Is it time yet?

Sometimes I really have a hard time connecting to this world in a way that I would like to.  I see people obliviously drudging through life completely unaffected by the fact that people are suffering.  I see people in the check out line, enraged by the fact that they have to wait to pay for their food when there is someone sitting outside that very same store who just wants to be able to eat any of that food.  I see spouses abusing each other instead of protecting eachother and parents so consumed with not getting everything they want that they are unwilling to give any quality time to their kids.

I see this and more, yet… so many don’t.  I’m  confused how we can have so much pain in our world and people get so wrapped up in their daily lives that they don’t have any desire to see it or to respond to it when they do.  I don’t understand how we can all be a part of this same world, and have such completely different lifestyles and views. This isn’t a high view of myself, my flaws are many, but a plea for others to reach out.

I find myself realizing that even though I want it all to stop, that it is not going to. I understand that we live in a fallen world and I understand that we are asked to lean on God, to trust Him.  It’s not understanding that, that is the problem. My problem is that the longer I live, the more I want to leave this world.  Sure, I would love to travel the world and see all the amazing things God has created.  I would LOVE that!  I would love to travel up into the mountains and stand under waterfalls with a smile on my face, hands outstretched. I see empty fields and all I want to do is take my shoes of and run through them barefoot.  When I see a baby, I just want to grab them and give them kisses and hear their joyous giggles!

The things that keep me going are the smiles of my children, the love of my family and friends and serving the Lord.  It is what sustains my every fiber. Even so, I long for the day that Jesus comes down and cradles my face lovingly, kissing me on the forehead and releasing me from this world with one look into my eyes.  Not having to face, let alone fight the sin and temptation to sin a single second more.  Some days, more than most, this is all I wish for. Today is one of those days.

While on other days, I feel like I can’t imagine not trying to see every place I long to see on this earth, and feel that there is still so much for me to do here, I recognize they are becoming fewer and fewer the more suffering I see.  I have not lived an easy life.  I have experienced things beyond my years according to society, but I feel small in my grief compared to so many others and I have no desire to become only about those trespasses against me, but how God lifted me out of them.

Very seldom do I refer to this prayer, as I feel it is distorted daily in movies and by self accredited authors, but it is still God’s word and it is good…

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Mattew 6:9-13

May God’s grace be enough for you as you fight the beasts in your life. May you find peace in your hearts until you no longer have to ask, “Is it time yet?”

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Love and Courage to You All,

Angie

That’s just perfect!

Every time I think of a specific friend, (We’ll call her Kara) I think of her story of longing.   I remember her telling me that her life had ‘gotten away’ from her and that she was so sad, depressed even, that her dreams of being a passionate, energetic wife and mother were over.  Instead, she had married a headstrong, opinionated, and quite honestly, obnoxious husband who didn’t have time or the desire for ‘running off into the sunset’ or ‘living happily ever after’.  “I just can’t believe I threw my life away.” she shared with me, her hands over her face, the tears streaming down her cheeks.  I felt so helpless.  Not just because I couldn’t fix her problem but because, secretly, I was struggling with the same thing!

At that point in my life, I was a child raising children.  My blessings were constantly clouded with what ‘should have been’ and what ‘could have been’.  I always wanted to be a mom, but my idea of motherhood was first words, stumbling steps, library trips, baking little cookies and playing catch in our big beautiful yard! Instead, I was married to a meth addict, living in a trailer park, borrowing money for cigarettes and trying to convince the power company to leave the power on just one more day.  Wow! you may say?  Yep, wow.  What an extreme right?  It’s true.

Believe it or not… it’s not how I started out.  I started out powerful and in charge of my life as a parent.  Having barely escaped an abusive relationship, I knew exactly where I needed to go and Who I needed to follow.  I was determined my children would know God, not only by the words I spoke but through the choices I would make, and my actions as a follower of Christ.  I just had one problem… I wasn’t in control.  When things were going good, I thought it was because I was doing everything right, and therefore the world was right around me. Did I mention that I was young in every sense of the word?

