Tag Archives: scripture

#Why I Stayed

A domestic violence advocate told me that the entire month of October, which is dedicated not only to Breast Cancer awareness, but also Domestic Violence awareness, should be spent explaining the answer to THE MOST COMMON QUESTION: “Why does she stay?”

The answers to that are as varied as snowflakes or grains of sand, and as plentiful, because there are so many reasons and so MUCH abuse, on all levels, that is either ignored or fully sanctioned by our society. The answers are important. Please look into #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. There is also a #WhyIAbuse, but I have seen no comments from abusers there.

I know many women who left, and a few who stayed. Hindsight is not 20/20 even though we hear the phrase. We have no idea what trajectory a life would take given alternate choices. So my question to myself: “Did I do the right thing, to stay….then to leave?”

My youngest daughter tells me that she remembers the anger in the air, but didn’t know what it was from. It has cost them. But would it have been better if it was out in the open, with open fighting (there was plenty of that, too). Would it have been better if I left, and they lived a dual life? Would it have been better if they had to cope with him alone? No way to know.

This is why I stayed:

#fear – of losing my kids, hurting my kids, creating greater instability for my kids, being financially unable to care for them, leaving them alone with their dad when he was “weird,” disappointing God, doing the wrong thing and regretting it

#hope #love  #faithfulness #long-suffering #denial #naiveté

Ephesians 5:21-33 (and many others)

This is why I left:

#fear – of losing my mind, taking my own life, wasting my life, failing my kids, not being there for my kids, God’s silence, suffering, desertion, ruin, being a fool.

#hope #love #faithfulness #wisdom #courage

Ephesians 5:1-7 (and many others)

For some who left, it was fairly clean and decisive, however traumatic. Many others have been re-abused and further abused by ex-spouse, court system, families, and faith communities. They are enduring things I think may have crushed me. I had it good, very good! When I hear their stories I recognize my greatest fears in staying AND leaving. For very few who stayed, there has been improvement and a decent to good relationship.

I think the word is out for those who care to listen: it is hard to stay – it is hard to leave – it is hard to be abused.

I think the word is out also that a hugely neglected issue is #WhyIAbuse.  Abusers don’t respond because they don’t believe they are abusive, are ashamed they are abusive, want to be secretly abusive, or don’t care because it doesn’t apply to them. True, but incomplete.

I have too many questions to list them all in one post. But here are my top three:

If so many men, women and children are victimized, predominantly by men, as a worldwide proven phenomena, why are we still so essentially impotent in addressing men who do violence – instead accepting male violence as normal, normative…you know, just the way it is? #WhyViolence

Best estimates of multiple studies indicate that around 25% of women are assaulted or abused, and that children privy to that violence are also affected, and that abuse by males is the single most significant health concern of women as a whole, worldwide, and that it is…you know, just the way it is. If that is the way it is, and has been, the misplaced responsibility a reality – why don’t all women take self-defense classes, promote one another financially, carry protective weapons, remove the status-builder of feminine companionship from men who are not respectful, teach each other the signs of abuse, and talk and act to strengthen and protect one another? Yes, I know this is almost like blaming the victim. I still want to know this, because I want to know how women can make each other stronger until abuse stops and we don’t need to anymore, how MEN and WOMEN can make each other stronger, period. #GotYourBack

I look at e-mails, Facebook and Twitter posts, “news” articles, memes and advertisements. What I see is a lot of persuasion without honesty, investigation or conscience. From people I otherwise respect very much I see promotion of dramatic half-truths or untruths that are hard to verify, but meanwhile polarize not clarify. POLARIZE NOT CLARIFY. (Men abuse…well, women abuse too…my statistics…your statistics…and it’s all the president’s fault…ya know?). Why are we so eager to choose sides at the expense of honesty that could yield solutions? That is grass-roots, bottom of the barrel, sneaky, subtle terrorism.  #GetReal

We share this world at this time. We are in this together. There is a lot of violence here. Does it now seem appropriate to ask, “Why do we stay?”

*****

I invite you to also visit:

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This Year’s Topic:
After decades of “awareness”, why is violence against women still so common?
We’re discussing what’s at the core of
A Culture of Contempt

 

 

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……..

Visit “End the Silence…?” Team 2013 

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. 

httpfreepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com~florencenywindowsAltar.htm

 

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.

