Thursday, November 19, 2009

He is the great physician!

In my work I see all kinds of broken people. I also know the location of many unchecked and unchallenged predators in my community. It is very hard to have this kind of information. I see the community and people in it very different than others because of this. I am cynical about people, men, in general because I see so much anger, abuse and the scramble to aquire power. I know not all men are predators and this knowledge allows me to go out my door every day and face this world but I also know there are many among us who should not be trusted who are lying in wait for opportunity. This morning on my way to work I was thinking on this and just taking it all in and trying to understand. My mind thought, "how can God love us [people] knowing all our secrets and our corruption?" We are exposed to Him and yet He still loves us!? All of us who think we are really good and really cleaned up and really, we're not. He sees us too. So from the best of the sinners to the worst of the sinners God is not fooled. He is aware of the totality of our corruption and yet He remains faithful. What is with that? How could anyone love a person with a compulsive addiction to pornography or a person who is drunk night and day and hurts their family or how about the office person who complains about everything and gossips about whoever is not in the room. Yuck! I've been in this category of sinner. Ouch, my pride wants to defend myself and say "well, I'm all better now. It's those other people who need to hear this! I'm doing this for them." Riigghht! No, I'm writing this for me to me and anyone who is struggling to understand. Then, I thought, maybe... God sees us how I see my broken clients?! When someone is telling me their story I feel compassion, empathy and concern. I want for them to experience a full life. I want them to run free of fear and anger and shame and know the love of God for themselves and for their fellow humans. I want them to experience the building process where God becomes sweet in their suffering and they realize the awesomeness of Grace and redemption. The falling, the rising, the falling and rising again. On and on until one day they awake to...You love me! You really love me! No matter what. And I love you, God no matter what! I see now you were there all along. I see how you fashioned me and guided my steps and protected my life. And then... a romance between us and our maker. Guys, that might feel kind of yucky. Sorry about that. For you, a strong and assuring adult love between a father and his beloved son. So then, I realized if I can shepard those I care for how much more would God shepard and love us knowing our corruption? He must be able to see sin in such a way as to see us seperate from it or in spite of it. Maybe to Him sin is a disease of the soul and He is the Great Physician! Jesus sent to this world to bring the message that the Dr. is in and He is excited to see you today!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Is it them or us?

Do you have someone in your life who just seems to muck things up for you? Do you have someone in your life who you think "if they would life would run smooth." Well join the club. Everyone seems to have someone like this in their life. Sometimes it is a spouse, a partner, a child, a friend, a co-worker, a somebody who just can't seem to get their stuff togethor.

Well for me it is someone very close to me. But then I think, "Maybe it's me. Maybe I am falling short of giving them my love and acceptance." And, well, I am. I get ticked off when this person puts a hitch in my day or isn't very helpful or allows their personal problems to go undelt with. You know, I think the real problem is I am not having BOUNDARIES. Yep, that's it. Why does it bother me so much when this person is failing? Why do I want them to succeed more than they want to succeed? Because I am not putting a limit to where I end and they begin. I have to accept a person, faults and all. Then, I have to put limits on myself and on my relationships in order that I know how far I will let myself go in caring for people.

Do any of you have a recovering spouse? How about a spouse who is an addict or has addictive behaviors and is not in recovery? Better yet, how about a spouse that has a mental health disorder (diagnosed/undiagnosed) and is in denial of how they live with that disorder and how it affects them and you? These are tough cases. Boundaries become very blurred due to need. How much should you take? How long should you stay? Where do you draw the line? Questions that have to be answered. Tough though, very tough. Reality, painful as it may be has to be acknowledged and dealt with. Undealt with issues are like cancer. They start in one area and soon grow to overcome the entire body or the mind, life and personality in this case.

The following are some questions to ask yourself to test whether you are in a relationship without boundaries:
  1. Are you or your partner unclear about your preferences?
  2. Do you or your partner have trouble recognizing unhappieness since enduring is your concern?
  3. Do either of you alter your behavior, plans, or opinions to fit the current moods or circumstances of another?
  4. Do you do more and more for less and less?
  5. Are you easily influenced byb the most recent truth that you hear?
  6. Do you live hopefully while wishing and waiting?
  7. Are you satisfied with coping and surviving?
  8. Are you satisfied with your partner's minimal improvement and let it continue a stalemate?
  9. Do you lack hobbies because you don't have attention for self-directed activity?
  10. Do you accept alibis and excuses in order to make exceptions for someone?
  11. Are you manipulated by flattery and lose objectivity?
  12. Have you or are you trying to create intimacy with a narcissist?
  13. Are you affected so much by someone's opinion that you obsess?
  14. Do you forsake personal limits in order to get sex or a promise of sex?
  15. Is your partner responcible for your excitement?
  16. Do you feel hurt and victimized but not angry?
  17. Do you act out of compliance and compromise?
  18. Do you have a problem saying no?
  19. Do you disreguard your intuition in favor of wishes?
  20. Do you allow your partner to abuse your children or friends?
  21. Do you mostly feel afraid and confused?
  22. Are you enmeshed in a drama that is beyond your control?
  23. Are you living a life that is not yours, and that seems unalterable?
  24. Do you have a bottum line? In other words, do you commit yourself for as long as someone needs you to be committed?
  25. Do you believe that you have no right to secrets?

