Thoughts: Becoming Myself, Chapter 5

four queensI’m a week behind. So I’ll be brief, to catch up. In Chapter 5, “Our Mothers, Ourselves, part 2,” Stasi continues to explore the wounds dealt to us in our past and how we might find release and healing from them. As I stated in the post on part 1 of this topic, I choose to keep these families matters between God, my mom, and myself, so I’ll skip to …

Favorite Quotes

 “… what we receive from our mothers is similar to being dealt a hand of cards. What we received is formative and foundational, but this “hand” is not our destiny. If you didn’t get dealt a great hand, or your cards are torn and bloody, folded or lousy or even missing, this is where the healing presence of Jesus Christ can come in and wash your cards clean. He gives you the cards he intended for you to have. He restores. … We bring him the hand we were dealt and ask for his healing. … He wants to heal us! … He has the power to bless who we are and who we are becoming.

In order to receive the healing that God has for us regarding our mother wounds, we need to know what we need healing from and for. Specifically. We need to remember what happened in the story of our lives and invite the healing presence of Jesus there. For healing to come, we actually have to go back and remember and even access the emotion of the wound.

… he restores us to the truth of who we are and the reality of the life we are living and meant to live. … We are loved, wanted, seen, delighted in, provided for, cherished, chosen, known, and planned on. We are set apart, invited, valued, of immeasurable worth, and blessed.”

(Becoming Myself, p. 85-86)

Is this just a pep talk? How valuable am I, really? Through a poet, God tells me.

“all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:16

God was looking forward to the moment when I would exist, and he cares about every detail of my life:

O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Psalm 139:1-5

Of course a God like this would want us to be healed from those things that hurt us. And as far as mothers go, I was dealt an extraordinary hand. I’m pretty confident I can sweep the pot.

Verse of Encouragement: Troubles

Sunrise view from our cabin above Twin Lakes, CO, 2014

Sunrise view from our cabin above Twin Lakes, CO, 2014

A road trip wonderfully interfered with routine, so I haven’t been in a place to read the next chapter of Becoming Myself or blog about it. Should get back into the swing of things next week. Until then, this poignant passage about God’s faithfulness and desire for restoration just sang to me.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again.

Psalm 71:19-21

I guess life’s troubles have often been compared to climbing mountains. It’s so apt a description that it’s even become a  cliche. But it was illustrated quite vividly last week when I attempted to climb Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak (its lower slope is visible on the right side of the photograph). Troubles definitely look intimidating from the ground, with all that progress still to go. Keep your head down, trudge on, one step at a time. Lungs burn, legs give out, the trail goes on and on, and there is still more mountain to climb.

Sometimes the mountains even win. For a while. But they can also cause us to realize our weaknesses, where we need God to intervene and help strengthen our faith, our character, our maturity. Then, we mount the slope again, again, again, until one day we can say, “I got this,” and suddenly the summit no longer looms overhead but lies beneath your feet.

Thoughts: Becoming Myself, Chapter 4

Mothers. The hand that rocks the cradle moves the world.

In Chapter 4 of Becoming Myself, “Our Mothers, Ourselves: part 1,” Stasi discusses the Father Wound and Mother Wound, focusing mostly on the latter. I know my mother reads this blog, so I need to let her know that I have identified and dealt with my Mother Wound. Years ago, actually, so exploring this chapter has been a good reminder of healthy progress, more than a painful journey of discovery. I won’t go into detail because, I feel, this issue lies between my mom and me.

Part of the healing came when I resolved to stand up for myself. Part of it came from going on an extended trip with my mother to Europe. If you need resolution on some things, take a month-long trip through a country where the only person who speaks your language is your mother, and see if things don’t change a bit.

In 2009, while we were in Paris, about Week 2 of what really was a stressful trip, I finally had an emotional breakdown. I got stuck in the subway station, in Paris’s version of a turn-style; the party I was with chose to walk from our hotel to the touristy areas instead of take the very competent and very available buses; with all the glorious food Paris offers, all I had to eat that day was a hotdog on a dry baguette; and that night, when I was exhausted, hungry, sweaty, sooty, and footsore, I got locked out of my hotel room. I lost it. My mother caught the full brunt of my rage. She saw me at my worst. She spoke to me in my language, words I had never heard her use, which aren’t clean enough to quote here, but it was like a slap to the face. In the middle of my sobbing, I started laughing. I sobbed a bit more, took a shower, and apologized. She apologized. It was stiff and awkward for both of us. For the rest of that evening, things remained tense between she and I, between the rest of our party. It was just not a happy situation.

