Yesterday, upon finishing the blog entry, I took advantage of the quiet time I had and started watching a video series I was given by one of our pastors. The series addresses men who want to find sexual purity. It is much like a support group but it is designed to walk men through a process where they identify and own behaviors and then learn how to use accountability to find daily freedom from the habit of sexual sin. I have been interested in this topic for years. It is what brought me first to Celebrate Recovery. Now after 8 years of CR, I still see men who need the specificity of material designed just for them in this category. I listened to the first 70 minute DVD and took a test it said to take and spent the rest of the day with the consequences of this! The very first question of the exam was, “Were you ever sexually abused as a child? Yes or No”. It went downhill from there. Actually, it was hugely clarifying for me.
I needed to write the first paragraph so I could explain how God used yesterday to give me a much clearer meaning of intimacy. Perfect intimacy has no secrets. Instead, it has genuine trust and respect. As I was journaling all of this earlier this morning I realized too that all the fears I’ve had about intimacy begin to turn into anticipation rather than fear. Now, let me connect the first paragraph to this one (maybe you’ve already done so). Now that I’ve walked this far in the journey of Finding Freedom from my past, I realize how much I’ve walled off and how much God has needed to have me demolish these walls. I had some walls get demolished yesterday. One of the things clarified for me in the DVD was the difference between guilt and shame. In my therapy we dealt with both of these. I struggled with guilt but nothing like I struggled with shame. Shame owned me and I didn’t fully understand why. The speaker said that guilt is the sense of remorse. Shame, he said, comes from a much deeper part of us and we think we did what we did because of what and who we are. In other words, there is no way out. That is what I’d always thought about my past–it owned me. Even though I knew Rich’s sin was his, I also knew it possessed me too. It has been in the renewing of my mind that I’ve been able to dispose of this old belief. The speaker went on to say that God restores us through His word by the renewing of our mind–my belief system. This is exactly what He has been doing for me the past few years and took me another step forward yesterday by destroying a wall of “protection” that didn’t protect. It actually kept healthy living and believing out.
This intimate Father we have doesn’t want His kids confused about His work for us. I love Him for this! He really is wanting me fully healed and He is relentless in taking us (me) there if we (I) stay with Him and His process of healing.
Intimacy–It is all around us, around me. I haven’t noticed until now just how of life has intimacy built into it. I do intimately care about each person who reads this blog because they are finding healing. I care for each person who has read my book (God’s and mine) and found hope in it for themselves as well as light for next steps towards a more fulfilling life. I hadn’t looked at any of these aspects as being part of intimacy until now. Jesus Christ is extremely intimate with us as we continue to draw closer and closer to Him. I want to continue this journey with Him and complete as much of the intimate work as I can.
Our pastor’s sermon yesterday was about us being grafted into God’s Kingdom through Jesus Christ. He didn’t graft us in as grandkids, distant relatives, but as sons and daughters. This makes us direct recipients of the inheritance God has prepared for us. Talk about intimate detail!
Intimacy seems to be a critical part of all aspects of our nature from mind, emotions and body. It was safe for me to work with my mind all of my life. No one could see what was in it and damage it with their criticism. I struggled to do too much with my emotions because I can’t do anything with my emotions without being noticed. My view of my emotions was severely damaged from what I thought was dad’s view of me. Little did I know that people all around me were noticing this part of me anyway. I was the one who had the blinded eye to it. My body was damaged goods from all the sexual abuse so I would keep eyes off of it with the work I did from the good thinking I’d do. I am really waking up to the denial I’ve lived in so much of my life. I’m also ready to be fully awake to letting my body, mind and emotions work as a team. I don’t know how this will be, but I believe it will be much like it has been, I’ll just be awake to it now.
Thanks for taking this little journey through intimacy with me the last couple days. I’ve needed to embrace it as a critical part of life (me).
