Today has always been a special day to me–it is my sis Bonnie’s birthday. She is the sibling just older than me and we were soulmates as we grew up. Happy birthday Bonnie!
I am co-leading a Celebrate Recovery Step Study on Tuesday nights. Our lesson last night was preparing everyone for the upcoming inventory. The process of doing the inventory is often what causes many participants to quit. The reality of doing it surfaces the rawness of whatever brought you to Celebrate Recovery in the first place. There is a very intentional path one walks in order to complete this. The results of doing the inventory should be cleansing for the one doing it. It allows them to safely share all the hurts, hand-ups and habits that have keep them in secret. I’ve done it 8 times now so this shouldn’t be anything new. However, last night I had an epiphany. The reality for me has never been freeing to do the inventory. Instead, it is a burden I feel I must bear as I once again bare my soul. Only last night did I start to understand why this has been so.
Everyone knows I’ve written my autobiography and I’m doing this blog. I’ve done this to support and encourage others to face their own demons of the past. I actually enjoy this in spite of the initial “yikes” I feel on the onset. Doing one’s testimony is the giving back to Celebrate Recovery which comes when you finish the step study. As I said, I get pleasure from this. So, last night for the first time I understood why I would find pleasure in doing the testimony parts: giving my testimony at Celebrate Recovery’s or events, writing my book, doing this blog, etc., because this I do for the sake of others. When one does the inventory it is done so you can help yourself. You have to come clean to yourself and to the one you trust–your sponsor. Deep inside me is a sense of “worthlessness” that the inventory brings out. I feel selfish when I do it and the reasons are for someone unworthy of the cleansing it is to provide. I got really uncomfortable as this truth came out for me last night, but this time I was able to face it as the lie it is. In my devotions this morning I was able to give this lie to Jesus thanking Him for the work He’s done in my life. I for the first time have a new found eagerness to do my inventory this go round. I love to hear someone say they have found their worthiness from their participating in Celebrate Recovery. Well, Praise the Lord, I am finding mine!
I spent a couple hours yesterday with a man who wanted to meet for coffee and talk through some things related to his past being similar to my own. He’d read my book and there were many parallels. As we talked I found it to be very true. Another truth came out of the meeting that was most unexpected and one for which I was most thankful. I’ve mentioned the new man God has created in me, and for each of us as we give our lives to Him, replacing the old man. I’ve also mentioned how I’m learning that I’ve lived all of my life thinking I was remaking this old man into a new one rather than replacing the old man with the new one. Last week, starting this blog site, I hadn’t realized until yesterday how much I’d let that old man Earnie take over again. I was fearful all week, I had temptations to fight that I hadn’t experienced for weeks and months and it wasn’t until yesterday’s talk that the reality of what I had done hit me. I was living in the fears all week that I had kept secret all my life. Here I was writing a blog that anyone could access if they wanted because I knew God was prompting me to do this, but I was doing this out of fear rather than out of joy and obedience.
It is an odd moment as I write this, but I feel free this morning. I can’t explain it any other way. The reality of who God is and what He wants us to know about Him and His Team: Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit are remarkable! Learning to surrender totally to Him is an ongoing process and one I don’t want to quit until the day I arrive to my eternal home.
The scripture I Cor. 10:13 has always been critically important to me. I’m not sure when in high school I heard it used in a sermon, but I always wanted it to be the one promise from God He worked in my life. If you are unfamiliar with it, it reads: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
At the time I became aware of this promise, I was still being abused by my brother’s sexual use. I was in high school and so my own sexual feelings were becoming fully awake. What seemed so awful to me was the fact that my brother was sick, and I was sick and there was no way of escape. In so many words this verse seemed to be saying that every type of temptation was common to man. Along with that, God would provide a way of escape so I could stand up under it. I was hugely confused, but the promise seemed to be clear. I clung to it for dear life. I would plead with God to make it real for me.
We all know that God’s timetable is not one that man creates. I wanted my freedom from my brother’s abuse right then and I wanted the confusion of my sexual thoughts to be cleansed right then, 50 years ago. Well now, 50 years later, I’m blogging about how God is showing me His purpose in this scripture. Now that I’ve opened myself to share my story, I’m finding many people who are struggling similarly (common to man). I’m 65 years old and the temptation still exists, yet the truth of another verse: Ephesians 6:13 reminds me to put on the full armor of God, and when I do, I can stand. Am I a master at this–No. Am I learning how to be a master at this–Yes. I’m finding yet another truth from James 5:16. It says: “confess my sins to someone I trust and pray for each other because the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I’m just now learning to swallow the pride I spoke about yesterday and tell the ones I trust. I’m old in body but young in this practice. However, when I apply all these truths I find the truth of I Corinthians 10:13 to be as solid as any other promise. Isn’t our God amazing!
