September 25 2017

From Surviving To Thriving

survivingFor most of my life I have been just trying to survive. It’s like hanging on to the back of a speedboat that is cruising through the lake at 50 mph. Surviving is something that takes place of true living. You hunker down and wait for the storm to pass, except that it never really does. So you just keep hanging on as tight as you can, and hope that you make it through to the end.

At some point in time I got tired of surviving. I didn’t want to just survive life anymore. I wanted to be more than a conqueror through Christ. I wanted my reality to be the strength that everyone else saw in me. However, that was just too far away from my understanding of life. Moments of strength are great, but they have been so fleeting, and leave hopelessness in their wake. I needed the kind of strength that was going to allow me to let go of the speedboat, and instead walk on water.

Being a survivor of ritual abuse is a unique experience that is hard to describe. In many ways it is like someone who has been engaged in combat and comes home. You have seen war, death, destruction, and all sorts of evil. You are in a foreign country and away from reality as you have always known it. When you come home, everyone is so happy to see you. They throw a party for you and give you accolades for what you have done. Yet you just want to sit alone in a dark room, because it’s overwhelming to be at a celebration which only reminds you of pain and death.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

You are overwhelmed because you haven’t seen joy in a long time. You don’t even know what to talk about to people who haven’t been immersed in the circumstances of war like you have. They talk about the weather and politics and school and you just stare at them, trying to focus on what their saying and not on latent memories pushing through. At the end of the party they shoot off fireworks and it’s all you can do is run, because the flashing lights and sounds of explosion send you right back into the combat zone.

No one understands why you ran. No one comprehends the level of pain and suffering you now know so intimately. They want to encourage you, but their words roll off you like water. You feel isolated and alone in the midst of a crowd. How can you explain what you feel, what you have seen, when no one even wants to hear the truth in the first place. Everyone means well, but while you have been in your own personal hell, they have been enjoying the freedom that you fought for them to have.

When you have experienced high levels of trauma for a good portion of your life, you are living in survival mode. You know no other way of being. You are on autopilot, just trying to get through every moment of every day and still breathe. Many people are living this way and have no idea that they are doing so. It becomes normal to them, just as it did for me. Before I ever realized I was a survivor, I was living in survival mode. My whole life was spent surviving, I just had no idea. It wasn’t until I was desperate enough to know the reason why I was a huge mess that I began to learn the reasons behind daily surviving.

 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Survival does not equip us to thrive in unhealthy situations, nor does it help us find the truth as to why suffering has followed us wherever we go. Surviving only helps us to get one foot in front of the other. For some, this is how they will have to make it through life, because facing the obvious pain that has been staring at them for so long, is simply more than they can bare. Yet for others, surviving will be a season, not a permanent condition. They will strive to find out the truth in the answers to why things are the way they are. It is through that truth they will find freedom and healing in Jesus Christ.

I have been hanging on for what feels like a lifetime, and Jesus has given me the strength to finally let go. That speedboat has no intention of stopping, so Jesus had to talk me through the steps to let go of it, and allow Him to catch me right where I was. It was extremely hard and painful to even get to that place. Once I was able to let go, the world around me slowed down and I could once again breathe.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Mark 4:39:41

It’s amazing when you finally come to a place where you are no longer watching your life whiz by you, wondering how to catch up. You can stop and open your eyes without the spray from the boat blinding you. You can focus on taking one step at a time towards Jesus, even though the storm is still raging on around you. The wind and the waves threaten you, and so you learn that sometimes you have to stand perfectly still while you get your bearings, and sometimes you can take that next step, always looking for Jesus.

Here I am, two years into my inner healing therapy and I have finally reached a place where I can breathe. Where I can be at peace with my circumstances and know that Jesus is my Rock and Redeemer. As much hell as I have been through these past two years, it was all worth the fight. There is nothing like the fresh air you breathe when you climb out of the pit. You get used to the stench and the muck of it, and you completely forget who you even are.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21

Yet Jesus has never left my side, not for one minute of my life. He has told me I am His, I am beautiful, I am special. Things I couldn’t believe before now give me hope. Jesus tells me He has never left me and I now know its true. Through every situation I was forced into, and every sin of my own doing, He was there. My proud Papa, who knew the core of my heart, and tells me I am good. I never could have thought I was good before. I believed I was evil, through and through. God knows the truth, about each and every one of us.

