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.

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}

Change in the Wind

I’m considering going back to school to get my Bachelor’s degree. I’ve always wanted to do this but the last decade or so has been almost overwhelming, and it was a struggle to merely keep my head above water for a long time. I’m far from fixed, and I have my issues, but I think it’s time to fulfill this dream. It will probably be an online program because I don’t know if I can handle campus chaos, but hey — an achievement is an achievement, no? How we get to where we need to be may not be how we imagined it, but the journey can be fulfilling and satisfying anyway.

(I think the neighbor is rearranging, at 4:30 in the morning….don’t ask me why I’m still awake because I can’t say except to note that my mind won’t shut up again. I keep hearing scraping and moving sounds over on the other side of the wall,)

It’s getting cooler here and fall is definitely in the air. After 3 winters in Florida I have the feeling Missouri is going to kick my backside once again. Hopefully this will be my last year here for a while, if all goes as planned. I’m looking into getting a house with my daughter and her family in another state because they can’t afford what they need on their income, and I need to be around people whether I like it or not. Their family respects my introversion when I choose to be alone in my room or go on a trip by myself, but they also provide me with a sense of belonging and companionship I can’t get when I’m living on my own. Yes, they’re amazingly loud at times, but that’s what headphones are for, right? I stayed with them a bit over the winter and early spring and we did okay….as long as they respect my need for privacy when I shut my door and I give them space when it’s necessary, we should get along fine. Families in other parts of the world make this work all the time. We can do it, too. Multi-generational living has definite advantages. It’s not perfect, but life isn’t either.

God has been good to me. Bumps, bruises, pain, loss….it’s all in His hands and He can make something good from even the worst that happens to us if we allow Him to move in our lives. Yes, I’ve had it rough at times, but other people have gone through much more for longer and they survived. I’m tenacious, determined, and willing to go with the flow to get where I need to be. Hopefully I’ll be an inspiration to someone else who just might need to hear that our past doesn’t dictate our future if we can let go of the pain and stop the negativity that wants to pull us under.

I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress just like everyone else. I have a bit of a different viewpoint than a lot of folks, but that’s part of who I am. I’m not tied to places or belongings, but to my God and what He has for me even when I have no idea what that is or how I’m going to get there. That’s faith. I trust that when He calls me to step out, there will be ground under my feet or He will help me fly. What more do I really need? He’s gotten me this far and He isn’t about to let go now.

Travel Thoughts 2.0

So, here I am almost a month into my adventure. I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve learned even more.

Since I sold my place and left Florida, I’ve put almost 7000 miles on the van. Of course, this included driving it back to Missouri and then back to Florida before officially getting started…..I’ve been in the following states on this journey:

  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Arizona
  • Texas
  • California

I’ve been to the following National Parks or Monuments:

  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • White Sands
  • Joshua Tree
  • Big Bend

I’ll say it again, after all this driving and exploring, though I’m just getting started….People are in too much of a hurry (as a whole, not necessarily every individual). You see it on the roads with the traffic accidents caused by one car cutting in front of another or driving too fast to be able to safely stop. You see it in the way people speed on the highways – when the speed limit is 70, they often go 75 (and yes, I’m guilty of that at times myself). Increase the limit to 80, which is in effect on some Texas highways, and they go 90 (not me!). They’ll still get so close behind you that you could reach out your back window and touch their hood, and they hate to be kept waiting because it’s SO important to get in front of you or another car, only to be stopped in a traffic jam right up the road because someone was careless, or texting, or in a hurry…..

