I Matter

Dear Society,

I Matter. This is not a fact that comes easy to me. This is a statement I struggle with, sometimes daily and sometimes hourly. The reason I struggle with this is because I have been raped. I know exactly how this standford lady is feeling. And I am completely disguted with our society’s double standards on how to treat women. And trust me the issue of me mattering is bigger than Brock Turner. But I will start there.

To Brock Turner,
I don’t care if you can swim. I don’t care what your GPA is. I don’t care about your hopes and dreams. You made a choice that showed your character. You came upon a helpless woman. You could have gotten help. Instead you raped her. That’s all I need to know. When you thought no one was looking and that you wouldn’t get caught you decided to shred that woman’s sense of self and self worth. You did that. You made that choice. You showed the world how you view women. You are not the victim. You are the rapist.

To the Judge,
Would you still have given that sentence if it was your daughter? That seems like a logical question to ask. It isn’t. It doesn’t matter if she is your daughter or not. She matters. She is the one you show mercy to. She is the one you protect. She is the one you are supposed to go to bat for. She is the victim. You became a judge probably to help people. Guess what, you failed. You failed her. You failed me. You just showed society how much you value a woman’s life. You are now part of the problem.

To Brock’s father,
I get that he is your son, and that you love him. But he raped a girl. Whether it went on for 20 minutes or 20 hours or 20 days. Rape is rape. You are his father, so be his father and show him how unacceptable this is. You are supposed to defend her, even against your son. She matters. Your son broke her. As his father you should be modeling for him the gravity of what he’s done. You don’t excuse it. You don’t diminish her life because it was your son who happens to be a rapist. You are part of the problem.

To the friends of Brock,
I read that you said not all men who rape are rapists. You are wrong. Every person who rapes another no matter if it was planned or improvised is by the very definition a rapist. It wasn’t just a mistake. He forever altered her life. Trust me, I know. You don’t defend him, you condemn his actions and then be there for him if you can in getting him help. But you never ever excuse what he did. She matters. I Matter. You are part of the problem.

To the media,
I am disguted. ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS… AND COUNTLESS NEWSPAPERS AND WEBSITES. You bunch of hypocrites. You claim to care about women and abuse, even going so far as putting up those “No More” adds and the like. But what do you do? You put up a pretty picture of a rapist. This is just the latest atrocity. You treat people who have been kidnapped and abused as dollar signs. You use people like me to make you money. You throw our torment and pain out there like beads at Marti grade. You rape us again and again. You use us for profit, turning our worst moment into dollars. You whore out our pain. And I never signed up to be your prostitute, and neither did she. You give dignity to the ones who take away ours. You are part of the problem.

To the “entertainment” industry,
I am appalled. From actors to professional sports to writers to artists… You all spout out how we need to stop the abuse and rape but it is just lip service. The NFL calls convicted abusers “leaders”. Funny I thought a leader showed character. But hey if you can catch a ball as well as you bruise a woman’s face, who cares? It’s money in your pocket. Guess what, my flesh, her flesh, isn’t for sale. The whole Hollywood scene has turned rape into entertainment, putting it in shows to scandalize the audience. What happened to me didn’t come with shock value. And don’t tell me you just want to bring up the hard topics, because if that were true you would actually then show how it affects those who are abused. We don’t get over it in 30 minutes. It doesn’t go away in a week. You want to honor what happened to me, then show what my life is like after the rape. Don’t just plaster nudity and rough sex up in some half assed attempt to say you want to be real. The truth is you want ratings. And my suffering gives you that in droves while also giving you a chance to show off some breasts and butts.

Then there is the video games. When did my nightmare become worth 1000 points or more? How can you say you respect women when you digitally have little kids rape us for a better car? How can you stand there and say what Brock Turner did is wrong and then go write code so millions of people can go do the same thing?

You see, I don’t matter to you. Neither does she. But we should. You are a major part of the problem.

To the consumers,
How many of you people that are freaking out over Brock Turner gossiped about Sansa Stark getting raped? How many of you call that show entertaining? Do you go play grand theft auto right after, or maybe before, you sign the petition to get the judge fired? How many of you men out there watch rape fantasy porn or read rape fantasy magazines and comics? How many of you mothers bought those games for your kids?

So how can you stand there and cry foul against his father and friends in one breath and then go buy the jersey of a convicted abuser on the next website? You call down for hellfire on their heads, what about yours? What about mine?

