Unforgivable

Your words have been on my mind sporadically the last day or so… unforgivable.

I’m not unforgivable. It’s unfortunate that my mistakes are not something you can move past, and perhaps our relationship won’t heal, however you have no authority to condemn me unless you also wish to condemn yourself. I don’t condemn you. I forgive you. Your actions have been deeply hurtful and my hurt as a result has hurt you. I’m sorry for hurting you with how I’ve worked through things. In hindsight I see many other ways I could have addressed my pain. I hope you can move past the pain and find healing, and I hope you know that your mistakes don’t define you. You are a beloved daughter of the Lord. He loves you. As I am, you’re His.

As such, I cling to Him for restoration and forgiveness and I hope you find it within yourself to see all the wrongs you’ve done through the eyes of Jesus: with grace, compassion, and love; that you allow Him to set yourself free from the mistakes you’ve made, and from the hurts done against you.

Only God chooses who is unforgivable. You my sister, are not, and neither am I. God is bigger than our pain, our hurts, our sins, and the wrongs done against us. He’s bigger than any division the enemy has created and attempts to continue to broaden. God’s sacrifice on the cross was enough. Jesus is enough. All we need is Him and to allow His Truth to renew our hearts and minds to transform us.

It’s my continued prayer that we both find His peace as completely and wholly as His desire is. That we keep searching for a deeper relationship with Him than we have and continue to go deeper still. It’s my desire that somewhere along the way we’ll find our way back to one another; healthy, restored, new, and healing.

You see. We’re not unforgivable. We are loved more than we’ll ever comprehend.

I’m still healing and growing up. I might still be hurting, but I love you, sister. I love you. That will never change.

Trauma and Education

I was checking out a diagnostics test that I’ll be giving the kids to determine where there are gaps in their education (which is awesome btw, you should check it out: Accelerated Christian Education – the diagnostics test is free and each book is $2.70). It was interesting to see where the info being taught to me stopped sticking. I remember distinctly struggling in my 8th grade year and I was sent to a special class where I received one on one support. Once I left there, I had gone from basic math to jumping up to algebra. However, moving forward, once I returned to the class setting, as it shows in the diagnostics test, that’s where the information stopped clicking. I remembered learning about the problems I went through, recall the friends I was sitting with and the teacher I worked with through the math problems and I remember getting good test scores… but apparently, the concepts weren’t registering in my brain for the long-term. I could not remember how to solve any of the math work from my high school years. It stopped after basic algebra.

When I saw the test, I began to process what was going on during that time and my mind was blown when I realized it was at the same time I was being sexually assaulted. As I entered into 8th grade, I had begun to babysit and the grooming had begun. At some point, the trauma reached a point that it was impeding in my ability to absorb what I was learning… and it never improved. To this day, I struggle with class-type settings and my learning style is much more intimate in nature.

This was a huge realization for me, though I already had the thought that my trauma likely effected my learning ability, because it confirmed this thought. Friends, consider this with your own children. If they’ve experienced any sort of trauma, they likely wouldn’t know that their ability to focus, absorb, and understand concepts had been disrupted in a long term way.

Now, to discover how to work to allow God to restore that part of my mind that adapted to my situation to survive what was happening to me… ♥♥♥

The Love of Jesus ♥

“If people want us to ‘get over it’ they have to first allow us the room to grieve, get angry, and feel the full range of emotions that come with healing. The very things they think mean we aren’t ‘over it’ are the exact things we NEED to do.” Jennifer Lynne Stuck

I more often have heard the well-meaning “let it go and let God” or “move forward and stop letting it hold you back” or, “think positive thoughts.” I’ve also had the nasty comments of “get over it” or “stop holding grudges” and “get out of the past” but far less than the loving responses from people who genuinely cared and wanted me to feel better. I’ve tried all of these things thinking there must be something wrong with me that I can’t just think positively and change my thoughts, that I’m still dealing with these things after 16 years, maybe I really am holding a grudge… yet I’ve not fully allowed myself to process what was done to me in order to get beyond where I was because of my refusal to look at the truth of what I was feeling. And I’m finally seeing the importance of being real about where I’m at so I can get to that healthy and whole place I believe is awaiting me.

God created us as emotional beings, so our emotions matter. Even when they are not based on truth – it’s feeling those emotions that allows us to get to the truth. I can lie to myself and everyone around me and say I’m not hurting, I’m not angry, I’m not wounded or broken… but I can’t lie to God. And it’s God Who continues to bring me back to the truth of what I’m feeling so I face it and feel it and get through it to the truth of who I can be, where I can go, and what I can do.