I Believe

The cold wind nipped at my face and hands. The air was thin and my breathing deep. Beneath my feet was rock; around the rock, vulnerable, ancient tundra. As far as I could see were range after range of mountains – bare of trees. I was above the timberline,  at 14,000+ feet elevation, near the highest point of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA. DSCN1442I have been many BEAUTIFUL places,  and I inhale the beauty of trees and water and mountains like my life’s breath.  But even without trees, and somehow beyond the sheer visual input around me, this was the most beautiful place I have ever been! In the thin air, where my daughters become altitude-sick, and my husband’s heart slows him down, I was energized!  It was a different, higher perspective than I had ever known! Magnificent! I RAN up the summit and scaled the rock. Raised my hands to the perfect blue sky, and said “God….can I hear you NOW?!”  2012-12-17-ImageofGod

I have been asking, “HOW do you believe?!” After you HAVE believed, but learned that what you believed could not be trusted, could no longer be believed. You have said, “just believe.”

I have been talking and writing about this with you and Graeme Schultz since December. Graeme has spent untold hours and many thousands of words ever so kindly sharing his faith and talking through understandings of Christ, faith, God, Adam and Eve, suffering, the nature and effect of faith, crucifixion…always back to Christ and the cross.  He didn’t blow away my doubts, or even chip away, or refute, or prove them false. They began to melt away, ever so slowly, as I was able to trust the patient, quiet thoughts of a friend in dialogue that conveyed, “Rest in Christ. Trust Him. Let Him fill your screen. He’s that good. Expand your view. The cross is that powerful! This is how it works for me. This is what has changed for me. This is how I see things now.”

I read or recalled scripture, info on the origins of the Bible, intention and prayer, time and the universe, and most of an interesting book, “God’s Lunatics” by Michael Largo. Added to years of believing and living out….I don’t know what it was , searching, and loss. I didn’t push…stayed open, but not to others who push. My conclusions? There are arguments and counter-arguments about EVERYTHING! No two Christians (or any other group), even with strict doctrines or analytical criteria, have identical beliefs. imagesCAM2Y74B

We ALL pick and choose what we can and will believe, for myriad personal reasons. Which verses we elevateimagesCAMOA0XL to law, and which we reduce to analogy. Which sources we trust. How much we really BELIEVE we can hear from God Himself. We will never PROVE it absolutely, whatever IT is. Misunderstanding even when different words state the same idea, or illumination when the change of phrase makes them suddenly “believable.”  Yes, I could believe the wrong thing. Yes, I could be disappointed again. Yes, I could miss it. But then again, I am already missing too much by living in profound mistrust. Starting with my basic God-fact, the magnificence of creation through my senses and theories via science, I have asked and answered enough practical and scriptural questions, laid ENOUGH doubts to rest. And I WANT to believe. It just had to be something I CAN believe. Someone I CAN trust. Beyond expectations and rules. More about the Person and the reality beyond my senses and understanding. And the beginnings of thoughts about how powerful BELIEF or FAITH really may be.  A different, higher perspective than I’ve known. Magnificent!

There was no jump from a cliff. No burning bush, or voice from heaven. Still no blinding light, or overwhelming sense of love. No deep knowing. No tears. No choir, or brush of angel’s wings. No moment of desperation. No flood of warmth.

I wrote this to Graeme a couple of days ago:

“G, you need to know this: I found myself responding to Joe Pote’s post (Redeemed!) with conviction about who Christ is, and what He did on the cross. From the stance of a believer. Surprised myself!  I find myself riding my waves or feeling fear and anxiety, and say to myself, rather as I’ve heard you say…”wait, this can’t be right…this was fixed 2000 years ago…the reality is the hybrid creation Jesus/Diane that I’ve become.” I started by testing out how that feels, whether I could visualize and believe it…and I guess I do.  I’m considering that the earth manifestation in blood, and painful nerve endings, flesh, suffering, torture – perhaps even of crucifixion, may….I don’t know… no words, sorry. Something just outside my ability to get to it! But I’m open to even the cosmic meaning and consequence in that…which is what you grasp so clearly without the recoil I feel so strongly.