The problem isn’t just Brock or his father or the judge. It is all of us. Either rape is appalling or it is entertaining. We all are to blame. It has to stop. But I know it won’t. I know that more video games will be made with a point system to how much you can abuse a woman. I know that more shows will depict women being raped so more people tune in to be horrified as they stuff their faces with popcorn. It’s disgusting.

Look in the mirror. Look at what you watch or play or read or say. No wonder I struggle with the idea that I Matter. Our society tells me that I come with a cost. But I matter. She matters. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say rape is unacceptable and then pay to watch it or virtually do it.

This is not okay. And the truth is this whole Brock thing will be all the talk for another week at most before a new scandal tantalizes you. But she is still hurting. I am still struggling. You get to move on and forget. We don’t. You get to go viral over game of thrones and I get to have nightmares because I didn’t expect that scene. So if you want to make a difference then change, but don’t give us lip service like you’ve got my back before you flip the page in your romance novel to read how a man forces himself on a woman.

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Jesus introduces me to New Year Resolutions

I’m not the sort of person who makes New Year Resolutions.  I know there are a billion things in my life that I would love to resolve and work on, but I have never really set out the beginning of a new year with some personal goal in mind.  So to be perfectly honest I am not the person who should be giving advice on how to do that, or what to do, or even share countless success stories.  I have a very strong resolve when it comes to others, even strangers, but I have very little resolve when it comes to myself.  I would love to say it is because I am humble and selfless … now that would be awesome.  It would, however, throw out my self-proclaimed humbleness right out the window.  No, my reason is dark.  I try to make light of it often without really getting to the heart of the issue.  Even now I have had to delete several sentences.  I want to sarcastically refer to this as a ‘gift’.  But that’s wrong.  My Pastor, Mark Driscoll, has been going through the book of Malachi these last few weeks, and one of the condemnations of God against rebellious Israel is that they call bad things good and good things bad.  This really hit home for me, and I feel the desperate need to sin in this fashion.  I want to hide my sin in sarcasm, but truly it is a heart issue I have with the LORD.  In my heart I know I am accusing Him of allowing me to be given this ‘gift’.  But what does all of this have to do with New Year Resolutions and why I don’t make them?  I don’t make resolutions for myself because I don’t consider myself.

I don’t mean that flippantly, or humbly.  I don’t value myself.  I don’t find myself worthy of that sort of attention or intention or interest.  I am learning that this is a reverse form of pride because it is still about me, all about me.  It is about how I see myself, rather than how God sees me.  This is a very deep rooted sin my heart and soul. It is a sin I have to work on, but it is painful.  Those who know me know some of why I am like this, but those of you who don’t know …someone hurt me.  Before I knew Jesus I was involved with a man who abused me.  The first night he raped me I was ashamed and in so much pain.  The very next night the same thing happened, and the shame went deeper.  Then went the third night, the fourth night, the tenth night, the twenty-fifth night.  I once told people he raped, abused, and tortured me for six months.  Daily.  I didn’t see an end in sight.  But one night I ended up screaming so loud and I shattered.  I went away.  I can’t really tell you where I went because I don’t really know.  I felt like a zombie.  Something happened that night when I broke that scared him …and after that he no longer raped me with sexual intercourse.

Last year I started this process of healing.  Of walking through this with the LORD, and he is showing me things I didn’t remember, things I didn’t want to see or remember.  I didn’t break up with this man or escape this man that night.  He continued to be my boyfriend/fiancée/master/abuser for a good year and a half.  He made me do things I didn’t want to do.  And as I look back at those moments I realized I lost value in myself.  I no longer cared what happened to me physically.  I simply couldn’t care because I had no escape.  There was no end.  I hated everything about myself because there was no part of me that didn’t hurt, that didn’t feel defiled, and that didn’t feel disgusting.

When I gave myself to Jesus, and fell on my face behind His righteousness …I didn’t open that door for Him.  I had so forgotten myself that I didn’t realize there was a door there for Him to open.  My life was so riddled with obvious sin of paganism and copious amounts of sexual immorality that it was my focus to drastically change and turn my back on all that.  It has been four years of challenges and struggles to let go of all of these things.  And I by no means have it perfected yet.  This year, however …2014 … is the start of my fifth year as a Christian.  And as I read Facebook posts and internet articles about resolutions …God has knocked the wind out of me as I realized all that I am writing to you.