Another thing I noticed – and it’s ironic, really – is we are often so fixated on getting there, wherever “there” is, that we forget that “here” is part of there. We rush and rush to get to our destination, failing to take time to enjoy the sights and adventures along the way, and then when we do arrive, all we can seem to think about is moving on to the next place or attraction or city. Even in the National Parks people can’t seem to slow down. Now a lot of them are a bit off the beaten path, and they have posted speed limits. There’s a reason for this: they want you to take some time to appreciate the beauty of the landscape, notice the different plants and animals, and relax a bit. Many folks just can’t seem to to make that happen. If the posted limit is 35, you’ll have people going 45 or even 50 in their rush to arrive. If the limit is 45, and you’re going the limit, you’ll be passed by cars hurrying to get to the next spot so they can rabbit to the next one. I get this mentality in the city, though with a bit of foresight and thinking ahead it wouldn’t need to be a routine occurrence….what gets me is when they drive 3 hours from a town to get to a national park in the middle of nowhere and tailgate the cars in front of them or pass them like they’re sitting still. It’s not a contest, folks. We need to take more time to enjoy life instead of wolfing it down like a super-sized value meal after a day or two of eating nothing. There’s so much beauty in life, whether it’s in the landscape around us, the animals and birds, or the stars in the night sky; life’s too short to shoot through stuff at 90 miles an hour (down a dead end road) just so we can say we’ve been there and done that.

When you live in a vehicle, different things take on a special importance. These include showers, bathrooms, hot food, and quiet. Sleeping in truck stops and WalMart parking lots with the occasional treat of paying for a campsite so you can have electricity or visiting a friend or family member and taking advantage of their refrigerator, TV, and wi-fi is a real eye opener. I’m doing this kinda by choice….had I waited much longer, it could easily have become a necessity. I was in over my head. I had too many bills for my income, though I was being careful. Being the owner of a 40-year-old mobile home isn’t cheap. There’s maintenance; things break and need to be fixed; upkeep and replacement of old parts and components can get really expensive. I had a 40-year-old air conditioning unit, 40-year-old windows, and the plumbing and water heater needed help. Those items alone could have run into the tens of thousands of dollars had they all needed to be replaced, in addition to my monthly expenses. Yeah, I will have some costs associated with living in my van, but they’re a lot less than $5000 for a new AC unit, $3000 for windows, $10,000 for new flooring, and $500 or more for the plumber to unclog the washer drain. Heck, for that kind of money I could get a nice newer van or fix this one up to run another 200,000 miles. I got a Planet Fitness membership for exercising and showering. I use wet wipes between visits if I need to clean up. I have a bed, and food, and things to drink, and I’m dry when it’s raining. I have blankets to keep me warm, the kitties for company, and my kids call now and then to check up on me.

I’m meeting fascinating people here in our country….today I was at the Texas Flag Monument and a small group from a nearby church showed up with food, drinks, and clothes for the homeless in the area. They spent about an hour here just loving on those others might look down their noses at and judge for where they are, forgetting that many of us are only one missed paycheck, one lost job, or one injury from finding themselves in the same position. The volunteers don’t ask for anything in return or demand recipients go to their church or pray with them, but they do offer a ride to the Sunday service if someone wants to come. This is Jesus in action, people. Meeting simple needs in a simple way for those around us who just need a little compassion and love does more to spread the Gospel than all the preaching in the world from a fancy pulpit in a church with 300, 3000, or 30,000 members. It’s not about us. It’s about them and what we have to offer because of who we are and Who we claim to believe in.

I was reading in Luke last night about Lazarus, the beggar overlooked by the rich man. He basically learned that if you receive your reward here on earth – money, possessions, favor – then you’ve gotten your due. On the other hand, those who suffer in this life but still believe will be rewarded in heaven. How many of us have become so materialistic, so enamored by the shiny trinkets this earth has to offer, that we’ve forgotten they are only temporary? This will all pass. We can’t take any of it with us when we die. What matters is how we treat other people, how we show God’s love in our daily walk, and how we utilize what He’s given us (whether selfishly, to fulfill our own desires for the trappings of wealth, or as a means to spread the love and compassion of Jesus by allowing Him to use us to bless others). When I die, it won’t matter that I lived in a van. What matters is how I treat people. What matters is my character and integrity. What matters is if I live what I preach, love who Jesus loves, and give whatever I can to help those I can help – whether that’s finances, food, a smile, a hug, or words of support and encouragement depending on the circumstances. It’s not about my personal accumulation of stuff or what I’ve achieved as far as education, career, possessions, or accomplishments. It’s about what I do with what God has given me – talents, abilities, gifts, finances, possessions – to make this world a better place and to touch others. There’s an old song called “You’re the Only Jesus Some Will Ever See.” It’s more true now than ever, with so many people never having even darkened the door of a church. Too many have never heard of the love of God, instead seeing Him as a vengeful being sitting on a throne doling out punishment for real or perceived infractions. We have the capability to show the world He is real, He cares, and He wants to be personally involved in our lives regardless of our circumstances.

