Tag Archives: Survivors

#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?”

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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

 

 

Cloud-gaze with Me in the Grass?

The earth is warm against my back. I pause with minor annoyance as the tender-looking blanket of grass beneath me pricks not-so-tender shoots into the backs of my arms. The flies and gnats are dining elsewhere I guess, because they are nowhere to be seen, and I know that I am a favorite lunch venue. I rest my head on my palms, arms now above my head, and gaze at the sky through a kaleidoscope of shimmering leaves to watch the clouds moving and changing across the sky. The day is filled with peace and promise.

Join me?

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I see a smiling face. Forgiveness of myself, for choosing and staying with an abusive husband, for not better protecting my children, for not knowing what I needed to know. For not being able to…whatever. For being gullible enough to believe in the god others showed me, who demands suffering and calls it love, who advise with arrogance from ignorance. Forgiveness of imperfect or cruel people, who unpredictably hurt and cannot be controlled. I forgive myself for not being able to stop them or repair them, or my own flaws, or the damage my choices have made. The past, the losses, the whining about nonsense, and the minimizing of tragedy. God didn’t demand my forgiveness – for Him. He helped me find it – for me. It is so good!

I see a backbone that allows me to disagree with the crowd, however imperfectly. To say no to control or abuse for myself; to not watch silently if I am a bystander. To say yes to friends who laugh and keep confidences, are kind and honest and not easily offended – or live peacefully friendless if need be. To live un-ashamed (usually) for having been unglued or weak, knowing I could be again. To not be polite when politeness is passive agreement with a wrong. To know that my faith is between me and God and needs to pass muster with NO ONE. To reject drama, by avoidance or transcendence. I am.

I see a question mark that reminds me how much I don’t know, which relieves me of judgment. Of how much I want to know, which keeps me seeking, excited about better understanding to come. Of how much I need to know, which allows me to accept, to love and be loved. A lot.

I see the hands of a clock. Reminding me that time isn’t really linear, measured in equal increments – it is more…elastic. Decisions I think must be made NOW, can’t always be made now, don’t need to be…and in waiting through the agony of indecision, options may appear that weren’t there before. That some decisions do have to be made NOW, and just are what they are, whatever and however they are. And this moment is only this ordinary and extraordinary moment. My past, present and future are folded together like hands in prayer, fingers intertwined. It’s all good.

I see a face filled with fear. It is the face of everyone being hurt. AND the face of most doing the hurting. The face of everyone who struggles, who is part of any human community, who is subject to uncertainty, who is told he/she is not adequate, or who tells him/herself the same. The face of those who are separated from God, and those who pretend to be bosom buddies. It is the face of those who CONTROL, in any way or any place at any time. Of those who are controlled in any way or any place or any time.

Oh look! I will put my arm around your shoulder, and my face next to yours, and point to what I see! The smiling face again! Do you see it? Edging toward the fearful face, blowing into it, blending and thinning as the wind carries them away? Leaving the sun shining on our heads, like a blessing?

Do you see it?

 

 

 

Cloud Gazing and Being Worthwhile

P1010379Do you ever lay on the grass with a friend (of any age or species) to share what you see in the clouds? You may point and say, “See, over there, third cloud from the top of that tree, kind of up on the left side, there is a nose…and over there you can see the guy’s necktie?”  Silence.  “Right there?”  “I don’t see it…” “No…right THERE, where that little knobby thing sticks out…right THERE.  “Oh yeah, cool, I see the dude…uh, oh, well, um…he really looks kind of like a duck.”

That’s kind of what it’s like reading blogs and news reports sometimes! And finding a bottom line to anything. Or formulating my own thoughts.

Since I began blogging last year, it has been more natural for me to desperately explain psychological abuse via personal stories, and express anger and indignation about the support of abuse via Christian views and counsel as I “Ran the Gauntlet” than to speak with passion about how it SHOULD have been. Or, the main goal, how it CAN be! This is because I didn’t live it as it should have been. What I want most to convey really lies outside my experience.

