A full month in a new church and not one mention of sin. Not one!!! Maybe I am wrong, but we are still human aren’t we? Could it be that political correctness has spilled over into the church and we don’t ask the tough questions or confront the issues that make the asker or hearer uncomfortable? How can […]
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This past Sunday while getting ready for church, this sonnet came to my remembrance. It is on a plaque within the base of the Statue of Liberty. These words are exceptionally powerful. For while eschewing legendary and timeless civilizations, it brings recognition to a new, and most worthy addition to the history of mankind. America. The words toward the end of this quote are what most remember and for good reason, but there is much more here for us.
I would like to say that this verse could well be the clarion call of the church; though in its long history it has intermittently forgotten its charge, and has at times resorted to maintaining the persona and image of its “storied pomp.”
I think the spiritual equivalent of this sonnet would be found in the Bible here:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.
King James Version (KJV)
That, my friend is the purpose of our churches. To be relentlessly compassionate and self-sacrificing; so that no man, woman, or child be left outside its gates of salvation and complete freedom. This is further demonstrated by these verses:
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
King James Version (KJV)
This is a new age, one of incredible temptations and fear. The one I am speaking of being primarily in the areas of pornography, sexual addiction, and their accompanying compulsive behaviors.
The onslaught is not just against every single individual in this world, but specifically targeting the church, and could result in its relegation to total irrelevance if not complete collapse. This dire attack on the minds of the faithful has been proven to be more than the personally afflicted are able to overcome themselves. Shame overwhelms in a repeating cycle of futility while the church at times appears unwilling, or just believes it is unable to effectively confront the horrific consequences.
We have to stop giving up on ALL people; instead, we must chase them into the streets to extend compassion, giving of that which we have to show the love of God, and provide every opportunity for the lost and mis-guided to be completely restored.
Jesus went into the highways and byways, he went to the woman at the well, he traveled to those who were unable to come to him. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and people were saved.
What does the life of Jesus translate to in todays world? That is a really good question. But what I have been witness to is many debates and conversations without enough tangible action. We fortify our church structures to protect our revered institutions, but the truly needy and desperate must often find help elsewhere. In doing so, we deny the truth that we are all fallen and lost without the miraculous sacrifice and triumph of Jesus Christ.
The call of Christ is to preach the gospel, yes, but we are also “sent to heal the broken hearted and set at liberty the bruised.” There is nowhere it says “unless you are uncomfortable with their issues or think they are undeserving of Gods mercy.”
1 Corinthians 13:7
If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
Living Bible (TLB)
We are commanded to love, and that love doesn’t stop at the first sign of trouble, or avoid problems for the sake of appearance or comfort. That love goes beyond reason and walks with the broken. That love goes past a financial contribution and gets involved in solutions. That love is what sacrifice is all about, realizing that we are all deceived and stumbling, and precious to Jesus. That love knows offenses and hurts will try to separate, but strives that much harder to fulfill its purpose. That love doesn’t try to make clones of ourselves, but celebrates our various roads to Jesus; fulfilling the call of Gods people to be one body.
I Corinthians 12:11-14; 23-26
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many…
…And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
King James Version (KJV)
Beyond our hope, our logic and beyond our humanity, it is in Christ we will find love, and learn how to love. That, my friend, is the foundation of freedom for ALL!
On The Throne
I will walk through the fire
Walk through the darkest night
I will walk through the flood
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome
I will walk through the trial
Walk through the valley of fear
I will walk through the storm
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome
For the lord is,
He is able, he is faithful,
Higher than the mountains that I face
Every season, I will press on
For God alone, is on the throne
I will walk in your the promise
Walk in your victory
I will walk in your power
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome
On the throne
Sovereign over all
On the throne
Reigning over all
- Everyone is busy
- Everyone has a family
- Everyone has concerns
- Everyone is under pressure
- Everyone has hurts
- Everyone needs love
- Everyone wonders what tomorrow holds
- Everyone has relationship issues
- Everyone is rushing
- Everyone has misplaced priorities
- Everyone has hope for something unrealized
- Everyone cries
- Everyone feels lonely
- Everyone hides their pain
- Everyone wishes someone else knew
- Everyone does their personal best
- Everyone judges others
- Everyone loves
- Everyone has deep unmet needs
- Everyone needs a break from life now and then
- Everyone lusts for something
- Everyone is seeking peace
- Everyone has unnatural fears
- Everyone wishes someone else understood them
- Everyone fails
- Everyone tries again
- Everyone needs grace
- Everyone must be rescued
- Everyone sins
- Everyone hopes no-one sees their true self
- Everyone struggles to believe
- Everyone cannot do it alone
- Everyone faces death
- Everyone seeks recognition
- Everyone has a passion they cannot fulfill
- Everyone has painful regrets
- Everyone medicates their pain
- Everyone needs someone else to understand
- Everyone wants to be heard
- Everyone cares for someone
Everyone needs Jesus
Psalm 82:4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
I want you to know something from the depths of my heart, please hear me as I share this. I want to remain positive and hopeful as I confront addiction; and I speak for all addicts when I say we need YOU!
Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
A few opening thoughts here:
- Sometimes, in the processing of life, especially with an addiction component that has been in operation for a long time, it is difficult to remain hopeful.
- When coming out of the addiction fog, learning to do things differently, establishing better practices and accountability, we can still find it hard to be positive.
- Even if we have a support base, transparency, and success of some sort in the rear-view mirror, it can yet be difficult to stay the course.
Why are all these things true you may ask? Well, I am not really sure, and certainly don’t have empirical evidence to back up my hypothesis. I have only my own experiences to sample. I can tell you it is extremely difficult to remain strong, and going in a positive direction through the long journey of recovery, and much of it is people related.
Deuteronomy 15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
As I have confronted addiction in my life, I have seen many, many people pull away, disassociate themselves, and outright consign me to oblivion. Its like I have a disease thats gonna jump on people so they run in terror, screaming like a little kid afraid of something under his bed at night. Comical really. Although a few, select people have remained supportive, the majority of those who consistently stand with you are those who are complete strangers; at least at first. Who are they? Fellow addicts who are in recovery of their own.
Ezekiel 22:29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.
I would say that you would find it difficult to deny that people in your life are very important; that family and friends are in fact essential as you negotiate every day life. Those who struggle with addiction are no different.
There are two evaluations I commonly see when people separate themselves from an addict for religious reasons. I am speaking of the religious here because virtually everyone in my life is, as I have been primarily in that environment. I have witnessed these responses first-hand. (Please understand that there are those who tirelessly help, and churches who dedicate tremendous time and financial resources to help those in need.)
- You have a spiritual problem that you won’t deal with and submit to God.
Addicts (for the most part) do not like being addicted; though ensnared in a cycle of addictive behavior, the person realizes they are perishing daily. They aren’t in a place of peace, serenity, and joy over their lives. They hate addiction, and they despise what they have become. That right there shows a desire and willingness to change, and that is where it is tough to stay positive. When someone presumes to enter the mind of another in any circumstance and decide what their motivation or intent is, that is pure egomania. Please don’t assume the addict is an unrepentant sinner.
- You are beyond spiritual help (i.e. MY help)and therefore I must separate myself from you entirely so you don’t infect me.
The addict needs your help, not for you to turn your back on them. They need you to press in to them, to show the care and concern for them that you would show a stranger on the street. When you give up on them you are saying that their value to you isn’t enough to warrant your continued relationship or help. You have injected a so-called higher reasoning for your position but it still boils down to you just don’t care enough or are too busy. Why not insert your reason here:______________________________________________________!
To be sure, there are addicts who are unrepentant, and take advantage of people who help. But don’t let those who do this distract from the many who are truly trying and working hard. It can be difficult to spot the genuine ones because three steps forward and two steps back could be the motto of virtually every addict. It is in failure we learn, we grow, we achieve success. We are mortal beings who have made terrible choices when it comes to dealing with life. Hidden beneath addictions behavior is a wounded and needy soul grasping for solid hope.
Psalm 9:18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
The church can feel overmatched when it comes to the complexities that are in play when trying to help the addicted. That is what I have been told many times, by many people. But that isn’t a reason to walk away, condemn, distance, ridicule, judge, and ultimately fail the needy. It may seem like the effort can never match the challenge, that the churches resources and patience only stretch so far. But may I say that the addict doesn’t have that luxury, they cannot afford to give up so easily. Why? Because the alternative is certain death; physically, spiritually or both.