And that’s where I am today.

Let the Adventure Begin!

I’m sitting in a parking lot in Red Rock Canyon near Hinton, OK. This is the beginning of my second week of van-dwelling. I’ve been driving all day and sleeping like a baby at night, but haven’t taken much of a break for anything. I did go to church yesterday in Houston, but other than that it’s been drive, drive, drive from the time I get up until it’s too dark to see and I can’t concentrate.

I’ve learned a few things already that may help others interested in this adventure:

  • You cannot park overnight at Love’s truck stops. They have signs everywhere saying customers can only park for one hour.
  • Flying J truck stops charge $1 for a cup of hot water. I can buy a whole bottle at many stores for that price. You can, however, bring a cup of water in and heat it in the microwave.
  • It’s not so easy to find things like 12v immersion water heaters for cups unless you order them online. I finally found one today after looking for a week.
  • Of the 3 nights I spent in WalMart parking lots, I was not the only person sleeping in a vehicle. This is not as uncommon as people think.
  • Don’t pin your hopes and dreams on your orders arriving at an Amazon Locker location on time. I sat for several hours waiting for a shipment that was supposed to arrive one day, and then at 9pm I was informed it would arrive some time within the next 2 days. If you have somewhere to be, which I did, this can be extremely frustrating.
  • Cats are extremely resilient. Mine have traveled very well. I had them in their crates for the first day, and then put them on leashes hooked to their harnesses and let them get used to the van for a day before letting them go. When I’m driving through a bigger place like Dallas or Houston I stop before we get there and hook them back up to their leashes in case one of them gets a wild hair and tries to help me drive. Other than that, they’re handling this like champs. They seem to really enjoy looking out the windows as we travel.

I’ve noticed a few things as I’ve been driving across the country.

  • It’s become apparent to me that many of us are in far too much of a hurry all the time. A simple trip on your local freeway will prove this. People cut in front of each other going 80 miles an hour, don’t use turn signals, and present a real danger to others sharing the road. We need to learn to slow down, leave earlier, and not try to do so much.
  • We all need to take more time to enjoy and appreciate the beauty around us. I’m one of those people who would love a way to take a picture while I’m driving – without having to stop and pull over, because sometimes you can’t. Just sitting here today and listening to the wildlife around me is refreshing and feeds a need in me to be still.
  • Possessions aren’t everything. I’ve gone from 4.2 acres of land with a nice mobile home, 3 outbuildings, a pond, and up to 54 chickens to living in a van, and I’m no less me than I was when I had all that stuff. In fact, this has been very freeing. There’s no pressure to keep up with the neighbors; I don’t have to hire someone to pressure wash the house, clean the gutters, or fix a kink in the plumbing. There’s no pruning or weeding to be done. I can clean this area in under 10 minutes, including sweeping the stray kitty litter out the door.
  • Silence is precious. We don’t get enough of it. In the city, it’s noisy all the time. Trucks, cars, neighbors, dogs barking, and the sounds of people doing what they do carries into everything. Learning to live in the quiet without needing constant outside stimulation is a good thing.

While it’s certainly not for everyone, and I don’t know for myself how long this will last, it’s been a learning experience I will take with me for the rest of my life.

Opportunities

Life has a way of challenging us. It tasks us to grow, develop character, and allow things to happen in order to make us into better people. If we choose not to accept this opportunity, we can become bitter, angry, and resentful.

Simply put, things happen to everyone. Cars break down. Jobs are lost. Homes sell or need major repairs. Kids and adults get sick, need glasses or braces, or require surgery. Natural disasters destroy possessions and sometimes take lives. What you do when this happens to you determines how your life will develop. You can look for ways to make good from bad, or you can let it eat you alive.


