Can Faith and Doubt Co-exist?

Can Faith and Doubt Co-exist?

Last September/October I felt like the Lord was telling me that He had something for me.  He was preparing me and I felt so very close to knowing what He had purposed for me.  Then…….  I was diagnosed with a life-altering condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).  To try to put things into context for those who haven’t heard of this condition, which most haven’t, wringerCRPS is considered more painful on McGill Pain Scale than the following:  childbirth, amputation of a digit, some cancer pain, and fractures.  This is not a little ache that I am talking about, it is a pain that never entirely leaves.  It seems to me as if it rolls around, sometimes just a low burn/ache and other times I feel as if my body is being put through a giant wringer washing machine, crushing my bones and everything else in its way.   Understand that I am in no way minimizing anyone else’s pain, I just want to lay the groundwork so that there is an understanding of the nature of the beast that I am dealing with…

I am currently awaiting an appointment that is critical to happen within the first 6 months after the first symptom appears.  I am 1 week short of the 3 month mark and I can tell you that I am concerned that I won’t be seen ‘on time’.  While people not seen in the ‘window’ do recover, it is much more difficult and from what I understand, less likely to go into remission for long periods.  Prayers appreciated that an appointment will come swiftly…

Back to the issue at hand:  Can faith and doubt co-exist?  So recently I was anxiously waiting for what God had for me.  Now I am in pain often, I have a modified schedule at work to accommodate a lengthy rest during lunch so that I can be productive through my work day, I nap most evenings to the tune of an hour or more, and most nights I don’t get more than 4 hours’ sleep.  I can’t help but wonder HOW can God use the mess that I am right now?

I want to make one thing clear:  I have not lost faith in my great God.  I know that He is able, but I also know that when I prayed for my own healing, He said ‘no’.  I don’t know if that is forever ‘no’ or a not right now ‘no’.  I just know that it was definitively a ‘no’.  In His hands I will rest my life and trust that there is a reason for this.

As I cried to my wonderful husband Tim about this, he reminded me that not every thought that is in my head is my own.  I said to him that the thought keeps going through my head that ‘I know God can do anything, so then why doesn’t He?’  NOW, I have fallen for one of the slimy ones tricks again and that make me angry.  Believing that his nasty little thoughts are my own.  Letting it wiggle in and try to uproot what I know:  God is good, He is just and right, His ways and thoughts are higher than my own.  He alone can see the big picture of my life and know what is right for me.

Tim also reminded me that when Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed, God said to him:  “My grace is sufficient for you; My power is perfected in your weakness.”  Now, I need to do a lot of work before I can say that I delight in my weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties – but I KNOW that His grace IS indeed sufficient for me.

So, to answer my own question:  Can faith and doubt co-exist?  In my opinion, no.  Can I question God and it be okay?  Yes, I believe that I can.  God is so gracious that He isn’t angered when I don’t get on board with what He is doing/trying to do right away.  He knows my heart’s desire is to serve Him and He is ever patient in helping me to come around to His way of thinking – even when I don’t begin to understand.  But doubt – doubt is from the enemy of my soul.  It is his job to try to feed me thoughts to make me doubt God’s love and intentions for me.  To this, I will answer with this scripture:  Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

So I will keep my trust in the One who loves me more than I can fathom.  I will strive to keep in mind Philippians 3:10-14 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.  12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

In my humanity and weakness, I still can’t fathom how exactly He can use me.  But I don’t have to work that out, He has had it in mind since before I was conceived.

This song expresses my feelings pretty concisely.  Take a moment and listen if you don’t already know it – I Will Trust In You by Lauren Daigle.

Also, when I listen, God speaks.  Take a look at the devotionals below.  I follow this on Facebook but seldom take the time to read them.

Daughters of the King Daily Devotionals
Yesterday at 6:21am ·
I Am Refining You

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [which are dishonorable—disobedient, sinful], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified [set apart for a special purpose and], useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Run away from youthful lusts—pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those [believers] who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” 2 Timothy 2:21-22, Amplified.

“If you want to be used greatly for My kingdom purposes, I will need to refine you. I will need to search your heart for what doesn’t look like Me and change you until you are a reflection of Me. I will need to smooth out every rough place. Fill every lacking place. Bring low every high place. Straighten every crooked place. I will accomplish this so that I can have My way in and through you with no blockages or delay. I will be glorified in your life. I will be glorified in your thoughts and in the secret places of your heart where no one sees but Me. I will be glorified in how you live before Me. You are My vessel unto honor and I am refining you.”

and

Daughters of the King Daily Devotionals
6 hrs ·
He Will Do It

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it..” (1 Thessalonians 5:24, ESV).

While standing at a church altar, I had gone up for prayer. Tears running down my face like a river, I felt scared. God was having me step out on faith and trust Him in a way I had never trusted Him before. I was totally out of my comfort zone like a baby standing for the first time. “What if I fall?” “Can I really do this?” “Lord help me.” And with all of these thoughts going through my mind, God came to my aid and encouraged me. He reminded that He had called me and He will do it. Not me…Him.

