Change is Hard

I don’t know how to tell someone to change. I’ve changed a lot, but I think it’s mostly been that I was open and cooperative with God. It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

I was thinking today about the fact that I’ve been able to let go of so much anger and unforgiveness.  How is that even possible? I guess I’d have to point to the 12 steps. It’s a process of looking at your own stuff, taking responsibility, being humble and keeping your own counsel.

I really gave it to my ex-husband though. I called him names and railed against him for everything I was angry about. It didn’t do any good. He didn’t apologize to me. It made me feel better temporarily, but it was when I made the decision to stop trying to get even that I started on the journey to forgiveness.

I told myself over and over that Jesus stood before his accusers and said nothing. He could have defended himself easily. He could have shut all of their mouths. They were wrong, and He knew it. He took it. Thank God he did, because we would be lost if He hadn’t.

So it began by keeping my own counsel. In AA they talk about the ‘restraint of pen and tongue.’ How true! I would have made a lot of progress earlier in my life if I had understood that wisdom.

The second nugget that was helpful was on acceptance. I’ve quoted it here before. ‘Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.’ It’s hard to accept that your life isn’t the way you would like, with people all treating you the way you would like, but in the end, we are mostly a bunch of sick, sinful people trying to get along in life with our own fears and insecurities. We hurt each other, not because we are cruel, but because essentially our own lives are unmanageable.

I’m happier today because I’ve been able to set aside my own agenda and substitute God’s. Ultimately it’s about trusting Him. His ways are definitely not our ways, but they are infinitely better.

Change is Hard

Guy Talk

You know, there is a conversation in America right now that is important. That’s the issue of ‘guy talk.’ There are a lot of angry women in America, and they have some valid points. As Christian women, we need to have this conversation. That is, that ‘guy talk’ is not ok.

We elected a man who has made many, many comments denigrating women. His comments aren’t ok, and women are angry. As they well should be. Because this kind of talk hurts women. It devalues them. It’s inappropriate in any setting. It shouldn’t be blown off.

At the same time, men have been winking and nodding forever. It has never been front stage like this before. But it has been a part of the culture. So, let’s take this opportunity to say that it’s not ok, and we aren’t going to accept it as part of the culture or a wink and a nod. Our men have to stand up and say that they are going to value women more than that.

I do think there’s a bit of a double standard, however. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, the Clinton machine mowed her down. She was a young, impressionable intern, starstruck and totally taken advantage of. Bill and Hillary Clinton threw her to the wolves. Hillary did it too and she was a part of it because of her own political aspirations. It ruined her life. She has never married, and has been unable to have a career. It’s shameful. Where were the feminists then?

Let’s make sure we’re fair about this, and let’s have this conversation. It’s important.

Guy Talk

The Past

I almost never write about my ex-husband. That’s because his issues are his journey, and my kids don’t agree with me about what happened, and I don’t want to hurt them. Not that they have ever read this, but they might one day and I don’t want to hurt them. But today I feel I can write about something fairly and honestly and it’s something that hurts women and needs to be said.

My ex-husband has sex addiction. He has struggled with it since he was a teenager and found pornographic magazines in a fort in the woods. It changed the way he viewed women and it impacted our marriage in a very negative way.

When we had been dating for about 6 months, I had lost a few pounds and was feeling good about myself. I said something to him about it and he said “the fat on the back of your leg still jiggles.”

I should have ended the relationship then and there. It would have saved me years of grief. But I chose to believe him. I then embarked on a journey of lies that almost killed me.

Every time I got up in the morning and got on the scale I hated myself. I was embarrassed to go out in public. I was thinking about how I looked all the time. He was only too eager to help me. He would tell me when an outfit made me look fat and I would dispose of it.

I would go on unhealthy diets and starve myself to lose weight. I would exercise like crazy.

My weight would go up and down, but even when I was small, he would point out the imperfections, the cellulite, the stretch marks, things I couldn’t do anything about. It was hopeless. I gave up.

I used substances to kill the pain. The depression was great. I couldn’t get out of bed. I stopped parenting. I stopped bathing. I couldn’t get sober.