These were written by David Richo in an article in 1990, but still very relevent today. These are boundary violations that are very common in all kinds of relationships. If you read this and found yourself in this list you may be very surprised, shocked, maybe even angry. If you read this and you did not find yourself in this list, Congratulations, you have arrived! Honestly I don't think anyone has arrived and all of us can grow in practicing boundaries, including me. So maybe you are wondering, "what do I do with this knowledge?" Here are five things you can do to practice boundaries:

  1. Ask for your needs to be met. You are responcible for you and your partner is responcible for themselves. Let them ask for their needs to be met, don't for-think for them!
  2. Foster inner self-nurturance. Being a good parent within yourself. This gives you an intuitive sense about your needs and decision you want and need to make.
  3. Observe others behavior toward you and take it as information. Don't get caught in their drama. Be a fair witness who sees from a self protected place. Decide what you will accept and what you will throw out.
  4. Maintain a bottum line. Our illusions about reality diminish actual reality or the reality we could have if we let go of the illusion or fantasy. Set limits, confront issues, admit reality.
  5. Stop trusting in others to protect you and start relying on yourself to protect you and get your needs met. Trust yourself to be able to handle adult emotions, needs and choices.

Thanks David Richo for the input. Check out the book BOUNDARIES by Henry Cloud. It's great! Then go out and live!


Friday, September 4, 2009

It is my purpose!

Hello! If you are reading this for the first time then, well, you are like me because I am writing for the first time.

Purpose...have you ever wondered what your purpose in this world is? I have and I do. I have discovered that like the seasons winter, spring, summer and fall there are seasons in life. There is a purpose in each of the seasons we live. A week or so ago I came outside in the morning and took a deep breath of crisp autumn air and I knew that the season had changed. With that realization I am seeing that the season I have been in in my life has changed. I am just now beginning to accept that truth and take action. Adjustment is hard for me, I know.

So, what is the change? Well, I work with victims of sexual violence. Everyday I hear tragic stories of lives torn apart by a person/s who chose to use their sexuality as a weapon to kill another person's hope and innocence. As a survivor myself of childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual assault I feel such a heavy burden for those who are under my care. That word survivor...I don't use that loosely. I truly am surviving and thriving now, but only because God, actually Jesus, found me. If you are non-religous, don't run! Hear me out. I was truly in a pit,(metaphorically speaking) in my life. Everything was screwed up! I was screwed up and so blind I couldn't understand what had happened?! Did I do this to my life or did someone else do this? Honestly all I knew at the time was pain, overwhelming, catastrophic pain that was so intense there were moments I found myself on the floor of my home screaming and crying for help. I was all alone. There was nothing. No one to blame. Blame could no longer fix it. Fault wasn't the problem. Pain was the problem. Pain that had never been reconciled, answered, accepted, forgave. Anger was the problem. Anger that had never been acknowledged, never spoken of, never validated. It took time, a period of time in fact to stop shouting at the walls and weeping uncontrollably and then, silence. Silence set in to my soul. I sat and sat and sat some more and then, He spoke. Jesus spoke, "Rest", He said. I did not know what that meant. Aren't you going to get dramatic with me? Aren't you going to scream and yell? Aren't you going to criticise me? Where's my punishment? Where's their punishment? Silence. More silence. Days of silence. Then, "Rest", He said. After this back and forth I finally conceded to God and said what is rest? I did not even know what that word meant. I had a lifetime of fixing, scurrying, fearing, yelling, hiding, performing, planning, blaming, ect. Always doing something but never just resting. I began to study. My Bible, other books, speakers, dictionaries, encyclopedias. You name it and I tried to read it. I wanted to do something, not just rest. I attended a speaker at a local church one night and the topic was "grace". All I knew was judgement. I had grown up in a very strict religous environment full of criticism and law and only knowing a god who was impatient, selfish, weak, full of vengeance and intolerant. This message of grace seemed to good to be true. That evening as I sat and listened I felt as though I had been cheated out of a truth that sat right in front of my face for years. God loved me? I was not expected to be perfect? What? How could this be? Why would all the churches I attended keep this message from me? Why would my parents who claimed to love God keep this message from me? Is this really true God? I left that night with a conflict in my heart and mind. I had exhilaration over this new found information and confusion about why I had never experienced this "grace" after living a lifetime in a "Christian" home. The next couple of weeks I pondered on grace. One morning I was working out at the YMCA. I heard a voice say to me "You have been walking on this treadmill for years and you have never gotten anywhere." I looked around. No one was talking or looking like they did talk. I turned back and hesitantly continued walking. Again I heard a voice, "Go home and write this down. I am going to give you a revelation of "grace"." An immediacy sprang up within me like the building was on fire. I stepped down and ran from the building. Into my car and back home I went. As I was entering the front door my mind began to see images and my minds ear began to hear truths about heaven and Jesus and the love that's been invested in account for me just waiting to be withdrawn. I saw Him, Jesus, hanging there, on that cross. I stood beneath it and He looked down and said "Those expectations that were put on you you could never fulfill. You could have never fulfilled them." I knew it. He was right. I had been carrying this burden like an old ox at the plow never finishing my work. Always wipped, always bruised because the field was too much for me. "Only I could live up to that standard, the standard of perfection. I am perfect for you. This sacrifice I do for you. You don't have to try and be perfect anymore. Be free. I love you!" He reached down and took the yoke from my shoulders and lifted it away. I felt so free I felt as if I would fly. I danced and I sang and I worshiped Him for hours. I was caught up in His love and His presence. That day changed me forever. He has taught me that He is faithful. His love never changes like shifting shadows. It never changes with the economy or with fads or by a person's rejection. His love is not contingent upon my weight, my face, my accomplishments, my clothes, my hair, my sexuality, my chaos or my peace. He is constant in an allways changing world. When the world is mean I can run and hide with my Father. He will give me rest. He always gives me rest. There is hope for recovery from sexual abuse and violence but it remains in Jesus. That is the truth. That is my change. He is the originator of our soul. He knew us before we were broken and He can restore us to ourselves and our purpose. Praise God for His love!

In hope, Shannon.