Posted: February 4th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, faith, grace, healing, purpose, sin |
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“In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you.”-Isaiah 49:8 ESV
You speak like you’re in-between two lives: the old and the new. You refuse to enter the new because you’re still hanging on to the old. You think you can only enter the day with defeat because you’re still making yourself pay. Every hard thing that is thrown your way is viewed as a consequence to your sin.
You’re not going to move on from this place with your suitcase of truth only half packed. You can say all the right things, but you don’t believe a word of it.
You pull yourself up by the scruff of your neck and you make yourself go through the motions. You read that devotion, you listen to this podcast, you do that fast, you write those words. You do all of these things thinking that God will come and rescue you. You think He’ll restore what was before so that you can feel whole again. What if the end of an era is God’s answer to prayers you don’t even know how to pray yet? What if you have been rescued, but it doesn’t look like what you thought it would look like?
The rescue is past-tense. It’s waiting on you to have the revelation.
You can reject God by clinging more to your version of restoration than to your faith that God gets what He wants.
Does God get what He wants?
The only way you can move on to your new life is by believing that the consequences of your sin have a greater purpose. A purpose that has nothing to do with being a constant reminder of your sin.
What entity would want to constantly remind you of your sin?
What if God has you exactly where He wants you? Life is a journey and you are a pilgrim. You’re not at any destination forever. You are only where you are, and you’re only there for a moment. Discontentment blooms when you think you are forever paying for and suffering from your sins.
The faithless work the garden of Second Best.
They say: “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” -Isaiah 49:14 ESV
How can you know God and believe that you are a prisoner of your own Second Best? You are where you are for a reason. Reason can never be found by looking at your sin. There is no truth to be found in the damage of flesh and blood.
You have to look at everything as though God has a plan because God has a plan. It’s Jesus. You have to look at everything trying to find where it leads to Jesus. It’s your only compass. It’s the only way you’ll know what the truth is. He’s the Truth.
It’s all riddles until it’s not.
I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ -Isaiah 49:8-9 ESV
God is cultivating your life. He is getting rid of the parts of you that keep you from being who you were called to be.
You were called to be something. You wouldn’t be here looking for Him if you weren’t.
He is positioning you in a posture that induces passion where there was once apathy. Sometimes the best way to induce passion is to insert a thorn. If you’re tugging at the thorn, then you are looking at this all wrong.
I know how bad it hurts. I’ve been there. I’ve attended the funeral of my own potential. You’ll be in this spot until you can see God in it.
You’re a conduit.
When a pipe isn’t functioning, you dismantle it, flush it out, and rebuild it.
Are you dismantled?
There exists a consequence twist. It’s more than the suffering. It’s also the release. There are three consequences that will make your head spin. One, you can see more clearly. Number two, blind people avoid you. And, three, you have a new passion.
Do you understand this? Your life will be one that says “to the prisoners, ‘Come out’” and “to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’”
One of the consequences of your sin is the newborn passion for the failures. You now have an acute awareness of the difference between the voice of the flesh and the whisper of the Spirit. You know the difference between the light and the dark. Those who once had a voice in your life, the ones who would now torment you, are far from you.
Do you think that’s a coincidence?
“Surely your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land—surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.” -Isaiah 49:19 ESV
They think you are too far gone and they will not join you. They’re unable to handle the failure of others with patient grace and unending mercy. They are wrong. Why would you want them by you? God has positioned you, using your own consequences, to keep their lies from pinning you down with their doubt and holding you back from your purpose. “Those who swallowed you up” are “far away.”
Thank God for that.
What’s more? The twist that sends this whole thing spinning into reverent wonder is the fact that it’s because of your failure. You are removed from their influential doubt and enabled by grace to march into your purpose because they are too afraid of how dirty you got.
Because of your failure, you know how to find those who are buried.
Everything will come together. It’ll all make sense at some point. Stop wishing your thorn away. Wear it like a crown.
“Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples, and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” -Isaiah 49:22-23 ESV
His hand is poised, the signal is ready. Your children have been lifted, the march has begun. You will not be put to shame.
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Posted: January 10th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, faith, spiritual abuse |
14 Comments »
When someone’s sin is revealed, people can end up denying everything they know about Jesus with their response. People will often act like there is no God, no mercy, and no hope for the bad guy. They are dehumanized in such a way that they can become a meal for war-blood gluttons. People can rationalize themselves into being spiritual tyrants. They behave as though God is weighed down in royal robes and flanked by fan waving, flute playing angel-fairies completely oblivious to the current circumstances of the wayward people He created. In a world that feels like the concept of God is outdated and theoretical, it doesn’t help when His “special” followers dress up like Roman Soldier relics and hang the sinners upside down.
Much of the ammunition used against the sinners is gathered in those first few days. They’re accused of not being sorry enough. Having no remorse is a bigger sin than the sin itself. Most people will give the sinner about a split ambiguous second to explain himself, then he is abandoned intently and intensely. It’s as though the biggest statement for setting yourselves apart as Bible believing, God fearing Christians is located on a cold shoulder and dripping from a sharp tongue.