The goodness of God cannot be stopped, and His love can never be tainted. No matter what we do, and no matter what happens in this world, the love of God is an unstoppable force that will plow over the enemy every time. The only thing that keeps us from that understanding is believing his lies. If the devil can convince us that God is not who He says He is, then he has his hooks in us for as long as we allow it.

We may have all authority over the evil of this world, but until we recognize where we have allowed it in, we cannot use that authority to expel it. We will always have struggles and suffering as consequences to our choices to deny it. Jesus sees you. He sees your heart. He knows you, and He says ‘You are good.’ Who are you going to choose to believe?

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

1 Corinthians 9:24-26

September 18 2017

How To Forgive: Steps To Freedom From Pain And Shame

Last week I wrote a post about forgiveness, and I would like to follow it up with a post on how to forgive. Learning to forgive can be quite difficult for some people. It can seem as though forgiving someone is excusing every bad thing they have done to you. However, that is not how the Lord sees forgiveness. Jesus came to set us free from oppression and death, and when we hold on to unforgiveness, we are holding on to the very things that strive to keep us in bondage.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18

Step 1: Admit you have a problem

For some, admitting that there is a problem is harder than forgiving the ones who hurt you. It is much easier to live in a place of strong denial, where you keep a firm belief that everything is just fine; nothing is wrong at all. You are not hurt or angry. You have moved on and nothing can keep you down.

This is exactly the stance the enemy would love you to keep, because it is in that denial that you are kept in his bondage. Forgiving those who have sinned against you is a cornerstone of Christian faith. To forgive is to be set free. We cannot be set free from anger, pain, spite, vengage, rage, etc, when we refuse to connect to those emotions. We tell ourselves they aren’t there, and when we flare up into a rage and someone calls us out on it, we smile warmly and say we’re not angry.

There is no hiding from unforgiveness. It is bondage that allows the demonic to work through us to keep us in pain and harm those that we love and that we have issues with. You may need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you see where you have unresolved issues causing pain, anger, etc.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Step 2: Repent for your anger

Once we verbally admit we are angry, hurt, jealous, spiteful, envious, hateful etc. , then we are ready for the next step, repentance. Repentance means to turn from evil and turn to good instead. Acts of hate, anger, and all the other feelings that come when we don’t forgive are the same as making agreements with the enemy. It is going against Christ in us, and agreeing with our sin nature, which was born out of rebellion and partnership with the enemy.

When Adam and Eve decided to rebel against God in the Garden, they were actually agreeing with the devil and his lies. Therefore, it was like a contract and partnership, which cost all humanity. We do not understand the depth of what sin means until we see it in these terms. To sin is not just to simply do wrong, and that is why it is so important to repent of it. God has already forgiven us, and we do not repent in order to gain His love or approval. We repent in order to align ourselves to the Spirit of the God Most High, and flee from the devil and his ways.

Have the Holy Spirit lead you through the act of repentance. Repentance should be done out loud, because you are making a declaration for the whole spiritual realm to hear. Repentance can be as basic as “I repent for my anger at ____. I repent for all my evil or negative thoughts about ______. I repent for all my jealousy and acts of division towards ____.”

Just be sure to let the Holy Spirit bring all of it to mind. Do not be ashamed at your actions as He reveals them. Your Father in heaven loves you more than you could know. He is not mad at you. He has already forgiven you. He knows your heart and knows you are not evil. You are repenting because you seek to free yourself from the bondage that has kept you in alignment with hell, not because you are bad.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Step 3: Forgive those that have hurt you

To forgive does not mean to permit sin. Forgiveness is the act of extending the blood Jesus shed on the cross to pardon us to those who have done us wrong. To forgive is an act, not a feeling. It is like a verbal contract between yourself and God, allowing His grace and mercy and love to flow freely to you and to those who have sinned against us.