Isaiah 25:4 For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
Please don’t give up on the addicted. We desire freedom and covet being a complete person; we need your love, patience and support to achieve this high goal. Walk with us, please listen and try to understand, help us to see how we can be healed, and know that there is hope for us.
If you have a relative, friend, fellow-believer, co-worker or neighbor who is caught in addictions cold grasp, please just reach out and lend a hand. We cannot make it without YOU!
This is a word-for-word transcription of a pre-dawn writing session I had recently. I wanted to leave it without editing to keep it as real and natural as possible.
For those of you who do not struggle with the tireless and insatiable force known as addiction, I would like to say one thing as a preface. Take a moment and utter a prayer of thanks to whoever or whatever god you believe in. The fact that this merciless fiend hasn’t stuck its razor sharp talons into your soul is cause for humble obeisance to your higher power. The human life is difficult enough without the beasts sulfer like breath raising the hairs on your neck constantly. Reminding at every moment the unshakable hold it has on the entirety of your life.
I couldn’t sleep, I haven’t been sleeping well either for several nights. Some might point to my propensity for caffeinated liquids far beyond their reasonable use and therefor simple function at interrupting needed sleep. However, I know better. You see, an addict is a user and they aren’t above anything, they have lost control of the decision making process at a sub-conscience level-that is before it is actually a mental decision.
The use of anything in a way that is harmful to ones life, in excess or prevention, is an addiction.
The addicted life is one of simple musings, debates, flights of fantasy, plotting, angling, subversion, selfishness, relentlessness, coverups, thirsting without satisfaction-and after all that? Do it again tomorrow. It is self flagellation, mistrust, wounding, fear, anxiety, resignation, doubt, weakness, and dependancies on things that harm and do not and could not ever heal.
Addiction doesn’t leave you alone. It is a cancer that spreads, gobbling up healthy cells with a voracious appetite that seeks only to destroy anything that resembles hope and truth, life and promise, peace and joy.
There are seminal moments of panicked understanding of what has a hold on you but you are caught in such a web of deception that every move you make only tightens its grip. In your heart somewhere is the desire to do whats right. You have a certain longing to be trustworthy-to love another without dissimulation, to emerge from the nightmare and find it wasn’t real.
But it is.
Its another day, and with the dawning of the sun you newly and freshly dedicate yourself to a fight you are in no way equipped to win. In a pathetic attempt to correct this huge ship with a puny rudder, you cannot navigate the torrents pushing you wherever the storm wishes. Over and over again you run aground in the dangerous and sharp rocked shoals. Taking water through your ships hull, stranded, overwhelmed, praying you will make it through the oncoming night alive.
But what is the point of living the way? Year after year you grapple with a faceless foe who doesn’t lose. You are now its meal, it feeds on your soul with great satisfaction. As it consumes all semblance of human life that has purpose it has completed its vile work. Your bloodied and bruised carcass begins to putrefy, an unimaginable stench fills the air all around whats left; only the most unspeakable creatures approach to consume what remains.
All the while you are fully aware what is happening. You choke on your own smell, and vomit whatever is left inside of you. Longing for death doesn’t hasten relief as you lay there incapable of lifting your head above the decomposing bodies of a multitude of those who have suffered the same fate. You are resigned now to what will happen, and so a weird kind of acceptance becomes the way you exist through what little time is left before you gladly breathe your last.
Sounds utterly hopeless doesn’t it? To the addict this is life, just hit repeat and do so a thousand times and more without hope for change and no way of escape.
Let me tell you that the addict who never quits is the most courageous person you will ever meet!
They have looked hell in the face daily, felt enough pain in a week than many do in a lifetime. But somehow have found the strength to try again, and again, and again. Its not enough to face addiction head-on..winning…losing…stalemate…but we must also fight the ignorant ho say we are week, when the exact opposite is true. We haven’t quit and we never want to. We want to be normal; I know thats subjective, but it is a valid desire.
I wonder what my adversary will do today to kill me a little bit more?
So, how to plot an overthrow of this dark, demented master plan to destroy me? Keep in mind I have lost countless battles and skirmishes already. My default as an addict is to surrender to my stronger opponent. It is a twisted life, that in knowing our time is limited just lays down on the table and aIt’sllows this sadistic surgeon to remove more of my soul. No antiseptic is needed for the addict is already sufficiently numbed to the pain. Afterwards unaware that less remains of what is vital to live.
