Change


I have not been writing over the last few months because I took a journey into healing at a new level.

It has been a journey I never expected.

Days are hard. Heartache is real.

Pain is very present.

I have lacked hope. I have clung to faith.

I am starting to see some light.

One of the impacts or coping mechanisms of abuse is to numb your emotions.
When the pain is so deep, the emotions seem overwhelming. We can shut them off to cope. We stop feeling to survive.

Part of recovery is turning our emotions back on.

That means choosing to feel….to feel the good, the bad, the painful, the joy, the emptiness and violation, and the hope that it all can change.

I have been learning to feel again. Learning to come alive.

I forgot how deep the pain could go. I now remember what it is to feel emotions of all kinds and intensities.

The work has been hard. The work is starting to pay off.

I am thankful for the grace and mercy the Lord has shown me through this time, and I am falling on that grace and mercy with faith that he will see me through.

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You are right. I’m a mess.

I know that. I live that.

You see, I am a mess, but I choose to believe.

I believe in a big God.

I believe in a Savior

I believe in new life

I believe he can and will turn it into something more

I believe I can be changed

I believe that he can use a broken, messed up, anxious, hurting, life in huge ways

I believe that he can redeem

I believe in second chances

I believe I am not forsaken

I believe I am not lost, but am found

I believe that there is a plan for my future and my hope

I believe, and I choose, oh how I choose

I may be broken, messed up, and anxious, but

I KNOW I am saved, chosen, and anointed.

I choose Him. He already chose me.

My God is an amazing God, and I will fight for his glory.

Even if I have to limp, crawl, cry, and make a mess along the way.

I grew up in the Presbyterian and United Methodist churches. Overall, their beliefs are very similar, and by the time I left the care of my parents and church I had a good start to a foundation. I had only been a believer for two years when I stepped out my own, not realizing there were dangers that lay ahead.

In college, I attended InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the Covenant Church, and a non-denominational church. I also studied Religion, and was exposed to a large range of belief systems. When Christianity was discussed, it was often in negative light or a very weak manner. After college, I served with a ministry in the south (Bible Belt) and then went overseas with Youth With a Mission. I returned to the states to look for a solid church home for several years before settling into a non-denominational church. Twelve years later, I was abused.

Since that time I have received counsel from leaders of many different churches, worked with counselors with different belief systems, attended several different churches, and I have been exposed to a very large number of books, sermons, web sites, conferences, etc. They do not all share the same viewpoints and beliefs.

I am a theological mess!

The mixture of things I was exposed to has broadened my mind and stretched me, but it holds many dangers.

I have been exposed to so many varying teachings and beliefs, that sometimes I don’t know what to believe.

Sometimes things I read or hear sound really good, and then I start to realize that it is misleading or shortsighted in some way. It leaves me wondering how often I read or listen to things and do not realize it is distorted or off target. It isn’t that these writers and speakers intend to mislead, because I am sure they firmly believe what they share, but unless we know the whole truth, the parts can mix us up or may not make sense.

Not long ago I learned that a very well-known pastor I have read and listened to believes the Bible is a product of humans, and not inspired and created by God. He used to look to the Bible for truth, but now he just accepts that certain things will remain a mystery. The news shocked me and made me wonder why I did not know this about him. It made me realize that I do not know much about the beliefs of those I have listened to and read.

Not knowing about those speaking into my life has left me in a very dangerous position where I can be mislead and deceived.

I have been taught many conflicting things.

Sometimes I don’t know what to believe, but there one thing of which I am absolutely certain.

The Lord is greater than any theology or belief I hold. He can fix any mixed up belief, deceit, misleading, or shortsighted understanding I hold.

After all, he is God!

How do you eat?

Do you savor every bite? Do you take in the whole experience of food: the location, the company, the music/ambiance, the smells? Do you race through eating? Is eating something you do because you need to, but not really something you put a lot of focus on? Do you eat for comfort or escape?

How do you eat spiritually?

Recently, I have been reflecting on how we are fed spiritually even more than how I eat, although they go hand in hand together. There are several different ways that we are fed: finding food on our own, being spoon fed, being led to the food, being taught how to eat, being taught how to look for and hunt spiritual food, and a combination of the above.