Today has been an interesting day and not at all routine. I’ve had pets, (usually dogs) since my wife is allergic to cats, most of the years we had children at home. Now that they are grown with their own children, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of life without pets. However, yesterday my wife and youngest daughter went to McCall, ID with my daughter’s four kids. The 2 dogs are now with me. The one is timid and shy while the other is so rambunctious he runs into himself trying to decide which way to go next. I’ll have these two for the next four days. This isn’t a huge thing, just a reminder that the peacefulness I love can have many interruptions.
In my devotions this morning I was reminded of Matthew 5:3 where Christ says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This time I looked up “poor in spirit” to find its actual meaning. I found that poor in spirit means recognizing how weak we are if we operate in our own spirit. If we recognize we are poor in spirit we can then claim the strength of The Holy Spirit and surrender our weakness for His Strength. This is such a simple truth, yet profound when trying to apply it. As the ones who have begun to read this blog know, today ends the first week of it. I can see how many are following it, but I don’t know how many actually read it without responding to it. My pride wants my book and this blog to reach everyone who is hurting and lost. In a week’s time I want this done. Well, in reality, I have a very few followers and probably just a few more readers. So, this morning when I was having my devotions Christ reminds me of Matthew 5:3–“Blessed are the poor in spirit….” My spirit was mine rather than His at the moment of my pridefulness. So, I surrendered it and now feel much better! The new me knows that each one of God’s children count. If I can help one or a million ones, it is not up to me but up to Him who leads me.
Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I told the Lord in my journal I was feeling emotionally exhausted and somewhat physically exhausted too. I was disappointed in myself thinking I was stronger than I am. The idea that I had begun a blog to carry on the message of healing from my childhood abuse was just an assignment in my head. However, stepping into doing it brought out many old fears and anxieties. I’m not writing this to say I’m sorry I did it, just to explain life in my flesh. So while I was journaling yesterday I heard Christ telling me to remember to only live in today. His Holy Spirit is always with me in the present day. Don’t be anxious about anything but surrender it to Him. So I did that yesterday saying I would be joyful in the day.
The day ended up being just as Christ promised. During the morning I met with a mom about her high school child who is struggling, talked with one of our Celebrate Recovery guys who is struggling to live a pure life and lastly talked at length with a lady who had just finished reading my book and its impact on her. She called to say it was bringing her to the point of seeing that she can face some giants in her life she hadn’t faced yet. I only write this here to indicate just what Christ is able to do when I quit trying to do it on my own. I had no idea I’d be having the conversations with the man and the gal who had read the book. I had made the appointment with the mom and that was it. The rest was simply God’s planning and my surrender. I continuously need to be reminded that I should never try to take this on my own. God uses a surrendered soul–one who is joyous living surrendered knowing Christ is in control and I don’t need to try and be.
When I was a child growing up and listening to sermons each Sunday at the little Free Methodist Church in Adrian, Oregon I would often hear the pastor talk about the “old self” and the “new self”. I had ugly pictures of this old man and handsome pictures of the new self. Now, 50+ years later, I can look in a mirror and see the same face when I look at the old self or the new self. Only recently, do I realize that the difference between these two is actually a spiritual being rather than a human one. I really like how Colossians 3 in The Message words this. In the second paragraph it reads, “Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life–even though invisible to spectators–is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too–the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.”
I’ve always translated my old self as the abused self, the filthy self, the one I had to hide from society. The new self was the image of the one I portrayed by living a good life, doing good deeds and working to be a good person. Working through this in the present is confusing and sometimes frustrating. I’m learning that the spiritual self (the new self) is obscure because it is all about trust, surrender, hope and faith. These terms are tangible in the spiritual realm and often intangible in our human realm.
I realize this is why Christ tells us to not worry about tomorrow. If I even try to take my mind into the things of tomorrow I find it is only the old self that goes. The new self is grounded in today because that is where The Holy Spirit is present and Christ is living with us. So, join me in living in today. I commit to living joyfully today and trusting Christ throughout it.
If you have read my book or heard my testimony you know that I do some educational consulting. I’ve reduced this tremendously as I’ve entered 2016, however, yesterday I was in Mackay, Idaho staying in a small motel that had no wireless service early in the morning. This won’t happen often, but just in case it does, this will likely be why I missed the day.
I’ve been listening to a CD series by Graham Cook. I’m not sure what he calls himself, but I will call him a modern day evangelist. He does the best job helping others (me) see their need to live in the new life Christ has given us. It hit me yesterday late afternoon when I was driving home from Mackay that someone reading this blog may not know how to give their life to Christ. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believeth in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” So, the first step is to believe in Jesus Christ. Then in I John 1:9 it says: “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And so, the second step is then to confess our sins to Christ. His promise of forgiveness and purification is his gift. There is much more than can be said here, but these are the simple steps for asking Christ into your heart.
