Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Yes to God" Chapter 2, Ms. Perfection

This was one of the paragraphs that I had in my previous post of the day.

I feel like crying and that the “I am not good enough” thought permeates everything. Being a wife, being a mom, being a friend, being a homemaker, being a Christian. I know each day is full of it’s own challenges. I know that God is with me and helping me. I know it. I am trying to cling to that truth that He will never leave me nor forsake me. No matter what my feelings might be telling me.

Even though I hadn’t started this post on the Ms. Perfection chapter of Lisa Whittle’s book “Behind Those Eyes,” I started talking about it this morning. Probably because the book was fresh on my mind, as I finished it last night.

When I look at the different ways perfectionism can run it’s course in our lives, I find myself in each one. Putting up the perfect little family mask, the perfect wife mask, the perfect mom mask, the perfect all-together mask.

I identified immediately with Tiffany. I am such a people pleaser, and want to avoid confrontation in such a huge way, that I will do just about anything to keep others happy. As Tiffany said, “My self-worth depended on everyone else’s approval of me.” Even if they have hurt me deeply, I usually don’t let them know, because it would cause a conflict. I mean, what if they got upset because I told them I was hurt? I have had that happen before.

Someone close to me hurt me very deeply this past year. We were working through it, but then I was told by this person that we should never talk about it again. So I never brought it up with them again. I just had to pretend that everything was ok, and the situation was closed and it was fine, and I was ok.

But I wasn’t. No matter the front I put up. As I started working through the issue in my counseling, the pain got worse and worse. Finally we hit the situation pretty hard in counseling, and that weekend, I fell apart. There was no more pretending everything was perfect. I was so depressed, from having to hold it in, that I was suicidal. When I told this person what had gotten me to this point, I was told, “You’re still dealing with THAT?!”

I finally was able to forgive this person… if you can believe it, only a week later. But it took some intensive counseling on my part, and some forgiveness from the other person first, before I was able to finally forgive them from the heart and let it go. (I had already made the commitment in my head, the choice, to forgive, but my emotions hadn’t followed yet up to that point.)

All my life though I have tried to be the person everyone wanted me to be. Get the best grades to bring home to my folks, and ended up driving myself more than they ever drove me. The thing that kept me driving for good grades wasn’t anything my parents ever did or said, really. It was more my remembering hearing the fights between my parents and my brother as they were trying to get him to do his homework, and study for tests and such, when he was having a bad year in school. Because I hate any unpleasantness so much, I vowed that I would never give them cause to react in that way to me about my grades and performance in school.

That was just the start for me. It got worse all through college, and it got bad especially in areas for me that were my strengths. There I would really pressure myself. I had, and still have such insecurity in my abilities. I would push myself to sing better, play the piano better, write better, read more, memorize more scripture, etc. I never felt I measured up to the standard. But the standard set by WHO? Me? God? I didn’t know, but I never made it. I could never jump over that bar. I was constantly knocking it down. Each time I thought I had finally gotten to the point where I could get over it, I found it moved up higher, and I would come crashing down.

I think Lisa captured all this in her last paragraph of the chapter.
“We want to be the perfect wife, perfect mother, and perfect woman all wrapped up in a perfect package. Even though we know in our hearts that it’s just not possible, we still strive for perfection. And just like Tiffany, it is killing our souls and hearts in the process.”
You see, for the last 18 years I struggled with depression, but I hid it from everyone, even myself. In the past 6 years it got worse. My heart and soul were in the slow process of dying, as I tried to look the good Christian woman part on the outside, and I didn’t even know it.

I worked on developing friendships in the new church we were in, thinking it was a lack of friends that was causing this emptiness in me. I had 2 kids in quick succession thinking that would “fill” me. That only seemed to make things worse. No matter how hard I pursued God, pursued friends, or tried anything, I was still empty.

I finally admitted to a close friend that I was struggling with depression. She told me I needed to talk to my small group leader who did some counseling. I did see him and his wife on and off for about a year or two. Things just kept getting worse. I sought some anti-depressants from my regular doctor at the beginning of last summer. But all the time this was going on, I tried to “act normal” and perfect for everyone around me. It was just a facade, as I was still dying inside.

Finally, it got to the point where the mask was ripped away. Quite effectively. I ended up planning my death. A very good friend convinced me to tell my husband that at least I was that close, and then another friend suggested that I at least tell my doctor who was prescribing my medications. As soon as I did that, I was in the hospital, on the mental health unit. Even walking in there, I had on that mask. Later I talked with other patients there, and they had told me that after meeting me the first time they had commented to each other, “She is way too happy to be on this unit!”

Now I know that I need to be real. There is no way that I can survive with the masks. It is too painful. It keeps me too far away from God, because when I am pretending with others, I find I am pretending most of the time with God. Even though I had that wake up call this year… twice… hospitalized both times, I still struggle with putting up the “perfect” mask. It is a very hard habit to break.

I still really struggle with being the perfect everything for my family. But it doesn’t matter if I flubbed up on worship team this weekend, or didn’t quite make it on time to pick up Peter at school, or get the full dinner prepared on time. It is GOOD ENOUGH.

