Category Archives: Celebrate Recovery

Admit the Shadow Side

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Rereading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning:

It remains a startling story to those who never understand that the men and women who are truly filled with light are those who have gazed deeply into the darkness of their imperfect existence…

The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves.  The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception.  It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed, and pride still rages within us.

As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful to those closest to me.  When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed.

God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am.  Because of this I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him.  I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness…

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark.  In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.

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“God blesses those who realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them…

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  

~Jesus (Matt 5:2; 11:28-30 MSG)

Never Give Up!

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Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for
and the conviction of things not seen.
~Hebrews 11:1

We are hoping for and convinced of things we can’t see…that is faith.

Jesus said to Thomas when he doubted, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.”

Our faith is in the promise of new life, eternal life, Jesus life.
Our faith is placed in His work, His words, His sacrifice.

We do not put our faith in one another.
That is not where we are to place our trust.

Our faith is in Christ, alone.

We will hurt one another, again and again and again…and again.   I like the way Max Lucado puts it:

If hurts were hairs, we’d all look like grizzlies. Even the smooth-skinned beauties of the magazine covers, the composed pastors in the pulpit, the sweet little old lady who lives next door. All of them. All of us. Furry, hairy beasts we’d become. If hurts were hairs, we’d be lost behind the thick of them.

That’s not an excuse to hurt people, but it is the reality of living in this sinful world among sinful people.

If we look to one another as the determining factor in Christ being real, we will miss the beauty of Him.

None of us.  No, not one, is without sin.
We all struggle in the flesh.
That is our battle, until this mortal puts on immortality.

That doesn’t mean we aren’t changing.
We grow.  We stumble.  We get up.  We learn.
We grow some more and we stumble again and we get up … and we learn … … …

It’s in the learning that we change from glory to glory, if we don’t give up.

Each test, each trial, each tribulation is a chance for growth.
We’re either getting softer, or harder.
He chose to give us hearts of flesh instead of stone.

It’s in the cooperating with Him that we grow.

We’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.  ~2Corinthians 4:16 (MSG)

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

All That I Need

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Jesus, you know what’s inside of my heart,
When I am coming apart at the seams.
But that’s when my true colors come shining through,
I know that You are the One for me.

A song by Dan Marks, “All That I Need”

Oh, how I wish I had always known this in my innermost being!

I do get glimpses of it, knowing He has been, and will always be, the One who never leaves.

He is the One who will always love.
He accepts me. All of me.
Even the ugliest parts…He has them covered.

He forgives fully and without exception.
I am free with Him.
In Him, I can be me.
(He created me…He likes me!)

My struggle, and possibly yours, is my flesh wanting more.

Why do I keep running to the world?

Why, when deep inside of me I KNOW, He is all I need, do I still look for more…?

Another verse:
When the dark clouds come and bring down the rain,
I know that You will sustain me, Lord.

I surely haven’t always lived that truth.
I have had moments, even years, of living it:

I did get through the miscarriage with His sustaining power.
I did feel His strong hand supporting me through the trials of raising three children.
I was empowered through His strength when illness and homeschooling converged.

I guess that’s why I’m so befuddled with the whys of my most recent years…
…the last five, to be exact.

Why, when I knew Him in victory, did I not hold on to Him in tragedy?

Loneliness, revictimization, fatigue … these are all explanations of what happened within my self … Years of fighting with demons, stuffing the pain, and questioning my illness led to a yearning for relief, a way out of the despair.

That’s when I let go and I let my flesh reign.

I still grieve about it. And, I imagine I always will. He forgets all our sins, but He didn’t give us that ability. When we forget, much of the time it’s an act of denial because we do not want to see the truth of our actions.

Honestly, I don’t want to forget.
I’m okay with the grief.
I’m even okay with the recognition that I did not make a mistake.

I sinned against my husband, my children, and my family.
I sinned against a holy God who gave me the best gifts in life.

I spit in the face of His blessings.

The knowledge of that choice brings me to my knees again and again and again…
Not in self-loathing, or thinking I must continue to ask for forgiveness;
I know He has forgiven me.

I fall on my knees in overwhelming thanksgiving to a great God who loves unconditionally!

So, you see,
I don’t want to forget.
I don’t want to deny what I am capable of doing.

I want to remember the lesson for the remainder of my time on this earth.
And when I get to heaven, then He will wipe away all my tears…

Oh God, help me to remember what I’ve learned.

Your love is all that I need,
All that I need, all that I need.
Your love is all that I need…
All that I need is You.

Miserably Failing People

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

… Weaknesses are with me for the whole journey.

Paul was particularly thinking of persecutions, but how much more does this passage apply to human frailty, brokenness and hurt? How essential is it for us to be broken, if Christ is going to be our strength?

When I am weak I am strong.

Not, “When I am cured,”
or “When I am successful,”
or “When I am a good Christian,”
but when I am weak.

Weakness- the human experience of weakness- is God’s blueprint for exalting and magnifying his Son.

When broken people,
miserably failing people,
continue to belong to, believe in and worship Jesus,

God is happy.

