Tag Archives: church

Update and Quote-Share

Joe Ceremony 1(One of my favorite cartoons ever).

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This is my update on NaNoWriMo: I did write 50,000 words! I started the month of November on schedule with the around 1700 words per day necessary to keep the pace. Then issues with my parents and a mild bout of depressions slowed me way up. To pick up the pace, I had to write a LOT….and did. It is really rough, but it is there.

It WAS worthwhile. I learned so much about my parents’ marriage and history. In my ethnic group, respect for older people is present, but not as it should be. My parents, whose bodies and minds are changing how they operate, think qualitatively differently than a middle-aged whipper snapper who wants to move too fast without understanding the depth of meaning behind their ways. Even if changes MUST be made. Being a basically insecure, very feeling, analyzer and second-guesser, it has been painful and frustrating navigating with my parents their process of reviewing their lives and grappling with the limitations that snuck up on them too fast. It has also been and is a great honor. So writing about how their lives (plural) become their life (singular, together) has opened an opportunity sometimes missed in my culture – to sit at their knees and learn from the wisdom of the aged. And to be reminded, with GLEE, that they are the same “swell kids” they once were. I learned so much from them that I have had all of my life to learn, but never put together quite this way before.

And it took me out of the problems and issues and challenging logic, into the souls of two people who have been blessed to live life with trust, success, and harmony overall, throughout their lives. A couple who, as very poor newlyweds, would make decisions like forgoing stouter fare and opting for oatmeal or pancakes for a while so they could afford to go out to a movie, yet would find something in the cupboard for happy siblings and spouses who would stop by with their own paltry offerings, and eat until it was gone – laughing and enjoying the company. Who had some of the funniest marital fights I have ever heard! Who forgive each other everything, always. Whose eyes dance with warmth and love whenever the other is reflected there.

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It is 50,000 words of facts and thoughts and ramblings. There is work to do to organize it and even out the styles of writing (personal vs factual narrative), and make it complete. I will do it, and soon, so it will be a legacy available for them to share as they wish in their lifetime.

Now for the request. I received a chain letter in my personal e-mail suggesting that each person send one positive and encouraging Bible verse to the e-mail address of #1 person, then move #2 up, then send on. I am really curious what verses people would choose, and in a rare state where I actually want to hear people quote Bible verses. I mean, this is almost weird. I’m not going to bombard anyone with a chain letter, but I did send a query to see if they want to get it. Weird again.

Truly, I have called you my blogger church. Still true, really. I wonder if you will do me the honor of sharing one particularly encouraging, positive verse or quote, scriptural or not, just for the joy of sharing a bit of your spiritual legacy and wisdom with me?

I would be so honored to sit for a moment at your knee and learn as I did with my parents.

Thanks, dear friends.

Blessings,

Diane

Lighten Up! How Simply Christian Is That?!

Every day, a woman stood on her porch and shouted, “Praise the Lord!”

And every day the atheist next door yelled, “There is no Lord!”

One day she prayed, “Lord, I’m hungry. Please send me groceries.”

The next morning she found a big bag of food on the stairs. “Praise the Lord,” she shouted.

“Ha! I told you there was no Lord,” her neighbor said, jumping from behind a bush. “I bought those groceries.”

“Praise the Lord!” the woman said. “He not only sent me groceries, but he made the devil pay for them.”  Found in Reader’s Digest

******

“And so,” the speaker concluded, “God will always provide for your needs, explain His will for you, and give you peace.” At our divorced/widowed recovery group, she had just related her glowing story of divorce and God’s care for her…money in the mailbox, direction and divine peace, in spite of her dire financial situation while raising children. I spoke to her, and expressed gladness that it had worked that way for her, but noted that it wasn’t always that smooth and clear for some others, including me. She squinted at me past her halo’s glow and stated, “Then you have a LOT to learn, honey!”

Her ex tells good-humoredly that he paid her $1000 a month alimony — the best money he ever spent!

******

god hates figs 2

Original reference unknown. Found in Google Images, multiple sources.

Funny:

WE CAN SEE “IT” ANY WAY WE WANT.

But what about quoting the Word accurately and not misrepresenting God?

If we aren’t sure what is the exactly, specifically, technically, perfectly, doctrinally, theologically, formally, denominationally right, letter of LAW….