I don’t want to make a resolution.  It feels uncomfortable.  And that bothers me.  I don’t like knowing that I think so little of me.  And my lack of self-value affects all my relationships.  I don’t let people close, but I hunger for friendship.  I want to reach out, but when I look at my own metaphorical hand I see something twisted and dead.  And all of this is a lie.  It is a lie that the enemy has told me.  And I didn’t know how to fix that hand.  So I just focused on learning more.  In my learning through Mars Hill, each Community Group I have been to, the Women’s Mid-week Studies, and my friendships I found myself finding this door, and having to confront it.  And I don’t want to open it.  I don’t want to walk through it with Jesus.  I want to take an alternative route.  So I began to make up a list of all the reasons New Year Resolutions are stupid.

First, they are nearly impossible to keep with.  Second, I change and make improvements because of my relationship with Jesus and not because the planet earth has made one more revolution around the sun.  As a pagan the new year came at the end of October and it was all about the renewing of life.  But I am no longer a pagan so that was a notch against a New Year Resolution.  Then following that vein of thought our culture isn’t about renewing life, it is about renewing self.  How will I make myself a better version of me than last year?  So after combining all of this with all of what I shared earlier I nearly talked myself out of it.  Then the Holy Spirit happened.

I was showering and a soft voice inside me told me I was clean.  At first I was like, “Yeah duh.  Soap will do that to you.”  But the Holy Spirit didn’t allow me to be so dismissive of this profound statement.  I am clean.  For some reason I stopped and closed my eyes.  I just let the water fall over me.  As I stood there with my eyes closed (I know this will sound weird) I felt the blood of Christ washing over me rather than the water.  At first all I could do was sink to my knees and cry.  Then I heard His voice tell me to wash myself with the blood.  So I did.  I washed every inch of me without opening my eyes.  I have never felt this clean.  I thought when I opened my eyes the feeling would vanish.  It didn’t.  That statement stuck with me … Wash myself with the blood.  I thought I had.

But that is my default thinking.  I understood it as skin deep.  I had washed myself with the blood.  I had wept.  My skin actually still feels slightly raw.  The Holy Spirit kept at me.  He kept telling me to wash myself with the blood.  To be honest I started to get frustrated.  So I did the only ‘logical’ thing to do.  I began to argue with the Holy Spirit.

They are impossible to keep.  “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).  When I began on the arguments of the silliness of New Year keeping, that it was simply another night devoted to people getting drunk He spoke again.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.  (Genesis 1:14-19)

God created the years, the orbit of the earth.  We were meant to keep time, to count the years.  He designed them for us.  So why do I take such a thing so lightly?  But like with everything else we tarnished and corrupted this gift.  But I stubbornly continued to argue.  New Year Resolutions in this culture are all about us, self-improvement, self-worship. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

“Wash yourself in the blood of Christ” Then it hit me.  The LORD, the maker of the Heavens and the earth, the God of Jacob, the God of Isaac, and the God of Joseph, YAHWEH has shown up to wash me.  I don’t know what I was trying to confine Him to the world’s definitions of resolutions and times.  YAHWEH has come to open the door.  I have begun to do the only thing that is right.  I have begun to understand the only correct response.  I surrendered.  I surrender all to you my LORD, my King, my God, my Savior, my Friend, my Creator.

So today, the first day of the New Year, I have not made a resolution.  I have not found obedience.  I have found a New Year Supplication.  A New Year Submission.  A New Year of surrender and slavery to the Master of all things, the King of kings, and the LORD of lords.  I have found a New Year of Love.  I am beginning to understand that this door inside of me isn’t even my door.  I belong to my LORD.  I have no right to keep it closed.  I have no right to throw my sin on what He, YAHWEH, is cleaning.

What does that mean?  It means that this year I yield myself to Christ, to the will of my Father.  I want and need Him to wash me with the blood.  And what bothers me is I know I will screw this up.  He knows I will screw this up, how I will screw this up, and when I will screw this up.  I am really not in control of anything.  I am not in the driver’s seat.  I am not the co-pilot.  I am a passenger.  This year I want this.  I beg the LORD to invade me.  I know this means more changes for me.  Changes I have tried to make on my own by my own will.  This year I want nothing to do with my will, and everything to do with His will.  His might.  His power.  Nothing is impossible with my God.  This year, starting today, I want to hold onto this truth.  I want to let go of lies.

So why am I sharing this with you?  Because since that first night he raped me I have been in hiding.  Even when I became saved, and became such a radically new creature I was given a new name, I have still been hiding.  I don’t want to hide any more.  I can’t do the things that the LORD wants me to do, and be the things the LORD wants me to be if I hide.  Today I need to read and write the truth of the LORD.  This is how the LORD sees me.  This is how the LORD sees you.  And I know this has been a long post …but please stop considering yourself …and consider what God has to say about you.