A lot of us are wondering how we are going to do the things that God has called us to do, but let me encourage you with the same thing God encouraged me with. It is not you that is doing anything. It is God. Didn’t He say, it’s not by power, nor by might, but by My spirit says the Lord? If any great victory is going to be had by you, it will be by His strength and power. If any change is going to take place in your life, it will be changed by His power. If you are going to walk the straight and narrow way, it will be by His grace and power.

All God is requiring of you is for you to yield to Him and trust in Him.

Save

How Could It Be Okay?

Tim is reassuring me over the phone “It is okay.  Everything is okay.”  I am screaming back into the phone “NO IT’S NOT!  IT’S NOT OKAY!  YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!”  Totally hysterical, sobbing and almost hyperventilating, I can’t seem to get a grip on myself…  How can I?  In the past it wouldn’t have been okay – it would have been the beginning of another nightmare.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – or a flashback of sorts – I am not sure what to call what happened.  Whatever happened, I didn’t know that I could or would have something like that.  I know that it took me years to not flinch when someone was nearby and moved too quickly; that I still feel the need to apologize for every stupid thing that happens, regardless of the fact that it may or may not have anything to do with me directly.  I don’t know what it was – but it was completely unnerving I must tell you.  It has taken me some time to understand exactly what had happened.

Here is an inside view of my one (and I sure hope) only episode:

It was a Monday; my husband Tim had just started his position at a new church out of town.  Because of the distance, he

macro water drop

Image by Tanya Puntti via Flickr

would be staying a few days in our soon to be new city.  I have always credited myself for being strong and perfectly able to take care of myself so this didn’t seem like a big deal to me.  I came home from work, had dinner and was having a normal evening.  Normal until I decided to retrieve something from the basement office.  As I am rummaging around my desk for the item, I hear drip, drip, drip. I step out of the office and into the washroom to find the source of the noise.  I immediately see little drips of water from the ceiling falling into the base of the shower.  My first thought was how lucky I was that it was dripping into the shower instead of getting anything else wet.  I look up to see the ceiling sagging over the shower – not good.  After consulting with Tim, I got a ladder and a hammer so that I could gently remove the hanging piece of ceiling and see what was really happening.

As I begin to remove the ceiling, the water runs down onto my head.  Lovely…  I can see the leak now – just a slight little drip right at the joint.  It must have been leaking for days to soak the ceiling the way that it did.  It seems that all that needed to happen was to turn the water off to the shower.  Wow – that is a no brainer I thought.  Unfortunately, the plumber who did the shower was about as much of a plumber as I was.  The shut off valves were metal and the pipes plastic.  The weight of the metal was actually pulling itself off of the plastic piping – making the shut-off valve completely ineffective.

Now, if you happen to know me well, you likely saw my status on Facebook later this same night.  I am going to repeat it just in case someone new is reading:  IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THE MAIN WATER SHUT OFF VALVE IS (AND HOW TO USE IT) IN YOUR HOUSE – FIND OUT NOW!!!

So, the plastic piping slips out of the metal shut off valve and wouldn’t you know it, it was the HOT water.  Now pouring down onto my head and scalding me.  I had no idea what to do now, the water was going into the shower and overflowing onto the tile floor.  I got off the ladder and ran around the basement like a mad person trying to figure out what to do.  I tried to call Tim and couldn’t reach him immediately.  In my running back and forth around the basement, I slipped several times and smashed my leg into the ladder.  At this point, water is flowing onto the unfinished basement floor towards the carpet – I run, fall but still get the water stopped before it gets to the carpet.

Now envision this, I am soaking wet – through and through.  The bathroom is drenched – the shower is full (bits of the ceiling are clogging the drain) and the floor is soaked.  Water is still pouring from the pipe hanging from the ceiling…  Finally, I am able to reach Tim.  He directs me to the main shut-off valve and instantly the water stops flowing.

I am trying to explain to Tim what happened – what a mess that everything is and I am sobbing and screaming (or at least screeching).  Tim is reassuring me over the phone “It is okay.  Everything is okay.”  I am screaming back into the phone “NO IT’S NOT!  IT’S NOT OKAY!  YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!”  Totally hysterical, sobbing and as near to hyperventilating as I have ever been, I can’t seem to get a grip on myself…

We hang up.  I start trying to call a couple of our friends from the area who can help with getting the problem fixed and get the water turned back on and finally I got myself cleaned up as much as possible.  As I sit numbly waiting for one of the two guys to come, I begin realize that it is actually going to be okay.

What you need to know is that Tim is the kindest, gentlest man in the world.  Still, these old feelings were suffocating me.  Soon I was afraid again and stayed nervous until he came home a few days later and inspected the mess.  Then he came upstairs and nothing happened.  A sense of relief ran through me that I can’t explain.  Nothing worse was coming – it truly was okay.

It is strange to know someone like I know Tim – to know that, of course it would be okay but to still have such a deep-seated fear that you can hardly breathe.  The Lord really began to speak to me about those things that I had hidden away so well – at least, I thought they were hidden well.  Obviously they were still there, still raw and bleeding and they needed finally to be tended to so that they could mend and heal properly.

