whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

I shouldn’t be alive. September 25, 2010

I’ve been fairly open about my childhood experiences and past traumas among friends, family, and church family, but not so much online. I don’t think it is wise to put too much about yourself out there for the whole world to have access to. But the more I learn about child development for my master’s degree and the deeper I dig into different types of research, the more apparent it becomes that my past experiences will play a part in my destiny.

Without airing the gory details, I will let you know that I was neglected and abused as a child. Some of that abuse was sexual, and it happened more than once and came from more than one adult. I have always had vivid memories of parts of that abuse; God has mercifully allowed my subconscious to block the rest of it. I went through most of my life overcompensating for the feelings of powerlessness, fear, abandonment, and helplessness that stemmed from those experiences. I “learned” that being alive meant being in constant danger on some level and that I was on my own. Later I would learn that, too, was a lie. Praise God that He had His hand on me from an early age and had instilled in me a love for Jesus and His Word practically from the time I learned to talk– otherwise you’d likely be reading the blog of a staunch atheist.

People with a past like mine are several times more likely to commit suicide, have 30 or more sexual partners, be drug addicts or alcoholics, and be abusers themselves. If I’m doing my reading right, the “post traumatic stress” sexual abuse victims experience can parallel what war veterans experience. As I look at these statistics of what is “normal” for someone with my experiences, I become more convinced that there is only one reason I am alive. One reason I have an ounce of compassion in me. One reason I am able to rise above all the (insert choice word here) I have gone through in my almost 30 years. And that reason is JESUS. God’s love and grace.

I think that it would be easy, and even expected, for me to use all the trauma of my past as a REASON not to believe in a loving, protecting God. I bet some people would expect it and maybe even think I had a right to it. But you know what? God didn’t MAKE those people do those things to me. Did He allow it? Yes. For only reasons He knows and perhaps has yet to reveal. But, as I live, I trust Him. I can’t always explain it. But I do.

I have had personal, close encounters with the living God that are undeniable. Beyond and through what I consider to be the total truth of the Scriptures, I have personally experienced peace that is totally and completely illogical in the face of my past. I choose to forgive the people who molested and hurt me, even though there are days I would rather not. I am not living in denial of the things that have happened to me. I am forced to deal with that reality nearly every day. The only explanation for my being alive and my being effective in any sort of way is because the power of God is in me through the Holy Spirit.

I still have problems. I still struggle with this stuff. There have been times that all I can do is scream bloody murder because I can’t handle “it,” whatever “it” is. I may always wrestle that demon of depression, but after each match it stays down for the count a little longer. Studies show that I may always have overactive fear responses and not handle stress as well as a “normal” person, which can lead to chronic health problems (anyone who knows me can see that is true). But I know that ultimately, I win. Because God wins. And I’m not talking “end times” here, although that’s obviously true. But I mean in the here and now– in whatever length of years God chooses to give me on this hunk of dirt we call earth. I have to cling to this– that He has a purpose beyond what I can understand for all the awful things I have experienced in my life. That He will use me in someone’s life– yours– to point the way to Him.

How the traumas I experienced will play out in my destiny… I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I know I have a choice in the matter though, at least as far as my attitude and response. What Satan intended for evil, God can use for good. I can allow the memories and facts to weigh me down and render me useless. Or I can use them to help myself and others.

I’m gonna have to go with the latter.

 

ministry multipliers meeting May 25, 2010

Filed under: calling,mentoring,sex,women's ministry — Ash @ 2:55 pm
Tags: , , ,

I just came from a really awesome 2 hours spent with fabulous women from all across the country. They invest their lives in other women on a constant basis and it is just awesome to see their heart and passion for God and women of all ages.

In just those 2 hours, God further pressed into me the need for me to 1) be myself and the person He created me to be, and 2) speak out on the things that I am passionate about. Because there are dozens of others who are passionate about the same things, and we all need to be encouraged to continue in the paths God has carved out for us. For me, this passion comes out in the area of mentoring and what many might call “biblical womanhood.” Some of you who know me and spend a lot of time with me have heard me use the term “warrior princess” for this idea. (And yes, I’m still working on that paper– one of these days I’ll finish it and post it here!!!)

For those women who were there today, I want you to know I am going to work hard to create a blog post that will help empower parents to talk to their children about sex beginning from birth. There are several resources out there that have been useful to me as I’ve studied sexual development, and I’ll point you to those. For those who were interested in the Keep Him or Dump Him blog, you can click here.

I also want you to know that I want to hear from you. I have a very diverse audience on this blog, from teenagers to grandparents. I love each and every one of you and want to know what you need in your lives right now so I can pray with you and interact with you on this journey!

 

Memory markers October 29, 2009

This week I was reminded of the importance of remembering.

One of my favorite hymns is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” My favorite line is “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I’m come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home: Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.”

I’ve heard that some churches have rewritten this line because the word “Ebenezer” just makes everyone think of Scrooge. Well, this week in community group, I led us in investigating this word, its meaning, and the implications for us.

Ebenezer means “stone of help.” In 1 Samuel 7, after the Israelites had defeated the Philistines, Samuel set up a rock and named it Ebenezer.

Now, to us this would probably be a bit of a strange sight. But not for them; setting up a bunch of rocks was extremely meaningful. Later when their children or others would ask, “Hey…why is there this big pile of rocks here?” or “Why does this rock have a name?” it would be a perfect opportunity to tell them a story of God’s intervention and deliverance. Over and over in Scripture, God tells His people to REMEMBER. Throughout the Bible there are certain stories that are repeated (particularly the exodus) so that future generations would REMEMBER.

Last night we talked about this story and shared our own stories of God’s intervention. Every person has at least one. And the more you view the world as full of miracles, the more you tend to notice them.

One of my favorite things to do in the world is to listen to others tell stories of how God has “interrupted their day” as our pastor, Gary, would say. I remember my grandfather telling us the story of how he felt an angel holding his arm back from whacking off all his fingers with a butcher knife while he was trying to cut off a piece of chocolate from a huge brick of it. Last night we shared stories of how details worked out to bring us all to living in Nashville. I can recall countless miracles that have happened to those I know, from “big” stuff like being freed from addiction or walking away from a deadly wreck, down to “small” stuff like a narrow miss or being at the right place at the right time.

I think it’s important to make “memory markers” of some sort that can help us remember these events. Because there are going to be times when even though we are being obedient and loving God with all we’ve got, we will be so low and discouraged that we wonder if God forgot us or if we heard Him right in the first place. There are going to be times when we just don’t understand why a certain situation is going the way it is, or why a certain loved one is being the way they are. We’re going to feel lost and alone and like maybe God is mad at us.

These are the times we’ve got to remember. These are the times we need to recall the TRUE nature of God—that He loves us deeply and will never let us go through anything that can’t be worked out for our own good in the end. That He has rescued us before and He will do it again. I don’t know about you, but I desperately need that hope!

What do you use as these “reminders?” A ring or bracelet? A tattoo? A poster on the wall? A big rock in your front yard? Whatever would serve as a good reminder to you of how God has intervened in your life in the past, I recommend having one on hand at all times. He’s brought you this far and won’t ever leave you. Don’t give yourself a chance to forget His love and power that is at work within you.