Every day I learn something new. It may have been about events, life, a friend or human behavior. This morning was about me! Sitting quietly I became aware of something that triggers me and causes me to feel shamed. It’s not from past trauma or anything like that. People, family, coworkers etc, sometimes without realizing it say things that sting. That stuff will happen. But here’s what I learned about myself…. I try very hard to set up my world to avoid pain at every turn. I want to inoculate myself from pain. How unrealistic to think I can avoid it. I can’t avoid it! Yet I want to at all costs. The real question is why? I wonder if it’s as simple as pain avoidance or if an old coping mechanism. No matter why I think the better thing to do is learn to become aware of the trigger and work through it constructively. The first step for me is awareness, then prayer then reaching out to a friend. I’m a verbal processor. So once I talk through I’m usually ok again. And after all isn’t that how we all want to feel?
Usually I think about waiting on The Lord. But the other night God spoke to my heart. He said “I wait” As I thought more about what that meant I remembered my own fathers last words to me. ” My love for you is long and patient” I didn’t understand why my dad would say that to me. I chalked it up to the cancer that had gone to his brain. But those words haunted me for a few years.
Then one day, out of the blue, God gave me understanding. You see my dad knew my walls were up. My dad was willing to patiently wait until I let those walls come down and show his love to me. I put those walls up to protect myself.
Ok that’s the background.
The other night. my husband and I were at a marriage retreat. During worship, God spoke to my heart. He said “I wait”. I wondered what more God wanted to say. Then He said “I wait and watch. I wait for the walls to come down, I watch to see willingness”
“THEN I COME”
Sometimes He comes in a gentle breeze. Sometimes He comes as a mighty rushing wind. But just like my dad waited for me to let him in God waits too!
I never thought my dad’s last words would become a parable. But it has! How cool is that!
I became aware that I was trying to say something. “DAD” but nothing was really coming out. I could hear myself trying to say it over and over but still nothing would come out. I was in that state between being awake and asleep. I didn’t know what was happening or why I was saying dad. Then all of the sudden I saw a demon standing near my bed. At that point I barely got the word dad out of my mouth but I managed to say it. The thing moved to the other side of the room. I said “dad” again a little louder the second time. Then as fast as it came it was gone.
I had a similar experience years before. So once it happens you don’t forget. I know it would be easier to dismiss it as a dream, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t a dream back then and it wasn’t one now. I know a lot of people will disagree with me. We live in a spiritual world as well as a real world. Like it or not.
I learned something interesting. I learned that God knew I was calling on Him and He honored it. Why was I saying dad??? I was calling on my heavenly Father to protect and defend me. I did it instinctively. If I were fully awake I probably would’ve called out the name of Jesus. But I was in that in between state and God honored it!!.
It makes me wonder how many other lessons there are yet to be learned. Calling out “dad” instead of using the name of Jesus and having His help in the moment I needed Him is certainly something I won’t forget. It tells me how unconcerned Jesus is with our correctness. He’s much more concerned about us than being called by a particular name. He is true to His word, His character and His promises.
Last Friday I went to Florida to surprise my step father for his 80th birthday. The trip itself was great. My step dad was surprised by all the people who showed up to let him know how much he is loved! I was very happy I made the trip.
But getting there was another story. It wasn’t that we were delayed, had an extra layover or bad weather. It was the ride to the airport. My husband drove me to the airport at 4:30 in the morning. The road was under construction and had multiple traffic pattern changes. I wasn’t even driving but it was making me nervous because it was dark and everything seemed different. I even told my husband ” I don’t like this road and I’m never driving it alone again.” He just chuckled. A little while later, after we were through all the construction, he heard me sigh and asked what was wrong. I had to tell him the truth. My mind was running wild!
I imagined getting lost in the airport. Then security took me to a back room and strip searched me. And I ended up on the news.
Even as I was saying it, I knew how silly it sounded. My husband was laughing and shaking his head. But I was taking a pill to calm myself down. It’s not like I have never gone to the airport before. But I never drove there in the dark. And I hope I never have to again! Sometimes ya just gotta laugh at yourself.
When I was really young I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. It didn’t matter if it was true or not. It’s just a feeling I wrestled with daily. It didn’t matter where I was. I still had this nagging sense of being different or not good enough. I felt this way at home, among cousins, in my neighborhood and at school.
Then one day I attended a charismatic church and went forward for prayer. Oddly enough I didn’t realize the guy that was praying for me was a pastor (even though I just listened to him preach). And I didn’t know He heard from God and shared those words with others. So there I am thinking I’m getting prayer for bad sinuses and this guy says “I can tell everywhere you’ve ever gone and everywhere you’ve ever been you’ve always felt a little different and little out-of-place. From this day forward you will never walk alone.” This guy nailed it!
That began my journey for truth in the inner parts. I have no problem leaning into the discomfort of getting to the root of my stuff. I’m not afraid to sit with those uncomfortable feelings , take them before the Father and allow Him to bring light into my darkness. Though I was an adult , what I found was a little girl still very much alive on the inside of me raging from the shame and rejection.
