Sexual Abuse

Anonymous

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life." This Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 caused me to sit back and simply mouth "wow".

In many ways it goes against every thing in which I was raised, both family and church.

After many years of striving and pushing myself, I still find it extremely difficult to sit and read or watch a movie. My mind tells me to keep striving. if I'm not moving I'm not achieving. Crazy, I know!

Don't misunderstand me. To set goals and to encourage our children and ourselves to aim high is good. But while some people achieve huge success and beyond, most of us have to find contentment in a mediocre life.

One of the problems is that we're conditioned in this world to believe that we are only important if we've achieved great success. The growing career, the great looking spouse, the right clothes, appropriate children, the right connections so we can keep climbing the ladder of success. And yet we've got it backwards.

God used a woman named Sarah who was a step from the grave, to birth a child, the first of a great nation.

God chose Moses, a murderer, hiding out in fear for his life, to lead a nation away from slavery.

This Scripture today has helped me to redefine some of my thinking. We strive and strive for greater success to not just find security and contentment but to decrease our feelings of anonymity. 

And yet God chooses the least likely person to win.

There's an important reason for this Scripture to be in the Bible. In our mediocre, and boring lives God IS using us.

Being Blessed

There is no guaranteed way through which we can receive God's blessings. There are principles that guide us through life but there is no such thing as a cause and effect pattern that will guarantee blessing.

We can work hard at raising great children or building a great marriage. We can work diligently at a business or making lasting friendships. Ultimately though, we do not have that much control over the outcome and may not achieve our desired result.

Christian leaders can work hard and serve God faithfully. Some enjoy God's blessing by building a substantial ministry but others do not.

Some parents parent faithfully and produce fantastic children but other parents whom have been just as faithful, do not.

Ultimately if we live with a cause and effect mindset regarding the blessing of God, life becomes a roller coaster and disappointing.

If children, marriage, business or friendships succeed, we are happy. If one fails, though, we experience contempt not just for self but for others.

If we live with a cause and effect mentality, or as one whom expects blessing for good works, life and God are disappointing. We live, preoccupied with using God as a source of reward, rather than aiming at a relationship with Him.

Beyond the splendor that life has to offer, focusing on the thought that God Himself is the ultimate blessing is fulfilling. He is the constant relationship that lifts us despite trials and loves and accepts us in spite of success or failure.

Anger as a Life Line.

Often we do not know how to handle anger, particularly when it is expressed by another.

We therefore offer solutions that bring no relief to the person. Honestly, we are uncomfortable with the other's rage.

Anger does not have to be logical or valid but tends to surface once a person is feeling  able to survive a crisis. In crisis, one often feels amazed that she survived the loss.

Anger is a necessary stage of healing and as permission is given to express this emotion, one is able to process true hurts.

Anger has no limits. Underneath anger is pain. But anger can be strength and provides temporary structure in loss.

If we ask someone to move past their anger too fast, all we do is alienate them. We fail to recognize their loss and pain.

Anger can be seen as a life line. It is a rope to which one can cling and climb until clarity is again found.

Believe in Me

One of my greatest discoveries recently is understanding that my source of affirmation has shifted.

Our desire to be valued is great and one of the ways in which this is maintained is through affirmation.

Our need for affirmation is greater when we feel that we have failed.

We can though make the mistake of trying to get affirmation from a source that is not appropriate. That source may not have the capacity, the capability, the time or understanding. 

Rather than attempting to repeatedly draw affirmation from that from which there is no result, we should look around and realize that God's provision will come from elsewhere.

New seasons bring new meaning and new people into our lives. We cannot change the season or other people. We should not depend upon our own understanding but know that our troubles are all a part of God's master plan.

Sympathy and Empathy.

Some times these two words are confused in meaning. Yet they are very different.

Empathy strengthens connection but sympathy can move us to disconnection.

Empathy means that we can see the perspective of another person. It recognizes that the other person sees their perspective as truth. An empathetic person doesn't just recognize the emotions of another but acknowledges and feels with them.

Empathy recognizes that someone is in a dark place and does not just tell someone that "life will improve". The empathetic are willing to visit that dark place with the someone.

Empathy assures the someone that they are not alone.