…why not err toward love, peace, patience, gentleness, wisdom, common sense, compassion, intelligence, safety…….LIFE!

Really, what will be lost if you quote deliverance verses to an abused person rather than admonition verses, and don’t take a hard enough line with the Word of God????

Nothing, because he/she may live and believe long enough for you to discuss it again later.

Even better, he/she will live and believe long enough to discuss it with her Savior in a place of safety.

How simply Christian is that?

Blessings!!

Diane 

The Faith of a……..

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Featuring: Daily Stories in the News
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The Faith of a……

Green and alive, a kaleidoscope in swaying tender grass. A whispered breeze, its breath bearing the fragrance of honeysuckle. Early morning, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful day. A child. Sweet tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy, plump, and slightly sweaty cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body resting, still for once, as all intention focused upward, in adoration and anticipation. Daddy. Papa. Abba!  

The faith of a child.

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Adorned with flowers, a kaleidoscope in sunlight dancing through intricate stained glass. Breathless stillness echoing restrained yet festive voices. A young woman, tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body moving, all intention focused ahead. A Savior. A man. One flesh. Mystery.

 

The faith of a woman.

Ephesians 5 in motion. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%205&version=NIV

She makes her groom a lovely dinner. He doesn’t like it. Or her driving, or the way she does her hair. He asks her to keep herself more presentable and lose weight. He doesn’t laugh at her jokes. He snorts with derision at her requests and suggestions. He corrects her choice of words. He insists she cooks the eggs just right, and hangs his shirts just so. He makes himself clear, whether loudly, or quietly. He lets her know that her hobbies and work are somehow inferior. He brings her flowers. Takes her to dinner. To church. He acts gallant and she loves him. He becomes angry and controlling, and she tries to please him. The cycle continues. Romance and retribution. Love and fear. Hope and despair. She becomes isolated from friends. Unsure of herself. Timid. She wonders if she is losing her mind.

Sun streaming in windows of a home that always feels dark. Bright, guarded eyes, darting to and from his face, alert to the ebb and flow of his mood. A body rigid, all intention fearfully focused on learning the rules, and following them perfectly. Or else.

She prays that God will heal her, heal him, and bless her with strength and wisdom. She listens to others, and tries to do what they tell her is right, because something seems wrong with her faith, with her, and her marriage. She doesn’t know what to believe any more. She talks about this at her Bible study. She doesn’t know she is experiencing psychological and emotional abuse. No one else does either. Time passes, children are born, and she walks a tightrope between joy in her life and children, and fear of her husband. She is so tired.

And she can’t please him. He says it is her fault. He wouldn’t get so angry if she was a better wife, a better Christian. Then he wouldn’t want to hit her, or body block her against the wall, or tickle her too hard, threaten her with the children, or humiliate her in bed. Or embarrass her in public. It’s just that he loves her so much, and it could be so much better. If she would just get it right.

She goes to church, and talks with friends, hears sermons, and reads her Bible. She dares to speak to her pastor and a few Christian friends. They tell her to submit to her husband and that God will honor her. That if she is completely obedient, God will be her protector. That she should walk by faith, not by sight. She is told that he might be an unbeliever, in which case her goodness and kindness could win him over. And that she should not let the sun go down on her anger. That she should forgive seventy times seven. She is suffering for and with Christ. God hates divorce. Their relationship mirrors that of Christ and the Church, and she must keep trying.

What they just told her is TO SHUT UP AND PUT UP.

She is NOT in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an ABUSIVE marriage. Her husband does not relate to her as Christ to the Church. He does not honor her. He does not love her. He will not change. He sees no need to change. He is entitled. He is a 2 Timothy 3:1-4 man.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Timothy%203:1-4&version=NIV

Over time, she will find that neither God nor her husband seem to honor her submission or obedience. She wonders, as the abuse escalates, what to do about the reality of her life by “sight” while she is waiting in faith…for what, now? She wants to leave, but is afraid for herself and her children, and of what he might do.  There is so much unexpressed anger and frustration at unresolved and un-repented meanness that she goes to sleep with it and wakes with it. She drives it inward, downward until it doesn’t show, and becomes depression. She wills herself to forgive, but doesn’t really know what it means any more. She is suffering but wonders why God wants it that way, since she has prayed and believed and valiantly suffered for Christ. But she just doesn’t feel any of the peace that passes understanding that was promised. Or wisdom. And since she feels fear, not love, God must not be pleased with her. But she doesn’t know what else to do. He doesn’t seem to hear HER prayers. And she is tired, and confused, and doesn’t trust her husband, or God, or Christians who counsel her. She wants to be strong and be noble for the faith, but there just isn’t much left. She no longer knows what to believe. She no longer believes.

