Monday, November 29, 2010

The Lord Will Fight for You

The last time I wrote was right after my meeting with my mom that did not go well.

I really struggled a lot after that - not that I'm not still struggling - but then I was struggling a lot.

One night I was reading to my kids out of their Bible and something struck me that I had never paid much attention to. (Isn't the Bible awesome in that way - it always has something new to say even though it always says the same thing. It truly is the living and breathing word of God.)

We were reading about the Israelites leaving Egypt and how soon after they left they were cornered between the Red Sea and the Egyptians. Certain death on both sides.

Can you imagine the terror they must have felt? To know that they were safe - enslaved, but safe - just a few days prior only to now be facing certain death?

And here was Moses' response to the people when they expressed their fear....

"Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.'"

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."


And He did fight for them. In a place that they never saw their way out of.

Now, conflict with my mother is no where near certain death, but sometimes it feels like death. It feels like death to not know what in the world to do - to separate myself from something I have clung to for so long - and to try to live this out in a godly manner. This is an emotional fight instead of a physical one. But the directions are the same I believe.

He will fight for me - He will fight for you - if only we will be still. And know that He will fight for us. And do the battle for us.

So, my prayer for you today is that He will do the fighting for you - in whatever front you need it - and that you will have the courage to be still.


Steven Curtis Chapman - Believe Me Now

When I was a teenager, one of my favorite uncles introduced me to Steven Curtis Chapman. Since that time, I have become a faithful listener and admirer of Steven Curtis Chapman. I started following his blog off and on about 2 years ago when his youngest daughter tragically died in an accident at their home. Listening to this family reel from their heartache yet continue to believe in a Savior that seemed confusing yet faithful has been both heart wrenching and inspiring.

I was listening to one of his CDs (All Things New) in the car the other day and heard this song. A beautiful song. Take a listen and ponder some of these thoughts.

Many times off and on, in large and small ways, I have felt the anxiousness and desperation of the enemy closing in on me. Trying to find the strength to fight that enemy seemed impossible. Depression that was mind consuming with a family falling apart. Constant tears with no one who could truly understand and no idea of when that depression or the darkness that caused it might lift.

God knows that feeling. He has felt it.

When going through darkness such as this and worse, it is important to make ourselves remember His goodness and faithfulness in our lives. Remembering that He kept me breathing through that crippling depression - that he protected parts of me to not be damaged through that process are important in hindsight. It is impossible, at least it was for me, to remember those things in the midst of those experiences and to believe He is going to continue to be faithful. In hindsight, I can see parts where He was present. I can see times in my life before and since where I felt His abundant faithfulness. I believe that making a list, journalling and concretely remembering His faithfulness is what will get us through those times of darkness. Isn't that what the Old Testament record is about? The authors continually remind the Israelites who God is and what He has done for them as they are wondering about the wilderness, enduring persecution and even in their disobedience. They need reminded to look up and see the One who is consistent despite our and life's inconsistencies.

If you are in a space of relief right now, of experiencing and knowing His faithfulness, remember with me those things and keep them for when it doesn't seem so clear.

If you are in a space of darkness, focus on having enough faith to stand, dear one. He is with you and He will not waste a "single hurt you endure". He is for you.

Believe Me Now

I watch you looking out across the raging water
So sure your only hope lies on the other side
You hear the enemy that's closing in around you
And I know that you don't have the strength to fight
But do you have the faith to stand and...

Believe Me now
Believe Me here
Remember all the times I've told you loud and clear
I am with you and I am for you
So believe Me now
Believe Me now

I am the One who waved my hand and split the ocean
I am the One who spoke the words and raised the dead
And I've loved you long before I set the world in motion
I know all the fears you're feeling now
But do you remember who I am?
Do you..

Believe Me now
Believe Me here
Remember all the times I've told you loud and clear
I am with you
And I am for you

So believe Me now
Believe it's true
I never have, I never will abandon you
And the God that I have always been
I will forever be
So believe Me now

I am the God who never wastes a single hurt that you endure
My words are true, and all My promises are sure
So believe Me now
Oh, believe Me now

Friday, November 19, 2010

With Everything - Hillsong United (Joel Houston)

I can not tell you how grateful I am for the church we attend and for the incredible worship songs they introduce us to. This song by Hillsong United, sung by Joel Houston, reveals that the power of the Holy Spirit is at work through song.

God. He is God of all. Of every one of us and every one of our days. It is hard to imagine that God is the God of some of our days - that He would seemingly stand by and watch the horrible things happen that do. That He could be a good God and stand by.

It hasn't always been this way but everything in me believes that those days of suffering will be redeemed. And that He is present and aches and is broken hearted by the sin we experience in our lives.

I believe this because I have seen Him at work in the lives of those around me and I feel like I'm starting to feel this in my life too. I never thought I would.

A couple of years ago our family went through a tragedy and I remember looking up to the ceiling (toward God) and thinking the words of Peter - "Lord, there is no where else to go." There was truly no where else to go. No answers to be found anywhere. God was my best and only hope.

As horrible as it was to feel that way that night, it was also comforting in a strange way because I knew there was SOMEWHERE to go. I was not filled with the feeling of hopelessness because I knew that He knew.

He goes beyond the finiteness in which I look at him. And I'm grateful.

Praise Him with me that He is God and He deserves everything we can give Him.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Sad Meeting

I've mentioned to you in other posts that I've been having conflict with my mother.

