9/24/14 Morning Musing: My Brand of Wisdom (Part 1)

If you don’t ever contemplate the things that you have learned the hard way, you are likely to have to learn them again. Some of this is serious, some is silly, and some is just plain ridiculous…but it’s true for me. Enjoy!

1. Start each day with chocolate. I keep it in the nightstand so that my feet don’t hit the floor before I’ve started my day off well.
2. If something will take you less than a minute to do, do it when you think of it so that it is not taking up valuable real estate in your head.
3. When you care about someone, tell them. Everyone needs to hear it and, in my experience, most people don’t truly know how you feel about them.
4. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone for the benefit of others. Life is going to make you uncomfortable anyway, you might as well make it count.
5. A bucket list should be worked on now…you are not guaranteed later.
6. (A spin off of #5) A f*%$ it list will take you your whole life…don’t dwell on the things that go on this list…they will simply rob you of your joy.
7. Everyone with a heart should love dogs. I have known many dogs that are better people than a lot of people.
8. When painting rooms in your house, choose colors that are pre-configured by the manufacturer…you’re never going to get a precise match again if you color-match.
9. I can’t remember much of what I have read over the years but a smell can take me back to a memory in a flash (with all of the feelings that go along with it.) Pick your personal fragrance carefully.
10. Sleep naked. Life is too short for your jammies to get all twisted up in the sheets.
11. When you sleep naked, keep a robe handy so that when someone inevitably rings the door bell the second you lay down, you are not caught off guard.
12. Laugh! At everything and everyone…especially yourself. It makes you feel better and also prolongs life!
13. If you can’t remember, go ahead and put on the deodorant again…trust me…
14. Say “no” on purpose. Saying yes to one thing isn’t just a yes…it’s a no to something else. Know which is which.
15. Live on mission. If you are fulfilling the mission that you have set before you, it’s a lot harder to feel the weight of peer-pressure or poor self-esteem.
16. Appreciate the people who speak truth to you (even if it is unflattering.) They are the ones that actually give a crap.
17. Approach the challenges in life. The sidelines is no place to play a game.
18. Find a creative outlet. Our God is a creator…it’s hard not to see him when our creativity and passion intersect.
19. Dance. It’s where your body and soul intersect.
20. Pray. We are here for a reason and there is only One who knows what that reason is.

9/16/14 Morning Musing: A Sense of Control…and Other Myths

I’ve been putting off writing about this for some time…I’ve known that I should…I just couldn’t. Most of you know about the poisoning that we went through a few years ago. Many of you know about the illness, medical procedures, and and wrestling with God that were part of my path to recovery. Some of you even know about the legal battle that ensued for years. Very few of you know about the day I had to sign it all away.

When the D.A. said that they couldn’t keep the jerk in jail because state of mind couldn’t be proven and there were no laws on the books to help us (nothing like this had ever happened before) I began to deflate. But then, he looked me in the eye and said “But…you have one hell of a civil case.” It. Was. On! That was just the thing I needed…a project…a mission…a hope. I had collected so much evidence and data: medical proof of my liver, pancreatic, and brain damage from the poisoning…out-of-pocket bills because insurance companies didn’t cover what they couldn’t understand…chemical reports from the city, TCEQ, and home-owner’s insurance companies on the presence of the toxins in our water supply…dental records from having to get all of my dental work re-done because the chemicals ate all of the fillings and crowns out of my teeth…pictures and documentation of our yard being dug up so that all the pipes, water meter, and toxic soil could be removed and disposed of in a manner that wouldn’t expose others to this…and so very much more. I immersed myself in pulling together this data for a lawsuit. And together, with our old neighbors, we filed a civil suit.

This went on for years…it was time-consuming, expensive, and exhausting. The day came when we all went to court…and we won…we won big…over $2.5 million big…and I was happy…well…happier…it still felt a bit hollow because I was still sick. But at least now, I could provide financially for medical treatment if the kids got ill again.