Yesterday’s blog was a tough one. The topic of intimacy is not something I’ve ever wanted to be part of. The odd thing for me however, remove it from me personally and I love it. Take your infant child, holding him/her, coddling him/her, these moments of intimacy are incomparable to anything human. When I do this same thing with my grandkids I am filled with love and compassion. This morning in my devotions I felt like Jesus was giving me my assignment: “I am to continue on my journey now facing intimacy and actually being intentional about it.” I am going to start with my wife Kathy. We have had scores of counseling assignments regarding this topic but I’ve always looked at them as just that–an assignment. As soon as the assignment ended I went back to my distant self. I truly don’t know what will become of this, but I know I am to step into this just as the Serenity Prayer teaches: “One day at a time, one moment at a time….” I know Kathy will be shocked when I tell her this morning. I’ll keep you posted. The odd thing is that as I write this, I don’t sense the phobic response deep within myself that I’ve always had when I addressed it in times past as an assignment. Somehow I know Jesus is in this.
This is Memorial Day weekend. I’ve never been too good at celebrating holidays. I think the reason is intimacy. They bring you close to the purpose of the holiday. Close for me has always been to know much about the topic. Well, I know I’m stepping into the emotional part of knowing–to feel the love of the topic rather than the phobic sense of it. One thing I do know is that I’m now game for this adventure.
I hope this is meaningful to someone besides me. If it is, join me if God is nudging you to do so.
So, the journey this morning has come to a screeching halt! I want to get off the path and continue to live somewhere out in the field away from it. You’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about. Let me explain. About a week ago I had a message given to me from Jesus which wasn’t an entirely new one, but it was rather clear. Last Sunday I had a person share a scripture with me that he said God had given him to give to me. The scripture was the same message. I told Kathy about it and have since waited with nothing happening. In my devotional time this morning I read in Every Day in His Presence by Charles Stanley, “God’s silence to you is not to dishearten you but to bring you to a new level of intimacy with Him. So do not despair and do not sin.” So there it is–that word: INTIMACY.
Of all the things abuse leaves a victim with, I believe the worst or one of the worst is the inability to handle intimacy. When I hear the word I want to run, flee, work until I fall flat on my face, change the subject or anything but deal with it. Inside, I tighten up with anxiety and fear and try to steel myself from whatever the consequence of intimacy will be. So, do you think God is wanting to help me deal with this? Yes, I believe so. The other part of this message is the part about while one is waiting in God’s silence, “do not sin.” This time has always been when I would run to my cave. Intimacy makes someone totally vulnerable. I guess that is why someone who has been sexually abused struggles so much with it. My counselor and I dealt with it many times and poor Kathy has had to live with me during all of this. That’s why I love her so much. She has been awfully understanding and patient with this.
So, I’m writing this in my blog today because I do not want to flee any longer. I want to face this demon in my life once and for all. I feel a lot like the little boy standing on the dirt trail as I write this. I do not know what the silence will teach me; I do not know how long it will last. I do not want to flee to a cave any longer; I want to wait and see what God is going to teach me about faith and trusting. John 11:40 says, “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” Well, I am going to believe, in fact, from this present time to the end of the journey, I am going to believe.
If you struggle with this message as I do, know I am praying for you. I will likewise appreciate your prayers for me. Thank you.
This morning upon writing my blog I am going to my oldest granddaughter’s 8th grade graduation. She is a GEM. She texted me yesterday asking me to come. Now isn’t that a nice gesture! I’d never have known it was going to take place otherwise.
Yesterday I got a message forwarded to me from my daughter in Oklahoma. A person she knows had read the book and had sent a message to her about its impact on her. She had been sexually abused for several years in her childhood and is working through it now. I do appreciate knowing that the book is being used for God’s purposes and for His glory. Somehow, I minimize the damage abuse had on me because I don’t want to think it had/has such control over me. However, when I read a message like the one sent to me, I wake up fully to the extent of the damage and yes, to me too. God’s blessed gift of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit is so comforting at times like this. But I must say that the gift of one another is sometimes the first level of intimate help. This person who wrote the message to my daughter is reaching out to someone in her church who gave her my book. If we don’t reach out to one another, the impact of the damage within us will rip us apart. God bless her for reaching out and God bless the person helping to lift her up.
