Sunday, June 11, 2017

Three Whores and a Gentile Walk Into a Bar...

On the umpteenth anniversary of my attempt to read through the Bible I would like to repost this entry I made six years ago on myspace. In short, there are only 4 women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ. One seduced her father-in-law, one was a prostitute, the others an adulteress and a Gentile who were detestable to the Jews. I appreciate this blog on varying levels:


One of my mom's favorite sermon's was about the four women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ.

I've always been partial to the acknowledgment, specifically because I've been a bad girl most of my life and have always felt that God almost sort of preferred me that way.

Here's the repost from a few years back. Hope you glean something from it. If you're not one for reading that much or just aren't interested, at least do me a favor and read what's after the bold print at the bottom. It's one of my all time, favorite true stories:

A. Tamar

Her story—unknown to most of us—is found in Genesis 38. Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah who was the son of Jacob, grandson of Abraham. All you need to know is that Judah had a son named Er who married a Gentile woman named . . . Tamar. Er died and his brother Onan rose up to do his brotherly duty by marrying Tamar. But he, too, suddenly died, leaving Tamar both husbandless and childless—a kind of twin curse in those days. So because she was impatient and unwilling to wait for God to supply her need, she hatched a scheme to cause her father-in-law Judah to sleep with her. Her plan was simple: Dressing up as a shrine prostitute, she seduced Judah into sleeping with her, whereupon she became pregnant and gave birth to twin boys—Perez and Zerah. When she confronted Judah with the truth, he said (rightly), "She is more righteous than I." Indeed, no one looks good in this story, which reeks of greed, deception, illegitimacy, prostitution, sexual lust, and even the hint of incest. Whatever you can say about Judah (and it's not very good), you cannot by any stretch of the imagination make Tamar look good. She's only less-bad than her father-in-law. But what she did was evil, wrong and immoral. She truly acted like a prostitute even if she wasn't one by trade. That's all we know about Tamar. There really isn't a happy ending to this story. She's just a footnote in biblical history—and an unsavory one at that. The story of her encounter with Judah is a story of human frailty and weakness—of the sinfulness of human flesh. That people like Judah and Tamar would be included in the line of the Messiah sends a strong message about the pure grace of God. Neither one deserved it, but both are on the list.

B. Rahab

We pass now to the second woman on the list—Rahab. Most of us know more about her. In fact, she is almost always mentioned by a certain phrase in the Bible, a phrase most of us know by heart: Rahab the harlot. But that's not all. Rahab was also a Canaanite—who were the hated enemies of Israel. Her most exemplary deed was the telling of a lie. Think about that. A Harlot, a Canaanite and a liar. You wouldn't think she would have much chance of making the list, but there she is.

Her story is tied in with the larger story of Joshua's conquest of the walled city of Jericho. When Joshua sent spies into the city, Rahab hid them in her house. In exchange for safe passage out of the city, they promised to spare her and her household when the invasion took place. All she had to do was to hang a scarlet cord from her window so the Israelites could identify her house. She agreed, hid the spies, and when the king of Jericho sent messengers asking her to bring out the men, she lied and said they had already left the city (they were hiding on the roof). She let them out of a window with a rope, whereupon they returned to Joshua.

It's a great story with many lessons, but we mustn't miss the point that Rahab was a harlot. That was her "trade." The men hid there because people would be accustomed to seeing strangers come and go at all hours of the night. We also can't deny the fact that Rahab told a bald-faced lie. Is there anything good we can say about her? Yes! She was a woman of faith. You don't have to take my word for it. Hebrews 11:31 says, "By faith Rahab . . ." She was a believer! And her lie was motivated by her faith!

When the invasion came, she was spared and in the course of time became the great-great grandmother of King David. A harlot . . . a Canaanite . . . and a liar. Also a woman of faith. She made the list and she's a part of Jesus' family tree.