I have been in several churches, study groups, etc. where I have been spoon fed. This means, being presented with what to believe and how to view scripture. The more I am exposed to it, the less I like it. It gives me spiritual content, and makes certain things clear, but I am not having to work for it at all. I am not examining the scriptures and making my own choices, but instead am taking the beliefs of others and swallowing it without really knowing what it contains. I think that is very dangerous, and it creates very immature and unexperienced Christians.

I believe the best way to be fed is through a combination of styles and methods. There are times where I need to be spoon fed. It may be a difficult concept, or I may not be doing well and need to depend on the direction and counsel of others. Ultimately I want to move from being spoon fed (which is where most believers start), to being shown where the food is, learning how to eat it well, and then to learn how to hunt for more food on my own. That is a path of growth and maturity.

When we are hurt and traumatized in our spirit and soul it is hard to look to that spiritual food. However, if we do not eat of spiritual food we become malnourished and the situation gets even worse. We desperately need to eat because our bodies, minds, spirits, and souls are in need of the spiritual nutrition to heal and be restored. We may need to be spoon fed at times, and most if not all of us will need some help in being led to the healthiest food. On our own we can often find unhealthy food, but the healthy food is harder to get to and we need direction and sometimes assistance to reach it.

How are you being spiritually fed? Do your leaders tell you what to believe? Do they present material to you without much or any opportunity to respond or ask questions? Do they apply it to your life, or just present it before you, expecting you to know how to apply it and have it change and fill you?

Take a few minutes to think about your spiritual life, and how you can take a step toward maturity and growth? How can you show a desire or ask to be led to food, taught how to eat, and shown how to hunt for spiritual food on your own? It is likely that your church services will not change, but consider if there a study group you can join, a study group leader you can talk to regarding adjusting their style, a friend you can start meeting with for discipleship, or a training class you can attend.

Lately I have not been feeling that well, and I have noticed that I am not thinking as clearly as I was not long ago. It began to concern me that some of the confusion and muddled thinking from my past might be returning. I started to question if I was falling into depression or if there was some more serious issue at work.

Then I remembered, we are what we eat.

Last year when I fell into crisis and became depressed, I also learned that what I was eating and drinking was affecting me. I was dehydrated, and my body was responding to the artificial ingredients and starches I was eating. I was not eating an extraordinary amount of these things, but at that time it was more than my body could handle.

Stress affects us in many ways. When we are under stress, the foods and beverages we eat and do not eat can affect us to a much greater extent than they might at another time. Different people will be more susceptible than others to certain foods. Prior to this time, I already had issues when I ate too much wheat, and I have to monitor that intake every day, but during the difficult time last year I was also affected by other starches, especially sugar, and by artificial ingredients.

When I removed the wrong foods from my diet and increased my fluid intake there was a dramatic change.

I lost over twenty pounds, my thinking became clearer than the spiritual changes already created, and my energy increased significantly. Over the course of the last year foods have been reintroduced and I had been eating pretty normally. Lately I have been in a very busy and stressful season, and I stopped paying attention to my diet and health. The issues I faced last year may have resurfaced, causing me problems once again.

When we are under stress, our diet can add to any feelings of frustration, confusion, and disillusionment.

If you are feeling those things, take a few minutes to look at any changes you could try in your diet for a few days. Take a moment to think about the music, media, and activities you are “feeding” on also.

I changed my diet two days ago and I already am seeing changes. God made us as whole people, and we need to treat more than just the spiritual areas of our life. Spend time caring for your whole body: heart, soul, mind, and body.

My words have not been right lately. I have been short-tempered, prideful, and questioning. My words are a reflection of my heart. My heart has been experiencing shame.

My heart needs to change.

Not temporary or surface level change, but deep heart-felt change.

Recently I received some email communication from someone I have not communicated with since May 2009. Their communication contained something that caught me by surprise and I did not interpret part of it correctly so did not respond as well as I wish I had responded. Their second message said they had hoped that I had been “set free” this past year, but it was clear I was still working through some things. There was a part of me that felt justified that I had reason to still be working through issues as things are not yet resolved with my last church, but deep down what really bothered me was that this person had seen something I had not seen, even after all these months of hard work. When I stopped to look, I realized they were addressing something in my heart and attitude that needed to change.

