Pain Will Not Win

you are my constant companion
with me each moment of every day
never ceasing to remind me
of the fragility and the preciousness of life

the pain you have given me
drives me to cherish the smallest things
the times with my loved ones
now all too infrequent 
touching my life in a deeper way
than ever before

I have questioned myself
my motives and my actions
trying to discover
the root, the cause, the reason
only to find you are
as random as the wind
striking whom you will
where you will
when you choose

there is no preventative measure
I could have taken
there is no cure in the annals of medicine
only a hope for relief
from the constant pain I live in
a hope that drives me
to try yet one more medication
one more treatment

to spite you
I will not give into depression
I will not let your presence
steal from me who I am
instead, I will make the most
of each second I've been given
and in the hard times
I will cling to that which is good

you will not win
you will not take my life
you may grab at my livelihood
my possessions, my ability
but who I am
will always shine through
the pain

torture me if you must 
leave me writhing in agony
crying out for relief
still my spirit will be there fighting you
I will fight you with my last breath

I will not give in to you.

©2008



Forgiveness isn’t optional.

I threw away most of the notes I took during Bible College, but this teaching hit home for me as a survivor of childhood and domestic assault. I discovered a long time ago that forgiveness ties us to our offenders and that letting go of our pre-conceived right to resent them holds us back while they go on their way. Forgiveness is for us, not them. It frees us of the hold they have on our hearts, our innocence, and our growth.

Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. Forgiveness is costly; we pay the price of the evil we forgive. Yet we’re going to live with these consequences whether we want to or not. Our only choice is whether we will do so in the bitterness of unforgiveness or the freedom of forgiveness.

An unforgiving spirit destroys respect.

We cannot forgive while we’re hanging on to our rights and our sense of injury. We cannot forgive without consenting to suffer the loss ourselves.

See yourself standing in a circle which is called the will of God. Nothing therefore can touch you from outside the circle, unless it has first penetrated that circle. The thing in question may be hurtful, unfair, and callous, but no matter how it originated, by the time it has reached you it has passed through the circle of the will of God; it has become God’s will for you; it has been permitted for wise and good purposes of His own. Therefore, by resenting and refusing it, you are in reality rebelling against God and His will.

In forgiveness, God is not asking us to do anything which He has not done for us to an infinitely greater degree.

What then is forgiveness? It is a miracle of grace whereby the offense no longer separates. The offense is real, and the hurt is real, but forgiveness means that this real and horrible offense shall not separate us. Forgiveness means that the power of love that holds us together is greater than the power of the offense that separates us. That is forgiveness. In forgiveness we are releasing our offenders so that they are no longer bound to us. In a very real sense, we are freeing them to receive God’s grace.

There is no torment like the inner torment of an unforgiving spirit. It refuses to be soothed; it refuses to be healed; it refuses to forget.

When tragedy comes into your life, allow yourself to grieve. It is a God-given source of healing. Refusing to grieve can harden the heart.

Embrace the hurts of life. God is in them. Allow His purposes to triumph.

Forgiveness is crucial. Not only should it be felt, but it needs to be expressed. Without it, we cannot move on. If we desire to grow, mature, and become more like God, we need to let go of the hurts and offenses that shaped us and let God do His work in our lives.

It is time.

It is time.
Time to deal with
the pain,
the past,
and let it go.
Forgiveness.
Rejection
is no longer
a fear.
Your confidence
is in your God,
not in man.
His acceptance
is all you need.
It will
quell
those voices
from the past,
those that say
“You are not
worthy.
You do not
deserve this.”

See, you
are His child.
And you deserve
what He says
you deserve.
And that
is good.
Peace.
Joy.
Hope.

But God, don’t You see me?

Yes, child,
I see you.
But not as
you see yourself.
I look at you
through
eyes of
mercy
love
compassion
and forgiveness.

You need to
forgive
yourself.

For what?

For falling short
of your own
expectations.
For failing
in what
you thought
you should
do or be.
See, My plans for you
are not what
you would choose.

What a shock. I thought I had that one figured out. After all, look where I am and how I’m living.

But
that
is
coming
to an end.

Let
Me
Work.

Yield to Me.
Be sensitive
and willing.