Now, there were other things going on as well. I did things I should never have done. Sinful things. Damaging things. Those were my choices. I had options and I didn’t take them. This wasn’t his fault. This was mine. I didn’t have the strength or the guts to do what I needed to do. I didn’t tell anybody. I take responsibility for my part. I had a part. When you are in a relationship, there are always two of you.

It’s astonishing to me that two Christians could go down this road in this manner and get so lost. All this time we were trying to raise Christian children. We knew the truth and we weren’t living it out, either of us.

Why am I writing about this now? Why do I feel free to do so? Well, yesterday, after being separated for 4 years and divorced, he phoned to apologize. He’s starting to see his part in it. He asked me what his sex addiction did to him for the first time and I told him very directly. He listened and he said he was sorry. He sounded broken.

I couldn’t believe I was hearing it.I never thought I would. The blessing of it all is that God has been healing me. In 2015, I met a man who fell in love with me at 248 pounds. He found me desirable and beautiful and he told me so over and over. And I believed him. It was very healing. I began to see myself as beautiful. He loved me. The me that’s inside. He saw that I’m smart and funny and a little wacky and he loved all of it. Just  me. The real me. It’s the kind of accepting love that God intends for us. The kind of love He has for us.

I lost the weight. I work out now. I work out a lot. But it’s because I love it. I’m in the best shape of my life. I weigh 142 pounds and I am medium sized and I am beautiful. I have a sagging stomach and thighs, but I have these beautiful biceps and quads. I can run 5 miles. I can cycle 50 miles. It feels so good to work my muscles and be strong and accomplish things. I never worked out that way before. It’s freeing.

I don’t need substances today. When upset, I run. I run as fast as I can and it feels good. I feel the air around me, I smell the outdoors, I feel my muscles pumping and it calms me.

When I go out in public, I put on clothes that are ‘me.’ I fix my hair and makeup and I feel good. Nobody is staring at me. I don’t think about my thighs. God has done a major work in me. Major. And he’s doing it in my ex-husband too.

How can the church address a situation like this? I can tell you that they tried. They really tried to help us and they couldn’t. That’s the dialog I’ve tried to have somewhat on this blog, and I’m not sure I’ve come up with any answers. Maybe it’s a conversation that needs to happen. I don’t know. I think talking about it is a start.

 

The Past

Judgement

I’m liking the idea of less judgement in my life. I find myself being that way more as I get older.

When I was younger I was pretty judgmental. I suppose it was because I hadn’t made that many mistakes yet. Now that I know what I am capable of, I’m more forgiving of myself and others.

i like GPS systems. For one, I’m geographically challenged and I save so much time not getting lost with them. But also I like that they aren’t judgmental.

when you go the wrong way, the GPS doesn’t yell at you. It doesn’t put you down and call you an idiot. It simply recalculated and gently gets you back on the right track.

ive been practicing meditation lately. One of the main points of meditation is to focus on your breathing and when you drift off as you are wont to do, gently bring yourself back to the breath. It’s not wrong to drift off. It happens. It’s what you do when it happens.

i let myself down and get off track, and others do in my life. How much better is it to gently help each other get back on the right track?

That’s the kind of world I want to live in.

Judgement

I have a lot on my mind

This Christmas was a joy for me. I wanted to try to touch each person in my life who I love personally, and I was able to do what I set out to do. Not that I was able to express exactly to each person what they meant to me, but the gifts I gave came from a place of thoughtfulness.

This life is hard. The thing that people lose sight of almost immediately in a bad situation is the love other people have for them. They don’t see it. And we aren’t good at showing it. At least I’m not.

I was talking to a friend about the need to be more inclusive in the church. The fact that we make gay people feel they aren’t welcome. We don’t know what to do with them. But I think Jesus would want them to be a part of his family. I just don’t know how that plays out in our world. My friend said that she had been asked to stand up for a gay couple at a gay wedding. The couple told her she could say no if she wanted to. While she didn’t want to stand up for them, she would have attended the wedding. She said she didn’t think she would be able to stand up for them, and they said that they had never felt more judged in their whole life.

