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Practice these qualities, and then do it again and again. And again.

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Because that is what practicing means.

Reading in 2 Peter 1: 2-11

From verse 2

“His divine power has granted unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

 

Through the knowledge of God, of Jesus, through his promises, one of them being that if I believe on his Son I will be born again, and so become a partaker of His divine nature. Therefore by this and through Jesus he has granted to me all things that I need to live a life of godliness. I get to be a partaker of his divine nature, by which he has made a way of escape for me, from the corruption in the world.

Peter then says in verses 5 to 9

“FOR THIS VERY REASON, (what reason? To live a life of godliness, through his divine nature in us, and to escape the corruption of the world), make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,

and virtue with knowledge,

and knowledge with self- control,

and self-control with steadfastness,

and steadfastness with godliness,

and godliness with brotherly affection,

and brotherly affection with love.

For IF these qualities are yours and are INCREASING, they keep you from being

INEFFECTIVE or UNFRUITFUL in the KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

For whoever LACKS these qualities is so NEARSIGHTED that he is blind, having

FORGOTTEN that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

 

If I don’t practice this, I am going to end up blind, forgetting that I have been cleansed from my former (or should be, former sins).These qualities therefore need to be increasing, growing in me, in my character, choices and life. Knowledge, the knowledge of Him, knowledge of His word and His ways. Virtue. Self-control. Steadfastness, which is sticking, endurance, patience. Godliness, holiness. Brotherly affection, caring for our brothers and sisters. And love. Love that speaks the truth ,l ove that genuinely cares for someone’s best, love that puts others needs above their own. Supplementing the faith that I have received by being born again and born of His spirit to life.

If I lack these qualities, I am BLIND, forgetting what I have been saved from and are continually saved from- sin.

In verse 10 he says:

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more DILIGENT to make your calling and election SURE,

for if you PRACTICE these qualities you will never fall.”

 I need to be diligent, hardworking and careful, practicing these qualities with care and serious effort. TThat is what diligent means.

As a ballet teacher, as an artist, as in all things, practice makes perfect. Actually it’s never perfect, but it makes for more successes. More success in completing that triple pirouette consistently. More success in faster and more accurate footwork and batterie ( small quick beaten steps). Training through the fundamentals and basics of pointe work, day after day after day, until I have built up the strength to go on to more advanced work.

When he says, if you practice these qualities, you will never fall, does that mean you will never fall? Never fail? No. That would be impossible. But it means, that I will never fall away from God, from faith in Him, from pursuing Him, from pursuing a righteous and holy life.

As a ballet dancer, as a ballet teacher, as an artist, I have had to pursue and stick to and practice, train, and be intentional about pursuing whatever it is I’m focusing on. Whether its 16 fouettes on pointe, or developing my eye with drawing over and over and consistently nearly every day, I need to be diligent. As a ballet dancer, I have fallen off – pirouettes, off my fouettes. As an artist, I have messed up and thrown away mistakes, but it was all training. Even the mess ups. Even the falls. So yes I am  going to fall, probably every day. But the more I train in a certain area, the more I will learn the pitfalls, the errors, the what to watch out for. The more I will train myself to know what is right, because I will recognize, know what is wrong. What didn’t work. So don’t be afraid of falling!

To train myself, over and over, through the Holy Spirit living in me, consistently helping me and pulling me towards His purposes. To dilligently and with serious effort, practice these qualities. It is choosing the way of the Spirit of God, in that moment, over the way of the flesh.

And by so doing, I live in true life, escaping from sin and my old ways. The more I practice, give due diligence to, choose the life giving ways of the spirit over the death inducing ways of sin, the more I grow and INCREASE in these things.

The more I am effective and fruitful, as in verse 8 it says-

 “For if these qualities are yours and are INCREASING, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

There needs to be a growing, an increasing, in these qualities.

I can look back, and see where I have grown in some of these areas. One of the things I pursued for a long time was peace, peace within myself, with God, and with others, no matter the circumstances. I think I really put my mind to that, and developed that, over a very intentional year. It was obviously a big thing to me, it pained me to not have it, and so I pursued it. But, it wasn’t something I just picked out of a list of things I should be practicing. No, God put his finger onthat thing in my life, and the Holy Spirit led me, taught me, and enabled me to do this. As I leant on Him, as I trusted Him, as I prayed earnestly and sought this for my life, for my family. God has done amazing work. And I found His peace. I live in His peace now, at times I can fall back into anxiety, but I can quite easily steer out of it, because of that year of training, intentionally seeking, pursuing and finding His peace. My mind has been trained to recognize the dangers, to turn to the One who is the giver of peace.

For a recent issue He is putting His finger on, is in the area of self control. Again, not picking from a list of must do’s and must have’s, but out of personal conviction, out of spending time with Him, and feeling that pull of His, in this direction.

Obedience.

“Don’t just watch endless series,” He has been saying. “Be careful and choosy about what you do watch, even more so than you have been. What is this doing to you, to your mind? What is your mind full of ? Are you thinking about what is good and noble and true? How does this affect your heart and soul? Is this ultimately good for you and bringing you life, or death?”

Also, and along the same lines, of economy of time.

“Is this day Mine, or yours? You have an agenda, ask Me what My agenda is, give your time to Me.”

It’s much more of an adventure that way, there is even more joy, and I have a sense of being productive for the Kingdom. Even if that productivity means just spending time with Jesus. I know that I really, with my whole heart and mind and strength, want more of Jesus, more intimate knowledge of who HE is, more of knowing Him. I want to be effective and fruitful, in knowing Him.

And then, the rewards are life. More life. More capacity for joy.

Then I read…

In verse 11, this is quite the kicker,

“For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

So then the question is, if we are NOT doing this, if we are NOT increasing, or

beingeffective, in the knowledge of Jesus, and bearing fruit. If we are NOT growing, will there NOT be a way into the kingdom of God? Will there NOT be a way provided, if he says that if we DO this, there WILL be a way richly provided?

This then could lead into a debate about works versus faith and once saved always saved etc.

Which I don’t feel the need to go deeply into, as I am no theologian. But what I dounderstand is this; that we have been saved (past) when we repent and receive Jesus; we are being saved (present) every day as we work out our salvation; and we will be saved (future) one day in eternity.

But, if we are not increasing in the knowledge of God, if we are not bearing fruit, growing and allowing God to challenge and change us, were we even saved in the first place? Because if we are really saved, we will desire this. We will know God, and His desires. We will have an ongoing relationship with God where we will allow him to change us. And we will grow and increase in godliness and holiness. Because, as it is written somewhere “ we are changed from glory to glory by beholding His presence.”

How do I practice this?

By being obedient, one moment at a time. By choosing His will, over my own. Maybe not every time, but more and more. Until choosing Him becomes the default, becomes easier to do.

That means do it, then do it again, then do it again.

God does not expect me to do this on my own. It is impossible on my own. But He has given me a helper, Himself, the Holy Spirit, living in me. He has given meeverything I need to live a godly life. I carefully and with serious effort, train myself, or more truthfully, allow Him to train me, to choose His way, over the way that I have been saved from, the way that I have escaped from.

 

I like that. He is the trainer, my coach, my mentor, and advisor. He is the one in charge. He has a unique training plan worked out just for me. He knows the areas of strength, the areas of weakness. He decides what we are working on.

And I, like an athlete, ballerina, artist, who wants to learn from the best, eagerly follow His guidelines and his training schedule.

I am so glad it’s not all on me and I don’t have to figure it all out. I just have to co-operate with Him, and be diligent.

Practicing is hard work, especially in the beginning. It is repetitive, we stumble along the way, we get frustrated, we get bored. But somewhere along the way, we find our stride.

When patience overcomes frustration,

when peace replaces anxiety,

when trust replaces fear,

when joy replaces fleeting happiness,

when a spirit led response replaces a retaliation in the flesh,

when others blossom under your love, the love from God;

That is life, blessing. And a rich reward to be treasured.