I have my own soft side and weak side. I don’t like to talk about it but I do and I need to address it so it doesn’t become an entrance for Satan’s attacks. Lets use our support team well. God gave us one another as well as His Son Jesus and His Holy Spirit. Let them help us as we open up to them.
I unfortunately told you yesterday I’d let you know how it went staying out of the cave in the aftermath of giving my testimony. I think the first thing I want to say is that it was a lot easier liking myself when I was in denial to many of the human weaknesses I have. Waking up to all the human characteristics isn’t fun. I use to dismiss these moments in my mind almost instantly so that I wouldn’t compare them to being like my brother or my dad. Now that I’m awake to my humanness I realize I’m simply one of them. That is neither good nor bad, just a reality.
So, how did I do yesterday? I did go through a moment of struggle in the afternoon, but it wasn’t too bad. I persevered. Last night’s lesson in Celebrate Recovery was “Grace”. It pointed out that God is far more interested in who we are rather than what we do. I told my share group following the lesson that I keep needing to be reminded of this fact. Somehow my internal me wants to be doing good all the time so I’m worthwhile. God reminded me this morning that He wants me to “be” loving, kind, gentle and forgiving. These characteristics are His and He wants me to share them for others. Actually, I want to do that too but notice I said “do” that. I’m driven to do and not often awake to “be” that. This lesson continues to have lots for me to learn. I go to work today with a school district so I will be doing, but I will strive to “be” while doing so.
Today is a rare day–I actually wanted to stay in bed and go back to sleep–I actually did when it first hit me at 1:00 am. Allergies are high today for me. My eyes are watering and itchy and my head feels like it is full of allergens. Well, that’s enough of my pity party!
Last night I journeyed to Emmett. Kathy and a friend went with me and another one from our Celebrate Recovery group also came. Our pastor friend from Emmett came also which I really appreciated. I mention him in my book. He is the first man I told my past to. He lived in Vancouver, WA at the time which is 400 or so miles from here. I thought it would be safe to tell him. He didn’t know anyone in our valley at the time so I didn’t think the word would get back here. I’m talking about 32 years ago when I say this. On the way home Kathy asked me how I thought it went. I really don’t like that question–at least I don’t that soon afterwards. I feel raw and exposed after an experience like that so all I really feel is more like–I lived and no one got up and left during it. Now this morning I can process more clearly. It did go well and many people commented on how it touched them. A man came up to me and said what I often hear, “That took a lot of courage.” I told him thanks, but I am on assignment so courage or not, I don’t feel like it is a choice, even though I do realize the choice is there. When God has given freedom from intense bondage that I lived with for so long, it feels much more like a privilege to share the story than courageous.
As I go into today, I do so with obedience and surrender on my mind. After a time like last night I always fight the urge to go into the cave–get away and try to feel numb to the emotions of the past. Today, I don’t want to accommodate anything along that line. I give my self to Jesus Christ and yield myself to any nudging The Holy Spirit places within me. This is a new step for me. I’ll tell you how it goes tomorrow. In the meantime, God bless you.
“This is the day the Lord hath made, rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms. 118:24. Today, actually tonight, I have the opportunity to give my testimony to a Celebrate Recovery group in Emmett, ID. I’m told the group hasn’t had a live testimony until mine tonight. They’ve been using video ones. A few days ago I wrote that Jesus told me He wanted me rejoicing in getting the opportunity to share “our” story with others. This allows others to experience seeing and hearing how God takes a mess and makes it a message of His love and grace. I got up and started my devotions and the fear and doubt started to set in as it does on days like this. I recalled what Christ had directed me to do a few days back and so instead of dwelling on my fear I told Satan I was glad for the opportunity to share and was looking forward to it in Jesus Christ’s name. I’m probably going to need to do this several times today, but for now, I really do have a sense of anticipation for tonight. “I will be glad in it!”