Oh, what I have for you, My child! Let Me work it in you. Stop the fighting. Let go of your pride and fear and let Me work. For I am not some vengeful master, but a loving Father. I desire good for you if you will accept it. I don’t wait for you to stumble so I can whack you. I am not your dad – I am your Father.
©1-29-1997

make a choice

they said it was right
i knew it was wrong
they told me to rethink
it didn’t change my mind

they made me choose between
community and loneliness
feeling part of a family and
standing on my own

i couldn’t stay and
let it erase who i was
no matter how painful
the decision proved to be

so I walked away
with my head held high
my friends left in the mire
of conformity and error

but i can’t be responsible
for who they choose to be
when my own identity is
in danger of disappearing

i won’t lie and say I don’t miss them
but I never really
fit into their crowd
always just on the edge of belonging

the truth is, though,
i’m better off living in the light
seeing the truth and living in it
instead of following the crowd

i’ve always been a loner
so readjusting was easier
than if I needed people to feel
whole or valuable

speaking the truth can
carry a hefty price
but i counted the cost
and paid the price

integrity instead of conformity
compassion instead of condemnation
love instead of judgment
empathy instead of scorn

when i stand before God
and answer for how i lived my life
i want Him to see my heart and know
i honored what He called me to do
more than what people thought of me
because that matters more
than all the money or power
in the world

9-10-2020
©plfreitag

Faux-vangelicalism and the modern mega-church

The current faux-vangelical movement posing as Christianity will use you up and spit you out on the other side like a chewed up peanut shell unless you happen to be related to the leadership in the particular cell to which you belong. I am still recovering from how I was treated.

My kids and I were active in choir, youth group, nursery, ushering, and other areas of service. However, since I was a fat single mom struggling to make ends meet, I was overlooked for many opportunities because I didn’t fit the image they wanted to project.

We were there every time the doors opened. We cleaned, did dishes, taught Sunday School, were involved in prayer groups, attended small group meetings, and helped any way we could. Even after years of serving, there was still a divide between the chosen few and the rest of us.

I was good enough to be on the worship team, but not to do special music, because I hadn’t been hand-picked by the pastor. If he spoke about someone needing help, people fell all over themselves to volunteer while others struggled to survive or feed their kids.

My daughter made friends with the pastor’s son and one Sunday I was approached by the daughter of one of the associate pastors, who informed me I needed to tell her to stay away from him. We were from the wrong side of the tracks because her dad wasn’t around.

I went through a crisis of faith and missed some services. I got a personal visit from a friend who told me an associate pastor wanted me to call her – she couldn’t pick up the phone & do it herself. They kicked my kids out of choir. Nobody checked on us. We were on our own.

They brag about how many people they feed on Sunday (you have to sit through a 4 hour service with grumbling tummies first) and then they drive home in their luxury cars to their multi-million dollar mansions where they’re unreachable by common people.

One person washes the pastor’s car & fills it with gas, takes his clothes to the dry cleaner & picks them up, and chauffeurs him to the airport for his first class flights. Someone else mows the yard (26 acres) and takes care of the animals. Their own family waits at home.

They raffle off Hummers and luxury cars while church members can’t pay their rent or clothe their kids. They accept donations from businesses and then brag about giving those items away as “gifts from the ministry” after keeping what they want.

If you’re not part of the inner circle, you can’t access the pastors. They have bodyguards and secretaries and people whose job it is to keep you away from them. These people who claim to operate under the power of God whine about being drained by the needy.

Jesse Duplantis “needed” a second private jet. Why? 1. Flying commercial was too exhausting because he had to sit near people with needs. (How did Jesus ever get anything done without a Gulfstream?) 2. To get up in the sky, closer to God. (What about omnipresence?)

They get up on the platform for the 1-hour offering teaching on Sunday morning and brag about giving Brother So-&-So a new Rolex, luxury car, or bespoke suit. How much does $5K to a fellow grifter really impact someone living in a $2M mansion? Seriously?

They ask us to give “sacrificially.” This means rent money. Your car payment. Your utility bill. If God doesn’t come through to replace it, you didn’t put enough faith behind your gift. In the meantime, they’re buying another vacation condo in some exotic locale.

Mom and Dad paying for your Bible College tuition? Young and attractive? Here, let us give you a scholarship for a full ride. If you’re a struggling single parent scraping together enough to afford the monthly tuition payment, tough luck. You should have planned better.

Bible? What Bible? Use your cell phone, and text, tweet, or post on FB between scriptures. They may say Bible College students can’t do that, but nobody’s enforcing it. Get pregnant from hooking up with another student in spite of the rules? Time for a quickie wedding!

It all looks good on the outside…fancy buildings, well-dressed staff, lights and sound and smoke during worship…but they’re rotten to the core. It’s all about money. It’s not about God, the Bible, living right, or showing the love of Jesus to others. It’s a game.