Along the way, we develop even more intimacy with God, and that is our highest treasure.

When the discipline required to spend time with God and in His word, which at first is hard and dry and even frustrating, becomes instead the wellspring of life.

When what was hard at first becomes the desire to rush into His presence and sit at his feet and soak in his love and grow in intimacy with him.

When the practicing of putting God first and seeking His kingdom first, becomes not a matter of discipline but of desire and becomes as natural as breathing.

When at first we put aside an hour or so a day to spend in his presence, becomes a

desire to spend the whole day abiding in him and staying close and wanting his presence in everything. That is the reward!

It does take serious effort. But everything that is worth something does take serious effort.

And the things that were so difficult a while ago, become easier and fluid. And new challenges and deeper growth is required.

It will always be an unending journey. At times, pleasant;

walks along rivers and meandering paths, and at other times, steep and lonely mountain paths.

But the view!

And the air up there.

When Jesus is your one desire.

Through it all, He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. I love His patience, am humbled by His patience, and his wisdom. In how He can lead each one of us so personally. How he knows us so well, and no matter the state we are in, how unfit we are, how out of shape we find ourselves…

He has a plan. Yes , He is much more than just our coach, our trainer, He is also the lover of our souls, and as such, desires to see us move forward into more and more freedom, holiness, and falling so much more in love with Him.

Oh how he loves us. He requires more from us, always, because he knows more will lead us to more of Him. And more of Him will leak out into our daily lives and touch the lives of those around us. At the same time setting us free from the sins that used to bind us.

I don’t know where I am on Your training schedule Holy Spirit, or what You have planned, but I trust You. I am ready at the starting line,  leaning forward , my hands in the chalk dust, my feet poised for take-off, my focus on the race ahead. Whether that be a race of hurdles, or a marathon, or a short hard sprint, my ears are attuned to Your voice.

 

Going Grey (I prefer silver) gracefully…

FeaturedGoing Grey (I prefer silver) gracefully…

This is my second attempt at growing out my grey hair, the first being January 2016 when I got my husband to shave my head! I must say, I kinda liked that look! The growing out of that look, not so much. It was slow, gruelling, with months and months and days and hours and weeks of looking awkward and having bad hair days.

My friend suggested I write a list of reasons why I was doing this, because I ‘ve started down this road before and gave up. It was too hard to be different. It was too hard to have stupid comments thrown my way. My self esteem suffered. But what’s worse is now having to do it all again.

I could kick myself!

Because that was 15 months of going through so much, wearing hats and scarves and hair gel and waking up with a mohawk….. and then I caved, and I coloured it.

Which felt great….awesome…for about 2 weeks….when those greys started to reappear.

Then I went for blonde highlights. In the hope that I wouldn’t have to cover the grey so much. Which was also great for a while, except I went more and more blonde every time I went back, and the greys still showed if I didn’t go back. As time went by,  the more blonde I went, the more it didn’t suit my rosy complexion, and my hair became so dry.

I proceeded to dye my hair, darker this time. The colour would fade very quickly to an orange colour due to the highlights under the dye. I went darker. Which looked nice for a while, but the greys showed very predominantly. Also, due to having a lot of grey now, if I didn’t get to all the grey at the roots, especially at the sides of my head, those would show through when I tied my hair back or the wind blew my hair in the wrong direction! And the colour looked so false in the sun.

I had also been researching xenoestrogens and the link between chemicals (including the darker hair dyes) and our hormones as well as some possible cancer links. Especially for those who have to dye their hair so often (more than 10 times a year). So.……me. If I had to keep up with covering the grey, that would be twice a month for 12 months, so 24 times a year!

I realised that I needed to put my health above my vanity. And also realised that I was not fooling anyone. Your face, neck, hands all betray your age anyway, so why not just embrace the age and stage you’re in and be your real self?

Here are some of my reasons in list form:

  1. Xenoestrogens and chemicals in hair dye are bad for you!
  2. Root touch ups every 2 weeks is a pain and often can’t get to all the roots….missing spots…and that looks…..weird.
  3. Saves money!
  4. Hair is healthy and soft with  natural highlights.
  5. Blonde did not suit my complexion and also very drying for hair.
  6. I need to do what I like and not what other people like.
  7. I am happy with my age and don’t need to try and look younger.
  8. I choose health and natural hair over vanity and dried out hair.
  9. I choose to be different and to rock it!

I also accept that I may not get admiring glances from other men…..that guys aren’t going to look at me. And that’s ok. Because I have my guy who looks at me and thinks I’m beautiful. The rest is vanity and insecurity.

This time around, I do feel peace about this decision and am quite certain that I will never go back. Occasionally I may need to re read these notes and re-affirm my decision, reminding myself of all the good reasons and try a new style ( or scarf, headband or hat)!

Not everybody has to like or agree with my decision, probably nobody really cares anyway! But to anyone else out there contemplating this route and the freedom of ditching the dye and being yourself, you need to allow people to have their own opinions and not be upset if they don’t agree with you. This is your life, your hair, your health, and you need to be at peace with that.

I think the first time around I cared too much how others saw me. It was such a big jump from always colouring my hair to shaving it and going grey overnight. I am glad I went back to colouring though, because it reminded me why I wanted to stop in the first place, and helped cement my decision the second time round.

I am now, looking forward to a new pathway to natural health and goodness. Both in body and spirit, health and wellness.  There is so much to thank God for, to be grateful for,  that I have lived this long and have the “silvers” to prove it!

What God did this week

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What He did for me, that is. In keeping this blog personal, and about personal relationships, it’s also about a personal God, who breaks into my everyday life when I let Him.

I must confess, that during this Covid-19 time, in lockdown, I have been very content, feeling very blessed, and feeling selfish for being so. There were so many perks for me, as an introvert, and for Graham my husband.He has worked so hard with hardly any time off for many many years. Going off to work at 5pm and coming home at 6 30pm, working Saturday mornings, carrying the entire responsibility of the business on his shoulders alone. Carrying the responsibilities of his employees and their families, waiting for clients to pay and cash flow being a constant issue. So yes, seeing him at home, working on one car from his garage, getting up a bit later, eating breakfast together, seeing him smile and relax, seeing the anxiety ease out of the lines on his face, having time together as a family with our sons, drawing together. It HAS been wonderful.

But I AM mindful of it being so difficult for others, for those losing jobs, for those who don’t have an income, for all those who are struggling, for those without family around them.

I felt in this time that God has shifted me, into a deeper place with Him, in a deeper experience of joy in Him, and in a deeper walk of obedience to Him. Being more in touch with the Holy Spirit, asking Him what do you want to do through me today, or say to me? This day is yours, I am yours.

And then I started to feel selfish, and that I shouldn’t have such joy. That I am too happy in my own little bubble. And I started to get anxious, and feel guilty and self centred. But listening to a word through Melanie Du Toit one night, I was lying in bed and just drifting off to sleep, until something at the end just caught me, and it was about joy. And I realised that I AM allowed to have and experience Your joy, to be content, to feel blessed. And not only allowed, but that it is your will for me, to experience joy in you, and in my days. And in that joy, to have my eyes open to the needs of others, and give where I can. Whether that be in time or resources.

This joy that I have, has been hard won, hard fought for. It is a gift, and something God wants me to have, to rejoice in it, in Him. It is good, a good gift.

And then soon after that, I was going thorugh some internal conflict and issues which were really putting a dampener on my joy: but that’s also okay, necessary even, as we evaluate, and new insights are learnt. Life is both a struggle and a joy.

But what I found myself doing was stressing now, where was this joy, what happened, getting panicky. So I know that scripture, in God’s presence there is fullness of joy, so off I went to Him. But even there I couldn’t find joy, and I didn’t know what was wrong.

I thought, okay, I need to go worship, because I always feel closer to God when I do, that’s how I connect with Him heart to heart. But even THAT was a struggle. What was wrong?