Now I want to go back to my learning about living in my new life. One of the things I had learned to do when I was trying to hide my past is keep myself very busy with things the world calls good works. I was very busy in my school and district as well as in my church. I didn’t know at the time but this action was my subconscious way of making me feel better about who I was. If for a moment I would think about the real me, all I would do is freeze up thinking I would be judged and found guilty. I am learning that in my new life Christ asks us to trust Him with each day. Matthew 6:34 says: “Therefore do not worry abut tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself….” He will not give us more than we can handle but He does want us to handle what is in our day. So, last Monday when I wrote the first day of this blog I spent the day continuously reminding myself to trust. My old self was screaming judgment at me with lies like–“Now the whole world will know what a loser you really are.” I’ve lived long enough to now know this is a lie, but my old self fueled by the evil work of Satan can be very present if I give attention to them.
Christ reminded me yesterday morning when I couldn’t send a blog that He is faithful and true to His word. He reminds me frequently that He is in my day–today. He will be in my day tomorrow, but when tomorrow isn’t here, I shouldn’t be there either if my action is worry. I can trust Him and so I will trust Him.
Coming out into the open about my past abuse has been a big step for me but not one without many awakenings. I had always thought I’d find judgment from the world around me. Instead, I’ve found a variety of responses: support from ones who identity, support from ones who don’t identify but are sympathetic, support that’s simply–“good job”, and those who just remain silent but do so without judgment.
In my spiritual journey I’m finding my need to live in the new life Christ has given me. Romans 6:6 says “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with….” The years of abuse started early in my life, 3-4 years of age and continued until my upper teen years leaving me with some deep rooted belief systems which Celebrate Recovery calls character defects. The old self I’ve lived in most of my life contains all these defects of character. The new self Christ has given me is free of these. Christ also says when we ask Him to come into our lives He gives us a gift–The Holy Spirit. We have the opportunity to let The Holy Spirit become our motivator, our confidence in moving forward in our new life. So, I write this because I’m just now learning what this is all about. When it comes to sharing the intimacy of my life with others, I tend to freeze up in fear thinking no one would want to listen to my message because I’m tarnished from sin. I now know this is the old self thinking. However, I am still learning to trust this new self and the motivation of the Holy Spirit in my life.
In the Serenity Prayer which we use weekly in Celebrate Recovery, there is a line that reads: “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace….” I’m learning to take each day and each moment within the day and thank God for what He is teaching me through accepting hardships as a pathway to peace. To learn as I stated in the start of this blog that there isn’t judgment waiting for me, but different types of support, is huge. I find this by living in my new life. This brings the peace from accepting what I thought was hardship.
If any of you readers struggle with this type of thinking, please join me and let me know how you are doing. We are on a journey that leads to victorious living in Jesus Christ. The team approach is the only way with the team being: Jesus Christ, God our Father, The Holy Spirit and one another. God bless you. Earnie
Writing the book The Journey from Error to Heir has created in me the need to continue the journey beyond the book. My purpose in its original writing was to let people know there is freedom from the past which life has given us no matter what the Hurt, Hang-up and Habits are we may carry from it. Now being several months beyond the books completion, I find my journey continues. I am finding more I need to add to the last section of the book–Finding Freedom. This then is my reason for creating the blog site. I will be making daily entries into this (as I learn how this is done)! Even today has been its own mystery trying to figure out where I enter a blog?
Mostly, I’d like to pass along to any reader what God is showing me about my own recovery from the sexual abuse of my past as well as the emotional and physical abuse. Each day in my morning devotional time I end my journaling by asking Christ what He wants me to know for this day I am entering. As I do this and journal what I hear Him saying to me I find I don’t need to panic about whether I am doing what God wants. I can surrender that fear and live in the assurance I am completing God’s assignment today.
My friend who helped me get started with this part of the journey gave me the scripture of Luke 11:33 to assist me with my fears of writing this. It says: “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” I truly appreciated this insight. My fears after writing the book practically drove me into isolation thinking I had just exposed my life and all it did was tell people why I was such a mess anyway. To promote the book was just something I was paralyzed in doing. Now a few months later I am finally responding to God’s nudges to let readers know the inside struggle and continued recovery.
Feel free to respond to me and let me know your thoughts and feedback. If you have questions you want to address more privately, feel free to use my personal email which is firstname.lastname@example.org. We are on a journey in this life and I want to make the best of it. Please join me if this will be helpful for you.