The cloud of cynicism eclipsed by the light of love 

The cloud of cynicism eclipsed by the light of love 

Over the last few weeks, my mood has gotten increasingly dark. Hope has proven itself to be scarce, and deep despair has sprung up like unwelcome weeds in my mind and heart. I’ve grown bitter, grumpy, antagonistic, and jaded.  

Part of the cause of my dark season has been pure exhaustion. No one in our house is sleeping well. Part of the cause of my soul-darkness is medication mishaps. Prednisone, psychologically speaking, is clearly not my friend. In addition, my treatment team has been having conversations about their own fear of the potential fatality of my conditions and what long-term prognosis looks like. With all of these factors at play, my typical resilient ability to reframe my daily suffering has been less than stellar. 

I find myself tired of fighting what feels like a losing battle for my body, I feel tired of desperately trying to maintain my tenuous grip on hope in a situation that appears hopeless, and I am tired of living this life of passing out, unexpected and unexplained reactivity,  chronic pain, and total dependency.  I am tired of playing wack-a-mole with 15 symptoms at once, wielding faulty mallets. I am bone-exhausted. 

I wrestle with God over healing, and I read of the “severe mercies” of God: when God withholds something good because He possibly knows something that we don’t (St. Augustine, Confessions XI, 25). 

But really, God? I’m too tired to see good in this. I’m too sick to feel hope.  And, if I’m really honest, I’m almost offended by this “severe mercy” concept right now. It seems a little bit like mockery.  And yet I know that God is good, that He is for me, not against me, that He loves me. 

I know that I will continue to pray for healing, and I know that for reasons that can’t always be grasped by my measly human brain, He doesn’t always heal. And I have my toddler-style tantrums when the medical tests yeild no clear-cut answers, when treatment is a continual crap-shoot because no one seems to know what to do with me. I sit and pout, looking longingly at the sky for that one rain cloud that will bring the much-needed refreshment for my body and soul. And I have snarky, angry comments for God when not even a single measly cloud floats in to give me a sign of possible rain.  

My humble honesty of the past when I approached God in grief on my knees is precariously teetering on the edge of a cliff called cynicism. I am entering into the danger-zone of hostile, accusing, finger-pointing.  The result of humble, grief-stricken, heart-wide-open brokenness is communion with God in suffering. When we come to God with  fist-throwing, accusation-hurling fury, we run the risk of walking away in entitled bitterness, estranged from our life-source. 

In this season, I am tempted to choose to be offended by God and interpret lack of healing as abandonment.  I am inclined to curl in a ball and believe that it is God who continues to hit me when I am down. Worse yet, I start to believe that He has walked away, apathetic to my agony.

But this is my opportunity to employ some sound DBT strategies. I can choose to engage in the opposite-to-emotion tool that I know has carried me through difficult times. God has a host of promises that are unchanging. These are the promises that I can count on:

Never will He leave me or forsake me. ( Hebrews 13:5)

Because of His great love we are not consumed. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses never cease. They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. ( Lamentations 3:22)

Neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor demons, nor anything else in all creation is able to separate me from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. ( 2 Corinthians 4:8)

My heart has grown uncomfortably hard, and I am ready for some softening. God’s promises knead my heart and soften it just enough for the fog of disillusionment to lift and for me to rememember the Father’s deep, deep love for me.  

Don’t get me wrong, God can handle our anger and accusations. He will not turn from us when we bring whatever broken mess we carry to Him, even when we are furious with Him.  He also wants to show us how deeply and unbelievably loved we are. And when we cling to the anger, resentment, and offense like they are our best friends, we tend to build walls up against the loving God of the universe (from our side). 

It is time for me to lay down my God-thrashing weapons and come to Him on my knees once again,  open to whatever healing may look like.  It’s time to drop the cold, bitter cynicism.  God wants to wash my offense away with His love.  

What if I’m not physically healed? I will not fear, because I will still have Jesus, and He is more than enough. 