And then the Holy Spirit whispered to me, ” Come to the Father for HIS sake, to be with HIM. Seek HIM, and not the joy. Seek the gift giver, and not the gift.” And I realised I was chasing what I could get or feel, either from His presence or from worship, instead of just going to Him because He is worthy, because I love Him. The joy is a by product. I was selfishly going to Him, not purely for Him, but for what I could gain. And everyday is my choice to rejoice in the Lord, and again, rejoice ( as the Bible states). There is always something rejoice worthy in the Lord God, there is so much to rejoice IN HIM, in who He is, in His goodness and His nature and that we are His and that He is Creator God and we are creation and therfore so small and He is so …tall? Yes I’m thinking of that old song by Blancmange: Living on the celing! Doesn’t really relate, but yes you get the idea! He is big and I am small!

And to live in step with the Holy Spirit, being flexible to what He wants. Putting my agenda aside, and listening. Being willing to stop what I am doing, and do something else if that is what He is saying. I can very easily keep myself occupied with my own plans, but life is more interesting when I am listen to Him.

So, I went to the Father to just be with Him. And you know what happened? I started to feel that little spring of joy start bubbling up…..

“Do you want more of Me?”

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In the early hours of this morning, I was awakened, I think by the Lord. In any case, I was suddenly awake. Thinking actually how Jesus speaks to Andrew Selley during the early hours of the morning, and wondering if He had something to say to me too.

This was the morning after Mother’s Day, Probably about 2 or 3am, I’m not sure as I didn’t check. And lying there, I felt, heard, in my heart, even seeing Jesus in my imagination, looking at me and saying,

Do you want more of Me?”

With the emphasis on do.

Like, do you really, want more of Me?

I was so convicted, because I say in the moment, in the heartfelt passion of worship, I do! I do want more of Him. But in reality, it’s more of the flesh I want, the carnality that I’m no longer supposed to be a slave to.

As in yesterday, Mother’s day, I think, ” Yeah, I’m just gonna do whatever I want, whatever I feel like, whatever my carnal nature (supposed to be dead ) wants: movies, series, cake, chips, chocolate, lekker mac n cheese! And there is nothing wrong with all of those things, in balance and with self control. And even as I’m drving back from the shop, thinking this is what I’m going to do when I get home, I am giving no space to the Holy Spirit to ask what He wants. And even as I fill the day with nice things, planning pleasures of the flesh, I know at the back of my mind, it will not satisfy.

I was also thinking of my birthday this year, which was also a Sunday, so both days started off great with “almost church” on facebook. But why didn’t I make space for Him, on Mother’s day, and my Birthday, apart from that? Because I am still believing the lie that the flesh, and doing what I wanna do, for one day, will satisfy me.

He is my family, God is my family, my friend, and surely special days are spent with family and friends? And He is The Most Important, except, He’s not. And I am so, so, so sorry. And I act like craving the flesh is better than His life giving presence- and I know that, by now. I know that, through experience, that that isn’t true. Surely, on these special days more than ever, it would mean more of Him, not less. It would mean inviting Him in to share in everything , not block Him out because I’m focusing on me.

That flesh, ” just relax today, don’t put anything on yourself, it’s your day after all…”

And even if I have a token time with Him, that’s not showing Him, that He is my priority. Or that He is important. And I actually feel sick.

Still. So. Carnal.

And sick, that I would treat Him so.

There followed much quiet tears ( Gray was sleeping soundly next to me), and grimacing and repentance and sorrow. Sadness.

When You said to me, ” Do you want more of Me?” what was in Your voice, I’m trying to place? But it struck me to my heart, Jesus. The sadness behind those words.

You are my friend, Jesus. My friend.

But I have loved my flesh more, my agenda, my my my.

Even as I went through the day and thought, ” ooh I’m gonna eat this, and I’m gonna watch that…..” inside I knew it was going to leave me worse off than before. Wretched. Irritated. Lethargic. Dead.

And I know, that to sit oustide under the tree and spend time with You, will slake my thirst, will wrap me up in comfort, will revive my soul in peace.

If I want more of You, I need to make space for more of You. More more more. As much as is possible, all the day long. But more intentional times of quality, with You. Of spontaneous worship, and dancing. Of quiet reflection, or just being with You, saying nothing at all.

So as I end off this day, the 11th  of May, 10pm ish, I can say that today, I did experience more of Jesus. At different times of the day, and a very sweet time of feeling His presence in worship this afternoon. After dancing in worship in my room, in a different kind of way that I have before, I experienced more of Him, as this feeling of His tangible presence seemed to permeate my room. I wan’t looking for a feeling, I just wanted to worship Him, love Him. And I know every day will be different, but I must let it be, different.

I do, Jesus, I DO want more of You. Less of my flesh which is so pitiful and deadening.

I can’t just say I want more of You, and not change anything. And not make more space for You. It can’t just be words, lip service. There needs to be action.

I go to bed now, full of peace, full of the life that comes only from You. You refresh me like nothing else can. I love You Jesus, my brother, my friend.

God hasn’t healed me, physically … and that’s awesome.

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FOUNDATIONS

How can the house be built securely if the foundations are unstable? If the foundations are cracked and weakened, if they are not deep enough, or solidly laid down by a builder who knows what he is doing? How could I expect the walls to stand and the house not to lean, when they have been built on shaky ground? For God to lay my foundations with sapphires ( Isaiah 54:11), beautiful and strong and clear and true, then the whole structure would needs come down too.

I can see now, in looking back, that that is what He has been doing. Pulling down disorted and cracked structures, supporting walls that were built crooked because of my crooked foundation. At this point let me clarify. Not everything my life has been built upon has been a crooked foundation, there have been parts that have been a very strong area, for example my relationship with God. And I thank my Mom for that, for always praying that I would value and have that relationship with God. And that I had a good Mother, who laid some very solid foundations.  What I am talking about here more though, is issues of faith and beliefs. How things can become so entrenched, that we never question them.

And it’s hard. It’s hard to take a real look, at your own flaws, weaknesses, and character. But that is for another blog, as I am getting sidetracked. It’s all related and interrelated and mixed up together, so that I am starting to see the whole picture. Or parts of a whole?

Now, back on track. Let me explain my heading.

After years and years of migraines, with them getting worse and more frequent as I got older, I have finally decided to stop trying to get my healing. What? I hear you! So let me continue. Having grown up in the Word of faith movement, the health, wealth and prosperity gospel, healing was something that we should always have, strive to have faith for, and always believe that it is God’s will to heal you. And I do believe God wants to heal me, but in His timeframe. And maybe that will only be in eternity and not in this lifetime. I have been down so many roads, looking for healing, whether its been claiming it and believing it even though you don’t see it, whether it’s been looking at my diet and eliminating foods, which didn’t help much but I did lose 10 kgs! Bonus, but sadly have put it on again, and that’s ok too! I have looked at the emotional and pyschological aspect, and that HAS helped in a huge way, in healing foundations, tearing down old ones and laying new ones in truth. But still, migraines. I have been to the chiropracter, I have rejoiced in all things and been grateful and thankful. I have been prayed for by those with gifts of healing. People have said they are praying for me, and I am grateful that they care, that they love me. I sometimes wonder if other people are more worried about these migraines than I am?

During this road I ‘ve travelled, there has been so much that God has shown me through this. I can say that it has ALL been worth it. He has shaken me, my faith has been shaken, but I realise now it was a faith that needed to be shaken, and it was belief’s that needed to be looked at , the old shaken out, so the new can be built in. He has used it, as He uses everything for good, for my good, even if it’s suffering. He has used it, and I have drawn so much closer to Him. I know that He can heal me, in a blink, just like that! And I know that He has chosen not to, right now. I cannot force God’s hand. I love Him anyway. I don’t need my healing to serve and love and worship Him  and get on with the purposes He has set out for me. I had a while ago, come to this point. But then that old way of thinking, hearing something, would make me doubt, and think maybe it’s me, maybe it’s my faith, LORD help my unbelief! This is a mess, the way I am writing this is a mess, as no journey seems to take a straight and simple line, so forgive me if it’s all over the place.