The act of forgiving should be spoken aloud. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you with the words. It can be as simple as “I forgive ______ for not being there when I needed them. I forgive _____ for not listening to me. I forgive ______ for stealing from me. I forgive ______ for saying hurtful things to me.

You may still have to work through some of the reasons for your pain, anger, etc. towards others after you forgive them. Often times things that happen to us now are a trigger (something that reminds us of a traumatic event from our past) to unresolved pain from our past. When we have traumatic events happen in our lives, which are wide and variable between different people, we store up the pain deep inside our psyche and keep reliving the wounds when they are triggered.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you work through any unresolved feelings that linger. You may find there are more things that need to be forgiven as time goes on. It is important to be patient and loving with yourself, forgiving yourself just as you are forgiving others. God does not expect you to be perfect, and knows you have done wrong in your life. We all fall short of the glory of God, and that is why Jesus came. We just need to keep surrendering and humbling ourselves continually, so that we can break free from this bondage and grow closer to God.

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Romans 12:14

Step 4: Bless those who have hurt you

Once you have forgiven those who have hurt you, it is important to then bless them. People who hurt are most likely just hurting themselves. We are all broken and living in a broken world, trying to make it through the best we know how. Sometimes we do mean to hurt others and sometimes we don’t. Either way, we all deserve the forgiveness of Christ and the cleansing righteousness it brings.

To offer blessing on those who have sinned against us, no matter how severe it is, is the final act when we forgive. It releases us to move forward and know that we have truly aligned ourselves with the heart of God. His heart is so full of love for every one of His children, and He wants to see each one of us come into repentance so we can be who He truly created us to be. We must not fall prey to pride, thinking that to forgive is enough, and to bless is too much.

By blessing those who have hurt us, we are opening our hearts up to be blessed as well, and bringing the gates of heaven to these people who need Jesus so bad. No matter where they are in life, you can never have too much Jesus.

The act of blessing is as simple as “I bless _______. I bless their life, their home, their family, their finances.” And whatever else the Holy Spirit would have you pray. He may have you pray intercession for them, because they may be in dire straights, and we do not know.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:13

We are not striving for perfection, but for the Father’s heart. As we continue to forgive ourselves and others, we can continue to grow in His mercy and love. We are to be ambassadors of His grace and mercy, and as we forgive, we are doing mighty work for His Kingdom. No matter how hard it seems, you can do this. I have had to forgive the most heinous of acts, on many occasions, and it has only brought me more and more freedom.

Your Father in heaven is so very proud of you and where you are at right now. Keep fighting the good fight of faith, my beautiful brothers and sisters!

September 11 2017

The Power of Forgiveness

forgivenessForgiveness has been something that I have struggled with all of my life. From the time I was born, I was being physically and sexually abused by my family and at the Mormon Church. I grew up feeling worthless and abandoned; constantly lied to and betrayed. I was beaten down for having gifts from God to see and talk to Him, and was taught that I was generally stupid and altogether evil. All these things shaped the core of who I was. Instead of growing into a tender young girl who loved the Lord, and wanted to help and serve others, I became devoid of love, focusing instead on hate.

Hate is a power that has driven me for most of my life. Hate, so I was told, was going to protect me, like a weapon or a coat of armor. It was going to drive away all of the evil, because self hatred would keep me in constant self flagellation. I could drive the evil out of my self, and keep the evil of others away, if I would just use the powers of hate.

I was only a little girl as these penetrating lessons were taught to me. As hard as I tried to cling on to what I knew of Jesus, it was ripped away from me, step by step, until I could no longer bear to even hear His name. Jesus name became a swear word to me, because His name now represented hate, anger, and pain to me. Jesus not only abandoned me, but took part in my abuse, as men would dress in His likeness and tell me they were Him.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18-19

As I grew, my life constantly reinforced these beliefs of hate. The rejection and abandonment I felt in my own home was enough to leave me feeling utterly hopeless. I turned to attempts of suicide and later, drugs and alcohol, to try to numb the pain that swelled within me. Nothing could truly take away that pain, but at least I could continue to face another day with a crutch to help me hobble through.