One in four women are abused to some degree. And the children, who carry it into the next generation.  The church is NOT immune. Christian Domestic Violence Advocates, who attempt to educate others, tell me that those in CHURCHES are the hardest to reach, because they are afraid the advocate is promoting divorce. I have encountered rigid theology, in which the letter of the word is more important than the soul of the abused. 

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Shards of sunlight reflected from intricate stained glass. Voices from inside, singing? A woman, traces of curl limp against a shadowed face. Steady, guarded eyes, hooded by disappointment and mistrust. A body moving, one foot after the other. No savior. Nothing left to say. Nothing left to trust.

The faith of a victim.

The End.

 

No, no…NO!

I don’t like the way this story ends. So let’s write a different ending:

She is not in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an abusive marriage. She talks to her pastor, and to her Christian friends. They listen respectfully, carefully and lovingly to her. They assume her truthfulness, and choose to believe her. They don’t know what to say, at first, other than, “I am so sorry you are dealing with this. He seems so nice; I never knew. What do you think you need? How can I support you?” Then they look for information on the type of behavior she has described, and learn about abuse. They tell her what they learned. They present options, but don’t push. They give her support to leave, or to stay, knowing that she is united with Christ one way or the other. They remind her that God loves her, and doesn’t want her to be abused. That fear and anger are normal, but she will move past them and again know joy. They re-read and study up on Malachi 2:16 so they can regard it the way it was likely intended. They include her in fellowship that is fun and healthy, and has nothing to do with jots and tittles. They point her to agencies, and advocates, and wait with her as she makes her choices, in whatever time it takes. And if she does divorce, she becomes a single woman, not a tainted woman. It wasn’t her fault. She bears no shame. They remind her of this. They remind OTHERS of this. As often and as long as necessary. I have also known those who understand, and speak words of strength and love and encouragement.

Amber and gold, swirling grasses bow and sway. A fragrant fall breeze, bearing the scent of mown hay.  Leaves frolic and dance, as if celebrating the abundant harvest. A warm and mild afternoon, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful sunset. A woman. Sweet tendrils of curl springing free to gently caress a  sun tanned cheek. Wise, wide open, unguarded eyes calmly gazing with serenity and trust. A body resting, focused inward, in adoration and companionship. Jesus. Abba!DSCN0041

The faith of a survivor.

The Beginning.

Peter’s Famous Quotes

“Can you fix it?” (A shirt ripped to shreds during drunken brawl with friends)

“I guess I’d better carry the checkbook.” (I told him that I wouldn’t bail him out if he got a DUI).

“Poor wacked out thing, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

“I don’t recall that.”

“What good are you if you can’t have babies?” (I felt it was best to have no more children).

“You’re a cold, calculating, conniving bitch.” (?????)

“You never address my concerns.” (An excuse to not address my concerns)

“Maybe Mommy will reconsider.” (When I backed up HIS parental rules)

“It’s just stress – don’t spend money on a doctor.” (Half my face was paralyzed)

“If you want to be depressed, OK. But it doesn’t have anything to do with me, my drinking, or the girls. And don’t spend too much money on it.”

“There is no place in our family for anger.” (A 90-minute bedtime lecture, one of many)

“You’re being ‘No-Fun Diane.'”

“Why do you make up things to be mad about?” (Previous Post: The Day I Figured It Out)

“I rate our marriage a 9.5 on a scale of 10. How can you say it’s a 4?”

“I’m the best engineer they ever saw.”

“I’m the best cook ever.”

“I’m the perfect father and  husband.”

“There’s nothing wrong with a couple of beers after work.”

“Even Pastor J*** says there is nothing wrong with a few beers before church.”

“Your calling the cops on me makes you really hot.”