The healing process isn’t always comfortable for people to watch and witness – but it’s valuable. For the one healing and for the one watching. The one watching is learning to be uncomfortable in their compassion to act. A kind word, a hug, a “I’m so sorry you’re going through this”, a bit of self-reflection and evaluation, etc. When we see something hard to see like a homeless person, a bereaved parent, a rape victim, etc…. these should all move us to compassion! Instead, many in our society don’t want to think of that happening; many in our society don’t want to believe that things can be so painful that thinking positively isn’t always enough.

The Bible teaches, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 and yet, we forget that compassion is what is honorable, true, and just. We forget that while someone has a beautiful life, they are still living in this world and because of that, sorrows are present. Therefore, sitting with them and loving on them IS lovely, IS commendable, IS praiseworthy!

Encouraging someone to be positive isn’t. It’s not helpful and in many cases it invalidates what they are going through and it hurts them more because they don’t want to be struggling. They want to be happy, whole, and empowered. The only way for them to feel happy, whole, and empowered is the love of Jesus and one way that comes through is by the compassion of His people.

God is Near to the Brokenhearted

There is a common misconception that forgiveness means we do ourselves a favor by letting what happened go. That is not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is the pardoning of one’s sin – freeing the offender from the burden of what they’ve done and allowing God to encounter them and forgive them upon repentance, in order that they will not be condemned to hell. The results of sin however, still have consequences. While I forgive those in my life who have brought harm against me, it doesn’t mean I don’t have healing left to do. And while I might struggle with forgiving someone, it doesn’t mean it’s preventing me to heal either. Sin can create wounds, break trust, create insecurity, and can cause a plethora of confusion to work through.

Forgiveness is a part of the healing process, but it’s not always the first step in healing. Righteous anger, making a righteous observation of whether to remove someone from their lives, grieving what’s happened and feeling the loss of what was lost, and coming to a place of acceptance with it are all parts of the process as well. For some, their process might be ever so brief, while for others it can take years.

God is aware of the battle inside each person and the conviction to forgive is a great one – when it’s time. The Word says it is better for a millstone to be put around the neck of a man and thrown into the sea to drown than he who causes one of the least of these to sin. Yes, we are to forgive those who have transgressed against us so we too can be forgiven by our Father in Heaven – but let’s not rush to forgive so quickly that we forget to be honest with God about what we’re struggling with. Wrestle it out with Him rather than pretend not to feel those things.

God sees the heart, the wounds and the ache, and He will gently care for that heart and bring it to a place of healing and forgiveness if we allow ourselves to go through the process of feeling what we’ve experienced. God is near to the brokenhearted and will bring them to that place. Let Him do His thing and please don’t force it – it will only cause one to hesitate in their process, doubt the feelings they have, perhaps even themselves, and thus delay their healing, their growth, and their intimacy with Christ.

Tell Me…

Tell me how any of my precious babes ruined my life because I didn’t go to college and don’t have a career. Tell me which one of my kids I should have started choosing abortion once life got more challenging. Tell me which one was an accident, a consequence, a mistake. Tell me.

No?

Then why are we telling women this while they are pregnant? Why are we telling women that they are missing out on life when they find themselves pregnant? Why are we telling them that these babies are just tissue inside of their womb? Why are we telling women that it would be better to end the life of that child than to face the ‘inevitable horror; of being their parent (or choosing adoption).

I’m a better person than I once was because of the lessons I’ve learned as a parent. Has it been work? Has it been tiring? Has it been challenging? Has it been the hardest thing I’ve done at times? I’ll tell you.

Yes. 

But there is such a beauty in seeing life through the eyes of a little one. There is such beauty in seeing myself through the eyes of my child. Giving up everything for my child wasn’t as tragic a sacrifice as people claim because in giving up one thing, I said yes to another – and it was the greatest treasure that no job, amount of money, no relationship, no current crisis could take away from or add to.

You not only end the life of your child when you choose abortion, you end the life of a beautiful part of you that you will never know when you choose abortion.

There is nothing more precious than the gift of a child – not only for the life they’ll lead and the lives they will touch, but for the life you will lead with them in it.