It is GOOD. And God is ENOUGH.

No matter what happens, what anyone else thinks, or what I think, or the lies I am being fed by the world, my flesh or the devil…

It is GOOD. And God is ENOUGH.

How can I compete with that? In everything God is enough, no matter how badly I fail, or others fail me. Anything and everything I do:

It’s. Good. Enough.

As long as my focus and heart are in the right place.

Because God is enough to cover all of my mistakes with His PERFECT BLOOD.

If you want to see anymore about this blog bible study, hop over and visit Lelia, and see the other people’s post about Ms. Perfection showing up in their lives.

**NOTE for those of you who are interested in the “good enough” part I wrote at the end here… and would like further clarification, see my post “Perfectionism and Good Enough

Truth... Lies... What's in a name #10

I haven’t written for a while, at least not a “real” post since last week Tuesday. A lot has been going on, and I have been trying to emotionally recover, and try to focus on God, which is really hard when I have been having trouble sleeping and have two cute kids running around. (and frustrating kids at times)

The biggest thing for me that happened this past week, was that in my counseling session, I think we finally broke through the whole memory of the rape I have been trying to deal with.

When we started the therapy, I was so shaky and scared to face it again. The image that was in my head was the after effects, when I was curled up in the bathroom. I was so hurt and the pain was pretty overwhelming in the session. As she stopped the therapy, I found myself curled up on her couch in the fetal position. I was shaking and I didn’t know how I was going to get through it. I was remembering the feelings of being so numb and cold and alone. Fearful of letting the guy know how I was feeling, so I couldn’t make a sound, didn’t dare even cry.

With Tricia, I was finally able to cry. We weren’t even doing the therapy. I was just sitting on the couch, between bits of the therapy, and I don’t even remember the line of thought we were pursuing. I started to cry, to weep, to mourn. I was glad, and I think so was Tricia, because when I started to cry and tried to control it, she reminded me that it was ok to cry, and to just let it come. She just allowed me the space and time to cry. It was a bit hard because I felt a bit self-conscious but the emotions were so overwhelming, that I couldn’t really stop them…. though I could have used a big hug at that point from someone!

I guess the most important thing that I wanted to share was what happened at the end of the session. We were back to the therapy, trying to help me overlay the truth that even though this awful thing happened to me, that I was still significant, worthy, and never left alone by God.

As I was going through it, and praying it through as well, I felt like God was asking me to let it all go… the pain, the memories, the wounding from it, and give it to Him.

Through the tears, I surrendered it all.

Yes, I am still hurting. Yes, it’s not completely healed yet, but it is another piece of my heart that He has taken from my hands. I had pulled it from the box, but was afraid to let it go, even though that shattered piece was cutting my hands to ribbons. I turned my hands over, and gave that piece of my heart to my God. I know that He is healing it back into my heart, and He is healing my hands that I wounded by hanging onto this for so long.

The other big thing that happened this week was my being the leader for one of the worship teams for the first time. Wednesday night rehearsal went well, though after the counseling session earlier that day, I cried all the way from home to church.

Sunday morning went well too. Not great, not PERFECT! It went all right. The things that happened that were so glaringly wrong to me, were largely unnoticed by the rest of the congregation.

The thing was, once I was done, there was an emotional let down. I expected that. I didn’t expect the weight, the depression, and the feeling of … I don’t even know what.

After talking with my friend, Cindy, I realized that some of it is probably that I have started a new ministry. Every time I have begun a new ministry, become involved in something that might have some sort of impact for God’s kingdom, well, I end up under some sort of spiritual attack. This time, I felt the pressure of not doing a good enough job, seeing all the things I did wrong. I started feeling like my abilities are not good enough. That I am unable to do the job I took on, and I shouldn’t keep on.

I feel like crying and that the “I am not good enough” thought permeates everything. Being a wife, being a mom, being a friend, being a homemaker, being a Christian. I know each day is full of it’s own challenges. I know that God is with me and helping me. I know it. I am trying to cling to that truth that He will never leave me nor forsake me. No matter what my feelings might be telling me.

So the after effects of some victories, is a down swing to the valley. Some more struggling with depression. Like my friend Amy said on a recent post, depression is a thief that comes in to steal away our “energy, enthusiasm, joy self-confidence.” I don’t want it to steal away my time with my kids, when I could be playing and enjoying our time together.

So, though the depression I am feeling right now would steal away my time with my kids, I am going to choose a different way today, to the best of my abilities. The depression would have me continue to bury myself at the computer, while they are clamoring for my attention. The depression would have me curl up under the covers and ignore everything.

I know the best way to battle the depression is to act on the truth that I know. God has given me nothing more than I can bear. He is with me. He is my strength, my song and my hope. I am going to choose to cling to him, and wring as much joy out of this day as I can.
Even when that includes changing stinky diapers, diaper pails, cat litter, breaking up fights, and trying to find SOMETHING to do with the kids on this cold, cloudy day!