“I prayed for renewed love for my wife, and He has given me such a love for my wife!” (In context, do you believe him? How about if he said this during counseling?)

“God has given me the grace to drink socially.”

“Simple, yet brilliant. I paid for it, I can piss on it.” (Regarding urinating in inappropriate places)

“You’re such a hypocrite.”

“I saved you from being a spinster.”

“You just have PMS.”

“You’re a f***ing a***ole bitch, you know that?”

“I’d like to smash your face in.”

“I love you.”

“God has given me such a love for my wife.”

“Let’s teach Children’s Church together!”

****

Now stop. Close your eyes and for a few minutes BE the spouse of the speaker above. Step into shoes, skin and role. 

What would YOU hear as truth?  At first….then later?

On what would YOU base a marital relationship? Which statements would you trust to define WHO you are married to? Which parts would you dismiss as just a bad mood?

How would you FEEL? How would it change the way you think about planning for the future? Having children?! Taking on a mortgage together, or building a business.

Would you look at it as bad behavior, done by choice? Or would you see mental illness or self-esteem issues, done without total volition? How would that change your response? Would you consider leaving (and leave children in his custody, at least part-time?)? Or decide you are one flesh and it isn’t an option?

Welcome to the first episode of the Domestic Violence marathon reality show called “What Am I Dealing with Today (month, year, decade) – And How Do I Respond?”

OK, put yourself in your own shoes again.

What would you believe if Christian friend related this to you? Perhaps a wife who seems to have a great guy for a husband? Or from a wife in couples counseling, when hubby has a perfectly good explanation?

How about a non-Christian friend? Would scriptural admonitions matter? Would you be more likely to believe that a non-Christian would act like this? Would you be more or less likely to suggest prayer, submission, waiting, obeying authority, etc.?

How about your sister or daughter? How would her story sound to you? What would you say? Would you support her in some way? How?

No physical abuse here, but this IS abuse. Even the love, taken in context. It doesn’t cause bruises, but it does create scars:

Permanent…etched in DNA, cellular functions, memory, physical reactions to stress, trust, faith, children who carry it to the next generation. There is recovery, just as after a serious injury there can be recovery, but a limp may remain. 

How much of a limp depends a lot on the treatment given at the “hospital.” Hearing me?

Here are some places to start, if you want to learn more:

Violence in Families — What Every Christian Needs to Know, by Reverend Al Miles

Domestic Violence — What Every Pastor Needs to Know, by Reverend Al Miles

The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Blessings,

Diane

Join me at “Ending the Silence…?”   

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Ending the Silence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Color is Purple

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I am honored to be included with a number of wonderful authors on the website:

 Ending The Silence.

I invite you to visit the site for my articles and those of Lundy Bancroft, Melodie Ramone, Catherine Givans, Sherry Rentschler, P.J. LaRue, Vanessa A Ryan, Stephanie Neighbour, and Jenna Brooks (who is site originator, organizer and administrator), with individual site links and comment and contact opportunities. Each lends a valuable perspective to the diverse issues of Domestic Violence.

Throughout the month of October, Jenna will also be featuring Stories In the News, helpful information, and a Survey with results to be collected during the month, and write-in survivor’s stories.

I will be trying to post more often, on both sites. And I encourage you to take in the wealth of insight and information that will be available on all fronts during the month, not only web-based, but in communities. Check your local newspapers for articles, web-browse where services are located in your area and what they do. 

There is a HUGE need in churches, who preach compassion, to learn HOW to apply that to DV. 

I hear the salutation, “Love in Christ.”  And think of the motto, “Be Prepared.”  

This month is an easy opportunity to do both.

Blessings, Diane

If Someone Told You To Jump Off A Cliff…Would You?

Last Saturday I was asked…are you going to  jump?

Mmmm.  40..50 feet? Probably not.

For $100?

I’m not stupid. You’re not going to give me $100!

How about if I took a video, and you could say you did it?

Yep.  I’ll jump!

I walked to the edge – thought, what if I belly flop, hit the rocks, twist in the air and get hurt?  I wanted to jump. Too afraid, I backed away, to the disappointment of observers perched on rocks below and on the cliff. “Awwwwww” (they wanted to see the mom-type jump). I watched two jumpers (survive and) beckon from below.