~The Internet Monk
Read the whole article…it just might change your life…
😉

Bands of Love

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Some of the scriptures He has led me to recently:

I took them up in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.
I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.
Hosea 11:3

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

I know, O LORD, that the way of human beings is not in their control,
that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

I will lead the blind along an unfamiliar way; I will guide them down paths they have never traveled. 
I will turn the darkness in front of them into light, and level out the rough ground. 
This is what I will do for them. I will not abandon them.
Isaiah 42:16 (NET)

But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them–sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.
Isaiah 42:16 (MSG)

He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked.
Lamentations 3:9 (all of chapter 3…wow!)

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
nor the fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
and the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
and there be no herd in the stalls –
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength;
He will make my feet like hind’s feet,
And He will make me to walk upon my high places.
~Habakkuk 3:17-19

I’m letting these words sink in.
His bands of love will bind this broken heart.
I will recognize His healing thus far, and ask for courage to continue on the path.

“Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus. Anywhere He leads me, I will follow.”

Please, continue praying for me.

Redeeming the Scars

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God’s passion is to weave glory out of broken shards
of past sexual abuse,
an affair,
financial disaster,
a divorce,
death,
or any other experience of powerlessness or sin.

Everything hinges on the past.

“The scars of sin and death can’t be erased, but they can become the weather-beaten marks of character that bring depth and intrigue to what would have been merely a beautiful but ordinary vase.  God’s passion is to weave glory out of broken shards of past sexual abuse, an affair, financial disaster, a divorce, death, or any other experience of powerlessness or sin…
What was yesterday?  The loss of a job, victimization, bottomless grief, pointless sacrifice that brought little good?  Was it deep struggle, intense drama and terror that eventually brought us to our knees and to the face of God?  Everything hinges on the past.  We will project the past into every new moment and either repeat our past themes of victimization or marvel at the work of God in redeeming us in spite of our questions and doubt.”
~Dan Allender, The Healing Path

Everything hinges on the past.

If I’m beginning to repeat myself, please be patient.
It takes awhile for some things to sink in.
Especially if you’ve been living in shame-bound systems for fifty years…

We will project the past into every new moment and
EITHER
Repeat our past themes of victimization
OR
Marvel at the work of God in redeeming us

Oh, I have spent so many years allowing the theme of abuse to be projected into every moment of my life.
I desire to move forward. I really do.

However, before I can, I must allow the deeper work of healing to wash over me, to cleanse me through and through. Jesus prayed for us to be sanctified in the truth. His word is the Truth. Paul reminded the church that Christ died “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”

I want to see the work of redemption in my story.  I desire to see the Truth of the Word working in my life.  I press forward recognizing betrayals can be redeemed through faith, powerlessness can be infused with hope, and ambivalence can be turned to bold love.  These are the great gifts of redemption and restoration: Faith, Hope, and Love.

Many scars have formed over the years.  I pray they will not be as numerous as the freckles… but, honestly,… there could be more.

This path of healing I am choosing to take may be a long one, so…

“I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”   ~Chris Cleave, Little Bee

Staying On Course

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The healing path is not a jaunt in the park. It is a life-rattling, heart-revealing journey that takes us through danger, harm, heartache … The healing path is glorious, but the only way we will stay on course and resist the temptation to flee to safer ground is by comprehending more deeply the assaults and losses we will face on our journey … ~Dan Allender

Resisting the temptation to flee to safer ground…

That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s the point at which we decide if we really want to be healed.

Does the pain run too deep? Are the ramifications too wide-spread?
Is it possible to truly see the heartache you’ve caused without losing your mind?

To take responsibility for all you’ve caused, through selfish ambition, or loneliness…
Whatever the reason you chose your way, it caused heartache.
For you. For those you love. Maybe, even, for generations to come.
We can’t know how our loved ones will work through their pain.

We each have choices to make when we’ve been hurt. Will you choose to protect yourself? What form of defense mechanism works best to ward off shame? A drink here… an accusation there… a little bit of sugar… a wholelotta control… The choices for repression are about as numerous as the ramifications from your sin.

Denial, blame, control.
Phariseeism, alcoholism, workaholism.
Acting out, drug addiction, isolation.

The list goes on and on …
And the cycle continues …

Will you flee the path of healing, or will you stay on course?
The former might be arrogance or fear; the latter takes humility.

Will you puff up, or bow low?

I’ve been reading Lamentations and James. Both give a picture of grief and repentance that leads to godliness. I’ve had enough of the world’s wisdom. I am tired of lighting my own path and drinking from broken cisterns. I truly want to remain on the path of healing, no matter the cost.

I must face the shame…

“God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.”
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and He will flee from you.

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.
Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done.
Let there be sorrow and deep grief.
Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.

When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on Him,
He will lift you up and give you honor.

James 4:4-10

It seems a bit harsh in today’s world of “easy believism” and “seeker friendly” teaching to talk of sin, adulterers, and hypocrites. Most people run away from such words, feeling it’s condemnation. I don’t see it that way. As difficult as it is to admit, that is what we must deal with every day of our time on earth. Do we love this place more than we love God’s way?