Sympathy, on the other hand, will acknowledge a difficult situation but remains removed from the someone. Sympathy may encourage the some one to reach out but fails to realize their true state.

Sympathy does not connect with one in pain because we do not wish to feel that pain. Rather sympathy minimises the problem, making it less than what it is.

If we examine our conversation, many of us do this a lot. We do not want to become enmeshed in another's pain. 

Empathy is prepared to acknowledge that perhaps we don't have an answer but that we are willing to listen and be a part of this journey.

Connection, a part of empathy aids in healing. Response, which is the prime ingredient of sympathy, does little.

What Do I Need?

In times of want and need we tend to focus on that particular desire. It becomes our primary focus and occupies our thoughts.

For myself, I found myself reestablishing myself as a single woman, selling and moving homes and finding a new career.

Do I leave my home church or stay? Do I move back to Australia or to a location close to my children?

Such concerns are a normal part of life but the stress of these things can find us pushing God to the periphery.

At such times we can neglect to seek God for help and become obsessed with our dilemma.

What do we do?

I believe that we start with repentance. Do what we usually do when we've neglected some one that we love.

After repentance, let the conversation with God flow.

The more we focus on God, the more access to His unfailing love.

His never ending love is empowering and fuels us as does nothing else. 

I Get It

I understand praying prayers that are not answered in the way we wish.

I understand fixing a marriage but I also understand losing a marriage despite all effort.

I understand life when it starts to unravel and when failure is discovered by others.

I understand telling one's children that their parents can't hold it together.

I know the fear of not knowing what's coming, of making wrong decisions and not knowing what to do.

I understand loneliness and the fear of being alone. Lord, will it always be like this?

But I'm seeing that God is a God of new things. I've made new friends. I have a new career and home and both are wonderful.

I've visited places and seen people for which there was no time in the past.

Dare I say, there's some fun in again being single.

God doesn't just create new things but He can make all things new.

In other words, He's not tossing us out and starting anew with someone else.

He looks at us and dreams of whom we are going to be when we get to the other side of our drama and pain.

 

Starting Over

We grow up in church  and the recommendations are to pray, read your Bible, attend regularly, get involved and to share our faith with others.

We usually struggle and feel guilty regarding our lack of competence in at least one of these areas. And therefore think of ourselves as being a little less than others. We carry a sense of failing God too.

But then great catastrophe can strike us such as relationship or financial disaster. In so many ways we no longer measure up to our former image.

And so we have to start again. It's actually a journey of rediscovery regarding one self. Who is God and what does He desire of me. I'm no longer what I was

The result is that God loved me as I was and loves me even now. I don't have to behave or perform in any certain way.

Hardship is a prime opportunity to move beyond immature ideas into greater faith and character. Some disasters, are a catalyst for learning perseverance, steadiness and hope.

Who among us wouldn't prefer an easier life but through hardship we discover the reality of God.

The Calling

I'm not really a fan of this word. It though works for this writing.

God assigns us a life to lead and as much as we'd like it to be a journey of plenty and fairness, this is not always so.

Nevertheless, there is something splendid about embracing our journey and finding new strengths and contentment along the way.

To compare our path to that of another is a useless task and only brings grief.

Each of us must make every effort to accept our own God given calling. This therefore lessens the hurt along the way in difficult circumstances.

Whether experiencing loss in career, relationships, a church home or in sickness, if we search for  that new pearl of wisdom that God is endeavoring to show us, we can accept His journey without losing hope for a better future.

 

Where is Happiness in the Tough Times?

 

I am a melancholy personality. I enjoy the thought of sleeping in or going for a walk with my dogs in the sunshine. I love the thought of curling up by the fire and reading a good book with a lit candle alongside me.

I can be intense as many know. I try to find the reason for the occurrence of things and love having a goal. When life changes drastically, it's difficult to find joy. My sense of justice is upset and emotions rage.

Joy though doesn't have to be put on hold until circumstances change. It can be found in the simplest of things.

It can be having coffee with an understanding friend who doesn't have to deflect the conversation to discuss "the bright side of things." It's taking up an old hobby that was not possible in former times. It's rearranging a room and giving it a fresh look and this does not have to cost money. It's sitting in a coffee shop and while you may be alone, you can be surrounded by the chatter of others. Perhaps joy is watching the sun go down, listening to the wildlife.