C. Ruth

The most significant point about Ruth is that she, too, was not a Jew. She was in fact from the country of Moab. And that takes us back to Genesis 19 and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. On that dreadful day Lot escaped Sodom with his wife and two daughters. His wife was turned into a pillar of salt, but Lot and his daughters found refuge in a cave. His daughters evidently had been badly affected by their time in Sodom because they conspired to lure their father into sleeping with them. On successive nights they got Lot drunk and slept with him. Both sisters got pregnant and gave birth to sons - one named Moab, the other named Ammon. Those two boys—born of incest—grew up to found nations that would eventually become both incredibly evil as well as bitter enemies of Israel. The Jews hated the Moabites and Ammonites and wanted nothing to do with them.

The book which bears her name tells of the romance that blossomed between Ruth the Moabitess and Boaz the Israelite. They were a very unlikely couple but in God's providence they were brought together in marriage. They had a son named Obed who had a son named Jesse who had a son named David, making Ruth David's great-grandmother. And that's how a person from the hated nation of Moab entered the line of the Messiah.

D. Bathsheba

The last woman is not mentioned by name. She is however clearly identified as the woman "who had been Uriah's wife." The story of Bathsheba's adultery with King David is so well-known that it need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that adultery was only the beginning. Before the scandal was over it included lying, a royal cover-up, and ultimately murder. As a result the child conceived that night died soon after birth and David's family and his empire began to crumble.

Eventually David married Bathsheba and they had another son—Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. Quite a result for a union that began in adultery. There's dirt all over this episode. But don't miss the main point: Bathsheba made the list. Her name isn't there but she is mentioned nonetheless.


Tamar: Incest, immorality, feigned prostitution, a Gentile
Rahab: Harlotry, lying, deception, a Canaanite
Ruth: A woman from Moab—a nation born out of incest
Bathsheba: Adultery

Four unlikely women:

Three are Gentiles
Three are involved in some form of sexual immorality
Two are involved in prostitution
One is an adulteress


Why would God include women like that in this list? But it's not just the women. Think about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. They were sinners, too. Why include people like that?

I think there are three answers to that question:

1. He did it to send a message to self-righteous people.

Matthew was written especially to the Jews. Many of their leaders (the Pharisees in particular) were self-righteous and judgmental toward others. They truly thought they deserved eternal life. What a shock it would be to read this genealogy because it is filled with liars, murderers, thieves, adulterers and harlots. Not a pretty picture. Not a "clean" family tree. This list was a stinging rebuke to that kind of judgmental self-righteousness.

Do you know what this means? Jesus was born into a sinful family. He came from a long line of sinners.

2. He did it so that God's grace might be richly displayed.

If you come from a family like this, you can't exactly boast of your heritage. Sure, your ancestors were rulers and kings, but they were also great sinners.

Question: Can a prostitute go to heaven? Yes or no? Can an adulterer go to heaven? Can a murderer go to heaven? Can a liar go to heaven? You'd better say yes, because Rahab and David are both going to be in heaven—and Rahab was a prostitute and a liar and David was an adulterer and a murderer.


When you read the stories of these four women—and of the men on the list—you aren't supposed to focus on the sin, but on the grace of God. The hero of this story is God. His grace shines through the blackest of human sin as he chooses flawed men and women and places them in Jesus' family tree.

3. He did it so that we would focus on Jesus Christ.

Many people are intimidated by Jesus Christ. They hook him up with a lot of religious paraphernalia—big sanctuaries, stained glass, beautiful choir, pipe organs, formal prayers, and all the rest. When they look at the trappings, it's all very intimidating to them. To many in the world today, Jesus seems too good to be true.

This genealogy is in the Bible to let us know that he had a background a lot like yours and mine. He called himself "the friend of sinners," and he said he didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sally: Part 2

As Sally finishes her timeline, we come to a question that will apply to all of us, regardless of the various levels of opinions or thoughtful input we might have about her truths and lies. It is one we've all considered at some level at a point in our lives:

When did "It" become Sally's fault and how is she responsible for her own suffering?