When Jesus said ” Have faith in God.” He meant, have faith in God, not faith in your own faith. I was starting to get this. Listening to a preach recently by Andrew Selley, “an unccorupted faith”, really confirmed so many things for me, and sharpened the blurry edges of what I had begun to see. He gave more clarity, sharper focus, and so much more understanding. I couldn’t help but as I listened say in my heart yes, yes, this is what You have been showing me. Through the whole counsel of Your word. Not isolated scripures. But the whole picture of who God reveals Himself to be through scripture. Take the suffering of Job, for example.

And Jesus.

If His own son suffered, and learnt obedience through the things he suffered, and we are to walk in His footsteps, how can we think we won’t suffer? Also, as Paul says in Philipians, to be content in all things, whether abounding or in lack, and in my case, whether a migraine or not. To rejoice always, because He is always rejoice worthy, there is ALWAYS something to rejoice about in God, in who He is, despite circumstances. And maybe I still get 3 or 4 migraines a week, but I am thankful in God, content in it all. And most of the time, I draw close to Him when I go lie down. And say, “Holy Spirit, what do you want to say, what do you want me to think about.” It’s seems to also be a way that He just gets me away from everything and everyone, to just be with Him. Not that He needs to give me a migraine to do that, because I do spend time with Him, alot. But it is like He just takes me for Himself, for some extra time, sets me apart. Just to be together. And sometimes I feel that I need to switch off my brain, and that He just wants me to sleep. Which is just good for my body too. I know poor posture, while reading or painting etc can also physically bring on a migraine, and there is nothing spiritual about that. It is just how the body is coping. Believe me, I have done all the “right” things, and still they would come. Now, I do ask God to take away the migraine when I feel it coming, and sometimes He has. But most times He doesn’t. And I am totally at peace about that.

I know that one day I will have no more pain, and one day will be forever and eternity and a very long time! So this time on earth can be seen as Paul says, “a momentary affliction” in comparison to eterntiy. Going through this, of not seeing my healing manifest here in my body, has also made me softer inside. Less cocky, less adamant that this and this is what one must do if they want healing. Less arrogant. Saying that, I have experienced healing before, for other ailments. I am saying though, God chooses. God heals. God is soveriegn and not like an oridnary man. God won’t be dictated to or stuck in a box of our making, with our expectations of Him. He is God. He is the creator, we are the creation. He is the potter, we are the clay. His ways are so much higher than ours, His thoughts soooo much higher. And He has purpose in all he does, and all he allows.

And, He is good. He is a good good God. We don’t need to understand Him always, or H is ways, but we can know that He is good. We don’t even know what good is, compared to him. What He knows is good, and what we think is good, can be two very different things. The only good we know, is in Him and of Him anyway.

So I trust my Creator, my soveriegn Lord, the God almighty who can do anything.

Yes it has taken a while to have things shaken out of me, a skewed theology built on a skewed faith and a skew foundation. I have faith in God. And I have peace. Such peace. As though a huge burden has been lifted off of me, possibly even guilt for not being healed, and not being an example to my sons of ‘getting” my healing.

I want all those who love me, who care and have been praying, to be at peace too. To not try and find a way for me to be healed. God will do what God will do. And I think it is pretty awesome, really, what God is doing.

I know not everyone reading this will agree, I would have been one of those not too long ago too. But this is where I am, this where I am settling on this, and this is where I have peace.

Let me not be distracted by anything Lord, excpet Your purposes, Your will and Your pleasure.

More about foundations in my next blog!

 

There is no other way….

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He who drinks from Me will never thirst again…

 

“I am the way,t he truth, and the life. No one comes To the Father except through Me.” Jesus says in John 14:6.

There is a historical account where Jesus is speaking to a woman at a well, drawing water– He said to her;

“Everyone who drinks of this water (natural water) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I will give him, will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

That sounds so good, and amazing , and I can testify that this is true too. Not too good to be true. This is life that is never ending and an eternal spring inside of us– if we believe in and follow Jesus, the son of God.

But to believe in Him, we need to understand why we don’t have this life in us now, or when we were first born. The scriptures say in Romans 3:23- “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We are all sinners, born into sin and separated from God. It’s just the way it is, since Adam and Eve first were deceived by Satan and chose his promises instead of God’s promises.

Even if we have tried to be good and live a good life, we know in our thoughts that we have sinned. Our own righteousness will never measure up to God’s righteousness. Without God it is impossible not to sin. We are only made righteous through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus His son, who having never sinned gave Himself as part of His Father’s plan to save mankind– offered Himself up to die.

In John 3:3, Jesus explains….. “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He goes on to explain that unless we are born of water (natural birth) and the spirit (spiritual birth) we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. We are spiritually dead, before we are born again. Hence the term- “Born again!” This is why life, outside of a real relationship with God, can feel dead and meaningless. We were created to have relationship with our Creator. Without Him there is no real hope, no real life.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Jesus said” For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world may be saved through Him.”  (John 3:17) God is not against us, but for us. He has made a way, if we choose it, to be united with Him and forgiven from all our past sins.

But, there is a consequence for turning our back on God, Jesus and the sacrifice He made. There is a consequence for rebellion and stubbornness and pride, where we think we can do this life however we want and to hell with the consequences. In John: 18,  Jesus says,

Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already (a condemned man is heading for death) because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. “

God offers us, calls to us, and reaches out to us, to grab ahold of His salvation, as a drowning man grabs ahold of a lifeline! As He does not want ANY to die eternally! Yet He has given us free will, the right to choose. To acknowledge where we are without Him, in trouble, dying, sinful and broken. We need God. We were made to need Him, to want Him, to be with Him. But we choose to place ourselves on the throne of our lives, maybe because of our past, people have hurt us and we can’t trust them, so we trust only ourselves.But we are only created beings, and He is the one who created us, how could we trust ourselves over Him? He is also not a man, that He should lie, or be found wanting in any area. He will never become untrustworthy or unfaithful.

Or do we just love what the world has to offer? But for any of us who have been living here for a considerable amount of time, we come to realise that it’s never enough. You will never be happy enough, or have complete joy, or find that peace you are looking for, in anything this crazy ,stressed out, busy, manic world has to offer. Even if you find a measure of peace in nature, meditation and reflection, that too is empty without a Creator. Let us not be like those Jesus speaks of in John 3– and so be judged by God:

“John 3:19 “And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

In John 5:24 Jesus said,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him (God) who send Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life.”

Your choice is whether you will choose life? Or death?

God has a purpose and plan for your life that surpasses your own imagining, that is brilliantly conceived by a great and  good Father. He does love you and knows you already. But that alone is not enough to save you. YOU NEED TO KNOW HIM. And once you do you will never look back.

If you do feel that you do want to get right with God, and make Him Lord of your life, heart and choices, pray in your own words along the lines of this:

You pray to God, in your own words telling Him you believe in Jesus and that He was and is the son of God,that Jesus died for your sins, was raised again- to bring you into relationship with God, right standing with Him, and to  give you eternal life. You repent ( turning your back on your sins and lifestyle of sin) asking God to forgive you of all your sins and asking Him to come empower you by His spirit, to live a life of following Jesus and His ways. You ask Him to make you new, born again into His Spirit, and you give your life from now on into His hands. You ask Jesus to become Lord of your life.

Then you need to get a Bible if you don’t have one already, which you can buy from any Christian Book store. English Standard Version is good. And start reading it! Start with the gospels, either Mathew, Mark, Luke or John. Find a church, and now during lockdown that would be over the internet- I belong to Joshua Generation church and you can find messages on the facebook page.

And I pray over the people that read this Father, that they will respond to Your Spirit, that they will receive your words with an open heart. I ask that  your Word will go down deep and take root, and that this person reading will be born again, and become your child who will follow, love and trust you all the days of their life. Making you Lord of their life. I pray the enemy will not destroy the word that was planted here today, but that You will guard and protect the seeds of your word, and protect the person from the lies of the enemy, as he is the father of lies. And that Your truth will sink down deep and transform this person and translate this person from death, to life. In the name of Your son Jesus, Amen.