****** NOTE: This seems to relate to the “Yes to God Tuesdays” Ms. Perfection chapter that is due today. As I need to get to the kids for now, I will be posting later on today… it will probably add to these thoughts…

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Yes to God" Chapter 1... The Truth Hurts

This is my first time participating in “Yes to God” hosted by Lelia. I am excited to be reading through the book “Behind Those Eyes,” by Lisa Whittle. The first chapter is amazing!

A couple of the quotes that really hit me was this:
We lack honesty and authenticity, and our past experiences lead us to believe it is in our best interests to keep our true feelings hidden.


A painful truth revealed to us can also be the catalyst for us to become a mere shell of who we really are beneath all the fluff.

Boy, can I relate to that. When I was in junior high, I was told that I wasn’t a good volleyball player by my peers in gym class. The way they did it was cruel and torturous. I ended up crying in front of the whole gym class. It hurt. And knowing that my emotions spilled out in front of the whole class made me decide that I was never going to show my true feelings. I decided that I wasn’t going to be real about my feelings, or even thoughts, because it was too dangerous. And thus began my acting career.

When I was in high school, I became who I thought people wanted me to be. Even if it was something that I had the talent for, I pushed myself even harder in those areas. A good student for my parents, and not wanting to admit that I was in over my head (especially in Chemistry). A good singer for my choir directors, forcing myself to take leadership positions in the choir, so that I would be doing what was expected. Later, during college, and after as I worked, I strove to be the dedicated, reliable employee, the one everyone could count on. And on the charade went.

…we often alter our personalities to fit a role we think we need to play.

Once I was married I did the same thing. I played the role I thought I needed to. I tried to meet my husbands expectations. Tried to meet the expectations I put on myself for being the good Christian woman at church. I joined bible studies, I became part of a small group, I joined the worship team. It was what I was expected to do with the talents, and the seeming “togetherness” of my life.

But inside I felt like I was falling apart. The outside was a shell, and didn’t show really anything of who I was. Inside I was dying. Of suffocation, of unattained hopes and dreams, of unacknowledged pain.

Once I got into our small group, slowly I started seeing others being authentic in their relationships and what they shared. It challenged me to become more open and honest, and not do such surface prayer requests, but talk about what was really going on in my life.
It was scary, but freeing to start to figure out who I was. I am still learning what my thoughts and feelings are, and what it is like to have my own opinions.

Be honest… what is your deepest soul craving? What have you tried to do to satisfy it, both negatively and/or positively?

This was the question in the bible study that hit me the hardest. My deepest soul craving is one that Lisa mentioned. It is to be unconditionally loved, warts and all. Without having to worry about what that person thinks about me. Negative ways I have tried to satisfy it, has been in years past, looking to guys for the comfort of being held, if only for one night. And over and over, I found that it never really satisfied fully, and felt so guilty and dirty in the morning. Yet, I went back to that again and again… and try to figure this one out, all this started happening AFTER I became a Christian… Talk about putting up a front, and living a lie, being a female impersonator!

Positive ways have been seeking harder after God, and trying to find that fulfillment in Him. Slowly that is satisfying the need in me. As I see Him answering prayers, my heartfelt cries for healing and freedom, I am learning that I can trust Him, that He cares enough to fill my every need… that He is more than enough for me. I am starting to see that He will fill my heart to overflowing, and that though He knows everything about me, the good and bad, He loves me, and will never, ever leave me, or expect me to be something I am not. The truth of His Word shows me who He wants me to be, and who I am in Him. I would much rather walk in that Truth, than in the lies and deceptions I am so used to walking in!

I can’t wait for the next chapter, “Ms. Perfection.” “Behind Those Eyes” is an incredible book so far and I can’t wait to see others thoughts on it so far. If you want to join us in the book study, or want to read comments from others in the study, please stop by Lelia’s blog, and see what others have to say! Also, feel free to visit the author’s site Behind Those Eyes. She will be glad to see you there, and know you stopped by… leave her a comment to let her know!

God bless!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Greatly Rejoice..." Part 2

I got home from church today, and re-read my post “Greatly Rejoice.”

I almost feel that I “jumped the gun” in writing that post. :) Only because our pastor focused on the same verses that hit me as I was reading 1 Peter.

“In these you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
1 Peter 1:6-7

He talked about how we should have exceeding joy in the things God has given us. Pastor Kim asked us what our source of gladness was. He said that it should be deeper that just being happy. He said that because we have had to suffer grief in all sorts of trials, we are to be exceedingly glad… even we are grieving, and extremely sad, we are to be joyful in the midst of our sadness.

He said that grief will come, but we don’t want to get stuck there in the self pity and grief and despair, because there is something more to live for.

These trials are for a LITTLE WHILE, a brief time here on earth, and we will have trouble in this life. But the praising that can come out of these trials is that we have hope in the inheritance God is holding for us in heaven.

Our faith is being proved.

My faith is being put to the test. My faith is undergoing the pressure, the intense heat of suffering through trials, to be purified. Is yours?

