Sunday, June 29, 2008

Heartbreak, Heartache, and Restoration

Hearts. Not the thing that pumps blood. The thing inside us, that is who we are. They can feel so much joy. So much peace.

Or so much pain.

Life so often hurts. I've heard people say that their heart is broken. I've been there. Broken hearted. Heartbreak goes beyond hurt. Heartbreak is when you've had so much hurt, and you're still in the middle of everything painful, and you don't feel anymore. I've been there. It's awful.

I've also had heartache. Heartache - that pain inside that is physical. It goes beyond sorrow and it goes beyond desperation. It can bring you down, and affect every decision and action.

I look back at my life... there's been a lot of heartache. I've been abandoned. I've been abused. I've been violated. All before the age of 6. I've been depressed. I've seen hope deferred. I've been the only child of a single parent with an illness of unknown origin. I've been afraid I was dying. I've been hurt. I've been suicidal. I've walked so far from God that I didn't know if I could go back. I've had the person who I depended on most ripped away by death. I've blamed myself for that. I've blamed others for it. I've stopped caring. I've inadvertantly broken relationships. I've deliberately broken them.

And in all this? God has provided. I look around me, and there was always, always someone there for me. I've never truly been without. My parents loved me. They always have. I know that. But my family was broken all the same. That's hard on a kid. There were things that happened that I kept from them, even at such a young age. It was a big burden, but easier that way. And yet, although I didn't share it with anybody else, God sent others to help. As I grew older, and things started to matter more, I noticed that people just cared so much. There's nobody I know who hasn't let me down at one time or another - because they are like me. Human. And capable of error. Imperfect. But they were there. There's a lot of them... when I was younger, they were mostly men. My daddy, for one. Alan, for another. But those were expected. And as strange as it sounds, it's the unexpected that really stands out... my martial arts instructor, who never looked at me as though I was crazy, and took the time to really get to know who I am. My other martial arts instructor, who was an outside influence, a mentor, believed in me, believed I would make it when nobody else did, and was a true friend. Yet another martial arts instructor who saw potential and took the time to remind me that there is always space for compassion. A doctor from Pennsylvania who finally helped me see that the connection between soul, spirit, and body is unbreakable. And that if I didn't take care of the first two, the third would break down. A deacon in a new church who opened his house and family to me if ever it was needed. A Pastor who knew my "darkest deeds" and looked me in the eyes and told me I was wanted, and that there was a place for me in "his" church. Friends I didn't know were friends. A husband who somehow, through the craziness of the last almost 3 years, has never wavered in his affection. Who somehow still sees me as an amazing, beautiful person. And those are just the ones that pop into my mind quickly.

I know people who are lonely. I know that there are those who feel like they've got nobody. And I know how that feels. Because in the midst of all those people who cared, I was alone. Nobody knew my secrets. Nobody knew the depths of the pain I felt. At least that's how it seemed. Today, on the other side of much of that, I can see God. I see His face in the smiles of the people I listed above. I can feel His touch in their hands and hear His voice in their words. And I know now that even in my darkest, deepest moment of despair, He was there. And His love is unconditional. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that one. I know my failures, my shortcomings. I know my deliberate sins and the tendencies I have. And I know that sometimes, I feel totally unlovable. And yet, His word says that His love endures forever.

This is the restoration part. The part where I look to heaven and see my King. The part where I am broken on my knees, and He whispers to my heart that He was always there, he's never left me and He never will. The part where I finally begin to see that He truly does love me without merit. And to see that I'll never, ever be able to stop Him from loving me. That's the part the restores me.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Will Live

Shortly after my Gramma died, I was in a dark, dark place. I stayed there for months. Sometime in June, I was at church. We were singing a new song with the line "I will live to love you. I will live to bring you praise. I will live a child in awe of you." I think that to a lot of people, these were/are just words to nice worship song. But as I sang through it for the first time, I got to thinking.

At that time, I didn't necessarily want to die. I wouldn't have done anything to accelerate or cause it to happen. However, I didn't want to live, either. I, like everyone else I know, would prefer not to be miserable. And while I wasn't suicidal, and I wasn't seeking to harm myself or cause pain to anyone else, heaven was more appealing than ever. There was no will or desire to live.