I tried again (right to left):

Yes, I’m alive. Onlookers clapped and cheered for me, which felt out of proportion sensational. It was exhilarating! It hurt, and was worth it! IT WAS A BLAST! No, I couldn’t insert the video here. But  thumbnail photos work great…you can’t see me too well in a swimsuit!

At a point in time, I BELIEVED, and I JUMPED.

I’m truly flummoxed at what inspired me to jump, my motivation to jump, the WHY. I watched others, absorbed their experience with gravity, rocks, and water, and BELIEVED I could make the jump, too. I assessed the risks, decided what data I believed, was at first hesitant, then…jumped.

You know me. You know this analogy is about faith. About taking the leap:  BELIEVE. Again, after running the gauntlet.

If I had leaped like this before and hit the rocks or flopped and worn bruises, would I have been willing to try again? Or said, “I no longer believe I can jump without getting hurt (I don’t trust this theology/God/Bible/Christians).” Or “I no longer consider this worthwhile (I’m tired of trying/caring).” Or, “I don’t believe in jumping off cliffs” (I’m an atheist).  What would it take to overcome those obstacles to believing that I could jump safely? Would it be enough if someone TOLD me that THEY flew like a bird and landed like a feather, and that I would too, if I just BELIEVED the way they do? If they quoted Bible verses about mounting up with the wings of eagles? How about watching them jump, land, and swim?

Another person’s reasons would be different. So, WHY do people BELIEVE? HOW do they decide WHAT to BELIEVE? And HOW do they actually BELIEVE? About anything, really…marriage, politics, global warming…but I blog about faith and domestic violence. Lately, about MY faith. I’m reading your posts! I hear you say “I just believed…in spite of what I don’t understand.” Even after abuse and disbelief or through trial. After believing perhaps mutilated scripture. How the heck do you DO that? You say, “I just did it.” HOW DO YOU DO THAT?????!

Standing on the rock – or jumping.

My experience with Christianity paired with abuse: Supernatural knowing – fail. Empirical evidence (life experience) – fail. Blind belief – fail. Understanding scripture – fail. Observing, listening to others – fail, if it doesn’t apply to my situation or they aren’t credible sources.

Regarding credible sources: I voiced my “mean God” perceptions to two close Christian friends some time ago. (It was anger – which they didn’t need to hear; but I really wanted answers from two who I thought would know, and they did claim to have the inside story from God….).

Source #1: “You are simply spewing hatred for God!”

Source #2: “You are hanging over the pit of hell.” 

Let’s hear from Source #3:

Another dialogue with Graeme (Hardwired to Christ):

Diane (speaking):

As you wonder if I am getting sick of you responding in a contrary vein, I wonder the same in reverse – especially my obstacles to crossing the line into belief. I am not consciously trying to AVOID believing.  It’s just that I have gone in blind, in faith, before and it just didn’t work for me. I’m avoiding the humiliation and disappointment of hanging myself out there and doing it again.  And I respect and appreciate beyond words the time and thought you have invested in sharing with me the reality of resting IN and WITH Christ, new creature, kingdom and earth at once, to the core of your being, that you experience.

Graeme:

I also don’t want you to go in blind – I also have tried the approach of saying things I didn’t really believe in and looking like a fool for it. In contrast I am suggesting a process of going in fully informed, a process of stepping into the one thing of which we are certain, ‘the sacrifice of Christ’ – but not until we have seen in it the rock solid love of God.

Diane (part of 2400 word “download”):

….God creates us to have free choice, but the consequences of disobedience are horrendous. Being deceived is no excuse.  Consequences for all, because of the  choice of two.  Which side of God is that? LOVE or JUSTICE? Now we have a sin nature and are MORE likely to sin and be deceived, but still take full BLAME for the wrong “free choice.” Heaven or Hell.  A choice? The FAULT of the humans who chose, not the ONE (or three) who created the set-up.  Dominion GIVEN, BY MAN, by choice,  to a different, created, FALLEN being, who has already disobeyed and been kicked out of heaven by GOD (not my man, who doesn’t have that power).  GOD who kicked satan out then GAVE stupid MAN the authority to choose to pass the world to said fallen angel, by disobeying one command, the ONLY command. Hell. Separation from God forever. Nice. Or Burning in eternal fire of punishment, for making the WRONG choice of a FREE CHOICE. Even nicer! This is so much like what abusers do, really. Love and obey me, no matter what I do to you. I have the power, and I give you choices. If  you choose wrong, I will punish you, and also hurt the kids. Oh, yeah, and I love you more than anyone else loves you. I AM love….