Now, it is a battle of the mind. To have a chance the addict must acquire strength from somewhere. He has proven his solitude is a death sentence without hope of pardon. He must go outside his field of limited vision and find tools and comrades to join.
This new tactic is strange and uncomfortable-going against all his failed efforts of the past. You’d think it would be easy to transition to this larger fighting force. In his dysfunction the addict believes in going it alone and cannot see another way.
It takes a lot of strength to say,”I cannot do this anymore,” and join the army. Strength isn’t in ready supply, so a few attempts to join up fail. But through efforts that would make Hercules look like a 95 lb. weakling the addict summons the courage to enlist.
No longer fighting alone he starts to have hope for victory. He learns of strategies he had never considered, finds weapons previously unavailable to him. He closes ranks with a united and now formidable force taking back long ago surrendered ground. Confidence grows, expertise is gained, teamwork and camaraderie develops. The shared objective creates a resolute force dedicated to total and complete. This band of once inept,starving, ill-equipped soldiers is without comparison in their decimation of a common enemy.
Instead of being the rotting shell of what was once their fate, they stand in victory over their once thought all powerful enemy.
Maybe you saw this story, it just doesn’t sit well with me, especially this line:
“The court said U.S. authorities only have a duty to protect victims of parolees under their supervision.”
On the heels of my last post, a few thought-provoking lines on a parallel topic.
Whether we suffer the consequences of sin and are punished, or receive sweet mercy, in the end it is all the same.
I am extremely thankful for mercy, I think we all are. Who hasn’t been in a position in which we deserved much worse than we got. Escaping consequences when we deserved a severe penalty is such a relief and weight off our shoulders, we can breathe again. Mercy received, debt cancelled, against all odds miracle blessing, heartache averted, and hopefully lesson learned. Our need for mercy isn’t always due to our sin, but often due to things out of our control.
Psalm 147:11 The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Then there are consequences. Sometimes even when we receive mercy there are still consequences. They can be so painful. We may not feel we deserve to be punished so harshly, and find ourselves straying into the familiar ground of denial. We may lose a job, a relationship, an opportunity that was almost to good to be true. We find ourselves in the midst of the reality of what we’ve done, and the punishment is very real.
Big picture moment-the worst punishment given may be the best thing for us, and mercy we receive that is undeserved may be the springboard to greater faith.
In our minds we rehearse the whole God perspective; how He grants mercy where He will, and dispenses consequences to others as He sees fit. If we trust God, then we understand everything happens for a reason and nothing happens that God doesn’t allow, right? When consequences come calling or mercy is granted we say we trust God and move on; we take our medicine or gasp a sigh of relief and plow ahead.
Psalm 94:18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.
You see, even if we don’t agree, and even if it happens in a way we don’t like, it doesn’t change the fact that it is as God wills. We may plead for mercy, justifying ourselves or excusing our actions, but God sees it differently and executes judgment. He may be merciful and lessen our punishment, speak peace to us, and allow His grace to flood our repentant souls. There may be a time of darkness so black we forget what the sun looks like, we think it will never end; It is all up to Him.
The only thing we can do is surrender, plead for mercy, and realize our lives are not our own, they belong to the creator of all things.
Mercy isn’t mercy if it enables us to continue on into more sin. But consequences can be mercy, if when shown our error we are repentant, turn, and go the other way.
- In the Bible, there are 262 references to the mercy of God, with nearly 100 alone in the Psalms.
Psalm 119:64 The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
I am considering the justice vs. vengeance philosophy, (which may not be a philosophy at all, but another of my musings). As I confront the childhood sexual abuse (CSA) I experienced, I am finally addressing this important and sometimes controversial subject. I will state right up front that I believe vengeance should have no place in our hearts and motivation, but justice of preeminent importance.
Lets go to the Bible and look at both sides of this. First up are the scriptures I was directly quoted in conversations with a pastor:
- Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
- Deuteronomy 32:35 To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
These verses don’t mention justice (which is what I am seeking), but vengeance, two different things altogether. I think they were put forth to me because I haven’t forgiven. It is assumed that because of a lack of forgiveness on my part, I am actually not seeking justice, but something more visceral and violent. Vengeance would be more akin to desiring and carrying out bodily harm in retribution for ill-treatment. That is not my goal or aim.