I find myself WANTING to believe more than I fear to believe, as I carefully and quietly (almost sneaky as to not trigger myself!) set aside my beefs and disagreements, hoping that as I rest, I will understand better, but through loving union not a spirit of intellectual debate. And I am perceiving, sometimes almost feeling, the love. My past experiences with religion are becoming irrelevant to my beliefs – fading in my mind like images from a scary movie.  I find myself more interested in talking with God than talking about Him. And when Christianity does come up (as it has with atheist Emily, and my nephew and niece), I find myself responding carefully – saying “maybe it is like this…” as I describe some (safer) aspect of our conversations or your book.  I have previously been incapable of sustaining faith but, as you have said, it doesn’t require years of restoration but rather turning my gaze back to Jesus who will never have left me, even if I am being freaked or inconsistent myself. And the renewing of my mind will continue. And I’m feeling traces of the security and freedom you describe.”

So quiet I can hear. A different view than I’ve known. Worth believing. Magnificent!

life-and-the-universe

By commenting on this post you are giving permission to me to quote your comment in subsequent writing, blog or article. Please indicate in your comment that you want any quotation to be referenced to you; otherwise, I will include no reference.

A few Diane-style references:

Powers of 10 – Original 1977

Powers of 10 – Redo, just the universe

Hardwired to Christ by Graeme Schultz

God’s Lunatics by Michael Largo

The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggert  (Don’t do an auto-trash on this because it sounds new age. A lot of good stuff on prayer, and the power of our thoughts and words. As in BELIEVE, bless, heal, pray, do good. Points TO God, or away, depending on YOUR paradigm. I suggest take what you want and leave the rest.)

Wikipedia on Bible and History

More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell

Believe – In YOUR Words!

I thought, Is the Bible real? Is it accurately translated? Is it historical? Is God real? Can Jesus be true? If He really was in the history, who was He? …..But then it came a point, when all my life climaxed. Who am I? Why am I living this life? Why am I involved in these horrible situations? And I realized that no longer I questioned if He is real. I simply NEED Him! See, when that happened, none of my questions were answered. Logically I had no basis to take either side. Logically it makes no sense! But logic has nothing to do with who I am right now. It was a gift of faith. Talitha Kum

 

The fact that God’s nature was difficult for me to understand used to be a real challenge to my faith. This was especially true after being diagnosed with ALS. I don’t remember ever asking God “Why me?” but I naturally wondered why God would allow this or any other horrible disease to strike anyone. I began to rethink everything I knew, or thought I knew, about this being we call God.

…I know better than anyone that I’m far from being the sharpest knife in the drawer, but after many years of trying to figure out this concept of what we simply call the Trinity, I’ve concluded that no one is able to explain this Triune God in terms that are understandable to even the razor-sharp knives among us. And, I’m now okay with this because –

“If we were able to understand God in human terms, He wouldn’t be God; He’d be a man.”
CS Lewis  Unshakable Hope

 

Today, I believe that God is, that God is Love, and that Love is Kind and Good. Today, that’s enough for me to know. I don’t need to know anything else, but Christ, and Him crucified, for it to be well with my soul.  Lady Quixote

 

…There are certainly many things that Jesus said which I don’t understand, which I find unpleasant, which tickle my teeth and turn my guts upside-down… 

…If someone died for me while saying a few tough words: I’m not going to whine about the tough words.  J.S.Parks

 

…Mike and Lorraine were not followers of Christ when we met them. We did our Christian duty and invited them to church and tried to share the “Good news” with them; even our girls (then 4 and 7) invited them to church, but all to no avail. (They later told us that they mocked us in private. I could relate; I once mocked Christians too. Let’s be honest: making fun of Christians is so easy).

But after I was diagnosed, they began to reexamine the faith that was sustaining our family through this trial. Lorraine told me; “…When you were diagnosed with ALS I began to see a man who held no anger with the God that ‘allowed’ this to happen. Then you began to demonstrate trust in God’s plan, I saw your faith and I saw 2 little girls accept what God was doing in your lives and I began to wonder how such young children could love God unconditionally. I opened my heart first to the possibility that this might be good thing for me as well. Then I finally got it and allowed my brain to accept the basic truth that God is only good, loving and faithful…”   Unshakable Hope  

 

When I am asked why I believe in God I simply profess that he exists…….

“I gave in, and admitted that God was God.”  C. S. Lewis 

 Planting Potatoes

How can some of us be put to death, yet realize the promise that “not a hair of your head will perish”? The answer can only be found in a radically different concept of safety. Jesus sees things from His Father’s perspective. In His eyes, the passage from this world into eternity looks more like a coming-of-age, or a rite of passage. It’s a beginning of something much more than it is an end of something.                                 iLife Journey

 

Let’s face it.  There are aspects of God’s Word that are very confusing.  Some passages are just plain weird and others seem contradictory.  For those of us who believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word in the original manuscripts (an important qualifier), this is troubling.