Like the 45th President, these charlatans have stopped pretending to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” as directed in Micah 6:8. Money is now their god, and Jesus sits in the back row when He’s allowed in the building.

God sits in the heavens and weeps over how far the modern evangelical church has fallen, supporting a treasonous, lying, hate-spewing fear-monger whose one desire is power and more power. Those who are called to shepherd believers will be held accountable for their betrayal.

Travels

I’ve done a bit of traveling in the last few years. Here are photos (in almost chronological order) of me in Sedona, AZ; South Rim of the Grand Canyon, AZ; White Sands National Park, NM; Big Bend National Park, TX; Arches National Park, UT; Hoover Dam, NV; Petrified Forest National Park, AZ; Multnomah Falls, OR; and Castillo de San Marcos National Park, FL.

I’d love to do more traveling as time allows, once the pandemic is under control. In the meantime, I’m working on writing a book based on my testimony in the hopes of inspiring other survivors of childhood and domestic assault.

The New Apostolic Reformation and Covid-19

The New Apostolic Reformation, which supported the 45th president, is a cult with its roots in the Prosperity Gospel/Word of Faith movement that began in the 1950s. As a defector, I’d like to help explain where these “Christians” stand on the Covid-19 crisis.

Brainwashing takes place over time, beginning with slightly twisted truths that appeal to potential cult members. The more you participate, and the deeper into the cult you go, the more distorted and perverted the truth becomes. Many people never realize what’s happening. “Jesus wants you to be well” devolves over time into “If you have enough faith, you won’t get sick.” If you get prayer and you’re not healed, the blame is on you. If you’re struggling financially, you haven’t given enough money to the church. This is not scriptural. By the time you get this far, if you hang around, the way you think has already been changed. When they tell you to call in sick so you can get to their revival meetings, it’s no big deal. Skip your mortgage payment to donate more to the church? That’s faith to them.

This is when the real garbage starts being shoveled into your brain. They are teaching that Christians in America are being oppressed & persecuted, and that it’s time for them to take the country back. In fact, they say it is their God-given mandate to do so. They teach that the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous, that *they* are righteous, and anyone who’s not Christian is wicked, so it is not only their privilege but their responsibility to take money away from those they deem to be ungodly. Many of their Bible schools are also training people to enter and be extremely active in politics, including running for positions in government from local bodies all the way up the ladder. Their goal is a theocracy with no tolerance for anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs.

Because these organizations initially appeal to people desperate for hope and help, the indoctrination process is pretty easy. Once they have their claws in you, it’s hard to escape. Isolation, loss of community, no support system, and even shunning are commonplace. The more time you spend around it, the more “normal” it becomes. You function as part of the group because failing to do so has negative consequences. Eventually, you stop questioning even the most outrageous claims made by the leaders and accept them as truth. When they hand you that glass of Kool-Aid, the one that convinces you it’s okay to kill people, exercise racism, and embrace ideals violating every sense of morality you’ve ever learned, you do it because you’ve been taught to obey without question.

The New Apostolic Reformation movement is no less dangerous than radical Islam. Ardent believers are fully prepared to die for what they believe in if that’s what the ringleaders ask them to do. They also believe they are immune to the coronavirus because it is a punishment for unrighteous living, and will be exacted only on those whose faith is not strong enough to protect them. They believe the “righteous” will be the only ones left standing when this is all said and done, and they are part of that group.

I spent 45 years with these people in one place or another and have watched in dismay as they went from Christianity (with a twist) to a cult. They no longer respect the rights of others to believe what they want to believe. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to fulfill their mandate, using force if necessary. Many churches are now encouraging their members to arm themselves and get CCW permits. Don’t discount this. Don’t blow it off. In November, if, God willing, 45 is voted out of office, there could be riots in the streets and widespread violence — perpetuated by these so-called “believers.” I’ve already heard the rumblings. I may be out of their churches, but I’m not out of the loop.

In Search of Worship

I have been searching for a new church since I moved back to this area a year ago. I have had to leave several services early because the music was so loud it gave me a migraine. Is this really worship, or is it a concert? Does it enable the average church member or visitor to set aside the cares of the world and focus on God, or is it meant to entertain? Do we need a darkened auditorium, spotlights, and fog machines to proclaim the majesty of Almighty God? What I see from my seat in these environments is less and less participation, especially when the “worship team” chooses songs with too many words or a melody line outside the range of most average singers. It is becoming a spectator sport instead of a way of coming together as believers to give reverence and awe to the God who gives us hope in a lost and dying world.