Prayer and Healing

I have a confession.  I can’t always remember what I have written about in the past, and I abhor reading my own writing, so I may write about the same issues over and over and have no idea that I am repeating myself.  My illness causes “brain fog” which includes issues with memory, and then my low oxygen also contributes to the decline of mental function.  My husband has to listen enthusiastically to the same stories on repeat, and only occasionally reminds me that I’ve shared them ten times before.  He is super-gracious.  He also has to hear the same “spiritual revelations” over and over.  They certainly feel brand-new to me, but he claims that I had that same revelation a month ago, and the month before that one, and actually every month over the past year.  At least never get bored.

My poor husband, and probably, you poor readers, might get bored frequently with my Fifty-First Dates fashioned writing.  Just call me Drew Barrymore, stick a DVD in the player every morning replaying my life and my hallmark moments for me, and call it good.

Skim the stuff that I’ve covered before.  I pray that my memory is not quite as bad as it seems, but I suspect that I circle around the same mountains frequently.  If I say, “Hey look at that gorgeous tree!! I’ve never seen anything quite that exquisite!” , you can respond with, “Oh yeah, we saw that about two weeks ago in this same spot.  We are going in circles.  Moving on.”  Then you can lead me by my precious little hand to a new path that we haven’t traversed.  Deal?  Okay.  Thanks.

Now that I’ve gotten my caveat out of the way, I can’t seem to remember what I was going to write about today.  Oh, yeah.  Healing.  My doctors are concerned.  I’m teetering on the edge of a danger-zone, health-wise, and that is lighting a fire under their butts.  This is good and bad.  It is good in that they may actually start really investing some energy in figuring out what is making my poor body malfunction so tremendously (now that they have significant documented evidence of the level of malfunction and the danger of the malfunctions).  It is bad in that my body is in a state of extreme limbo and there are critical issues that are becoming evident.  This is scary.  I don’t want to die, not anymore.  I want to be a wife and a mommy and a living human being.  I don’t want my heart to stop beating.  So I feel that I am being taken seriously.  Good and bad.

It is intuitive to assume that when one is sick, she thinks about healing quite frequently.  One will probably also encounter many people who speak of healing, who desire healing, who are praying fervently for her healing.  Most often, it is solely physical healing, because physical infirmity is the presenting issue.  Thus, over the past two years,  I have wrestled mightily with the issue of physical healing, God’s sovereignty, God’s will, God’s goodness, living in a fallen, broken world, and the purpose of pain and suffering.  I have looked at so many different perspectives on these matters.  Fortunately, I have not encountered many people who have thrown out condemning messages.  No one has come up to me and asked piously, “Who sinned?  Was it you, or your parents, or someone else who brought on this illness?”, as  Jesus’s disciples inquired of Him regarding the man blind from birth.  No one has said, “if you have enough faith you will be healed.”  No one has condemned me for not being healed yet, and no one has even said that it is all in my head (that has only been alluded to by a few friends).  I have been spared so much judgement and opposition, for which I am so thankful.  I would have been hard-pressed to endure much criticism or condemnation from others as most of my condemnation comes from my own mental arsenal of lies.  People, for the most part, have been understanding, kind, and compassionate.  I still struggle with what healing is supposed to look like for me, what to ask for from God, and if there is a larger picture of healing that I am missing because I am too close to the picture.

Last night, a dear group of ladies (powerful prayer warriors) offered to pray for me and for my husband.  We met them at the church and took turns being prayed over.  As the three warriors prayed over my husband,  I entertained our little ones in the nursery, and then we switched places.  These women mean business when they get together to pray, and my husband was in the sanctuary with them for an entire hour.  It was fast approaching the children’s bed-time, so when my turn came, I requested the abbreviated version of what Jordan received.  As I was voicing my concern about the kids’ bedtime and not taking up too much more time, I realized that I was coming up against an issue of worthiness.  I felt unworthy of extended prayer. I put the brakes on my request for a shorter prayer time, and I told them to pray as long as they felt led to pray.  It is a vulnerable position to put one’s self in, to be prayed over.  First of all, there is the whole “laying on of hands” thing.  We all know that I’m not one for being touched.  Then there is my control-freak nature that has to step down into a place of submission and passivity, or so I thought.  So as the praying started, I bowed my head and tried to take a passive position, just to let these warriors do the battling over me.  Ten minutes in, I felt a stirring in my Spirit to engage more actively, to softly whisper the name of Jesus, to breathe prayers of agreement, and to whisper prayers of the Spirit as He lead the way.  In actively engaging in the prayer session,  I felt a new investment in the prayer time.  I felt like one of the warriors going in for battle.  I was fighting alongside them, no longer a passive recipient of prayer.  I felt an overwhelming energy and joy rising up in my soul.