We have all sat with a Sally at any given point in our lives. Sally may be a parent, a spouse, a friend, a church member. We have listened within a moment of time hearing Sally's problems and we have either thought or said,"It is your fault. You need to get over it. You are causing the problems in your life."

No reasonable person would look at seven-year-old Sally and tell her that her poor choices caused her suffering. But she could've called 911. She could've confided in a teacher. If she would have done those things, then perhaps she wouldn't have had to raise her siblings. 

Then what? Foster care? Parental retaliation? It would seem that in the timelines of many there are the "what-ifs" that cause the most frustration either because we'll never know what might have happened or we acknowledge that in choosing another path, suffering was inevitable either way. 

Let's go back to the original question--was Sally responsible for the care of her younger siblings? Factually, yes she was. She became the caretaker. Intrinsically, was she responsible? No one would ever put the responsibility of other children primarily upon their siblings, but it was a difficult choice made by a fearful seven-year-old. As we are forced to consider her timeline we recognize that she was betrayed by her parents, that she must have lived in constant anxiety of someone finding out what was going on at home, and as the caretaker of her siblings often neglected her own needs. She would have also had to rely on her parents in some measure as she could not pay bills, buy food, or operate the washing machine, stove, or any other number of appliances. Instead they often went to school hungry and dirty, welcoming ridicule and more suffering. 

What lie did Sally internalize at a young age? I am responsible for my siblings. I can't buy food. I can't wash clothes. It is my fault they are hungry and dirty and when they are bullied, that is my fault too. 

As Sally details her timeline, she recalls other painful moments that stem from the years of neglect. The helplessness that arrives when you cannot stop an adult from molesting you or your siblings. The anger and outrage in the aftermath when it is your own mother who welcomed in the abuser and denies the abuse occurred. The guilt and disgust felt when you are faced with betraying a parent's secrets or revealing them only to endure the terrifying unknown. 

When lies produce negative emotions, these emotions solicit more negative emotions that help feed the lie. They also produce unhealthy oaths that we use to reinforce the lie's destructive path. 

Sally's negative emotions caused by years of neglect and abuse were fear, helplessness, anger, depression and outrage. As a result, the oath she made to help protect herself became close to her as her only ammunition in a world of chaos and disorder:

I will never allow anyone to hurt my siblings like that again. 

This oath gave Sally a feeling of empowerment. She was older now. She received praise from her teachers concerning her academics. She was smart--too smart to allow drugs and alcohol to overtake her life and hurt the ones she was supposed to love. She could work and take advanced classes--just like she could mother young children and still go to school and get good grades. She would show everyone. She would prove that she was capable.

And Sally did achieve great things. She never did drugs. She never got pregnant. She earned her scholarships. She married a man who did not abuse or abandon her. These are tremendous accomplishments given Sally's history. 

So why is Sally almost 30 years old and still terribly depressed and unfulfilled? 

Sally at 30 shares her frustration, anger, and sadness. It falls on deaf ears. Why is an adult woman still caring for her adult siblings? We would readily give love and compassion to the seven-year-old who lived in constant fear and neglect. When Sally the adult comes to us with her brokenness, it is time to tell her she needs to leave the past behind and move on. 

Sally believed the lie and made the oath. Therefore when her siblings continue to make mistakes and suffer, she relives the failure--and all the emotions that accompany them. If Sally does not accept her brother at 3 AM, drunk and on a methadone binge, he might get arrested. He might crash his car. He might find more drugs and overdose. 

And it would be all her fault. She knows that it disrupts her family, which causes more guilt. In her anger as a child and young adult she vowed she would never let them feel that pain again. Now she is hurting the people who love and need her the most--the ones who need her in a healthy, appropriate context. She is failing everyone, including herself. And she is isolated because no one really understands. They reinforce what she already knows--it's all her fault. No matter what she does, she can't win. She is tired of the failure. She is ready to finally give up as depression, uncertainty, and hopelessness take hold.

