Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Long Time Coming... From the Depths of my Heart

I decided tonight that I was going to journal through what has been going on for the past...many months. I'm not sure how long I will leave it up. I don't know if it is something that I want forever on the internet right now. But knowing that there are only 4-5 of you who will read this I think I will choose to go ahead and trust you with this part of my process. We are all really just walking through our own processes. Some of us are going to painful things right now, others are just pushing through and praying for strength cause honestly, we are just ready to quit this thing. It's taking more than we bargained for when we signed up. I know for me I have had to reevaluate what I meant when I told Jesus I was giving him my life. Didn't I know when I made that commitment I was pretty much saying "hey devil, here's the target, right on my heart... go ahead and shoot those arrows at me." Life sucks sometimes, but it is sooo Good... because HE is Good. It is worth it. Every single moment. He is worth it. 
Here is the (rather long) journal entry from tonight: 

For so long I have believed that God was the one who caused the abuse to happen to me, or rather because he didn’t stop it, He wanted it to happen to me.  I have felt less loved by God than others because He didn’t protect me from the abuse in the way that I thought He should. I have strived and worked for years to be loved by God. I have worked so hard to make Him love me.

A couple Friday nights ago we had a saturation night at the end of our youth leaders' conference. This night I began to understand so much about God and about the abuse.

Rewind to December 2011-
I was challenged by a friend to ask God where He was when I was being abused. I did. God showed me a picture of Him holding me. That’s all I saw, me in his arms on my bed in my childhood bedroom. 
That realization was great. It meant God was with me. He didn’t leave me all alone. 

A couple months later, I have this question-

“God, if you were there, then why didn’t you stop it?”

At that time I saw another picture of God holding me while I was being abused, same situation…me crying, him holding me. Only this time, he was holding someone else too.
 He was holding my abusers. 
At this I became extremely angry. If God was close enough to hold both me and my abusers, then why did he not stop them? If he loved me then surely he would have protected me from the abuse. This must mean that God doesn’t love me. He was punishing me for something. He didn’t really care about me like I thought. 
Maybe he was actually holding me there so that I couldn’t get away from the abuse.
What a thought... God?

Shortly after my initial anger began to settle down I heard this-

I am faithful to my Word. I will never leave you or forsake you. I am always with you.

Ok, great. He didn’t leave me. I know that. 

But why did He let them take advantage of me, and why was He holding them? 

A loving Father would not allow that abuse to happen to His daughter.

Then I realized… 

Not only was God my father and faithful to His promises to me… He was also my abusers’ father.  He would not take away their free will, even though it infringed upon my rights. 

He held them. 

I realized in this moment that God was showing me His love for them

My abusers were hurt just as badly by the abuse as I was. 

They are accountable to God for what they did to me. 

I am accountable to God for what I do with the opportunity that I have been given. 

I say that I have forgiven them. And I believe fully that I have. However, I am beginning to see that just as a father on earth loves his child even when they make messes, do bad things, or make mistakes 

God loves us even when we mess up. 

He loves my abusers and wants them to know Him. He wants to heal their hearts just as much as He wants to heal mine.

Ok, so at this point, I am beginning to work through the image of a loving God holding me and holding my abusers at the same time. I am working through my anger at God for not protecting me from the abuse like I thought He should.

Back to that wonderful Friday night-

Someone came over to me and laid hands on me and began to pray for me. I can honestly say I have no clue what she prayed… I couldn’t hear her between the music and her very soft voice. Apparently it didn’t matter what she was saying because I began to hear the voice of God so loudly and clearly.

Stop blaming me.

I realized that I have been angry with God for so long. I have been blaming him for the abuse that happened to me. I realized that God didn’t point me out and say, “That girl Joy deserves to be abused.” It was the enemy. It wasn’t God’s fault.

I heard God say

I want to use it for my good like I promised, but I can’t because you won’t stop blaming me for it.

He told me that he has wanted to use this for so long but I haven’t let him because I have been busy being angry at him and holding on to it. I haven’t let it go and because I haven’t let it go, he is not able to use it for good.

Stop blaming me, I didn’t do it to you.

He is good and can do only good.

I have believed for so long that because God didn’t protect me from the abuse in the way that I thought He should that it means that I wasn’t worth protecting. 
I see how that belief has transferred to so many other areas of my life. Especially in my trying to work for love because I felt like He doesn’t love me, and that in myself I am not worthy of love from anyone. 

I told God how bad the abuse sucked. I never had told God how horrible the abuse was. 
I’ve told Jesus, but never God. 
I know that sounds silly because Jesus and God are one in the same, but to me Jesus was the one who loved me and died for me… What did God do? God was some far off concept that I didn’t understand and was angry with. How could “Father God” love me?

I heard the Lord say in a new way that He loves me, He didn’t cause it to happen and that I didn’t deserve it. I heard Him affirm me and express his love towards me. 

I have never experienced such an overwhelming brokenness before the Lord before tonight. 
It was a total “God, here I am” moment.

I realized that God had so much mercy and grace on me through it all. It could have been so much worse. He did protect me. It could have had much worse affects on me than it has. He did protect me. It just wasn’t in the way I thought it should look.

I spent a couple weeks processing through all of that.
I have never cried like I did on that night before. 
I was wrecked. I allowed my brokenness to be exposed.
 I think that allowing myself to experience the pain of my abuse was a huge step to freedom. I have been numb to it for so long… using other things as painkillers that are equally destructive to numb the ache inside of me.

Tonight, I revisited the question of where God what when I was being abused.