I am saved by His grace! It is a gift! It has nothing to do with my performance!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8)

 

I have been born again by the Holy Spirit if I believe in Jesus!

Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.‘” (John 3:5-6)

 

I am altogether new IN HIM!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

 

Because of this I am righteous and holy, and He has renewed the spirit of my mind!

and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)

 

I no longer have to hide.  Darkness has no place in me!

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

 

I am God’s instrument to shine HIS light for you!

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

 

For God chose me, me of all people, to proclaim HIS glory!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

 

IN Christ I am an heir to the Kingdom of God!

“and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ” (Romans 8:17)

 

I did not choose Jesus.  God chose me to be a bearer of His fruit!

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16)

 

In fact, god made me from the beginning of time to do HIS good works!

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

 

I have a heavenly calling!

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,” (Hebrews 3:1)

 

I am reconciled in Christ and Christ has given me a message of reconciliation!

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Who am I before God?

Today I had the honor and gift of being able to sit in the comfort of my home while listening to some awesome Bible preaching and teaching.  My Church set up the Resurgence Conference for free online streaming.  I was giddy this morning for what I would learn.  I was overwhelmed at the sight of so many Jesus loving individuals packed into my church …singing ….praying ….learning …living …and worshipping together.  It was an awesome sight to see the pews packed.  It actually brought tears to my eyes …because I want to see that every Sunday.  And today was a Tuesday.  A day generally not packed full of church goers.  I was in awe of my God blessing me with a sight I always want to see.  It truly was amazing!

What I took away from today amazes me more.  It isn’t something I have really thought of.  All the Pastors who spoke today touched on it spoke into this feeling inside of me, but it was brought home by Pastor Greg Laurie.  Is who I am when I am all alone with God the same person I am when I am around others?  The answer is no.  I am not the same person I am around my family that I am around my Community Group.  I am not the same person I am around my Community Group that I am every Sunday at my Church.  I am not any of those people when I am with only my husband.  And I am still not that person in any of those situations then when I am alone with just God.  I’m just not.  Oh sure I could give you a list of reasons and excuses to “sanatize” my choices.  But I am not going to.

As Pastor Crawford Loritts spoke of today I need to move away from that dissection and set my feet to the path of what I am going to do about it.  How can the awesome and redeeming power of the Gospel shine it’s light through me if I keep putting Yahweh’s lamp beneath a bucket?  So I am going to start with today.  By God’s sense of time this is the beginning of my Wednesday.  And I was blessed with spending the beginning of my Wednesday listening to the teaching and preaching of my Pastor Mark and Pastor Crawford a second time through with my husband.  It was a good start to my day and I find myself at peace with what the dawn will bring me.  And trust me when I say that very rarely is the case.

So who am I when I am alone with God?  At first I thought it was that I am more confident when I am alone with God than when I am around other people.  Because I often feel a mile behind everyone else, completely out of place, and the only platypus among a flock of swans.  I’m not even the same species.  So as I allowed myself to sink into this self-professed confidence before the LORD I quickly come to realize I am not all that confident.  I question myself before and around others, and even when it is just me and no one else can witness my pride …it isn’t displayed in confidence.  It is displayed in second guessing myself, doubting myself, condemning myself, beating myself up …and staying completely focused on myself rather than focusing on the very real and obvious fact that I am an infant in my faith before a timeless LORD who knew all of my sin before He laid the foundations of the world.  That’s intimidating.  It is also so completely loving and humbling that He went ahead and made me anyway just the way I am.  I can’t really wrap my mind around it.

If the last paragraph didn’t give the answer away I’ll say it plainly.  When I am alone before God I am a mess.  I realize that in most of my online social media stuffs that I am involved with I always mention that I am broken, but I don’t think I act that part out.  I keep it hidden because it makes me vulnerable and real and imperfect.  Granted I know everyone knows I am not perfect …but this is a whole other level of imperfection.  I am broken because I am a sinner …yes …but the shattered pieces of me go much deeper than what I allow anyone to really see on any sort of consistent level.  I know we are all broken from the start, when we are being knit in our mother’s womb.  I know that, and I don’t want to try and play the ‘who is more broken’ game with anyone.  I am just saying, and letting you know that my soul … my very core …is shattered to countless pieces in Jesus’ dust pan.  I know I have only allowed Him the briefest moments of times to begin gluing my pieces back together.  I know that every day that passes more of His glue will bind me together with the stickiness of the Holy Ghost.  Just run with that analogy, bypass its flaws.