Today I finally had the time to work on that with God.

Correction, today I finally had the courage to let God work on me.

Often we know when something is not quite right in our heart. We may avoid it, deny it, reject it, or twist it, but we are still aware it there. I have known recently that things were not completely right in my relationship with God, but I did not know what to do about it. Yesterday the weight of it became heavy and I knew I needed to change. I knew it was time to look at what lay underneath. However, I also knew that I couldn’t change anything. All I could do was to let go, to open myself up to God, and to trust that he would lead me.

So, this morning before I even started the day and moved from bed I laid my heart bare. I surrendered and let go of all plans, all desires, all expectations. I asked with a sincere heart for the Lord to change me and to reveal what I needed to know.

Today has been an amazing day.

The Lord waits for us to come to him.

He is always ready. He will always respond and will not fail us.

That doesn’t mean we will get the desires of our heart or he will answer how we want him to, but he will respond.

Like David, I became aware of my sin, and I cried out for him to change me. (Psalm 51)

Like Paul, my heart grew and my desires are changing so that I am drawn to be like Christ, even in his sufferings (Phil. 3)

This song holds a lot of truth, and it reminds us that the heart, our heart, is the key to our relationship with the Lord.

We can’t change it, but he can change us on the inside. It is our heart that needs to change.

I long for freedom to live in the truth
I want to be more like you
But every time I try to bring about change
I try to change the visible me
There's only one way I'm really gonna change…

Just like King David I cry out to you
Create in me a clean heart
I've grieved you again, I need your release
From patterns that keep me is sin
There's only one way I can finally break free

Change me on the inside
Change me on the inside
Change me on the inside

God isn’t finished with me yet. There are still areas of my heart I need to let go of, but today as we celebrate America’s independence I am also celebrating the freedom I have from sin, from bondage, from chains of falsehood and deception. I am celebrate that the Lord has changed me from the inside and he will change me even more. I long for freedom to live in the the truth, and I know the only way to break free and really change is by having the Lord change me, from the inside!

I heard this song a couple of weeks ago and it immediately led me to think of all those I know who are disillusioned, hurting, frustrated, etc. Those who feel like they have been knocked down, but who need to know that they are not knocked out forever. God never gives up on us, and we need to stopping giving up on ourselves and each other.

Get Back Up
By Toby Mac

You turned away when I looked you in the eye,
And hesitated when I asked if you were alright,
Seems like you’re fighting for you life,
But why? oh why?
Wide awake in the middle of your nightmare,
You saw it comin’ but it hit you outta no where,
And theres always scars
When you fall back far

We lose our way,
We get back up again
It’s never too late to get back up again,
One day you will shine again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever,
Lose our way,
We get back up again,
So get up, get up,
You gonna shine again,
Never too late to get back up again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever
[May be knocked down but not out forever]

You’re rolled out at the dawning of the day
Heart racin’ as you made you little get away,
It feels like you’ve been runnin’ all your life
But, why? Oh why?

So you’ve pulled away from the love that wou’d’ve been there,
You start believin’ that your situation’s unfair

But there’s always scars,
When you fall back far

We lose our way,
We get back up again
Never too late to get back up again,
One day, you gonna shine again,
You may be knocked down but not out forever,
Lose our way, we get back up again,
So get up, get up
You gonna shine again
It’s never too late, to get back up again
You may be knocked down, but not out forever,
May be knocked down, but not out forever!

This is love callin’, love callin’, out to the broken,
This is love callin’.
This is love callin’, love callin’, out to the broken
This is love callin’.
This is love callin’, love callin’,
I am so broken
This is love callin’ love callin

Lose our way, [way way way ay ay ay]
We get back up, [get back up again]
It’s never too late [late late late ate ate ate]
You may be knocked down but not out forever!

Lose our way,
We get back up again,
So get up get up
You gonna shine again
Never too late to get back up again
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever,

This is love [lose our way] callin’ love callin’ [get back up again]
To the broken
This is love [never too late] callin’
[may be knocked down but not out forever]
This is love [lose our way] callin’ love callin’ [we get back up again]
To the broken
This is love [never too late] callin’
[may be knocked down but not out forever]

This is love callin’ love callin’
Out to the broken,
This is love callin’….

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