Life can be tough and many of us would confess that we are not fans of what we face. We still though need joy.

We need to remember that God is bigger and that life is not just about us.

There is beauty around us at all times and we can be thankful even when things are painful.

 

Am I Now Broken?

There are all types of broken.

We can appear to have it all together but we are still broken.

We may be broken by our own sin.

Perhaps we have been rejected and hurt by another.

It may have been circumstances that broke us or we may be just plain messed up, like every body else.

We all come into the world with the sins of our fathers passed down to us. We are also torn up by original sin.

Thank goodness that we bear the image of God.

As an individual, you may look around and believe that you are the only broken person. This probably means that you are the most authentic.

If another seems unbroken, then they are likely just good at covering up the truth.

Be My Enough

Do we really understand? That Christ is in us?

It can be difficult to grasp that He loves us just as we are.

To see oneself as God does and to lay down what others think of us.

We can allow the voices of others to control our lives and call us to action incessantly.

We can believe against our better judgment that we need to do things and be seen in order to be worthy.

But a person is no less fruitful because his or her life is more hidden.

We do not need to run repeatedly to doing but it's okay to just be.

God's love doesn't increase toward one, based on our calendar or our level of works. We cannot win His affection by being more prominent.

It's okay to be oneself. We are as we are, enough for God. (Psalm 46:10)

Forgiveness: Do I Have To?

 

As we practice the art of forgiveness, it becomes a skill that builds our lives. 

Perhaps one has wronged us and has apologized or perhaps no 'sorry" was offered.

 Perhaps in our estimation, another does not deserve forgiveness. We therefore hang onto our opinion and thoughts of revenge because we think that the offering of forgiveness makes another's wrong okay.

Our action of forgiveness however places healing and judgment into greater and more capable hands. Our retaliation accomplishes nothing to our benefit whereas God's actions are absolute.

To truly carry so much emotional pain and hurt around is exhausting. To continually let it go, though difficult, frees us for betterment.

If we are honest with ourselves, none of us are blameless. We all owe an apology somewhere and to some one at some time.

It's not easy to own our part, but an apology means that we are willing to learn and it frees us in unpredictable ways. It also brings honor to God.

 

Some One Stole My Life

In the last 18 months, I've found myself in the biggest battle yet. I say "yet" because no one knows the future. We can plan and have safeguards but God did not promise us safety nor happiness.

My arrival at this place is inconsequential. It's  a place that I don't understand nor chose and I still debate it with God. He is my judge and the only One whose opinion truly counts.

No matter our walk though, there is a powerful verse in Psalm 126:5 that reads "Those who plant with tears reap the harvest with joyful shouts."

These are not just words of comfort but are words of action.

They are a war cry for those who are tired and have been worn down, even abandoned or no longer desire to walk the walk.

God knows that we wish to give up or stay in our pajamas all day. He knows that at times, when the sun rises,  we desire the anonymity and mindlessness of sleep.

Our Father does not want us to wait though for a magic wand to wave happiness back into our lives.

Yes, there is pain and loss. Career, ministry, relationships and life are fragile and some times temporary. But to sow, even in bits and pieces, even if it's not obvious to others, even if it's into your own life, is important.

Sow some seeds. Sow into others and be generous. Doing this may seem so insignificant in comparison to your past life. Nevertheless, we are sowing in our tears, and waiting for the promised joy.

Email, Phone or Face to Face?

Most of us know that we live in a world of social media.

People post both their successes and pain on Facebook for all to see. We crave affirmation and value or we ask for prayer. 

We oldies can be overwhelmed by this. We cheer ourselves by knowing that at some time, the young will become old and will face the same dilemma.

Nothing though is more important than face to face communication.

We tell ourselves that we have no time but to say this, is to say that another is unimportant.

Because we live in this world, we fail to develop needed skills. Email and texting allow us an alternative to face to face conversation but these methods can leave a recipient hurt and feeling betrayed.

Sometimes texting and email are convenient. They are a quick message or they may be an update for a business arrangement.

When used however to avoid confrontation or because we fear the words or thoughts of the other, we are using a wrong method.