When someone is forced to face the reality of their own sin, it’s not unlike finding out that the person closest to them has died. Denial comes first. Not denial like “I didn’t do it” (though they could actually say those words, like the blindsided can say “They’re not dead”, even though they are.) The same way the brain can live separated from the body for about 8 minutes, the conscious awareness of a person can deny their own “death to innocence” for a few days. A head separated from the body can, theoretically, look over at the headless body and still, initially, try to survive. Reality, what we know to be true, what hits our awareness with our acceptance, is only an echo of something no amount of denial can change.
God have mercy on the sinner who has the audacity to cry. They are disrobed of every human quality and spiritually beaten like dogs by people who intend to use the sinner’s failure as a saint’s statement of faith.
‘I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you. I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’ -Acts 26:16-18 MSG
It’s true that the way you handle another’s sin is a statement of faith. Maybe it’s time for them to consider their own faith before moving forward with the emotion-engorged reaction. You can either rub their noses in their mistakes, or open their eyes to the gift of Jesus. There is a difference between those who strive and those who have received.
Those who try to maintain their own version of salvation are brutal to those who mess up. The same way the greedy will crush the weak, the spiritually greedy will use the failures of others to diminish the appearance of their own.
Those who have received the gift of salvation want others to have it, too. They knew that they did not pay for their salvation with their decision. They received because their eyes were opened to the truth. The frustration of the farm hands is exasperated when they lead someone to the well and find it to be flanked by self-important tyrants who ration it out to the so-called worthy. They say you must clean up before you can draw from the well. But, the water is the only thing that can cleanse them. It’s meant to be consumed from within, not without.
You don’t sip living water in fancy glasses held in clean hands. You jump in and open your mouth.
“If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
“Master! … Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”-John 13:8-9 MSG
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Posted: January 8th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, healing, purpose |
13 Comments »
Situations and the way they affect you are based on previous situations and the way they affected you in the past. This is how you learn to avoid pain and failure, and it’s how you learn to predict outcomes for the purpose of planning. Two different people can be in the same situation and pull two different interpretations out of it. Experience is personal. Perspective is a unique combination of genetics and experience.
It’s important to understand how perspective works because it aids in compassion and acceptance of differences. It can also help you understand yourself.
There is a reason that people say “you are the sum total of your experiences” or “you are the people you meet”. The truth behind those sayings has more to do with the lessons those experiences and people provide than with what and who they are.
When you’re in the middle of navigating your own pain, you have to look at your entire life for understanding the same way a psychologist or counselor would help you look at your life. I’m calling this “pain tracing”. It’s the idea of peeling back the layers of the flesh of a fruit to find the seeds.
I’ll use my own journey to illustrate what I’m talking about.
In the aftermath of my own sin, it took me a really long time to accept the rejection of every person I hurt. The logic behind being rejected is sound. I did something terrible and the consequences were broken relationships. It’s how the world works. The fact that it cut me deeper than I could handle was because it brought back the pain of rejection I have felt my entire life.
I was a foster child who never belonged to my own temporary family. There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in. I was nine when my mother gave me up for adoption. I literally did not belong to anybody. I belonged to a cold and broken government whose only goal was to find someone to take responsibility for me.
Skipping ahead, when I became a Christian, my church family became my family. When they responded to my sin by washing their hands of me, they literally handed me over to Satan and gave him responsibility over me. That’s when God stepped in and revealed the truth about who He was to me. He was my father. He was my family and he would never kick me out. As dysfunctional as I can be, I’ll always be His. He is where my roots are.
The truth of the Gospel saved my life, but it didn’t take my pain away. The aftermath of my sin brought up feelings of zero self-worth that I had kept buried because I thought it was healed. The fact that I wasn’t healed from my childhood pain enabled me to sin the way I did and crushed me when I had to own up to it.
Talking yourself through the process of pain tracing looks like this:
- How do you feel?
- Have you ever felt like this before?
- What were the circumstances that made you feel like this in the past?
- When was the first time you remember feeling like this?
- What were the circumstances surrounding that?
There lies the root to your pain.
I’ll answer those questions to show you how it works:
- alone, rejected, worthless, toxic, unwanted, displaced
- When I lived on my own at 17, when I was bullied in school, when I was moved from foster home to foster home
- When I was left to fend for myself as a little girl. I was probably between 4 and 6.
- I would be left alone by my mother. Locked outside all day or locked in a room with no food all day.
Experiences that you have today are tainted by the experiences you’ve had throughout your life. If you look at today as though it had no connection with yesterday, then you’ll miss a huge tool for healing. The healing is not just for right now, it’s all encompassing.
I can easily see that my own failure warrants my feelings of being alone. Rejection is the price I pay. My failure did not add value to my relationships. I was a toxic force that dismantled lives and I lost my place in those lives. There is nothing left to examine, but the pain remained. In pain tracing, my whole life got examined.
A person would not normally look at a child and attribute those qualities to her. If a little girl felt alone, rejected, worthless, toxic, unwanted, and displaced you would know that she had been horribly lied to and you would try to convince her otherwise.
