It’s Time

Belittled. Demeaned.
Hiding in her room.
Creeping down hallways,
Tears staining a frightened face.
Stop the yelling!
It’s too loud…
Why do you tell everyone you’re so proud?
Do you even know what love is,
When smiling photos are just a lie?
This is God’s plan, they say.
So, He wants little girls and boys to 
Suffer this way?
Who couldn’t even make their own choices,
Or know of anything else?
Stay strong, they say.
As if I have another choice.
Just give it to God, they say.
But, wait, didn’t they say it’s been
In His hands all along?
How do I trust the God who led me here…
Again?
Where do I begin…
Again?
Lord, I do believe,
Now, please help me in my unbelief
Because, on my own 
I.Am.Nothing.
On my own, 
This will surely
Crush.My.Soul

10 years. 10 years I fought the biggest battle of my life. Depression came in 2nd only to my choking anxiety. Though, I felt insecure, sad, and confused early on – I was 10 years old when I can remember actual depression starting.

The dark cloud followed me. My world lacked definition and color. I existed in a grey world. Lacking joy. Lacking peace.

I was just a little girl…but one voice in my life told me a big lie, showed me his words were “true” and an enemy unlike any I could have imagined took hold.

But, though God had never abandoned me, He finally took hold. There was finally a release. And, for 8 years, I’ve been free. Beautifully free.

Six months back in the worst place I’ve ever known, around the most toxic person I’ve ever had to have in my life, and it’s almost back in full force.

When I moved back, I thought it could be different; things were getting better. I thought I could stay clean here – but I’ve relapsed.

I thought I had the tools – I do have the tools.
And, though I do this with others daily, still the question arises:

How do we use these tools when the toxic environment doesn’t change?

You see, we lack a voice.

Depression and anxiety have kept me so worried about my family that I have no voice – no way to expose the abuse & injustice done…Unfair for a 5 year old. Unfair for a 13 year old. Unfair for a 28 year old.

And, after all, who can I talk to in the church? The “safe place”.

Because, honestly, the church has, as a whole, been extremely irresponsible when it comes to Mental Health concerns & abuse.

Over the years, I’ve heard:

Well, what did you do?
He’s the head.
Your job is just to be submissive. Your mom, too.
This is God’s plan.
Just try to stay strong.
Shh. You can’t talk about that. Especially not here.
How he treats your mom is none of your business.

The most freeing words I’ve ever heard from a pastor was that the ABUSER breaks the covenant with God by abusing the power & breaking God’s will. Not the spouse. Not the kids.

This is why I have spent my entire adult life giving a voice to others’ struggles…reflecting places where I could not give a voice to my own. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

But I refuse to be afraid anymore.

So, I’ve decided to attempt to extend an olive branch, do some patch work, explain my side, demand a response, and let the chips fall where they may.

But, I will no longer stay silent. I will give a voice – finally, a true & honest voice – to my pain, my struggle. I will no longer live in fear or walk on eggshells.

Not for my family. Not in my church. Not in my life.

Because, I fully believe God did not intend for me to live this way.
He intended for me not to live in the darkness that has been so familiar, but in His light.
He did not intend for me to fear judgement of others, but to trust in His love.
His intent was not that children would be used, rejected, & broken,
But to be loved, trained, and disciplined through both.

You see, what happened in the darkness – secret things like this – are not meant to remain secrets (Mark 4:22, Matthew 10:26, Luke 8:17)… So, after 23 years, it’s time.

It’s no longer a burden I will carry. At least, not alone.


Linked up with Tuesday @ 10 over at FindingtheGraceWithin.

Relief

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” -Colossians 3:23-24

Today’s post is part of the wonderful Five Minute Friday tradition that I love so much. And, it’s actually Friday. The rules are, write for 5 minutes, no over-thinking, no editing. Just writing around the theme word. This week’s word:

Relief

Ready? GO

71 Days…I can do anything for 71 days, right?

71 Days. That’s what my graduation countdown says.

In 71 days, assuming all the paperwork goes through and the registrar’s office get’s my substitution form in the system, I will be graduating with my Masters’ in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in MFT and finally able to get a field job and gather hours towards my license.

Meanwhile, I’m working for a man who doesn’t like me and is ready to get rid of me. Not my immediate boss, but my boss’s boss.

And, now that I know for sure he’s ready to get rid of me, a piece of me dies each time I have to wake up and go to work. A job I used to thoroughly enjoy, I now dread on the days I know I have to interact with him.

I have no desire to keep doing a good job, because I don’t want to keep busting my butt for someone who doesn’t appreciate any of it, and in fact, completely ignores it.

But, today, as I was thinking of the dozen or so passive-aggressive ways I could end my short time left at this job – one not even really related to the career I am working towards. (Things I would encourage my clients to not do), God reminded me of these two verses.

He whispered them into my heart, reminding me who it really is that I continue to work hard for.

And, relief came with them.

Sure, it sucks that my boss has no respect for me or how hard I work. He doesn’t care that the parents love me and are going to be sad to see me go. He pays no attention to the fact that I am excellent at training new staff. And, he completely ignores that I go above and beyond my job description to make sure our work place is up to standard.

But, I don’t do all that for him.

Ultimately, I do all that for God. And the part of those verses I left out is the promise: “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” (v24)

And, what a relief it is to remember Who I really work for.

So, tomorrow, I will wake up, remind myself of these verses, and go to work with a smile on my face, whether or not he is there.

And, should I get frustrated, I will also remind myself: 70 more days…

And, oh, what a relief it is.