Definition of Vengeance
Infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like, on a person by another who has been harmed by that person; violent revenge:
But have you the right to vengeance?
An act or opportunity of inflicting such trouble:
to take one’s vengeance.
The desire for revenge:
A man full of vengeance.
What person, who has been terribly hurt by another hasn’t had at least a fleeting thought of vengeance? In all honesty we would have too say none-but with passage of time comes no solace if justice has been lax, and the criminal free from judgment. If we look at these following verses we see that men have been placed in authority for a reason and to do what is right. Can you see the defining characteristic in virtually EVERY one?
- Deuteronomy 33:21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel.
- 2 Samuel 8:15 And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.
- 1 Kings 10:9 Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.
- Psalm 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
- Proverbs 21:3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
- Isaiah 59:14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
You will notice that each time justice is mentioned, there is a companion word included, judgment; they belong together. When speaking with someone recently I uttered a phrase which seems very appropriate, “Justice is (or should be) timeless.” The fact is, many have been mistreated and profoundly worse, and received no justice because there may not have been applicable laws or societal protections in place at the time. However, may I say that hiding behind elapsed time or antiquated, or non-existent law has no bearing on certain criminal behavior, plain and simply, justice must be done. (I have discovered that the law in my home state has no statute of limitations on first degree criminal sexual assault; it can be punishable by a prison term of 25 years and up.)
Definition of justice
a : The maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments
b : judge
c :The administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity
a : The quality of being just, impartial, or fair
b (1) : the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action (2) : conformity to this principle or ideal : righteousness
c : the quality of conforming to law
: Conformity to truth, fact, or reason : correctness
You wouldn’t think of excusing a murderer, but when a person sexually abuses a child, and it isn’t revealed until adulthood, it is considered an unpunishable crime? That it is somehow now Gods job to do whatever He decides is just? There are authorities placed in this world by God to govern, make and keep the laws, and protect it’s citizens and their rights.
Romans 13:1 New King James Version (NKJV)
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
1 Peter 2:13-15 King James Version (KJV)
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well, or so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
I read an article recently about racism, it was written by Tim Wise. He has through research, relationship, education and experience become a voice for those who are discriminated against because of color. He wrote a very powerful article called-What Whites Don’t Know About Racism-you can find it here in its entirety.
I will use this excerpt:
“There’s an old saying that it’s hard to know what you don’t know, the premise being that when you’re ignorant about something, you aren’t likely to realize your blind spots. But I’m not so sure. Sometimes, knowing what you don’t know just requires a certain degree of humility. For instance, I don’t know calculus, because I never took it in school. But here’s the thing: I know that I don’t know calculus; and as such, I would never presume to know it, let alone to tell others for whom it had actually been their major that I knew it better than they did.” Tim Wise
My point is this, even if you have experienced CSA, there is a wide and varied outcome in the life of the individual, this is true even within my own family. The problem is that many people who have no idea what this trauma causes, will minimize and marginalize the victims of such a crime. They, due to a blindspot of their own, will put forth simplistic and insufficient cures that disregard the monumental destruction that has been caused. They will quote scripture, pat you on the head and pridefully walk away believing they did something “good.”
My experience has been church based and extensively documented here, that is my main perspective. However, there is a significant lack of effort being put into finding solutions, and providing help to protect the lives of people worldwide. Education, legislation, vigilance, and moral responsibility must be not only enacted, but fully accepted by all.
- We need to discern between the petty reprisals of the overly sensitive and the total decimation of a persons soul through sexual abuse.
- We are responsible to understand and educate ourselves in the art of empathy for those who suffer unspeakable terror while helpless at the hands of someone in cruel control.
- We must understand that the CSA victim has a life-sentence in dealing with their trauma.
- We need to understand that when someone reaches adulthood there isn’t a magic transformation that takes place and all is suddenly well.
- We need to rethink the status quo in the church of a scripture and a prayer, providing tangible and substantial resources to help those Christ has called us to rescue.
- We must be justice seekers, not to supplant the will of God but to be observers and executers of His will.