When I look back at my life and see the times that things have been going well, I can see that I was just cruising along. My faith in God was there, but I was free to do what I wanted, I could try to fill my desires with other things. I was really only concerned with myself. I am ashamed to admit it, but I was. When things started coming down on me, I really started struggling.

I wrestled with God. Yelled at Him. (Sometimes I still do!) I railed against the pain I was having to endure. I wasn’t really enduring very well. Hurt piled on top of hurt. Depression took me, and anxiety. Then thoughts from the past surfaced. The enemy weighed in with thoughts of despair and suicide. I was betrayed by people I loved. I struggled with temptation, in increasingly intense ways.

The world, the flesh, and the devil all seemed to come against me at once, and I was left dazed and unable to fight back, because my faith was only so deep. It wasn’t until I had some people weigh in on my side, stand in the gap for me, that I was able to even begin to fight. They prayed for me when I couldn’t. They lifted me and carried me, helped me along, until I could start to pray again, until I was able to turn to God on my own, until my faith started getting stronger. I had to strengthen my spiritual muscles to be able to start the process of walking in faith through the trials.

So many times I have wanted to sit down and give up. So many times I have been overcome with grief, unable to do anything other than curl up in a ball and sob… sometimes flat on my face before God.

Now I am learning that these terribly tough times I have gone through have had a purpose. I don’t fully know the purpose yet, other than I don’t know that I have had such a walk with God. I am learning that He is more than enough. In and through everything, God is enough. He has given me so much, promised so much, and He never lies, He never changes, He doesn’t betray, He doesn’t lure with false pretenses or false comfort. He IS comfort. He loves unfailingly. He never leaves me. He redeems. He calls me by my name. I am His.

I am not called to despair. I am called to hope. My hope is not dead. My hope is living… in a Living God. I am His bride. I am being built into His church. I am a part of His body.

I may be tempted to look at despair and the troubles, but there is something more.

I need to let go of my anger against God (for all the things I think He has done to me).
I need to let go of trying to fix the problems on my own.
I need to let go of trying to medicate the pain away, by any addictions or anything else.
I need to let go of wallowing in the despair.
I need to let go of my old ways of responding to difficulties.
I need to let go of the desire to run away or give up.
I need to let go of the identity I have gotten from depression and the world.


I want to grab on to the hope that is set before me, to pursue it.
I want to grab on to my Savior who loves me beyond imagining.
I want to grab on to the Word, the truth, that tells me where my hope lies.
I want to be a beacon of hope for others coming behind me.
I want to show that even in the midst of pain and trouble that God is still there, that He still loves us, that He understands, that He has gone through the trials and temptations, that He was wracked with grief and sorrow in trials too.

Somehow, as I am coming out of this, He is giving me a desire to minister. I don’t know what that will look like. I don’t know where He is drawing me. God is giving me a passion to help those who are hurting. Whether that is through speaking or writing, this blog, singing at church, further schooling to start some sort of career, I don’t know. I just know that He is still guiding me through the rest of the pain so that I am free. Free to be who my Jesus wants me to be. Free to be able to hear His voice. Free to deal with each day’s trouble as it comes, rather than getting swamped and overwhelmed.

All the things that I feel God has taken away through this purification process… all of the slag that was stuck in and around the gold… as long as I continue to cling to God and not curse Him, I know that God will bless me with even more than I had before. My faith will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed at the end.

Just like Job. He suffered, lost everything but his life. But he never cursed God… he was even encouraged to curse God and die. He didn’t. He kept his faith, even when he questioned God. At the very end, Job was blessed over and above what he ever had before.

I am not clinging to the truth, and trying to work out my faith, because of the reward coming at the end. I have a reward here and now too. It is a deeper, stronger, more powerful relationship with Jesus than I have ever had before. I am looking at where I am at. I know that things are done here yet, and that there will be other trials.

But, oh Praise God, I can see how He is working through all this! So many have told me that He is working, but now I see it with my own eyes!

Oh my God! How can I thank you enough for all you have done. I confess that I have been so angry at you for allowing all this pain into my life. I have yelled at you, fought against you, and the pain, and tried to resist it, tried to drown the pain, tried to hide and run from it. I didn’t want to admit my anger at you. It scared me that I could be angry at you, and blame you for everything that happened, yet still believe that you loved me at the same time. I couldn’t live with that contradiction, so I hid my anger.

Thank you so much for understanding my anger and pain, and how that made me lash out at you. Thank you for exposing it, to that I could acknowledge it. Thank you for holding me close, even when I was fighting to get away from you, when I thought you were the one causing me all the hurt. Thank you so much for using that pain to drive me to people who could help me see the truth of who you are. Thank you for using this grief and trial to get me into your word like never before. Thank you for showing me the joy I can have in the suffering, and that my suffering does have a purpose…. Your refining fire at work in my life.

Please continue to refine my faith. Thank you that my light and momentary troubles are are achieving for me an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. I will fix my eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17-18) Help me to see everything through your eyes, and show me your will for my life. Amen!