Graeme:

Love your work!! – I think you covered everything and I’m still here, and I presume God is too.

 I’m not going to shoot back a smart-arse Christian response to you, but just wanted to say that “that was a good spray” – and it causes me to dig past the level of clichés and down into the seam of gold – I will respond…shortly…

….All of the ills of life have a way of defining our existence; our past defines who we are, both good and bad. Unfortunately our past is shaped by fallen mankind, the kingdom of darkness, and the traumas and hardships we have traveled through. These hardships leave a big footprint, they do not pass quietly into the night, instead they claim their place in our consciousness on a daily basis, they are determined to complete the task for which they were assigned, to capture us for life in their orbit.

Is it possible for someone who has been so overwhelmingly constrained within abuse for a significant number of years, to throw off this restraint, and choose to live their lives in a completely different orbit? Can an abused person ever be defined by something that has nothing to do with their abuse, can they re-define themselves by the blood of Christ, can they choose to leave behind the past to the extent that it pales in comparison to their new identity in Christ? In other words, is it possible for the blood of Christ to so re-define us that we start over with a blank slate – that the pain of the past can grow strangely dim in the light of His wonder and grace?

In my view it is indeed possible, if we choose it we can see out the rest of our days defined by the love of Christ, but only if we truly want to, only if we are courageous enough to believe He is as good as He claims to be.

****

Which source would you consider before jumping off a cliff?

Blessings!!!!

Diane

March Gift of Words

Those who follow Christ live in the tension between faith in the One who has conquered sin and the undeniable fact of evil’s presence in and around us. We live with confidence and confusion, faith and doubt, clarity and questions, spiritual power and human weakness.  It is a time for faith. Connecting Dots…to God

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”  Rainer Maria Rilk who lived from 1875 to 1926

 The inexplicable is inevitable, and the willingness to endure enigmas is a necessary condition for sanity.  T.K. Coleman – Tough Minded Optimism 

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.  – Winston Churchill  

We Don’t Mean to Hurt Your Feelings.  We Just Can’t Stand You Sometimes. … It’s Not You.  It’s Us.  Space2Live 

 But I would be unlikely to bet against anyone once their actions, words, vision, heart, and spirit became aligned no matter how many prior failures they experienced.   Russ Towne – A Grateful Man

I have one piece of advice for anyone who’s seeking healing from depression, addiction, or PTSD: Before you read a book, surf the web, or see your counselor, commit everything to God. Let him be in charge of the timing of your discoveries. He has a plan, and it is good. Devout yourself to the process completely, and don’t ever give up. You are worth every dollar you spend in therapy, every tear you cry, and every moment you choose to take to care of yourself instead of cleaning the house. This pain will end. There’s an incredible life ahead of you. Grab it!  Lori Lara 

We must consciously choose what we watch for entertainment because it will shift our energy field, and cause irritation to arise unjustly. When we fill our minds with laughter, love, and peace, our mind is aligned with our heart, and negativity feels out of place.  Window of Wisdom 

Lord, help me to be a better husband, a better father…  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for… Eph 5:25 Walter Bright 

I want to be someone who truly ‘lives’ the season I’m in – who knows how to relax into it and let it be. I very much believe we must live intentionally, with strategy and purpose for the sake of keeping our lives healthy. But there is such peace to be had in accepting the season we’re in – in embracing its specific challenges. And for letting ‘good enough’ be good enough. Rather than fearing uncertainty, we are wise to welcome it. Rather than battling doubts, we are sensible if we rest with them.  Ali – It’s a God thing

Personal Responsibility and the Twitchy Arm

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Suppose you have a twitchy arm.

You may have had it all your life. Or, maybe something happened to you…and after that…well, your arm STARTED twitching. Most of the time rests comfortably, happily by your side. It accommodates your every command. It is your right hand man (!) as you work, or lovingly stroke the sweet, silky soft hair of your young child.  It lifts an open palm and waves at friends. It holds your Bible at church, and may even reach for the sky in praise.

