That time I absolutely refused to pray for someone…

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,   so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Matthew 5:43-48

 

How backwards is that?!? Love the people who do me harm?!? Pray for the people who call me names, who have abandoned me, the ones who have harmed me? Seriously, God? This makes me so angry sometimes, but God has used this verse to keep me soft. Many years ago, a man hurt me very deeply, I wept bitterly over this man, and to be completely honest, I wished him ill. I was that hurt and that angry, and I am embarrassed of some of the things I said regarding him in my counseling sessions. It was during this time that I learned a very important lesson, one that makes me angry, frustrates me, and brings healing to my soul. 

My counselor told me to pray for that man. Not just pray for him, but pray that God would bless him and shine upon him in a way that brings joy. I told her “no”.  I did not want God to bless him, I wanted God to cause him pain. But, a few days later, I begrudgingly decided that I would pray for him, that I would spend time each day praying that God would bless him. God began to soften my heart towards this man, and through praying for my enemy, God began to heal the wounds he caused me. 

I have been revisiting this verse on an almost daily basis for the past few months. I have been hurt and betrayed, I have been called names and shamed, and I have been angered, yet the person who has hurt me is the one I pray for multiple times a day. It seems so backwards to people I talk to, that I would love him, and wish him well, and pray for healing and be concerned for his well-being, and by worldly standards, I should not be concerned with all of this stuff. I should be cursing his name, wishing him ill, dragging his name through the mud. 

I haven’t done any of those things, and not because I don’t want to, but because the Lord has commanded me to pray for and love my enemy, and because He has been graceful to remind me to pray and because He has poured down His love over me, my heart has remained soft. And I hope and pray that those who do not know the Lord, who do not seek Him, will see His goodness in my situation and the difference my obedience makes in my life. 

Lord, I thank you for Your grace. I thank you for your commandment to pray for my enemies, I thank you for the wisdom of my counselor, I thank you for those who have caused me harm and cursed my name. May You prove Yourself loving and merciful to them, and to me. You are good.

Protective Love

My little sister got married yesterday. It was a bittersweet day for me, as I was overwhelmed with joy for her while mourning the condition of my own marriage. I love my little sister, and have always had this urge in my heart to protect her. I remember when she was born and I just loved her so. She was joyful, giggly, and blond haired- blue eyed, which I had never seen before as the rest of us have dark coloring. 

When I was eight, and she was one, I had a dream that I woke up and went to get her from her crib and she was gone. I awoke in a panic, ran from my bed, and went to make sure she was still there. This dream began my protective nature towards her. I always wanted to see who her friends were, I wanted to make sure she had nice people around her, I got nervous if she was a little late coming home, ect. In high school, I had another dream and spent nearly a month sleeping in the doorway outside of her room, because I wanted to make sure she was never hurt (Of course, I am not a large person, so I clearly didn’t think through the limitations of my protective skills should someone actually desire to kidnap her). My desire for her to always have joy has been hard to give up. I remember last summer, discussing with her at length how afraid I was for her to get married because I never wanted her to hurt like I was. 

Yesterday, I saw her walk down the aisle and join herself to her new protector. I am so proud of Jared, as he loves Amy well. I am so happy that I can know that my sweet Amy has married someone who will always protect her, and who I know will always seek to have her best interest at heart. Because that is what husbands are to do. They are to protect their wives, protect them from their own sin, protect them from living in fear, they are to provide, love, cherish, and respect their wives. I am so grateful to God that He provided my sweet Amy with a man who loves her well, is teachable, and who seeks after the Lord. 

 My prayer is that your home be a haven and a sweet place where the light of Salvation shines and joy abounds. May God protect your home, grow you to be more like Him, and be generous in His grace.

Congratulations, Amy and Jared!

Father’s Day

I know Father’s Day isn’t until Sunday, but my little sister is getting married on Saturday and I know I will run out of time and forget. Also, the sermon I heard this past Sunday reminded me of God’s grace in my life and in the life of my father. Shea was talking about how after many years of not even speaking with his father, he finally had the opportunity to dialogue with him about his parent’s divorce and the fact that his dad abandoned him and his brothers. He told of how his father listened but did not ask forgiveness or say he was sorry to admit wrongdoing at all. It was in that moment that I remembered and praised God for how my father was gracious to me and how God was the healing salve for both of us. So, in honor of my father, I have a story to tell.

Growing up, my home was chaotic, and at times felt unsafe. There was lots of anger, rage, sadness. There was joy, too. Times of great laughter, but I always wondered when the other shoe would drop, when would someone get mad, when would I be afraid. I learned at a young age to disassociate. That’s just a fancy way of saying tune out. I still do this today, if I hear yelling or someone gets mad, I just tune it out and pretend it’s not happening. I have had to do lots of work to undo this habit and to realize that not everyone who gets mad is mad at me or going to hurt me or anyone else. My dad and I have a special relationship. I feel as though we are kindred spirits. We are both very sensitive, perfectionistic people who find joy in playing outside, being silly, learning, and seeing the world. I spent lots of time with him when I was little, but at times I was scared. Scared of fighting and anger.