It was not only my family and church that reinforced the message that people will hurt and betray you. It was also relationships outside of the home, with friends and boyfriends. Each friendship I had, I ended up being hurt and betrayed. Each boyfriend I gave my heart too, used and abused me. Again and again my heart received the message loud and clear: People are evil and are always going to hurt you. No matter what you do, you must protect and defend yourself.

My drive to hate just continued to grow throughout my life. With no outlet for healing, the pain would just get shoved further down and bottled up. As I entered early adulthood I began having problems with anger and rage. Physical abuse in my romantic relationships caused me to in turn become violent. I had to defend myself from the pain and attacks, and so physical fights became normal with men.

For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:20

I wanted desperately to be free from all of this anger and pain. I tried over and over again to forgive my parents for the abandonment I felt all those years. I wanted to start over and just love them for who they were. It worked for a time, as long as I ignored every longing I had for approval and affection. My parents were just as abused as I was, and they absolutely did the very best they could. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to fill the cries of my soul for the love I so desired.

It wasn’t until I came to a place in my life where I was able to finally meet God again. To remember that He is real and not a God of pain and torment. That led to me being able to take a closer look at Jesus. This Jesus that I had to reject in order to protect myself. As I read the Gospel message of His love, something I had been previously deprived of, I realized, this is the love I had been missing out on my entire life. This is the man I needed but could never find all these years.

I gave myself wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ. I wanted nothing more than to allow His Holy Spirit to transform my broken pieces to a beautiful vessel of His love. However, I was still so very shattered and the pain was still constant. Jesus brought me to a place where I was able to have the grace to begin to see people from His point of view. The grace to begin to love and open up to others in a way I never had before. His love was overflowing through me, and I wanted nothing more than to share it with the world.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Psalm 103:8

That is not the end of the story, however. As I began my season of inner healing, the grace to love others unconditionally had to make way for the grace to face my pain. My pain was like an endless ocean, raging like a storm within my soul. As I lay bear all my pain, fear and shame, I came to a place of complete and utter brokenness. All my strength was gone, and all I could do was rely on Jesus to even make it through one day. It was all I could do to keep living.

While some saw this as a sign of disaster, I knew in my heart it was what I needed. I could continue to live in the undercurrent of pain, never knowing when it would swallow me whole, or I could face it head on, with the help of the Holy One, and receive healing and hope. When you have never had hope and get a taste of it, you always want more.

Through my inner healing, the real work of forgiving began. I knew about a lot of pain and rejection in my life, but I had no memories of the worse of the abuse. Once those began to be uncovered I had to dig very deeply to learn to forgive. Forgiving felt like saying everything bad that ever happened to me was OK. What Jesus taught me is that forgiving never means evil become good. What it means is I am allowing Him to be Lord over the circumstances that brought the pain, and then give all the pain to Him.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22

I was never meant to carry such a heavy burden on my own. I was never meant to spend a life grieving what should have been. I was meant for freedom and for love. Things that had been stolen away from me in my innocence. All the hate and vengeance and anger I had been using as a weapon did not make me evil. In my heart I only wanted to protect myself from more torment. Jesus had already forgiven me, and so to forgive all the people who had hurt me was only going to set me free.

I no longer had to carry around the weapons of hate. Weapons I had fashioned out of fear and pain, but nonetheless weapons. What I hadn’t realized is that the weapons I was carrying were all actually aimed at me, and being used by the devil to hurt me even more. Once I began to hand over all of my weapons of hate, pain, shame, anger, rage, etc to Jesus, I saw the truth about who God made me to be. I am a light in this world, and a light on a hill cannot be hidden. I was no longer in need of hiding, because Jesus was setting me free.

All of us are carrying around some degree of pain and anger towards others, and self, that we are using as weapons. And just like me, you never meant those weapons for harm, but for protection. Jesus knows your heart and knows who He created you to be. So today, it is time to lay them down at His feet, cast every one of your burdens down before Him, and let the Truth set you free. There you will see what it looks like from a heavenly perception. A place where love, grace and mercy rule, and shame is put to the grave, forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103:10-14

September 4 2017

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day! I hope you have had an amazing summer! I am so thankful for the wonderful break from ministry and all God has done in me. I will happily resume my regularly scheduled posting next Monday! I love you all