That’s when the letter arrived. He was declaring bankruptcy. Our lawyer wasn’t worried…a large portion of our “winnings” was punitive and a judge wouldn’t overlook that he said. But thanks to a very shady bankruptcy attorney, a few lies, and a judge that wanted her docket cleared, he was able to be declared bankrupt and I was ordered to release him from his debt. What’s worse? I also had to sign over my children’s rights to hold him liable in the future should they get ill again. I consulted with several different lawyers before complying…but the day came that I had to do it.

I walked into my bank to get the documentation notarized when I signed it. The notary was very friendly and chipper. I remember everything about her office as I sat there devastated and holding that pen in my hand: the certificates framed on her wall, the wooden executive desk, the padded but hard chair I sat in, and the carpet…it was that grey, commercial-type carpeting…and I was staring at it as I watched my tears fall down and make darker grey spots. My body felt numb and my brain was mushy. Signing away the lawsuit felt so unceremonious compared to everything we had encountered to be awarded our “winnings.” There was no judge in a robe, no lawyers pontificating, no highly-polished wooden railings, no swearing to tell the truth…there was only that ugly grey carpet and that immensely heavy pen in my hand. And it was over.

Dammit! How could everyone around me just walk around normally and happily while my entire world had just stopped?! It was one of my worst days for sure. But eventually, I began to notice that the sun still shined, my kids still laughed, and the world was still spinning because life continues with or without me. And, light began to dawn: I needed to lose this in order to gain something greater. For years, I had been consumed with this lawsuit, with justice, with what had happened to me and my family. Getting money was not going to make me well. It wasn’t going to prevent my kids from getting sick. It wasn’t going to take away the feeling of being a victim. And it could never produce joy. Sheesh! For a reasonably smart person, I can sure be dense!!! See, I had been depending on my own strength…and I was never meant to. I had edged God out of this situation…I was saving myself…or attempting to anyway. My strongest efforts were insufficient because control was an illusion that I was chasing. The truth of the matter is that my lack of faith in God to provide for my family, heal my body (which he has continued to do), and issue justice was evidenced in my “mission.” That is what I had hoped in…and it’s a piss-poor substitute for what my hope should have been in.

What about you? Where is your hope? Are there areas of your life that you are trying to hold out of God’s reach? Do you chase after control or do you see it for the mirage that it really is? Is there something you should be handing over to God but you think it’s just too painful to let anyone else handle it? My experience? God is good and he can handle your stuff.

My prayer this morning is that we would all pursue God’s strength more in our lives and quit white-knuckling our “stuff.” Much love friends,

Beks

9/12/14 Morning Musing: Can’t You Just Love Me for the Jerk I truly am?

I have had something weird going on with my ear for some time now. About 6 months ago, I went to my allergy/asthma/immunology doctor for a routine check up and mentioned to her that at night, my left ear itches like crazy. She looked in there and said nothing was wrong with it. So I left and continued to experience itching deep in my ear only at night. I have resorted to anti-itch creams and stuff but it’s still going on. Last week, I went back for my 6-month check up and told her it was itching still. She thought she saw something in there and had the nurse flush it. (Turns out it was a piece of glitter! How in the world did I get glitter in there??? Must be my sparkling personality! I know…bad joke…but the coffee hasn’t quite hit me yet this morning.) We had to stop because it started to hurt so intensely. Weird. Over this past week, it has gotten more and more painful and more and more bothersome so I went back again yesterday. The verdict? “You have the cleanest ears I have ever seen in anyone. There is nothing, not a speck, not redness, no pink, no water bubbles…nothing!” This statement actually causes me both pride and frustration. Pride because…well, yes…I am rather fastidious about hygiene…so I love knowing that I have the cleanest ears ever. Frustration because…if there is nothing wrong, then why am I in so much pain? And the thought occurs to me: Am I crazy? Have I become a hypochondriac? Oh no! Now I’m crazy AND in pain! I know what you’re thinking: “Bekah, I’ve always known you were a bit crazy…I could have saved you the cost of 3 office visits!” Well, the doctor went on to hypothesize about what could be wrong and causing my discomfort and came to the conclusion that it could be pressure from deep inside (a dysfunction in my eustachian tube.) She said that I should try taking Mucinex D and drinking lots of water to see if the discomfort goes away since we couldn’t “see” the source of my problem. I’ve taken two rounds of it since then and am already feeling better.