This is why as we write our own timelines, we will be asking God to show us through each word, each event, each struggle and moment of pain, what lies we believed, what oaths we may have pledged, and rely on Him to mend our brokenness. It is God who has seen each moment. It is God alone who can address the most painful wounds we carry for ourselves or on behalf of others. 

This is also why as we journey with one another through healing and restoration, we will never have to address how Sally or anyone else is to blame. Each will be accountable for their own journey. Each will focus on their own pain and suffering, their own shortcomings, and their own sin. As we seek God to deliver us from the issues we have failed to address, we will allow Him to direct and guide us through our own faults, and rely on Him to show us where forgiveness, repentance, confession, and truth meet practicality. We will trust God to address our wounds in love and compassion.  

Our role in the healing and restoration of others is not to establish blame and punishment--it is to pray, to encourage, and to ask God how our own attitudes are blocking our opportunities to help other broken people find wholeness. 

Questions:

If Sally renounces the lies in her past to embrace the truth, what do you think she would say to herself as a 7-year-old? As a 17-year-old? What compassionate, encouraging words would she have for herself now?

What do you think is more difficult for Sally--to realize the lies she's believed about her mother or the truths? What are the lies and what are the truths? What are the judgments? 

What are some of the lies we believe about forgiving others? What are the emotions we experience as we consider forgiving the people who have caused us the most pain or who have caused pain in the lives of loved ones? 

Sally: Part 1

Sally is the oldest of four children. As she began to construct her personal timeline, she was asked,"Start at the beginning--whatever the beginning is for you--and as far back as you can remember, begin documenting the events that were meaningful in your life. It's important that you don't follow the direction that others might feel are important--a graduation, a marriage, a birth. It's important that you recall what events or circumstances were important to you."

Sally's father left when she was seven and her mother started abusing drugs and alcohol. Sally recalls getting up for school one day, while her mother was passed out with a stranger, and her two younger siblings were on the kitchen floor eating dog kibble from the pet bowl. That was the first of many days she would be responsible for dressing herself and her younger siblings, fixing breakfast and school lunch (when there was food in the house), and ensuring the babies had a bottle and were changed before getting on the bus.





Let's stop here to ask a few questions about Sally's timeline:

Was she responsible for the care of the younger children?

What do you think was her inner dialogue as a seven-year-old child during school hours?

What was her inner dialogue concerning the truth about her parents? How did it relate to her and her siblings specifically? How did it inform her decisions?

Fast forward ten years and Sally has not only "assisted" in raising her siblings but is about to graduate High School with several scholarship offers to universities. As she constructs her timeline she recalls her graduation, not just because it is a life-marker for most of us, but for her it is a unique demonstration of her hard work and effort despite all odds and statistics.

Several years prior, Sally's mother entered a drug and alcohol program which was successful. She got remarried to a man who, although not perfect, was supportive to her mother as well as her brothers and sisters. At a glance, we are happy for Sally's accomplishments given her revelations about her childhood.

Let's stop here to ask a few questions about Sally's timeline:

What has been Sally's dialogue about her mother during all the years she has raised her siblings?

How has that inner dialogue colored her perception of her mother's ability to raise the remaining siblings? 

What emotions did Sally internalize in her youth that are still her personal truths as she considers graduation and leaving home?

As Sally continues her timeline she shares some of the struggles in her first semester. She places a marker on her timeline near the end of her second semester because that is when her younger brother got into trouble at school, endangering another youth to begin a lengthy record he would continue to have with law enforcement.

Sally left college to go home and intervene. She never returned.

Sally had finally earned the opportunity to go out on her own and enjoy the rewards of her hard work. She was free of the stressful circumstances at home. College would be difficult, but certainly could not be as difficult as a child alone, raising other children.

What lies did Sally believe that would cause her to interrupt her life in order to leave behind an open door to freedom and opportunity?