I delivered a book yesterday afternoon to a man who had contacted me saying he wanted to read it. He and his wife had children years ago that went to the school where I was principal. It was nice to visit a few minutes with them. Then, later in the evening, someone who has become a dear friend told me she is reading my book to her husband. She knows there is unspoken abuse in his past which he doesn’t share. I was so touched that she is being so loving to her husband with this. God bless her and him.
God is truly working with me on obedience. Obedience I know is something that use to be hated by me as I grew up. Obedience looked like being silent for hours when we kids were in a room with dad and he didn’t want to hear us. It also looked like endless work with promises that went unfulfilled. It also looked like abuse that couldn’t be stopped. God has abundantly let me know that obedience to Him is not at all like this. Obedience to Him is the direct path to freedom and joy. Obedience to Him doesn’t look like twisting what I do to add an element of my wishes into it. That I’ve learned is called disobedience. God is perfect in every way. I want my obedience to Him to be as close to that as possible. To God be the glory!
This journey I (we) are on is often times a mystery except for the black and white of what is to be done within the day. I have been often gripped with fear when I try to think ahead and then that fear paralyzes what I do with the clarity of the day. I know this is wrong and as I stated yesterday in the blog entry, I don’t want to repeat that practice anymore. As I was reading the Bible during my devotional time this morning I was struck by Joshua’s leadership and God’s leadership to Joshua. God promised to be with Joshua just as He had been with Moses. Now that the reality had hit where Joshua is not being told of something that will happen, but he is leading what is happening (talking about the destruction of Jericho), the head of God’s army appears to him. God’s angel army was already working and all Joshua had to do was be obedient in leading the children of Israel in doing their part. How often I forget that God’s part is abundant and clear in our spiritual world. In our human world, this spiritual part is confusing and mysterious. However, in the spiritual world, clarity is not missing. We just can’t see it and know it with human senses only. In our human world Christ tells us to practice trust and faith. These are human terms connecting us to the spiritual world. Clarity comes as the day arrives.
When we accepted Christ in our heart as Savior and turned the leadership of our lives over to Him so He can be Lord, He gave us the Holy Spirit. He calls us a new creation in this process. The awakening and growing in this new creation is much about growing in our awareness of this spiritual world. The Power of Heaven is already at work continuously. God asks us to join Him in this Kingdom work. I want to be far more attentive to this aspect as my journey continues.
PS I also get to mow the lawn today so I do appreciate a few of these tangible, human elements of life. I also feel that way about my Folgers in the morning.
Kathy and I will head home today from an enjoyable time with her sister. The party (shower) for the upcoming baby was fun. It ended last night with two of the couples staying and visiting. In the course of our conversations we talked about numerous topics. I stated briefly that I had learned much from the therapy I’d had addressing my childhood sexual abuse. Once we were all done and the guests were leaving one of them came to me and said we’d need to talk more. She wanted to compare notes on what I’d learned from my counseling and therapy as she said, “I too was sexually abused as a child.” God just never stops working.
This morning upon coming to the kitchen and pouring my first cup of coffee, I retrieved my cell phone to see I had a couple texts from a Celebrate Recovery young man who is in South Africa for a few months attending a seminary there. God had given him a couple verses he was wanting to share with me. The verses confirmed a message Christ has given me four days ago while I was journaling. I am rather curious to see what God is going to do with all of this.
My devotional this morning in the book: Every Day in His Presence was entitled Absolutely Convinced. It said, “Trust God. Believe with every fiber of your being that He will faithfully fulfill His promises….” I do not know what all this is leading to but I do know whatever it is, I will follow His lead in my life. The devotional goes on to say, “But what if I misunderstood Him? Then the Father will gently correct you.” This is a common statement I often make when I fear God’s leading. This time I will not succumb to fear. We will see where this leads. I’ll appreciate your prayers.