I am in pain.  In an obvious way physically.  I have told some about the constant level and degree of pain that I live in.  When doctors ask about a pain level between 1 and 10 …I live normally at a 7.  When I sleep it jumps up to an 8 due to the fact I am asleep.  So generally I don’t sleep well.  It isn’t restive.  Every moment of every day I am in pain.  It isn’t a discomfort.  It isn’t bothersome or annoying.  It isn’t mild.  It is burning, stabbing, real pain.  And if you look at me it is doubtful you will see that pain.  It might show up briefly in a wince, but generally people don’t realize how much I hurt.  I don’t want you to know.  I go to great, exhaustive lengths so you don’t know.  I hurt.  All the time.  Even when I am smiling, laughing, singing, and lifting my hands to worship LORD …I am in pain.

The fact I am in pain is not the problem.  It is just how can you see the redeeming power of God for this pain, through this pain, and because of this pain … if you don’t even know I am in pain in the first place?  Hiding this thorn isn’t allowing the light of the Gospel to shine through those gaps and cracks.  Don’t worry I am not about to start whining around everyone, nor am I going to constantly complain.  I just know I need to start exploring the ways of shining the light of Christ through the lens of this agony rather than covering it up.  I know I will need to pray about this a lot, and actually talk with the LORD about this …rather than just at Him because of it.  He had the solution in an eternity before today.

My physical pain was the easy answer.  It is the low hanging fruit.  A piece higher up has to do with intimacy.  Oh I tell people I suck at it because I have absolutely no idea what it looks like and I have never really had living examples of it around me.  The part that people don’t know is that I still have PTSD.  The LORD has redeemed some shallower areas of this, but I haven’t really begun to explore the deeper side of the PTSD pool.  I’ll hug people hello, because that is a greeting.  But a strange man, or a man I am only acquainted with, better not come up to me and touch my arm.  If that happens no one will know it…..but inside I am freaking out.  And it doesn’t always have to be a man.  Touch, in general, I am not very good at.  Being married has exposed this problem in so many ways.

It is so obvious when it is between me and God that when I go out of town with my mom …and we share a bed to sleep in …I will sleep on the edge, corner of that bed so as not to touch her in my sleep.  I get on the verge of anxiety attacks if while we are laying there and the outsides of our arms touch very lightly.  Comfort be damned.  And that’s my mom.  I don’t think anyone realizes that every Sunday at my Church is a miracle of God because if it were any other space, any other place, I would be uncomfortable and looking for my way out.  And I would never go back, much less volunteer eagerly and willingly to associate with random people.  Every Sunday is a miracle in my bucket sheltered world that I can go to Church for hours, being around strangers, and feel at ease and protected while I am in God’s house.  I am in God’s house with God’s people enjoying God’s company learning God’s word.  If you take God out of that I would never go back a second time.  Trust me on this.  But how would you know this.  How can I portray that in a way that isn’t all about me, but about all of His light shining through those shattered parts of me?  And I don’t have an answer for that.  I will pray about that.  I know the LORD has the answer already.

So I am in physical pain, in PTSD to the point where I close my eyes if a commercial or image comes up involving tidy whites.  What else?  I hunger for His word, I hear His commanding voice, and I tend to ignore Him.  I won’t do this in front of others.  Before others I keep up appearances.  I listen to God, I do what He tells me to do, and I portray a somewhat sedated, rebellious, obedience.  Before other’s I choose Him.  But when it is just me and God hanging out …most of the time I will choose myself.  When I am alone with God I sit there in complete disbelief …confused …horrified shocked awe …at how shattered I have become.  I am overwhelmed by my mess.  I am at a loss over the loss the LORD and I look at in the parts of me that have become nothing more than a fine powder …dust.  And yeah, some of that is my sin …but some of that is just bits of me.  Bits of me I lost.  Core elements of me that just don’t work any more ….and so I don’t know how to function as me any more.  I know that the LORD has it all and that I am a new creation …but how does that new created me work, function, and exist?

