek God’s truth for you are you the fairest in His sight or are you consumed with the false beauty promised to the evil queen and the prince of lies?

We get to choose. Choose to seek His truth for your life; His message of redeeming grace and unmerited mercy. Be transformed into an abundant life overflowing with hope and beauty and joy… exceeding all expectations.
Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

My Personal Bravery…

Very early in my childhood several things became apparent to me. The first was that secrets were the way that my family functioned and the second was that I had to protect myself because the world around me would not do so.

Because of the secrecy that existed in my family, there were traumas that I experienced that I didn’t tell anyone about for eighteen years. I don’t know if I was instructed not to tell my parents, but I knew that I shouldn’t. The nature of this trauma led me to falsely believe that I was responsible for what had happened, and because I didn’t talk about it to anyone, I carried the weight of that with me into my adulthood.
My mother, who loved me so much, spent most of my life altered by drugs and alcohol. She was a strong and charismatic woman; people loved her and relied on her in ways that I could not. I felt my voice was unheard, drowned out by her stupor or inability to cope. When I was a teenager, I realized that she would only talk about and only heard what she what she wanted. Desperate to be heard, isolated by secrets and lies, I would write her letters hoping that she would hear me and save me, only to have my words ignored. I knew then that I had only myself to survive, no one could truly protect me.
When I was very young I discovered that I could escape the pain and chaos by spending hours on end outside creating my own world in which I was the conqueror, the hero, the champion of the weak or immersing myself completely in books. In the safety of this disconnected bubble, my very own dream world, I was invincible.
Even into adulthood, my dreams were of me the indomitable warrior princess, knocking down my foes with strength and wisdom. I have lived through times in my life where I never felt safe, mentally or physically. My faith in people, men especially, had become fragile and polluted. Today, however, I am safe. There is no abuse, exploitation, no oppression. I am truly safe. So there is no need for me to cling to this illusion of me as the dragon slayer… its not really my job anyway. There is no enemy that I can defeat on my own. As I look back on the dreams of battles fought, it was the same fight ever time. Me fighting the same demons, over and over and over again. For my entire life. An unending battle. Because I had been fighting the evil since my childhood, before I knew God, it never occurred to me that I could simply hand the sword over to God.
God has never abandoned or abused me or exploited me. He has never taken anything away from me that I need to have. Perhaps it is time to hang up my sword and superhero cape, and allow God to fight this battle for me. I truly cannot be my own savior. And God can be my invincible army… who would dare stand up against that??
Laying down the sword, my survival skill, that has served me my whole life is a sacrifice. From the hands of a tiny child who had no savior to an adult who was lucky she found one. My, ME, was the only one I could ever count on. I clung to myself for my very survival. Except now, with no real battle at hand, I can see that it, ME, isn’t working for… well, me. I am tired of saving myself. I am tired of battling the shadows of my past. In the quiet places, I see with full clarity, it is time to set aside my childhood hero, the ME of my own mythology.
It is time to embrace the God of my salvation, the invincible army that can fight my demons more effectively and thoroughly that I ever dreamed I could.
Habakkuk 3:16-19

16I heard and my [whole inner self] trembled; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness enters into my bones and under me [down to my feet]; I tremble. I will wait quietly for the day of trouble and distress when there shall come up against [my] people him who is about to invade and oppress them.

17Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,

18Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!<sup class="xref" value="(E)” style=”font-size: 0.65em; line-height: 0.5em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: text-top; “>

19The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

surprising shifts

I had reread this blog a month ago and believed that the season of it had ended. I didn’t close it or delete it… I just visited it and reread my life encounters from a perspective of great distance. My faith in God has never wavered, but my encounters with his divinity have diminished. I still feel him, yet I kept finding myself asking for MORE… where are my moments between miracles?! My divine epiphanies and insights that I know only come from Him?

Yet, I keep asking.. please God MORE… dreams, visions, encounters… Your will. Hello?
I believe, and I am busy with life, children, friends, self, whatever… I am living a half life in a bubble. I exist… I nurture my children, I play with my friends, yet when I am alone I am hiding from the world. I tuck myself away with distractions… yes, it is productive and frequently necessary, but it is becoming an excess. A self-created myth, my hermitage of the child-free weekends has become an excuse to remain isolated… insulated from interacting with people, risk free. Except, it has become too familiar. My weekends evaporate into nothingness, with nothing to show for 48 hours and then it is back to being mom. No spiritual quest, very little artistic growth, isolation pure and simple.
It helps me to forget that there is more to this life than me, that all that I want to be will never happen because I am too afraid to go out and fight for what I need. It is easier, this couch driven existence, I do not have to risk anything emotionally. However, there is His voice and it comes across the silence clearer than the fog in my heart… go, get up go… So I do. Sometimes it just takes a little whisper to get me to move, and it doesn’t have to be specific… I always listen to that voice.
I ended up on my way to pick up pizza for a friend, and zipped into the parking lot of a fabric store. I have NO spending money, I didn’t plan on going there… but I just knew I had to stop in. The whole time arguing with my inner voice… seriously? why am I stopping here? I don’t even want to think about the money I don’t have… sheesh, fine I am going in. So I go in… I wander. The whole store is ridiculous. I don’t sew, the limited “art supplies” they offer are ridiculous… WHY am I in this store??
I turn a corner and there she is. Marina… my dear sweet wonderful Marina. Unexpectedly led into her personal space… I knew this is WHY I was in the store, the only reason. Such a small thing to run into an old friend, but it was divine, at least for me. It has been awhile since I have felt prodded by God to “do” anything. I choose His path, His church and people… but choosing isn’t the same as feeling.
I know that we all have times where we just go through the motions and question the value of whether or not our struggles are in vain. I just say wait… wait it out and you will see His will revealed in the strands of time. We do not have the advantage of His farseeing vision, the completed tapestry will not be revealed to us all at once… just wait and believe. You will see it in time.