snapshot, Mom and Me, Notre DameWe got a good night’s sleep and rose early the next morning to resume our touristy activities. I insisted we take the bus. Oh, yes, the buses in Paris are worth every euro. Mom and I still hadn’t really looked at each other after our tiff. Then when we were standing in front of Notre Dame’s iconic façade,  a member of our party asked for my mom and I to stand together for a picture. I remember smiling at her, risking, hoping. And thank God, she smiled back. A tentative smile at first, then genuine. It was like forgiveness. It was like her saying, “I still love you—with all the stuff I don’t understand about you.” In the picture our arms are wrapped around each other, and we actually mean it.

We came away from that month-long trip with a new sense of camaraderie. The kind that doesn’t have to be spoken. Our relationship just seemed … easier … after that. We had endured each other, we had connected, and gained what I hope is deeper understanding.

FAVORITE QUOTE

“Mothers bestow self-worth, and they have the ability to withhold it. Intentionally, but more often unintentionally. A mother cannot pass on what she does not possess…. Mothers have the ability to withhold acceptance, value, love. Our mothers failed us when, without meaning to, they passed on to us low self-esteem. Or based our self-worth on anything other than the fact that we exist.

God does not do that.

Our worth is not based on what we do, which life path we choose, or what we believe. Our worth is inherent in the fact that we are image bearers of the living God. Our worth is based on the fact that we are alive. We are human beings. Our worth is immeasurable. …

We are all hostages of such value that it took the blood of God himself to pay our price. You have worth beyond counting.”

(Becoming Myself, 76)

Thoughts: Becoming Myself, Chapter 3, part 2

The first half of Chapter 3, “The Landscape of Our Lives,” discussed HERE, talks about women’s hormones and the effect they have on our internal lives. The second half discusses misogyny and the effect it has on our external lives.

In my opinion, Stasi does a fairly good job of defining misogyny and summarizing how we are still bombarded with misogynistic messages throughout our culture, even in church. Too often especially in church. As Stasi writes it: “Some churches continue to teach that the fall of man came because of Eve’s wickedness and that she and all women after her are temptresses. … women can’t teach, women can speak in church, women can’t cut their hair. … cover their bodies, their faces, their heads. They should stay quiet, stay separate from men, and really should just stay home. Women can’t own property or vote or testify in court or travel alone. Women can’t go to school because they simply aren’t worth educating.” (p. 56)

I grew up in a conservative home. I thank God my mother had the opportunity to stay home to raise my sister and myself, and I’m grateful that my sister is staying home to raise and educate her children. They know that this is the frontline, the really hard job, and anyone who says otherwise is going to get “the look” and a stern talking to. But I remember during our college years when my sister spouted off something against feminists (I love my sister, and I have no wish to malign her, but it’s a great example of this deep-seated cultural battle). I looked at her and said, “If it weren’t for those feminists, you wouldn’t be studying for a Math degree. Math, according to men of the time, damaged a woman’s uterus.” Because, of course, the uterus is a woman’s only true worth. Ahem.

My husband and I were talking earlier this week about a particularly popular country music video in which the two young female singers make fun of the clothes that women in country music culture are expected to wear. I mentioned how ironic it was that the Women’s Lib Movement got women out of the house and got them naked. I think people slightly missed the point, there. To all those bare-breasted babes on the billboards I want to say, “You’re not free, you’re a sex object.” A tool to further the mindset that women are worth less than men, that their only worth is in how sexually alluring they are. It’s just oppression of a different color. Does this contribute to genuine respect for women? If not, throw it away.

Speaking of sex objects. Stasi discusses sexual assault in this chapter as the epitome of misogyny. Because of the experiences of a friend of mine, I was on the lookout for language indicating that Stasi might be caught in a web of victim blaming, her own sexual assault included. Those statements like “You shouldn’t have been wearing that,” or “You shouldn’t have been at that party,” or “You had too much to drink,” or “You knew better than to let him take you home” are all forms of victim-blaming. According to my friend, and I trust their judgment on this, Stasi writes in Captivating that she shouldn’t have been in a certain place, that she was an unwise young woman, and these things contributed to her being assaulted. But, thankfully, I didn’t detect any of that in the account of her experience as she writes it in Becoming Myself. On page 58, Stasi describes her assault in more detail than I expected. She ends the account with how the rapist blamed her for making him do this.

It’s my hope that Stasi has healed enough by now, become comfortable enough with her own worth, that these feelings of self-blame have disappeared from inside her.

