New Year, New Fret

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t because historically, most resolutions fail.

In an epic way.

So I don’t make them.

I also believe that if I am going to try to improve myself, I don’t need the turn of a calendar page to make that decision.

But as the end of 2019 approached, I had an overwhelming sense of unease.  And I couldn’t really quite put my finger on it for a long time.

Until I did.

And then I wish I hadn’t.

The fear, the trepidation, the unease was because I was worried that 2020 still will not be the year that things happen for the better.  That I still won’t find that perfect guy God has all picked out for me.  That I won’t make some huge breakthrough on what it is God wants me to do with my life.  That I won’t feel like a success, yet again.

The answer to all of this, that I am still finding it difficult to accept is that no matter what this year brings, God will get me through.

Deep down, I know that I will be just fine, and that even if all of those things do not end up happening this year, God’s perfect plan for my life will still be playing out.

I know that.  Of course I know that.

But the longing for all of those things is still there.

So, of course, God has to tap me on the shoulder as I’m reading my Bible this morning.

“Ahem, *cough, cough* this is for you, my dear.”

I was reading Psalms 37.  And in Psalms 37, David, yet again, perfectly describes the anguish that we, as humans, often feel.  And then he directly follows it up with what we, as Christians should do.

“Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.”
Psalms 37:34

Basically, there is a huge amount of wisdom in Psalms 37.  How we shouldn’t look at what evil people (people doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason) who end up succeeding, temporarily, with envy.  Not to look at them and wish that we had their successes.  Because in the end, their successes will be revealed to be ultimate failures, as they don’t get to share in the eternal prize of Heaven.

It’s difficult to do.

Because we know that their success is a result of evil things.  Evil intent.  Evil purpose.  And often, those people don’t care who they run over to accomplish their goals.  But the results of some of those evil things look oh so tempting.

I get it.

But we must keep our eye on the true prize.  The prize that gets us eternity in Heaven with our Father.

And until then, keep relying on His strength, guidance, mercy, grace.

And hope in the Lord, and keep His ways.

I Went Wrong

I went wrong.

I fully admit that I went wrong.

But I definitely went wrong.

I grew up going to church.  Every Sunday. Every Wednesday.  I was in church. I was one of the (rare) non-Catholic, non-Lutheran “Church Kids” in town.  

Every summer I spent a week at church camp.

I was a good kid.

And I still went wrong.

I have known this for many years.  I have known that I willingly stepped away from God.  Claimed for many years that I didn’t even believe that God existed.  

But I never dared to ask myself why.

Why did I go wrong?

It’s a dangerous question.  And a painful question.  

Painful, because, I know without question, without any hesitation, that I was at fault.

I finally asked myself the question.  Sitting in church, listening to a sermon, the main topic of which currently escapes me.  But sitting there, I knew that I needed to answer that question. And I finally came up with two separate, yet connected, answers.

I was insecure of my identity in God.  And I was insecure in the identity of God.

First, my identity in God.  Who am I? Who does God want me to be?  Who does God need me to be? Growing up insecure in who I was made me feel unloved.  And it led me to look for love in places that I was absolutely never going to find it.  I know that now. But it led me down a path where I still hoped and dreamed I would find all of the things that I wanted in life.  But instead, that path took me further and further away from the things I wanted and needed.

Second, the identity of God.  Though I thought I knew who God was, in reality, I didn’t.  I thought that having a relationship with God would give me sunshine and puppy dogs and roses and life would be happy forever and ever more.  

Wow, how wrong could I be??? 

Yes, God is absolutely loving, caring, generous, gracious, merciful, and a whole lot of other adjectives.  He is absolutely all of those things. But that doesn’t mean that we will never struggle. That we will never experience hardship.  That we get a pass from all of the bad things that can and do happen in this world. It doesn’t work that way.

Of course, I thought it should work that way.  

But it doesn’t.

So when life got really hard, instead of turning to God, I turned away from God.  Because how could a God that claimed to love me let me go through all of this???  How dare God not give me everything that I wanted?  

It took a long time for me to get over myself.  It took many, MANY humbling experiences. Time, and time, and time again, I have been stubborn, and completely unworthy of God’s love.  

And guess what?  

God still loves me.  He does.  

I have given him a million reasons not to love me, yet he still does.  He still loves me.

How awesome is that?

And guess what?

Life still isn’t sunshine and puppy dogs and roses.  

I still struggle.

Bad things still happen.

But now, instead of turning away from God, I turn to God.  Because I know that I absolutely cannot get through this life without Him.  

Yes, I went wrong.  I went VERY wrong.  

And God didn’t take me back.  Because, that would mean that there was a time that God left me.  So no, God didn’t take me back.

He reminded me that He’s had me all along, whether I acknowledged that or not.

The Running Monologue

I’m not good enough.

I’m not pretty enough.

He would never notice me.

He would never be interested in me.

I’m not thin enough.

All of these negative thoughts, and then some, have filtered through my head in the past 12 hours.  They hit me like a flood.  All of those supposed truths that I used to believe.  And they hit hard enough that I almost started to believe them again.

I had to give myself a pep talk this morning in the shower.  That I am good enough.  I am beautiful.  And that I am a catch.  And if some guy is too dumb to realize all of those things, then he isn’t the one for me.

But this whole incident has prompted me to do a little self-reflection on why all of those thoughts came flooding back through my brain.  And I came up with a couple of reasonable ideas.