If you have ever been involved in wound care, you know that a wound should heal from the inside out – not the outside in.  If it heals from the outside in, infection becomes trapped and can cause so much more damage than the initial injury.  I think that is the way that I tried to heal – I decided that it wasn’t a big deal and closed up the wounds.  All of these years infection has been there and now it is time to allow those wounds to be opened back up – this time to be cleaned out the proper way so that they can heal completely.

You see, what happened was that in the stress of the situation, my mind pulled me back to Alabama; back to a time where everything was my fault and where the price was very high for making/causing such a mess.  It was as if I was instantly transported to a time when I was 15-20 years younger, terrified of making a wrong move and completely isolated when I did.  My mind and my body seemed to go into defense mode.  It took quite some time for the barrier to come down and for me to realize what this incident meant.  Actually, I think that I am still learning from it…

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Something that you have to say might help me or someone else on their walk to healing, please leave a comment below if you are comfortable in doing so…  If you would like to contact me directly/privately, you may do so by emailing me at krislukings [at] gmail [dot] com or through Facebook using the link to the right.  Any personal messages that I receive will be kept in the strictest of confidence.

Also, if you don’t want to miss the next post when it comes, you can sign up to receive these messages in your inbox using the link to the right.

Blessings…

God’s Holy Scooper

The recent writings about my previous life have left me a bit raw.  It feels like there is a cleansing process happening – that the Lord has me opened up and He is scooping out the garbage that was deposited into my heart and mind.

At first I was afraid of this – I was a bit afraid of what would be left when He was finished.  I have been this way for so long.  Would I know how to even be without all of that stuff?  Would I know how to feel about life or how to respond to the things in the world around me?

Would I feel hollow inside?  It hardly seems conceivable to me that all of that stuff could be gone.  It was unsettling to think that way.  The Lord began to show me that because I was uncertain of what was to come, I was not allowing Him to do the work in me that He so longed to do.

I think back to a message that my husband Tim shared recently about the Israelites.  He talked about how, when Moses was on the Mount Sinai spending time with God, the Israelites turned away from God and back to idols.  They convinced Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship.  (Ex. 32:1-6)

They had been delivered from plagues, from Egypt – God even parted the Red Sea to facilitate their freedom.  They were first hand witnesses to miracle after miracle yet when their spiritual leader was gone for a little while they fell back.  They got their eyes off of God and decided that they needed something to look at – something to worship.

I can’t fathom this, but we know that it is true.  I try to understand why they didn’t just wait for Moses to come back…  Why did they feel this strong desire to have something familiar to worship even though they knew that it was God who brought them through and kept them safe and fed?  But they didn’t wait, they turned back to idols, to religion because it was familiar – they knew what to expect – they could control the out-come.

Choosing to wait on Moses would be out of their comfort level.  They wouldn’t know what to expect and they certainly couldn’t control the out-come.  They were not willing to give over control of their worship or control of their lives to God.  They would rather have the known than the unknown – even if there was pain and slavery and no power for them in the known.  To stay inside their comfort level they gave up freedom and power – and for some, their lives.

Was I doing the same thing with my memories, with  my pain?  Was I holding on to the familiar so tightly that I was not willing to let God work in me because I was afraid of the out-come?  I wasn’t in control of the process so it seemed safer to stick with the familiar than to trust God and allow Him to begin His work in me.  Once again the father of lies had been whispering in my ear, filling my head with these fearful thoughts of the unknown.  Whispering suggestions that I was doing okay now – why not just stay in my comfortable place at least a while longer…

But God’s Word is a lamp unto my feet and He will illuminate the lies of satan if it is truly our hearts desire to follow God.  He has a standing invitation in my life to mess with my thinking, my emotions and any other thing that He sees fit…  I know that He doesn’t start stirring the pot for the sake of stirring.  He starts stirring things up and showing me things for my benefit, so that I can grow in my walk with Him, so that I can heal from things that I didn’t even realize were still hurting me and holding me back.  He stirs things up so that I can fulfill the work that He has laid out for me to do without hesitation.  He stirs things up so that I can be whole and live a life pointing back at Him as my source, my strength, my all.

Back to that cleansing process that I feel like God has started in me.  I truly do feel like God has got a big scooper and He is meticulously scooping out things and we are dissecting them together.  He pulls out a pile of stuff and says “Look Kris – we need to work on that for a bit.”  The work isn’t always easy, but He holds my hand He guides me and helps me when I feel like I just can’t do anymore.

I am no longer afraid of what will be left when He is finished, whenever that may be.  I know that what will be left will be from Him, new attitudes towards the things of the past, new ways of looking at things and new ways of dealing with them.  I know that what will be left when all is said and done what is left will be glorious because it will be a work of His hands – a masterpiece.

I can close my eyes and see that He has other scoopers all lined up.  He will begin to use the smaller ones as we go along until finally there will only be a tiny one that can hardly be seen with the human eye.  He will leave nothing that doesn’t belong inside me – He will work diligently at pulling all of the pain and the lies into the light for dissection.  He will complete a perfect work in me as long as I continue to allow Him to do so – and I will.

I saw this over the Halloween season (and you probably did too).  Just as I was about to publish this post I remembered it…  It is cure and so very true:

Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin.

pumpkin guts

Image by ¡♥ıʞns via Flickr

God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you.

