Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What Length Would You Go To Be Free?

I know that is a loaded title. Free from what, you may ask. I'll warn you, this is long so have refreshments to make it through. But you don't have to worry because I'm pretty sure you won't launch any liquids out of your mouth. Not that type of post.

This posts has been rolling around my head and circumstances being what they are and all that, I'm dealing with stuff.

Ah stuff. How we covet you, need you, and then despise you for clogging up all our space and demand to be dusted.

The topic of moving and all that it entails has been huge around here for months. Still loaded down with a lot of my folks' stuff, I am all for getting rid of things. Not knowing where we will end up and trying to look at how are we going to do this is making me twitch all the more to get rid of stuff.

But what if it's emotional stuff?

I'm finding there is no end to emotional baggage. A bit of fear over in the corner, a hurking trunk full of unforgiveness, and I'm a bit skert to look in a couple other boxes. I've always struggled with the verse about Jesus heals the brokenhearted because I'm pretty sure a time or 50 that mine has been smashed to bits. All I have to show for it is sticky goo of duct tape as I've tried to mend it and go on because the show and all that rot won't let me stop and heal.

And then something interestingly painful happened - life as I knew it stopped. Everything dried up and I found myself as a lone little fish who's pond has dried up instantly. There I lay gasping for breath, feeling the life slowly ebb away and not being able to do anything about it.

I've heard that our thoughts are like fixing up a room and whenever something comes along we retreat into this mental room and sit there. We can relieve the hurts of the past that want to reinforce why people suck and make vows never to allow people in again. (I am so guilty of that one.) Or we can sit in a cheerful room remembering the good times.

Please, don't point fingers. I'm in enough pain as it is.

We're doing a couple bible studies, as in reading out loud, from a couple books. Tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor because the book I'm reading out loud is about total forgiveness. It is incredibly humbling to know if none of my kids were looking, I would have flung that book across the room followed by enough language to peel wallpaper.

What can I say, other than woe is me for I am a person of unclean lips! If I stub my toe, you are not going to hear me say, "well golly gee that wasn't fun and shucky darn that smarts". Hells no. But you would be rather impressed to what art form I could condemn that piece of furniture that I'm convinced leaped out to attack my toes.

I'm still amazed God hasn't zapped me to be a greasy spot on the floor.

And that was the image I was given of God - looking for someone to swat for not obeying the rules. Far from the truth!

So there I am, trying to keep from being the example of the week of how not to behave. I finally had to lay the book down and openly admit I'm not there and it seemed like a mountain that could not possible be climbed over or around. I was surprised that a couple of my guys felt the same way and was sort of relieved to see me struggle.

Um, you're welcome??

Here's the tricky part - someone might read this next part and want to get into a great debate and blah, blah, blah. All I know is after spending most of my life in church I have never heard anyone say this is how you get over (fill in the blank). All I've heard is the rules to behave and woe to you if you don't. Don't smoke, don't chew, don't hang out with those that do. Alrighty check, check, check - but I'm still a mess. Following all the rules has not changed me one little bit!

How is that walking in truth? The truth sets you free. So I decided to look at some truth. Truth is I've had a lot of pain in life and there is a lot I've never really dealt with. Yeah, I joke about keeping that broad quiet with a bag or 20 of cookies but that hasn't been all that freeing either. Matter of fact, that brought on a whole other set of problems.

Good gravy! This can get ugly on a number of levels.

Unfortunately, I have stayed in my thought room and looked at pain. Whether you want to acknowledge we have spiritual enemies or not, does not change the fact that as a believer there is an enemy against the soul. He doesn't play fair, he doesn't follow the rules, he doesn't take a break, and has struck when I wasn't even aware of what was going on. Now, I have old patterns and habits that aren't healthy and I have no idea how I got here or even how to change.

Coming across a couple books, and getting my butt kicked through the goal posts - again, I decided to turn on the light in my thought room. And really it wasn't much of a room. It was a closed off attic with nothing but boxes shoved in every corner. Sheesh! No wonder I'm such a wonderful person to be around - I've only thought I deserved a spooky attic.

But that is a whole different topic all together.

We were all talking a lot about moving. It turns out that when we moved the last time was the hardest on the boys. We had gone through a lot of drama but for them it wasn't that abnormal to see me freak out and run around a room clucking like a chicken. But when we had to leave, that's when all the stress came to a head and they didn't do well. That's when some ugly angst rolled right in.

And I was too busy clucking and all and didn't pick up on it.

One of the books was talking about seeing Jesus with us through the hard times and for whatever reason it really does work. When you think about it, Jesus was there the whole time - we just don't see Him.

We were praying and felt lead to tell the boys to grab a box and put all their good memories in it and picture Jesus helping them taping up the box and handing them a marker to write "good memories" on the box and then picture Jesus helping them lift the box and taking it to the van.

Like wise, we did the same with all the hurt and pain but those boxes were going on a different moving truck. It didn't take long for me to join in on this because I had a lot more boxes of yuck that needed to be moved out of my heart and mind.

When holding on to our pain or refusing to forgive, we're basically crowding into God's turf. He is the only righteous judge. All I can say is for me, I couldn't get over the hurt. I've prayed, I've tried to ignore it, or pretend it wasn't even there but that didn't get rid of it. Instead it only festered and pretty soon bitterness was seeping out. Bitterness crowds out peace and joy.

So I went through some of the hurt and pain with Jesus by my side. It was like looking at old pictures of scrapbooks and remembering it all but we packed it up, stuffed it in boxes, and then I gave the box to Jesus. And He walked away with the box full of hurt and disappointments and placed it on His truck to be dealt with however He deemed best.

When it was all said and done, there were a lot of boxes, I saw Him drive off with it. And suddenly that huge mountain of pain was down to a small bump and we were all able to cross over it and was able to forgive.