Romans 8: 24-27

24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Loneliness comes creeping in…

There is little solace this evening, there has been this whisper of sadness that has been breathing on the edges of my heart. I have denying hearing it, been ignoring it, pretending that it couldn’t possibly be talking to me. Yet, in this moment I can no longer deny it’s message. I am lonely. Not to be confused with desperately lonely, not seeking to destroy my peace of mind for the sake of any relationship… but a part of me wouldn’t mind the companionship that a relationship offers.

I have been telling my friends that it is just the shifting of monthly hormones that permit me to feel the true sadness of loss. I only allow myself permission to mourn the loss of a dysfunctionally doomed relationship, true love tanked by one disagreement… so silly. In my heart I know that its ending was for the best. Liberating, and reaffirming that I should not settle for less than a full partnership. Two ends of the spectrum, on one end aggressive, angry and controlling and the other end passive, self-doubting, and weak. Neither option all that appealing in truth, although passive is certainly the lesser of two evils.
So, now I stand truly single for what it is worth, fumbling to find that someone who can walk with me. I have this keening sadness in my heart, the disappointedness of failing love. I remain open to possibility, wary of rushing or being hurt, trusting that God and time will heal all wounds. In all actuality, not much time has passed since my marriage has ended and I still have more grieving and healing to do from that relationship before I will be truly ready for a committed relationship… I suppose. But that doesn’t stop my heart from longing to not have to walk every step alone.
Now, I suppose my secret is out. I am occasionally sad, and self-absorbed in wallowing. Not always. Just today. Just enough that I can feel it and I know that this too will pass. At the bottom of my box of tissues there is no magic answer, no balm for the soul. I do know this, and right now it feels so clichéd and trite, BUT I know it to be true… I am not truly alone. My God walks this with me, where ever I may go, He goes with me. And like so many people, I am flawed and suspicious of future hurts. How do we maintain the balance of hopeful expectation and faith-filled anticipation against life experience?
I have debated whether or not to post this since writing it last week… it is overly vulnerable, and I am not that sad today. But, this is how I roll… and I will risk it.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Live Life Out Loud

There is a part of me that still instinctively starts to cower to censorship, to the critic that points the finger in accusation. The voice that says I am over-sharing, that tries to shame me into silence. It is difficult some days to remember that I am not in a position to be corralled and condemned into submission, where my voice is free and protected.

I have struggled recently with the rising anxiety of being confronted with the presence of pure anger and intimidation. I cowered, I forgot to breathe… I became that me again. Smaller me, yielding to intimidation and fear. I have not had to face that me in quite a while. I remember her… the me that turns the other cheek to the point of stupidity, the secret keeper, the co-dependent but I didn’t know she was still with me. There has been such a focus on forward momentum and reclamation and abundance of life in my life that I forgot that she was still with me.
I have a committee, a brain trust.. my posse of powerfully strong and insightful women that I bounce my stumblings off of. I depend on their bluntness and advice to help me gauge some of my reactions to things. I have this training wheel mentality, I need to relearn how to function in conflict. My sense of what is a safe and appropriate response has been skewed by years of dysfunction and secrecy. I still make my own decisions, but I am learning how to be less sensitive. Not everything in this world is my responsibility or my fault.
I have triumphs and successes that are continuing to overshadow the darkness. I get to make sweeping declarations of embracing myself as God has created me to be… vibrant and powerfully creative. I am not the diluted version of myself, seeking validation to complete me in a marriage that was failing. My prayers are not panic-laden desperate cries for transformation into the perfect wife… I get to lean in and just seek more abundance.
My mistakes are many and my life is as imperfect as any other. Unremarkable in all it’s wrinkles and shortcomings… but in my victories God is great. Flourishing in the freedom of abundance, I am becoming more of who God is calling me to be. Baby-steps and all… I am leaping across boundaries and mountains to the places I never thought I would be able to claim as my own. I am more liberated everyday. Each conflict that arises does not need to be met with fear or regret. I am stronger than I knew myself to be. AND for that God is victorious and I am His joy, my life is truly blessed.