Sally recalls meeting her husband at age 25. She finally met someone that loved her for who she was and was joyful that her oldest sibling Mary was her maid of honor. He realized she had some family problems, but remained supportive for the most part. She got a decent job working at a bank and they started talking about having their own family.

It is now four years into their marriage and Sally's husband, who already has an elementary age child from another relationship, is frustrated by the continual drama her siblings initiate but is even more hurt and confused when Sally drops everything to run to their assistance. She's an intelligent woman--why can't she see that her youngest brother has a drug problem and that it's affecting their marriage? He's stolen money from them (which Sally tried to hide from her husband), he's brought drugs in the house. The police have shown up at all hours of the morning when he has to be up at 6 AM. How does she think they will have a baby and continue to enable the bad behaviors of her family? Can't she see that she's compromising his relationship to his own existing son?

Sally makes the last tick on her timeline. She and her husband have separated.

From the minimal examples listed before, what is the most likely to be Sally's inner dialogue at this point in her life and why? Feel free to make up your own:

"Why do bad things always happen to me?"

"People like me don't deserve to be happy."

"If (a person or people) would just do this (whatever "this" may be), I could have a normal life." 

"It's my fault that (parents, children, spouse, etc) are suffering. They would be better off without me."

"No one ever listens to me."

"It's too difficult to try to change now."

"If I forgive (parent, spouse, abuser, etc) they will get away with what they've done and my pain will continue without vindication." 

"People never love me as much as I love them."

"If I wouldn't have made that mistake, my life would be different. My suffering is my fault. I have gotten what I deserved."

"You can't trust anyone because people will just hurt you."

"If I don't take care of it, no one else will."

Based on what we know of Sally so far from her timeline, what are the possible "truths" accepted by her siblings, her mother, her peers, and her husband about her? 


Just Getting Over It

At some point in our lives, all of us have likely heard or said this phrase:

"Just get OVER it!"

If you're on the receiving end of this phrase, regardless of what "it" may be, you're probably aware of how damaging those words can be.

More often than not, we do not have the capacity to "just get over it." Because it is painful. It is angering. It is wrong. And it won't go away.

The It is a wound. People, events in our past, and even our own beliefs that stem from It then start to contribute to the It as if it were a pet. It is fed. It grows. It takes up more space. It metastasizes and even becomes part of our identity so that the idea of parting with It is even more frightening than living with It the rest of our lives.

We all have our version of It. It robs us of our self esteem. It causes problems in our marriage. It makes us angry and resentful at family, friends, and God. It has taken control of our thoughts, beliefs, and actions and has left part of us in a cage.

As we begin to construct our own timeline of our lives, we'll begin to make discoveries. Our goal is to not only document and consider the facts about what have happened to us, what we've done, or what we haven't done, but to thoroughly attain a deep understanding of the underlying emotions, consequences, and wounds that are still affecting our ability to obtain freedom.

What lies have we learned and embraced as we've navigated life within our own unique circumstances and experiences? 





It is inevitable that whether we are a group of 5 or 25, we have shared several life experiences that have caused wounds: grief, suffering, anger. We all have an inner dialogue. It may sound something like this:

"Why do bad things always happen to me?"

"People like me don't deserve to be happy."

"If (a person or people) would just do this (whatever "this" may be), I could have a normal life." 

"It's my fault that (parents, children, spouse, etc) are suffering. They would be better off without me."

"No one ever listens to me."

"It's too difficult to try to change now."

"If I forgive (parent, spouse, abuser, etc) they will get away with what they've done and my pain will continue without vindication." 

"People never love me as much as I love them."

"If I wouldn't have made that mistake, my life would be different. My suffering is my fault. I have gotten what I deserved."

"You can't trust anyone because people will just hurt you."

"If I don't take care of it, no one else will."


If you can relate to one or more of those inner dialogues, then this study and support group will share tools collectively that may be a conduit to healing from the brokenness and wounds of your past and present.

As you begin to construct your own timeline you may:

Share or keep private any of the information that goes onto it.