Friday, September 19, 2008

My journey, a poem...

This past weekend I was sitting at my desk, watching the grey skies, and the rain.

It was cold and breezy, and a perfect day to snuggle up with a blanket, a book and a hot mug of coffee.

I was catching up on my blog reading, and thinking about my past post about anger. as I sat there and thought, some phrases kept coming into my head. I just couldn’t get them out.

So finally I started writing. In about a half hour, maybe a bit more, I had the following poem all written out. I thought I would leave it here for you all to read. Another “Dancing in the streets” thing, I think. Another reason to “Greatly Rejoice.”

My Journey

In the depths of disillusionment and despair,
From the cell of my own making,
I looked up, and I saw Him there.

Wrapped in light and looking down at me
He whispered into my heart
“Do you want to be set free?”

I trembled as I started to imagine what might be;
“How do I answer that question?
The possibilities are endless, if I were really free.”

The choices to make, of which way to go;
The wide open, green plains
Or the mountains capped with snow?

I started to shake even more,
The possibilities dazzled me,
Filled me with fear to my very core.

For my cell was all I knew.
Despair covered me,
As away from that light I drew.

“How can I be free?”
I whispered, “I know what I did!
I know what was done to me!”

He answered me, as I began to cry;
“So do I, my child,
“That’s why I sent My Son to die.”

“I have tried and tried,
“But I can’t,” I sobbed,
“I can’t leave the pain to which I’m tied.”

Then I felt His gentle hand
Untie the cords
And help me to stand.

He lifted me up, into His light.
I couldn’t resist Him,
I didn’t even try to fight.

The pain was intense, in His hold.
But I knew He was healing me,
Without needing to be told.

All the old flesh was stripped away,
As we drew closer
To the bright fresh light of day.

As I began to see more clearly,
“I’m angry!” I cried.
“Why did You let all these things inside?”

“To help you to trust Me,”
He said with such love.
“And to purify your faith in the One up above.”

“To draw you closer to my Son,
Jesus, who died
So we could be one.”

“To teach you to reach out to
The One called alongside,
My Holy Spirit who will never hide.”

My breath caught in my throat and my voice was stilled.
I realized I had a choice.
Would I with bitterness always be filled?

Everything in me shook as I turned.
Would I see disappointment
And from Him be spurned?

But instead of what I feared to see,
I found love and acceptance,
And all He hoped me to be.

To be healed, cleansed, free and whole.
To reach out to others.
To bring light to another dark soul.

Wrapped in His love, I have one mission.
To be a healed helper
With only Him to fill my vision.

By Heather Kudla 09-13-08

"Greatly Rejoice..." Part 1

This has been a long week. But a good one.

My pastor’s sermon this week was really good. He is working us through a sermon series on 1 and 2 Peter. He is in the first chapter of 1 Peter.

This past week he was talking about the things God has done for us just in the first few verses.

Peter first praised God then reminded us of the things that He has done:
• He showed us great mercy
• He gave us new birth
• into a living hope
• into an inheritance; one that will never perish, spoil or fade
• the inheritance is kept for us in heaven

Then Peter told us that through our faith, God shields us with His power. Can you believe that our faith in god activates His power to protect us? The same power that raised Christ from the dead, that power God uses to shield us, according to our faith in Him.

The other verses that hit me follow:
“In these you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
1 Peter 1:6-7

I can identify with having to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. I suppose if you have read my blog, you can tell the sufferings. I have talked about them so frequently. But the victories. I try to share them as well, but so many times I find myself focusing on my struggles, the things I am working through and trying to do. I end up not always showing what God is doing. I forget to “greatly rejoice.”

What am I supposed to “greatly rejoice” in? God’s mercy, the new birth I have been given, living hope, glorious inheritance, and even my faith.

This brings up a bit of a tangent. Forgive me as I pursue it.

So many times in my post I have ask a question like “Do I believe…? If I… then I HAVE TO.” Or like above I say, “I am supposed to…” I don’t HAVE to believe any thing. It is a free choice. I want to greatly rejoice in all these things God has done. It is hard. I get tired. I get frustrated. But at the same time I really want to keep this list of the things He has done for me in my head. I have pretty much memorized verses 3-9 out of the first chapter of Peter.

Every time I find myself starting to lose focus, to allow myself to look at things with the wrong focus, I don’t look at the things of my faith as a choice. I end up putting pressure on myself. I say that I have to believe, or I have to do, or I have to trust. God doesn’t force me to do anything. All He wants is to place the choice in front of me to trust Him or not. To love Him or not. It’s about my free will to choose. He doesn’t want robots who are programed to do the right thing. Because then they are doing those things because they are “forced” to, not out of love for their Father.

God has given me these things because He so wants a relationship with me. He wants a relationship with all of us. I want to always greatly rejoice in just that alone! He wants relationship! That isn’t something you can force with someone. Have you ever tried to be friends with someone who doesn’t want to be friends with you? Or tried to talk with someone who wasn’t interested in even talking? It is really difficult and it hurts.