This week is the first time I felt like I could get together with her without being angry.  I asked her to meet me and she accepted right away. 

On the way to meet her I prayed about what I would say to her.  One of the things I said (out loud to myself) was that I forgave her.  And I meant it.  What a relief filled realization that was.  I'm so thankful for that. 

Our meeting went less than favorably.

We remember the years I was growing up completely differently.  It's not even in the same ball park - at all.

That has thrown me for a loop. 

Which one of us is right?

She remembers hitting me 5 times.  I would have thought 505.  And that's not even touching the verbal or emotional abuse.

How do you really deal with that?  How do you deal with conflict when you see things completely differently than the other person does who you are in conflict with?  What kind of things do you do in the future in relationship with that person?  These are the questions I'm wrestling with right now.

Here's how it's falling out for me - so far.

I don't believe that the one who was abused would be making up stories.  Even though I can't point out every time she hit me or where, I have feelings and thoughts to back that up, one of which is the utter surprise at her even saying that number, I know I didn't make those things up.

I have been receiving counsel from dear friends, my pastor, a couple of women who are older and wiser than I am and a professional counselor.  I'm praying about this a lot.  And I felt peaceful.

My mom was very angry and emotional through the entire conversation.  She holds me just as responsible for everything that happened as she is, if not more so.  The view that she is expressing feels almost bizarre.

So, I believe the boundaries I'm setting right now, although very painful, are appropriate.  I have no idea what will happen in our relationship and I feel SO SAD about it, but it is what it is right now and I'm going to have to trust that God will be my stability in this situation.

Can you relate?  Any thoughts?

Friday, November 12, 2010


I review my blog posts a lot.

I just finished reading the last one.

One of the things I am concerned about with this blog is revealing too much.  Sharing too much information that no one needs to know or wants to know or hear.  I don't want to be like on of those lip-locked people in the park that freak me out!

I share what I do for a couple of reasons.

  1. It's anonymous.  If I knew you knew my family I certainly wouldn't be sharing some of these stories.  
  2. It takes away the power.  The longer you shore something up in your head and heart that you know is a bad thing, the longer it will exert power over your life.  You just won't be able to get away from it and the longer you keep it shored up, the more powerful it will get.  
  3. I don't believe that what I'm sharing is completely uncommon.  I believe there is someone else out there who has similar stories or stories that can relate to mine.  And if they don't, they certainly understand stories of shame and have their own.  I think we all do.

So I'm not sharing to give you too much information or hurt the people I am talking about.  I'm sharing it so you won't feel alone and so the power of these experiences can disappear.

Have you experienced the power of a shameful story?  Have you shared it?

Praying for you,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Not Knowing What You're Doing

I was encouraged by my counselor to write a letter.  To my mother.  And not mail it.  To get it all out, so to speak.

With great dread I completed that project.  Four pages, single spaced letter.

I did this with my dad years ago, but since I'm just starting to work on this with my mom this was the first I'd done this in relation to her.

When I walked into the counseling session he asked me to read it out loud to him.  So I did.  Four pages of sheer anger intermixed with questions.

I finished reading it and I expected him to agree with everything I said and go into how horrible I had it.  Instead what he said was, "Okay, now, can you forgive her?" 

What?  And let all this go?  Just that easy?  Don't we need to rip on her a little first?

Isn't it always that way when we have been hurt by someone?  We want to stay in that anger and have everyone else support us and confirm us in that anger.  Usually when they don't agree with how I feel, I end up feeling extremely inferior to them and back away.  But it's a little hard to back away from a counseling session when you're not an assertive person.

So I listened and participated in the conversation.

I told him I thought I could probably forgive her for everything but telling me to sleep with my first boyfriend.  I didn't know how I could possibly do that when she had encouraged me to give away something so precious - something that could not be taken back.  Something that hasn't stopped bothering me since the day it happened.

Then he asked me if I could forgive myself.


Not going to happen.

He asked me if I remembered what Jesus said to the criminals on the cross when they hung Him there.

Yes, I remember.  "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

He asked me if I knew what I was doing when I slept with my boyfriend.

And I have to say no.  I mean, I obviously KNEW what I was doing, but I didn't understand why I was doing it and how it could possibly effect me in the future.  I had no idea.

He said, "I think if the 30 year old woman could stand here and look at her 15 year old self and see she didn't know what she was doing, then Jesus would also stand beside that 30 year old woman and say, 'You knew not what you were doing.  And I already forgave you.'"

I never considered applying those words to my actions.  Or to the actions of others.

He said, and I already knew, there was a reason for why my mom behaved the way she did.  Of course.  Her dad treated her the same way and worse.  Her mom died when she was 12 followed by a stepmother who died 2 years later and then another stepmother who could have cared less about parenting 5 children who were not her own.  She had no mother.  So she didn't know how to be one.  After the age of 12 she had no idea.  She did not know what she was doing.

I'm reading a book right now called The Art of Forgiving by Lewis Medes.  One of the things he says is necessary for forgiveness is finding compassion for the person who injured you.  Looking at my mom in the light of what she experienced and the fact that she truly had no idea what to do after I turned 12 provided that.  My view of her changed dramatically with the words of Christ.

I know that forgiveness of myself or my mother will not come easy because that pain still exists and simply can not be forgotten or brushed under the rug.  That's what causes the pain to grow.  Still, I feel hopeful that it will happen someday.

What do you think about Christ's words?