The Temptation and Fall of Even, by William Blake, 1808

The Temptation and Fall of Eve, by William Blake, 1808

What I did take issue with in this half of the chapter is where she places all the blame for abuse and assault on Satan. Yes, our Enemy is a detrimental influence in the world who seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy” us (John 10:10). He “prowls like a lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) But in these paragraphs, Stasi echoes Adam and Eve too closely, shunting responsibility off on someone else: “The woman gave me fruit, and I ate.” … “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12-13) This argument takes away the burden of choice that each and every human being has been given. It even seems to take away the responsibility from rapists and abusers for the times they choose to commit these atrocious acts against another human being. Eve chose to eat. Adam chose to eat. An abuser chooses to abuse. So, while Stasi does hit on the root of the issue, that all evil ultimately comes from our Enemy, she leaps over the fact that choice still remains with the abuser.

FAVORITE QUOTES

Apparently Captivating emphasizes “beauty” a great deal. May I venture to propose that Stasi was referring more to the beauty of the soul, of a whole, healed person rather than outward beauty? While reading Becoming Myself, I have been on the alert for this red flag as well, and when discussing why womanhood is under assault, to her credit Stasi doesn’t mention “beauty” at all, in any form.

“Women are image bearers of God. Women are coheirs with Christ. Women are valued, worthy, powerful, and needed. There is a reason the Enemy fears women and has poured his hatred onto our very existence. Let him be afraid, then.”

(Becoming Myself, 61)

This is far more in keeping with what I would expect Stasi to believe on the matter. What is physical beauty when compared to the effective weapon a woman’s prayer life can be for her family? Or her hands of selfless service? Or sharing her testimony with a hurting friend? Those are the aspects of womanhood—and humanity as a whole—that our Enemy fears because they echo Christ’s influence. Physical beauty is dust, in the end, and I’m glad Stasi didn’t make that argument.

“When Jesus came onto the scene he turned misogyny on its head. A rabbi at that time wouldn’t speak to a woman in public, not even his own wife…. Even today, an orthodox Jewish man is forbidden to touch or be touched by any woman who is not his wife or a close family relation. Jesus didn’t abide by those rules. During his ministry Jesus engaged with women many times. He spoke to them. He touched them. He taught them. He esteemed them. He had women minister to him physically, touching him, washing his feet, anointing him with oil and with their tears. He had women disciples traveling with him, supporting him, learning from him, and “sitting at his feet.” If we, the church, the body of Christ, had followed the example Jesus had set instead of the traditions of men held captive to sin and the fall, we would have a much higher history here.”

(Becoming Myself, 55)

“Turned misogyny on its head.” Of course he did. Ah, I love Jesus. Freedom from oppression, freedom from fear, freedom from self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness. He wants all these things for me, and he demonstrated this to the women he encountered. What evidence do I have that this is true? I guess you’d have to know who I was ten years ago, five years ago, to see for yourself.

Thoughts: Becoming Myself, Chapter 3, Part 1

estrogen molecule

Estrogen Molecule, wonderful and not-so-wonderful, depending on the day

The first half of Chapter 3 of Stasi Eldredge’s Becoming Myself, “The Landscape of our Lives,” has been my favorite section of the book so far. It talks about hormones. Thank God. Somebody, please talk openly and honestly about hormones!

I’ve heard other women say that PMS and other hormonal fluctuations resulting in erratic emotions are a myth. And my reaction to this has always been an adrenal rush of, ahem, hormones, and a sharp, “Excuse me?” I’m happy for those women who, by some miracle, managed to escape the monthly roller coaster. I am not one of them.

I married an even-tempered man who comes from a (mostly) even-tempered family. This has made about four days out of every month sheer hell for both of us. As the years progressed and his frustration increased, the arguments started out with, “You were fine a minute ago. What did I say?” but soon became “What’s wrong with you?” which became “You’re crazy. You need medication.”

So reading Stasi’s few pages about hormonal cycles was a breath of fresh air, to quote the cliché, but that’s exactly what it felt like. Reading these pages allowed me to take a deep breath of relief. I’d always understood that I had extreme hormonal swings, and this chapter backed me up, provided valuable arguments in my favor.

It’s not okay that I fly off the handle and say cruel things to my husband during these times. It’s not okay that I want to lose my temper at people in line at the grocery store. It’s not okay that I hate myself and repeat the lies that my Enemy wants me to believe about myself.