If God’s word is perfectly true, then what do we do with apparent inconsistencies?   Furthermore, why didn’t God just communicate things more clearly in the first place?  Certainly he knew these issues would be cause for disbelief, argument and interpretive error.  Why invite confusion?

I’m sure he has his reasons.

…. But, I don’t think God allowed ambiguity so that we will read more scholarly opinion.

Perhaps difficult passages of Scripture offer us an opportunity to examine our own hearts and our false constructions of God.

Connecting Dots…to God

Although I didn’t understand much, I did understand one thing.I believed, with only a tiny amount of faith, that God had shown me that He was in fact real — and if that was true then I kept hope that He might help me. That choice to have that tiny bit of faith was a pivotal point in my life. I had asked and accepted Jesus into my life at age 16, but it was not until my late teen years and early twenties — the peak of all that I have described — that I started to focus on Him.  40-Year Wanderer

 

The only way I have found to lay hold of the peace and rest that all of mankind craves is to ‘step over a line’. To decide once and for all that Christ died on the cross to make me His. I have to examine this so closely that I am willing to make it the pivotal statement of my life. Christ can do no more; He has already given Himself for me and to me – now it is over to me. Will I believe it, will I cease my quest for more proof, more evidence, more answers – that’s why it’s all about trust – at some point in my life I need ask my last question, express my last doubt, try my last fleshly endeavour… breathe out slowly… and begin my new life as one who has decided that God is good, He loves me, He can be trusted… with everything.

And all of this I do with unanswered questions, with my flesh screaming out “don’t”…. I do it on the basis of one fact only; “Christ died for me” – and now I await the revelation of the cross of Christ to bring sense into my senseless world – now I rest in  the life of Christ in me, and cease my life of trying.  Graeme Schultz, Hardwired to Christ

Like Sun Sparkling on Water

Picture a river, wide and crisply cold. A magnificent, white hot afternoon sun. A gentle breeze. Look at the water, alive with fireworks, a million dancing reflections of that magnificent sun. Tears sting your eyes, from the painful brightness of the dancing light, from the heart-rending beauty of the sparkling  water, yet you don’t want to look away. If you try to catch a pinpoint with your gaze, it flashes and is gone, replaced by a million more, all laughing. They have you. But you don’t have them. LOL

I’ve been pondering ideas so sweet and new that my mind and heart can’t quite catch them, but I’m mesmerized, and don’t want to look away. They have me. God has me. I keep testing these out against my questions and rearranging my mental file cabinet, adding new folders to accommodate what I can’t assimilate into my current ineffective  paradigm. Sometimes calmed, sometimes angered by what I still can’t “take on faith.” There are so many directions I could go with this, that I just have to start somewhere.

We’ll start here: BELIEVE.

I believe in God. No matter how trashed my faith, I say to Him, “Wow…You are such an Artist!” I am touched by beauty in nature and between people, and animals figure in, too. I am awed by the immense complexity…off the chart, utter, beyond belief ORDER and artistry in nature. Even a blade of grass has millions of intricately connected parts functioning together. One blade of grass among billions. Among millions of other species and non-living things. On one celestial sphere among millions. I believe in God. In God the wildly artistic and intelligent Creator. And I can’t imagine this being done without love.

But these are things I can see and touch and smell. I find it easy to believe scientific researchers, and it is no big deal if they disagree or their statements prove false. To date, it just doesn’t affect my life on earth all that much.

Christianity is another issue. I spent 25 or so years as a devout Christian, happy going to church, teaching, studying, praying, bringing up my children “in the Lord.” From a place of need, I chose to believe what I didn’t entirely understand – like the Trinity, the need for crucifixion as the only way to be restored to God’s fellowship, and the like. I took them “on faith” and fully believed that I was “saved” and that I would receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Wonderful Counselor, to help me know how to do life with an abusive husband. I had EXPECTATIONS, derived from church and the Word, and I BELIEVED God  would operate, with me, as described. He didn’t. So, I listened to the legalistic rules, and learned to look at my flaws, pray more, be more holy, “have faith,” wait, listen for a still small voice, rebuke satan…….ad nauseum. He still didn’t operate as I  believed He would. And  I was more than disappointed. It affected my life on earth A LOT. The rug was pulled out from under me. And I have become very, very wary of who and what I hear from others, un-trusting of my own discernment, and of God’s willingness to make Himself heard by me. I wanted to just bag it, but I can’t stop listening for something I CAN believe. My friends Graeme and Angela call that a string, a connection between God and me, and that He is holding on to me. That I have a “God fact” (more later) that won’t let me let go of Him, either.