He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out all the yucky stuff– including the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc.
Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside you to shine for all the world to see.

How about you?  Are there things that He wants to dissect with you?  Are you willing to trust Him to go into those deep places and allow Him to begin a work in you?

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Something that you have to say might help me or someone else on their walk to healing, please leave a comment below if you are comfortable in doing so…  If you would like to contact me directly/privately, you may do so by emailing me at krislukings [at] gmail [dot] com or through Facebook using the link to the right.

Also, if you don’t want to miss the next post when it comes, you can sign up to receive these messages in your inbox using the link to the right.

Blessings…

Surreal

I almost can’t imagine that my memories are correct.  Did I live like that?  Did I once try to measure every word that came out of my mouth for fear some strange little something would cause an explosion that would end up in pain and degradation?  It seems surreal to look back now.  The memories are often shadowy.  They seem to be blurry around the edges, trying to hide things I once thought were best forgotten.  I have come to understand in the last year or so that I wasn’t quite as “okay” as I thought I was with all of this stuff.  I discovered that I wasn’t quite as strong as I pretended to be and that unnerved me.  Someday I think I will be telling you that story.  I can look back and almost laugh now – just almost…

This evening I was searching for an image dealing with abuse.  The images of abuse were so shocking to me, they made me sick to my stomach and they made me feel ashamed.  The images brought to mind a number of years ago when I was asked to briefly talk about my life during the abusive periods.  As I look back now I realize that my answers were spat out with much anger and hatred.  I used to relive a bit of the past each time that I discussed my former life.  I would get angry at the unfairness of it all, angry when I remembered the pain and the fear and for me, most angry at the complete loss of control that I felt in my life.  Everything just seemed to be in a perpetual spin cycle and life was just a dizzy mess most of the time.

I began to ask myself the same questions that people who haven’t been touched by abuse ask.  I realize now that if I was not careful the questions would add more guilt and could easily shred my self-esteem.  I felt that I had to answer these questions for myself once and for all and deal with everything that came with them.

1.       How did I let it happen?  I no more willingly “let it happen” than I would willingly have a car accident.  It just started happening and I was never taught what to do when someone abused me.  I defended myself as much as possible from the physical blows, but the verbal blows were impossible to ward off.

2.       How could I not have seen that I was being manipulated or controlled?  Lack of experience in the field.  No one had ever tried to control me before.  Besides, my life was all about choosing my words carefully and trying to respond appropriately to life around me.

3.       Why did I feel such shame over something that was not my own doing?  I believe that the shame came because the very person who was supposed to love me the most in the world deemed me fit only to receive treatment that was worse than anything I could ever fathom.  There must be something wrong with me…

4.       Why did I work so hard to hide the evidence from everyone in my life?  I didn’t want people to ask questions – they would surely see that I was a lousy wife and deserved what had been delivered.

5.       Why on earth did I stay? This was a hard question to answer.  I took a lot of time and the following is what I have come to understand about myself. I imagine that others have similar reasons and sometimes a lot more.

a.       SHAME – as mentioned above, there is a serious deep-rooted shame that (for me) grew from the first incident.

b.      A breakdown of my self-esteem and the feeling of complete UNWORTHINESS.  He loved me once and I just didn’t think I deserved any better. I had to have done something to deserve what was happening.  I couldn’t make sense of it any other way.

c.       FEAR
i.      of being alone– no one else would ever care about me.  The experiences that I had during that time filled my head with hopelessness that there was any other way.
ii.      of going to Hell – at that time in my life, my beliefs said that divorce equaled Hell*.  There was no other way – I thought I had to accept that this was the life I had chosen and I had to live it.

*Now, I don’t think that divorce is God’s first or best plan for any of us – but I no longer see it as unpardonable.  To me, saying that divorce is unpardonable is like saying that the blood of Jesus Christ is not good enough to cover it.  That it was the one thing that He wouldn’t forgive – it just affected too many people to deserve to be forgiven.    Nothing in our lives deserves to be forgiven, but He forgives us anyway and tosses those in the sea of His forgetfulness.  Oh my, as my hubby says – I am going down a dangerous bunny trail.  I will say this and then I will get back to the real business at hand.  Take a look at the people that God used throughout the bible, there are murderers, adulterers, and all types of characters that we might deem unworthy to be forgiven, unworthy to be used of God.  I thank God that I don’t make those judgment calls – they are left for the One true God who is perfect in all things.

During my marriage, every incident caused me to die a little inside.  It was the strangest feeling.  I could almost feel my heart shriveling up around the edges with every blow.  Soon I became withdrawn and almost zombie like.  I was always trying to walk an invisible line that kept moving.  I felt like I was just going through the motions most of the time.  I seemed to always be desperately trying to find the right motions, the right reactions that would in turn get the right reaction from my abuser.  I just wanted peace.

As I was searching for the image I was confronted with images of horrible abuse and pain.  It seems so far away from my life today.  For many years I tried to forget it but couldn’t.  Now sometimes I try to retrieve something seemingly innocent from my mind and I come up blank.  It is almost like I have somehow put a lock on that part of my mind and thrown away the key or at least it has been hidden amongst the haziness of this time in my mind.  Our minds seem to be very good at crafting protection.