- We need to remember that most who suffer abuse as children don’t even begin processing the pain until they reach their 30s-50s.
- We need to consider the child and do what is best for them, not only our faith assemblies, when abuse is discovered.
- We should be the proponents of justice on behalf of the abused, those who cannot help themselves.
- Justice is an important part of healing.
Psalm 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
I welcome your comments.
I remember being a kid and watching TV, something scary would be happening, I sensed the anticipation of hurt or ominous threat. I’d get outta there as soon as I perceived danger, I wasn’t hanging around to see what doom would befall the unfortunate victim. The buildup is almost, and many times worse than the outcome, sneaking around in fear, blindly feeling your way through the dark in some creepy and unknown environment. You have caught glimpses of what stalks you, heard the unearthly snarls, grunts and growls of a mind-less and terrifying killer.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can often be in a very similar situation. I woke this morning with several ugly reminders sifting through my gray matter. Not so much of the abuse, but how I have mistakenly handled life as a result of the things I believe about myself; running and hiding from that monster by medicating the pain with addictive, selfish behavior.
Now I could stop right there, muse on that whole philosophy for page after page, reams could be written (and have) on how I perceive life and have reacted to it. My feelings and my hurts, my losses and my needs…blah, blah blah!
I want to focus on another aspect of the survival of abuse, and recovery from addiction; the important people in our life. Now this goes against how and what I usually do to deal with my pain. Trauma’s wounds have caused me to focus on myself, withdraw and isolate. When I dare to venture beyond this “safe” place, I am hunted and chased by this mysterious monster.
I have found myself to be so wrapped up in the fight for my life, I have forgotten about those that need me to be there for them, their needs and their safety.
I speak of my wife and my children today. If I stay in my own little personal horror movie, focused on my fears, concerned only with my life, I am not fulfilling the responsibilities within marriage. My wife has needs and desires that deserve more than the little empathy left for her after I have spent to much time moaning and crying for me! She is so valuable, such a rare gift that is far beyond any measurable, worldly scale. She has trauma, fears, and hurts of her own and I cannot disregard them, I will not. My children have suffered through my absence even when I was right there with them. They are grown now, families and responsibilities of their own challenge them, so I cannot remain invisible and abandon them.
When we spend every ounce of our energy in self-pity and woe-is-me mode, we cannot supply what our families are in need of; Love, care, concern, and action on their behalf.
I am starting to see that more clearly. I mean, this is my third marriage after all, I haven’t exactly mastered the art of relationships!
My wife and I are in a pretty good place. We just celebrated her birthday, and later this month we will enjoy and commemorate our 5th anniversary. It has been nearly 2 years since the revelation of my latest addictive meltdown, and we have been building a new foundation through learning, listening, and doing. It has been extremely difficult, and at times neither of us thought we would even be where we are today. But due to selfless actions, and a willingness to understand there are two people in this relationship we are slowly and steadily moving forward. I am a part of the household and so I do dishes and laundry, I vacuum and make the bed; I will even cook occasionally, but thats a little sketchy 🙂 We communicate regularly, share our feelings and needs, take ownership of our actions, and build each other up.
Learning to be there for our spouse and children, even when we are dealing with monumental issues personally, will speak volumes to them! We will discover love that we didn’t know was available. What we thought was a hellish nightmare from which there was no escape, can actually be the dawn of new hope and promise; amazing marital and family relationships! Let us not give up and stop short of what is possible, but be part of the love, life, tears, grace, forgiveness, hardship, mercy, laughter and joy that makes a family!
Abuse and addiction have stolen enough, lets stop being the Haunted Spouse, (House-get it?)
Have an amazing day!
I heard this song on the radio as I walked this morning. I hope that it blesses and encourages you today.
Addiction is a merciless enemy who takes advantage of the trauma and wounds of our lives and drives us deeper into darkness. As we claw to escape the slippery walls of this constantly deepening well we slide further into its life depriving void. We slip beneath the polluted, icy waters; bobbing up from time to time gasping for air in an attempt to stave off sure death. This counterfeit offer of relief from the unfathomable injuries of life only magnify the problem. Every time we reach for this pseudo bandaid we become further infected. The errant philosophy of life we practice doesn’t do anything to free us, but strengthens its grip on our soul.