Focus on timeline events at your own pace.

Feel free of guilt or pressure if there are some events or circumstances you are not yet able to face.

Commit to participation on your own terms.

We ideally would like to meet as a group, but if you are unable to do so we still want you to be able to get the help and support you need. We will offer online forums and you may set aside times of discussion within the group.

Our ultimate goal will be to discuss and consider several issues or questions:

Is "hate the sin, love the sinner" a Biblical principle?

Who are the people I hate/am angry with/fear/hurt me the most?

What are the Biblical truths about the emotions I experience and how do they relate to my life in a tangible way?

My next post will be about how to construct the timeline of your life, what it may look like, and how it may be used to help you answer tough questions and begin a journey to freedom from the lies that play over and over in our inner dialogue. 




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Discount Yoga Pants (Lucy.com)

Part of the joy of reading Woman's Day has been keeping the back issues to check for sales on the ads. In the February 2017 edition under the style section Feel-Good Clothes, I noticed a pair of Studio Hatha Leggings from Lucy.com.


Usually what I do is wait for a month or several months to pass, then I go back to check which styles or items have gone on sale since advertised. Typically, brand name fashion items will sell through another major department store like Macy's, Belk, or Dillards, or in this case, a sports retailer like Dicks or REI. I always check those stores to compare prices or availability (you can also buy cosmetics through the same avenues--always use a search engine to type in exactly what you want). 

Often I find the brand's own website (for instance, Aerosoles) has a cheaper price than major retailers. Sometimes this is not the case, like another pair of shoes I found in Woman's Day from Mia Shoes. Always check your venues to determine who has a better price with discounts and shipping.

These athletic pants from Lucy.com  were by far, one of the best deals I've seen. My last pair of favorite yoga pants developed a hole in the seam so I needed a good pair (I will expect them to arrive May 2). Lucy.com offered 25% off clearance prices plus an additional 10% off for signing up as a first-time customer (sign up for their email at the bottom of their site). The pants were on sale for $29.97 so with free ground shipping before tax the total came to $20.23. 

Unfortunately, either by a system error or a mistake of my own, the order went through twice (the initial order they cancelled was the higher-priced identical order) and in the midst of attempting to clarify what had gone wrong, I discovered that not only did they cancel the first order due to incorrect stock, but also the second order during the duration of my live chat with the customer service representative.

Having worked for J. Crew direct for a total of 10 years, I realize that sometimes, through no fault of the associates, this can happen because of returns and computer inaccuracies. I was able to call the customer service number to reorder another size (which will hopefully be a better fit after looking at the size charts) at the same price. 

So instead of paying $93.45 (with tax) I paid $21.30--a savings of $72.15 PLUS Swagbucks shopping program allowed me to earn 2 points per dollar which comes to 41 points (the equivalent of $0.41). 


Friday, April 14, 2017

How to Start Healing From Religious Rejection (And the Rest of Them)



As I continue to go through a therapeutic journey, I repeat the scenario in my mind,"How would my life have been different if I stayed in Bible College (like I felt I was supposed to all these decades--deep down, or within denial, or in other contexts)?" The underlying foundation of truth supporting this returning question can also be presented in one specific inquiry: Why would God ask an incapable teenager to remain in a place that was lonely, full of rejection, misery, and darkness?


I have mulled over this question the last few days during depression--a time when I am incapable of doing much more. God has asked,"What have you repeated as truths you learned about yourself during that time of your life?"


This is easy because Bible College was one of the first traumatizing experiences in my life. I went down the list:


1. No good man can ever love a girl like me.


2. I look and act weird. Even though my behavior is correct, if I don't look and act a certain way, I'll never be accepted by religious leaders.


3. Godly leaders accept people based on the way they dress and act, regardless if behind the scenes, they are committing the sins that I'm accused of because I do not dress and act a certain way.