I was also desperately disappointed by unrealized expectations of version of God I believed COULD help, comfort, speak, and empower with faith, but didn’t. I still don’t understand, and it is beyond crazy that I should hang it all out there again, this time having no expectations of God, but rather the assumption that His help, comfort, empowerment were completed 2000 years ago. This is joyful, but also very tender and private. So bold and yet so tentative that I feel like a liar to say anything at all. I can’t explain it; I can only rest, trust, wait. Not very interesting to read about. I don’t know how I want to say it any more. I don’t feel clever. I’m starting to feel real.

My stats are way down, which is fine, but indicates my words aren’t resonating as well. No cliffhangers any more like, “Will she jump? Will she believe?”  I’m sure some liked the intensity and drama. But the thing is, I don’t! Or words like abuse, and abused, and victim. Past tense, intensity and negativity aren’t where I want to live. Or Christian bashing, even when warranted! Even just within myself, when it never finds a page or ear. It hurts. I think that when one hurts, somewhere all hurt. I can do better.

My voice is different, and I haven’t quite found it.

I’m going to spend November diving deep into the space between words, and relax. I am going to write a 50,000 word novel during the inspiring and challenging National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s going to be a novel that has nothing to do with domestic violence, my past, or problems to be solved. November 1 is an hour away where I live. I have no outline, no sure plan.

I’m going to be cloud-gazing!

I can see whatever I want to see!

It will be worthwhile!

I will stop in to see you at your blogs, and maybe post here, if I like what I have to say. I will answer if you check in on me.

When I’m finished, I’m going to call out to you, invite you to join me in the grass, stretch out my arm right next to your line of sight, and say with glee, “Oh, LOOK, do you SEE it??!”

(Even if you don’t, it will be fun trying!).

Blessings,

Diane

P.S.  If you will, please pass on your favorite writing (or other) music! Inspire me! Get me moving! Say, “Oh LISTEN to this?” And I will!

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.

September Gift of Words

 “It’s like that Truman sign. ‘The buck stops here.’ A hero is someone who makes sure that the evil stops with them.”  Jo, the main character of October Snow, a novel by Jenna Brooks.

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I’m not afraid anymore. I will be stronger, and I will protect myself and those I love with my own clenched fists. Keep watching. Pia – An Infinite Solitude

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Here’s what God wanted me to grasp within my spirit: “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.-Ecclesiastes 5:20(ESV)

Something changed when I read this verse. God spoke to me about my future. I was to trust that it would be good, it would be prosperous. No longer did I worry about the future effects of the many ailments of my body; my heart was going to be occupied by joy. Joy? Yes… yes indeed. I could definitely do that. Will I face challenges? Yes. Will I have to shed a few tears now and then? Probably. But the sum total of my life was not going to be the management of pain; I am going to be pre-occupied by and engrossed in joy.

….Since I have let go of that worry, I have experienced such joy, peace, and a mission from God (pun intended. lol). When I made the decision to not let the management of pain dictate the direction of my life, the joy came flooding in; every crack and space of my heart.  The Great Plains Poet

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Theologian Frederick Buechner once told a graduating class:

“The voice we should listen to most, as we choose a vocation, is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest? What can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north? Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone or paint or canvas?” Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words? Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirit? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing, and it is our thing, and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.”

Can you trust what makes you “glad? Could that really be the voice of your “calling?”

“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him…. The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him….” – Thomas Merton Morning Story and Dilbert

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Choose your battles carefully. Some battles really aren’t worth fighting. Ask yourself, “What am I fighting for?” If you discover that the battle has more to do with your ego than anything else, it may not be worth the fight. You may want to take the higher road. Kristin Barton Cuthriell’s The Snowball Effect 

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Psychological freedom, much like physical and political freedom, requires vigilance.

If you’re not militant about your well-being, this world will knock the wind out of your sails, flatten you on your back, and grind you beneath its feet.