There was one other thing that I noticed again when I was looking through images that represented pain, anger and most assuredly, hopelessness.  I was once again justifying or minimizing my abuse.  As I looked at pictures of people covered in blood, with broken bones, with tears of sorrow streaming down their tortured faces, I told myself that what I experienced wasn’t that bad.  The internal conversation continues and something tells me that I shouldn’t really even say that I was abused; that I had no right to say that.

I recently came to believe that this justifying or minimizing was just another form of protection.  I began believing that it helped me to not feel victimized and out of control.  God is showing me that this is faulty thinking on my part.  In a book that I read recently (I believe that it was one of Sharon Jayne’s books) there was a suggestion that we can apply a few words to our thoughts to see if they line up with God’s view of things.  These words are simply “in Jesus name”.  So, I tried that on for size. “In Jesus name all of the different types of abuse that I suffered at the hands of others was not really a big deal.  Those incidents are nothing to get my drawers in a wad over and nothing to cry over.”  Hmmmmmm….  Nope – that just doesn’t sound right to me.  So then, if it isn’t truly my thought what is it?  It is a lie from the enemy of my soul.  he sees that I am headed down the road to healing and wholeness and that makes him mad.  If this enemy can get me to believing that what happened wasn’t really such a big deal then he will soon have me believing that I actually did deserve the things that happened.

he is trying to pull every trick in the book but it just isn’t going to work on me.  I might get turned around for a second, but God is the chief voice in my head and He says that if I resist the devil he MUST FLEE.  he can’t bother me, I don’t have to keep suffering with the thoughts he tries to plant in my brain.  he is just wasting his time planting those seeds in shallow ground – the word of the living God points out his lies and gives me the power and the choice to uproot the lies.  Make no mistake, I meant to say the choice.  I have the choice of living in self-pity, shame and sorrow over what happened to me so long ago or I can choose to forgive the trespasses, let God work His miracles in knowing who I am through Christ and moving out of the place of being a victim and into the place of restoration.  That isn’t going to change what happened, history can’t be rewritten.  But it will and it has changed my life and how I feel every moment of every day.  I have chosen to start the road to victorious living and I know that I will be successful because I have got Jesus holding my hand all the way.

I am coming out of the shadows and into the light of His glorious love.  This is a process that cannot be rushed I am finding.  I have to wait until God begins to speak to me about little things, such as He did tonight, before I start exploring them.  Otherwise, I am trying to get ahead of Him.  He knows the timing that is right for my heart and mind to be able to work its way through these things.

I mentioned this in my last post and it is worth mentioning again.  All of the revelations, realizations and healing that I talk about starts with inviting God to walk more closely than ever beside you.  If you trust Him and truly desire to fight for your freedom, for your sanity, for your victory – invite Him.  I keep trying to figure out how my slow journey to wholeness began but I really can’t.  I just know that it started.  It continues now because I am willing to confront memories when they come and because I know that God is by my side and I can lean on His strength when mine fails me.  It continues because more than anything in this world, I want to be completely obedient to Him and to His leading.  I want to be exactly who He wants me to be, nothing more – but certainly nothing less.  I don’t want to have to face Him once I get home and know that He had to give the job that He assigned to me to someone else because I wouldn’t do it.

 

Jesus

He is reaching out to you today...

 

Choices.  Will you choose to fight for your own victory?  Don’t let yourself grow too weary, He will strengthen you.  The ONLY thing that can keep you from succeeding in gaining your victory, your freedom, is you and your choices.

 

 

Romans 8:35-39 (NIV) says “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:  “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”   No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Emphasis is mine.

Isaiah 41:10 says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Finally, 2 Corinthians 2:9 says “But He said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Choose to start living victoriously if you have not already.

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Something that you have to say might help me or someone else on their walk to healing, please leave a comment below if you are comfortable in doing so…  If you would like to contact me directly/privately, you may do so by emailing me at krislukings [at] gmail [dot] com or through Facebook using the link to the right.

Also, if you don’t want to miss the next post when it comes, you can sign up to receive these messages in your inbox using the link to the right.

Blessings…

A Humpty Dumpty Kind of Story

I want to tell you a bit about my life now before I get to what my life used to be like.  I guess that you could say that I am starting with the good news first.

The good news of my life is that I truly know the grace and the incredible, abounding love of my awesome God.  He loves me so much more than this human mind can fathom.  He has healed me physically and emotionally to the point that who I was is almost unrecognizable to me now.  He has poured His love into my life in incredible ways and is still working to heal things that are buried deep within this bruised and battered mind and heart.  I am so totally overwhelmed by His love, His grace and His faithfulness.  The more that I allow myself to be covered by His love, the more amazed that I become in the depth and breadth of that love.  I am also amazed by His patience as I walk this road before me, stumbling now and again; He keeps me from falling too far and He always encourages me to continue on.  When invited, He shows me things that I could never have understood on my own and helps me to be a better person that I ever could be without Him.

He has given me the greatest gift that I ever could have imagined in my wonderful husband Tim.  A kind and loving man who, more important than anything, has a heart that seeks after God.  To me, Tim is proof that God gives good gifts to His children – even when they don’t deserve it.