I know this will age me, but I was taught that praise and worship served a purpose, and that was to bring us into the throne room of God and prepare us to hear what God wanted to say to us. It was a way of setting aside the worries and concerns of daily life, unifying us as a people, and focusing on the One who could give us hope when all hope was lost. It was, at times, a sacrifice, especially when we were struggling or hurting or angry. It was a way of declaring that even in the midst of our trials and tribulations, God was still on the throne, and we were going to set aside this time to focus on Him instead of ourselves.

Our worship team was seen not only as a vital part of the ministry of the church, but also as people who set an example for young believers and newcomers. We dressed appropriately, wearing modest clothes so as not to draw the eye of the weak to areas they shouldn’t be looking at. We were not seen as the focal point, but rather as vessels. Our goal was leading the church into the presence of God. Being on the worship team was a privilege and a responsibility.

I fear that in the search for contemporary relevance and relatability, and in an attempt to get more backsides in the seats, we have lost sight of our vision. We have watered down the truth of the Gospel to pacify people who want to come to church, but don’t want to change. They want to feel good about what God has done for them, but they don’t really want to do anything for God. They don’t want to alter their lifestyles, give up their sinful behavior, or make any significant modifications to their lives.

We have taken the phrase “Come as you are” and forgotten that an intense, sincere relationship with God will not leave you where you were when you began. Failing to challenge believers to become more holy, to be in the world but not of it, and to seek to become more Christ-like is falling far short of the mark of excellence we are called to as Christians. We should be different. We should be peculiar, odd, & seen as out of place on this planet where sin, hate, strife, and division are spiraling out of control. We should be a light in the darkness.

It is simply not enough to come to church on Sunday, sing three songs from the current CCM radio station playlist, listen to a feel-good sermon, and walk back out the doors unchallenged and unchanged. That is not worship…. It is entertainment.

Stop the Mommy Bus

(originally written in 2001)

What do you mean there aren’t any stops? Nobody told me that when I got on this bus. I thought when the children reached a certain age we could get off for a while at least. But no; not only are there no stops, there are no doors either!

No wonder we have children when we are young. If we knew then what we knew now, we’d think a lot longer, plan more judiciously, and be a lot more certain before starting something that has no end.

In case you haven’t noticed, it just hit me that mommyhood is a terminal disease with no cure. We never stop being moms. It’s something we will be till the day we die. We never stop worrying about our offspring. It doesn’t matter if they live next door or 1200 miles away; all we have to do is hear that certain tone in their voices and WHAM! there we are again, being mom. The connection is never fully severed, no matter what anyone says. Heck, if a marriage fails you can get a divorce, but you can’t do that with your kids. You can ignore them, avoid them, not talk to them, even take them out of your will if you want, but the simple fact remains that they will always and forever be yours. They were inside your body for about 9 months, give or take depending on the child, and they will never totally leave it. It’s like they leave a piece of themselves inside when they are born, one guaranteed to pull at your heart when they hurt, or fall, or go through rough times.

You pour the best of all you have and know into them, hoping somehow to end up with contributing members of society. Interestingly enough, the things you like least about yourself are the things they emulate, and pick up on, and do…the annoying habits, the things you wish you could stop doing but can’t, the bad coping mechanisms you picked up from your own parents, the language, the attitudes…why can’t they just do what you tell them to? ~laughing~

It most certainly doesn’t help that no 2 of them are alike. What worked with Junior doesn’t touch little Jack’s heart one bit. He really doesn’t care about the starving kids in Africa. Hell, he’ll even share his oatmeal with them if you want him to. You look at Anna and she collapses in tears at the mere thought of displeasing you; you can put Ashley in the corner till you’re blue in the face and she doesn’t give a rip. You finally resort to spanking her little behind {waiting for the calls to protective services now}, and she dances off merrily to put the neighbor’s cat in the washer. You take them to church, and they become practicing pagans, lose their virginity early and experiment with every drug on the market; you never darken a church door and have a live-in housemate, and they want to go to Sunday School at 8 on a Sunday morning, for crying out loud, abstain from any form of sex till they are 35, and make straight A’s in school.

It’s a conspiracy, I tell you. They put us on this mommy-bus with our hormones all a-raging, listening to the sounds of our warped little biological clocks ticking away…and forget to tell us the clocks are really bombs.

{collapsing in laughter}

C.S. Lewis on Christmas

Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus

by C. S. Lewis

And beyond this there lies in the ocean, turned towards the west and north, the island of Niatirb which Hecataeus indeed declares to be the same size and shape as Sicily, but it is larger, though in calling it triangular a man would not miss the mark. It is densely inhabited by men who wear clothes not very different from the other barbarians who occupy the north western parts of Europe though they do not agree with them in language. These islanders, surpassing all the men of whom we know in patience and endurance, use the following customs.

