Flashbacks

In 2015 I went through EMDR. It was excruciating, but I saw tremendous improvement in the months that followed. I was told right from the beginning that it was not a cure, as such, that everyone responds differently and that ‘wellness’ occurs at varying degrees.

Lately I have been experiencing flashbacks. They are quite intense, but in a different way to those I endured before EMDR. Often these flashbacks are not related to overt violence or threatening situations. They’re usually about all the ways in which I was manipulated and coerced.

People often don’t realise that coercion is actively abusive, but in many ways it is equally as damaging as the more obvious kinds of abuse, and may in fact be more destructive *because* it is less easily identified. Coercion and manipulation work in such a way as to make the victim feel he or she has no choice. Coercion attempts to make the victim a willing participant. In certain situations this coercion is also known as ‘grooming’.

Sometimes it is as if I experience the situation all over again. It makes me sick. Nausea and a goose-pimply feeling of horror and disgust wash over me. At that point all I can think is: ‘I hate him. I hate him. I hate him.’

But my faith is my rock. As the flashback lessens and common sense drips back in, I tell myself that it is a sin to hate. Hatred eats away at you, making you permanently miserable; no room for love. My God says to lay all my burdens on Him. My Jesus stretched His arms wider than the earth on that cross.

I pray, “Lord, I can’t help feeling that I hate him, but I know you don’t hate him. I give my hatred and I give him over to You. Seventy times seven. To the power seven. And then some. Please keep him away from my family and from anyone else who is vulnerable. Don’t let him hurt anyone else. If you can reach his heart, I pray that you do. You tell me to pray for my enemies so that is what I’m trying to do. I don’t know what else to do but to reach out to you. Seventy times seven. And then some.”

I write because this is my testimony of what faith actually looks like – not pretend faith that avoids the nasty stuff. Life is hard. But God is always good. God is ALWAYS good.

From Victim to Victory

I’m in bed because I have a bad cold and whenever I catch anything these days I have to be very careful otherwise I will not get better in a timely fashion. Ugh. It’s mostly just boring and frustrating because I have a daily plan and I can’t stick to it 😕

However, this morning I am so glad because I have been listening to audiobooks and came across a wonderful recording which has been sitting in my Audible library for a while now. Today I have had the opportunity to give it my full attention.

 

“[There is] a giant step from knowledge to acknowledgement. In a family, a community and a nation there can be guilty secrets. Everybody knows something to be the case but there is no acknowledgement.”

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Michael Lapsley, Oxford, 2005 (from Wikipedia)

“Prayer, love, support, acknowledgement, reverence, recognition, giving it moral content, saying ‘yes, what happened to you was wrong‘, all of this is what I would say, in terms of my faith, [is] the way in which God enabled me to travel a journey from victim [to] survivor to victor… Something horrible happens to us [and] we’re victims. If we physically survive we are survivors, but frequently that’s where people stop and remain prisoners inside themselves… Life is like a river: something terrible happens and our lives become whirlpools, and we never ever really live again except in terms of what has happened to us…”

~ Father Michael Lapsley speaking in ‘A South African Journey’

by Radio Free Maine.

Audiobook available from audible.co.uk

(transcribed by yours truly)

Michael Lapsley campaigned against apartheid. In 1990 he was the subject of a letter bomb which caused severe burns, destroyed his hands and left him blind in one eye. Since then he has worked tirelessly for hope and healing, in particular he works with former victims of trauma.

“…if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

~ John 8:36 (NRSVA)

Reblog: Being “Unoffendable?” — All Things are Yours

In various circles that I participate in, multitudes of books and sermons have been coming out lately about the need to be “unoffendable.” The idea being, that anytime someone feels snubbed, hurt, bothered, upset, overly concerned, or even in some cases, abused – by those in their circle (or particularly leadership in a church), […]

via Being “Unoffendable?” — All Things are Yours

Excellent post from Heather at All Things are Yours.

What is Truth?

The noonday devil of the Christian life is the temptation to lose the inner self while preserving the shell of edifying behaviour. Suddenly I discover that I am ministering to AIDs victims to enhance my resumé. I find I renounced ice cream for Lent to lose five excess pounds. I drop hints about the absolute priority of meditation and contemplation to create the impression that I am a man of prayer. At some unremembered moment I have lost the connection between internal purity of heart and external works of piety. 