When I see I have chosen to love the world more than God, by choosing a safer path than the one which leads to healing, I need to repent.

And then, times of refreshing may come…

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away,
in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
~Acts 3:19

The Healing Path

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“Each day we either live for God or for other gods. In each moment of hardship we fear either God or man. When we choose to worship gods and fear men our lives will suffer an emptiness and turmoil that is not much different than trying to fill our bellies with dirt. At first we may feel full, but in short order our violation of God’s plan will lead to torment…

But God will not let his children wander in the realm of death without giving them some kind of wake-up call.

Relationship with God requires leaving, letting go (of other gods), in order to pursue his promises. He calls his followers on a journey that takes them beyond the limits of their sight. Hosea tells us that God will woo us to the desert in order to win us back to himself…

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘you will call me “my husband”; you will no longer call me “my master” ~Hosea 2:14-16

And what is the desert? It is the opposite of Eden, the garden green with luxury and life. The desert is brown, rocky, and desolate. It is not exactly the most romantic spot to renew a broken marriage between God and his bride. So why would God take his beloved to the desert in order to restore her? Because only there can he reveal to her the magnitude of his love…

The healing path must pass through the desert or else our healing will be the product of our own will and wisdom. It is in the silence in the desert that we hear our dependence on noise. It is in the poverty of the desert that we see clearly our attachments to the trinkets and baubles we cling to for security and pleasure. The desert shatters the soul’s arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert, we trust God or we die.

God not only leads us through the desert, but he calls us to walk through the valley as the sun sets and shadows spread across the land. To get to the table set for us by God we are called to walk through danger. Any valley is dangerous terrain. Not only can rocks roll down on us unexpectedly, be we are surrounded by higher ground on which an enemy can perch and rain down assault. No military tactician would willingly send his troops marching through a valley; it is a place of death. And if one must march through a valley , the worst possible time to do so is at sunset when shadows distort and make it impossible to pick out enemies hiding in wait.

Why would God have us walk through danger to get to him? Again, because valleys strip us of the presumption of independence; danger draws us to a greater dependence on the only one who can provide and protect. The desert brings us to our knees with craving; the valley calls us to cling to the hem of the one who leads us to safety. The psalmist says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4)

God is with us. His rod and staff and his sure vision, steady balance, and infinite knowledge of the terrain will guide us as we walk through the shadowlands. But don’t be fooled: His leading does not always guide us out of harm’s way. Rather, God often leads us directly into the hottest and most perilous point of the battle…

The healing path is not a jaunt in the park. It is a life-rattling, heart-revealing journey that takes us through danger, harm, heartache — and ultimately to new trust, profound hope, and a love that can’t be scorched by assault or destroyed by loss. The healing path is glorious, but the only way we will stay on course and resist the temptation to flee to safer ground is by comprehending more deeply the assaults and losses we will face on our journey. In the desert and valley we will pass through the dangers of betrayal, powerlessness, and ambivalence. These three realities will pull faith, hope, and love right out from under us if we are not ready for them.”   ~Dan Allender, Ph.D., The Healing Path

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff will comfort me.”

Rescue Us All

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Do not love the world or the things in the world… the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.

You want to take a headlong dive into destruction?

Sow seeds of destruction and reap the devastation.

I sure wish I didn’t know what that looks like.  I sure wish I had continued to walk the path of righteousness, even when the lust of the flesh appeared better than my temporary circumstances.  I sure wish I had seen the devastation before I went sowing lustful seeds.

The real problem: I did see.

I had read The Word.

I knew what it said about the rewards of sowing to the wind.  You will reap the whirlwind.  You WILL.

And now… on this side of the whirlwind…?  Not much remains of my former life.

Only by His grace do I still live.  I’ve contemplated suicide quite a lot over the past five years.  And, again, this past weekend.

You see, I have known my spiritual gifts are teaching and prophecy.  And I spent much of my life teaching, speaking forth The Truth of God’s Word.  Then, the hard tests of faith became so. much. harder.  I closed the Book.  I told myself I knew enough of what it said… the pit of depression had become so dark, I wouldn’t see the light right beside me… on the nightstand.

Either I forgot the warnings, or didn’t think they’d truly happen to me.

And now, another stands on the precipice… and he’s closing his eyes!

The questions haunt me once again:

What did I do?

Where did it start?

Why can’t he hear?

Who is this precious baby?

Where did he go?

Why God?

WHY?

My heart cries out to a deaf ear…

No.

No.

NO!

HE is NOT deaf.  He hears.  He has spoken.

Will he listen?

Oh, God, please don’t let him close The Book.  Don’t let him forget what he’s learned.  Speak boldly to his heart and mind.  Don’t let him turn away!!  Hold him fast.  Let him stand on the Rock.  Don’t let him sink into the muck of sin, the mire of filth.

Please, God,

Rescue my son!

Rescue us ALL.

Do not love the world nor the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world,
the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life,
is not from the Father, but is from the world.
The world is passing away, and also its lusts;
but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

~I John 2:15-17

Animal vs. Diabolical Self

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“The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”

~Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis

What do you think?