We provide the fuel for addictions engine to run. By choosing to deal with our difficulties in ways that only temporarily mask the pain. Addictions power increases several fold every time we hit the gas pedal and accelerate blindly ahead. In some warped way we have decided that this works well enough, and so we hardly ever hit the brakes, just floor it!
For me, childhood sexual abuse opened a number of doors; not only to addictive behaviors, but relationship struggles, faith crisis, financial difficulties and depression. I learned early on to mask my pain with pornography. I was stunted in my growth by a deeply broken trust, and so I turned to the sexual fantasy, as it was more controllable and predictable than reality. Whenever I ventured beyond this world of my choosing, I failed miserably, and so withdrew even deeper into this fake place I had created.
Every time we act out we are refilling the fuel tank of addiction and hitting the gas.
Something has to change, but the process of finding another power source isn’t easy. Going from fossil fuels to alternative energy is complicated. The oil companies aren’t going to be so keen on the idea of handing over the cash cow they have been milking. There is also the challenge of developing energy that is efficient and available to all; and then, changing the minds of the buying public!
If you don’t put the fuel in, addiction can’t take take you for another ride.
I for one am searching for the alternatives to what never, ever worked in the first place. I am taking my foot off the gas and slowing the breakneck pace that has typified my ride. If addiction hasn’t filled the void in my soul yet, it never will. If what I have tried has failed, it is time to go another direction.
Coast…stop…refresh…think…consider…contemplate what could be if this addiction wasn’t the driving force behind everything we do. I am with you as we beat this gas-guzzling giant and take our lives back!
Realizing choices we make in the moment contribute to and influence our future should be well considered when addictions dark call is received. In that time of weakness, the chill up our spine is the cold and unfeeling desire that leads to our further plunge into depths of hopelessness and despair.
We know the results of our acquiescence will be costly, and yet we ignore the warnings and are led away into oblivions burning hell. What is found there are the stinging arrows of regret, the fiery coals of shame, and the constant sickening smell of lost opportunities.
We are not helpless pawns of this evil, but we have been fooled into believing we have no control, no choice at all. But we do.
If we make the decision to ignore our long-term well being and give in to this slow death we are another step removed from healing and wholeness, this is true. But if we will rebuff this temptation, and find the fortitude to say no in the moment, we start the process of winning. Success is built in the moment. Even now we can say to ourselves that this foe has won so many battles, whats the point? We are tired, empty, depressed, frustrated, we just don’t see ourselves being able to win.
Let me ask you to do something. The next time addiction comes to take a little more of you, to steal away a few more years of your life, to rob you of the healthy relationships you desire, say no. Don’t act without considering the long-term consequences. Take a moment and think, not allowing yourself to be led away by the nose, again! You can do it!
If we say yes to addiction, then somewhere inside is the ability to say no. We have been conditioned to believe there is only one answer that will fill the empty void inside and provide escape from our pain and hurt.
Once we realize that addiction is beatable, and the lies we have believed about ourselves are not true, we will have a fighting chance to be victorious. I know you are sick of the deception, the stealing, and the emptiness of another day lost to addiction. I am too. The next time addiction comes calling, in the moment of decision, say no. Do it just once, then the next time you do it, a bit of momentum will start to build. Even if you stumble you have still made progress in this fight!
Never give up, I believe in you, and so do many, many others.
(I am not ignoring the deeper issues we all have which have led us into addiction. These are areas in which we need help, accountability, and professional resources. This is not an end to itself but a tool to remind ourselves we do have a choice. Will it always be successful? No, but every little weapon we can find to battle addiction will add up to victory.)
I wish I could say that the road to recovery was much easier and quicker than it truly is. Were I to say that, I would be lying not only to you, but also myself, addiction doesn’t happen overnight and neither do its solutions. If you are addicted, you already know this.
What I desire to do today is encourage us.
Whether we are well along our recovery path, or just joining the fight, we can quickly become overwhelmed at the work that is before us.
When we lose our way and relapse into our “drug” we can become depressed and hopeless without any effort at all.
We feel that we have fallen right back to the very beginning. All the work we’ve done, the meetings we’ve attended, relationships that have been built, sobriety we have accomplished; all for nothing.