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He who drinks from Me will never thirst again….

If you would like to know more or have questions, please post me a comment with your email address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dad

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Dear Dad
Im calling you Dad.
Which I haven’t been doing my whole life. I always called you David, because I was 4 months old when you died in that horrific car accident. I never allowed you to be my dad, or me to be your daughter, because we didn’t have enough time together.
And because I don’t remember you, consciously. Though unconsciously, I think I do.
Which is why I burst into tears a few years ago when I read about your accident in some old newspaper cuttings; why I felt so emotional and shaken and this sadness.

My dad. That was MY Dad.
I haven’t felt a right, to be your daughter, to have you as my dad, because you died. And so, could it still count, that you were my dad? Even for such a short time?
Even now, it feels strange to have that word roll off my tongue, but also right and familiar too somehow.
Dad, I wish I had known you.

Apparently you were a lot of fun!
Adventurous, naughty, with a quick temper, but with a sensitive side.

I’m a lot like you I think.

Mom says I laugh a lot more easily, and for longer, and that you and I would have gotten on well.
I like to think so.
I wish I had known you as a little girl, had your lap to climb on and your shoulders to hug. To laugh into your smiling face and look into your blue eyes, to see love and acceptance shining there.

I would have loved, or hated, you giving my boyfriend the third degree. I would have loved you meeting my husband to be and then the two of you talking on and on about bikes and cars like total petrol heads.
I would have loved having you walk me down the aisle, to give me away at my wedding.
To hear your speeches at my 21st, my wedding, my 40th, the birth of my children…to see you as a Grandpa. I would have loved knowing what you think of me.

What do you think of me? Am I strong enough, for you to admire me? Am I successful enough? Am I a good Mother? Are you glad I’m your daughter? Do I make you proud?
Do you think I am beautiful? And pretty? Do you think I am clever, and witty?
Would we have had lots of fights and tempers flaring between the two of us? Would we have gotten over it quickly and laughed about it? Gone out for ice cream to say sorry?

Would it be anything like I imagine it to be, or have I romanticized it out of all reality?
Still. I wish I had known you.

I wish you were here. I hope to know you one day, to have an eternity to build relationship with you.
For now, I know that I do belong to you.

You are my father ( cue… Star Wars music)…would you have liked Star Wars, I wonder?
I know wherever you are, you are still living, not in your old body, but you are alive. You still love me, from wherever you are.

And I choose to imagine you in Heaven, that in that last moment you called out to Jesus and He saved you. Please God let that be true!
I can still receive love from you, and I can still love you, even though you are not here. But you are there.

Living, loving and breathing. I will let myself be loved by you. Which I have never done. I will love you, which I have never allowed myself to do.

Even though for many years I had dreams that you were alive, but just around the corner, just out of reach. Well, you are. Alive, but out of reach.

Yet love crosses all borders of space and time.
So Dad, I love you.
And I believe you love me too.

Your daughter, light of your life ( I like to think that)
Belinda

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Part 5: Some really personal stuff about sex and surviving abuse…

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Gray and I, our 24 th Anniversary last year September.

The sex part.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I have really had an internal battle with sharing the following. A part of me wants to just stop now. Which is probably the enemy trying to discourage me. You know, some things God does quickly, and some things, the majority, are a process of walking out your healing. I would love to say that that was the end of it and we all ended up happily ever after…with no further work or issues to walk out. But what I can say is that even though there are things to work towards, like more wholeness in sexual healing, our marriage has never been better.

As I was making coffee this morning, actually just bringing my confusion and doubts to God, I felt Him say just, ‘Come to Me daughter.” I went outside in the sun and sat next to the pool. I was wrestling with how much to share, because this is so personal. I knew that I was going to be exposing more of not just my life, but also Gray’s. This is as much his life as it is mine, as we are one. And what affects me affects him. How will he feel about me exposing the intimate details of our sex life? And how will I feel knowing that everyone knows this stuff about me? Is it even polite? I have always been very private about my sex life, no surprise there, but now anyone who reads my blog is going to know and what are they going to think? And does God want me to do this or should I just skate over the surface of the details with innuendo? Not that I want to get graphic. Just honest.

Yesterday when I was hugging Gray in the kitchen (again, the kitchen, what’s with us and hugs in the kitchen?), I just felt like I can’t do this to him. I don’t want to jeopardise what we have now. It’s so good. Can’t I just carry on where we are at? A part of that was that I had started writing this part of the blog, and I wasn’t sure how he would feel about it. And especially the part about imagining just shadowy images of men and not him, though not other men either. Just not reality.

But talking to God this morning, I realized that this was the nub, this was the issue. Again, not hiding but exposing the darkness, the sin. I didn’t want Gray to look back on our sex life and think was it all a lie? Because no it wasn’t. I loved him and I had found a way to make sex work, for both of us I thought. What if he looks at me differently, and thinks, “Who is this woman I married?”. The tears are coming even now because I’m afraid of being this honest. Graham thinks the world of me, what will he think now?

But sitting in the sun, in the light, I felt God saying not to hide. To bring it all into the light. Because it’s not like that anymore, but it’s part of confessing my sin. I don’t do that anymore because of God healing me in my soul, but I feel He wants this in the open. For my sake, for Gray’s, and for other people out there.

I felt Him whisper, “Take courage.”

And He reminded me too, that this life is about dying to self, in order to find life. If I am willing to expose myself and be vulnerable, and die to what others may think of me, in order to help those who also battle, I will be choosing the path of life.

Our church’s motto is – “Dying to live.” And how true that is.

If I don’t expose my darkness, then others will be left thinking, “ if you only knew me, or you don’t really know how bad I am, or there’s no hope for me,” because it’s still a bit of a taboo subject. We are supposed to be Christian after all, purified by the sacrifice of Jesus. Which we are, but the process of healing the brokenness and hurts can take a lifetime.

I think that the world outside church will talk about this quite easily, why do we battle to talk about this sin in church? Though in the world outside the church this isn’t even regarded as sin.  I think the problem is, with sexual sin, there is this sense of shame when we know we are supposed to be free.  As I write this I can’t believe I’m still going to put this out there. But this is a way God is using me to reach more people.

Big breath, taking courage….

As I had explained earlier, our marriage was good, in many areas. It was just the area of sex that I struggled with. I had made a way that seemed to be working, but I was convicted of sin. I knew that I was not connecting with Gray, and not connecting in a healthy way during sex. Everything worked fine physically, but I knew what was going on in my head. All I wanted was to be pure. To know what healthy sex was intended to be like and to be free from the patterns in my mind which would work but I knew were wrong. Always after sex I felt shame and once we were finished to just get up and carry on with life. I did learn to linger over time, with Gray, but this shame and resignation was a constant companion. The easiest way was to ask God to forgive me and then forget about it until the next time. Block it off and carry on as normal.

I had given myself in body to him, but not emotionally. Not my whole self. I was still keeping something back. I knew logically I could trust him, but it couldn’t translate into trusting him with my body. Even though we had a “good” sex life, to give him my body, meant I had to go somewhere else in my mind. And not really be with him, but with a shadowy image of a man, in strange place. And imagining masochistic sex like bondage, as that was what would work for me. So it looked like I was giving him my body, and physically we were “being one”, but I don’t think you can give your body really, without giving your mind and emotions and whole heart as well. I was emotionally disconnected to him, even while physically being with him. When I did try and be pure and stay in the moment with Gray, I felt like things were not working physically, and would not be very satisfactory. I would feel then it would be better for Gray to know that he was satisfying me, that that would be better for his self-esteem. I didn’t mind if I was totally satisfied or not, but I knew it was important to him. And when trying to be pure didn’t work, I thought it’s not working for anyone and making us both stressed about sex. So I would fall back into the patterns that would seemingly work.