But the dilemma for me, the words shame,fear and unworthiness, were considered carnal in nature in the circles I ran in. Consequently some of my “stuff” remained hidden in dark places for years. I just couldn’t risk making myself that vulnerable to another Christian by telling them what I was secretly feeling. I couldn’t take the chance of being told “you’re just too carnal for me” I.e. “you’re too immature and unspiritual for me to hang out with”. That would’ve devastated me. It was that fear of disconnection that kept me trapped and unable to let God into a really deep dark scary part of my heart.
As time went on, God separated me to himself for a second round of sifting and separating. The first time I went through one of those “seasons” it lasted 1 1/2 years and was awful. In the second round it lasted closer to 5 years. And it just plain old sucked. (Sorry God but it did) God wanted access to my heart. All of it! He knew I could handle more than I ever thought I could, with His loving arms to hold me up. It didn’t feel like love at the time. It felt more like I was a plant that had been pulled up by the roots but not yet potted in a bigger pot. This “season” produced much fruit. But for this post I’ll focus on more freedom to be me. Warts and all!
Jesus loves me and you just as we are. That’s part of belonging to the family. But people and yes even Christians because of fear settle fitting in over belonging. I can say this with certainty because I know I’m not the only one guilty of sacrificing the real me at the altar of peer acceptance. Is anyone saying ouch yet??
In the words of my new favorite author Brene Brown “Fitting in and have a sense of belonging are two totaling different things”.
Fitting in is something we do to be accepted. But the problem is that when we settle for ‘fitting in’ we’re always looking over our shoulder to make sure no one else comes along to expose us for something and kick us out of the group. Leaving us all alone. again!
So here’s what I’ve discovered…
First, no one wants to talks about fear or shame,and the less you talk about it the more you are stuck with it like a thorn in the paw of a lion. It’ll roar at you until you hear it and pay attention.
Second, the more I say out loud the things I’m secretly thinking the more I find other that say “I know! and me too!” And That’s when I find a sense of connection and belonging that I crave. That’s when I’m truly being strong and courageous. That’s when ministering to each other happens! That’s when we start to open eyes that are blind, and free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. Is 42:7
So today I say to you…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.
I’ve been nominated for The One Lovely Blog Award by my new online friend Katelon Jeffereys. Then name of her blog is “Empower and Balance” @ http://empowerandbalance.wordpress.com. She’s been blogging for years and is a pro at it. She is not just a pro at expressing herself in blog form but, she’s a professional wellness coach and trainer. So I am deeply touched that she would even consider my blog for this honor. Thank you Katelon!
The rules for the award are as follows:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them.
2. Share 7 things/facts about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 blogs with links to their blogs.
4. Contact these bloggers to let them know
Well here goes nothing!
- I am a life long learner and love to study things that get in the way of living in emotional health and freedom. I love to listen to what’s not being said and allow God to bring light in that area! I truly believe in honesty on every level starting by being honest with yourself and God.
- Next to God, my husband is my biggest emotional support and my best friend.
- I’v had several career changes. At one time I worked in Christian ministries, then a drug rehab (I know big sift right?) Now as an administrative assistant to one on the most amazing vascular surgeons around.
- I have 2 adult children that I miss every day and one beautiful granddaughter. But I can honestly say I hate an empty nest. I never realized how much I loved being a mom until they left. I guess I just enjoyed the time they lived in our home and never really considered that it would end. Until it did!
- All the emotional heartache I’ve experienced has only served to fuel my passion for healing the broken hearted and this blog.
- I love to shop. If I had the money it would be a close second to studying and ministering emotional healing.
- I’m in my fifties now and I’m starting to slow down a bit. but I can honestly say that Iv’e enjoyed every phase of my life to date. though I’m not sure how I will feel about retirement and old age.
NOW ONTO THE GOOD STUFF… THE NOMINATIONS! but in to particular order
- Army of Angels- “Her blog is about C-PSTD and abuse.
- Life and PTSD -This girl is a warrior! She never gives up. And she’s one of my best friends!
- Soul Healing Art- She paints what she sees or feels and then creates a message to go with it. I just love her style!
- Soul Gatherings- It’s filled with daily thought provoking quotes
- Beating Trauma- her blog is not only her story of life after trauma but it educates as well. I guess she too is a self learner.
- Living while Healing – her site is about C-PTSD and the journey to heal
- vwoods 1212- this blog is filled with Christian inspirations and food for thought. I’ve enjoyed reading her blog very much
- Trauma Response Syndrome – It a fantastic site dedicated to understanding mental health and trauma. Plus you can follow her on Facebook
- The Hunt FOR Truth- the name says it all
- Learning To Fly with Tattered Wings – She is courageous!
- Doodles Invigorate- This is a Christian site filled with uplifting doodles
- Hope Floats-by my friend Amy. she is an inspiration to all of us who know her
- Finally Speaking My Truth- She brave just for speaking up
- Avalanche of the Soul- a blog about domestic abuse
- More Than Skin Deep- a blog about self harm You can tell what kind of people I’m attracted to by the blogs I enjoy! I hope you’ll check them out for yourself and get as much enjoyment from them as I do.
