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In the classroom of life

In the classroom e

Some years back now, when I was a baby Christian, I attended a church that taught through the Bible.  I’m not just talking about Sunday School sermons and topical life lessons, I mean they taught.  Deep knowledge that uses scripture to interpret scripture teaching.  A Bible-believing church that doesn’t make excuses for the “private interpretation of man” and the “latest translation based on modern understanding of the ancient languages”.  They used one standard, so as not to confuse the issue, then taught you how to search it out for yourself.  The idea was that we do not need others to explain the Word to us, but we need to get alone with our Bible, read, pray, and study to understand.

It was something that I’d never come across before.  And I learned. I learned a lot. I learned to question, to argue, to seek, to search, to never be satisfied with what I was fed until I studied it out myself. I learned to desire meat, and not milk. For that, I am so thankful.

One basic thing that was taught is that every single verse in the Bible has three applications. Did you catch that? Every. Single. Verse. Yes.

The applications are historical, doctrinal, and inspirational. So, basically, what you’re looking at is:

  1. events–that did happen, are happening, or will happen
  2. rules–do or do not (Thank you, George Lucas)
  3. motivation–showing us the consequences of our actions, good and/or bad

What I am finding is that this is mirrored in my life. Events are unfolding over which I have no control. I haven’t been in control for a long time. Why is that? Because I have not had a sole-supporting income ever in my life, and right now, as I await the judge’s ruling on my marriage (equitable division of the assets and all), I still don’t have the ability to fully provide for myself and my children.

Here’s what I’m seeing: I have never had a time in my life when I have been so fully aware of my need for total dependence on God. On His provision, on His direction, on His companionship. I am wholly alone and wholly in need.

One would think that would cause me to become so very, very spiritual.

But, not necessarily. I can still run. I can still hide. I can still turn a blind eye to what he is gently, calmly, lovingly whispering to me in the stillness. His provision is a promise to all believers. Some of it is conditional, but the reality is, He is no liar. He won’t promise provision, then withhold it if it is life-sustaining and you need it. True, He can take me out of here if I still have some purpose to fulfill here on earth, but I am hoping I’m necessary, of course. But His glorification might be in my death, and not in my life.

So, you see, it’s a toss up. That should surely make me more spiritual, right?

Still, one might think that, but aren’t we all just idiots walking around thinking we have something special going on? Or is that just me?

Now you may be wondering what awful things I am up to, but that’s not really what’s going on here. The reality is, I DO trust God will provide. I just don’t tell Him so all the time. I’m still cowering in the corner a bit, afraid to come out into the light to get knocked down, slapped around, and told to ‘SHUT UP ALREADY!’

So I sit. And do nothing sometimes. Some times I might be needing to do something. I don’t know. Some times I might be needing to sit. I don’t know.

I do know I’m not in control, and I desperately, deeply, to the core don’t like that feeling. Even if I trust God, I don’t like not having any control over the outcome of all this. And not knowing the particulars of my future is unnerving, somewhat distressing, and certainly distasteful to me. Even if I believe God works all things out for good. The good is His good, but will I see it that way? What is His good? Is it good for me too?  Will I see it as good?

I give it up to Him, and I take it back. Day after day after day. Will I ever learn?

Apparently, that’s the lesson.

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predictions for 2014

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I don’t do the whole “resolutions” thing.  I think they’re kinda bogus. Why would I set myself up or suggest that suddenly I’m going to make massive changes based on what I didn’t do the last 365 days?  I don’t mind reflecting, and forward thinking/planning ahead, but I’m not about to proclaim future goodness/past failure.  This seems self-defeating.  Yeah, I’ve made mistakes I don’t want to make again, but I’m guessing I’ll make them again anyway if I didn’t learn my lesson the first time(s), and still need to learn it.  I’m like that.

I do, however, think it’s a funny thing to see what predictions are made for the coming year by so-called “prophets”.  Do they get some right?  Of course they do.  You throw enough garbage at the wall, something is bound to stick.