It is okay that I tell my loved ones, “I need to be alone today.” It is okay that I don’t feel like smiling and go to a friend’s house for dinner. And it’s okay that I take a nap instead of press on with the next chapter of my novel. I don’t have to feel guilty. I refuse to believe that I’m lazy or worthless, a mooch who contributes nothing to the finances because she can’t get a book deal, a good-for-nothing woman who can’t control her emotional outbursts and is fit only for a mental institution. How Victorian is that? What century do we live in anyway?

After reading this chapter, I told my husband, “You’re not allowed to call me crazy anymore. I’m not allowed to call myself crazy either. I’m not crazy, I’m just in my third week. Go find something to do that doesn’t involve me. I’m curling up with a cheesy romance movie and a cuppa coffee.”

Favorite Quotes from Chapter 3, part 1:

“There is an internal reality playing havoc with my world, but it is neither woundedness, nor sin, nor immaturity—not even a touch of insanity. There are powerful feminine tides washing to and fro inside each of us, and they are having an enormous influence on our lives—and on the way we perceive our lives.”

(Becoming Myself, 46)

But who wants to be a slave to these tides? Not I. From whence cometh my help? A pill? No thanks. This is the time to:

“…lean into God. Press in. The difficult days of each month can become a respite of hiding our hearts in our God, who always understands us and loves us endlessly. There is grace here. There is mercy here.”

(Becoming Myself, 52)

There had better be understanding, grace, and mercy! God created the female as his final act of creation, didn’t he? That means all the hormones included. Of course he understands, and he finds me utterly beautiful.

Thoughts: Becoming Myself, Chapter 2

This is a long one, so bear with me. As Stasi Eldredge stated in Chapter 1 of Becoming Myself (discussed HERE), we are all of us, in some part of our lives, a “glorious mess.” Some of us are complete wrecks. A far cry from who we are meant to be. At least it may feel that way much of the time.

Chapter 2 is entitled “Looking Back With Mercy.” We are encouraged to remember the painful parts of our pasts, honestly, prayerfully, seeking healing and God’s perspective on our histories. And we who know him know that he often sees things quite differently than we do.

How did we get from there to here? Is “here” a good place to be? Which memories still hurt me? Am I here because of sins and bad choices I’ve committed? Am I here because of bad things others have done to me? It’s usually an intertwined mess of both, scarring us deeply on the inside and causing us, often unconsciously, to behave in ways that we wouldn’t if we hadn’t been hurt. Too often we act, speak, and believe, out of our brokenness.

I will share one life circumstance and two encounters that helped shape my personality and my reactions to others.

1. OIL FIELD CHILD

My dad works in the oil field. This meant moving every couple of years. When I was of pre-school age, we moved to East Texas, where I met Tara. She was my next door neighbor and the best friend I could ever imagine having. She was, in Anne Shirley’s language, my bosom friend. After a couple years, it was time for us to move again. My first—and, I think, deepest—heartbreak during childhood was being torn from Tara. No matter which schools I went to afterward, no matter which little girls lived next door to us, I didn’t make lasting friendships. I don’t remember the names of the kids I played with, and more often than not, I played with my sister’s friends, though I don’t remember their names either. They meant nothing to me. I was determined that they wouldn’t. I just wanted Tara. We visited her only once after we moved away, but it wasn’t the same. Something had been irreplaceably lost. Time and distance ruined everything.

The result? I still have issues trusting friendships. Either they will move or I will move. Friendships don’t last. Why should I put my heart and soul into nurturing a friendship if parting is inevitable? There’s less pain in being a loner.

2. THE FIRST GRADE TEACHER

teacher at deskI was always naturally and devastatingly shy. Easily embarrassed to the point of humiliation. Up until Ms. Maxey, I had enjoyed wonderful, fun, affection women as teachers. I had no reason to believe that my first grade teacher would be any different. Now, I can’t remember all the circumstances, only that Ms. Maxey gave us a new assignment, and we were to drag out some workbook or other. I remember looking at her, smiling, and rolling my eyes. Like “here we go again,” which means the assignment was probably math-related. I meant this exchange to be a sort of secret communication between just her and I, like camaraderie, something cute and endearing, because I thought she liked me.

She pounced. She yelled, sharing my great sin with everyone in class, who of course, turned to stare at the transgressor. Then, oh, yes, she sent me to the principal’s office. For rolling my eyes. At first, I thought she couldn’t be serious. I didn’t get sent the office. I was a good girl. I never broke rules or spoke out of turn. I must’ve pled for her to not mean it because she was insistent. I don’t remember walking the hall. I don’t remember what the principal said to me. I don’t remember waiting for my mother to arrive. I just remember sitting in the oversized chair, sobbing hysterically.

