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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

God Slapped

It seems that February is a month of revelation for me.

This year is a decision year for Luke and me. At the end of it we both finish studying (for now) and need to have some idea of where we are going and what we are doing. I like to have things sorted well in advance so I started asking God about it around the turn of the new year. And boy oh boy has God been talking back.

It first started with a conversation that Luke and I had with friends as we celebrated the new year midnight hoohaa. I was asked by one of them what my word was for the coming year. What he meant by this is what do I really want to focus on with God over the next 12 months. I came up with perseverance.

I want to persevere with relationships with friends that have left college and I don't see on a daily basis. I want to persevere with my study and get my Masters degree. I want to persevere with my marriage and continue to grow with Luke. I want to persevere with my relationship with God and learn more about the wonder of the Trinity. I want to persevere in my preaching and look for more opportunities to preach and serve at church. So perseverance became the word for this year.

So I have been praying that God would teach me more about perseverance and give me opportunities for me to grow in that area.

To let you understand the enormity of what comes after this you need to know something about me.

I love the spotlight.

I love to stand up in front of people and preach. I love being the centre of attention. I love telling people what I think and why I think it. As Eminem is to rap, I want to be Preacher to the church. I have daydreams about standing in front of thousands and having them convert and praising God/Me because of my words.

It's a problem. Humility has never been my strong point.

So over the last couple of months I have been thinking of what to do next year. My ideas ranged from getting a scholarship to do my PhD at Oxford University, while writing a thesis that changes the face of theology, to becoming the youngest ever and first female principle of Laidlaw College. I also thought about going overseas and doing youth work, working with women in the sex industry, or becoming the next Joyce Meyer. There was just one problem,

Luke is in a band.

A Metal Band.

Don't get me wrong, I love the band. The boys in it are like family to me and I love that Luke is doing something that he loves and makes him happy. But a metal band in New Zealand isn't going to go anywhere fast, make any money, or even draw massive crowds.

In short, I wrote it off as a hobby that could be sacrificed to follow my dreams.

And then God started talking back.

I was sitting on a bus from Taupo to Auckland listening to Lecrae, a Christian rapper, and talking to God about the fabulous plans I had for my life that he should make work for me, when I realised how unbelievably selfish and self centred I was being. I wasn't interested in what God wanted for my life, I wasn't even thinking about how I could serve him. All I was thinking about was how I could get recognition. I didn't even consider the fact that God was using the band, had called the band members to it, and was working through them. I was thinking only about how God could serve my desires. 

I was God slapped.

And it hurt. 

I felt humiliated and ashamed that I had pushed my own agenda and wrapped it up in a bow called 'God's calling'. It took about 4 hours and everything I had planned for my life was broken.

I am a blind woman. I don't see the world as I should, but through the darkness of sin. I need to hold on the arm of my Saviour so he can lead me. And as he leads me he tells me about the world as he sees it. He describes the beauty and the glory, and he weeps as he tells me of the brokenness. And all the time he leads me gently in the best path for my feet.

But I am stubborn. I don't want to be lead, I want to run ahead. So I do. I leave the safety of his arm and walk by myself, even though I fall in potholes and trip on rubbish. I try to tell him what the world looks like by the limited things I can feel and foolishly believe that this proves that I am not even blind, that I can see just as well as he.

I am a blind woman. God give me sight.

Perseverance is a word heavy with the implication of struggle. I struggle with myself and my own ego daily. If I really do want to follow God and preach the Word then why am I not doing it right where I am? Why does it need to be on a stage where people can see me and know who I am? 

We all have our own individual weaknesses that get us in a sneak attack and we don't even realise that we have shifted our gaze from God to ourselves. This is one of mine. I am still working through it, still praying about it, but I am so grateful that God made me aware of it! 

I will persevere, even against myself.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Killing Ourselves Slowly

Fighting the Flab is back in progress. Just a quick update to let you all know where I am at.

Christmas for us, as with everyone else, is an absolute killer when you are trying to loose weight. We pretty much put everything off for a few weeks as the fun and frivolity took over. Perhaps not the best thing to do but there you are.

So Luke is an amazing husband and has stepped up to the mammoth task of helping me out on this front, or there is no way weight loss was never going to happen. 

Every morning we are going to get up and workout for an hour in the gym (30mins weights and 30mins cardio). We have done it twice now and I am sitting here in so much pain that I will only move for essential issues. My arms hurt, my legs hurt, my abs hurt....everything hurts. Luke is pretty much in the same boat.

We also went through our cupboards and freezer and fridge and gave away (to our all too willing neighbours) all the food that would be self sabotaging. Out went the peanut butter. Out went the heat and eat lasagne. Out went the fizzy drinks and Raro drinks. Oh, and the cheesecake. It was a sad day, we are still wearing black in mourning.