It is hard to admit this, I feel like I’m exposing all the darkness inside of me and that people will think I’m sick and twisted. Well, I guess I was. And so are other lovely, hurting, Christian women who look like everything is fine. We don’t talk about this because maybe “I’m the only one’, and we will end up even more rejected and despised. Well hello ladies, and men. I’m saying this for all of you! I can’t believe that I’m the only one, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this.

Over the years God has shown me that I am not ugly inside. He had to show me that I was absolutely, a new creation in Him. And as a child of His, I had a new spirit that was one with His, and so my spirit couldn’t be bad, because I was born again. It was the brokenness that needed to be healed. And sin can’t be dealt with unless there is healing at the root first. Otherwise it’s like chopping off branches continually, dealing with the symptoms and not the cause. I used to feel, and be tormented by thoughts of being a slut. That there’s something wrong with me. That men would look at me because there’s something inside of me that screams slut, adulterer. I didn’t even like it when Gray called me sexy. I didn’t want to be sexy. I just wanted to be beautiful. And pure. Spending time with God, my Father, He restored that father daughter relationship with Him. He would talk to me as His daughter; show me what He thought of me. Replace the enemies lies with the truth of what He says, what the Bible says, about me as a child of His. He would sing to me (ok I would sing, but what I felt was Him singing the words over me) and minister deeply to my heart. There is nothing like spending time with God, with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, that can change you as much, in the deep places. He showed me I was beautiful. He showed me I was precious. He showed me I was pure. He showered me with love. He dealt with this before He dealt with my sin, because He knew that in order to overcome the sin, I had to know how loved I was. I had to know my true identity in Jesus. With tender cords of love He bound me to Him. He just loved me, over and over. Over years and years. There were other areas of sin He dealt with, but in this area this was like the final frontier. God is so gentle at times. He definitely was with me. Even as I knew things needed to be dealt with and was trying, He never condemned me or made me feel unloved or that He was disappointed. He just kept bearing all things, enduring all things, hoping all things and believing for me. He never gives up hope for us. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:7

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

God doesn’t deal with things all at once. And He decides which areas He is going to work into at what time. He is the one with the wisdom. And the knowledge. And He knows everything about us. Nothing is hidden. And nothing can shock Him.

I felt that I was an adulterer, in my mind. Which Jesus says is just as sinful as the actual action. Though I did not imagine other specific men or men I knew. It was just imagined shadowy images without a face. It was as though I had to separate Graham during sex, with the Graham I knew in normal life. I am being as honest as I can here, so that you can see what was wrong, and how broken our sex life was ,unbeknownst to Gray. I knew it wasn’t right, and before sex I would try prepare myself mentally to “not sin” and to connect with what was happening. It made having sex a battle in my mind. Sometimes I would overcome, but most times my mind went back to the familiar pattern and afterwards I would repent. And feel resignation. And this emotional turmoil every time we had sex, feeling bad all the time, created even more tension around sex. I pretended that all was fine, even to myself for many years. But as God has been healing me and wanting to purify me, I had begun to pray for absolute healing and for Him to fix me. I began to feel that God was really pressing me gently on this, that He had grace for me for when I fell, but that I was determined to get this right. I had no idea that He was going to take me back to the abuse, but it does make sense as that might be where it all stems from.

Talking about the feelings that still lingered in my body when Gray touched me unexpectedly in an area like my upper thigh, somehow opening up to him, made that not an issue any more. It’s like if it remained hidden, it had power. But once exposed, the power was gone. I don’t know how God did it, but I stopped reacting that way when he touched me. I did pray that God would heal my body from the memories and trauma of the past. But having Gray know me, and know where I was at, made me feel that I could trust him. Because he didn’t freak out. He just loved me.

So I let Graham read what I had written about our lives and the abuse at the hands of my step dad. I felt very exposed and vulnerable, and had to go wash dishes while he read it. He came and hugged me in the kitchen, with his heart pounding in his chest, and just said he was so sorry I had to go through that. I felt so loved and “seen”. I felt us draw so close emotionally, because now he knew more of me.

As we talked over this stuff in the coming weeks, I felt that that barrier that I had erected, was crumbling down, very quickly. I felt emotionally connected to him in a way that I had never felt before. I felt known and loved. Despite my sin and brokenness. Isn’t this the way Christ loves us, the church, His bride? And how He wants husbands to love their wives?

And then one day, we had the most wonderful sex I have ever had!

I truly felt that we were one. One flesh, as the Bible says. In body, mind and heart. I could at last fully give all of me to him. I could look at him and be in the moment, with him and feel connected and loved and joined and whole. And satisfying for both of us. I truly felt that this was the first time I was having real sex with my husband. In 25 years! It was very intimate. I guess that is what true intimacy is, when you are exposed and vulnerable, but wholly trust anyway and give all of yourself.  And it was gooooood.

At last I was pure. I could have sexual purity during sex. I’m not talking about boring sex, hey, still having fun!

That showed me what good, clean sex could be like. But everything is a process, and a walking it out. Which I found in the weeks and months to come. Sometimes the sex isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s still good and right and pure. I sometimes catch myself before sex thinking,” ok prepare yourself”, and then remember, “oh! I don’t have to anymore!” And that takes a bit of time as this all sinks in. This is a new journey and the road looks unfamiliar.

It’s also not all about sex. Or that sex is the most important thing in our marriage. But it was important because it was an issue that needed to be healed. And it was part of God healing me and restoring all that the “locust had eaten” as the Bible puts it. I even went through a couple of weeks where I felt this was exactly what God was doing, restoring my childhood innocence and fun. Where I would ride my bike in the sun in freedom and just have this time where I’m not working. To have that time restored to me, which was stolen as a child. My boys are grown and I have this time, this beautiful place of spaciousness that He promised me a few years back.

My marriage is real in every sense of the word. I am married to Gray in every sense of the word. And God is able to do so much more than we can even ask or imagine. In His timing. This happened so quickly it seems, though when I look back I can see that this is” reaping the harvest from the sowing in tears”. The Bible says that “those who sow in tears will again come rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.” God had been preparing me a long time before this and then suddenly, did a quick work. There is hope! Never give up believing that God can do what you are asking Him to do!

From Graham’s side, he always felt that I wasn’t quite there emotionally. And that there was something missing.

Now we don’t have that. Now we are totally connected and whole and one during sex. And in our marriage as a whole. At the same time, we kind of feel like sex virgins. Having to take our time and explore this new way of having sex. Interesting for almost 50 year olds.

The thing with this issue, is that it doesn’t end in the bedroom. It translates into other areas of your life, and if you are pretending in one area it tends to come across as a disconnect in other areas. I would go away with Gray on weekends, and I would still feel, the only way I can describe it is, separate? I know we are separate human beings, with our own likes and personalities and all that, but when I look back now I see this barrier I had erected. Even unknowingly. And I would feel dissatisfied at times, and then think, “ This is what normal marriage is like, this is what other marriages are like. Now stop it, you’re like a spoilt brat and nothing satisfies you. You have too much time on your hands and now you’re thinking too much. Don’t expect too much. Be happy and content with what you have.” And I knew we had a good relationship. We never tried to hurt each other or even had that much conflict. Not having conflict I have since realised is not an indication of a good relationship. It could just mean that you’re avoiding things and keeping the peace instead of working through conflict to make peace. It is right to be content, but with an expectation for God to do more where you see broken areas. It’s hard to admit there are broken areas too, believe me. Denial is so much easier, but only gets worse in the long run. Denial will rob your joy, your freedom and your wholeness.

Now that I have fully given myself to Gray, and been healed from the lies of the enemy, there are no more barriers. This is the most wonderful thing for me, and for Gray. I will most likely still grow in trust, but this has been a major breakthrough. As the darkness is exposed, the healing comes. Thank God! That’s all I can do. Actually for a couple of weeks after this first all came out, I was filled with such thankfulness and worship God. I just enjoyed it and wallowed around in the liberation He brought me. Brought Us. I remember riding on the back of the bike with Gray as we went out with friends to Babylonstoren, and feeling perfectly safe for the first time in my life. Driving past fields slowly with my visor up, on a beautiful hot day, arms wrapped around Gray and leaning into him; this surge of hope totally surrounded me. Totally safe. Totally one. Totally free. And Pure.