As the ladies continued to pray, I was aware of an overwhelming focus on physical healing.  I don’t believe that the focus on physical healing was bad, or out-of-place.  I’m not sure what I think of it honestly,  but I felt the Spirit whispering ceaselessly, “I want so much more than just physical healing for you. Do you see what I’m doing within your illness? I am healing you.”  I knew that He was calling me to praise Him.  He is so unbelievably faithful, and His faithfulness has been more evident during the past two years than I have ever seen before I got sick.  I did not feel a sense of urgency for physical healing.  I felt gratitude, deep, mirthful, joyful, soul-embracing thankfulness.  This seemed out of place for the type of praying that was going on.  I prayed out loud, the ladies prayed more.  They prayed scripture, the armor of God,  Psalm 91, and parts of James.  I am in agreement with their prayers.  They were theologically sound, and they flowed from hearts of love.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to be prayed over.  In addition,  I felt like I had a bit of a different vantage point.

I certainly can’t make complete sense out of suffering, any form of it.  I don’t believe that God’s perfect will involves illness, death, and sin.  My experience of suffering, however, shows me a picture of God that I have never seen before.  My brushes with death have offered a depth of agony that has been met with an equally powerful vision of God’s goodness and grace.  The desire to share in Christ’s sufferings is legit, to share in Christ’s death, so also to experience the power of the resurrection.  There is this trump card that He holds that He flashes to those who are in the depth of suffering.  It’s like He’s winking at us, saying, “Don’t worry.  I’ve got this.  No matter what happens, I am making all things right.”  I have never had that glimpse of God’s hand of cards until I was at the utter end of myself.

I don’t know.  I will keep praying for physical healing.  I want to be strong and healthy and capable.  Of course I do.  I don’t thrive in vulnerable places, like illness.  I also know that our vulnerable places are the soil in which our master Gardener loves to plant the seeds of the Kingdom.  So if I need to stay vulnerable for kingdom growth, I’m good with that.  If He physically heals, I will praise Him.  If He heals in other ways and chooses not to physically heal,  I will praise Him.   My Savior lives, and He redeems, and He heals.  Sometimes His healing just looks a little different than what we expect.

The Descent from the Mountain

Oh Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising up against me; many are saying to me, “There is no help for you in God.”

But You, Oh Lord, are a shield around me, my glory and the one who lifts up my head.  I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy hill. 

I lie down and sleep;  I awake again, for the Lord sustains me. 

Psalm 3: 1-5

Throughout the summer, we have had prayer night every Wednesday night as we are preparing our satellite campus for launch in the fall.  The sanctuary is lying fallow for the summer, in preparation for the coming birth of a new worship center.  In the sabbath rest of the building, we have established an informal time of individual prayer, followed by corporate prayer and communion.  Our average attendance is four to five individuals.  Two of those are my husband (the pastor) and me (the pastor’s wife).  My husband likes to say that we are small but mighty. I think that we are small and weak. I think that God loves using the small to display the His might.  We considered cancelling the prayer time in the beginning of the summer due to low attendance ( the poor nursery workers carve out the time to come and care for the pastor’s kids and no one else).  But, shoot, it is easier for them and it’s free child-care for us.  So in all reality, it is a win-win.

Really, though, we came to the conclusion that the numbers don’t really matter.  When two or three are gathered together in His name, He is in our midst.  And, boy, did the scripture become a reality this summer.  Unstructured prayer time is not super exciting in the church.  In my experience, people shy away from it.  It is quiet, there is no one leading, and you have to really use your own brain and heart.  This gets tricky.  It also involves stepping out of the solid and into the fluid.  That is scary.  I know, because I shy away from it.  Every single Wednesday,  I have strongly considered and weighed out the possibility of staying home from the prayer time and sending my husband and the kids.  I have good excuses.  Like being sick.  That’s my best excuse, and it is ALWAYS legit.  But despite exhaustion, pain, fevers, dehydration, and everything else in the book of chronic illness, I have found myself somehow sitting in the passenger seat of our car wondering how I managed to get ready and go without bailing.  (Hint:  It’s always God).

