Posted: January 7th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, freedom, grace, healing, hope |
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“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.
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Posted: November 8th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, freedom, grace, hope |
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Here’s what will happen. While you’re out among the nations where God has dispersed you and the blessings and curses come in just the way I have set them before you, and you and your children take them seriously and come back to God, your God, and obey him with your whole heart and soul according to everything that I command you today, God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors. -Deuteronomy 30:1-5 MSG (emphasis mine)
It’s not hard for the one who has fallen to want to obey God. All of the desire to listen to herself is gone. It’s harder for the one who has fallen to believe she can be restored. She’s broken to pieces. Scattered, lost, and tossed. She’s bestrewn.
I can’t say it better than scripture. I can’t make it more clear. When you’ve gone so far away that you think you can’t come home – when you are a puzzle in a tornado, “He’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back.”
He’s still your God. He hasn’t lost you. He knows where all of your pieces are. He’s gathering them and cradling them until you are whole.
You will have a good life.
God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live. -Deuteronomy 30:6-7 MSG (emphasis mine)
The one who has fallen can see where she went wrong. She can see why it happened. What once was shrouded by pride is becoming uncovered. The calluses of pride are cut away. You’re more free now that you’ve ever been. When you can see God in the dark, you realize that you’ve never been able to see Him before. The darkness is confusion, the clarity is light. You don’t know what clarity is until it comes. You’re so used to squinting and worrying that you forgot it’s not normal.
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. -Jesus in Matthew 11:28-29 MSG
When Bestrewn becomes Restored is when she realizes the sovereignty of God. This is something that no one can do for you. You’ve been blind to it before, we all have, but when you start to see it, you find that everything screams it. “Jesus.”
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Posted: October 10th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, freedom, hope, hurting |
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She finds solace for the pain of betrayal by saying she deserves it. She was the betrayer in her past and has been trying to pay retribution since. Either by being the best she can be or by taking the abuse, she’s been waiting for that magic moment when the scales tip in her favor and her payments are over.
She’s watching her life fall apart and the way she gets through it is by telling herself that this will be it. She’ll be free from her sins now. She says all the right things, nothing but words that sound like hope and smiles that she wants to look like peace.
When bad things happen to you, it’s not payback for your sins. You don’t get to claim someone else’s bad choices as retribution for yours. Bad things happen because bad things happen. Your pain doesn’t set the world right and it doesn’t balance out the pain you caused. Only grace can give you a new start, not your ability to take the pain. You have a right to grace because Jesus says you do, not because you earned it.
When you deny yourself the right to hurt, you’re losing a part of yourself. Maybe you had it coming, but only in a world governed by tit-for-tat. What you have done in the past can’t be undone. Trying to put a cap on the pain is only chaining it to your ankles like a weight when you’re drowning in the sea.
It’s not weakness to cry. It’s not weakness to ask for help.
Don’t prolong the effects of the past by denying the power it has to bring you to your knees. You can’t do this by yourself and nobody expects you to. You’re a human being and we’re made to need a Savior. We need Someone to come in and take over. It’s okay to break and I know Someone who can rebuild you stronger and better.
I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
…You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.-Psalm 23:4-6 MSG
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Posted: September 26th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: advice, aftermath, faith, grace, healing, hope, hurting |
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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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Posted: August 8th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: advice, faith, grace, hope |
3 Comments »
I listen to podcast sermons in my headphones while I clean. It gives my mind something to do while I’m scrubbing who-knows-what off of my kitchen tile. I heard one the other day that mentioned the story of Jacob and Esau. It was a great message about ruining your ‘birthright’ by trading it for momentary pleasure. There was a fitting inclusion of when Satan tempted Jesus with bread because He was hungry.
Jesus answered, “Man shall not live by bread alone…” -Matthew 4:4
This hit home with me because I know what it’s like to trade my integrity for something that promised to make me happy. I thought that the payoff would be worth it. This is what drugs tell their addicts. While the chemical is still in your brain, it sends a message into the synapses that promises joy with just one hit. It doesn’t matter if the hit causes sickness or a bad trip. It’s a chemical message that speaks the language of peace in spite of the person’s memory that peace never comes. It’s always, “This time will be different.” That’s why the person has to get the drug out of their system to know the truth. The problem is, in order to get the chemicals out of the brain, the person has to recognize the lie and deny themselves the need no matter how bad it hurts.