The result? The encounter, I believe, was supposed to teach me respect. It only taught me to fear. It destroyed a confident part in me that was willing to reach out to others. I still can’t look people in the eye for fear of detecting disapproval. It’s safer to keep my head down, be invisible, never attract attention.

3. THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER

Until recently, this memory would still recur at the oddest times to sting me. But I’ll express that more deeply. The “stings” were debilitating, resulting in paralyzing self-doubt and fear of risk. The encounter occurred during the same move, same town, same impressionable years as Ms. Maxey, and to spell it out might make it sound petty, but it obviously had a huge toll on my psyche.

Our assignment, while the adults were in “big church,” was to color a sheet of cute little animals. There were six, more-or-less realistic depictions of different types of animals lined up on this page. I rejoiced! I loved coloring. I was rarely without a crayon in my hand. I still have the callous on my middle left finger that resulted from the hours I spent with crayons, and later, colored pencils. I was confident in my skills. I could stay inside the lines; I pressed hard, so that the colors were rich and deep, whereas most kids ended up with faded pastel colors smeared haphazardly all over the page. So I dived into the assignment.

It’s very likely that the man in charge of this assignment was giving us specific instructions about what colors to use where (a red flag in itself), but in my enthusiasm I blotted out the drone of his voice, if in fact this was the case. In the bottom left-hand corner of the page was a squirrel sitting on his haunches and nibbling on what was probably an acorn. I colored the squirrel brown, because all children know that that squirrels are brown and only brown. Then I distinctly remember thinking, “If I paint the acorn brown too, you won’t be able to see it. It will be all brown and that’s boring.” I reached for the turquoise crayon. My mom liked turquoise jewelry, so I had learned to appreciate the beauty in a turquoise gemstone. I colored this acorn turquoise.

Then it came my turn to have my sheet graded. Question: Who grades colorings in Sunday School? But for whatever reason, our colorings were graded at this particular church. The man came to my squirrel and with the tip of his pen pointed at the little spot of turquoise in my squirrel’s grasp. “What’s that?” he asked. “It’s a blue rock,” I replied, so proud of my creative genius and my color-coordinating skills. “No,” he said, and with that pen put a big red checkmark near my squirrel. Just “no”? If he said anything else, I was too devastated to hear him.

The result? Never think outside of the box. Color by number. Color inside the lines. Follow directions without an ounce of independent thinking. Creativity is okay, as long as it’s cliché. Clichés don’t rock the boat. Paint your tree trunks brown and your water blue, at all cost, even though, in reality, tree trunks are usually gray and water only reflects the colors around it, whether it’s blue or green or red or striped, but don’t realize this, just do what I expect you to do.

THE HEALING

Oil Field Child — About four years ago, God called me out of my loner comfort zone. I knew I needed to grow in my people skills, my social interactions. It’s healthy to be with people. God wanted to heal me, and I had to take a huge step of faith. It hurt. I was terrified. Three years later: I have friends. Imagine that! Women I can call on when things go wrong. People who I ask to pray for me and my family. People I love to laugh with and serve with and share life’s pain and life’s victories. I take the risk of being open with them, of caring about them. They still move away. But guess what? I get to go visit them. I get free lodging out of state and adventures in faraway places because I keep in contact with people I love. And thank God for social media. While it has its drawbacks, friends 800 miles away still feel like they’re just down the street. I get to celebrate and cry with them almost in real time. I don’t have to give them up forever.

First Grade Teacher – The incident must’ve disturbed my mother as much as it did me. She didn’t deal out the promised, “If ever you’re sent to the office, you’ll get a spanking at home.” And sometime later she made sure to tell me, “Ms. Maxey’s mother had just died.” In my heart, I understood a reason for my teacher’s flying off the handle, but I also understood that this didn’t excuse her. I remained terrified of this woman. I avoided contact with her at all cost. Then God reminded me of a “chance” encounter I had with Ms. Maxey the following year. I had gone on to Mrs. Little’s 2nd Grade class, and Mrs. Little provided redemption in so many ways. But this is about Ms. Maxey. So, there we were, our entire class lined up in the hallway, waiting for recess or lunch or our turn in the bathroom. And I happen to glance up and see Ms. Maxey coming. She’s maneuvering through the lines of kids, and out of all of them, she looks down and smiles at me. Joy rose in my little heart like sunshine. I can remember the gray and red stripes in her polyester blouse, the way her curly hair had fallen flat, and that all her lipstick had worn off. And, now, I wonder if the unfair things she did when her mother died haunted her bit and she came to regret breaking my trust like she did. I think she made a point to smile at me in particular. In apology, in a show of approval. Only God knows. But it’s enough.

