Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturdays...

Saturdays are difficult days for me. I haven't always known that they were difficult. I haven't always allowed myself to feel the kind of feelings that I have grown to feel in these days. Feelings come and feelings go but I over the past few months I have found that every Saturday now includes an overwhelming sense of loneliness. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on. Even though I was feeling despair and depression as a common course during my leave of absence--Saturdays have been way more intense. Charles Stanley has helped me figure it out--or I should say that he figured it out and I have learned from him. He writes, "Until about three years ago, the loneliest times of my life were Saturday afternoons". Dr. Stanley's childhood was one of loneliness. He was raised by a single mom and though he had many friends to play with--they were usually off with their families on Saturday leaving young Charles feeling abandoned and all alone. I can relate somewhat to Dr. Stanley's experiences. I left home (North Dakota at the time) to attend a boarding school in Tennessee at age thirteen. I spent the next four years with lonely Saturdays. Most of the kids would be gone on the weekends leaving just those of us with families living a great distance from the school on campus. Those were lonely days for me--and they still are. It's amazing to me how dramatically I am now feeling the experiences of loneliness that I'm sure that I pushed down so many years ago. It's not about being busy, or being with people--it's about feeling the loneliness that I did not allow myself to feel way back in high school. Just thought I would share...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ten Responses to Abuse...

I have been reading Charles Stanley's book, The Source of My Strength. It was sent to me by someone that I don't know at the very beginning of the valley that I have been walking through for the past three months. A lot of what I have been experiencing feels a lot like abuse. I know a little something about abuse having gone through a considerable amount of abuse as a child, as a teenager, and even as an adult. Chapter Three of his book has to do with abuse and Dr. Stanley discusses ten godly responses to abuse. Perhaps these thoughts will help you work through some of your issues even as they have helped me.

Response #1: Seek God's Guidance. Ask God what he wants you to do about it. Dr. Stanley says, "Nothing in the Scriptures requires you to continue to stay in the presence of those who abuse you or to continue to associate with those who have abused you in the past".

Response #2: Pray for Your Abuser. Dr. Stanley says, "Even as you pray, recognize that the person who is being abused is rarely the cause. Oh, the abuser may say that the victim is responsible, but in fact, the abuser must be held accountable for the actions and must be responsible for what is inflicted". He also points out, "The abusive person has an intense restlessness, an agitation, or a festering wound. Something is deeply wrong inside the person who is abusive. Hurt, doubt, worry, hatred, bitterness, or anger is unresolved and likely has been unresolved for a long period of time". Also, "The abusive person rarely expects to be confronted. Power and control are the core issues to the abusive person. Abusers expect their victims to run away and hide, whimper, cave in, cry, shrink back, or fall silent. One of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself as a victim and for the abuser is to stand up to the abuser and say, That's enough.'"

Response #3: Don't Blame God for the Abuse. "God never uses an evil means for a righteous end. Abuse is contrary to God's desire. It has nothing to do with God's will. He never promotes abusive behavior or approves of it."

Response #4: Forgive Your Abuser. Forgiveness is not putting yourself back in a position where you can be abused again. It is choosing to release them from your heart and into God's hands.

Response #5: Forgive the Person Who May Have Allowed Your Abuse. If you feel bitterness or the need to blame someone--then you may need to speak to God about forgiveness.

Response #6: Choose the Truth About Yourself and About Your Abuser. Dr. Stanley says, "One of the greatest lies that abused people frequently swallow whole is the lie that they deserved the abuse they received. Nobody deserves to be manipulated or injured, or to have their self-esteem, identity, and sense of value smashed into a billion bits".

Response #7: Open Yourself to God's Healing of Your Abused Emotions. I'm learning to let Christ walk with me into the scary places so that He can begin to heal what is broken. We are never alone!

Response #8: Refuse to Retaliate. God is really good at stripping us of the things that don't please Him--I know personally. Prayerfully put people and God's hands and let him deal with their stuff.

Response #9: Choose to Go Forward in Your Life Positively. Remember who you are in Christ regardless of what others may tell you.

Response #10: Look for God to Bring Something Good out of Your Experience. Romans 8:28 is all that needs to be said.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Puzzle


This is a shot today of our dining room table at home. I'm somewhere in the middle of piecing together 1000 pieces that all look a lot alike and yet are each uniquely different. When I'm done, I'll have nice picture of a lighthouse--right now, I have chaos.
I started doing puzzles several years ago when I was going through a period of stress. It was suggested to me that the exercise of building a puzzle might just help me relax. I think that it does help.
I always start by building the border--that way I know what my limits are. Next I look for easily recognizable and unique patterns like the buildings which I clearly finished first. These pieces are unique in color and it's not too hard to see how they fit together. The hardest part are the pieces that all look alike--in this case the sky and the water. Sometimes I have to resort to trying each individual piece in succession until I find the perfect fit. It can be tedious work but it really feels good when you see a piece drop into place perfectly.
I am in the process of trying to decide if I am supposed to stay at Cornerstone or if I might be a better fit somewhere else. The border seems to be in place and so I'm simply looking for all of the other pieces that might look like me. I have a unique shape, a unique color, and somewhere out there is a unique space just waiting for my arrival. God is the one building the puzzle to which I belong--a puzzle that we might call the Kingdom of God. I've been doing lots of praying, lots of searching in the Scriptures, and lots of talking with my friends and family. I would like to see God simply drop me in place but this puzzle piece seems to have been given a choice.
I would ask all who may stumble upon this post to take a moment and to lift up some prayer for the Samples' family.
Perhaps Moses was working on a puzzle when he prayed to God, "You tell me, 'I know you well and you are special to me.' If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way I will continue being special to you. Don't forget, this is your people, your responsibility" (Exodus 33:13, The Message).