What is the point? What does this have to do with anything in life? So glad you asked. I was thinking about how looks can be so deceiving. I was thinking about when I was struggling with a very deep and painful sin just a few years ago. Nobody could see the pain that I was in. There were no obvious indications to the outside observer. My friends didn’t have a clue that I was slowly dying inside. As a matter of fact, I looked like I had it all together: I was volunteering in various charitable positions. I was helping friends and making meals for those who were sick or who had just had babies. I was studying my Bible every day. And I was writhing in pain and self-hatred and nobody knew it.

I have a very clear memory of the exact moment when I made the worst decision of my life. I was wrestling with God over the temptation that was before me…the Holy Spirit was reminding me of who I am and more importantly, who He is…and I physically held my hand up in the air and said out loud, “I don’t want to hear from you right now. I want to do what I want to do.” Worst decision of my life. I am not a person who would go back and change things in their past given the opportunity because so much can be learned from our mistakes…but that one moment…that one decision…I would change that in a heartbeat. In that moment, I violated my conscience…no…It’s more than that…I offended the God of the universe. Following that moment, I went on to commit the sin that I was hell-bent on committing and have regretted it every day since then. And nobody knew what was going on inside me. I was so broken and I hated myself.

Meanwhile, I was attending Bible Studies and trying to “make things right.” I kept hearing so many women confess sins they were struggling with…and it angered me because their sins (or at least the ones they were willing to speak of) were so minor. (I know…sin is sin…it all separates us from God…but I felt lost and broken and dirty.) I was sitting on a whopper that I was dying to share so that I could begin healing but I was surrounded by women who confessed things like “feeling lazy” or “gossiping” or “holding a grudge.” It didn’t feel safe to confess when someone’s only prayer request was “for traveling mercies.” Are. You. Kidding Me?!!!!! I’m dying over here! I’m silently going under for the last time and I can’t even find a true friend to talk through this with. I came up with only two possible conclusions: 1. Either these women and I operate so differently that I will never fit in with them because I actually sin or 2. These women aren’t being authentic and honest. Neither option was acceptable to me because it still left me feeling broken and incapable of receiving help. There would be no iron sharpening iron as things stood.

That is when I began looking for truly authentic community. I wanted friends who didn’t clean their house before I came over. Friends who didn’t worry about disturbing me and knew they could call or text any time at all. Friends who could show up at my front door without notice, understand that I probably am not wearing a bra, and come in and make themselves at home on my couch. Friends that would snoop through my fridge until they found something that they wanted. Friends who would share their brokenness with me. Friends that I could make a death pact with…not what you are thinking…more along the lines of instructions of what to do and what to get rid of should Stan and I both die so as not to mortify our families. (Haha! Got you thinking about what that could be didn’t I?!) I wanted friends who would call me out on my B.S. and tell me when I was being a bonehead. Friends that would study the Bible with me and challenge me…not because we were in the same Bible Study…because we wanted God’s best for each other. Friends that would love on my family and whose families I could love on as well. Don’t you see? I wanted friends whose behaviors and appearances were reflective of what was also inside them. I wanted this because I wanted to be this.

I know your wondering so I’ll go ahead and make the connection: I don’t want a mysterious illness in my soul any more than I want a mysterious illness in my ear. I want to shine light on the issue and attack it head-on. I want to know the truth so intimately that lies are obvious. The only way to do that is to cling close to my Jesus and be obedient in this moment. For me, that resulted in me confessing my sin to several women who I discovered loved Jesus and loved me. They pointed me to scripture and truth and loved on me. They were not timid about asking me how I was doing with that area of temptation. They still check in on me actually.

So how are you doing with this? Do you have authentic community? Are you being authentic with them? If you don’t have these kinds of people, how can you search them out? Is there someone in your life who is drowning alone and wishing desperately that you would be real with them so that they could be real with you? Are you hiding any sin that is silently choking the life out of you? It’s hard to break with a sin…but, I can honestly say that it is worth it (painful but so worth it) to rip it from your life and boot it to the curb. Are you holding your hand up to the Holy Spirit and saying “I don’t want to hear from you right now. I want to do what I want to do.”