Sunday School Teacher – “Look at this man,” God prompted me when I invited him into this memory that held surprising power over me. “Examine him.” So I concentrated on details I could remember. He wore a short-sleeved plaid shirt, unfashionable in the mid-80s except among the farm boys. He had a perfectly bald head except for the strip of hair stretching around from ear to ear. His glasses were nearly bottle-bottom thick. He was as straight and unimaginative as they came. If he was a typical child, and I must assume he was, then he had been creative once, but this natural part of him had been stripped out, likely with a great deal of disappointment and heartbreak. God told me, “Feel sorry for this man, beloved. He’s wasn’t qualified to judge your creativity.” And then came the revelation: “But you are. Where are you dampening the creativity of others? Don’t repeat this cycle. You know how much it hurts.” I realized I had carried that horrible lesson into my interactions with my sister, my friends, my husband, my nieces and nephews. I had become the unimaginative Sunday School teacher. Because I thought he was right.

FAVORITE QUOTES

This post has run way longer than I intended, so I choose two short statements from chapter 2 that resonated with me:

“I do not believe God caused the pain of our lives, but I do know that he uses it to drive us to himself.”

(Becoming Myself, 38)

“God is rewriting my story. My story is his story, really, and one day he will tell it in all of its hidden splendor. I will get to hear his take on my days, his perception of what was going on underneath and behind the scenes. He will share with me the many ways he was working all things together for my good, and it will be marvelous to hear.”

(Becoming Myself, 42)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

“All things,” really means “all things.” Even the painful parts of our past. I find immeasurable hope in that promise.

Verse of Encouragement: Promise of Help

As a child, I was forced to memorize verses, like most kids in Sunday School. Earning cheap gold star stickers didn’t make me more enthusiastic about it. By Monday, I couldn’t remember the verse I’d quoted anyway. So for years I rolled my eyes when anyone would try to convince me of the importance of memorizing scripture. And matching the verse to its address? Forget it. Who besides preachers can remember all those numbers anyway? What was the point unless I, too, was up there sermoning away? Uh, no way.

It wasn’t until I did the study for Breaking Free that I understood the value in this practice. Beth Moore said speaking God’s word is like firing bullets at the bad guy. That’s a bad paraphrase and an extreme summary. She instructed us to memorize our bullets, so we never do life unarmed. She’s from Texas, where I was born into a hunting family, so I speak that language and jive with the comparison. It all clicked. Oh! The verses are tools to be used, not to show off in Sunday School.

Of course, verses aren’t magic spells. There’s a deal of faith involved, owning the promise and believing that God will do what he says he will do. Then resting in that promise, waiting and watching.

There are times when attack comes so suddenly and out of nowhere that it blindsides me for a while. For a few days I will chalk it up to hormones or depression, then I get smart. I had a vulnerable moment, and the Enemy pounced. These feelings, these lies I keep telling myself — that I’m not good enough, that I’m worthless, that God is so disappointed in me, that I should never leave the house again, that I should just lay down and die? They are oppression from the oppressor. They are meant to destroy me. They deserve a bullet. Sometimes fired repeatedly.

My favorite bullet for times of oppression comes from Isaiah. I still don’t know the numbers of its address, so I had to look it up. Turns out it’s Isaiah 41:12-13:

Though you search for your enemies,

you will not find them.

Those who wage war against you

will be as nothing at all.

 

For I am the Lord your God

who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, Do not fear;

I will help you.

holding child's handI repeat this to myself over and over again, until I’m convinced yet again that it’s true. God comes for me when I’m in trouble. It might take a few days, sometimes it’s within the hour, but the lifting of the oppression is usually sudden and palpable. It’s not a magic spell. It’s believing God and letting him fight for me. It’s about trust and release. And it’s hard to remember to do. I don’t want to quote scripture when all I really want to do is curl up in a ball and sob. I don’t want to own this promise again. I want the oppression to go away for ever! Yet here it is, ruining another day. Just give up. Lay down and die. You are such a disappointment.

NO!

Those who wage war against you will come to nothing. I am God, who fights for you. Don’t be afraid. I am helping you. Get up, keep going, keep breathing. I love you.