I’ve seen what happens when someone decides that everything bad happening to them is a personal attack. This person became almost intolerable to deal with as they ranted against nature, against previous spouses and grown children, and blamed God for things that were occurring all around them every day all over the world to thousands if not millions of other people. They allowed circumstances to dictate how they lived instead of responding to those happenings by making the best of it and seeking to glean positive from negative.

I’m sitting at the car dealership as I’m typing this up. I brought my car back to Florida to sell it and pick up a van so I can fulfill a dream….I want to travel the country on my own terms, living on my own, taking my time and not being tied down to any possessions beyond what I need to survive. The car had other plans. The mass air flow sensor is shot, and I can’t take it to the dealer I’m selling it to while I know something is wrong with it. Now hopefully the significant cost is covered by warranty, but if not, I’ll pony up the funds to pay. This is part of living as a Christian with integrity and honesty; I can’t just pass off something defective as if it’s perfectly good. If it costs me several hundred dollars, so be it. It’s only money. Was this in my plan? Heck no…..by this time today I was supposed to be loading the stuff from my storage unit into the back of the van with my grandson so we could leave tonight and head back to Missouri. Instead, we’re sitting here waiting for an unexpected repair. There’s a reason for it – there always is. Maybe there’s an accident on the road and we missed it because we were here. Perhaps this is God’s way of making me sit still for a purpose I won’t discover until I see Him face to face. It’s not my job to try and figure all this stuff out….what is my responsibility is doing the best I can with what I’ve been given, and not letting this like this get me all stressed out and angry.

I need to ask myself at the end of every day if I’ve lived it to the glory of God to the best of my ability. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect; in fact, I’m far from it. I’m weak, subject to doubt and insecurity just like the next person. However, I know where my hope lies, and it’s not in a car, bank account, or timetable. God is my source, not man or technology or circumstances. Every crisis or unexpected situation is a chance for growth and character development if I will be open to that possibility. That’s my goal….to see what He wants me to see in whatever presents itself as I walk through this life. With His help, I can be a positive influence on those around me not only by what I say and do, but by how I act when life throws me curve balls and knocks me flat on my back. It’s not about falling….it’s about getting up, and if not in my own strength, with the strength of the One who created the planets, stars, and every living thing.  As long as I keep my eyes on Him this will all work out the way it should. It’s when I get in the way that things get dicey.

God is good all the time, even when life doesn’t go as planned. His ways are higher. He sees the end from the beginning. If we could just remember that, it would make life a lot better…….

©2019

Midnight Thoughts

We have all been through trials and tribulations. We have faced dark nights and scary times. However, there are those of us who have been to the gates of hell and back again, and for those women, those people, I have something to tell you.

You are precious to God. There has not been one minute in your life where He hasn’t been right there with you. When you were being abused, neglected, raped, beaten, tormented in your mind…… He was there with you. He felt your pain. He knew your heartache. He has seen everything you have gone through. He has wept with you, and been with you through all of those struggles. You have not been alone for one second.

You may feel damaged, but you are not broken. You are precious in the eyes of God just the way you are. He can take those experiences, the things the enemy wanted to use to destroy you, and turn them into a powerful testimony. He can use you to reach people nobody else can touch. He has a purpose for your life, even if you can’t see it. He sees you whole and complete, and His desire is for your healing. He never intended for us to walk through our lives burdened by the past. I’m not saying that you will wake up one morning and not remember anything you’ve been through, but he can use those experiences to make you stronger, more dedicated, and more able to minister to people in need.