My prayer this morning is that we would all take an accurate inventory of the state of our souls…that we would ask God to reveal to us ways that we can love him and others better…that we would be honest and real with others and encourage them to be honest and real with us. Much love friends,

Beks

9/11/14 Morning Musing – Lies We Tell Ourselves

This morning at breakfast, Stan and I decided that we would talk to Michaela and Caleb about some of the events of 9-11. As we were telling the story, Stan said “There were some really mean people who told themselves lies and decided to believe them.” The story went on, as you all know, but I was stuck on that sentence. I couldn’t shake it loose. Immediately, Hitler came to mind as well. (I studied WW-II history in Normandy, France my last semester of college and one of the things that I took away from that study abroad was how powerful lies are. All those years later, I was still walking around and seeing and touching the devastation that continues to ripple from the lies one man told himself.) Then I thought about everyday lies and the damage that they bring. I have lost friendships and time with people over lies that they either were told or told themselves…and decided to believe. I could add so many examples of horrendous lies to the list: Eve and the serpent, Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife, Jacob, Ananias and Sapphira…want more recent and tangible examples that were far reaching? Ok: The Clinton/Lewinsky Affair, Watergate, Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme, Cuban Missile Crisis…the list goes on.

Think of the figurative prisons that people (possibly even you) are living in because of the lies they believe: I am fat, I am not worthy, I don’t matter, They’d be better off without me, One time won’t matter, She’ll never find out, It only affects me, He will change, I can control it, I’m so far gone that a little farther doesn’t matter, God won’t want me, “Those” people are inferior, I’m really protecting him/her, I can stop anytime, No one will ever know, I’ll start tomorrow…All lies break us and create barriers. (Speaking of creating barriers, do you know what happened the day that construction of the Berlin Wall began? (August 13, 1961) The German communist leader Walter Ulbricht told this whopper: “Nobody has the intention of building a wall.”)

What I am getting at this morning, is that there are deadly and serious consequences to lies that we tell and lies that we choose to believe. Why? It’s just a lie…right? Well, when we think of who our Jesus is and how he described himself, I think we find our answer: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭6‬ NIV) Do you hear what accompanies the truth? The way…the life…I want that! But when I tell lies, I am distancing myself from the source of life…I am embracing being lost and pursuing death.

So, how are you doing with this? Are you being truthful with the people you interact with? Do you excuse your lies by referring to them as kindness, little white lies, or fibs? Are you violating your conscience when you interact with people? Do you have people in your life who are lying to you? How can you lovingly approach them? Here is the kicker: Are you lying to yourself? Are you reiterating damaging untruths about others or yourself in your own head? Are you creating stories in your own mind and re-telling them so often that you begin to believe them? This is not harmless. This is not healthy. (This is how Hitler started…this is how 9-11 began.)

My prayer today is that we will all take our lies seriously…that we would bring them to light…that we would embrace truth and life and, out of that, lovingly share truth and life with others. And I am praying that we would be honest with ourselves so that we may grow closer in relationship with others and with God. Much love friends,

Beks

9/10/14 Morning Musing: God is Not Overwhelmed

I have a girlfriend who just found out her son has mono, she has 3 kids attending 3 different schools, workload has just increased, has a friend out of town that she feels burdened to visit and help, and she just selflessly has signed up with her husband to lead a table for the marriage ministry that I run. God is not overwhelmed.

I have an aunt who has been diagnosed with various forms of cancer more times than I can count. She has been through more surgeries, chemo treatments, and side-effects to various drugs than anyone should ever endure. She has lost babies, husbands, and has encountered so much heartbreak in her life. God is not overwhelmed.

I have a girlfriend who has been to multiple funerals this year…friends…family…and has spent a lot of time in hospitals with people (aside from working in a hospital) in order to pour into others. She is a nurse by vocation but also by calling. She cries with the broken-hearted, finds ways to encourage and lift up others, and has created a special place for grieving parents at her hospital when they lose a baby. She has planned a “Mercy Run” for later this month and is so very gifted with Compassion. Even though her plate is full, she takes on more. God is not overwhelmed.