I sometimes think I knew the answer, or answers, so I try to forge ahead.  And as a lot of my friends have babies and toddlers …my actions remind me of the baby who tries to craw for the first time…but still can’t figure out how to get their knees beneath them.  I would like to say I am a toddler learning how to run …but more often than not I am the babe who still needs to learn how to support and control my own head.  Because I don’t do that very well.  I don’t take every thought captive to the LORD.  I don’t pray on my knees as often as I should.  I don’t read my Bible as often as I should.  I don’t focus on all things that are true, good, and holy from the LORD.  I fill my head with crap, false gospels preached in TV series, or movies, or games, or books, or ect….and if I don’t control my head how can I possibly guard my heart?

Before God I am broken.  The puppet strings of the world have been cut …but that is still the habitual way, the normative way, I know how to move.  I exist beside the LORD looking at the shattered mess of me in horror ….and I don’t know what to do.  I know Jesus is where I need to start.  Jesus is my start, my middle, my end, my energy, my reason, my salvation, my joy, my motivation, my prize, my portion, and my support.  Just to name a few.  Before others I know I put on the front and face of this is who I am, this is my personality, this is where I am from, and this is what I do.  When it is just God and me …I feel less defined and more like a blob.  I am undefined as I set myself to the task of knowing deep in my core …in the spaces inbetween all the shattered pieces of me …who the LORD says I am and how He defines me.  I am learning those truths in the Bible, in the teaching of the Gospel, in the testimonies of the people around me …and I know it is true in my head.  I need it to sink and cement itself in the empty spaces between the pieces of me.  I need to sit, and think on it.  I need to take the time to sit with Jesus at His feet to chew on His words.

I don’t know if any of this makes any sense.  I hope I’m not writing in circles, because I am good at that.  I just wanted to get these thoughts down.  Because good men of God spoke into my life today.  The LORD spoke to me through them.  He made me who I am before Him …and I need to allow His glory, His light, His redemptive power, and His grace to shine through my mess.  He doesn’t want me to sweep it all under a rug or the bucket just because others come around.  That doesn’t glorify God.  It glorifies me.  I’m broken.  I’m a mess.  Jesus is the neat and perfect one.  And only Yahweh can shine light through the murkiness of His followers.  It doesn’t make logical sense.  It seems foolish and folly.  But the world in its wisdom does not know God.  We can’t shine a light through dirt and murkiness.  That is a miracle.  Only the power of the LORD can do that.  Because He is that awesome.  And only HE is that good!

My Mircale

[Jesus said] “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:31-34 NIV).

            This passage has really hit me this week.  Two weeks ago the LORD gifted me with a healing miracle.  I had a very nasty eye disease that would take a long while to clear up.  During the weeks or months of trying to get this condition under control I could develop scarring inside my eyes that could lead to blindness and/or glaucoma.  In the first week alone that I had this condition my eyes got worse and I had an intensely unpleasant migraine because of my eyes.  My doctor was concerned.  I was scared.  The Pastors at Mars Hill Church prayed over me that Sunday, and then my Community Group prayed over me on Thursday.  The following morning I went in to see the doctor.  Much to her surprise, and my own, she found absolutely no traces of the disease in my eyes.  She said she expected them to be worse, not to be completely healed.  I just laughed.  She said the medicine must have really worked with my body.  I told her I was pretty sure it was Jesus.

Following this miracle healing I had to tell everyone, naturally.  I felt so completely giddy inside.  I wish I could say I now have a better understanding of how the woman in this passage must have felt; but I doubt it would be accurate.  I had this eye problem for all of two weeks.  The woman in this passage had been bleeding for twelve years.  For twelve years she suffered.  She was an outcast.  She spent everything she had on trying to fix this problem.  Then in an instant, when she was bold enough to reach out to Jesus … to touch Him … she was healed.  Completely healed.  She was freed from her suffering.

While this is one of my favorite stories in the Bible it wasn’t until yesterday that I was struck sorta dumb by it.  When I first read this verse of Scripture I immediately thought of my eyes.  I did a mental jig with the Holy Ghost, and wiggled in my seat.  Then as I continued to read the “Girlfriends in God” devotional I was struck by my lack of understanding and faith.  I had no doubt in my heart that God could heal my eyes.  But I do have … maybe not doubt … more like a lack of understanding when it comes to a ‘condition’ I have been living with for twelve years.  What surprised me is I had never looked at this wonderful story and applied it to my condition.