There is a lot more good news – but the information above was important to know before you read further.  The rest isn’t so pretty – but there is good news even in what you will read.  The good news is that God can redeem our pain.  He can take what was meant for evil for us and turn it into something to show His glory.

Now, I feel like I need to give a disclaimer of sorts.  I will be writing about my life quite some time ago so it is going to get quite personal.  As I said, there will be a lot of things that aren’t very pretty.  Some of you are likely going to recognize ‘character or characters’ in my story.  I ask that you remember that this was a very long time ago.  Just as I have changed greatly, they too are not likely the same; I pray that they are not the same.  I ask that you please do not make judgments about them – we must look on them from a position of grace.   Their lives are between them and God just as it is for each of us.  I ask that you seriously let God examine any reaction that you might have to this before you decide to share it with someone else for any reason other than to help someone.

The intent of anything that I write is never to hurt anyone or to tear them down, but to help others who have or maybe still are suffering from abuse.  I want to begin to share my story and the things that God is teaching/showing me so that maybe someone else will see this and they won’t live in the dark and in so much pain for so very long.

Here we go…  I want to take you back in time to a place in time where this all started.  To a place where I had no self-worth and thought that I should be thankful that a boy would like me…  I won’t go into a lot of details about how I got to that point in my lack of self-esteem, you can read a bit about that on my post Have You Ever Felt Like A Fraud?.  I was 15 when I became involved with my first serious boyfriend.  I thought that he treated me okay, although looking back I can identify lots of things about his behaviour as controlling, jealous and a little bizarre.  We were together throughout the remainder of high school and got married within a month of graduation.

Shattered

Image by LexnGer via Flickr

I had lived a sheltered life.  I came from a Christian home and could only recall one argument between my parents – ever.  I don’t know if they were just good at keeping that away from us or if they just didn’t argue.  I don’t want to give the impression that I was perfect because that is certainly not the case.  But imagine going from a nice, peaceful home to a home with your new husband, where peace was all too soon non-existent; where the norm was to learn to be afraid of opening your mouth for fear of saying something wrong that would unleash a rage that you had never known could exist – especially coming from someone who supposedly loved you.

I was confused and felt betrayed.  I became convinced that if I could just be good enough or make him happy enough the abuse would end.  I would have thoughts like “my dad never hit my mother so it must be something that I was doing wrong”.  Each time there was an episode there would be a period of strained quiet afterward.  A time where he would apologize and tell me he didn’t mean to, that he couldn’t help it and then he would manage to convince me that if only I could do things the right way, his way, that everything would be okay.  He would masterfully convince me that it was all my fault, no matter how ridiculous the trigger had been, it was my fault.  Then to tie his little package of guilt up around me he would promise to never let it happen again.

There is a deep shame associated with being abused.  Just as my abuser did, most are able to convince their victims that they are at fault and that adds to the shame.  My family lived all around me, people that I have known all of my life were minutes away – but I didn’t tell them.  I didn’t leave.  I was too ashamed.  How could I let people see the bruises on my body?  How could I let them know what was happening?  A victim of abuse often comes to believe that, because the abuse is their fault, they deserve what they are getting.  The last thing that I could think of doing was telling someone that I loved about the abuse, I was afraid that they would desert me.  I felt like there was something inherently wrong with me – so I hid the bruises and I lied about them if anyone accidentally saw them.

I was saved as a young child and have gone to church as long as I can remember.  My childhood memories of church are of red-faced preachers talking about people burning in hell if they didn’t follow the rules.  I am sure that there must have been different topics – but I don’t remember a single one.  These guys were very good at painting pictures of people screaming in agony as they burned for eternity.  My imagination grabbed a hold of this and I could practically feel the flames licking at my feet every time I made a mistake.

I don’t remember ever being told that God loved me, but maybe I got hung up on the images of the fire.  Unfortunately, any relationship that I had with God was based on fear and guilt.  I never remember knowing that God cared about me, that He wanted to be involved in my everyday life, that He cared about the smallest detail of my day, that I was so precious to Him that He numbered the hairs on my head.  I only knew that there was a set of rules that I could never seem to live up to no matter how hard I tried and tried.  Fear and guilt were not enough to keep me following all of those rules.  I was never involved in alcohol or drugs, but I still had plenty of sin in my life.

As the abuse progressed, I threw myself into work at my church.  I would go as often as the doors were open thinking that if I worked hard enough at church maybe God would fix things.  I was fooling myself into thinking that just because I was spending time at church that I was building a closer relationship with Him.  The illusion of closeness evaporated in the blink of an eye when I discovered that my abuser was involved in an affair with someone from my church.  I was devastated and felt as though I was the one who had done something wrong.  I was hurt, confused and very angry.  I blamed God for all of it; for the abuse, the affair, everything that had gone wrong in my life.  My reasoning at the time was that He is the God of the Universe and He could have stopped any or all of the awful things that happened.  Now I understand that though He is in control, the things that happened to me come from living in a fallen world.  He has given us humans’ free will and we are royally messing things up.  I stayed in my little home town as long as I could take the stares and the pity.  Then I found a way out and ran 1000 miles from home, trying to leave all of the ugliness – and God – behind me.