I was poisoned and broken and bitter. I couldn’t escape the violation that my family endured. It was brought to mind with every meal, every moment of isolation and loneliness, every broken relationship, every time I looked at my children and knew I was incapable of helping them, every time I felt like a failure because I just couldn’t get out of bed, and every time I doubted God and fussed at him. God is not overwhelmed.

I have been finding myself saying this to many of my friends lately for many different reasons: little daily stressors that make you crazy, huge life-altering events that leave you knowing that life will never be the same again, and everything in between. God is NOT overwhelmed. I know that sounds simplistic…and trust me, I am telling myself this as much as I am telling anyone else…but it’s true and we can count on it no matter our problems: Health? God made human bodies…do we really think there is anything that he can’t “figure out” in us? Finances? God creates a new heaven and a new earth out of jewels and gold and finery…those are the cement and bricks…do you think money stumps him??? Death? God created life…every single form of it…and he created eternal life…Jesus defeated death…the grave could not hold him…do you think death scares him??? (I think it saddens him…but it does NOT overwhelm him.) Out of control and busy schedule? God created time and gifted each one of us…he instills our passions in us…he breathed life into our lungs…he has given us the time and resources to do everything that he has called us to do (not necessarily everything we put on our schedule to do.) Time burdens and busy-ness do not overwhelm our God.

Why am I rambling today? Well, I think it is easy for me to lose perspective…to get overwhelmed because I am weak and simple. But regardless of what I am going through, my God is not overwhelmed. I lose sight of the big picture constantly…I get bogged down in the details and forget that God has created me for certain things…important things…and all the other crap is just stuff that I have added to the pile. This stuff distracts me from the important things by masquerading as important. Let me give an example: I sat down to write this morning and was immediately distracted by my dirty house and I found myself pulling out the cleanser and spraying down the counters and then thinking about laundry, sweeping the floors, running errands, oh…and work I need to get to for marriage ministry…do you see where this is going? Those are all good things…none of it is sinful…but it isn’t important unless God has called me to do it now. All I am responsible for is to be obedient to him in this moment. He puts the musings on my heart for a reason and at specific times, I must be obedient and follow through with these when he tells me to or else I could miss the window of opportunity of it touching whoever it is meant to touch. When I work on my own task list instead of his, that is when I get overwhelmed. But God is not overwhelmed and thankfully, every moment is another opportunity to be obedient to his calling.

So how are you doing with this? Are you overwhelmed? Does your list and your life have you fretting? Do you trust God to do what he wants with your life and your time? Is there something overwhelming you, that you are holding on to, that you need to release to him? Is there someone that you need to release to him? Is there a mission you are called to that you are not beginning because your life is too overwhelming to start? What can you surrender to our God right now?

I am praying for simplicity in our lives. I am praying that we will all find time to have a heart-to-heart with God today and determine what is on mission and what is a distractor. I am praying that he will give us the strength and self-control to stay on mission, use our gifts, and fulfill the purpose that he has put in front of us today. I am praying that we will not be overwhelmed because God has provided everything we need to accomplish what He would have us accomplish. Much love friends,

Beks

9/9/14 Morning Morning: “Stop! Don’t Touch Me There! This is My No-No Square!”

I picked up the kids from school yesterday and made them run errands with me immediately after school so that I could have an un-distracted conversation with them. With Michaela behaving oddly lately, I had to make sure (just one more time for once and for all) that her behavior change was not due to any hidden abuse or mistreatment that Stan and I were unaware of. This is an area of deep fear and baggage for me and I want to handle it correctly so that my kids are aware and careful but not forced to walk through life filled with fear. I’ve hinted at it with them but had lacked the boldness to come out and ask…specifically Michaela…because I didn’t want to plant any ideas in their heads…and because I was fearful…what in the world would we do if the answer was yes?