Communication is a gift that enables us to strengthen relationships, particularly when we have a conversation face to face.

Relationships are the most valuable thing that we have on this earth.

To value a relationship beyond our fears is likely to produce long lasting relationship.

 

Overcoming Shame

Shame can haunt us due to a variety of reasons. Perhaps our family upbringing involved us wearing worn out hand me downs and it was embarrassing. Perhaps our family had few social skills and that was embarrassing.

These things can mean that there are times in later life when we still feel ashamed. 

There is healing in sharing our shame with others. A person who lessens our shame will:

See beyond the shameful circumstance to our inner person,

Understand the humiliation and pain associated with our shame,

Take steps to alleviate the pain and protect us from humiliation,

Be available and be in a position to help cover or replace some of the things that cause shame or the fear of exposure.

This person will love us enough to help you see yourself in a new light.

Where Does God Live?

My heart is God's home.

The promise of God's presence is for all time.

We may hurt and fear and face frightening circumstances but regularly handing one's life, particularly our areas of hurt and fear, over to God, reminds us that He is infinite.

The heart is God's dwelling place and hurtful emotions are not from Him.

Nor does He think less of us for feeling these emotions and having fearful thoughts. If these though linger in our mind and heart, we can push them out.

Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

The reminder of God's perfect love continually can renew our hope.

Shame

Shame dictates the lives of many. Setting goals therefore seem impossible.

Shame speaks to us and says that setting a goal will only show our deficiency. We will fail again. Therefore to not try seems a safer option.

In shame, we tend to hide ourselves away and rarely are we honest with others. We fear others' rejection and the exposure of our inadequacies.

We can set goals in one area of life but neglect to do so in another where shame is present. We can regularly set goals regarding a career but avoid goal setting for our damaged marriage. One area of our life is rewarding and so we focus upon that but we avoid the other incessantly. We fear failure and so turn our attention elsewhere.

Shame envelopes us for various reasons whether it has been birthed out of hurt, neglect, abuse or past failure. There are many reasons but none have to prevent us from going forward.

No matter the reasons for shame, non investment of effort in this area is not a solution. The very first goal is to admit the presence of shame. And therefore question its place in one's life.

To ignore the presence of shame in our lives is a sad occurrence as it stands as the road block to a more fulfilling life. It robs others of truly knowing us and sharing in the benefits of our talents.

Shame should not be embraced as a part of who we are but rather exposed as the lie that it is.

Each Day

Have you ever come to the end of the day and just as you climb into bed, realized that you have forgotten to do something that's important? For me it was the mortgage payment.  And just when you think that your bank account is looking okay!

Yesterday's failures and disappointments can weigh us down and steal the joy out of our lives. They keep us awake at night when we wish to close our eyes and be removed from pain and problems.

Ive found that each day, when I open my eyes, that I should determine to shift my focus.

To focus on my failure brings depression and misery but to envision God beside me, the bearer of my burdens, brings a new perspective entirely.

We are being renewed daily but it cannot be done by my willpower and effort alone.

The Holy Spirit is in charge of my renewal and He's alive within me and you.

Pain and problems are a vital part of this renewal process and so, to determine, the small things for which we can give thanks, will bring a smile back to our face. (Psalm 73:23-24)

Those Days

Some days are overwhelming. We don't know exactly the reason or perhaps we do.

We feel stuck in certain circumstances and that there are no options. God seems silent to our plight. Being content seems an impossibility.

I believe that our very first option though is to unload our burden onto God. We often withhold our pain from Him because we are so overwhelmed. We need to push ourselves out of a place of fear and acknowledge our frustration and pain to our Lord.

Releasing pent up feelings is a relief.

Out of this we can draw encouragement as our mind clears and we more likely can hear the voice of our Lord, our heavenly Father. He knows all and will not let us down, according to His promises. We may feel as if we are failing but he is not a failing God.

We need also to take our "spinning" mind from the dark places  and cling to helpful Scriptures. These are like a medicine for an ailment and shift our thoughts heavenward, providing great relief.

We then see progress. We compare our state to just a few hours before when life seemed insurmountable. We once again see that we were built to overcome. (Psalm 92:1-2)