Well, I married the ‘right’ guy… with the ‘right’ job… from the ‘right’ family… right Right RIGHT???  wrong Wrong WRONG!!! There is no right anything when it comes to the big picture of choosing a family. There is no perfect man/woman, perfect occupation, perfect family!  No matter what you say whether it is in pride or in denial, there is no human PERFECTION… NONE.  That doesn’t mean that it can’t be good, or even amazing… but never perfect.  There can, however, be a perfect plan. 

Humor me for a moment and read this…

PERFECT means being entirely without fault or defect.

Do me a favor… read that again and again.  Now, you tell me, honestly… does that describe you?  Are you perfect? Does that describe your spouse, your parent, your child, your friend?  While I’m sure you have several cute and adorable little quotes and sayings from your wonder years popping the veins in your head right now, the truth is, when you really look at the definition of that word, we are NOT it!  So much for ‘practice makes perfect!’! It’s okay if you are a little pissed off right now.  Truly, it is. We’ve all been deceived into thinking that there is a perfect mate or perfect friend or perfect parent, but the truth is that there is no such thing. Sometimes we even say, “Nobody’s perfect!”  but inside we are really saying, “But I’m pretty dang close!”

There is only One that is Perfect.  As a matter of fact, He is the only One that can honestly be called The Perfect One. He has no faults… He has no defects… He is always right… He is Perfection.

2 Corinthians 12:9
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

This passage does not say, My grace is sufficient in your perfection.  It doesn’t even say that He is expecting perfection.  Instead, He is boldly stating that His grace is sufficient for us and that through our weakness… did you catch that? In our weakness, His strength is made perfect.  Take just a moment to let that sink in.

Wait!  Here is something that will help you understand this concept further.  GRACE = favor.  It’s a gift, something not earned, but freely given. Perfect, isn’t it?

He is perfect… we are not.  He is good at it… we never will be.  He is accountable to it… we don’t have to be.  He is not expecting it from us… we meet His expectations.  See, how much easier it is to understand when you take the pressure of it away?

2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

God is not so difficult to understand as the world would have us believe.  The reason it all seems so difficult to understand is because it IS simple.  It’s not God that is confusing.  It is the conception of a loving God in a fallen world full of bad ideals, unrealistic expectations and man-made goodies that tear us away from personal relationships. It’s the idea that God only wants us unsoiled and perfect so He can stand to be in our presence. But the truth is… that is such a LIE! God wants us to be with Him in our shiniest moments AND our darkest.  He doesn’t expect us to come to Him fixed and perfect.  He knows we come to Him broken.  That is EXACTLY why He gave us our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We come to Him wanting, searching, grasping, clinging and He opens His arms wide and scoops us up into His warm comforting embrace.  He loves us. We are His and He loves us, flaws and defects and all. It really is THAT simple.  Perfect, actually.

The enemy uses our own minds to deceive us into believing we are a constant failure.  That carries over into deceiving us into believing that those in our lives are also a constant failure when they don’t measure up to our expectations.  It is only when we see ourselves as the imperfect men and women that we are in need of a Savior that we can see our loved ones as no more or less than us.  We all sin.  We all disappoint.  We all make mistakes.  We all miss the mark.

What does this have to do with our friend, Kara, you might ask?  What about my life closely resembling a Hollywood movie?… and not the good kind!  Well, here goes…

Kara, went on to be miserable and then prideful to the point of her own destruction.  She buried herself in romance novels and duties to hide her disappointments.  She became determined to raise ‘perfect’ children and from the outside have the ‘perfect’ life. She tried to fill her emptiness with all these impressive facades that made it even more difficult to reach out to those around her for help and understanding.  This same woman who grieved the ‘loss’ of her life, related to other wives but refused to admit it, even to herself. She sunk lower and lower into depression until she found herself drowning in her darkness.  She made an attempt to get out once. She reached out for help and we came in the middle of the night to rescue her from her increasingly abusive husband.  Yes, that’s right.  Me, my meth stricken husband, a terrified woman who didn’t even have enough freedom to get her driving license, and her four confused and equally terrified children planned an escape in the middle of the night while her husband was on a ride along with the local police department.