In the beginning of the summer, I would sit in the car and kill time before entering the building.  I felt so much anxiety about going into the prayer time.  When I got in there, I prayed on my knees or in a chair.  Sometimes,  I couldn’t actually go into the sanctuary.  It was too overwhelming.  I would sit in the narthex or a classroom to pray.  As weeks progressed, however, the sanctuary called me more and more.  Some days, God would call me to the exterior of the building to lay hands on the bricks and pray in tongues and sing worship songs.  The tears started a couple weeks ago.  A power that I can’t explain has begun to stir my spirit on Wednesday nights and bring me to my knees at the altar.  Last night, it landed me smack under the wooden cross in the right front corner of the sanctuary.  I wrote in my journal, prayed, and opened my Bible to the Psalms.  This book of poetry holds new weight in my life during this season of suffering, confusion, limbo, and waiting.  I opened to Psalm 3, and God plucked a chord in my spirit that resonated with the chord that David plucked as he authored this melancholic yet triumphant Psalm.  I have never before in my life experienced the word of God exuding such life as I did last night.  I cannot understand what happened in my heart as I read the words in that Holy Bible, but it was nothing short of crazy absurdly supernatural. “But thou, oh Lord, are a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of my head” morphed from words on paper to the most passionate cry that my heart could mutter.   I read those five verses over and over again.  I repeated them through snot and tears for thirty minutes, and I felt the electrical presence of the Most High God.

I wish that words could sufficiently convey my experience of coming face-to-face with the goodness of God last night.  If they could, however, it wouldn’t be quite as heavenly, would it?  I suppose that it is okay that I cannot fully communicate or even grasp what happened at the foot of the cross, in the crux of my sickness and brokenness.  That is mostly how God works anyway.  But I left with a clear assurance:  He is so unbelievable GOOD.  Our God is GOOD.  My God is GOOD. He is so GOOD.  Hear me.  He is a good God.  Did you get it? He’s good.

Moses came down from Mount Sinai with a radiant, shiny face.  I feel like last night was my own version of Mount Sinai.  My face, however, I’m pretty sure was not shining. It had black streaks running down it from not water-proof mascara (one would think that I would learn).  I was thrilled and overjoyed and completely dumbfounded.  We know, however, that any change in emotional (or spiritual) homeostasis likes to trigger buckets and buckets of adrenaline to be dumped into my system.  So, no, I wasn’t like Moses. I was like my POTSIE self after a God-encounter.  My reaction was not nearly as cool as Moses’.  I was just vibrating out of my seat as my inhuman supply of norepinephrine created in me a human hummingbird.  The physical ramifications of my God-encounter were excessive, if you ask me.  Really, can’t a girl visit the mountain of God every once in a while without a crazy POTS flare-up afterwards?  No? Okay.  No problem.  I’ll probably keep going up there.  It’s totally worth it.  The flare-up only lasted for about five hours.

This post is not elegant (I had hoped it would be, but it’s not).  I just wanted to get it out into the world.  He is our shield.  He is our glory.  He is the lifter of our heads, no matter what our backs are bent down by.  And if you missed it earlier, God is Good.  Got it?

The Advent of the Sunflower

The Advent of the Sunflower

September is fast approaching, with only a hot August casting a shadow on its advent.  July is punctuated by the first few brilliant sunflowers lining the roads and fields in the Kansas heat-wave.  They seem undeterred by the 100-degree plus weather.  They actually thrive in the sun, unlike myself.  It is a well-known fact that sunflowers are heliotropic, meaning they follow the sun from East to West throughout the day, at least until their stems become a little more solidified.  At that point, they maintain a position of facing the east. And they thrive.  They thrive in what feels a bit like a desert wasteland.  The impatient ones, popping up in late July, speak to the inevitability of hope.  In this life, hope seems to sneak up on me in the soul-scorching heat of a summer that seems to be suffocating.  This outdoor oven reminds me every time that I step outside that my body is failing to do what it was designed to do.  It possesses no ability to regulate itself in any environment, especially one of extreme temperature.  And in the hot-box of the summer months, my hope has slowly melted away, as ice cubes in a glass of lemonade left in the sun.  With the absence of the refreshing hope, all I feel that is left is the boiling reality of a failing body and an over-extended life.