After talking about school, friends, feelings, things that make us happy, and things that make us sad…I dove in: “Speaking of things that make us sad, have either of you ever had anyone touch you (other than a doctor, Mommy, or Daddy) in your “no-no square?” Michaela, without much hesitation, “No, Mommy…that’s not allowed.” Meanwhile, though, Caleb had a concerned look on his face…and my heart plummeted into my stomach. “Caleb, honey, do you have something you want to tell me?” *pause* “Well…yes…this summer…but I don’t remember who.” Hmmm…not remembering who would either mean this is a mistake or so traumatic that it’s being blocked out. “Do you remember if it was a grown up or a kid.” *Shakes his head no.* “Do you remember where you were? If it was this summer, maybe it was at a camp?” *pause* “That’s it! It was at soccer camp! It was a kid! He hit my privates with a soccer ball!” *exhale* I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath…praying “Lord, please don’t let this be true. Please don’t let my children learn at a young age what it is to be a victim!” I was so relieved that it was just a soccer accident…I was soaring. So we talked about the difference between and accident and abuse. We talked about how the no-no square is off limits to everyone who does not own it or have permission to touch it…how even the doctor has to get permission from them AND Mommy before touching them anywhere because our bodies are so very special: Our bodies are how we interact with the world around us. When our bodies have been mistreated, we will view the world differently because our bodies have become different and our experience is different. (And how we need to protect our bodies so that Mommy doesn’t end up going to prison for murder…although I didn’t say that part out loud to the kids.)

The statistics are staggering: Every 2 minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. (RAINN – Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 7 boys will be sexually assaulted in their childhood. Let that sink in for a minute.

My heart is heavy and easily-broken on this topic. It’s scary and the answers to these questions can be utterly devastating…but keeping secrets can be even more cruel and devastating. Statistically, many many of you have been recipients of sexual mistreatment. I am so deeply sorry and broken for you. But also statistically, many of your children have some sort of sexual mistreatment in their histories or futures. Please…please talk to your children about this regardless of how difficult or painful this discussion is for you. This is NOT an area that you want to look back on with regret. If they have received abuse, they need you to shine light on the darkness in their lives…where darkness and secrets are, shame lives and thrives…and that is, quite frankly, a continuation of the abuse.

So, how are you doing with this? (Sorry…I know this was another heavy one…but I feel that somebody needs this today.) Is there something in your past that needs to be brought to the light? Do you have a safe person you can speak to and whose advice and love you can count on? Has mistreatment of your body (physical, sexual, verbal, chemical, etc) changed how you relate to the world and to God? Have you had an open dialog with your children about this topic? Do they know that they can tell you anything related to this topic…regardless of whether or not it’s not an abuse situation? Most victims feel some bit of responsibility whether or not it’s true…that frequently keeps people from speaking up. Your children need to know that you love them and are on their side even if whatever is going on is the result of poor decision-making. (If abuse has occurred, please pursue professional help of some kind…this is too big of a burden for one person to carry.)

Today, my dear friends, I am praying that God would impress on us all how important we are to him. I am also praying that we would all understand that bodies and sex were both created by our loving God for good things…that our bodies and souls are not a mystery to our God who created them…and how to repair brokenness in our bodies and souls is no mystery to our God either. I am praying for light, healing, and life for us all. Much love friends,

Beks

https://www.rainn.org/statistics

9/3/14 Morning Musing: Release

Warning: This one is raw…proceed with caution.

It’s that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach…you know the one…where it feels like you have water boiling down inside you or something. It gets hot and the steam moves upward toward your face and you can feel your skin flush but there is nothing you can do about it because you know…you know for sure…that you were in the wrong. Not just wrong…dead wrong. You know that you caused this person pain…this person who is looking you in the eye and with the confusion showing on their face, trying to wrap their brain around how you could do this to them…and you are trying to wrap your brain around it too. How the hell did it get this far? How did you get so far off your path? When did you become this person who would betray and hurt someone you love so very deeply? And you realize that you were playing on a slippery slope…and you thought you were the only one that could get hurt by it…and it’s not true…that is the lie that you bought in to. Because it is excruciating for you now…but you’ve also brought someone else in to it…you volunteered them for this pain without their consent…and you feel it…guilt and despair.