All you need to do is get lost in Jesus. When you get lost in him, when you spend time saturated by his presence, thinking about nothing else on Earth, He can reach in and begin to peel that pain away and replace it with the knowledge that you are His infinitely precious creation. You are a pearl. Many of us learned in school how pearls were made. At the center of each pearl is a grain of sand. It causes such irritation inside the oyster that the creature coats it with layer upon layer upon layer of iridescent, luminous, gorgeously shiny material in order to ease that irritation and pain it feels. Each of us who has experienced abuse, abandonment, or violence has that grain of sand in our hearts. God, if we will allow it, can coat that pain and that agony with something that is beautiful and valuable and precious. He can take the ugliest situation and make it shine for His glory. He can indeed take what was meant for evil and turn it to His good if we will just allow him to do so. If you will trust Jesus, if you will yield your pain to His hands, and if you will allow Him to work in your heart, He can and will do for you what no man can do. He can show you what you mean to Him, give you a sense of purpose, and make what was broken whole.

Need or Greed?

Jesse Duplantis says if Jesus lived today, He wouldn’t be riding a (borrowed) donkey. I agree. He’d walk, take the Metro or subway, ride a Greyhound bus, or fly coach. You NEVER see Jesus hanging out with the elite in the Word, except when He was comparing them to snakes, vipers, and whitewashed tombs. He hung out with commoners…..hookers, tax collectors, lepers, the undesirables of the day. He most certainly would not be found luxuriating in a $56,000,000 private jet.

The line between need and greed is clear to anyone not blinded by the lies of the “prosperity gospel.” The Bible exhorts us to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, give shelter to the homeless, bless the widows and orphans; it never mentions holding yourself up as being higher or better than others. We are to walk in humility and integrity, not selfishness and materialism. Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the good news, admonishing them to not even take an extra shirt (Luke 9:3)……what makes modern day prosperity gospel advocates think He changed His mind between then and now, to the point of endorsing accumulating wealth at the expense of others, including those in need?? A private plane isn’t a necessity. It’s a luxury, and a wasteful one.

Multi-million-dollar mansions, Bentleys, private planes, designer suits, Rolex watches……no wonder unbelievers see modern-day Christians as greedy and unfeeling. How many of us stop and give a couple dollars to the homeless man on the corner or stop at a fast food joint to buy him a meal instead of ignoring his plight? Which speaks louder — meeting a person’s need or letting them watch you pull up in your luxury car to your fancy house in a gated community while they can’t even find a full time job that pays enough to survive? Talk about a wealth gap — it’s as bad in many of today’s churches as it is in any city on the planet. God gives us blessings not so we can hoard them, but so we can share them with others.

You cannot effectively pastor large numbers of parishoners. The Word mentions the good shepherd, who knows his sheep so well he leaves 99 of them to go search for one lost lamb. If you “pastor” a church with 2000 attendees, you can’t even know all their names, much less what their financial or home situation is like. People at these churches who don’t qualify to belong to the inner sanctum (rich, exclusive, deemed good enough to fraternize with the leadership) come and go like raindrops, and when they leave nobody even notices. The leaders heading up these “congregations” are no more pastors than I am. Not only don’t they know who comes and goes…..they don’t care as long as the money keeps coming in. If you are struggling financially, you’re told it’s because you’re not giving enough. If you’re sick, it’s because you need to make a special faith offering so you can be healed. It goes on and on….all to the benefit of those in receipt of the tithes and offerings of people who have been deceived into thinking God wants us all to be rich.

“Forgive us our trespasses”…..our greed, lack of compassion, judgemental attitude, and feeling like we deserve any more than anyone else…..Remind us, Lord, we ALL live in daily need of Your forgiveness and mercy. Without You, our accomplishments, possessions, and everything we build our image on is nothing. We are just as lost as a drunk sleeping on a bus stop bench without the redeeming blood of Jesus. Help us remember that and look on the less fortunate with His eyes……eyes that see every human being as valuable, precious, and worth dying for.

 

You Are Enough.