I don’t have any answers.

My cousin’s children have been taken out of their maternal grandfather’s home because of addiction issues…..my cousin is not in his children’s lives. He is an addict and he is unapologetic about being an addict, and has no intention of trying to get sober in this life. So his kids have no home. Nobody is stepping up to help them.

My husband’s second cousin committed suicide on Christmas day. I didn’t know her except in passing. Apparently she suffered for a long time. She left two daughters.

Apparently several years ago when my husband’s uncle passed away, one of his cousins loaded up a truck full of his things before the body was cold. So they aren’t even telling her that her sister has passed away. They think she is evil.

When I see these things being played out, I think about my own family and how fractured it is, and how inevitable these conflicts seem. It makes me sad. You do your very best in life, and you have to leave the results up to God.

 

 

 

I have a lot on my mind

Semicolon, not a period

Kay Warren is a wonderful advocate for mentally ill and depressed individuals. She lost her son to suicide several years ago, and has been tireless in her crusade to help people who suffer the same way her son did. It’s unfortunate that it takes losing someone close to  you to get active in helping others, but there’s always hope something good can come from something bad.

I have experienced the loss of suicide, and I know how devastating it is to the family and friends of those left behind. My sister’s husband committed suicide in 2002, and my husband’s brother took his life last year. I was struck both times at how painful it is for the families suffering afterwards. When a person commits suicide, they think they are a burden and the family will be relieved to be rid of them. They really believe that.

If they have an inkling of how painful it will be, sometimes it gets to the point where they are in too much pain to stay alive for the sake of their family. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they can’t stand the suffering any longer.

My family has no idea how close they were to losing me. By the grace of God, I made it through the darkest times in my life. I can’t say how….all I can say is that I wanted to kill myself every day for years….between 5 and 10 years, and it’s a miracle I didn’t carry it out.

Kay Warren posted on Facebook the other day about the semicolon. Basically it’s a campaign that says that authors use a semicolon when they want the sentence to continue. They used a period for the end of a sentence. If you want to commit suicide, and decide to continue the sentence, a semicolon can remind you to carry on. Keep going. So people can get a tattoo of a semicolon on their wrist to remind them to go on.

I’m not a tattoo person, but if I was, I would get that. I’m very proud of the fact that I survived. I’m now in remission from my bipolar illness. I’m clean and sober. I’m about as happy as a person can be. I made it through the darkest times. My life is a semicolon. I give all the praise and glory to God. I didn’t do anything on my own. It was all with Him.

I don’t know how God is going to use me, but I know he will. My story isn’t finished.

Semicolon, not a period

Forgiveness and Grace

I’m a big fan of grace. I was so lost and separated from God, to be forgiven is a huge thing. He did it all. I couldn’t change on my own.

I think a lot about my sins and how God has dealt with them one by one, gently, in His own time. The usual way people are told to be Christians is to offer a sinner’s prayer, to repent and believe.

Repentance is clearly a requirement, but  I don’t think it’s something we really do on our own. If it was, it would be a work, and there is no work that can save us. I believe God chooses who he chooses, gives them illumination – the ability to see Him and accept Him. He shows us our separation from Him, and that results in a desire to change.

Praying for forgiveness is something we do, but it’s not something we cultivate, it’s something He cultivates.

In 1 John 2:12 it says “I am writing to you, little children because for his name’s sake your sins are forgiven.” The perfect tense suggests that they were forgiven in the past, and this forgiveness remains effective in their lives. It doesn’t stop because we have unconfessed sins. Believers are disciples….they are constantly being shown areas of difficulty, and given the grace to deal with it. Progress, not perfection, as they say.

I believe we can forgive much if we are forgiven much. Christians sometimes are not very understanding of the members of the body who struggle more than they do, or with sins they don’t understand. I think it’s a good thing that I struggled with deep sin issues. It makes me more compassionate. Less judgmental. More like God wants me to be.

Forgiveness and Grace