Seeking Help from Pastors # 4 – Pastor 4 of 6

Pastor # 4 – MONTANA

So what will  you tell someone who is abused, struggling, confused and overwhelmed? To strengthen them in faith and action?

Pastor D is a good man, who worked hard for his congregation, which was like home to me.   We talked in general, not as in “help me, help my marriage.” I thought he said submit. I remember feeling surprised and irritated when he later said that he never tells women in difficult marriages to submit. Memory problems.  Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe it’s part of the backlash of long-term stress. Maybe I’m not the only one who can forget stuff.

I did go to Pastor D about another, related issue:

We had a dinner hour that got psycho then violent (another post). After this event, Abby had stomach problems. She was afraid to eat because she would feel sick, or vomit. She lost weight, became very skinny, and I had doctor’s orders to pump extra calories into everything I cooked for her. He didn’t call it ANXIETY. I went to Pastor D, who prayed for her, and explained how prayer for healing works. He told me you have to BELIEVE  that the person will be healed in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Abby continued to feel sick and lose weight. He said she WAS healed, in the HEAVENLY realms, but that the healing just wasn’t MANIFESTED yet. I was open to believing this, but was troubled by the theology – not only as related to healing my daughter, but to healing of a marriage or a damaged person.

So what was Pastor D telling me? To ignore the evidence that Abby was losing too much weight and living in fear, because that evidence wasn’t real? This is a little like Peter telling me to ignore the evidence that the girls and I were being bullied and living in fear, because it wasn’t really happening. Crazy-making.

 When Abby continued to be sick, I expanded the theme, with the help of others: That I didn’t have enough faith. If so, what could I do to correct that? What about Pastor D’s faith as he prayed for Abby? If I sought other medical care or counseling for Abby, would that be LACK of faith, and so hinder healing? Do I become more legalistic,  pursuing obedience – to gain God’s favor and help? Or search less, analyze less, rely on faith, leave it to God – to gain God’s favor and  help? Or does it just not matter – do what I see fit and God will bless me? Wow. OR, is it really horrible, as in “get those kids out of there now” – in which case I failed as a Christian AND as a mother. 

IF I had been able to hear what God was telling me to do, IF He was telling me anything, it would have cut all of that out. I was WILLING to do what He said. I asked, “If you want me to submit, stay out of Your way, so You can deal with him (and me) without me adding my human twist, I will do that. If You want me to stand up to him in love, please give me the strength and guidance, and I will do that.” I heard from others (and still do) that God IS speaking, but I’m just not hearing Him. Why? He knows me, right? He knows I want to hear His will but am confused. His Word says, if  you ask for wisdom, He will give it. I don’t get it. BUT I SO WANT TO.  So what will  you tell someone who is abused, struggling, and feels that way? To strengthen them in faith and action?

Again, crazy-making.  A little more intense and less fun than another salad supper, isn’t it? Feels a little overwhelming and maybe obsessive? Yeah. That’s it. That is the way it feels. You can take a break, do something lighter and more fun. That is good. You should.  Just remember that an abused woman or child doesn’t have that option. So don’t do something lighter INSTEAD of learning to identify or instead of preparing for the next time you will be exposed to the effects of abuse. Do both. Learn…AND take a break. There is a lot of abuse; you WILL be exposed again to abused women and children.

 It is NOT my goal to undermine another’s faith, OR to disrespect scripture or individuals. Faith is priceless. I envy those who have the peace that comes with faith. But I hope (pray?) that by expressing my doubt and isolation as I  “ran the gauntlet,” someone can offer better counsel or meaningful strength to someone else. I don’t apologize for my lack of understanding.  I’m not unwilling to understand, just unwilling to lie to myself or others by saying that I do.

 I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM WOMEN WHO SURVIVED PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE AND KEPT THEIR FAITH. I am loving reading a number of blogs by people who are contagiously positive. I NEED that! I want to know HOW YOU THINK, day by day, through joys and disappointments. I want to say something positive that will encourage someone else. I want this blog to do good. But, today, I just hurt, and am so frustrated that I can’t JUST thrive and be joyful. I’ve heard it said we should spend 5% of our energy on identifying a problem and 95% of our energy on solving it. Today’s blog is my 5%. The rest of the day I need to spend trying to climb back on the horse. 