Four years ago, the sunflowers brought hope through the tears of miscarriage.  The following year, the sunflowers lifted their faces to assure me that there was a light at the end of the tunnel of postpartum depression and anxiety. Two years ago, the sunflowers carried with them my second, sweet, agonizing experience of childbirth and new life.  Last year, the sunflowers offered a glimpse of grace in the grips of chronic illness and life-changing news. This year, the flower that symbolizes faith feels like an empty mockery.  I trust that they will not return void come September.

Because God is so excellent with imagery and symbolism, and because I am a mystic at heart,  I know that the sunflowers will carry with them a new message of hope and reassurance in this season of trial.  I will listen and watch and wait.  I will watch from the passenger window of the cars of friends who drive me to and from my appointments and infusions.  I will watch from my scooter that is my new means of locomotion in public places and events.  I will watch from a body that is significantly withered and weak.  But maybe those positions will help me to be more receptive to message of the Spirit in His glorious creation.  Oh good God, let my position not harden my heart but soften it to the outpouring of your Spirit.  Melt away the bitterness and plant the seeds of hope with the blooming of your sunflowers.  Let my face be like the face of that symbolic plant that follows the direction of the sun from the first light of the dawn to the last ray of the evening.  Let me not grow hardened and too stiff-necked to look to your face in eternal hope.  Christ is in me, the hope of glory.

 

When You Have No Idea What Is Real

When You Have No Idea What Is Real

What is the best way to keep torture and abuse secret? Convince the victim that she won’t be trusted because she doesn’t perceive anything clearly anyway. Teach her from the very beginning that she sees things upside down and inside out, and scramble her brain so that she can’t ever trust her eyes or her ears or her skin or her heart. In addition to not trusting herself, teach her to trust no one but the abusers. Teach her that everyone else is bad, especially people who try to reach out to her. They are up to no good. They can’t be up to any good if they want to befriend her. She’s an untrustworthy piece of trash. Then she will be glued to you for the rest of her life, because you tell her what is up and what is down, and she can’t trust anyone else.

Wait. This sounds like a cult. Or my life.

Why can’t I trust my experience? Why can’t I believe what others tell me? Why can’t I believe all of the signs right in front of my face? When will I ever be able to really experience reality? How does one go about un-brainwashing herself? My therapist said today that of all of the horrible, unthinkable things done to me, the brainwashing was the most horrific. I can see how that could be true. It undermines and unearths every encounter and every experience that I face today. The doubt and distrust of my own experience are so intertwined into the core of who I am that I have no idea how I could ever really validate my life.

How can I acknowledge even what is empirically validated in my medical history: The things that have tests and doctors’ notes to prove that they actually occurred?   I may or may not have broken my hip during college, and the doctor claimed that the break was obvious on the x-ray, that there was bone dying, and that I had to go into surgery immediately. I was and still am somewhat confident that I managed to do a Jedi-mind trick on him, causing him to see a break that wasn’t there. After almost twenty years of having a consistent diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa, I remain convinced that I tricked doctors and therapists into believing that I had a condition that I really did not have. In the face of layers and layers of evidence of abuse, I cannot reconcile myself with the events that haunt my waking and sleeping moments.  I cannot believe that they are true.  I can’t believe anything about myself, not even the things that seem unequivocally unquestionable.

With this in mind, how can I even begin to consider my internal, subjective experience legitimate? How can I validate my emotions, beliefs, and interactions with God? How can I nurture my heart and mind through prayer and reflection if I can’t find my way up, down, left, or right on a legitimate map? I feel horribly, irrevocably stuck.

I do know that God claims to perform miracles, and I may or may not have experienced quite a few of those miracles in my life. Thus, I can ask Him to heal my mind that feels like it is caving in on its own existence.