People told me to "live for her" or to "live for Derek" or "live for God." All of that was nice, but... not particularly inspiring. But as we sang that song, I realized something. It's not about me. I don't live for me. I don't live for kicks. I don't live for fun. I live... for Him. And not just staying alive. I live to love Him and serve Him. Then and there, I got on my knees. I made a promise to my God, a sacred promise. A promise with more meaning than most readers could know. I promised to live. I promised that, not because I was feeling inclined to do otherwise, but because to me, it's the best promise I can make. To live. It means more than simply maintaining respiration and heartbeat. It means choosing life. That's a whole other entry for a different day. But it meant a lot to me.

Anyway, that's where I'm at today. Thinking about that promise. To live.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Been a While

So it's been a while. For a lot of things. A while since... I've gotten a full night's sleep, because we've been blessed with the opportunity to bottle raise yet another litter of kittens (well, only two of them this time, but they still eat often). It's been a while since... I have been able to think of Gramma without regret, guilt, and sadness. It's been a while since... my husband and I have spent very long laying in bed talking. It's been a while since... we've prayed together every night. It's been a while since... I last wrote here.

Meanwhile, something's been bothering me. I'm not ready to write here, yet. But it pertains to the book I'm reading - "Driven By Eternity." I do want to write about it - and I want to share it. However, right now, I'm just not ready.

Today, a paragraph really jumped out at me from the book. It's found on page 78 (and for the sake of not stealing, this was written by John Bevere):

"It is complete ignorance for a Christian to disdain an individual who has not received Jesus as their Master for his or her lifestyle. This person's spiritual DNA is to sin, and that is just what he does. What is freaky and completely unnatural is a "believer" who habitually or willfully sins..."

The paragraph goes past that. But I got hung up on that. First, on the the first sentence. It IS ignorance - or hatred - that cause a Christian to disdain anybody who isn't a Christian for what they do. How can we expect any different?

The second part gets me though... the part where it is freaky and completely unnatural is to sin willfully or habitually after being saved. Why? Because I am saved. I often don't feel like it, but the Bible says if I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth, and Jesus is my Lord, then I am saved. But... I have committed sin. Willfully. After being saved. I've even done some things repeatedly. When I was in high school, I fell. Far, and hard. I was so far from God - in my heart. He never left me - I can see that now, when I look back. I was so deep into destructive and hurtful (to others and myself) behavior, depression, unforgiveness and hatred that I (thankfully) can't recall it well enough to even imagine it. That's not what bothers me, so much, though.

Why? Because on May 8th, 2002, a good friend and her family took me with them to a "new church" they'd found recently. At that service, God intervened in my life in a radical, undeniably tangible and visible (and provable) way. When we got there, I was overcome by the atmosphere of worship and love for God. I repented then and there. The rest... well, that's a story for a different day. Suffice to say, I wasn't the only one blessed that night, and I wasn't the only person touched by the changes just in myself. I look at that as my "coming home" after clearly fitting the description of the prodigal. I was the one who was out with the pigs, wishing I could stomach the corn cobs because it was the best I could do for myself. Not literally (I've never been in a pig pen in my life), but figuratively. Spiritually.

But since then? I've willfully sinned. I've lied. I've spoken badly about people. I've been hard toward my husband. I've been selfish. There is one particular instance, which I won't discuss here in such an open format, that stands out. Why? It was deliberate. It was willful. It was a sin of commission. It was outright rebellion. And the consequences? Let me just say the ripples can still be seen today. God didn't punish me for it. But doing so opened the door to the devil to wreak havoc in my thoughts and life. And that bothers me. Mostly because it opens the door to doubt... would I have done that if I was really saved? I know the answer deep down - yes. I'm saved. Redeemed. Spiritually re-born. But I'm still stuck in my body. Flawed. And my soul (mind, will, and emotions) is flawed. I know that. And I know we all sin. But... it bothers me to know that I could so openly rebel against the God who sent His SON to die for me.

Before this makes less sense, and before I get more tired, I need to go to bed. But I'll endeavor to write more frequently in the weeks to come.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Not much to say just now...

God is the author of beauty. And I'm thankful He lets me occasionally capture some of it.

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