For about twelve years now I have been doing everything I can to deal with my condition.  I poured out all my money into going to school to help me better deal with aspects of my condition.  I have kept myself an outcast, refusing to get close to people.  Twelve years ago the man I was in love with, engaged to, decided to do me harm.  I had been in a car accident.  I pinched three nerves in my lower back and crushed my kneecap.  I was in so much pain.  He didn’t want to hear about how sex hurt.  Not even when I begged him to stop.  So for six months he raped, abused, and tormented me every day and night.  The physical therapists couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting better.  He was the only one there to help me.  So my abuser would assault me, then help me shower to get cleaned up, then take me to the doctor or to physical therapy, and then he would take me home to assault me again.

This destroyed a good decade of my life.  No one around us knew what was going on.  I had completely checked out.  It took me about seven years before I would check back in.  By that time it was too late to press charges.  And it took several more years for me to really understand it wasn’t my fault.  Sometimes I still slip into that lie.  But because of that abuse I put on a lot of weight.  I thought if I had gained weight he would no longer find me attractive and so he would leave me alone.  After we broke up I kept the weight on because I wanted to keep everyone away from me.  I felt so disgusting and horrible on the inside, it felt appropriate to look it on the outside.  It hasn’t been until this past year that I have been in a good enough place spiritually that I can finally start to work on my weight.  I hadn’t felt good enough inside until Christ.

Now I had become a Christian almost four years ago, but I was dealing with so many other issues that I hadn’t really immediately invited Jesus into this part of me.  I had always assumed I would always be completely broken inside.  My soul is like thousands of tiny shards of glass scattered across the ground.  Jesus and I are just starting to mend those pieces back together.  I went to Redemption Group at Mars Hill.  It was really good, but I fear I might need to go again.  I know I am just scratching the surface of all the ick I have locked away.  I know Jesus has taken away the sins done against me.  I know He takes away my shame.  I know these things, but my heart doesn’t always understand them.

So considering this is one of my favorite stories in the Gospels you can imagine my dumbfounded surprise when I read this devotional by “Girlfriends in God”.  I am freed from my suffering.  My faith healed my eyes.  I know I need to pray for the faith to heal these much deeper wounds.  The wounds that have spread into every aspect of my life.  Reading that verse over and over again my head knows all I have to do is reach out my hand to Jesus.  It is really that simple.  I can’t really explain to you why my heart thumps in my chest dimwittedly.  I don’t know why this concept is so hard to put into action.  I love Jesus.  I want Him in every part of my life.  But I am not entirely sure how to give this to Him.

It’s not like I don’t want to. I just don’t know how to.  This has been mine for so long, and I have been trying everything I can to simply function around people in a normal way as possible.  Most people are completely oblivious to how often I simply want to run, hide, scream, or freak out.  People have no idea how hard it is for me not to scratch the skin right off my hands sometimes.  It is getting better, so much better.  My PTSD is improving.  Since having giving my life to Jesus I haven’t had a single night terror where as I used to have them once a week.  I still haven’t had a good night’s sleep, however, in twelve years.  It is an improvement, but I know I am stuck.

I am working on a journal to walk through what happened to me with the LORD.  I am not enjoying that journaling.  Most of the time I avoid it for as long as I can.  I just don’t want to go there.  I am being stubborn about it, I know.  But I want more of this peace I am already tasting.  I want to be freed of my suffering.  I know a major part of my problem is I cling to the chains.  The chains are all I know for the last 12 years.  I have only known Jesus for almost four years.  I know Jesus is trustworthy, and yet I don’t know why I struggle with it.  I know part of it is shame, and fear, despite the fact I know Jesus took my shame and tells me to not fear.  It is a battle of wills and I want mine to lose.  I pray mine will lose.  I want my faith to heal me.  I want to be bold enough to reach out my hand to touch the hem of His robe.

It was so easy to do when it was my eyes.  It was so easy to trust the LORD with my health through cancer.  I even found it easier to sink into the love of my Savior with the crippling of my ankle/leg.  It is simple for me to trust with physical things.  The deeper things go, the more I clam up, and the more distant I become.  I don’t want that sort of relationship with Christ.  I know He doesn’t want that sort of relationship with me.  The deeper sides to me are no more complex to the LORD than my eyes.  He is fully capable of perfectly mending my soul.  It doesn’t make sense to doubt Him.  I know deep inside I don’t.  I am trying to figure out why these shallower and medium levels hesitate and resist.