In the middle of winter when fogs and rains most abound they have a great festival which they call Exmas and for fifty days they prepare for it in the fashion I shall describe. First of all, every citizen is obliged to send to each of his friends and relations a square piece of hard paper stamped with a picture, which in their speech is called an Exmas-card. But the pictures represent birds sitting on branches, or trees with a dark green prickly leaf, or else men in such garments as the Niatirbians believe that their ancestors wore two hundred years ago riding in coaches such as their ancestors used, or houses with snow on their roofs. And the Niatirbians are unwilling to say what these pictures have to do with the festival; guarding (as I suppose) some sacred mystery. And because all men must send these cards the marketplace is filled with the crowd of those buying them, so that there is great labour and weariness.

But having bought as many as they suppose to be sufficient, they return to their houses and find there the like cards which others have sent to them. And when they find cards from any to whom they also have sent cards, they throw them away and give thanks to the gods that this labour at least is over for another year. But when they find cards from any to whom they have not sent, then they beat their breasts and wail and utter curses against the sender; and, having sufficiently lamented their misfortune, they put on their boots again and go out into the fog and rain and buy a card for him also. And let this account suffice about Exmas-cards.

They also send gifts to one another, suffering the same things about the gifts as about the cards, or even worse. For every citizen has to guess the value of the gift which every friend will send to him so that he may send one of equal value, whether he can afford it or not. And they buy as gifts for one another such things as no man ever bought for himself. For the sellers, understanding the custom, put forth all kinds of trumpery, and whatever, being useless and ridiculous, they have been unable to sell throughout the year they now sell as an Exmas gift. And though the Niatirbians profess themselves to lack sufficient necessary things, such as metal, leather, wood and paper, yet an incredible quantity of these things is wasted every year, being made into the gifts.

But during these fifty days the oldest, poorest, and most miserable of the citizens put on false beards and red robes and walk about the market-place; being disguised (in my opinion) as Cronos. And the sellers of gifts no less than the purchaser’s become pale and weary, because of the crowds and the fog, so that any man who came into a Niatirbian city at this season would think some great public calamity had fallen on Niatirb. This fifty days of preparation is called in their barbarian speech the Exmas Rush.

But when the day of the festival comes, then most of the citizens, being exhausted with the Rush, lie in bed till noon. But in the evening they eat five times as much supper as on other days and, crowning themselves with crowns of paper, they become intoxicated. And on the day after Exmas they are very grave, being internally disordered by the supper and the drinking and reckoning how much they have spent on gifts and on the wine. For wine is so dear among the Niatirbians that a man must swallow the worth of a talent before he is well intoxicated.

Such, then, are their customs about the Exmas. But the few among the Niatirbians have also a festival, separate and to themselves, called Crissmas, which is on the same day as Exmas. And those who keep Crissmas, doing the opposite to the majority of the Niatirbians, rise early on that day with shining faces and go before sunrise to certain temples where they partake of a sacred feast. And in most of the temples they set out images of a fair woman with a new-born Child on her knees and certain animals and shepherds adoring the Child. (The reason of these images is given in a certain sacred story which I know but do not repeat.)

But I myself conversed with a priest in one of these temples and asked him why they kept Crissmas on the same day as Exmas; for it appeared to me inconvenient. But the priest replied, “It is not lawful, O stranger, for us to change the date of Chrissmas, but would that Zeus would put it into the minds of the Niatirbians to keep Exmas at some other time or not to keep it at all. For Exmas and the Rush distract the minds even of the few from sacred things. And we indeed are glad that men should make merry at Crissmas; but in Exmas there is no merriment left.” And when I asked him why they endured the Rush, he replied, “It is, O Stranger, a racket”; using (as I suppose) the words of some oracle and speaking unintelligibly to me (for a racket is an instrument which the barbarians use in a game called tennis).

But what Hecataeus says, that Exmas and Crissmas are the same, is not credible. For first, the pictures which are stamped on the Exmas-cards have nothing to do with the sacred story which the priests tell about Crissmas. And secondly, the most part of the Niatirbians, not believing the religion of the few, nevertheless send the gifts and cards and participate in the Rush and drink, wearing paper caps. But it is not likely that men, even being barbarians, should suffer so many and great things in honour of a god they do not believe in. And now, enough about Niatirb.