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…

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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…

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