I would like to take a moment in time and make predictions for my life this year.  I’m certain they will come true. This year:

  • My divorce will be final.
  • I will become a full-fledged single parent.
  • I will learn more about how much I don’t know.
  • I will learn more about how much I do know.
  • There will be blood.
  • Someone will out-do Miley Cyrus on the disgusting factor in Hollywood.
  • I’ll loose weight.
  • I’ll gain weight.
  • I will be stronger.
  • My home and hearth will be full of Peace.

Happy New Year!

oxygen

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If you’ve ever been on a plane, you have had the opportunity to listen to the speech.  The one that is read or played over the speaker system about how if you’re traveling with a small child and the oxygen masks deploy, you are to first (if you’re not overtaken with repeatedly screaming ‘WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!’) place an oxygen mask on yourself, then place it on the child.  The thought is that your need to care for that child is only going to happen if you’re not passed out.  Therefore, take care of yourself before you’re capable of taking care of others.

How simple is this?  How many times do we avoid this?  Looking back, I tried to care for my children by pouring everything into them I could to help them avoid the mistakes I’d made.  I understood they would manage to make some I hadn’t thought of, but I’d made enough and seen enough made to know what could reasonably get them to adulthood without being uber-stupid and messing up some major big things.

Problem is, I wasn’t administering the oxygen to myself.  I sat there, floundering, gasping for fresh air, all the while telling them how to get to the fresh air without actually coming up for it to provide a demonstration of how to get there.  When I began to realize I’d made this mistake, my first thought was HOW DO I REVERSE WHAT I’VE DONE TO THEM?

I didn’t think of myself still.  I still wanted to help them heal from the mistakes I’d made in not being all I could be instead of trying to get to the oxygen–or more to the point–instead of finding healing for myself.

I’m now in a position to get that healing for myself, but it’s slow.  It is going to take a long time, and I will worry, the whole while, about whether my children will make it whole, intact from the damage I allowed by doing nothing, to adulthood.

How many people have never heard the oxygen speech?  How many people don’t realize they need to take care of themselves first before they’re capable of caring for others?

These are the things I worry about for women I know are at this moment where I was.

for the record

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Recently, I was in court on a related matter to my divorce.  It was a “hearing” and not “the trial”.  I’m learning all sorts of interesting new terms.  These two are apparently not as interchangeable as I thought.  Law never appealed to me, so I never learned much about the court process.  I will say it’s nothing, and I mean NOTHING at all like what you see on TV.  It’s dull, slow, boring, tedious, with far more schmoozing and much less ‘I OBJECT’ -ing.

During this process (which is how I refer to my divorce), I have had a few opportunities to listen to my husband on the witness stand.  I was directed by my lawyer to answer the questions very simply and plainly.  Just the facts, ma’am.  So, my answers are always as brief as possible.  Never answer more than is asked.  ‘Yes, sir’, ‘No, sir.’ or whatever other simple information is asked.  I have to be drawn out.  It is very unnerving to be on the witness stand, to say the least.  I have given too little information on more than one occasion than I intended to, and have wrung my hands, figuratively, over those little details.

But, my husband, on the other hand, managed to put on a show for all to see.  I am not mocking, I’m really not.  What I’m doing, is putting things in perspective.  There are always about three sides to every story, they believe, in court–in my case, Plaintiff, Respondent, and Truth.  Courts do not seem to believe citizens plainly.  It would seem, however, there is a tendency to rule in favor of the one who appears to be giving information with what seems to be closer to the truth.  We do swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when we take the stand.