The difference between the child and the adult is where the finger of blame is pointed. If you can find a reason to blame the child, then you would not rescue her. If you can blame the adult, then she is cast out and left to be consumed by her sense of self.
The separation between the way the world works and the way God works is found in the way we view children and the way we view adults. We can call an adult a lost cause long before we can call a child a lost cause. However, God calls us all “children”. He sees us the way He saw us when we were children because, to Him, that’s what we are. Until the child within us hears the truth about our Father, we will be brought to the same place over and over. We will feel the same thing in the midst of different circumstances again and again until we start to connect the dots and trace the pain to the broken places.
It’s my own belief that God allows whatever circumstances to take place for the purpose of getting us to see Him. Our circumstances show us where those broken places are.
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Posted: January 7th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, freedom, grace, healing, hope |
46 Comments »
“I would be curious to hear more of the journey that you went through in your second marriage. Were family members cold and indifferent? Living in the same town, did the process of seeing “old” friends ever become easier? I appreciate your willingness to be so exposed about your life. -Sandy”
There is a lot I could say about my journey in my second marriage, so I’ll just stick to what you asked. If you have more questions, I have more answers.
Family members have not been cold or indifferent at all. They were sad for me and everyone else involved. They watched me as I broke apart. They read the letters I received from people. They tried to reach me, to comfort me, but I was so lost inside myself that I couldn’t be reached for a long time.
Living in the same town is a bit different for me, too. I hadn’t lived here for almost a decade when I had my affair. I moved back here during the aftermath because my family lives here. I either don’t see people anymore, or I don’t recognize them when I do. I’ve been gone too long.
The problem is, they recognize me. They used to be very aggressive. I’ve been “shoulder bumped” by complete strangers. People used to gawk and whisper. People I did recognize used to pretend I wasn’t there. Not in an subtle way. They were haughty.
It barely touched me though. I was so much more broken than they knew. They were kicking a dead body.
There was a woman who didn’t want my daughters going to the same school as her children, so she found a way to have my children sent to another school. Meanwhile, people were writing me to tell me that they are praying that children won’t be affected by my life. They weren’t talking about the sin, they were talking about me. My daughters were allowed to come back six weeks later because I could prove that they were wrong.
People used to call the owner of the business I worked for and told them that they were boycotting her because I worked there. Luckily, the owner thought they were crazy and took the risk.
The people closer to my sin could not, and cannot, stomach me. They’ve managed to avoid me for most of the seven and a half years. They make a quick exit on the occasional bump in. I recently watched a man sneak out of a coffee shop when he thought I wasn’t looking.
It’s been seven and a half years and I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that there may never be reconciliation. I realize it’s taken a long time, but that just how it played out.
I remember, several years ago, I told God that I wanted to move away from here. His response was to reveal to me that I have to heal where I was broken, otherwise I would always be broken there. It’s the same reason you don’t cast the right arm to heal the broken left.
I’m well trained in this fight. My bones have healed tougher.
I have learned that I can’t define what my own healing looks like. A death grip on your own version of anything keeps you from moving forward.
I’ve learned that I am set free and there are no more steps to be taken. There are no boxes to be checked. There is no trial that I’ll lose. There never was.
Believing that is where the healing is.
I can pass through this town unbroken now. I didn’t have to wait for their permission. While I can walk freely, they have to sneak around and avoid certain places I frequent. Interesting.
46 Comments »
Posted: September 26th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: advice, aftermath, faith, grace, healing, hope, hurting |
1 Comment »
Pain is inevitable. It doesn’t ask permission, doesn’t make a reservation, and doesn’t play by the rules. When you’ve messed up and hurt yourself, the pain comes without the balm of pity and without the hope of the innocent. Pain scours the burns on your back with the harshest of soaps and the stiffest brush. Pain keeps the infection away.
You know who your god is by what hurts. If your self esteem is being attacked, then your god was your good name. If your ability to be taken back by God is being attacked, then your own understanding was your god. Those who have been there know: your self esteem doesn’t come from your ability and your own understanding was wrong.
You wouldn’t hurt if He didn’t care. Why discipline a child you don’t intend to keep? He still wants you if it hurts.
It’s all closing in around you and He’s nowhere to be seen. If He were going to help you, now would be the time.
If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. -1 Corinthians 15:16-17 MSG
You have to look at what I said: If He were going to help you, now would be the time. What I’m saying is this: Now is the time. This is what He came for.
Of all the times that you thought you had to accept God’s forgiveness, it’s the time of doubting He still offers it that you really need the sacrifice of Jesus. He came for this sin. No matter how fresh or crusty, He accounted for this one, too.
You can only move forward when you can recognize the truth. When you can recognize the truth, you will throw everything into believing it like you have nothing to lose. Because you, literally, have nothing to lose. No face to save.
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. -2 Corinthians 1:4-10 MSG
One of the most healing things is to be able to help someone get through what you are going through right now. Only grace will get you through this and you can only know the truth of grace if you know the Truth. The truth is shrouded by riddles until it’s not. The riddles are more literal than they sound. They’re proclamations.
Soon you will have a stow away, another with hurt you recognize, and you’ll know the Truth that will set them free.
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