Not surprising, my life continued to deteriorate further and further.  I soon became involved with another seemingly good guy.  It wasn’t long before the abuse started and I reasoned that my now ex-husband must have been right.  It was all my fault – I did deserve this…  I accepted that and I was just an awful person who didn’t deserve any better and I tried to keep from drowning in this new assault I was experiencing.

For years, I tiptoed around on eggshells and tried to keep things to a minimum roar.  I was hurting so badly but still couldn’t tell anyone.  Now I was living in a new city so far from home.  These people would certainly peg me as trash if they knew about the abuse.  I would keep quiet and suffer in relative quiet for what seems like a lifetime.

As I began to sense that the abuse was escalating I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I finally got the nerve to break-up with this gem of a man and surprisingly got away from him with relative ease.  Now I was without an abuser for the first time in 17 years.  God was speaking and for the first time in a long time, I was listening.  He began to show me that the abuse was not my fault, that I didn’t deserve any of what had happened.  I was His child and He had much better plans for me.  It was then that I realized that even though I thought I left God when I left Alabama, He had never left me.  He had followed me every step of the way, grieving when I was hurting and longing to comfort me.  He was there waiting for my stubborn and angry heart to once again hear Him.

As I began to try to release the trauma of my life to Him, I realized that I had made a near fatal mistake when I blamed Him.  I had put my trust in the people around me, in my church, in my family.  I put my trust in every frail thing around me instead of trusting Him above all else.  I got my eye off the prize.  He began to tell me how He loved me and flooded me with an overwhelming sense of relief and love that I had never known.  For the first time in my life I understood that He loved me, that He wanted to be a part of my life, that He wanted to help me to move beyond my past.

I would like to say that the moment I turned my life back to God He wiped the slate clean and I didn’t have to do anything to be all shiny and new and free.  That just isn’t the way that it is – at least for me.  I have been working hard to turn loose of the hurts and the pain of the past.  It was a long time before someone could move around me that I didn’t flinch or jump.  I don’t like for people to be in my personal space and I am sure that is a remnant from the past as well.  God continues to heal me from all the hurts and I keep thinking that there can’t possibly be more, He shows me that He isn’t quite finished yet.  It has been about 25 years since the first episode of abuse and it still affects me today.  I don’t know when, or if, I will be completely healed here on this Earth.  I will just keep working on things as God reveals them to me.

Soon my husband Tim and I will celebrate our fifth anniversary and I am still amazed that somehow God cared enough to give me my best friend.  The God of the Universe cared enough to cause our paths to cross and to bring this little Alabama girl all the way to Canada to fulfill His calling.  He has shown us His love for us and His faithfulness in our marriage so many times.  We have learned to trust Him to make a way when in the natural, there just wasn’t a way.  Again I say that God gives good gifts to His children.  I know – I am living proof.

Are you wondering about the Humpty Dumpty reference?  I stumbled upon this poem that I have hung onto for at least 20 years and it seemed to describe how I feel about my life perfectly.

Thanks Sharon Wilson! I love it...

Humpty Dumpty

“Good morning Humpty Dumpty Sir,
How amazing, you are still here
By legend you were shattered!
How cohesive you appear!”

Humpty jumped and said with a smile,
“The tale of horses and men wasn’t the end!
The King Himself put me together again!”

He truly did put me back together again when I was fractured and shattered beyond belief.  But for the grace and love of God I don’t know where I would be today.

In wrapping up, I will just say TRUST HIM ALWAYS.  He sees the big picture while we only see fragmented pieces of the puzzle.  Jeremiah 29: 11-13 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the LORD.”  Know that God loves you so much.  If you happen to be (or have been) in such a place as this, know that He cares about every little detail in your life.  He is waiting for you to turn to Him for help…

If you want to hang around, I will take you on more of my journey to healing and wholeness as God leads.  Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Something that you have to say might help me or someone else on their walk to healing, please leave a comment below if you are comfortable in doing so…  If you would like to contact me directly/privately, you may do so by emailing me at krislukings [at] gmail [dot] com or through Facebook using the link to the right.

Also, if you don’t want to miss the next post when it comes, you can sign up to receive these messages in your inbox using the link to the right.

Blessings…

Do Scars Hurt?

It seems that I keep thinking about forgiveness a lot lately… I have been doing some reading and more thinking and wondering and praying.

If you happen to a FB friend, you might remember my question a few weeks ago – Do Scars Hurt. I began thinking about this because in the book I was reading at the time the author was likening physical scars to psychological/emotional scars. To a point, this made sense to me, after all the definition of scar is “an indication of damage”. This really got me thinking because if we follow that comparison all the way through, that means that if we have scars that are psychological or emotional in nature, they won’t hurt once they are healed. I have lots of scars from physical injuries and/or surgeries and none of them hurt.

So I have been turning this over and over in my mind for almost two months now. Questions have been rolling around and refuse to be quiet in my head… Have I really not forgiven what I thought that I had? Am I still holding a deep seated grudge? If I had truly forgiven the injuries from the past, why do they still hurt me? Why are chunks of years of my life still mostly blocked from my memory? And why, if I have forgiven and that scar has healed, why does it hurt when I go digging into those years to try to retrieve information? My conclusion was that perhaps I hadn’t forgiven at all.

