Changes

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:18‭-‬19 ESV

Lately, I’ve been thinking that God is going to change some things in my life, and I am scared to death.

Why do we resist change?

What is it about it that feels like such a threat?

Change means that we temporarily will be in unfamiliar territory where we will feel out of control.

But newness cannot come without change.

As I think about changes, my mind goes back to situations that have not turned out at all like I thought they would.

I was so full of hope when my pastor told me I would be delivered. I believed that God was going to heal me. But then I was harmed even more.

Remember not the former things…

But how can I forget?

I long to forget.

To grab hold of the new.

But what keeps me from it?

Fear of more disappointment and pain.

Is God playing tricks on me?

Can He be trusted to really deliver on His promises?

The conversation in my head sounds all too familiar.

The garden.

A serpent.

Filling her head with lies.

And she listened.

So did I.

So do I.

But how do I not listen and believe his lies?

Especially when changes come.

Especially when I have lost so much.

What is holding me back?

Grief.

So much.

Why can’t I let go?

What do I need to let go of to grab hold of something new?

Control of my emotions.

It is OK to admit that I am not strong.

That I need help.

Getting help makes me vulnerable.

How do I know that I won’t be harmed again?

I don’t know that I won’t.

But I do know now that I have choices even if someone tries to abuse me.

God has given me a voice to stop it and to ask for help.

Not everyone is out to abuse.

Some people care.

It’s ok to let them.

Help me, God.

Help my unbelief.

Help me to let go.

To accept change.

To receive the new.

To hope again.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Joy

Demons love to be analyzed…

Someone coined the phrase a long time ago, Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t.

For the past four years, I have learned to accept that most of my days will be spent getting by, sometimes wondering if I will make it and other days thinking I might not; every day asking God to help me get through to the other side of this grief.

I did not realize until recently how very accustomed I have become to just the struggle of getting through. It has become the devil that I know. It has become in many ways what is comfortable to me.

But recently I started to experience something that has been almost foreign to me. Something that is almost impossible to experience when one’s heart has been numbed by grief. Joy.

Much more than happiness. It does not flee as fast. It takes root in one’s heart and begins to grow ever so slowly as one begins to hope.

Yesterday, after a conversation with my daughter I realized she felt it, too. And she was scared to death of losing it. Scared to death that it would slip through her fingers like so many things have.

How can one wait patiently for joy to grow? My heart cries out, Please God do not let me be disappointed again! I’d rather stay here with the devil I know than have to deal with one that I don’t. I’d rather be numb than to experience life only to have it squashed out again by death.

The doubts begin to bombard me as soon as joy breaks through.

What if it’s all a lie?

What if you are being deceived again?

A fellow blogger shared a quote yesterday. Her blog is called The Holy Absurd. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s struggling and needs to find hope and know they are not alone. The quote was from Henri Nouwen’s book Love, Henri. He said, We’ll never overcome the demons by analyzing them, but only by forgetting them in an all-consuming love for God. Demons love to be analyzed because it keeps our attention directed to them.

Demons love to be analyzed…

I analyze what I know and what I don’t know. I have indeed been wrong before. Once I believed I found joy, but it was a mirage in the desert. It only appeared to be the real thing to my dry and thirsty soul. But the pursuit of it almost killed me. The devil will not let me forget. Ambivalence sets in as doubts arise begging to be analyzed.

God, please help me!

Stop fighting.

Stop analyzing.

Be still.

Trust.

He promises living water.

Faith is the evidence of things unseen.

The devil I don’t know isn’t a devil at all.

It’s merely hope unseen.

Joy growing just beneath the surface of a heart that’s felt dead for too long.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

CS Lewis, The Four Loves

Joy comes when desire breaks through the hardened surface of a grieving heart. To care again is a huge risk. It’s more terrifying than anything I know. My daughter’s tears caused me to see this. To love is to at all is to risk losing it all again. It is not safe. But to not love is worse than death.