I let Gray read this last night. I wasn’t sure how he would take it, or how much he actually knew or was aware of. I know it was hard for him. It was still hard for me. I still felt exposed, I still felt anxious. You know what he did? After asking one or two questions? He hugged me. We stood and hugged. I asked him to forgive me, choking the words out because I felt so scared. He said of course. He didn’t look at me differently; he still looked at me with love in his wonderful, warm brown eyes. He was sorry I had to live like that, I was sorry he had to go through this because of me. Then we locked ourselves in the bedroom and …

In my next blog, I will back track a bit and talk about more deliverances from the lies of the enemy. I thought this was going to be maybe a one or two blog testimony, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own!

“Till next time, keep hoping, have faith, and take courage.

 

PART 4: SOME REALLY PERSONAL STUFF ABOUT SEX AND SURVIVING ABUSE…

 

Pamela Ann_Belinda Claudia
My Mom and I

I’m back!

I am trying to be more consistent about writing this blog, but life happens and suddenly two weeks have gone by. My aim is to post a new blog once a week. Just some of these blogs are exhausting emotionally and it takes a lot out of me. Some of them take a long time to write as I constantly assess and want to check that what I am writing is helpful, and as honest an account as I can make.

You may be wondering, why don’t I just move forward? Why must I keep looking back at the past? Believe me, I don’t want to. But God has shown me that it is necessary for the next step of my healing. He showed me that I could not ignore the child that went through those experiences, as I had not dealt with them on a very deep level. I thought I had, but there were some unconscious belief systems that I had built on that were lies and that were affecting me now.

You may feel like you can move on, and leave that child behind. But the truth is you cannot leave yourself behind. That child is you, now, today, and I had carried that unheard child with me into my adulthood. Obviously, as its still me! We cannot separate ourselves from our experiences. By trying to just forget and move on, because I didn’t want to be a victim, I never fully dealt with it.

That is why I needed to voice and write down those feelings, to express and acknowledge my real feelings and emotions, because I didn’t ever get to do that. So there it sat deep within, suppressed and unacknowledged and a source of denied internal pain. This created a kind of disconnect within myself, between the child I was and the adult I am today. By expressing those feelings and buried emotions before the Lord, I could finally be heard. And feel acknowledged and that my pain was acknowledged. And slowly I began sharing, first with Graham, then my closest friends and my Mom, and then the world. Because what God was doing to free me, I knew He could do too to free others.

During this process I attended a constellation workshop with a psychologist in our church. Its nothing to do with stars or astroglogy! I wasn’t a client, but rather a representative of the client’s family member for eg. I represent the mother or sister in the client’s family, and where that person fits in the family as well as relational issues. It was emotional and it did inadvertently bring up some things in myself which was totally unexpected.

I came back from that session with a migraine and this anger towards my Mom inside of me. I remember walking around the kitchen getting coke and chips ( part of my migraine remedy) and asking God, “ Where is this anger coming from? Why am I angry at my Mom?” Over and over. And feeling guilty that I was angry at her, because where is this coming from? My Mom is amazing and l KNOW she loves me so what is this?

And right there in the kitchen God dropped a memory. It was the day my Mom took me for a walk and told me she was divorcing my step dad. She said that we were leaving because it was too much temptation for him, having me around. So we were leaving for his sake (is what I heard). Now subsequently we have spoken ( at length) about this and this is what she had said to him, to ease the blow. She was trying to do it in love, and not anger, as she was trying to be obedient to God in it. My Mom had realised that he wasn’t going to change no matter what she tried ( and she had tried many ways to love him, get him healed and delivered, but he had not wanted to or maybe he felt he couldn’t change either. I don’t know.) To be fair, there wasn’t much teaching, counselling or discipling in our church, where someone would walk alongside him and help him with his own brokenness and hurts.

At the time I was just grateful we were leaving and the only thing that I was a bit sad about was leaving my friends.

What God showed me in this, was that when I heard “we are leaving for his sake”, what I interpreted was “ you’re not important enough to leave for your sake alone.” My Mom herself was only too happy to leave.

It was difficult to talk about because we have a really close relationship and as I said, I knew she loved me. I could look back on all the years and see her love proven over and over again. And I felt guilty for feeling angry and recognizing that I was angry.

Anyway, as a 15 year old you’re not processing things all that well, or as you would as an adult. I didn’t have the relationship with God that I now have. I believed, but I wasn’t able to draw comfort or strength from Him or really talk about everything with Him. I was also living in survival mode and only now, looking back, I can see how I was  traumatised by the ongoing circumstances and the feelings of helplessness and things never changing. Feeling trapped and hopeless.

So the belief that I formed at that moment, was that I wasn’t good enough, or important enough, to leave for. That my step dad, and my mom, were more important to a) my Mom, and b) God. That the years Mom stayed, was because (she felt) God wanted her to stay, which made me believe I’m not that important to God either. And not that loved. That my step dad and his welfare were more important to God, and my Mom, than mine. And this is where my anger was coming from.

God then showed me how this was a lie, a crack in the foundation of my belief system which I had built upon. Which is why I had this nagging feeling of never being good enough, of being unimportant and actually not worthy. He had to expose this lie, so that He could start building into me anew. Truth. He reminded me of a scripture He gave me a long time ago: Isaiah 54:11 and 12, “Oh afflicted one, storm –tossed and not comforted, behold I will set your stones with fair colours, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” He was busy upending the lie of the enemy, and replacing my foundations with sapphires. Something beautiful and bright and strong and true.

After talking to my Mom about it all during various visits, she could also explain what she meant and how what she said didn’t communicate what she was really feeling. She had wanted to leave for a long time but felt according to her conscience, she had to try everything first. She wanted to leave immediately when it first happened, but felt she couldn’t do just what she wanted to do, and was trying to be obedient to what she thought God wanted her to do. As we talked more and more, we both came to the realization that a lot of what was going on she wasn’t aware of. During this time I just couldn’t understand why as my Mom, she didn’t protect me more. I am only sharing this, as I know that there are others who need to face this and deal with it. I was in denial that I was angry at her, because she was my protector and my safe place. And yet I wasn’t protected. I would ride my bike and wonder why I was wrestling with this and still feeling hurt, and unlovable. I thought maybe I was cute when I was small but then I got gawky and awkward and teenagery and maybe I became unlovable somehow. It’s stupid I know. But that’s the feelings and belief that rose up and I’m not wanting to gloss over them because I know some of you will relate. Some of you may not even realize you are believing the same thing.

During another prayer time God revealed to me that I had felt abandoned by both my step dad, and my Mom, and even God. And He showed me that I needed to forgive my Mom, and release her from my anger.  I had all this time, focused on my step dad and forgiving him, but was in a kind of denial that I needed to forgive my Mom anything. God reminded me He had forgiven her all her sins, and He has forgiven me all mine, and so I can forgive her because she is already forgiven by Him. There was a spirit of abandonment that He delivered me from, as it was unearthed and exposed to the light. As I forgave and realized that God had never abandoned me. And that my Mom had never intentionally abandoned me. It needed to come up so that I could recognize it and  so forgive.

This is when God talked to me about Him knowing me, and choosing me, even before I was born. You can read about that in my previous blog I wrote titled’ “It’s my birthday…maybe?”

I also realize that my Mom was an abused wife, maybe not physically, but emotionally and verbally. She was also living in a traumatic situation and also surviving, and how this affected her as well. We were both living in a negative, emotionally charged atmosphere. She did not have a job and she wanted to be home with me, so she also felt that she didn’t have a lot of choice. Possibly I minimized the things that happened . I was a quiet child and didn’t express myself very well and on some level the shame may have been instrumental in muting my voice.  And again that little voice in my head saying, “ Well, it’s not THAT bad…”.