  1. I’m exhausted, mentally and physically.  I’ve had a long, stressful week.  And it seems like the devil knows just when to pounce.
  2. I am mistaking God’s inactivity for a lack of approval.

I get it that waiting just sucks.  I will be the first one to admit that.  I don’t enjoy being patient.  I never have.  But just because God is saying “not yet” does not mean that the answer is no.  Or even worse, that the answer is that I don’t deserve it.  Or I’m not worthy of it.

Because, news flash, none of us are worthy of the love that God showers on us every day.  And let’s not talk about what we deserve!  Because I guarantee that God is saving me from a whole long list of things that I probably actually deserve.  But He is kind and gentle and loving, and He has chosen me, He has saved me from all of those nasty things that I do deserve.

So, pep talk accomplished.  But I still need more coffee.

Happy Monday!!!

The Detour

Disclaimer:  This is not something I enjoy writing.  Or talking about. Not that I’m embarrassed.  But talking about this makes me feel vulnerable.  And often people don’t know how to react, so then it just gets all weird and awkward.

If it were up to me, this post would never get written.  Ever.

But for the past year, I have felt called to share my story.  And though I have started talking about it, I have known that writing about it is what I am supposed to do.  And I have delayed, and procrastinated, and put it off. And God just kept coming back around tapping me on the shoulder saying…ahem…you have some writing to do.

So here I am.  Baring my soul.

I am a survivor.  A survivor of domestic violence.

I know what it is like to be thrown into a wall.

I know what it feels like to be picked up by my hair and thrown across a room.

I know what it feels like to get black eyes.

I know the shame and guilt that comes with trying to cover up a black eye.  And trying to explain away how I came to have a black eye.

I know what it feels like to be told that I should go ahead and call the police, because he welcomed it.  I was in his house, and what had happened was my fault. So I would be the one arrested.

I know what it feels like to be so afraid to leave my house because I was terrified he was going to show up at my house.  To be afraid every time a car drove by.

But the story doesn’t end there.

I got away.  But more than that, I have moved ahead.  Moved forward. I wouldn’t quite say I have recovered, completely.  Because I haven’t. I’m not sure I ever will.

But I also know that right now, I am no longer afraid to leave my house.

It took a long time to get past the things that had been done to me.  To get to where I am right now. And it has been a long and difficult journey.  Because I felt alone.

Aside from the actual physical abuse, the guy that did all of this, well, he did all of this under the guise of being a Christian.

Now, if you want to annoy me, the thing that gets me the most is to claim to be a Christian, while clearly, and willingly doing things that are not Christian.  Now, please don’t confuse this with sin.  Because I understand that we are all imperfect, and as a Christian I have received grace and mercy far above and beyond what I deserve.  But to deliberately do things that go so far against the Bible bothers me. A lot. And beyond that, to try to use the Bible as part of the abuse, by trying to tell me that I was wrong, and that was part of my punishment, because I defied the man.

So, to say the least, God and I had to find our way back to each other.  Ok, strike that, I had to find my way back to God, and he might have drug me along, kicking and screaming.  But I am extraordinarily grateful that he never gave up on me.

Through all of the hardship, and struggle, I have found that I can use my past to improve my own future.  I wake up every day lucky to be alive. Because there were days I was knew he was going to kill me. There were days I wished he would so the torture would end.

I also know that God works in mysterious ways.  And that, though I’ve been through some really sucky things in my life, He wouldn’t have allowed it to happen if I wasn’t strong enough to handle it.  I am tough. I forget that sometimes. But I am tough. And I also know that if I don’t use my experiences to help other people, then everything that I have went through is for nothing.

So I started talking about it.  I started talking about this to some of my friends.  To some of the girls that I work with at church. I want to help them recognize the signs that I accepted because I thought that’s just how it had to be to have a relationship.  Because I want to prevent other women from going through the same thing.

I started talking about it.  In manageable bites. There are things that I experienced that I will likely never speak of to anyone ever again.

God blessed me with a very good friend.  A second mother at times. Who had been through many of the same things I had.  Because it wasn’t until I told her how closed off I was about my experiences did I understand that was perfectly normal for my situation.

So I will talk about it, some of it.

I will shock the staff of my Drs. office because they now have to ask if I have ever been a victim of abuse.  I casually said yes. The girl asking me all of the personal questions looked up with a horrified look on her face.  My response was very much…what? It’s not currently going on.

I’m quite certain she almost had a heart attack.

But the one thing, one thing above all else, that I hope you noticed at the beginning of this post.

I refuse to call myself a victim.  To me, victim has a negative connotation.  And one that I do not believe fits me. At all.

I. Am. A. SURVIVOR!!!

I am alive.  And not only am I alive.  I live.

So while my life is far from perfect.  Though I am still single. Though my social life often just involves my parents or my dog…I am happy!

So whatever your current situation.  Whatever life has thrown at you. Do not be afraid.  God is with you. God is for you. God is beside you every single day.

So let me wrap up this evening by saying this…if you are currently in a situation where you are being damaged, physically, mentally, emotionally…you are not alone.  You are not so stuck in your situation that you cannot get out.

You.  Can. Do.  This.

Also, I understand that this is a detour from my normal writing.  And though I know that I have been called to talk about this…my normal humor, mixed with sass and sarcasm will be there too.  Because life in general is amazing and fun. And I’m kind of a klutz, mixed with a less than sane profession. So let’s not always take life so seriously.