Or maybe you don’t know this feeling. Maybe you’ve been the injured instead of the injurer. I’ve talked to people who have never been the injurer…it’s an interesting conversation every time. The most recent one was so angry at her husband…so hurt…and quickly becoming bitter. She simply could not or would not release the pain and the sin that had been committed against her. Every time she looked at him, she broke again and the anger would reappear. When I told her that I have been on both sides of these feelings she was shocked. No, my circumstances aren’t the same as hers…but I have been on both sides of these feelings. And I can tell you…right now…being the injurer is worse, in my opinion. When you are the injured, you have the right to be angry. There is someone/something that you can mentally point your finger at and say “That is wrong.” You can choose to forgive…it may take a long time and you will likely have to forgive repeatedly…but you can choose it. When you are the injurer, you can only imagine what the other person is feeling. You have the knowledge that YOU…You are the one who caused this turmoil. You are the reason for this sadness, brokenness, and gnashing of teeth. And you can’t take it away…because no apology…no good deed…no kindness will unbreak the brokenness. And to make matters worse, every time you think of this person, the guilt and the feelings in the pit of your stomach return…so you begin to avoid them…it’s not their fault by any stretch of the imagination…but you can’t bear to feel this way. You convince yourself that it is better for them…that they can move on and heal if you would just leave them alone…but really, it’s for you. It’s so you can function and release the guilt for just a minute…get away from yourself for just a damn minute! Maybe you could even be the injured instead of the injurer for a little bit…because being angry feels more powerful than this never-ending ache any way you slice it. You might even pick a fight with someone so that you can hold them in the wrong and get a reprieve from being the guilty one.

Some of you may not identify with any of this…there was a time that I didn’t. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t know this intimately and first-hand…but…I do. Every word of it is from my personal experiences. And I have struggled because most Bible Studies that you find for women address the side of the injured: how to forgive others, how to move past the pain, how to heal from abuse, how to redeem the pain, etc. But what about when you are one who wrought misery on others? How do you begin to move past it when you never thought you could go this far off track? Never thought you could offend the Holy Spirit so deeply? Never thought you really NEEDED Jesus? I know that I thought I was “good enough” on my own until I became the injurer (not that I would have ever admitted it.) I had a relationship with Jesus. I had excellent head-knowledge of him. But I didn’t need his grace…not really. I was good enough…by almost anyone’s standards. I was in control of my life…my choices…bad things had happened to me…but not by me…not truly terrible things anyway. And I was able to look at others from my superiority and judge…I didn’t tell them that I did…but I did…and they knew.

And then, it all changed. And I knew what it meant to be guilty and impotent to correct it. And it sucked…it consumed me for a while…if I’m honest, it still does on occasion…and I have to re-release it all over again. I get frustrated because I shouldn’t have to re-forgive myself should I? But I do…and the wound is opened again…and once again, I am having to handle the treatment for healing. And once again I find myself on my knees before a sinless Jesus apologizing for my behavior in the past and my lack of faith in him in the present…otherwise, I wouldn’t be snatching my sins and failures out of his hands so that I can “control” them once again. It’s cyclical for me…although I am pleased that the cycle seems to have more time in it now…it’s longer between bouts with my conscience…my oh-so-loud conscience that never shuts up.

Why am I sharing this with you? Well, I guess it’s because I figure some of you are dealing with this too. I want you to know that you aren’t the only one if you have felt this way. Also, if you have only been the injured, you should know that the injurer is enduring their own hell too. They are learning hard lessons as well. And it all sucks…it sucks for everyone because sin always moves outward. There is no such thing as a privately committed sin that only affects the sinner…the purpose of sin is to rupture relationship between us and God, us and each other, and within ourselves. That is what every single sin does and it hurts everyone.

So how are you doing with this? Besides the fact that I probably just depressed you to no end, how are you doing with this? Is there someone you have refused to release from their prison of being the injurer? How can you begin the process of healing and forgiving today? Are you the injurer? Are you still holding onto the sin? Are you refusing to release it into the hands of a savior who wants to remove it from you as far as the East is from the West? Is it time to re-visit forgiveness of self?