This process took us hours, btw. And it was about my parents. And we were ALL able to forgive.

At one point Hubs said to picture putting my folks in a box and all their junk and again watched Jesus take them away. Because really it's His place to deal with us as He's the only One that has really earned that right. We're not to judge and condemn each other. We're not to step aside and let bad behavior run rampart either, but all my parents faults and problems are their stuff to deal with and I need to stop feeling responsible for it. Who hasn't thought, maybe if I acted better than so and so would stop being mean? That is so and so's problem and no matter how good we act, that doesn't compel them to behave correctly.

Only Jesus can do a heart transplant like that! And I am living proof because I need it too. "Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me"

It was rather interesting because all the guys felt released. They all described it from weight being lifted off their shoulders to like a painful splinter being pulled free and just feeling light and pain free. Michael said he felt clean all the way down to his bones. Oddly, while I felt a release, I was overwhelmingly sad. All I saw was the dingy old room with mutant dust bunnies.

Yeah, I think I issues about it too.

I give huge shout outs to the Hubster. He told me to picture Jesus, the carpenter, coming back to rebuild the room. Opening up a wall to let light in and reminding myself to think on good things. Watching Him paint the walls and telling angels where to place things and watching my dingy little attic turn into a beautifully decorated room that would make it on any magazine cover.

And He did that for me.

While this is only one topic and we have a lot more to go, it was still something to watch and to experience. And that mountain of pain is gone and I can stop walking in unforgiveness that was keeping me separated from God to begin with.

It's weird because the feel of the room is different and it's inviting and suddenly the old habits of living in an attic don't cut it anymore. And that enemy of my soul got taken out to the curb with the rest of the trash. So what am I going to do now? Plop down in muddy clothes of yesteryuck in this clean room? No way!

There is more stuff to be tackled but I'm not sure if it's going to be dealt with the same way or if He has something else in mind. I'm not even sure if I got all the boxes. Last few days I felt exhausted over it. Hubs said I'm battle weary and we're all making sure we're getting some rest before the next round.

We've all heard the term spiritual warfare. Getting down to the stuff takes time, takes energy and in our fast paced society who has time for that?? Sweep it under the rug and go on. But whether I face it or not, there is a war going on over me - my thoughts, my mind, my emotions. Who's realm will reign supreme? Does chose this day whom you will serve ring any bells?

This, of course, leads to strongholds. Which will have to be for another post.

The books I've read is Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall; Deep Wounds, Deep Healing by Charles Kraft; and I just started reading Joanna Weaver's book Lazarus Awakening which just happens to be talking about grave clothes and strongholds. Hmmm.

The book about total forgiveness has been one big ker-smack to the face. I found myself unable to forgive. I tried but the anger stopped me every single time. So by dealing with some deep wounds and inviting Jesus into the pain, seeing Him with me and then turning it over to Him, has been healing and then freeing. But at times also draining. It takes a lot of energy to be angry. It exhausts both adrenal and thyroid glands which can send hormones totally out of whack.

Do tell.

So the word I got at being in alignment has a much deeper meaning that what I thought. I will add that walking in total forgiveness doesn't always mean a restored relationship. It does mean we are to pray and wait on God's timing and see what His brings about. Some people are too toxic to have a relationship with and there is no peace being around them but we don't have to be stirred up and angry over their issues.

Relationships certainly are a complicated thing! And I'll stop this here. You get extra points if you made it all the way through without falling asleep.


rthling said...

I know where you're coming from here. (long comment. go pee first.)
The title spoke to me, because I've longed to be free for so long from my addiction to food, and the resulting lack of health. I asked myself that very question, when I started my newest blog. Putting myself out there and being accountable to whomever reads it was a pretty unthinkable length for me.
But I chose to do it, because I'm a sneaky, secretive person who needs to be accountable.
And then I read your post, which I feel on a whole 'nother level, what with my own parental issues.
I'm beginning a new study at church that helps us pinpoint our personality type, (been there) spiritual giftedness, (done that) and then takes our passions and life experiences into account (ouch!!!) to help find our place in ministry.
He was telling us to think of our past experiences that helped to shape us into the people we are today. Why is it that the painful ones are the experiences that come to mind?? Well, they do. Because they are the ones that God uses to shape us into the image of His Son.
So, while I have my own issues with struggling to forgive, I know that in the long run, if I am willing to be molded, He will make me what He wants me to be. And that will be precious.
Love you, sistah! Muah!

Joanna said...

Ahh - went pee, feel better.

I think the hardest is turning on the light and really looking at the stuff. There are days I just want to turn off the light and go veg out with chips and a book and not think about it which is what I've done most of my life.

Joyce Meyer was saying that usually God will use the very thing that had caused so much pain to minister to other people.

I don't know why it works but picturing Jesus right there with me when (fill in the blank) has been taking the sting out of the pain. Didn't change the fact of what I've been through but it's like the pain doesn't have a hold any more.

Remember walking in forgiveness doesn't mean restored relationship. Your mom is as crazy as mine and being around queen toxic hasn't done me any good. So until I can break off old habits, it's not wise for me to be around her. I can't help it it's going to take me a decade or 4 (blink, blink) :)

Hugs and smoochies back at ya!

Kaye Butler said...

Relationships are hard. Still haven't talked to my mom, it's been 4 years now.

Mary Margaret and I have a love/hate relationship...she loves to hate me.

Will I make it through the teen years?

Joanna said...

Kaye - absolutely you are going to survive!! It's all part of that revenge package - live long enough to be a pain to your kids. (rubs hands together) muwahaha!

Some day she'll have kids who will turn into teenagers who, of course, know everything and will drive her insane. Then she'll come to you all can you believe it?? And you will just smile and say do tell.