4. Religious leaders are cruel to my mother and want me to accept that cruelty as righteous behavior.


5. People who are like me will be targeted and punished. People who are superficially spiritual will be rewarded and promoted even when they are committing any number of transgressions behind closed doors--or sometimes out in the open, because not all sin is equal. My sin is worse than the sins of these people.


I am still processing this. But God did address the first truth I learned. I thought about a guy I had not recalled in probably 9 or 10 years.


He was from a very religious, pure, Dugger-like family. He was enigmatic although strange and outlandish. He was funny, all the guys liked him. He wasn't afraid of what people thought of him and that especially flowed over into one specific category: his love for me.


I was involved at the time, long distance, with one of the worst boyfriends I've probably ever had. This guy was your prototype Christian male--he was a virgin, committed to purity, he had never dated, he worshiped, read the Bible, quoted Scripture. Yet he loved me. Many of the guys at Bible College warned him about me (even though I myself was still a virgin I was considered sullied). He didn't listen and also defended me.


He snuck up to the women's dorms once and wrote on the dry erase board on my door. And I remembered a conversation that we had in the laundry room. Why I hadn't ever thought of this during years of bad relationships, I thought to myself, I'll never know. But then, of course, I knew: I accepted the lies of others about myself--people who were intended to protect me, love me, and guide me--as truths instead of recognizing their own short-sighted, prideful neglect.


I accepted the lie as truth.


In the laundry room that day, I attempted to dissuade his arguments for why I was worthy--your parents would never accept a girl like me. I smoke. I'm in a relationship. I've done drugs.


I recalled a conversation from 1999 in which this epitome of a good, Christian man rebuked every word and action I wielded to reject him: "My parents will love you because my love for you will demand that they do so. I'll help you stop smoking, because I don't want you to do anything that damages your body. You're in a relationship with a man who treats you poorly and doesn't recognize what you're worth. I know my family would disagree, but I really don't think pot is that bad."


I could not accept him because I could not accept the truth--the real truth--about myself. I left college after my second semester. I can honestly say I have either rarely or never thought about him or those moments of pure, unique affection since they happened.


We had to return a book to Liberty University's library yesterday. We passed the chapel and I had a flashback to praying there after work one night with a very nice-looking, homosexual young man who always wore a suit to work and rarely spoke to anyone. I am certain I have never thought about the event until yesterday. But it came back to me. We had worked the same department one night while I was still part time and for some reason, he opened up to me about some problem he was having.


I can't imagine what would've possessed me to take him to LU's chapel and pray with him and in his standoffish behavior and dignity I cannot fathom why he accepted the invitation. But he did. I don't remember his name or the problem, but what I do remember is his face after the prayer. He looked at me with genuine love and affection.


I'm not quite sure why I thought of that moment. God has asked me,"How would things have been different if you had been the person you are now? How would Bible College have affected you?"


It's an obvious answer to me. I would've known how to act in order to be accepted. I would've seen the same people do the same things but it wouldn't have mattered. I would understand that they are flawed human beings and I would've done the work and accepted the opportunities and ignored the imperfections because people don't change until it is imperative they do so--or a miracle occurs.


"So did you change because it was imperative that you do so or because a miracle occurred?"


Oh. I see where this is going. Kind of.


"I changed because it was imperative that I do so and before You ask why, it was because I had to stop the pattern of rejection by men in my life, I was getting older, and I was still unmarried and childless which I had always assumed was my purpose."


"So if you were the same person you are now and went back in time to Bible College, you would've used what you've learned so far to become married and have a family?"


I thought about the wonderful guy who said all those powerfully gracious and intuitive things to me, about me. Would I have wanted to marry him?


The answer is no. I wanted the truths he spoke to me. I wanted to recognize and accept the value and worth of being loved for who I was.


"Then note number 6: you accepted the lie that being unmarried and childless for all these years was a failure at being who I've wanted you to be."


When I was 26 years old I stood in my office at work and resigned myself to the fact that my life had not turned out as I had planned. I spent the next decade just accepting the loss of identity, half of which I did through the worst kinds of trauma: death, betrayal, loss of lifetime comforts, rejection. Wash, rinse, repeat.