This one was hard and painful for me…it made me feel very raw to write it. I feel like it is painful for someone else too. I am praying for you today that you would embrace forgiveness of yourself and others. That you would accept Jesus’ work on the cross as complete and give it all to him instead of holding onto the anger and bitterness and shock and disappointment. Regardless of being the injured or injurer, you need the cross to heal and you need to embrace the grace that is offered to you. Much love friends,

Beks

9/1/14 Morning Musing: Why I Love Hearing “I don’t love you” Each Night

Every night, Stan has to wrestle his way into our bed (the dogs both want to lay on his side for some reason.) Once he lays down on his back and puts his body pillow on top of himself, Shiner must stand on his chest and stare at his face and sniff him. Stan looks at Shiner and says “I don’t love you.” and then Shiner curls up right on top of Stan and Bock curls up with me. This is our process every night and it warms my heart…which may sound completely weird to you…but I never claimed that Team Massey was normal…so there you go.

Some of you already know this, but some don’t: Stan is allergic to all things green and all things furry so having dogs is a sacrifice for him. It’s not as severe as his allergies were when he was younger but if his immune system is ever compromised, the dogs are sure to exacerbate his symptoms. He frequently appears to have pink eye because of an allergic reaction to the dogs and is having to share his bed (and wife) with the two little trouble-makers. I, on the other hand, can not live without dogs. I made it almost two weeks between losing Smudge and getting Shiner and Bock. I NEED dogs. It’s not an issue of just liking them…I commune with God through his creation…I NEED animals. I can not interact with them and not wonder at how big and loving and invested my God is. I firmly believe that there are dog people and then…everyone else. And true dog people don’t just like them…they need them. They are better because of them. I am one of those people…and Stan is part of “everyone else.”

Why am I telling you this? Well, Stan does not need dogs…don’t get me wrong, he likes them ok but his life is not remotely improved by their presence: he pays a lot of money for their upkeep, he takes allergy meds and an asthma inhaler because of them, and the destruction…oh the destruction. (Have I mentioned that he has had to install our baseboards 3 times in the last 1.5 years because of the little buggers?! The new furniture? Stan’s temporary tooth? Stan’s Powerbeats Earbuds?) Some of you may remember the book that I posted a picture of when we first got them…It was titled “How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With.” The book was intact when I went down for a nap…the feature picture in this post was about an hour later. These pups have not been easy…by any stretch of the imagination (The Danes were always easier dogs.) But, Stan understands that I need them. This isn’t just a want for me…it’s like air for me. I need them and I am a better and happier person when I have them. Stan does not identify with this characteristic in me…but because he has made it his business to study me, he knows that it is true. So, we have dogs. I didn’t brow-beat him into it or nag until he relented…it’s a sacrifice he has lovingly made for me and I recognize and appreciate it. This is why it warms my heart every night when he tells Shiner “I don’t love you.” Implied in that statement, whether he knows it or not, is “But I do love Bekah…so you can stay.”

The point? Well, I guess it’s that I think sometimes we don’t notice or make a point to appreciate the silent sacrifices that our loved ones make on our behalf: What they have given up (or taken on) in order to be with us, where they have been willing to move for us, the compromises and sacrifices. It’s easy to remember the sacrifices we’ve made for others…but we aren’t called to keep a record of that. We are, however, supposed to honor the sacrifices that others have made for us because it gives us a clearer understanding of Jesus. So, how are you doing with this? Is there someone in your life who needs to understand your appreciation for their contribution? Is there someone who could be encouraged by your acknowledgement of their sacrifice? How could you express your gratitude to someone today? It may just be the encouragement that they need to press on.

I am praying that today we are all able to reflect on the people God has blessed us with…that we would revel in our community and be an encouragement to each other. I am praying that we will see the beauty that is implied in the “I don’t love you” statements…and that we would sacrifice and build into others as they have in us (or as we wish they they would in us.) Much love friends,

Beks