Our hearts were racing as the icy air from the clear winter night swirled around us, biting at our skin.  We jumped back into the vehicles and fled the place that this spiritually beaten woman called home.  When I asked her if she was scared, she said, “Yes, but only that this feeling will go away and I will give in when he comes to get me.”  My heart stopped. Oh no… Here I am again. I knew exactly what feeling she was talking about. It was that feeling that said, one more breath in this life and your breathing will cease.  Seeing your life flash before your eyes, unfinished.  Needing to get out, but not knowing how, and it still being worth it to try. Fear, nausea, panic, loneliness, pain, adrenaline, determination, weakness and foreign strength all at once.  ALL…  AT… ONCE.  I remember thinking, “Oh my God.”  and for the first time, I was really meaning, “OH MY GOD!  Dear God please save me.”

The next morning, Kara went back to her husband who spent hours convincing her on my couch that he loved her and he would not hurt her again.  He lied.

I knew he would lie.  Just like I knew my husband would lie.  It is what we do when we don’t want to face our problems.  We convince ourselves ‘we can fix this’. I also knew I had been lying to my husband and to myself.  I didn’t love him anymore.  I didn’t love me anymore. I didn’t love anything anymore.  I didn’t even love God anymore.  I was a liar. I lied when I said I could handle it.  I lied when I said I was giving God control over my life.  I lied when I said I was providing a safe place for my children.  I lied when I said I would be okay.  I lied.

It didn’t take long for me to see my life for what it was.  Mine.  My own. Mine! Dammit!  When did I claim my life as my own?  When did I allow my heart to deceive me? When did I long for all that was wrong for me?  When did I get trapped in seeking perfection, deceived that there even is such thing? When did I think that my husband would surface in his addiction if I was good enough?  When did I stop expecting the enemy to attack?  When did I make the decision to be his victim over and over and over again?  I still don’t know when because it was obviously a slow burn.  Through porthole of greed and pride, the enemy sunk his slimy teeth into my self-image and expectations.  He dripped his venom in my heart slowly, creating anger and self-righteousness to the extreme.  I had become my own perfect enemy.

Within days of realizing of the truth of my situation, God went to work…  Previously that year (before the incident above), in my longing for perfect acceptance, I had turned to another man, via an internet relationship.  It wasn’t sexual, actually.  We talked of things that didn’t matter.  Movies, places to travel to, dream jobs and all those happy topics.  Only a couple of times did we approach the subject on why I was planning on leaving my husband and just as often did we touch on why he left his wife.  We were both still married, both seeking comfort outside of our marriages and neither of us involving God in any of it.  I talked to his mom and sought advice from a woman who just wanted to see her son happy. Yes, really.  I was ignorant. I thought happiness could be a result of a plan I could create. I would make all the right decisions and all the right moves this time.  It would be perfect!

Yeah, well, not exactly…

God started to make it clear that I had faults and that although my sin was not going to create physical memories that haunted me, I would be haunted by my actions all the same.  When I told my husband of my plan to leave his unworthy self and make a new life for my worthy self, he called his mom in despair.  She called me and cried.  It was the first time I had ever heard her cry.  It broke me…  She begged me to not take her babies away and swore she would support my decision to leave her son, but please just don’t take the kids so far away.  Guilt in the fact that I had not even considered what this action would do to the rest of my family including my kids contact with their grandparents, was a huge flag for me.  I never wanted pain for my kids. I knew I was making the wrong decision but how could I go back now?  It was out and everyone knew my secret! I promised it anyway.  I promised not to leave.