God, help us to not be afraid to love again.

I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
John 15:11‭-‬15 MSG

Photo credit

Caught

Caught

Caught

Every part of me wants to flee this town and never have to look anyone in the face again. I’ve begged God to let me go, but I’m still here.

This morning I woke thinking of the parallels in my life and my adopted father’s life and what is happening now. I am in the middle of a scandal in the same town he was over thirty years ago. I always swore I’d never be as stupid as he was, yet here I am.

My parents adopted me when I was three months old. They brought me home to a house that is right behind the church. My brother, who was 12 at the time, would ride me around as a baby on his go kart where the church now sits. I was told by my mom that made me very happy. Those were the good day’s before everything fell apart.

My adopted father was the vice president of a bank in this town. He’d worked his way up to success and my brother and I wanted for nothing. We moved to a bigger house in the nicest neighborhood behind the country club.  I could have taken pride in who I was and what family I was apart of, but for some reason I never seemed to be able to. At the core of who I was even as a little girl was shame that I wasn’t good enough.

My adopted father began to make bad choices that involved alcohol, writing bad checks, and God only knows what else.  He had appeared to be a man who had it all together. He was friendly, well dressed with a nice home and family, yet somewhere on the inside something went awry and he stumbled into the depths of human depravity taking us with him.

We lost everything, absolutely everything. I didn’t understand what had happened. My mom was angry and I was very, very afraid. My brother had escaped the worst of the downfall getting married not long before the house of cards fell.

For the later part of my adopted father’s life I listened to him rant about this town and the people in it. They’d taken everything that belonged to him. People he’d known at the bank had back stabbed him. Rather than take the responsibility for his fall he blamed others that he fell and the rest of his life was lived in utter shame.

I was taught that you made sure you held it together on the outside. If I ever lost it once and cried or got upset he screamed at me. Once I spilled a pitcher of tea on the kitchen table. It wet everything and made a huge mess. He was upset with me. I have lived years in fear of spilling the tea and messing up everything around me.  It’s been a huge responsibility, and I’m so very tired of doing it. As a matter of fact, I can’t anymore.

When I came to this church years ago I had no idea I’d stand in the middle of a scandal just as my adopted father so many years ago.  What makes me sick in all this is I’ve been more concerned about the mess I’ve made from spilling the tea and what everyone is going to think of ME rather than the hurt I’ve caused my family and will continue to cause my family if I continue to live in shame. I can’t carry the weight of my shame. I have three choices, I can  blame others as my adopted father did and die a slow and miserable life eating away at my family with the acid of bitterness,  I can internalize my shame and commit suicide leaving my family with nothing, or I can give it to the only One who can carry it.

He’s been waiting all of my life for me to give it to Him. He once stood naked and exposed before everyone, the laughing stock of many, a mad man to others, a Savior to those of us who will look to Him and not be ashamed. The sin that I gave into as an escape from my pain and the man I replaced my very Savior with are both covered with Christ’s death on the cross.  I could easily blame the man who became my idol for everything, but I won’t. I remember clearly the day I made the choice to turn away from my loving Father who warned me not to walk a certain way. From a worldly standpoint, the severity of his crime is indeed worse than mine. People looked up to him, expected more. I did, too and that’s why I’m writing this today.  I expected so much I made him a god. He was only a man who could do nothing without Christ, and Christ says to all of us, “It is Finished.”

Yes, there are consequences. Others have been hurt badly. Thus the reason for the law, to keep us loving our neighbors. The words I am sorry seem too shallow, but I am very sorry for not loving all of you. There is no excuse, but there is a relief we can all look to.  Jesus Christ hanging on a cross took the shame and said, “It is Finished.”  I’m here because I believe that. In this knowledge I am breaking the generational chains that have held me captive my entire life. Because of Him and Him alone, I am finally free.

Thank God in Jesus Christ our Lord.