‘The Lack’: A Story

***The following is an edited excerpt from one of my fictional stories, and is an extreme exaggeration…but is not far off from certain circumstances in my life.***


“Sobbing uncontrollably, I have finally lost my voice from yelling at the popcorn on my ceiling. Where is God? Is He listening to me at all? No one gets that I have no other place to go. To return “home” would be nothing, because I don’t know them, and I don’t fit their idea of whom I should be.

I hold another past due notice in my hands. A job would be good (a third one, that is). A rain of money, a wealthy benefactor, something. I need God to show up in a BIG way, like, tomorrow, or I will have no other choice but to return to the chains. And, I already have to fit into a box at work, a round box for a square me. It is not working out so well, though I have them all fooled. For now.
I used to know how to pray. I learned in my church growing up that I have power. I can move mountains, and I can break chains. I possess the power of the universe in one tiny word, one BIG name that packs a punch: Jesus. But, I moved away from that church, and now I’m not sure I know how to pray that way anymore. My new church doesn’t really teach me how to pray with power (or really at all). People are lost to the message and the masses at my new church. Thus, I don’t know how to pray that way anymore.
All I know is I have hit a wall, and tonight I am not even sure He is listening to me. I keep double talking in my prayers, “Ok, God, this is what I want. I would like to be able to pay my bills, and put food in my cupboards, not one or the other. I would like a new job, one in which I can use my gifts, one I have passion for, one I am good at. I would like to find a church family that I can actually fit with. A place where people don’t try to make me what I’m not. A place where I get fed, and am really taught about important things such as prayer and evangelism.” Then comes the double-talk, “But if that isn’t Your will, then, OK. Give me peace where I am. Cuz, I only want Your will.”
Which is true. I want His will to be done. Truly. But, let’s be honest, I’d rather hear a yes to all the former. I mean, I am only human, right?
Confession 1: I know God meets needs, because He has met mine time and again. I know he hears and listens to prayer. I would not be here without Him breathing life into me. I would not have eaten today were it not for Him.
Confession 2: Today I wonder whether or not I have reached my limit of provision. Perhaps in all that He has done for me in my short life (because it has already been riddled with so much trauma, abuse, and pain), perhaps I have reached my limit of BIG saves. Now, it is down to ensuring I simply breathe.
Confession 3: I know the above is a lie. There will be an end to this struggle, but today I can’t see the big picture, just the little paint dots. And, I so desperately need a glimpse of the picture!
At this time both James 1 and Romans 5 come to mind. I am to count my sufferings joy, find perseverance in them, and realize that I still have hope. But, this does not always make me feel better. I am wallowing in the silence. The lack of hearing Him speak.
 
The lack.
I will persevere though because, through all the pain and discomfort and (sometimes the agony), my single, biggest desire, the one that burns in me like a fire that is never quenched, is the desire to get closer to my God. To know Him personally, to feel Him and to reflect Him to the world. To know that on the other side of all of this, even if I end up homeless and hungry, I can still tell others that His faithfulness is great.
Somehow, now, I do feel slightly better. My circumstances have not changed. My eyes are still red and puffy, and my body aches from the sobs. Tomorrow when I wake up, I will still have overdue bills, and I will still wonder where my credit rating is going. Tomorrow, I will still have the same bare refrigerator and cupboards. Tomorrow, I will still have no new job prospects. Tomorrow, my car will still be crying for gas, an oil change, and a bath. And, tomorrow, I may still not have an answer from God.
But, He is my rock. He is my comfort. He is my provider. And, my occasional lack of faith does not nullify His faithfulness. And, these are the truths I am blessed to share with the world, perhaps with someone who needs them more than me.”

Disappointment

Disappointment=Today I received two rejection letters. One from a job I had recently applied for and one from the magazine I was hoping would give me my first professionally published piece. 

June 2011 is upon us this week. Now, halfway through the year, I am re-evaluating things. Life is not what I had expected, not where I expected it to be by my 23rd birthday, which is just over a month away.

I have lost count of the number of doors which have closed to me, stumbling blocks in my way, and rejections that I have opened. The two I gained today add to the growing disappointment I feel in my life lately. On top of this, I am also at a crossroads in my professional life. One big decision that will cause a big change in my life no matter which road I take. Thus, making me feel both stuck and cornered at the same time!

I know the way most around me want me to go: The way of security. This is the route I have been on my whole life. However, I am unsure this is the best way to go. To go this way would be to take a temporary break from the dream that GOD has placed on my heart. For the first time in my life, I am really being forced to look at what is more important: certain earthly security or complete obedience to GOD. This is particularly hard for me, since so far it appears that He seems to have led me to many places I never expected or wanted to be. Then again:

LEAH probably never planned to be married to a man who never grew to love her.
BATHSHEBA probably never expected to be the King’s mistress, leading to the death of her husband and son.
RUTH probably never dreamed of having her husband die leaving her with little in the world.
STEPHEN probably never imagined his life ending in a stoning or PETER’s upside down on a cross.

None of these situations seem very positive, and yet each was used by GOD to expand His Kingdom.

Being in the middle of a painful spiritual growth spurt (not unlike the physical ones experienced as a kid), I don’t understand the point of all the rejection and disappointment. I don’t see how it plays into being able to walk in the dream GOD has revealed to my heart, but I know growth is happening . I feel my faith muscles stretching and strengthening more than ever. Though I do not see what GOD is doing, I know He is working. And, though I find myself in temporary disappointment, I look forward to being able to share my future learning and joy with you!