And I’m hearing something!

Graeme (Hardwired to Christ, MyBroom), replied to my comment on his blog: “My own situation is 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 didn’t have the inner resources to exercise faith. Then followed several years of wilderness struggling, I knew God was there — I just didn’t 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’ ….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…, it is a fact that Christ got right already and I am just sitting in His work.”

It’s the darndest thing! I had given up on having a “relationship” with Christ, as Christians say, but this presents something truer. Being so one with Christ – one being, one creation – that I don’t pray to Someone out there somewhere, but have murmured conversations with Him to lives and dwells in me. To be so secure in God’s love and approval, which would be because of Christ not me, that everything else is secondary to that reality (perhaps just as basic as everything earthly is secondary to my next breath). For starters. This hits me full in the chest and I cry big tears.

I  just have to believe. It all happens by faith. But I don’t know how to get around the things I have to believe first: Does God love me? Is God good? Can I trust His Word?”

I know the following verse well, and have not found it to “come true.” But it’s possible God wants me to revisit this, and so I am:

Matthew 11:28-29  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

More soon.

Blessings!

Diane

Through the Wave

life-under-a-wave

credit: LortGob

Have you ever played in the ocean? I’m an inlander, but I’ve visited the ocean many times, and ingested my share of salt water. I know how it feels to have the wave seize me, toss me, and then use me (too often, my face – go ahead and laugh) to dredge the ocean bottom, while I breathlessly wonder which direction is up. This is a fair analogy of what it has felt like to lose faith. And to try to cope without trust.

blirk.net wallpapers resource - ocean-wallpaper-1

blirk.net wallpapers

Some of that was my doing – several years ago I chose to go to the dark side – anger, resentment, self-pity – not entirely realizing what I was choosing – and found it hard to come back. The last couple of months have been very hard.  Depression, stalemate in decisions, too much stress invested in my parents’ life, and also my own, for that matter. It has been a crisis of faith, of whatever nature my faith was. A wipe of the hard drive. Loading some new paradigms. Like finding which direction is up, breaking through to the surface, filling my lungs with fresh air, and looking around to see that the wave might not have been so big after all.

In the next several posts, I will share some of my dialogue with my Australian friends, Graeme Schultz (MyBroom, Hardwired to Christ) and his wife, Angela.  For the last couple of months, everything I try to write comes back to this discussion and what I am awkwardly juggling in my mind and heart.  

Faith. For me. For those who are still abused. For those who no longer believe. For everyone.

That God is good, and loves me. That He can be trusted. In spite of what the Bible says, and in spite of what life experience has shown. That my understanding of God, of Christ, formed and reshaped through years of Church, Bible study and abuse can and must be laid aside. This dialogue, mine internally, and also between friends half way across the planet, and maybe with God, if He is talking, is an opportunity to openly challenge my angry circular thinking, and form a new perspective – appealing, hopeful – ringing true at a place beyond words or reason, often bringing tears. So far, I have too much to UN-BELIEVE and learn to leave unanswered to be able to full-out, no holds barred, BELIEVE. I would be pretending,  or lying, if I said I did. Thankfully my friends are resting in Christ’s work on the cross as a present reality that defines their lives, and are not insulted by my challenges, doubt, frustration, anger…or the way in which I express them. Graeme just takes it in and writes about his faith. Direct and unaffected.

And he has just published a book (e-book and print versions), after requests from the readers of his 2012 blog: MyBroom – My Year – Asking 365 Questions ‘Bout Renewing of Our Minds at http://mybroom.wordpress.com/. The book bears the same name as his new blog, Hardwired to Christ – http://hardwiredtochrist.wordpress.com/.

hardwired-to-christ_cover_final-2

You can acquire the electronic version, at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/320346. Or, go to either blog (listed above) to learn how to purchase a soft-cover print copy.

I’ve ordered the printed version, which is probably somewhere over the ocean right now (Hawaii, I hear!). Renewing my mind is like starting over with a different language, and it takes time. For me, at least.