As I grew, I began to learn that anger was not okay to feel, but nothing else was either. If I was angry, it meant I was bad. If any rage occurred, it was my fault. I strived to be good. Strived to be perfect, and when I wasn’t, I punished myself. When I was little, it was with huge fits. I couldn’t play my violin perfectly, so I threw the bow down and broke it. I couldn’t draw or write perfectly, so I ripped up the page. I couldn’t hit that serve in or volley well enough, so I would throw my racquet. This perfectionism and rage soon turned into anorexia. I couldn’t control my world so I controlled what I could. My behavior and food. I had been traumatized by things I had experienced growing up, and years after my parents divorced and married different spouses, the house I grew up in and what it did to my soul nearly killed me. I weighed near 100 pounds at my lightest, and at 5’9″, that’s not a good thing. My body was so hungry I developed a leaky heart valve because my body started eating my muscles. I would be too exhausted to carry my backpack inside at times and would have to rest in the car before coming inside. I hated myself, and because I hated myself, I starved myself more. I became angry but not outwardly, because I still needed to be the “good” girl. My anger came out in my rituals, my obsessive exercising, and in forcing myself to vomit if I ate anything that was not deemed “good”.

After three years of this, and countless interventions on the part of my family, I finally hit the bottom. I told my mom it was time to go to a treatment center, that my outpatient work wasn’t enough and I needed 24/7 supervision and intervention. We flew to Arizona two days after my older sister’s wedding and I checked into Remuda Ranch. It was surreal. They weighed me everyday, they measured my food, they flushed my toilet, they checked my bed every hour, they monitored my heart, they made the decisions about food. They did this because they wanted to make sure I could deal with why I was there, not worry about the calorie count of granola. Part of dealing with anorexia is dealing with the why of it. For some people, it’s shame. For some people it’s fear. For some people, it’s trauma. For me it was all of those. A big part of this was family week. And I was scared.

During family week, my whole family, all nine of them, came to Arizona. They spent a few days learning about eating disorders, what relapse would look like, and the like. The pinacle of this week was the “Truth in Love”. During this time, I was to share with them why I felt I had developed anorexia. I remember being terrified because I knew I would  have to talk to my dad about how his behavior in our home growing up had affected me. I felt like I was jumping off a cliff and did not know what the landing would look like. I walked in the room, where everyone waited, and shared my heart. I remember saying to my dad the words “You scared me”. I let those words go, and watching what God did next was nothing short of a miracle in my eyes. My dad wept. He wept, he said he was sorry, he said he was wrong. And in that moment, the Lord touched my heart, and the heart of my dad, and a healing happened that I cannot describe. A weight I had carried for 20 years was gone. With the words “I’m sorry.”

I know this may not seem like a Father’s Day post, but since that day my dad and I have been even closer. I am no longer scared to share my heart, to stand up to him, or to have boundaries with him. I have learned to trust him and I have seen him love his wife, my siblings and step-siblings, and his grandchildren well. I have apologized for being a punk and ask for apologies. My dad loves me well.

So, Dad, thanks. Thank you for writing me letters in treatment. Thank you for coming to every single tennis match or tournament I had. Thank you for taking me shopping, buying me groceries, and visiting me in Honduras (twice!). Thank you for feeding my dog. Thank you for calling me every single day from the time you and mom seperated until today. Thank you for not punching you know who on the airplane, and thank you for wanting to punch you know who.  Thank you for painting my room, fixing my car, taking me to dinner, and telling me you love me.

I love you, Dad.

He brings restoration…

Joel 2:23-27

23 “Be glad, O children of Zion,
and rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the latter rain, as before.

24 “The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.

26 “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Is He really greater?

Is God really bigger than this? Does He see me? Does He know what is going on? Could this pain, this heartache, this grief really be part of His plan for my life? Really? 

I was reading today and came across a part of a book I love that I have read many times, but today, in light of recent news, it was different. The author is writing about how we tend to react when this world brings devastation and pain. I thought this exact thing when I received awful news yesterday, “Is it you, Jesus? You’re asking me to trust Your power, but are You even there as I see evil’s assaults on my loved ones and as I feel its taunt in my own life? Are You really greater than all of this?”

So true in my heart today. How could this happen? Where did I go wrong? What is wrong with me? Are You really the strong shield and defender I have always been told You are? If you are my Defender, why can’t you stop this? 

Are You greater than this pain? 

But, deep in the recesses of my heart, I know God is greater than this. I know He planned this, I know He is in control of it. And, in this time, I know that my situation can bring my earthly life harm, but it cannot have my soul. That I find Him in the place where I am at my end, I find Him when I cannot see anything else. 

So, even though it feels like He is not greater, I know that He is. 

Even though it totally sucks.