2 Chronicles 20:17

17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ “

Just remember we are supposed to SHINE!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

~ Marianne Williamson

Finding the life in my life…

Through this season of transition and transformation, I have found so many realizations of how I want the path of my life to go. I grew up fearful that I would become my mother, more specifically, that her weaknesses would consume me. Once I stepped into adulthood and claimed autonomy, I realized that magically transforming into my mother was not likely to happen and I was so overjoyed that I forgot to look after my own shortcomings.

Having the dubious luxury of a dramatic life-change like divorce has really stripped my beliefs down to the core. There can be no more excuses, everything must be re-evaluated, inventory must be taken and the trash must be dumped. I have my own waste products that are a result of things that festered in my marriage, and those things need to go. The other stuff, the waste that belongs to another is not my responsibility. The strange revelation is that I am not responsible for anyone else’s introspection or personal growth. Not that I ever truly was… but a part of me went to the places of self-righteous piety. If I could could just earnestly do IT right enough, then the multitude of sins would be covered and life would go on, hopefully for the better.

Life does go on, and it is better. I am trying to regain my spiritual gyroscope so that I can feel that firm grounding in Christ once again. I am looking forward, seeking Him in all of my relationships and in the moments of quiet where I can reclaim myself and who I am supposed to be. I am looking for the guidance and direction to find a new church home that will be a reflection of God on earth for my new family. I am still struggling with how to set down the sadness that I feel over the loss of my church community. It is difficult to know what the right way is, I feel like there is an unfinishedness about that community but I don’t know how to resolve it.

So I keep railing at God… if anybody know what needs to be done it would be Him. I actually was yelling in the car, at God. Seriously, I can choose to set down my feelings of abandonment and try to pick up forgiveness… but there is an intervention needed, and I don’t know what to do. I look up to my Father and say “HEY!! You see this mess down here??” These broken pieces of my heart where there was once a solid connection keep poking me until it hurts. This spiritual wound of disappointment feels at times a distraction from the moments of pure joy, like it is only coming out in my consciousness to dissuade me from moving forward into a fullness of being.

This ever-present God of mine has been busy distributing the blessings in my life and growing giftings in me that have been long neglected. Out of the ashes of my old life, I begin to flow into the abundance of His plan for me. Reclaiming my voice, His voice, to write again about the miracles of nothing and everything in between has been long overdue. There is a passion being unleashed to create something tangible about truth and His word… and all of the fingerprints He leaves behind.

I lived in the darkness, in a desert and convinced myself that I could truly see Him in all the barrenness. Now today I can see so much more, and the horizon is infinite. I limited God’s ability to move in my life past a certain point because I couldn’t see past the box that I put myself in. God can move mountains… but sometimes things have to be drastically altered before you can see that the landscape is changing. And so, out of the darkness I stand, moving forward towards a brighter day. In the little things there is life, and the big things just follow along.

I am finding the life in my life… every breath draws in the newness of recreation, and the old ways just fall away. There is a covering of protection around all the new seeds of change He has planted, and there is an abundance of peace, even in the moments where I feel the broken pieces of loss. His peace surpasses all understanding and endures when I think I cannot.

Psalm 138:3-8

3 When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. 8 The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever– do not abandon the works of your hands.

My Life Redefined

It has been nearly a year since my last post, my life has become a liquid shifting place. Change and transformation have been my current path. Since I last posted, my marriage collapsed on itself. We were both to blame for how we got to the point of impasse, and then my ex-husband went too far and verbally attacked me. I tried to move past it, I tried to forgive it, I tried to set it down… and in the end it was too much. My safe harbor within the sanctity of marriage was shattered, and I was done.

My decision to divorce sent shock waves through my personal community of friends, family and church family. Everyone was shocked and some were horrified… in the end, I stood by my decisions and I lost many friends and my church home and those losses were heartbreaking to me.

I felt God’s continual presence with me as I moved into the new chapter of my life. Where I felt the church abandoned and forsook me, God never left me. As I vented to my small group of friends, God stood by me and offered His everlasting support. For every friend that walked away, He replaced them with stronger more life-giving relationships. For every judgement that was cast on me, He offered me compassion and solace. He has been my rock… through this wilderness, He is my guide and I do not walk alone.

There have been several things that I have learned about myself through this process. I learned that I am the only one who gets to live my life, and if it isn’t working for me, it doesn’t matter what other people expect me to do, at the end of the day I have to do what I feel is right. I have learned to love completely those around me, I am learning to go with the flow, I am learning to let go of things that I cannot change and I am reconnecting with my inner artist. And that includes, reclaiming the writing of this blog… which I have missed terribly.

I am a daughter of God… He has called me out of creation and I am His beloved. There is nothing that I can do to make Him love me less. He is the original artist… from His hands he drew the heavens into being. I am so blessed with my walk with Him and I am grateful for His discernment and wisdom in my life.

SO.. I begin my new life. As a mother, sister, daughter, cousin, pseudo-auntie, and a friend. My identity is in process as I learn who I am as a person who is no longer a wife. My path has changed from small and narrow to being so wide I cannot see the edges in any direction… it if full of life and potential, discovery and healing, forgiveness and acceptance and mercy. I am finding that the person I am is strong and reliable, creative, vibrant and powerful… I have found my voice once again. And I am glad to be me.

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

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