Abba, Father I believe, please help me with my unbelief.  Turn this fear filled heart of stone to the trusting beating heart of flesh.  Build in me the trust for my deeper understanding of you.  Help me break  down these walls of fear and years of building.  I know I can’t do it on my own.  Only Your mighty hand, and Your great mercy can safe me from my self.  You are powerful enough to mend our broken bodies.  You are gracious enough to soothe our tortured souls.  You only are worthy of praise, worship, and unfailing trust.  And yet I fail to give you all those so often.  Please help us LORD to be better worshipers of Your glory.  Holy Spirit please soak me in love for Christ, drench us all in love to be the abject slaves of our Savior.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Raw

“(1) Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.  (2) And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan!  The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!  Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’

(3) Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.  (4) Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’  And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’

(5) And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’  So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him.  And the Angel of the Lord stood by.”  (Zechariah 3:1-5)

 

God truly does have a perfect sense of timing about things.  Today at Church Pastor Mark did a sermon on sexual assault; basically Chapter 7 of the book “Real Marriage” that he wrote with his wife.  If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it.  Even if you aren’t married you probably know people who are, or you likely will be married yourself one day.  This was a hard and uncomfortable sermon for me.  But timely.  I am currently reading the book “Rid of my Disgrace” by the Holcombs; another highly recommended book.  It deals with sexual assault in the light of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  Again, even if you have never been sexually assaulted I can promise you that you probably know someone who has so this would be an awesome book for you to read so you know what to say….and more importantly what not to say…to someone who is hurting from this.  I will warn you that this book is not an easy read, particularly if you have been sexually assaulted.  I am only able to get through maybe a chapter a week. Right now I am on Chapter 5, which is about denial, and I am really struggling with how much of that I have actually been doing since my assault.

 

So today’s ‘Our Daily Bread’ fit in with the sermon.  It is about taking away the filth of our iniquity to clothe us in rich robes.  Pastor Mark spoke about how Jesus takes away my shame, my defilement, and scorns it on the cross.  To be perfectly honest I don’t fully understand it.  I see the vague outline of it like looking through a frosted over window peering out through a dense fog.  I can see the outline of the cross there, but in light of what happened to me I struggle.  Which is why I am going to be going through a Redemption Group to help me with this.  This idea terrifies me; it makes me want to itch all over.  You see I thought I was past all of this.  I went to a Rape Counselor for about a year and a half just over 5 years ago to deal with all of this.  I thought I had moved beyond it.  That everything was fine.  Only to learn within the first two chapters of reading the book that I probably suffer from PTSD, and that I am really not okay with what happened to me.  At all.  I learned how to function again on a normal standard.  I learned how to check back into this world.  But I have no idea what it means to be healed or not feel the way I feel.

 

The Scripture reading today says that Joshua was dressed in filthy rags.  I know it is common for assault victims to feel dirty or gross.  I feel disgust.  I feel disgusting.  I often believe the lie that the Enemy tells me that my fiancé thinks I am disgusting.  I don’t like to look at myself in the mirror because of that disgust.  I was raped over ten years ago and I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago that I carried this identity from that assault.  It was always just sort of there in the back of my mind.  So when I read that verse in the Scripture I cringe.  It makes my stomach turn because I can imagine what Joshua was feeling in that moment standing before the lord wearing that.  And Pastor Mark hit it on the head today with one of the struggles I have been having.  What was I supposed to do, say “Forgive me Jesus for being raped repeatedly by my ex-fiancé at the time.”  It wasn’t my sin.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  How does that get off?  I can’t scrub it off, trust me I have tried to scrub it off to the point of bleeding before in my past.  I have never been able to ever really feel clean again.  I want to feel clean again.  Which is why I really, really want to go to this Redemption Group no matter how terrified I am.

 

So the devotional today spoke about how Jesus takes away our sin: something I totally understand and am eternally grateful for. But Pastor Mark spoke of something else which I don’t get so I thought to look up what the dictionary definition of “iniquity” is.  Iniquity: 1. Gross injustice or wickedness; and 2. A violation of right or duty, wicked act; sin.  If I use that first definition it helps me to see that cross a little more clearly.  The Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, takes away my gross injustices.  All the gross, disgusting, deplorable injustices done upon me that make it impossible for me to look at myself in the mirror…Jesus took away.  My head knows that, but my heart doesn’t understand it.  I want to understand it.  I know that my understanding of it won’t happen overnight.  I know it is something I need to mediate on, prayerfully seek out the Holy Spirit to help me.

 

So tonight I will go to bed with that prayer in my heart for help, comfort, and understanding.  And a new memory verse that Crystal from “Rid of my Disgrace”, was kind enough to share. “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” (Joel 2:25).  God is a good and faithful God.  I believe He will keep that promise.