Assertiveness is not the enemy of kindness; it’s the bodyguard of kindness. It’s there to protect what others choose to neglect.

If an abusive or manipulative energy pattern manifests in your life, do the most dignified, democratic, and diplomatic thing you can possibly do: ANNIHILATE IT!

You’re nobody’s clown. You’re nobody’s tool. You’re nobody’s slave. You’re nobody’s punching bag. You’re nobody’s emotional sponge.

Psychological vigilance isn’t about harming or killing people. It’s about getting rid of self-defeating patterns and self-negating perspectives.

It’s about telling the enemies of your inner peace and spiritual freedom that they’re messing with the wrong {insert your favorite expletive here}.

It’s about looking at the elements of oppression that seek to be a part of your life and firmly saying, “let me help you die!”   T.K. Coleman 

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Blessings, Diane

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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

A Crusty Old Cactus

Dust powdered my feet as I stood at the top of Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, overlooking the city. My eyes raced across the panoramic view, taking in the generalities, but missing the specifics. That was because my mind also raced across the panoramic view of my life, taking in the overview of successes and mistakes, joys and losses. I glanced to the side and all the scanning stopped, inward and outward.IMG_0859

I stood beside a 20 foot Saguaro cactus. It looked as though, over its lifetime, it had been so bumped, kicked, assaulted by human or nature, that it could hardly stand. Its base was shriveled and darkened, covered with scars. Farther up, less so.  Two thirds of the way up, it was green, robust, round, and thoroughly armored with the spines that are normal for the species. And at the top – a FLOWER! It was blooming!

This, I thought, is me! I liked the looks of that crusty old cactus!  And my life, however imperfect.

I am no longer a victim.  I NO LONGER FEEL LIKE A VICTIM!

I’m breathing, sleeping, jumping off cliffs, taking one day at a time, and laying my heart wide open before God.

After being frozen for months, for years, I am profoundly, utterly grateful for a number of things:

A friend who talks with me about God, Christ and faith without judging me, and without control or arrogance. A number of bloggers who very, very quietly, in words of peace, encourage me to faith like theirs…no hype, no insistence on words or doctrine, maybe no doctrine at all….more like a whispered, “this is what freedom smells like…follow the scent, breathe deeper, and also live in the One Who gives us breath.” The clamor and control of abuse has left me deaf to louder voices.

A way of seeing God and Christ that is gradually melting my sad heart and moving me forward to a place some rest and some faith. Progress.

Your prayers.

Friends I have lost touch with many moves (and moons) ago, but who have had a sweet effect on my life by their sincerity and support, and by the example of how they live their lives.  They are the Christians I went on walks with, shared kids with, shared my heart with – and who responded by being steady, sincerely loving God, knowing me very well and still loving me, seeing and hearing the parts of my situation I shared with them, admitting it wasn’t OK…and leaving it there…as displayed confidence that I would make the best choices possible. Hello, Cathy T.!  Michelle J., Rosa P., Terri H. and Karen J.? I love you, and I will be getting back in touch to tell you so!

Medical intervention for perhaps bipolar issues (perhaps not) – that has turned the volume in my mind and heart down from rock concert screams to loud conversation. Medical intervention for adrenal depletion and nutritional deficits. Therapy.

Love. Beauty. Peaceful moments. Generous thoughts and words.

Those beautiful, beautiful people in my family who love, trust, communicate, accept each other (and me!). Safety from those who don’t. And a husband who is a diamond in a world made of stones.

Hugs, kisses, touch, laughter, funny faces, odd habits, mispronounced words, photographs.

If this is manic, bring it on! If this is faith, more and deeper! If this is normal….sigh… it’s about time.  The problems are not all solved, the wounds are not all healed, the questions are not all answered. But life is looking better the longer I grow.  Maybe I am looking better the longer I grow!

Like a crusty old cactus.

Flowers

Blessings to you,

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

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.

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