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

Finding My Freedom

Emotional abuse… I’ve recently begun ‘no contact’ with a person whom I’ve had a very unhealthy relationship with.  It wasn’t easy, she’s my sister (J). She closely resembles what I’ve read about those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The classic manipulation of a narcissist is in making you feel like you are the one who is behaving as the bully, in making you feel like you are responsible for their cruel behavior, in making you feel crazy or ridiculous for being hurt by what they had done or said (in my case, it includes spiritual abuse, something I’ve learned is a term some call, Psychological Socialism, where they manipulate by equalizing blame).

I’ve actually removed her from my life before, but I just didn’t want to completely let go. So year after year after year, upon reaching out to her, I’d be met with a passive insult that could easily be twisted into me over reacting. I’d end up apologizing for behaviors that she had convinced me I had done. I was always the one apologizing despite her abusive actions.

Several months ago I really began to process her role in my life, along with my sister L who she lied to and has thus used to participate in treating me in this manner by creating division. It all hit me at once as I began seeing the reality of those moments over the years with this disorder in mind. I read article after article and could have titled them, “my relationship with J and L and all that it’s looked like.” It was actually kind of eery, as if someone had been following us around and logging all the things I’d noticed along the way but would rationalize myself through despite feeling like it was all wrong.

Add to that the processing and healing of my sexual assault as a child that I was working through* as all this emotional abuse began and now, her words will actually bring me back to those moments that the assault was exposed and I felt dirty and shamed. So I’m faced with the reality, not only was she just mean, but my physical response was so intense, I didn’t understand why I wasn’t able to just let it go and why I was having such a seemingly ridiculous reaction.

Well, J had never particularly stalked or harassed me before other than what I had deemed at the time as a major falling out, but the stalking and harassment was something I had read in nearly all narcissistic cases. When I shared that I’d be removing her from my life, I was told that I should be prepared that once I commit to no contact (NC) with her, that she will indeed make contact. I doubted it. I had it in my head that she would interpret my silence as a battle of the wills and see it as a competition of who could outlast the other. I decided I was okay with that – because silence meant she couldn’t hurt me anymore.

So come eight months ago, I deleted my facebook account. I created another not long after and didn’t add her. Two months later, I took my first act of NC when I shared that I was pregnant with our sixth precious surprise and didn’t inform her. Three months after that, I found myself having a panic attack upon seeing her name in my friend requests. I thought to myself, ‘Why in the world am I having a panic attack at seeing her name?!’ I wrestled with how to act and what to do. At first, I chose to do nothing.

The next day, I had a weird flashback that brought on such an intense realization regarding my sister L, close friends with my sister J, whom I dealt with regularly following my aforementioned assault. Feeling the hurt from both of them. I didn’t evaluate whether it was intentional or not, it happened nonetheless, and I had to face that hurt to the most real and raw degree in order to move forward.

Through this revelation, I determined that I needed to remove them both from my life, even if to just process. So I rejected the request and removed L from my facebook and blocked them both. For two months, silence. I felt free and I felt hopeful. Bitter-sweet though, because I do just wish things were normal and we could move past these issues, but it was clear that at that point in time, there was no where left to go but to end the relationships.

Then, 2 weeks ago, two months later, I received the first contact from L. It was modest, simple, but didn’t seek much of a response. It was hard not to respond because she was seemingly not the aggressive one in my life. However, her seeming passivity hurt me more than anything else – her seeming passivity in my assault, in how I was treated after the assault, in the relationships surrounding my assault that she maintained despite what had been done to me, her passivity (and enablement) in regards to the treatment done against me by J, and her passivity in my life in general.

A little over a week later (less than a week ago), I received my next contact by J. It was a very seemingly humble message, but because of this new understanding I had in relationship to how she speak to me, I saw what was being said: “I’m wise, I understand, I’m a victim of humanness, I am thinking of you – and I’m sorry.”

From anyone else, and from her in the past, I’d have felt validated and understood and would have appreciated those words. But this time, I saw that the message was all about her and not about me. I chose to not respond.

I saw a bit later in the day that she had created a new facebook in order to message me on fb as well, so I went in and deleted the message and blocked her new account. This brought on a second message in my email. By the time I had noticed it, there was also a third message. The second message, despite acknowledging that she was invading my space, deemed it necessary to tell me again that she was thinking of me, was sorry, and stated  that she “got the message” from me blocking her. Ending it with “Take care of yourself ok.”