We are supposed to love God, greatly rejoice in all He has given us, have faith in Him, trust Him, etc. But that is our free choice to do so.

I am making the choice to greatly rejoice.

So, back to my original thought.

If I greatly rejoice in the things that God does for me, that He has done for me, it changes my focus from my problems, to His gifts and victories. Even when I am suffering grief in trials, I will still rejoice. Through these sufferings my faith is being proved genuine… refined by fire, just like gold.

I think that our faith is so precious to God, of such great worth, that He wants to refine it, purify it, help it to become more genuine, to gain strength so that it will bring praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed. Even one of the people coming to Jesus for healing for someone said “I believe Lord, help my unbelief.” He chose to believe, but needed God to strengthen his faith.

Through all the times I have gone through, I have been really growing. As hard and painful as it has been to process through the past hurts in my life, and allow myself to grieve through them, this process has strengthened my faith.

Even when I feel like I have been faltering and going backwards, God has shown me that He has been “proving my faith genuine.” He has given me a deeper faith, and greater trust in Him.
Now that is something to greatly rejoice in!

“Though you have not see Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8-9

I do love Him. I do believe in Him. In a deeper way than I ever have before. The more I think about what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do in my life, the more I am filled with that joy. His joy. He is helping me to reach the goal, he has given me salvation, and is working it out in my life… the salvation of my soul.

I know there is more for me to work through right now. I know that I have to work through my anger at Him, but the process is started. I have to work through some other hurts in my life, but the process is started. I have to combat some more lies, but the process is started. I am saying “have to” here, because these are choices I have made. I have made the choice to continue in the healing process that God has started. I want to.

I want to see my faith grow, my trust grow, my hope grow.

All of this will happen as I continue to follow God through the trials.

I can say that I am grateful for the trials, because they will strengthen my faith and my trust in God. As they strengthen, I will be able to rejoice more and more. There will be more chances to “dance in the streets,” and bring praise and honor and glory to the only One worthy of it… my Jesus who has brought me through the fiery trials.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anger, healing, and my God...

I’m angry.

Angry at God.

I said it.

And it looks just as bad as I thought it would.

As I went through that awful experience… as he was hurting me, as I was trapped and helpless, with no voice and nowhere to go… in my head, I was screaming, over and over, “God help me!!!” And He didn’t. Here He is, fully aware of every situation. Fully able to act in everything. Yet, He chose not to act. He chose to let me go through that.

I know that there probably is a reason. I know that He will end up using this for good somehow. I know that He will heal me. I know that I may never know why I had to endure that. I know that I had free will walking into that situation. I know that guy had free will too, and I was affected by that.

But God could have stopped it. He didn’t.

Tricia said that though God didn’t answer my desperate plea that night, He is answering it now. It wasn’t in my timing, but His. He is helping me now. He was with me then, whether I knew it or not, and He is helping me now, whether I feel it or not.

I have to believe that.

Or I am going to go crazy. I am going to drive myself crazy with trying to deal with feelings that aren’t lining up with the truth. I have to start believing the truth.

…or I will start living a lie…
…that my God isn’t big enough…

If I just give those words lip service; if I don’t believe that He was there, saw it all, saw the wounds it was making, caused me to forget it till I could deal with it, and is walking me through it now; I start putting God into a box of someone who is uncaring, willing to act at random, and unpredictable in his showing love for me vs. wrath towards me. I make Him into a god who is not the all powerful, loving, faithful God that I know He is.

I have to believe that He was there. I have to believe, though no one else heard a sound…

*My God heard the screaming in my head.
*My God wept with me as I tried to hide the hurt, and terror as I later lay on the bed.
*My God saw me go into the bathroom and try to clean myself up and pull myself back together… unable to look in the mirror.
*My God held me the next few days as I ached from the violence of it all, and woke up shaking, sick from nightmares.
*My God stayed by me as, with His help, I carefully constructed a thick-walled room to completely block myself from remembering that rape.
*My God was with me 2 1/2 years ago while a friend prayed with me on the phone, and I felt His Presence with me, telling me that He accepted me… accepted me because I am beautiful and precious to Him, that He loves me and I am His.
*My God was with me 2 days later as I remembered this rape for the first time in ten years.
*My God has been with me as I have started to walk through processing this, and getting the pain and poison out of the wound.

He is opening the deep wound, cutting away the dead, scarred tissue. He is cleaning it out, and dressing it and wrapping it with a bandage. And at each appointment in His office, He is opening up the bandage again, cleaning it out some more, taking out more of the infection, re-dressing it, and re-bandaging it.

It hurts each time He exposes it to the air. It smells of rottenness and poison.

And the pain…
oh the pain is beyond describing…
only groans, too deep for words to express, can even begin to tell of the pain inside…
pain that is starting to come out with gut wrenching moans and cries…
pain that I am finally allowing myself to mourn, to grieve, to sob over.

