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.

Choosing a Simple Life

“7 Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)

This is my daily prayer. All I need is enough. Any extra I get, I share. Anybody who claims to be a Christian and does otherwise has a serious problem. God doesn’t give us money so we can pad our bank accounts, live in fancy (sometimes multiple) houses, drive expensive cars, or own private jets so we don’t have to be around those in need. When and if God blesses us financially, it’s so we can share with people who are suffering.

If the church did what the church was supposed to do, we wouldn’t need social welfare programs. Greed and materialism have invaded the church, and the “prosperity gospel” goes a long way toward making those who do have money feel better and more worthy than people who struggle to pay their rent and feed their families. Does anybody honestly think that’s what God had in mind? I don’t think so, not for a minute. The next person who tells me I’m struggling financially because I don’t have enough faith to believe God for financial prosperity is going to get smacked upside the head. Sometimes we are poor because being around people with no money gives us an opportunity to be a witness for Jesus in that environment.

Nowhere in the Bible is it promised that God’s people are going to all be rich, in perfect health, and gloriously happy. It does say that we will be persecuted, tortured, and even killed because of our beliefs. It says men will revile us and persecute us. The Beatitudes even say “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

How does that jive with the prosperity gospel? It doesn’t, because the prosperity gospel isn’t biblical. It’s metaphysical and part of the New Thought movement. I challenge anybody who doesn’t agree with me to find a verse in the Bible that tells me God wants me to be rich, live in a gated community where I don’t have any contact with poor people or people in need, and totally avoid the uncomfortable reality of poverty (both physical and spiritual), all the while telling people how favored I am.

No thanks. I will take my simple lifestyle any day.

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