Sometimes the chemicals aren’t lying. Sometimes happiness does come with the hit. Stomachs stop growling when you eat the bread. Sexual tension subsides when you give in. But, none of it lasts. You get hungry again and it makes you feel cheap for being so easily lured. The cycle never ends. That’s why “man shall not live by bread alone.”
Man needs something else.
You can trade your entire life circumstance for a new one, but it doesn’t reach the depths it promised it would reach. You can be happier, fuller, prettier, and more at peace, but if God is not in it, then you’ll still have the eternal ache for assurance that you’re not forever marked for destruction. That’s where the whole story about Jacob and Esau may come in handy.
Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of stew because he was hungry. It was worth it for a while, for someone who is shortsighted and impatient, but then he got hungry again. The preacher on the podcast pointed out that Esau needed someone to tell him what, exactly, he was trading. His legacy and the way He would forever be referred to in history was about to shift and Esau needed to hear it. “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and ….” The problem was, Esau didn’t have anyone to do that for him. The deal was sealed and there was nothing Esau could do about it.
“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
I want to take the message a step further because stopping there only leaves people feeling desperate and hopeless. Those of us who have taken the bread need to know what to do now. You may have a sealed deal sitting in front of you and be fully aware that you ruined everything for something that dies when you die or lasts until you get hungry again. The truth about bread robs your momentary happiness and reveals just how cheap it is. That’s a good thing. You’ll not get those two so easily confused from here out.
Yeah, Esau could have used an advisor, but do you think he would have listened? I guess it doesn’t matter now. Which is my point. It wouldn’t have mattered then, either, because Esau’s story was written before he lived a moment of it.
“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” -Genesis 25:23
It’s your choice to think God just knew it, or He planned it and so it happened. It doesn’t change the story. It would change you, but not the story or my point.
Somebody needed to tell Esau that God already had a plan for his dumb choices. Esau is long gone, but I can tell you. God already has a plan for your dumb choices. It may be too late to undo what you did, but who knows what God will bring out of it. All scripture can tell us is that it will be beautiful.
I have a problem with messages that tell a person to do everything right so they can get everything on God’s toy shelf. I have a problem with them because it’s a message of “do this to get that”. Every single one of us has made a left turn when we should have turned right. We’ve clicked “send”, we’ve answered the phone, we’ve eaten the bread. We have every reason in the world to think we’ve messed up God’s plan for us, that we’re missing out, and that we are living a second best life full of regret. What about all the things we did when we didn’t know what we were missing out on? We’re talking about God here, it could have been great…. But I don’t buy that. I don’t buy that God gives us second best when He sent His best. I think His best is ours by the miracle of Jesus, not by the miracle of us doing everything right.
Here is the thing that makes the tangles unravel. This story is not about the mistakes of Esau, it’s about the purpose of God when He made a plan for Jesus. Every single thing works into the plan of salvation, all the way down to bloodline. God chose Jacob from the outset knowing Esau would be born first. You can read Romans 9 to find the blunt answer to why God does what He does in these cases.
“…when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told,“The older will serve the younger.” -Romans 9:10-12
With this in mind, it does matter what you believe. The truth is that God has a plan and you can’t mess it up. The Bible tells us that the truth sets us free, so if you’re not free, you’re believing a lie. If you’re not “more than conquerors” then you’re missing the point of the story. We’re “more than conquerors” through the gift of Jesus, not the gift of checking all the right boxes. The truth sets you free, what is false leaves you tied up in regret and hopelessness.
Every single story has one purpose and it’s to illuminate God and His plan of salvation through Jesus. It’s not about what you do: good or bad. You’ll do both of those things. It’s about coming to the realization that when you choose some temporal satisfaction in spite of the eternal trade-off, you discover that you “cannot live on bread alone.” And, because of Jesus, you get to have another go at it. Different circumstances, same drug. Only this time, you know the drug doesn’t suffice. This time, you have an edge.
If you’re facing a choice, then take this message as the advice to hold off. Your appetite will be fed with something more permanent when the testing is over. If you’re facing the empty bowl, then take this message as the advice to learn your lesson and do better next time. Traps get tighter when you think you’ve already tainted yourself beyond salvation. People keep making bad choices if they think they’ve already earned the label. If you’re already living with hopeless regrets, then what’s to stop you from clamoring for temporal happiness when eternal peace is a lost cause? That’s what I’m trying to help you avoid.
Your birthright is an inheritance from Jesus. It’s renewed every single morning. Believe that and it’s yours forever. It’s not too late for you.
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