~ from The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Ouch. Yes, I have to constantly be on my guard against the deceit of pride and/or shame. In truth, I lose my temper – though thankfully not as frequently nowadays, I think bad thoughts, I say things I shouldn’t say, I do things or don’t do things that I know I should or shouldn’t do. I am very, very flawed. I am not going to list all my sins here for public consumption. They are all, I hope, acknowledged and brought before Jesus. Forgiveness is the most wonderful gift. It means we can start every day as fresh as a new born and for that I am eternally, wholly and completely thankful.

 

Forgiveness?

“My frau is a Jezebel. She fornicated with Samuel Beachy before we got hitched, then killed their unborn boppli…” He scowled.

“I see.” Jonathan scratched his beard, “So she has not asked for forgiveness?”

“She has.”

“Yet you choose not to forgive?”

“How can a person forgive something like that, Jonathan?” Christian’s voice rose. “If it were your frau, would you forgive her?”

“It would be difficult but, ja, I would. We must follow Christ’s example. Do you think it was easy for Him to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross?”

“Nay, but I am not Christ. He was perfect.”

“Perfect, ja, but a man, like us. It wasn’t any easier for Him.”

~ from An Unforgivable Secret by J.E.B. Spredemann

 

Forgiveness, where the debtor is truly sorry, is not optional. It’s different when the debtor is defiantly in denial of what they have done (or when they pretend to be sorry but do the same destructive things over and over), but even then, by choosing to hang onto anger and bitterness and resentment – all aspects of unforgiveness – in the end I hurt myself more. I choose to let go, by grace, because I don’t want to live that way (doesn’t mean I accept those who abused me with open arms, just that it no longer eats away at me). 7650ebd7154a4c7aa67bc7fc201bf1cb

Recently I have been thinking of the time when, as a 12-year-old, I decided to no longer eat meat. I was at the time a victim of ongoing sexual, physical and emotional abuse that remained hidden from everyone else. The abuser said that if I told anyone he would kill my parents. He also made sure I believed that other people saw me as a liar. I wasn’t so sure about that last one, and became scrupulous about telling the absolute truth. But the threat to my parents was what held me. That and the inability to put into words the Unspeakable.

I looked at the chunk of beef in the burger I was eating one sunny afternoon as my best friend and I walked round the local summer fête, two little girls in matching dresses. I thought of the cow that had once been, before it became my lunch. I thought of the care shown to the creature as it was born and raised, and I thought of the ultimate betrayal that occurred in the act of slaughter. I empathised with the cow. Its life was a lie. I couldn’t eat meat after that.

A decade later I was in an abusive marriage, slowly becoming cut off from my friends and family and pregnant with my first child. I had almost let go of the hope that life could be anything other than awful, and I began eating meat again. Saving the lives of cows and pigs didn’t seem worth the effort. It made no difference what I did in any aspect of my life. Over the next decade I gradually came to the conclusion that my needs did not matter. My hopes, my dreams were carefully locked away. It was a lot less painful not to have any. Besides, I did not matter. But I still knew that my children mattered.

I am not sure why these things seem intrinsically linked in my head, but I do know that unforgiveness eats away at you from the inside. Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. It’s not a reason to lay oneself open to more abuse. Forgiveness occurs when I align my will with that of God, letting go of the things that come between us. Jesus taught me that life with Him turns everything upside down and inside out – and that includes suffering. How I love following this radical Saviour! I am so thankful for the chance to belong to the God of Great Love.

I pray that if you, dear reader, are struggling with forgiveness, or struggling to let go of bitterness, you are able to put your hand in His, and learn to walk Jesus’ way. There’s no other life worth living. He will always carry your burdens. He will never let you go.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to ask for specific prayer, please do comment below. Even if you don’t need some prayer, I love to read what people have to say and I am so thankful when folk take the time to comment.

 

 

 

No Better

From the Shaun Groves album Third World Symphony

I sometimes wonder how I can call myself a follower of Christ when I still sin. But God, in His inexplicable majesty, instead of condemning me on my confession, seems to chuckle and say, “You’re not the only one. Just know that your sin, and your confession, keep you humble, and that’s the best place to be. It’s not the best way to do it, but – I love you. You’re forgiven. Seventy times seven and all that…”

I keep quiet, knowing that I probably used up my 490 quite some time ago.

When Starbucks Meets Jesus

“We’re not in the coffee business serving people, we’re in the people business serving coffee.”

~ Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks,

as quoted in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

It struck me, on hearing these words, that that’s exactly the kind of thing Jesus would say. Not the coffee bit. They didn’t have hot beverages in 1st century Palestine, to my knowledge. Mind you, the Romans were big on street food, weren’t they? Anyway… You may recall the words in the gospel of Mark, chapter two:

“…Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you will know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the paralytic – “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.”

Mark 2:9-11 (NRSVA)

and later:

“The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath…”

Mark 2:27

Jesus must have really got up the noses of the (self) righteous o_O This utterly delights me, perhaps more than it should. I like to imagine that an altered version of Mr. Starbucks’ phrase, coming from the mouth of Jesus, would be something like this:

“We’re not in the business of serving God, we’re in the God business, serving people.”

There is nothing that you or I can do to ‘serve’ God. There is no way we can build the bridge between us and God. It’s impossible. Instead we love because He loves us, and when we share this unconditional love – also known as grace – then we are in the God business.

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Hurrah! Be blessed, friends. Receive what is freely given.

Image from idpinthat.com

On Judging

If the mind that needs to make moral judgements about everything is the master instead of the servant, religion is almost always corrupted. Some would think that is the whole meaning of Christianity: to be able to decide who’s going to heaven and who isn’t. This is much more a search for control than it is a search for truth, love or God. It has to do with ego, which needs to pigeonhole everything to give itself that sense of ‘I know’ and ‘I am in control of the data’…  I guess God knew that such would be the direction that religion would take, so God said, “Don’t do it! Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” 

~ Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality

 “Don’t judge other people and you will not be judged yourselves. Don’t condemn and you will not be condemned. Make allowances for others and people will make allowances for you. Give and men will give to you—yes, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will they pour into your lap. For whatever measure you use with other people, they will use in their dealings with you.”

~ Luke 6:37-38, JB Phillips

Have done, then, with impurity and every other evil which touches the lives of others, and humbly accept the message that God has sown in your hearts, and which can save your souls. Don’t I beg you, only hear the message, but put it into practice; otherwise you are merely deluding yourselves… Religion that is pure and genuine in the sight of God the Father will show itself by such things as visiting orphans and widows in their distress and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.

~ James 1:21,22,27

I wonder if ‘keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world’ means what we think it means?

Reblog: Never Sent Away

I wish I had recalled this truth before I snapped at two of my children this morning. I did recognise that it was a sign that I needed to actively focus on Him, because I know that when I do focus just on Him I have plenty of patience. I said sorry to my children and they both responded very sweetly, showing that God is and has been working for good in all things because my children have learned how to be gracious! I am not thankful for my own wilfulness but I was so glad to see God in Prince and Chip. He is generous beyond measure!

Contemplative in the Mud

If you become accustomed to having Him at your side and if He sees that you love to have Him there and are always trying to please Him, you will never be able to, so to speak, send Him away.
Saint Teresa of Jesus

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Smudges on the Mirror

I was feeling low. Feeling useless (lies from the past still creep up on me post-EMDR, even if not as much as they used to). This led to me succumbing to temptation. I sinned. Then I beat myself up over it. I felt like what on earth -or under heaven – is the point in being a Christian if I just carry on sinning? I couldn’t, at that point, see the work God has done in me, by grace, all I could see was this great big useless blobby blot of sin. My prayers, such as they were, were a tangled mess along the lines of ‘I don’t know why you bother with me, God, I’m useless. You might as well not have bothered with the crucifixion and everything because I just go and throw it back in Your face and sin.’ I trudged upstairs.

The mirror in the bathroom was really nasty. Smeared with toothpaste and goodness knows what. I fetched the bottle of white vinegar and squirted it onto the mirror. I wiped a few times. It was still smudgy. Luckily, I already knew that the trick to cleaning with vinegar is to keep wiping and wiping, turning the cloth over so that you’re always wiping with a dry spot. After a minute or two – hey, presto! – it gleams.

All of a sudden I could see myself clearly. It was as if God said, “Hey! You! Yes, you are useless on your own. But that’s ok. So’s everyone else. Bunch of numpties, the lot of ’em. But I love you, so as long as you keep seeking the truth, keep aiming for shiny, all you have to do is show up; let me do the rest. If you try to go it alone you just end up with smudges. You can try wiping them, but you’ll just get more smudges. With me, I make it all new and shiny, and you can see clearly again.”

141px-Mirror

“Mirror” by Cgs – English Wikipedia

Oh, yeah…

‘Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”’

Revelation 21:5 (NKJV)

 

Lessons from housework. Who knew? I am reminded of God’s beautiful blessing for the Israelites:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26