I want to stop us right there; it hasn’t been for nothing, and we are not right back where we started.
When we struggle through the night, our minds being assaulted by thoughts and images that seek to plunge us back into the mire we are struggling to escape, what gives us hope? For me, it isn’t whether or not I am bombarded, it is what I do with it. As someone recovering from an addiction to pornography, it is victory for me when I am able to refuse the desires of acting out that lead right back to bondage.
For that reason I am not so worried about the errant thought that slips in, that isn’t avoidable-but what do I do with that thought once it is presented to me? Our minds are very important, we cannot allow ourselves to dwell upon the things we know draw us back to the trough of shame and guilt. It is when a temptation has invariably led to us acting out that we must change our behavior. In those moments lets say, “Today, I take a stand and say no, not this time!”
It is taking steps in a positive and healthy direction that leads to our recovery.
Some are proponents of cold turkey sobriety, meaning of course, we just stop doing that addictive thing. Others believe it is a process and each time we are confronted with temptation we endeavor to do a little better. I guess I am a believer in whatever works for each of us is what we should do. Certainly there are practices that have proven to be powerful allies to recovery, personal therapy and 12-step groups among them. However, it is important to find what works for you, stick with it and never give up!
Today, whatever you face, you are not alone. If you are in a period of great struggle, make it a day in which you gain some small victory. Pace yourself. If you are feeling strong and sailing along, make a larger resolution that reflects your successes and still stretches you. The point is, find a positive in the midst of all the challenges, and give yourself a break from having to be perfect, no one is
You have chosen to pursue recovery and healing, you are a brave and courageous person already, now, fight on!
Have a blessed day!
This morning I am contemplating the personal impact of a movie my wife and I watched, it is called Spotlight. It is about a news organization that uncovers and reports on sexual abuse committed by the priests of the Catholic church, and the coverup which took place.
This movie caused several strong emotions in me:
- I had to weep at times, as I listened to survivors speak of what had been done to them as it reminded me of my personal abuse.
- Anger, as I witnessed the elaborate cover-up that allowed this heinous crime to continue, and the initial evaluation of the press that those abused were merely unhinged, or suffering some sort of delusional problems.
- Sadness as I reflected on my own life and the shadow sexual abuse has cast on every part.
I am glad I watched the movie though. I had heard the buzz and it seemed to be more about back-slapping and congratulations to the movie maker than about the important subject matter therein. I mean, the act of abuse is the tip of the iceberg, what follows is a lifetime of learning to cope and trying to function as a survivor. The spotlight time accomplished much though, for in truth, any process of healing needs to have a Genesis in order to find some place of resolution.
I encourage you to see the movie, whether you are in anyway involved in the restoration process or want to gain a level of empathy for those who have suffered its horrible stain. Be advised it is verbally graphic in its portrayal of the act of abuse, and there is plenty of language spicing up the dialog befitting the emotional nature of such stories.
I am appreciative of those who produced, directed and acted in this movie, it was very well done. I consider its revelations and extraordinary message a part of my personal journey. Lets not ignore the big and little things in daily life that continue to shape our views of ourselves, others, and the world around us. We have companions on our road to being whole…we are not alone.
Have a blessed day!
I am very cognizant of my ability to veer off onto a trail that can lead to a dangerous place for me personally. Addiction to pornography isn’t the harmless diversion that many would have you believe. Even recently I heard the statistics on a major morning show that a million people are addicted to porn. Unfortunately those numbers are woefully short of the truth, and upon searching for reliable information, it fluctuates wildly depending on who you ask.
If, in the professional community they cannot agree on the severity and impact of sexual addiction, no wonder there is confusion and a lack of alarm for the world at large.
Let me tell you that it is a devastating problem and none of us are immune to it’s deadly infection. Fleeting glances are taken at a suggestive image, that person who walks by gets a double and triple take, or the brief visits to inappropriate sites on our many devices; none of them stay where they start. There is a yearning for more, and unless we are able to wrest control back, we will indulge a little more each time until we are in its grasp completely.
The reasons we are susceptible are many, as are those who struggle, so for some further information on this follow this brief video link by Dr. Patrick Carnes here for some additional information. There is always hope no matter at what stage we find ourselves, I know, for I have been to the bottom and still believe!
Have a blessed day!