Truth is a big deal to me.  I’ve been lied to in ways that are exceedingly painful.  All my life.  Marriage, I thought, would put me in a safety bubble, away from the lies and deception out there.  I thought I would be secure there.  But watching, and listening, to my husband on the stand was painful, yet again.  I heard from him the bobbing and weaving, the zigging and zagging, the artful dodge from answering the question asked.  He did that to me.  From the beginning.  His lawyer has actually given him hand signals to make it shorter, but still he didn’t answer the question asked.  The judge gave him a “wrap it up” signal, but still he didn’t answer.  That means something, right?  It has to mean something, right?  He has exasperated my lawyer, who would interrupt him mid-sentence (at least a minute into his dodge), to try and redirect him to answering the question asked.

I listened with sorrow as I saw my experience with him and realized why I pulled into myself more and more.  Why I felt so helpless.  I didn’t do everything right–I have admitted that already–in my marriage, but I did try to make things better.  I tried to resolve issues that were potential problems, and got the dodge again and again.  He was also good at turning things back on me, which is another technique he used on the witness stand.  He wouldn’t accept responsibility for not following through, for not doing this, doing that, you name it.  Someone else was to blame.

It is exhausting going through life with someone like this.  I covered those little details up to everyone we knew.  The lies, the deceptions, the dodging–just to try and make sense and keep the peace.  It was sucking the life out of me.  It wore me down and drained my energy.  I’m still recovering.  I hope to fully recover some day.   Leaving court after listening to him drags me back to those days and drains me emotionally.

Ladies, if you’re out there, reading this, and you recognize yourself, reach out to someone.  Think of one someone you know you can trust, and divulge your situation to them.  Take the risk to share your burden.  If you don’t know anyone, get alone and call a woman’s shelter, a hotline, or something just to not be alone.  It’s the first step you can take.  Can he get better?  Yes, but he has to want to, and if it has worked for him so far, he will continue.  People DO NOT CHANGE without something happening in them, to them, to bring about that change.

open dialogue

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When my oldest daughter was about thirteen, I spoke with her about boys.  About them asking her out, that is.  We’d already discussed the birds and the bees.  About that, she pretty much just said, ‘eww, gross.’

Anyway, being “asked out” was an issue I knew would come up.  That’s because it’s when it happened to me.  I had already seen 50+ year old men oggling her, which made me go ‘eww, gross’, thinking to myself, ‘seriously dude, I just want to gouge your eyes out.’  When I was thirteen, the opposite sex sat up and took notice.  But, you see, the damage had already been done to me.  I’d already gotten the idea that I was a fleshicle, or something to be looked at and appreciated for the view, but not listened to.  I was pretty.  So is my girl.

So, what I told her was that if a boy asked her out, she was to say, ‘no.’  That’s it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just say no.  But. . . but. . . you’re saying it, I know.  Dating is a natural part of growing up.  Nope.  It’s not.  I believe it’s a new thing.  Perhaps a 20th Century thing new, even.  Argue if you wish.  I chose to teach my children that dating is something not for them.  Not for teenagers.

But, I digress.  Back to that in a bit.  I was talking about the conversation I had with my daughter.  I told her to say no, but went on to explain why.  I told her men are fixers.  They like to fix things.  It’s a God-given thing, I’m sure, but she doesn’t need fixing, and I didn’t want her rejection to be “fixed.”  I want her no to be no.  I told her, that if said male would ask for an explanation, she would tell him that she was sorry, but there was no explanation, the answer is just no.  You see, I knew what would be coming next.  Men will look for an obstacle to overcome, because, of course, if you remove the obstacle, then there is no reason for a rejection.

This is not a judgment call on my part.  It’s about protecting my daughters.  If she were to say, ‘I don’t date’ or ‘my parent’s won’t let me date’, well–there is an answer.  Either, don’t tell the parents, or let said male meet parents and he will overcome the objections, because, of course, he’s the one that got away, and the parents wouldn’t want that, right?