I began to wonder if maybe I needed to start excavating and digging up things to forgive. Was I going to have to start at the beginning and force memories to the surface so that I experienced them in order to fully forgive each and every offense? Do you have to remember ALL the details in order to forgive? I decided that if that is what I really have to do to forgive completely – okay. I wasn’t looking forward to it – but okay. I knew that if that was what needed to happen God would cover me and bring me through it all. Still, not in a hurry to get started.

Life gets a little busy and flash to this past Sunday when we had Kim Phuc, The Girl in the Picture, speak at a community-wide service. This woman began to tell her story took us back to 1972 to her village in Vietnam, she was 9 years old. She told of how villagers were told to leave their place of hiding and how, as they ran she saw four bombs being dropped from an airplane. Napalm bombs – gasoline mixed with thickening agents that would cause it to stick to whatever it touched. The next thing that she remembers is that her skin was too hot, her clothes had instantly been burned off and her skin was being burned off too. This woman, who has lots of reasons to not forgive, holds no grudges. She talks about meeting and forgiving the man who coordinated the air strike that changed her life. She doesn’t know the pilot who changed course to drop the bombs or many of the other details about that day, yet she has forgiven all and been healed. She is very gentle in her nature but her message of forgiveness is very powerful. As she spoke, she cried. She cried as she recalled the pain and the loss that she suffered…

As I listened and watched this woman’s life story unfold I realized that I had it wrong – at least a bit. I knew that forgiveness was a choice and I knew that it wasn’t always instant. I knew that I had to choose to exercise forgiveness almost every day. What I didn’t realize that it was okay that the past still hurts a bit. It is okay if recalling painful times causes some discomfort and even some tears. I don’t have to try to be tough and act as though it never happened in order to forgive.

More thinking… Some time ago during a massage, the therapist began to ask me about some areas that she identified as particularly sensitive/tender. She was questioning me about how I had been injured. She talked about how our body has a memory all of its own, how injuries had a way of causing us seemingly mysterious pain years and years later. The muscles and nerves seem to recall the pain even when we don’t consciously remember it all. Interesting…

I think that I am learning that not only is forgiveness a process, it is an active process. We can’t be passive about forgiving. We need to ask God to examine our hearts and help us know if we are exercising forgiveness continually from all injuries, from all wrongs.

One last thing stuck with me as the speaker concluded her message. She said that she prays everyday for the people involved in her injuries. Honestly and earnestly praying for someone would seem to preclude any build up of ill feelings or thoughts.

Do scars hurt? Yes, I believe that they can… But for now, there will be no digging expeditions for me, except to dig deeper into the Word and into prayer. The scars may hurt, but we don’t have to let the memories or the pain consume us. We can call on God for help and comfort and He will answer.

I would love to hear your comments….

God Speaks in the Most Unusual Ways…

So, I recently noticed that the thumbnail on my left hand has a small indentation in it. Curious, I thought as I took notice and I ran my finger over it as if to try to understand it. Then there it was, the memory of my thumb being closed in a car door when I was a child. We were just arriving at my grandparents house – excited to be on my way to the county fair with my aunt and my sisters. I am not sure exactly how my thumb was closed in the door – but I will never forget the immediate moments that followed.

Since I found this little scar from my childhood, it seems that I focus on it a lot. I remember the pain that was associated with that injury. I remember how I screamed and cried when the door had to be opened to release my thumb, how the nail turned an array of colours finally turning black and eventually falling off. I remember being amazed that beneath what had become such a grotesque part of me was a brand new nail. At first seemingly perfect with the exception that it was a bit thin and not a lot of protection for a tom-boy such as me… As time progressed, the tom-boy in me was becoming a smaller and smaller part of who I was. I was trying out more ‘girlie’ things and wanted to grow my nails out. Funny, the replacement nail would grow only a little and without fail, it would fracture. I learned to accept that my nails, especially that nail, would never be lovely and feminine. Still, I never noticed the indentation which I am sure now is exactly what causes the fracture to occur in the first place.

As the Lord begins to speak to me about things much deeper than my fingernail, I am as surprised by what I am hearing and finding as I was about the indentation that I somehow missed for over thirty years. The Lord is asking me, “What other damage was there so long ago that you think has healed and maybe, it hasn’t?” “What else has left a mark that inevitably causes things to be fractured?” Most importantly, “Will you let me show you and let me heal those things completely?” Wow.

Why is it that when I trust God with my whole heart, this is a frightening question? I know things that I have hidden away that I don’t want to remember, to me, they are healed. If they aren’t, what will I have to endure to dig them up? I do trust God with my whole heart – with everything that is within me. So truly, why am I afraid? I fear because God never said that life would be painless and I don’t like pain.

However, because I do trust in my Saviour, I know that His plans for me are for good and not for evil. If there are things that He is telling me to deal with, then it is because He loves me and wants me free from even the things that maybe I don’t see with my natural eyes. And more than anything, I want to be the woman that He wants me to be.

Here goes………………..

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Leave me a comment below.

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