1 John 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

The reason I couldn’t seek God for help openly, was because I really felt that for Him to help me, He had to change those around me.  As Kara left my house that day, she mouthed the words through her car window, “I’m so sorry.”  I couldn’t understand.  Why was she going back?  Why was she allowing this life to continue? Yes, those were questions in my mind but my confusion was not over those.  I knew the answers for those questions.  What I couldn’t understand was why was she apologizing to me? Why on earth was she sorry for me?  She was the one in agony and agreeing to go back to a life of misery and loneliness. I turned and walked into my house and it seemed so filthy.  The walls were dirty, and there were dishes in the sink.  There were stacks of papers on my desk and the carpet needed vacuumed. There was laundry overflowing over huge laundry baskets and the cushions were pulled out our recliner.  I realized in that moment that my house was a perfect picture of how numb I had become to my own sin.  I had made a habit out of looking at my sin as out of my hands.  Victimization. Kara wasn’t the only one agreeing to go back to a life of misery and loneliness.  I too was making that decision.

My husband forgave my infidelity and I felt God was telling me that through infidelity, my marriage would be healed.  Seriously, don’t laugh or send me hate mail.  I’m not saying God wished for it, but that I was to wait until infidelity was evident before I was permitted to leave my marriage.  I knew I wasn’t going back there (infidelity) but I knew I wanted out still.  Brace yourself… this is where it gets human.  I prayed.  I prayed for my husband to commit adultery, not realizing he already had at this point, so that I could be free of my marriage.  I’m just being honest here… if this is too much, please feel free to judge me. You won’t be the first or the last. 🙂  …

… As time went by and he was staying gone for more days at a time, I knew it was getting close.  I had relief due to the lack of arguing but fear because of the people showing up to look for my husband.  I was finding more and more time to read my bible and oddly was for the first time without people telling me, understanding it.  There was a peace that had begun to fill my previously tortured sleeping hours.  I was sleeping over half of the time that my kids were sleeping and I found time to play with them again.  Schooling was a sought after structure rather than a resented one and I physically felt God healing me.

I was pulling into our park when my husband’s friend, excited to be a part of the drama, stopped me and handed me his phone.  The woman on the other line, claimed to have shared my husbands affections and poured out the apologies as if her life depended on it.  Apparently it had happened while I was watching her children for several weeks so she wouldn’t lose them to the state. Apparently, my response was not as expected, and I saw the disappointment on the drama seekers face when I said thank you and went home. What was supposed to be devastating was like a breath of fresh air.  Discovering the time that it happened was surprising for me as it was just before my online relationship became personal but it was just more of a confirmation for me that I was free of my marriage.  I called my husband and he denied it.  Predictable. I got another call from another woman. Not so predictable. I started to feel deception instead of confirmation… I prayed against it.  I put all of my husbands belongings on the porch, shut the door and opened a window into my new life.

To make a super long story short… I had NO CLUE that my new life would include my husband!!! That’s right, during our separation, God flooded me with His love from every direction. Unbeknownst to me, God was also flooding my husband with His love from every direction as well.  My husband will have to tell you about his journey  on another day, but as for me and my journey, I was asked to stop lying to myself, stop expecting people to be superhuman, stop trying to have all the answers and trust God.  When I first realized God was asking me to welcome my husband back into my heart, I literally threw my bible across the room!  Needless to say, I was not excited at first.

God healed me… God healed my husband… God healed our marriage.  God, made his strength perfect in our weakness.  It’s been years since He first healed us, knowing what we couldn’t.  I don’t wake up every morning feeling like I’m on my honeymoon… trust me, it’s not perfect. I still wake up with last nights laundry on the floor, bills on the table and older at every glance in the mirror, but I wake up every morning knowing that God is perfect and through Him, I will always be loved.  I don’t need to look for it elsewhere, but I am so grateful that God has given it to me anyway. My husband is my hero. He loves God and is a wonderful husband and father. Thanks to God, I have both love from my husband and my King. I may not live the perfect life, but I am perfectly loved.

Sweetly Broken

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