Here’s the deal:  I have heard nearly all of it.  I had so much trouble getting out a simple no when I was young, it led me into situations that I don’t want my daughter to deal with.  I want her to understand that there is a time and a place for considering a young man for future spouse-hood, but it’s not thirteen.  I don’t even think it’s sixteen.  Or eighteen for most teens.  A large part of my position does come from my experiences, but not mine alone.  It’s the collective mass of what goes on for teens.  Its a time of huge emotional upheaval, and temptation for doing things you may not be ready for.  Sex is no hand shake.  It’s so big that God said “. . . and they shall be one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24

Graphic words from the Bible?  Oh, yes.  Indeed they are.  You know what’s happening here.  And again, God tells us that the union between a man and a woman is so intimate a union that if that union is breached in adultery, the man lacks understanding, just see Proverbs 6:32-35.  There is no remedy.  Two become one, people.

So, dating, definitely out.  But, we talked about it.  Discussed the whys, the wherefores, the hows, etc., etc.

I didn’t want to say “YOU CAN’T!!!”  or “we just don’t do that”.  I wanted to have sound reason and a firm position for my choice.  But not to shove it in their face and say “So THERE!”

Lump it or leave it isn’t my style.  I believe just telling the kids how it is and letting them live with the consequences leads to deception, misunderstanding, breaches in the relationship, all sorts of heartache.  And I do know, I’ve made mistakes.  Just not this one about dating.  I wanted them to be able to discuss it with me and see that my choice was informed and not flippant.  If you take a stand, you should be able to stand behind it and support your decision.

If a Christian parent chooses to let their children date, it’s not something I will argue with.  We each have to make our own minds up about what God wants for the lives of our children.  We could be wrong.  But the open dialogue is important.  Our children need to feel free to talk to us about it.

If we make no choice, and just let life take it’s course, or the kids make up their own minds about what they’re going to do–we write ourselves out of the equation, and that’s not God’s design.  We’re to talk to them when we sit in our houses, when we walk in the way, lie down, rise up about God’s word (Deuteronomy 6:7).  So, if we leave them to choose dating, and something happens, like, oh, say, date rape, then what are they to think?  Judgment?  Blame?  Guilt?  A daughter might think she deserved it (I did), that she had it coming (I’ve been told that), that she meant yes when she said no (that’s not what no means).

So, extreme?  I don’t think so.  I think we need open dialogue.  I think Christians leave their children open to worse that they’d realized if they don’t communicate their desires for their children’s lives, then make sure they know that the door is always open for disagreement.  My choices were based on God’s Word, and not just personal experience.  It’s the personal experience that led to God’s Word that led to seeing why and how God’s way is better.  (Isaiah 55:8)

begin again

I have spent months feeling raw.  Hiding out, turning inward and avoiding dealing with it all.  I’m still not through the process of divorce.  I didn’t ever imagine it would take so long, but knew that he would draw it out as long as he possibly could.

But, my thoughts aren’t of him at the moment.  It’s more about me now.  I need to share and try to make something good out of this all.  I thought in starting this blog I could help other women who were in the same position–hurting and damaged by what they were going through or had been through.  The problem seemed to be I was still in the beginnings more than towards the middle of this current situation–the process–to be able to share anything encouraging or meaningful to others besides simply recognizing themselves.  That, and relieving my burdens, all the while being fearful of being found out by him.  He still had so much power over me.

Here I am again.  Beginning again to write.  I want to write now about what I went through and my take on it.  The reason I wish to do that is because that may somehow give recognition to other women, mothers, wives, daughters of something similar, familiar, frightening enough to make a change, take a stand, be different.

What I went through was hell.  Or close to it.  I am a believer in Jesus Christ, so of course I don’t really believe hell is on earth, but since I am a believer, I hope it’s the closest thing to hell I’ll ever know.  My own little hell.  Quaint, no?

I’ve had numerous people ask why I stayed, why I put up with this man for so long.  Upwards of two decades of marriage to a man I believe was either a true sociopath, or demon possessed, literally, or both.  Why?  Because it’s what you do when you get married.  Or so I was taught.  I’ve never been afraid of being alone that I can remember, that is, not having a relationship, but my self worth was truly tied up in something outside myself.