But sometimes, the nerves go awry and the arm abruptly snaps outward, slamming into anything nearby. Ouch. It can really do some damage, too. Sometimes your arm hits people. It splits lips, blacks eyes, and doubles people over with pain. Sometimes it damages property. Sometimes it is embarrassing.  Sometimes, it’s kind of handy…it keeps the people around you on their toes. It makes them easier to get along with.

You feel bad about that, once in a while. But what can you do? It isn’t your fault. It just happens. People need to understand that this is just the way you are! You don’t MEAN to do damage…you don’t really want to hurt people or things. Your motives are good. You even apologize sometimes. Maybe even pay for the damages.  But how unfair is that?….It just isn’t your fault! Your arm has a mind of its own. You have no control. And, after all, you aren’t perfect…just forgiven.

It isn’t your FAULT. You are not to BLAME.

BUT YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.  

So give yourself (and others) some space.  Adjust your environment or put yourself where you do no harm. Seek treatment, or wear a straightjacket! It is a hassle. Not fair. But it is what it is. Not your fault, but still your responsibility.

Whatever the twitchy arm is for each of  us, don’t we owe it to ourselves and others to DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO DEAL WITH OUR OWN TROUBLESOME ISSUES, rather than passively allowing them to inflict damage? Which elevates them to entitlements? We can’t be perfect… but we can take the initiative to take care of ourselves, with healthy self-love and acceptance, if possible. To get help. To admit and be honest about our problem. And if we are harming others, we need to commit to do whatever it takes to get right, so we can relieve others of the daunting task of tiptoeing around us, walking on eggshells, flinching, watching, and ducking that blasted twitchy arm. To be responsible for ourselves, rather than making others responsible for themselves AND us. And to remove ourselves from endangering others for a time, if necessary, while we get it together.

And if you have a friend with a twitchy arm? Be kind, but let them know it isn’t OK to make excuses. It’s your responsibility. It’s their responsibility.

******

Note:  I hear from DV counselors that abusers don’t generally improve much from anger management training (it’s not about anger, it’s about CONTROL).  Please comment if you know of an instance in which an abusive individual has made a documentable “to the marrow of the bones, restoration of trust” turnaround. If so, what do you believe made the dramatic change possible? 

I want to hear YOUR dialogue and beliefs about this, more than my own,  so I may not answer all comments. Not being rude, just inquisitive!!!

And/or….more generally, what is YOUR “twitchy arm?”  (If you care to share it!)

The Big “D” and Malachi 2:16

Malachi 2:16  God hates divorce……

Ever heard that one? Ever quoted it? I included a survey of this verse in an earlier post, but got only two answers. One respondent answered “other” but I couldn’t access a comment. The other respondent said they had never heard the verse. One of the multiple choice answers was, “have you ever heard the SECOND HALF of the verse?”

Have you?

I found the complete verse, book, and context when I read through the Bible cover to cover the first time. Trying to see God and Jesus in context. The version I remember reading is different than what  pops up when I access Bible Gateway. So I went to other, older versions (like me), and voila! Here it is! So, let’s look at Malachi 2:16  in several versions:

    • New International Version 1984
      “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
    • New Revised Standard Version
      For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.
    •  New International Version
      “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

NOT ONCE in 20+ years was this verse quoted to me, in its entirety or in context, by friends or clergy. Just the God Hates Divorce part.

Why was that? When so much care is taken to quote some other passages in context? Was it because the “God Hates Divorce” part came first in the verse, and was therefore more important? If God hates divorce AND he hates a man who covers himself with violence as with a garment….which does He hate most? And reading the entire book of Malachi, I saw that this related not only to a husband and wife, but to Godly offspring, and God’s covenant with an entire race. And what should I DO based on that? I chose caution, conservative (legalistic) interpretation, that man meant person, and didn’t want to take any chances with Godly offspring. And, aside from any Biblical admonition, to protect my kids from their dad and the court system.