A few confusing (to me) verses, out of hundreds possible, for consideration:

Immediate tangible healing:

Matthew 8:4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

 Healing manifested on the way to giving proof of healing:

 Luke 17:14  When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

 I guess this COULD mean that one is healed in the heavenly realm without earthly evidence:

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

 Never manifested, even with faith:

 Hebrews 11:39  These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

 Faith from the Word:

Romans 10:17  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Faith a GIFT given by God:

Romans 12:3 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

 Plenty of faith:

 Matthew 15:28  Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Faith of others:

Matthew 9:2  Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

 Not enough faith:

Matthew 13:58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

 Without faith:

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

 Measured faith:

Romans 12:3  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more  highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Talk with me.

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10 thoughts on “Seeking Help from Pastors # 4 – Pastor 4 of 6

  1. mybroom December 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm Reply

    Hi Diane,
    just realised I didn’t respond to your last comment – 2013 distracted me.
    …from you post above – “He told me you have to BELIEVE that the person will be healed in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Abby continued to feel sick and lose weight. He said she WAS healed, in the HEAVENLY realms, but that the healing just wasn’t MANIFESTED yet”…

    there is some truth contained in this statement – but it is a formularized truth – it has taken the work of Christ and turned it into a system for getting answers, in that respect the outcome is far too dependant on the capacity of the person involved to perfectly satisfy the process, if your faith is not quite strong enough it doesnt work, if you give up too soon it doesnt work, if you cant visualize the heavenly realm it doesnt work etc. etc.

    in that regard it is no different to superstition which also employs a process to get an outcome.

    in effect your Pastor told you that your faith is the catalyst which releases the blessing, a heavy responsibility – and an approach that is widely circulated but seldom proven – it depends too much on your performance of the faith ritual… your faith has become the object of the matter.

    the blood of Christ (His sacrifice) should always be the object of the matter. It is not dependant on your ability to perform, it is a fact that you can rest in – all of the issues of humanity were nailed to the cross with Him. There is no process, there is simply the revelation of that fact… as we grasp that truth we find ourselves resting in it.

    religion has a tendency to take the work of Christ and turn it into a system or formula. Even the most profound truths can become systemized and lose their transforming power. The death and resurrection of Christ is not a thing to be turned into a process for getting answers, it is a union of 2 spirits thats translates us from death to life.

    talk again soon, cheers G

  2. mybroom December 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm Reply

    Hi Diane, I congratulate you on such clear thought, you think it is a jumbled outpouring but to me it is clear and well put.
    My own situation is also challenging, tho’ quite different. I was a victim of the Global Financial Crisis and lost my life’s work in property development. I heard all the well meaning rhetoric about what God would do for me too – and it was like trying to make a pie out of dirt, it was beyond me I didnt have the inner resourses to exercise faith.
    Then followed several years of wilderness struggling, I knew God was there – I just didnt know Him well enough to have any confidence in Him – so I prayed and studied and prayed because I knew there must be a way to live by faith, to really have the word of God work for me – I came up with one key “fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of your faith” – so I asked God to show me Jesus – I didnt know if it was possible because no-one I knew really knew Jesus either.
    Moving along – I began to see Jesus, I began to believe that irrespective of my circumstances I was safely hidden in His work on the cross – this became my primary truth – I had little else theologically resolved in my mind, just that one thing – Christ had proven himself to me on the cross.
    I don’t exercise belief to get through a situation – I rest in the work of the cross – it is not a process that I have to get right (or else I will have failed myself & others), it is a fact that Christ got right already and I am just sitting in His work.
    I hope this helps, please keep the conversation going as it is so important, also happy to correspond by email if you like,
    cheers Graeme

    • ranthegauntlet December 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm Reply

      Graeme:

      Thank you for your feedback. ” I knew there must be a way to live by faith, to really have the word of God work for me.” This makes sense….rings true. As does your solution (or rather, God’s solution). I encounter those who parrot the words, but have never talked with someone who really does rest, as you do. This also rings true. I’m listening. And thank you for your transparency, as that helps a lot. I want to integrate what you’ve said (and finish making a Christmas gift!) and will talk with you again.

      Blessings!