This is what I want to talk about.  Self worth.  Where do we get our ideas of worth?  Does it begin at home with daddy and how he treats us as little girls, or does it begin with mommy at birth?  I believe it begins with mommy.

I had the great good opportunity to get together with a group of friends, all of us going through a study from these folks:

http://www.lifemodel.org/

The group of books/studies they have here have been life-changing for me.  When we began, I had no idea what I was in for.  One thing I learned about was about the bonding process and how that effects everything from then on in the formation of who we are.  Not that we can’t be healed, but that the damage done can be early and is many times probably permanent, but definitely sets us up in life for good or for bad.  And, it isn’t necessarily intentional on the part of the person (it is nearly always initially the mother).  If we do not bond with her and continue that bonding process in a positive way, we can be traumatized in such a way that effects our self worth/image/what have you.

I know it can sound like a lot of psycho-babble, but in the church, it is ignored and a “sin” label is what is usually tagged on to the person having issues.  It must be sin.  It must be something you’ve done wrong and are continuing to do wrong to not be able to move on from your past.

I’m no longer buying into this lie.  Are we to be selfless?  Yes.  But that cannot be achieved without the precursor of whole-ness.  Are we made whole when we come to Christ?  Well, yes and no.  Paul talked about this very issue repeatedly in many of his letters.  We’re damaged people.  If you have done drugs, for example, for years and years and years, you do damage to your brain, the cells in your body, your reproductive organs, etc. etc.  Do we think that just because our damage is internal, from mental/emotional trauma, all of a sudden that goes away any more than the brain/cell/reproductive system damage goes away the instant we come to the saving grace of Christ?  The bible doesn’t tell us that.  Our souls are healed.  Our bodies are still broken.  We live in the flesh.  We battle the flesh and all it’s damage.

God uses these broken, damaged humans to reach out to other broken, damaged humans to share the love of Christ.  Because it’s what we need.  We only see that need when we see people being real, vulnerable, gracious, caring, invested.  I’m not going to hand out a little “save yourself” booklet and reach thousands of people even if I hand them out to thousands.  I’m going to reach people by sharing myself.  My story.  What I’ve learned and been through.

And so, I begin again.

starting over

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve been too distracted by life to sit and write.  I get little sleep nowadays at night, but that’s okay.  I’m entering a new chapter.  The divorce is not past yet, but I’m coming to terms.

I’ve realized that my roller coaster emotions are natural and normal.  Not only that, it’s also part of the healing process.  I was numb for so long in a self-preservation mode, and now, I’m free to experience the emotions in a safe environment.  Although it’s not easy, I’ve felt more in the past few months than I’ve felt for years and years.  I was stressed about it for awhile, and then I realized how cathartic it is.

I still have the sorrow of not having what I dreamed of for years, and what I tried to project for years–a good marriage and ideal life–but the reality is, I didn’t ever have that.  Will I ever?  I look at pictures of rooms, decorated; recipes for healthy foods; workout routines designed to make me look like I’d like to look, but will I ever have that?  Will I ever have the picture perfect life?

Does it really matter?  I dreamt as a little girl of a happy marriage, happy children, ideal husband, and to what end?  My children are the most important thing to me.  Their health, their healing, their futures, their happiness.  I’ve never had the “happiness” dreams are made of.  So what?

Life isn’t really about ideals.  I need to be where I am right here and now.  I need to live from where I am, without apology and without excuse.  Today is what I make it.  Waste it or use it.  Will today be better with me in it?  Have I impacted my children’s lives for good?  Did I keep them ahead of me and help with their hurts?  Am I attending to my basic needs so I can be all I need to be for them?

Not always.  Let’s hit restart and start over.  Today.  And again tomorrow.  And then again the next day.  And the next.  Each new day has it’s challenges and I will have my failings.  All I can do is be.  Just be.  Better tomorrow than today.  Learn and move forward.  Heal and help.  Make my future vision a reality by doing the next right thing.

 

“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”  Proverbs 24:16