The third message however, was sent only seven minutes after she sent the second; sent without any response whatsoever from me. Seven minutes. This time, it was cruel and mean, accusatory and insulting. She declared that she knew personal things about me and didn’t judge me for it, that I thrive on making others feel small so I can feel empowered in my otherwise out of control life, and that she had carried my burden for far too long and will be letting go of it. She ended this awful note with a declaration of victimhood to screwing up once again in how she treated me and requested that I forgive her. While I admit, I scoffed at the end of the email because this was exactly what I was told would happen (and if she was genuinely sorry for how she had just treated me in the current email, she could have just not sent it), I was still shaken up.

I learned how to block her address from my email account, however it wasn’t until after I found myself shaking violently like I did when I was made to ‘confess’ that I was ‘having sex with David.’ I experienced the same physical response when I told L what had been happening to me by her ex-brother in-law. I shook and trembled, my teeth chattered while my heart raced, and I was short of breath. I sat having a panic attack (unbeknownst to me at the time) and no one hugged me and no one cried for me and no one sought to calm me. Nothing.

Narcissism. It’s not just a self-centered, egotistical person. It’s an abusive person who has found ways of thriving on their mistreatment of their chosen targets. I don’t claim that J is a narcissist. I’m not a psychologist or licensed in any medical field, however, the way J treated me closely resembles the things I’ve read about narcissism. As a result for her treatment so closely following the year long sexual and mental abuse by David, and the shaming and blaming of others that surrounded me, now I am dealing with symptoms of PTSD.

Since having done the research, I see the manipulation and deceit, the abusive tactics to overpower, and I’m so very thankful that I see it and can walk away. I didn’t even know she was being abusive. I just thought we misunderstood each other horribly and that we had clashing personalities. It’s not simply a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, it’s much deeper than that and though I’m finding my freedom, those words being spoken to me about my character, my heart’s intent, and how I treat others around me, still wound me and leave me stuck in my head doubting myself. I know they are lies; my heart is to encourage, uplift, and cheer everyone on that I encounter. Also, when the times are appropriate, my heart is to be that friend to share a hard perspective, but never in a way to shame. I don’t pretend to have all the answers… I mess up regularly and I’ve never pretended otherwise … but I am still struggling to shake what they said off…

STILL I am finding my freedom. Thank God for that!

*You can read more on this topic in light of the sexual assault I endured in the entry I posted, titled “But it DOES matter…”

Just Being Held

It’s getting that time in my pregnancy where I feel the need to begin hibernating from the world. I’ve been learning some new things about myself and it’s been exhausting but exciting, relieving, and has helped given me some direction in where to go from here. I’m so thankful for the intimate relationships I have who’ve been so supportive and encouraging and for my husband’s amazing attentiveness whenever I need him through this time.

It’s amazing the freedom that I am finding as I learn to surrender and let go and, as the song goes, “just be held” by the Father. That song really is a great song that speaks volumes to me this morning. How I’ve felt, the truth I need to see, and the steps to take to move out of that. So empowering!

“Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on”

This really is a great representative of how it all kind of began. I was just going about life, living life as a wife and mom and then bam, suddenly my life was so shaken. I thought it would be quick, I thought I’d work through it and keep going… but instead it was day after day of wonderful, earth shattering, heart wrecking, and intense processing and healing.

“And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go”

I had to just surrender to it… to fight it was more painful. I dove into the arms of the Father and just became real and raw to those in my life. God was so close and friends were supportive and compassionate despite my insecurities that had been established in my spirit.

“So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held”

I found that the best way to just work through it, was to allow the anger to be felt and the tears to fall. And truly, despite the feeling that my world was falling apart as I became aware of the realities I was surrounded with, I found that it was all coming together… and the most beautiful and healing time was as I let go and was just held.

“If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will”

Keeping my eyes on Him was the only thing that didn’t just take me out. The people in my life helping me to do that, are the most priceless and precious gifts He’s given me. Thank you. Thank you for being there. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for your beautiful friendship. Chris, I am so thankful to be doing life with you!

“And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands”

I’m still waiting to see the completed canvas of my life, but the bits God is showing me, the bits He’s transforming out of the ash – I’m just thrilled to know it’s all in the Creator’s hands and no one else’s!

“Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who wont let go”

The most steadfast and reliable. He’ll never let me down, He’ll never harm me, He’ll use all things for the good in my life and for His glory. No matter what comes my way, He’s the perfect comforter and I’m so thankful He is leading me through the storms of life. ❤