My God, my Healer, brings me back time and again to His office. He uses my counselor, Tricia, in that office. She becomes my God’s gentle hands, touching, guiding and moving me to a place where I am able to deal with the pain. She becomes my God’s quiet voice, talking me through everything He is doing. Through her, He opens up that wound as much as I can bear for that visit to His office.

*He gives Tricia the wisdom, insight, and discernment she needs to be His hands and voice to me.
*He gives me the strength, courage, and desire to sit and cooperate in His cleansing and healing.

I leave that office exhausted. I leave it many times shaking with nearly overwhelming pain and a sick feeling in my stomach. But I leave it with a strong hug and encouragement from my counselor. I leave Tricia behind as I walk out of the office, but I never leave my Great Physician behind. I know that my God is walking out of there with me, getting me home safely, caring for me as I try to carry on with my normal, everyday living.

I still don’t know the reason I have had to go through this. To be honest, the answers that He will use this to help someone else, or strengthen me, or that He will work all this for the good, really don’t satisfy right now. Even if they are true.

To say that this experience, even the process of healing, has formed me into who I am today, that I can accept… but much more than that right now, I don’t know.

I am still in process.

I am still in the midst of grieving what was done to me. I am still mourning the bad choices I made. I am still in the process of forgiving him… of forgiving myself… of accepting the grace and forgiveness that God is extending to me.

I am still angry with God. I found myself at our family group today. I shared a bit of what I have shared here, about being angry with God. I shared a bit of the experience I went through. I also shared that I was finding it very hard to admit that I am angry at God for allowing this… because I can’t be mad at God… but I am.

As we entered into a time of prayer, almost as soon as we quieted ourselves, I felt myself turning to God and nearly yelling at Him, “I am so angry at You. It hurt so much! I am furious You let this happen!” And then I collapsed sobbing into His arms.

The image, and the nearly physical feeling I had, was of seeing a parent holding their child, loving on them, while the child is so angry that she is beating against her parent’s chest with her little fists… unable to hurt her parent, unable to get out of that loving embrace… and finally the child stops resisting the hug, and falls to sobbing in the safety of her parent’s love.

I am that child I saw as we prayed.
I am still angry.
I am still crying.
I am still confused.
I am still hurt.
I am still healing.
I am still in His arms.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Perfectionism and good enough...

Ok, I said in my last post that we didn’t hit things too hard in counseling. But maybe that’s wrong. We did hit things hard, in that we talked about lots of things. We ranged all over, from my telling Tricia about the more recent lies I realized I have been believing, to how things are going at home, to, well, just about everything…

This week has been hard as well. I have been holding myself together the best I can. I have been fighting a bad (and I mean, it hurts to breathe, bad) cold. I am exhausted. My son has started pre-school for the first time. My daughter wants to go too. Neither of them want to sleep for a nap when they are home. On top of that, there are multiple things I am trying to deal with in counseling.


I am a perfectionist.

Yeah, if you haven’t guessed it (or if I haven’t mentioned it before) I really am a perfectionist. To the point of insanity sometimes. If you came in my house, you would never guess that. I could show you a picture here of what my living room and kitchen look like, but I want to show you a “Better Homes and Gardens” type of kitchen and living room… and, well, that ain’t gonna happen in these parts!!!!

One of the things I talked over with Tricia is that I don’t bother worrying about how perfect my house is, because I “know” that I can’t make it perfect, so why bother trying. She told me that is a common problem with perfectionists. If they feel they can’t do it right, and right the first time, they don’t even try. Because failing at something is even worse than not doing it in the first place.

I don’t like failing.

Maybe that comes into play in my counseling. When I feel like I don’t get anywhere, or accomplish anything in a session, I come away with frustration, because I feel like I failed, I feel like I didn’t “do” it well enough. I feel that I have to try to do this on my own. I have to heal. So, if something doesn’t seem to “work,” well, then I didn’t do something right. That’s when I start over analyzing everything.

Including being a wife.

I look at how I have been as a wife to Dave. I pick myself apart for ways I could have listened to him better, ways I could have lifted him up better, or encouraged him better, made our house more like a home and less like just a place to stop and sleep.

Including being a mother.

I start worrying about whether I am doing a good job raising the kids, looking at the things that I have done recently, or not done, and see where I could have done better. I worry about whether I can help raise them to know and love God. I wonder if I really am doing them any good at all.

Including my writing.

I end up starting to write, and then delete things, because my posts are going every which way, or they don’t have a point, or they can’t possibly have any spiritual value to anyone, or they are just talking about the same old stuff again and again… and on the list goes.
Tricia knows most of this. We have talked about it many times before.

So this perfectionist tendency came up when we were discussing a book I was reading “Healing for Damaged Emotions,” by David A. Seamands. He talked about many things in there and one of them is perfectionism, sources and symptoms, ways of healing and being real about who you are.
So we talked about my being a perfectionist. (If you could only the contortions I go through at times to make this blog look the way I want it to!)

Tricia gave me a phrase that ended up being the theme for our whole session… it carried through to everything we talked about.

“Good Enough.”
Stand Alone.
That’s it.