Then I wondered why, if marital unfaithfulness (meaning sexual unfaithfulness as defining adultery) was the only acceptable reason for divorce, did marriage ceremonies (which sanctify the covenant of marriage) include words such as “love, honor and cherish?” I wondered why we didn’t just stand before the preacher and say “I promise not to have sex with another till we die,” and leave it at that…since that is what seemed to be the actual substance of the arrangement. Since meanness, coldness, fear, financial ruin….verbal and physical abuse, are often considered non-sufficient grounds for divorce. Or for accountability within the church. And since Ephesians marriage verses seemed to be recommendations, rather than contractual requirements.

Matthew 5:32  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 19:9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

******

At the time of my divorce, I understood it this way: I will go to hell more surely by taking my own life than by divorcing my husband.  I was shocked and bewildered by God’s silence, my unanswered prayers for healing (not just of Peter; I was willing to change, too) and for guidance. And had come (from a start of open-hearted faith) to believe that God was a harsh taskmaster, demanding colossal sacrifice and endurance in the form of testing and somehow displaying His glory, demanding no shrinking back or He would be displeased, and that fearing Him is a good thing (even after checking out the word “fear” in Strong’s Concordance for many verses hoping it really meant “respect” or “honor”). And that once divorced, I would, Biblically speaking, be forever in a poor plan B. These are some of the ideas, views of God, that come from some skewed interpretations of scripture and Christian counsel. And formed part of the gauntlet I ran.

I didn’t understand much about covenant, Biblically speaking. Thanks to Joe Pote (http://josephjpote.com/) I understand much better NOW. I wouldn’t dream of trying to express the content of Joe’s book, So You are a Believer…Who has been through Divorce…, because I could in no way accurately abbreviate the points he so clearly makes. But I will say that I have now been introduced to a kinder view of God’s interest in my former marriage and my life, which gives me greater peace in the present. This is what I learned (my understanding): God doesn’t use covenants to enslave or abuse – He redeems us from bondage, including that of marital abuse (and the word redeemed means a lot more than I thought it did); divorce isn’t sin (treachery IS sin); I have not missed God’s best plan for my life because I have been through divorce; I am not to blame for my divorce (it is not always the fault of both parties);  “divorced” is not an eternal condition that overshadows me or defines me – I am not Peter’s ex-wife – the marriage covenant no longer exists, so I am just Diane; my second marriage is not sin (my covenant with Peter no longer existed; there was no covenant to violate); my husband and I are each married to one person – the husband of one wife – the wife of one husband (we are not bigamists married to each other AND to our previous spouses – our former marriages no longer exist) and any evaluation for ministry can be made on that basis.

(If you want to do a very good thing, buy this book for your church library.)

There were two sides as I Ran the Gauntlet: my abusive Christian husband with his destructive and misinformed words and control on one side, and the Church with its destructive and misleading scriptural interpretations and control on the other.

As I am blogging and listening, both sides of the gauntlet are beginning to disarm and go away. Some of the harmful ideas used by both sides are now useless weapons, rusting on the grass. I’m listening. And feeling the breeze of freedom and the sun on my face.

Good Sabbath, my Blogger Church.

Covenant Abuse – by Joseph Pote

Joe Pote is a fellow blogger (Redeemed!) and author of the book: So You are a Believer Who has been through Divorce.

With Joe’s permission, I have included the link to his excellent post about domestic violence in marriage, from his blog “Redeemed!” I REALLY hope you read it. In fact, skip my posts for the rest of the month if it will give you time to read his!! 🙂 Watch the video, read the post, and all of the comments.

http://josephjpote.com/2012/10/covenant-abuse/#comment-3522

I read his book. I wish I had read it before my divorce. I wish ALL of the churches I had attended had read this book! I’m probably more suspicious than many about scriptural interpretation, but I found new and credible perspective, expressed with balance and wisdom.

FrontCover

Click photo for more information.

“Emily” and I talked about changing public opinion in my post “Why I Squawk” (http://wp.me/p2GxIs-58) I guess I still see such potential for change change coming through knowledge, empathy, and commitment .. passed on one to one. So please talk, squawk, teach, encourage, admonish with the information you glean. Pass the word, so you may help spare another abused spouse from being abused a second time by incorrect and defeating scripture. So they don’t have to “Run The Gauntlet” (http://wp.me/P2GxIs-2) but instead grow in faith and hope.

Thanks!

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