But we are determined. We are even giving up fizzy drink, fast food, chocolate and desserts for lent. 40 days of none of our favourite foods in order to remember what God did for us. Every time we get a craving hopefully it will remind us to pray and think of God.

So back on the treadmill we go. If you don't hear from us for a few days check the gym at Laidlaw: we may have collapsed and haven't been found yet :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Time to Run

(For those who don't know my story you can find it here. To understand what I am about to talk about it might pay to check that one out first as they are related)

I have been married to Luke a year now. We are very happy. I love him very much and love being with him.

I have been married before. I don't talk a lot about what I went through then for a variety of reasons. The first and foremost is that it is too hard most of the time. The second is that my ex isn't around to ogive his side of the story and I feel it is unfair to talk about what went on without his side of it to balance it out. So as you read this please remember that these are my views only and it needs to be remembered that my side of the story doesn't include what was going on for him. Give him the benefit of the doubt, everyone is messed up.

My first marriage was messed up. I wasn't allowed a key to our front door so I couldn't leave the house when he was at work otherwise it was unsafe. The number of tampons and toilet paper squares I was allowed to use were counted out when necessary. I was used to play games on his friends without my knowledge or consent. I had nude pictures of me left on a computer that was given to a friend. I remember sitting outside our bedroom door and screaming and crying because he wouldn't open the door and talk to me and tell me what was wrong.

I lived in a state of anxiety and fear, partly because of him and because of my mental illness. It all came to a head when I came home from a two week stay in the psych ward and had my next door neighbour tell me that his current girlfriend (yes there was more than one and yes I knew about them) had been living at my house while I had been ill.

I left not long after.

Why am I telling you this? Why now?

Because I have finally come to the realisation that I cannot outrun these memories.

The last few days I have spent feeling angry and down and I wasn't sure why. I felt myself drawing away from Luke and not wanting to let myself tell him what was going on. So I did the opposite. I told him how I was feeling and we have spent a few evenings trying to figure out what is going on.

Today, I finally figured it out.

My first marriage left me with a sense of abandonment that stuck with me for a very long time. I was angry at him, but more than that I was destroyed that he didn't come looking for me. I was unwanted, unloved and I lost any self esteem I had left when that happened. I spent the next two years between separating and divorce trying to move on from the damage that had been done. I tried to outrun my pain.

When I got divorced I was terrified that I was now going to have to put myself on the shelf, that being divorced meant I couldn't get married again. When I met Luke it took months before I was brave enough to even go out with him because I was afraid that I was doing the wrong thing. The fear arose again when we got engaged. Since then I have been pretty ok.

We celebrated one year a few weeks ago. At that point my subconscious kicked in and all the fear I had of getting married again came up. Because I am afraid of the punishment.

Now bear with me, I know that God isn't vindictive and angry like that, but my heart hasn't clicked on to that fact yet. I am terrified of losing Luke and that, if I do, it was my fault for marrying him in the first place.

I am terrified of him leaving me, or him dying, or something hideous happening. My life doesn't get this good without something bad happening and so I am waiting for the proverbial to hit the fan. My old counsellor would call it PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), I would call it learning from my history.

And so when we turned one together all my fear started to resurface. Then he went away to parachute for 4 days and it was like I was being left all over again. I started to draw away to protect myself from being hurt. I didn't want to tell him what I was feeling in case he laughed at me.

Instead I told him. I then I spent the day with Jesus, listening to music, writing every thought in a journal and being honest with my words about what is actually going on with me.

The reason I write this here is because there are so many people who have been left and abandoned in their lives. Those fears go with you even when you think you have outrun them. The past makes us who we are and we can't blank out our minds to what has happened to us.

But there is hope.

It starts by being honest. By going against your instincts to run away and to take a leap of faith and trust someone who has proved trustworthy. If you don't know someone like that then go to see a professional.

Be honest with yourself too. You can't do anything until you acknowledge how deep the hurt goes. With me it is in so deep it took four days to come to light. Sit with it, even though it is uncomfortable, and figure it out. It's then that you can work it out.

Be honest to God. God is the only one who knows how hurt you really are and there can be peace that can really help you get through it.

But is our perceptions of God that can really mess up our issues. When I am scared my image of God seems to move from one of a loving benevolent father who wants to love me to one of wanting to punish and hurt me. And I am not sure how to overcome that yet. But I am going to try. Because once I can figure that out then maybe it won't be so damn hard to pray when I am freaking out.

And maybe then I won't blame myself when things go wrong.