Lord, don’t allow my brain to implode with this self-doubt, self-hate, and total distrust of everything and everyone. Please let me learn how to believe you first, and then help me to believe myself. Please show me the world in its truest colors and re-write my narrative through your lens of truth, grace, and love. I know that you created me. We can start there. I think also that you love me and can redeem me. So please, plow the soil my mind and my memories and plant your word and your truth. I believe that only a supernatural power such as yours can restore such a deeply broken sense of self. I am ready. Lets begin.

When Canaan isn’t Quite Enough

When Canaan isn’t Quite Enough

I am starting a study on Gideon by the brilliant Priscilla Shirer. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, digging into the book of Judges. I mean, really, who gets super pumped to read about Israel and the judges of the Old Testament? Not me. God, however, made it very clear that this was the study for our mom’s group to delve into this fall. One day into it, I have a crystal clear answer as to why this is the study for me right now.

I just have one word: WOW.

Here’s the deal with Israel: God called them to Canaan, the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. He orchestrated miracle after miracle getting them to their destination. They made it, after a heck of a long time and some crazy awesome unforgettable works of God. Joshua followed God, leading Israel in conquests that landed them smack in the middle of paradise. There was no possible way that Israel did this on her own. In Deuteronomy 7, God commands his people not to make treaties, marry, or connect in any way with the former inhabitants of Canaan. God says to destroy all of the former altars and worship practices of the former people groups because they know this to be truth: “God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon (Deut. 7:10)”. But they didn’t remember what God did to get them to the promised land. Or possibly, they remembered but didn’t trust God to finish His work.

Their weaponry was not nearly as advanced as the nations that already inhabited Canaan. They were able to fight in the hill-country, but they felt that they could never go against those iron chariots on the plains of the flat lands. God had brought them to Canaan. That was awesome. Good enough, right. Why upset the balance that was already established, however delicately? Why not acknowledge that their “favor from God” might run out? Surely the miracles could only last so long. (They may have not been thinking this, but I certainly might have had these cognitions.) So they set up camp alongside the people that God had called them to obliterate because, let’s face it, they were afraid. They forgot what God had done, or at least they didn’t want to risk the chance of not receiving the next promised miracles only to perish after coming so far.

I get it. Oh my gosh, I get it. I have come so far. I wandered way too long after being in bondage for my own 400 years in my own Egypt. God brought me to my Canaan, my land flowing with milk and honey.   He performed miracle after miracle in order to get me here, to the safety and abundance of this paradise.   And He called me to demolish all of the strongholds. But I don’t know whether I forget His miracles, or if I don’t trust Him to continue performing the miraculous, or if I doubt His call, but I strive to maintain this tenuous balance here in my own paradise. I am just like the Israelites. I am terrified to lose what I have gained, so I set up negotiations with the enemies. I guess that I really do forget that the God who got me this far is the same God who calls me into deeper freedom.

The balance that I am striving to maintain is only an illusion, and He is not the author of that balance. I am healthier than I have ever been before. I have a wonderful husband, beautiful children, sweet friends, and an unfolding calling. I teeter, however, on what appears to me to be the precipice of disaster. If I venture too deeply into trauma work or begin to acknowledge the true brokenness and pain of my past, I might careen into a deep depression that could destroy everything and everyone that I love. If I relax too much on food and actually entirely trust my treatment team with my meal plan, my body might become unbearably uncomfortable and uninhabitable for me, and I might never be able to go out in public or bear the burden of my physicality for the rest of my life.   If I really start writing and singing and putting myself out there, I might face rejection, or worse yet, hurting someone in my past who has the ability to knock me entirely off of my rocker and send me to some psych hospital, unable to care for the children whom are now entrusted to my care. But this is all based in fear, and it is not in line with God’s promise to me or with His calling.

The consequences for Israel’s compromise included divided and incomplete worship, because they were also worshipping the idols of the other nations, and also military and physical vulnerability because they remained a fragile nation. This was not God’s best for them. They were certainly better off than they were in Egypt, but they were nowhere near the place where God had called them. They stopped short because of fear and complacency. At this juncture, I have stopped short as well. My consequences are similar to Israel’s. My worship is divided and ambivalent because I have been unwilling to confront the very literal demons of my past. In my unwillingness to face the ritual abuse of a deeply spiritual nature, I harbor a deep distrust for all things Christian and spiritual. This is obviously problematic if God is calling me to Christian ministry. In addition, I am physically vulnerable because I am unwilling to trust God to carry me to fullness in healing from the eating disorder. You cannot maintain rigid rules around food and weight and fully recover from an eating disorder, even if your current weight falls within the acceptable range.