So, if you want to see a part of what has been keeping my mind/spirit busier than my mouth/keyboard, check out the links above. If what you read speaks to you as it  has to me, order the book!

It’s nice to be talking with you again!

Diane

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!

To Hell in a Handbasket

The gentleman entered the restaurant – 60s, slightly gray hair, medium weight, medium build. He was with a younger woman, his daughter, we later found. They had been seated for a couple of minutes, tops, when he began shouting. “Where is the service?! This place is going to hell in a hand basket!! We’ve been sitting here……(inarticulate loud mutters).” My friend (yep, the Hammer) and I exchanged startled glances.

The female server appeared at their table and apologized for the delay. The man jumped to his feet, called the waitress a bitch, and slapped her across the face. There was no thinking about it. I was on my feet and in his face. “It is NOT OK to treat someone like that, especially someone who is serving  you!” (Brilliant statement…jeepers!) The man lunged for me as I stepped around a table. He couldn’t reach me so he bulled toward my friend, who was still seated in the booth shouting “Call the police!” as she dialed 911. The man hit her in the arm, the ineffective blow glancing upward to catch her in the side of the face. A younger man in leaped from his table to defend her, and was hit in the face. Restaurant employees and patrons struggled to physically subdue him, but He  fled to the ladies restroom where he continued to bellow until the police arrived and carried him out on a stretcher, since he had broken his leg during his tirade. His dining companion, his daughter, wandered from table to table apologizing, bewildered. “He has never done anything like this before!” she said.

What was I thinking?! I wasn’t. Everything in me screamed “She is NOT going to take this alone!” The motive may have been right….my RE-ACTION was not.

I don’t think this was just about defending the server. She was an adult – it was presumptuous of me to intervene. I didn’t know her. Her life didn’t appear to be in danger. I didn’t know her past, or how this incident would affect her. I didn’t think to ACT to calm the man or attempt to act wisely or thoughtfully. That is very unlike me. My M.O. is to be still and watch, analyze before I move. Oh, yes, I  have a temper. But I wasn’t angry. AND I WASN’T SCARED.

I think I was defending my daughters. The way I didn’t always do when their father raged at them for no reason (Honor Your Father, http://wp.me/p2GxIs-41).  The way I didn’t do when I was “poked” (http://wp.me/p2GxIs-50) over and over by insults, manipulations and subtle threats. I THINK I WAS ABSOLUTELY FED UP WITH ABUSE.

If he had taken my life for confronting him, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN WORTH IT.

It was, simply, NO.    NO.      NO!

I think this may also explain my reaction to my friend, The Hammer (Round Two With “The Hammer”: http://wp.me/p2GxIs-3V).

This happened several years ago. If I was to relive that incident – current time – I suspect I would be less reactive. I might watch, be wary, consider how to respond wisely – just like old times with Peter. I probably wouldn’t get in the man’s face, but I would stand,  be ready, and divert him if needed. I would call the police and make a statement – it would be documented – in case. I HOPE I would be PROACTIVE….consciously trying to influence the best possible outcome (peace, resolution, less violence), rather than being REACTIVE. I now choose to ACT (rational choice with thought of best outcome and how to achieve that) and not RE-ACT (irrational response which plays into the abuse with little consideration of outcome, and which re-establishes me as victim).

And however the situation resolved, I would go to that server and tell her, whether she needed to  hear it or not, that she didn’t deserve it,  didn’t do anything to provoke it, that I respect her and the work she does. I would need to say it.

My friend went to see him in the hospital the next day, to tell him she forgives him and to pray with him and talk with him. He was apologetic and embarrassed. He didn’t remember the incident, and didn’t know what had been affecting him.

Maybe he had a medication issue, or some other physiological problem. Maybe it was the first time. Maybe it wasn’t. I respect him, feel very sorry for his pain and injury. And I see my responsibility to grow in balance and peace. BUT….

BUT – I STILL DON’T ACCEPT HIS ABUSE, TOWARD ME OR ANYONE ELSE.

NO.

For consideration:

Do you think the following verse is literal in this situation?

Matthew 5:39  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

In what circumstance do you think such a response would accomplish the redemptive work the verse suggests? How does that work? How about my friend’s visit to him in the hospital?

I really want feedback on the following question – generally applied – not specifically to the incident I just related:

What actions, and what scriptural view, would protect and comfort the abused, and provide accountability and redemption for the abuser? This isn’t a rhetorical question…I don’t know the answer. I’m asking for your input!

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