Does this photo remind you of your childhood or a bad relationship? We all have heard the saying “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt you”. Even as a kid I knew it wasn’t true on some level but I wasn’t sure why. I grew up in a home where you didn’t challenge your parents. I didn’t have a voice in the family and I never was allowed to defend myself. My parents favorite saying was “children should be seen but not heard” and “I’ll beat you into next week”. So I didn’t while one level I went along believing they were right, on another (and mostly ignored level) I knew differently. The truth is I was too afraid to challenge them and think for myself. After all I was little. When you hear the same horrible things everyday you start to believe what is being said. I know there are a lot of other people who have faced much worse than me. So I don’t mean to be dramatic or belittle anyone.
My experience in the home was one of both verbal abuse and physical abuse. But it was the verbal stuff that was hardest to handle. I never quite understood how my parents could be screaming at me one minute and then in the next moment say “Hey let’s go for ice cream”. When you’re young, you think all families are like this. In those days kids didn’t have sleepover. Every child slept at home in their own bed. So I didn’t have anything else to compare my family to.
I was 26 when a counselor asked me “What was your childhood like?” isn’t that what every counselor asks at your assessment? My answer was “It was the normal, scream yell and swear”. What came next came as a real shock to me. She said “THAT’S NOT NORMAL” I was stunned and perplexed as I sat there trying to figure out what she meant. Not Normal???? My assignment for the following week was to write a letter to my dad. So I did. I brought it back for this counselor to read. With that she decided to refer me to a psychologist. On the drive home I began to cry. I couldn’t understand why I was crying. I always wanted to see a shrink so why was I upset? As I drove the Lord spoke to me and said ” I want you to lay everything down at the foot of my cross”
This was to be the start of a journey toward healing and a passion for counseling. As time went on, I did lay things down at the cross. I would just sit and listen to my heart. Whatever would be going on in my head and heart I would allow God to speak into it.
Fortunately I was also married to one of the most kind-hearted, patient men in all the world. He never spoke to me the way my dad did. His patience facilitated healing. I was lucky or blessed because I didn’t marry a guy like my dad and have to keep reliving the verbal or physical abuse.
Even more than that, together we broke the cycle of abuse with our children by not putting them down all the time or beating them. Instead we gave our kids what we needed when we were kids.
I’ve been on a journey with God! Over the last several years I’ve been listening more intentionally to my heart. I mean all of it. It’s been a journey of becoming aware and honest. It’s come with pain as I took off each mask and got really honest with myself about what I was thinking and feeling. The more I’ve listened the more I realize there are layers upon layers of thoughts and feelings behind feelings. Some people like to say it’s like peeling back the layers of an onion.The thing about onions is they make you cry.
We all wear masks. There’s the “I’m a Christian” mask. I wore it because it’s a way to fit in. If you’re a Christian I bet you can identify to some extent. I’ve worn the “I’m brave” mask that’s rooted in fear and shame. I think most of us are familiar with this mask.Then I have some other ones that have been deeply entrenched from childhood. I used them to cope. I used them for self protection.The problem for me was I was so good at wearing them I wasn’t able to be the real me. The me God created and designed me to be in this world.
Real masks come off. It’s the invisible ones that are hard to pry off. So for the past several years God has taken me on a journey of self discovery because wanted me to be as free as possible. But He wants that for you too. truthfully I don’t think we can ever attain complete freedom until we are in Heaven. But while I’m here on earth I want to live in as much freedom as possible.
Honesty really is a big theme in my life. I truly believe in being honest before God. Christ died so that I/we could access the cross, find grace and receive His power in our daily lives. I thought I was pretty honest with my feelings before God. But I guess He wanted to amp things up a bit. Everyone one of us demonstrate something for the world to see and model. I’d like to think mine is to be as honest to the core as I can be and help others become honest and free too. There’s just something about bringing all those hidden feelings out in the open that have a way of feeling like we’re not the only person with a particular struggle. It annihilates isolation and brings us closer to each other.
When Paul set sail for Italy in Acts 27, a storm rose up and they men on the ship had to throw off some of the cargo in order to make it to land. That’s kinda what’s been happening to me. I faced some storms and had to get rid of some masks I thought were valuable. Little by little I shed one mask after another until I felt raw, naked and exposed.Let me tell you that is not a good feeling. But then the winds of refreshing began to blow over me again. I found that I kinda like being naked. I didn’t feel exposed, embarrassed, different or ashamed. I just feel good. I like this new level of honesty. I like being able to speak about what I’m feeling openly. And guess what people like it! It makes them feel better about themselves and then they start to open up.
Recently, I stumbled on some videos of Brene Brown. She’s a vulnerability and shame researcher. And she’s amazing! In her research, she has discovered that “everyone” absolutely everyone deals shame. This has been quite the revelation to me. If she’s correct then there’s nothing more wrong with me than anyone else!!!! That also means there’s nothing more wrong with you than anyone else either!! Now that’s good news!