I have allowed myself to disregard the miracles that God gracefully and mercifully has performed to carry me to the promised land. They are very real. He dried the sea for the Israelites to cross over on dry land. He carried me safely through multiple suicide attempts. He sent manna from heaven when the Israelites where starving in the wilderness. He planted life within my dead womb, dried up from years of anorexia, and He gave me two beautiful, healthy children. He has more and greater miracles to birth out of my life through His divine Spirit, and I will cooperate in surrendering the strongholds so that my “good enough” Canaan can become complete and total abundance.

Redemption

Redemption

I don’t know how to untangle the threads of my childhood. There are good elements and bad elements. Everyone has that. Obviously, there is good and bad in peoples’ lives, and they don’t just discard all of the good because they have had bad stuff. People pour positive and negative experiences into our lives constantly. No relationship is void of negative interactions. We are only human.

For some reason, however, I am having a terribly difficult time not throwing the baby out with the bathwater of my childhood. The bathwater being the terrible, torturous, satanic and sexual traumas that I so hazily remember. Maybe the difficulty lies in the fact that there is such a cloudy haze that has settled on the memories. They all seem to bleed into one another, so there is no distinct line between the good stuff and the bad stuff. The other thing that is so difficult to reconcile with is that the memories seem so incredibly contradictory. Okay. So satanic stuff, blood running down the walls, and groups of demons and darkness alongside of Bible stories and hymns? How does that happen? Is it even possible? Yes, anything is possible, but could I please meet someone who has experienced something similar? Does such a person even exist? Like parents who praise Jesus by day and Satan by night? Really? I find this scenario highly unlikely, in any case, including my own.

So here’s the deal: How do I come to a place of re-inventing or re-integrating my relationship with God into my current healthier, not traumatic life? How do I help my children learn about Jesus and scripture without dragging myself through the memories that seem to be hitchhiking on the backs of the Bible verses and Christian hymns? I don’t want to relive the trauma, but I wonder if that is what I have to do in order to move forward with my faith and my ability to facilitate my children in their faith.   And can I just accept that some level of Christian teaching and also Satanic ritual abuse co-existed in the same household?   This is a really tough pill to swallow. Like seriously, a pill the size of a dinosaur.

I don’t want to hate the Bible. I don’t want to question the validity of every passage and feel lightning bolts of anger shoot through my body when I read the Psalms. I don’t want to be swept into flashback when I stand in church and sing a beautiful hymn of the faith. I don’t want to feel the terror of thinking that I may be turning into my mother when I talk to my children about Jesus. Lots of mothers talk to their children about Jesus and don’t turn around and abuse them at night. Just because my mother did that does not mean that Christianity is a trap. I feel like these statements are so obvious that the act of writing them down is absurd. But they are far from intuitive for me. I want my children to know Jesus. I want them to experience the beauty of liturgy and celebrate the joy of knowing their Maker and Savior. They deserve to know Him and love Him for who He is and to be unencumbered by my wrestling-match with Him. That’s my deal.

I pulled out The Jesus Storybook Bible today and began to read it out loud to my children. That book is new to me, so it holds no baggage. It presents the Bible stories in words that do not carry haunting images or messages with them. My children are still too young to fully grasp the stories, but I would like to begin to absorb the simplicity of the truth that they carry and let my children witness the process. They will grow into it too. So we are starting there. Same message, but different words. Hopefully, the ghosts of my childhood will not hitchhike on the backs of these stories. Maybe I can read them with fresh eyes. Maybe I can approach God as an unadulterated and pure child, no longer jaded and cynical. And maybe it will also take wading (or swimming) through the muck of the abuse and working to untangle the knots of my past. Oh, God, lead me to the path of healing so that I can nurture and love my sweet babies in wholeness and abundance in You.