I was warned by spiritual people who loved me not to come back to Lynchburg. But I did it, I suffered, and here I am now. They said there were bad people living here who would hurt me. Did that happen? Yes. If people who served God (allegedly) rejected me, then I would forgo the purity and aversion to certain behaviors and embrace the ones who accepted me.


Did I suffer? I suffered immensely. I can only imagine that had I stayed in Bible College I would've suffered as well. There may have been ways that I would've avoided troubles that I brought upon myself by participating with the wrong people and things, but the problem was within. It had to be fixed. What did my life teach me?


All people are hypocrites who hurt others because of their own refusal to accept the truth about themselves. I became a receptacle for all kinds of garbage from people of all walks of life.


If the me now was back in college, I would've told that young man that I simply did not want to get married. I could have accepted his love but added,"I want to get a degree. I want to write and travel. I won't be able to do that and invest entirely in marriage and family."


I could not say that unless I loved the person I am now. And I wouldn't love the person I am now unless I had suffered. Believing lies causes suffering, regardless of your reality or circumstances. You can thrive in sports, activities, and grades throughout High School and college. You can marry the right person. You can be promoted in the right jobs. You can look fit and healthy and have great kids who do all the right things. Painful circumstances result in suffering. But if you believe in a lie--even lies that put you in good favor--they will cause you to suffer.


Which brings me to another truth. Often God wants us to suffer. We have to accept that as not only a Biblical truth that is evident in Jesus, but one that is necessary as the outcome of sin and iniquity. Have I been mad at God? Absolutely--especially over the last 9 years. Is He silent at times? Often.


It is the truth that I do love who I am. It is not enough. I must search for excellence. I have to become whole.


One of the major disappointments we all share is not being able to accept we did not get what we wanted from people who were supposed to give it to us. Close to the core of that are failures that are rooted in our lives (or the lives of loved ones) because things did not turn out the way we knew they should. When people talk about grief, this is a grief that causes wounds that often go unrecognized. Death is obvious loss; dreams that continue to go unrealized after decades of trial and error, faithfulness and perseverance--these are grievances that cost us so much yet continue perpetually as they are ignored, stuffed down, and unrealized because of the threat of unbearable pain and mourning.


Don't be afraid. If you start to realize the truth about yourself--all of the yous from infancy to now--what happened to you through no fault of your own, what you've done to others, what you've lost, how people who are close to you have hurt you or continue to hurt you--you will start to see. You will begin to have insight, let go of destructive behaviors. You will become whole.


This is a new and lengthy journey for me. I am pleased that throughout my depression--a depression I am genuinely thankful for since it allows me the time and stillness to truly give these issues attention--I have been helpless to recognize these issues except for the grace and freedom to ask and actually endure the answers.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Synergy Soup

This is the recipe I used in 2014 to encourage the termination of sugar from my diet. I ate it for breakfast and lunch in various forms which resulted in a 20 pound weight loss in 3 weeks. My personal experience is that you can feel the soup as soon as it enters your bloodstream. It's a soothing, energizing sensation, due to super foods like vinegar, garlic, and turmeric.

You can really include any types of vegetable you like. If you want to make a carrot-based soup I recommend boiling the carrots first to make them soft and adding chicken stock. I more often make an avocado base because of the health benefits . If you use a tomato base alone, it can turn out as a gazpacho.

1 tbl olive oil
1 cap full Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
1/8 of a small red onion
1/2 clove garlic
1 small avocado
1 small tomato
1 cucumber, unpeeled
1/4 cup cilantro
dash of cinnamon
dash of turmeric
salt to taste
pepper
1/4 cup Fage 2% Greek yogurt

I top it off with a healthy dollop of Greek yogurt and pepitas.



Alternative/extra vegetables to add/replace:

kale
spinach
carrots
peas
peppers
parsley
celery
cooked squash