Well, you can imagine my mind doing back flips. Especially when I hear the phrase with a negative connotation. Because, for so long, I have heard in my head, “I am not good enough.” So, anything that I do, it’s good enough, but…. It’s not the best, it could have been better, I didn’t give it enough effort, so it’s settling for second rate, second class, second place.

Then one of the ways she explained is this:
“It is GOOD and God is ENOUGH.”

That is better, and I can’t deny that God is enough, but I am still struggling with the negative connotations. Tricia asked me to keep this phrase in mind this week. To be honest, I haven’t. Even that night after counseling it was gone from my mind. I beat myself up because I was so tired when I got home, that even though I got a homemade, baked chicken dinner on the table, including home-made gravy, I didn’t manage to make the cornbread that I had intended.

I wanted a “perfect” meal for the ending of Peter’s first day of school. I didn’t get all the items made I wanted because I was too tired. Which is not an excuse for a perfectionist. So, therefore, I failed.

Looking back, I can see now that the meal was good. There was enough food. The kids enjoyed it, even though it took a bit longer to cook than I wanted. It was fine, but I was so tired and disappointed with myself, that I didn’t hardly feel like eating.

That is one example of where, if I had remembered in the middle of it all, that it’s good enough… I might have saved myself a lot of heartache.

Now, I need to refocus on this for the rest of the week. I am sick. I feel miserable. There are going to be only so many things that I can do, just because of my energy level. I am only going to be able to do so much for the kids. I am only going to be able to do so much for my husband. I am only going to be able to fold the loads of laundry that my energy allows. I am only going to be able to pull together light meals, that are easy to prepare.

It will be GOOD.

I may be able to spend only a little bit of time with God each day until my time alone right before counseling on Wednesday.

God will be ENOUGH.

Everything this week will be good enough.
Not only did God say “It is good,” but He is enough!

That has to be GOOD ENOUGH for me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quick Update...

Well, I made it through counseling. I am tired, we didn’t hit anything real hard. We just talked through things a bit.

Peter made it through his first day of school. He really loved it, was excited to go, and still happy when he got home, though he was very tired.

I got the chance to sit at the coffee shop this morning before counseling, and got to visit with my friend Cindy afterwards. It was really good to have those things today.

One thing to pray for, is that I feel like I am getting this cold reoccurring. I feel all stuffed up and my coughing has gotten worse.

Please pray that I will be able to feel better soon, and get a couple of really good nights of sleep. Once I sleep well a couple of nights, hopefully I will be able to kick it once and for all. I hope. Right now I am completely physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I feel like I am going to fall apart… and it’s a different feeling than when I came back from last week’s session and was so rattled from the intensity of it.

I fell apart at Cindy’s today when she prayed for me… surprise, surprise!

I just feel rather overwhelmed. I am praying that a good night’s sleep will help. And then maybe I can process through some of this and pull myself together.

Thank you all for your prayers! Love you all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New things...

My son, Peter, is heading into his first day at 4 year old Kindergarten tomorrow. I don’t think he is nervous, though from time to time he says he doesn’t want to go, and then he asks me more about it.

He got to see his classroom, and play with some of the toys in there, and interact with the kids a week ago. He really liked it, and seemed to be excited about it.

I have all his things ready to go.
I am not sure I am ready to go!

For some reason, I think I am more nervous than he is… could that be?! He is only going to be gone 3 days a week, M-W-F, from 8-3.

Maybe part of it is tomorrow is the first day. I am trying to make sure that he has everything together for the day…. You know, sleeping bag for nap time (I am not letting him take his puppy he sleeps with, with him… he doesn’t realize that he will be resting without it yet) His back pack, folder, and some paperwork for his teacher, money for lunch.

Then I have to get both him and his younger sister up and fed early enough to get him out of the house and to school on time.

Add to that, I have another counseling session tomorrow.

So I have to get myself ready as well. I don’t HAVE to have everything for me ready to go when I take him to school. But I would really like to get it all set so that after I drop him off at school, I can go to the local coffee shop and use the time to try to relax.

So, I guess that there are two pray requests for tomorrow. Pray that my son will have a good first day, and that his mom will be able to let him go without forgetting anything, or worrying too much.

The other would be for me. That I would be able to be calm and allow God’s peace to fill me. That I would trust in Him for everything, especially during the session tomorrow. I feel like I have to do this on my own and “force” through it all by myself, and I know that is wrong. We will only get somewhere if I allow God to work and not try to force my “own agenda.”

I hope that makes sense. It’s been a long day, and I am tired, and it’s only 3:30 in the afternoon! I have yet to get through tonight, and get to bed at a decent time.

I had a good Sunday and Monday though. I got a wonderful chance to spend some time out at my in-laws farm. I got to relax on a swing, overlooking a lake, in the warm wind… reading and praying. It was really nice, and I felt like I was finally able to rest a bit in God’s peace.
I am trying to cling to that, but right now it feels like it is slipping away.

I am going all over the place right now in this post. My thoughts are everywhere, if you couldn’t tell.

Thank you so much for your help, and for your prayers for me and my family.