Everyone knows the verse about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit and how the Holy Spirit lives in us. 
That verse is usually used in reference to things that we do to ourselves…overeating, getting tattoos or piercings, smoking, drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around… that kind of stuff right? 
It’s usually used to bring conviction… more like condemnation… when we are thinking about doing something to our temple.

Well, tonight I saw it in a new way. (Thanks to Jesus and the Good Women Project!)

When I was being abused, the Holy Spirit was abused.
Every inappropriate touch that I felt, He felt. 
Every painful or humiliating thing that was done to my body, was done to Him too. 
He was right there in the middle of the darkest moments of my life with me. 
He never left me. 
He didn’t look the other way. 
He felt everything just as I did. 
He knows my pain better than anyone else ever will because 
He was right there feeling it with me. 
The God of all creation felt the same pain that I did with me in my darkest moments.

This verse lost all of its condemning threats tonight. 
Every ounce of “Don’t mess up God’s property” vanished when I realized that this verse speaks so much more than what we should and should not do. 
It brings such deep healing.

It is a waterfall of healing over my dry and broken heart.

Am I fixed?
Do I need to be fixed?
I don’t think so. 

God loves me right where I am. He is not afraid of my brokenness. He is not angry at my mess. 
He is with me. He is perfectly okay with me where I am. I don’t have to be perfect or “fixed” or have it all together because I am perfectly loved by the King of the universe.

If you have read this far, you are an amazingly patient friend. I cherish you. 
Feel free to leave a comment if anything I said made something "click" for you. We are all in this life together anyway, we need each other. Desperately. I'm learning it's okay to let people see my flaws. They already see most of them anyway, why not share them with others who can walk with me on this journey? 

Romans 12:9-16 talks about the kind of community that I want to be part of-

"Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!"

Lastly, here is a link to the article that helped me to my revelation tonight... If you or someone you know has been taken advantage of it might be good for you to read. It outlines the thoughts and lies that go through the heads of those who have been abused. I must say it is right on point.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's a sad, sad night

My trip to Peru in 2004 was one that changed my life in ways that I can't even begin to explain. That trip was the one that really set a fire in my heart for missions, but it was also the trip that helped me the most personally. I had amazing leaders that summer.

Sadly, one of them passed away today. Garrett Coble, along with two other men were killed in a plane crash in Kansas. There were two others, Hannah and Austin who are in the hospital.

When a friend told me about the crash, I thought it was sad. Those things are always sad. It broke my heart that Hannah was involved, but I was glad that she is stable.
Earlier, some time after I heard about the crash, I looked at a link to an article on the crash. The article listed Garrett as having died in the crash. It instantly went from something that is sad that happens sometimes to My God, how could this happen.
Garrett is one of the major reasons that I love missions. He had just gotten engaged. My heart just broke.
I don't understand why this happens. I don't need to understand why it happens. That's not my place. But my heart aches knowing he is gone. and it aches for his fiancee and family. Holy Spirit come and comfort.

My thoughts are jumbled and I don't know what else to say. I am thankful that I know he is in heaven, but it doesn't make me feel any less sad. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Part one

Having mono really stinks... Having it during finals week makes you feel like dying.

There are several lessons that I am learning right now, but I don't have time or energy to fully explain them all. I really just wanted to quickly get them out so that I can come back later and finish writing though them.

I've been very materialistic lately. "Needing" stuff. Yeah, they are things that I need, but not necessarily at this moment. Things for my trip, dumb things like shampoo... I need it, but could wait another week before buying it, new colored pens (I LOVE new pens, but I don't NEED new ones right now... the ones I have work just fine.) I'm usually not one to just spend money on stuff. Yeah, I am willing to pay to get a pedi every few weeks... but I don't normally just buy stuff to be buying it. I'm usually very picky about what I spend my money on. That's why it has been so weird for me to realize that I am doing this.
Here's the lesson- When I am feeling empty, I look for ways to fill that emptiness. This time it happens to be through buying stuff that I will eventually need. I think that part of it right now stems from being overwhelmed with everything that I need to do for finals. I feel like that by getting stuff I will need for my trip, I am being productive and preparing... when really, I'm just trying to make up for my lack of preparation for my trip. A huge part of the emptiness is caused by my lack of emotional connection to people and ultimately the Lord. Since I am so sick right now the most emotional connection I am getting is with my pillow and my textbooks... I have very limited social interaction. Mom and I have spent a ton of time together, it has been really, really great. But I still am not getting the emotional connection that I really long for. I haven't been spending QUALITY time with the Lord since I got really sick. When I'm awake I'm studying. I've had worship playing... but that's not quality time. We have had some really great moments where I have had divine revelations, but what I am missing is that time where I just sit and wait for him, rest with Him. It's dumb because all I can do right now is rest and study, but I haven't been resting in the right places. I've been resting in front of red box rentals with mom and dad or in bed with notecards and study guides... Not with my bible, journal, pen and Husband. I'm craving the intimacy that brings rest and healing to my soul.

I want to talk more about these next two things after finals, it will give me more time to sort through them and I won't be so tired and pressed for time then either.
One- After Jesus died on the cross, He never mentioned it again. The pain, rejection, agony, or betrayal... He never again spoke of it. Why should we be any different with difficult experiences in our life? This is an intense idea for me... I am so extremely guilty of it. Using past trauma I have experienced as an excuse for why I am where I am now. I will be thinking about what this looks like over the next few days.

Two- When I am praying, am I seeking gifts or the gift giver? What is the purpose of prayer? These questions will be on my mind over the next few days.

I have like 4 new books that I am looking forward to getting back to reading after finals is over.
Really, I'm looking forward to doing a lot of things once finals is over! :)
For now, I am going to shut this down and GO.TO.SLEEP.