Those of us who experienced abuse in childhood or marriage – whether verbal, physical, sexual, psychological, or any combination thereof – often struggle with feelings of inadequacy, self-criticism, self-hatred, doubt, fear, and even self-condemnation. We need to remember that Jesus bled and died for us, too. He was with us through those times, holding us up with His hand, because He loves us. He knows how we struggle to reconcile the concept of a loving, caring Father with the examples we were exposed to. He is aware of how it skewed our thinking and caused us to struggle more than others with seeing Him as One who accepts us as we are, not the way someone else thinks we should be. He hears our cries in the darkness, is fully cognizant of our tormented minds, and stands with us as we battle the forces that would cause us to get so mired down by the treatment we endured that we would even give up on our hopes and dreams. His will for us is victory, confidence, and the assurance we are His chosen children – not in spite of, but sometimes even because of our scars. We are fighters. We survived sometimes hellish circumstances, things we never told anyone else, and we came out on the other side with a tenacity and a strength known only by those who endure this kind of hardship.

What you have been through has made you especially capable and competent at ministering to others in pain. You know what it’s like to be afraid to speak loudly, to draw attention to yourself, to be an individual, and you can see it in others. The compassion engendered by your experiences was given to you for a reason. It’s not just there for you to acknowledge, but it’s been given to you so that you can minister to others who are going through or have been through similar circumstances. Someone who has never been abused can feel sorry for what a survivor is struggling with, but they just don’t know how it feels. You know because you’ve been there. You recognize the downturned gaze, the self-deprecation, the avoidance of personal talk, the attempts to be invisible; they are as familiar to you as your own skin. I can recognize an abused woman or child a mile away. It shouts the story in how they walk, carry themselves, talk, and even dress. The scramble to pacify, the constant need for reassurance that they’re good enough, the reluctance to speak about what they’re enduring is like red graffiti on a white wall. Because you’ve been there, you see what others don’t. You get them. This gives you an unique opportunity to minister to them from experience, not just what you’ve been taught in a class, read in a book, or heard second-hand.

We often look at the struggles in our lives and ask God, “Why is this happening to me?” The question itself isn’t as important as the reason behind asking it. We can have one of two attitudes when posing this query:

  • Why me? What did I do to deserve this? How can a loving God allow anyone to endure such trauma?
  • How is this trial preparing me for my calling? What can I learn from it? How can I apply the strength I gained coming through this experience to benefit the kingdom of God?

How we look at living as a human being in a world full of sin affects our response to the circumstances we find ourselves in. Unfortunately, being finite often leaves us seeing only our immediate situation; it’s like viewing a quilt from the point of view of a single piece of fabric or listening to a symphony from the third violist’s chair. We can’t see our lives like God sees them. We simply aren’t created with that capability. This is where faith comes in. We have to choose to trust Him to lead us through what will shape us into the person He intended us to be. Sometimes this means walking in darkness, trusting Him to guide us. It may require us to lay down things we want to do or be in order to receive His best for us, even if we don’t understand it at the time. For abuse survivors, this kind of trust can be really difficult. Victimization can lead to a whole mess of thought processes capable of interfering with letting go of what we think is good and right. We may fear more than just the loss of control, and justifiably so; vulnerability has betrayed us in the past, and we are leery of yielding that kind of power to anyone else, even God. In fact, it may take us much longer to learn to put our confidence in His desire for our good. This explains, in a way, why the faith of those who have suffered abuse may be much stronger; for us to get to the point where we can yield our will and desire for self-protection to someone else requires a decision not reached without much internal conflict, and one that will not be easily challenged or abandoned. I may at times doubt my ability to do what God has called me to do, but I am never dubious about His love for me. In fact, it has been the only thing I had to hold on to more than once. In the middle of everything I’ve been through, He has been the constant I could rely on – even when I was so mired in misery I wondered if I should just give in. This knowledge has been my anchor, my rock, my confidence when everything else was falling to pieces around me. I am sure of this: no matter what I’m going through, I am never alone. I may not be happy, healthy, wealthy, or successful in the eyes of the world, but God has a plan for me that will bring Him glory no matter how weak or frail I am, or how many times I fall.

No matter what anybody else tells you, what and who you are is exactly what and who you were created to be. You may have made mistakes, or fallen, or rebelled….but God knew all that when He created you, and He loves you anyway. Don’t let those lies imprison you. Remember, He knew you before He laid the foundations of the world, and He would not have you be anyone but who you are. Never forget that.

©2018