My Mom meanwhile couldn’t understand why she couldn’t remember all the times I spoke to her about what was happening. She said that I meant the world to her and how much she loved me always, that I was never unlovable. And what was helpful for me was when we both realized she wasn’t aware as much as I thought she was. I know this whole process has been painful for her,  but it did help me to talk to her about it. I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to hurt her, but in the end even though it was rough for both of us, it was worth it. I could understand things from her perspective, and she could understand things from mine. It didn’t make it less hurtful, but there is no healing in burying things. I felt disloyal, ungrateful and conflicted with guilt. It is so much better to talk about it if you can and if you have that kind of relationship with your parent which can withstand this.  I realized I couldn’t protect my Mom from this, but I prayed that God would be in our conversations and in control over when issues should be brought up. You may not be able to talk about it with your parent depending on where they are at and how your relationship is with them, as every case is different. I am just sharing what happened with me. If you can’t get peace through talking to your parent, possibly they have already died, or you just can’t broach the subject, you may have to forgive daily. This is what a friend told me and it helped as I was processing it as it wasn’t overnight. As things come up, even if its everyday, you forgive again. Daily.

 

As far as feeling abandoned by God, He showed me that He was there and that He hated what was happening. God does hate sin. But He has given us free will as humans, and He cannot step in and force people not to do things. He can appeal to their conscience, and convict them. But He chooses not to intervene against someone’s will and what is man’s sinful choice.

He showed me that He was there with me when my step dad would creep into my room. He showed me that because of Him, there was blazing light all around and not darkness and shame. That whatever my step dad did to me was not hidden but exposed to God’s eyes. And His justice. God is a God of justice. He sees the misdeeds of men and in the end, unless Jesus is standing between you and Him, there will be justice. As He is also righteous. Jesus has taken all of our sins on Him at the cross. God’s justice and righteous wrath against these sins and sinners (us!) were poured out on Jesus. So that it wouldn’t have to be poured out on us. Jesus is our scape goat.

Anyway, to continue, He showed my bedroom in our old flat. Now I say “showed” me, and I mean that during a prayer time, I was remembering my bedroom. And I felt a reluctance about it and that God wanted to show me something.

I felt it was a dark place, for obvious reasons, and I didn’t want tot revisit it. But then He showed me that in the spiritual world, my room was blazing with light. There was nothing to be afraid of, that all was exposed to His light and His presence. And even in that place, I could turn to my step dad standing in the doorway in blazing light, and know that everything he had ever done has been and was exposed by the light of God and to the eyes of God.

I was always important to God, because I was His daughter.

Other people’s behavior does not dictate how important to God I am, or how loved or not loved I am. That is their free will and choice. But I can see where that root of rejection comes from. I had interpreted those experiences through my  12-15 year old brain and heart to mean that I was unworthy of love, rejected by my step dad, my mom and even God. Which of course led to self rejection. Over the years God had been working in many of these areas, and I even thought we were done. But there was more. At one point I was getting frustrated and wanted to get on and put these things behind me, but Gray said to me “you can’t expect your whole life to be sorted out in 2 months!” And that made a lot of sense! It’s a process of replacing lies with truth, and that takes time. Some days it would all be too much and I would zombie out on the couch and watch Netflix.

Having said that, in one way He did do some things quickly. It felt like it was a very intense time. What I had been feeling when Gray would inadvertently touch me, how talking about it, writing down that stuff about my step dad and releasing that, finding my voice (for another blog), and not hiding anything…..it did something for our marriage.

Something really gooooooooood.

Which I will  write about in my next blog, Part 5!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interlude: Pappa, a real father

Lawrence Umdoni Park Toti
Pappa

I feel like thinking on good things. Writing about a memorable good person who had a huge impact on me in a positive way.

And because I have been writing about my “father’ figure who had a negative impact on me, I want to write about someone who built into my life and showed me what a true father looked like.

This was my maternal Grandfather, Laurence Gordon Haylett.  Pappa to his grandkids.

I truly only got to know him better when we moved back down to Cape Town when I was 15. He was the one who came up to Durban and fetched us, drove us back to Cape Town. To me he was my rescuer. I was just so glad he was there. I remember sitting in the back seat and Mom and Pappa talking in the front, feeling safer and safer as the miles stretched on behind us.

For some reason even the burgers we stopped to eat at a Garage tasted amazing!  We stayed overnight in a motel, and Pappa and I decided we would go to the dining room for supper.  I remember sitting across the table from him and eating our soup. He was just so kind, in mannerisms and thoughtfulness and words.

Back in Cape Town, we lived with Granny and Pappa for a year and a half.  He would come home after work with sweets or chocolates he would hide behind his back and get us to choose which hand. Sometimes he would trick us and give us an empty hand but always with that twinkle in his eye and give us the treat anyway. Christmas morning he would march up and down the corridor with the Scottish bagpipes playing on the record player, Amazing grace.  He was always busy making things, pool pumps and filters etc. on the side. His inflatable windsurfer he designed and built and then would take us windsurfing on the weekend to Sandvlei. Granny would come along with a big flask of tea and picnic on the grass. He was always motivating us teenagers to come along, and when we didn’t feel like it he would manage to change our minds (most times), and we would have a lovely time. I wish I had gone more often.

Grass skiing down the slopes at Rhodes Memorial! Pappa was always so active and full of life. The joy of living and doing and being. He was a skinny tall man with a beak of a nose,  twinkling amused brown eyes, and always told these corny jokes. Which he would laugh at himself and find so funny while we kinda smirked and rolled our eyes. Flip I miss him.

He would take us down to Sea Point promenade at night, when the colourful lights were still strung along the beachfront. So many people would be out strolling on warm summer nights. Donna and I would rollerskate while Mom and Pappa would walk and talk, and eventually at the end where the Hard Rock Café used to be, he would buy us hot mielies from the stand.  At other times it would be ice cream. We always hoped he would treat us but we never expected it all the time.

When I was going to ballet classes at UCT school of dance, he would fetch me after work ( as he worked in Rondebosch) and drive us home. Often he would get us to sing his favourite hymn, “How great thou art.”

At this stage I was a very quiet teenager. Not very confident and very much in the shadows. Which is where I wanted to be.

One day as he was working on his pool pumps at the kitchen table, he called me in to sit down. He used to keep a big aviary outside with doves and pigeons and birds he would rescue. I remember these words so clearly…

“  Belinda, you are not like a loud or colourful parrot, you are like one of those gentle doves,” He said and indicated with a nod of his head towards the aviary outside the kitchen.

He saw me. And knew that I was feeling inadequate and comparing myself to others who were more confident, and he was showing me who I was. Those words have stuck with me my whole life, and not merely the words, but that Pappa saw a shy, awkward child, and decided to build into her life. To encourage her with words of life. That’s what good fathers do. They see and they notice and they speak the words that build us up.

He has been the father image I look up to, and a healthy picture of my Heavenly Father . I thank God for Pappa, for having someone in my life who was father, provider, protector and encourager, who loved me, and who could show me what a good father looks like. So that when I turn to God as my Father, I know what that love looks like. I see now how blessed I was to have those years with him, what God was doing, restoring what was lost. He died when I was 18 so I only had about 2 and half years with him. But for those years, I am so grateful.

Humorous, kind, full of life, responsible, funny, engaging, interested, helpful, enthusiastic Pappa! There are so many more memories, but its not the events that are important, but the person who defined the events.

Father, send a message to Pappa for me won’t You? Thank you Pappa for showing me a father’s love, for being the father I never had and for your kindness. I always said I wanted a husband who was kind, and a gentleman, because of what I saw in you Pappa. And thats just the kind of husband I got. Thank You Father, for giving me someone on earth that I could relate to in this way, in Pappa, and so see You.

Hayletts_001
Myself, Granny and Pappa