      Diane

    • ranthegauntlet December 30, 2012 at 11:56 am Reply

      Graeme:

      I would also like to keep this communication going. My e-mail is ranthegauntlet@gmail.com. I hope you have plenty of time on your hands!!! (kidding)

      Would it be beneficial to reply to your year’s posts as I read through them?

      Thanks, Diane

      • ranthegauntlet December 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm Reply

        Oh yes… about THIS post. What I wondered is how you see the theology the pastor described? Correct/ not correct – semantic issues? And especially the faith verses I included….from your perspective and really being able to be safe and resting in the work of the cross. You express your faith in a way I have never heard before, and it may take some effort on my part to change the mental grooves.

        “Cheers!”

        Diane

  3. Denise Hisey November 8, 2012 at 6:11 am Reply

    My heart grew heavier as I read this post…and felt the agony of a mother trying to help her daughter. You have a seeker’s heart, and that pleases God.

    It seems to me you should run, not walk, away from anyone telling you that seeking help is a sign of weak faith. The Bible is very clear that we should help one another in times of struggle. He gives different talents and skills to each of us, including knowledge of healthcare issues. It is in relationship we heal -emotionally, and sometimes physically.

    I agree with Meinventing -God isn’t punishing you for lack of faith -but he does allow us the consequences of free will (our own choices, and that of others). It’s frustrating to look backwards and see heartache came from following bad theology or poor advice.

    You mentioned not being able to hear God…Please know that sometimes we are in too much pain to hear, or the chaos of our lives prevents us from hearing. Your abuser can be louder than God, and sometimes it takes getting away before we can finally begin to hear God speaking -or whispering to us.

    But one thing I know about God -he does not want us to be hurt or hurt each other. If safety is at risk, it is always ok to leave. It might be a temporary leaving, as in work things out while being apart. Or, the abuser may never change and we can’t go back. Being a Christian doesn’t mean being a doormat -abusers will throw that in our faces -SUBMIT. It gets twisted and they use it as justification for what they are doing.

    You have been on my mind and heart, and I pray you find strength, peace, and clarity.
    Many hugs to you, my friend.

    • ranthegauntlet November 9, 2012 at 11:18 am Reply

      Thank you, Denise!!! Whew, where to start. I do know God is not punishing me, NOW. And it wasn’t MAINLY my abuser who stated the submit thing, as much as church friends and clergy. I’m sad your heart sunk as you read, but would hope that if a Christian who has been a participant in ADDING to the abuse feels likewise, then identification has occurred, and understanding has been increased, maybe it will be passed on, and maybe another Christian wife won’t be twice abused. Maybe another soul will read your response, and be encouraged to, as you say, “run, not walk, away from anyone telling you that seeking help is a sign of weak faith.” Amen, Girlfriend!

  4. meinventing October 12, 2012 at 11:26 am Reply

    Although I am no longer a practicing Mormon. I still believe in God and a higher power. I struggle with any decisions based on fear & punishment. Things happen in our life that we don’t understand, how we handle it gives an opportunity to grow. You’re not being punished for not having enough faith. That is not a constructive thought process. Trust your heart and God. You’re an amazing person.

    • ranthegauntlet October 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm Reply

      Thank you for the much needed encouragement. I am back on the horse. Although I am not a devoted Christian protestant anymore, I too believe in God or a higher power – I’m a scientist and when I look at the complexity of any minute part of nature, let alone the totality of all the minute parts, I am so convinced this can’t be chance. What I have trouble with is how God or higher power chooses to deal with/interact with us or me, if He does. Still, when I look at GORGEOUS nature, my heart glows, and I spontaneously say to God, “Wow, what an artist You are!” I hear you, that I am not being punished for lack of faith, and that it is not a constructive thought process. Excellent statement and choice of words! It is scripture and Christian counsel that brought that idea in the first place, and that continues to hammer vulnerable, hurting people with non-constructive thoughts. Trusting my heart and God…I WANT to, but really don’t know how, because the way God operates is what I don’t understand – the basics, not the His ways are not our ways” stuff. Still, your faith, now, given what you have experienced, encourages me, and that may just be the (or a) bottom line of why we exist. And yes, IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GROW. YOU are an amazing person! Thank you for passing it on!

      • meinventing October 14, 2012 at 7:59 am Reply

        You are so amazing! Don’t ever forget it 🙂

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