Archives For healing

Good Grief

March 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Charlie Brown

I have felt like Charlie Brown so often. At work, when something unexpected happens – AAUGH! At home, when the kids or laundry or both have me at my wits end – AAUGH! Driving in rush hour…well my responses to that are often a little more harsh.

Think about poor Charlie Brown though – nothing ever seems to go right for the guy. Everyone’s smarter, everyone’s stronger, everyone’s more right – all the time. His response to not being as good as everyone else is to seek out Lucy for counselling and scream AAUGH!

A lot of things in my life have gone like that, and I could put some bullet points up to let you know how bad it’s been, but you, being human, already know. People we love die, people reject us, people treat us badly, parents and friends dissapoint us. Those things, for some people, are what makes them know they’re still alive. I was under the illusion for so long that I was made for suffering. I didn’t know much of anything else.

But I found out I was wrong. I wasn’t made for suffering. Suffering is part of life sometimes, but we were made for more! And once I discovered the “more” part, I realized the suffering part was not so bad as I was making it out to be.

What happened was I turned in – when something happened, I knew exactly how to react – with anger, and by shutting down, and by shutting people out.

This weekend, I learned that it’s ok to feel whatever I am feeling. I learned it’s ok to be angry, it’s ok to have grief, it’s ok to admit that you are struggling. It’s ok, and when you allow yourself to experience these things, there is help for the hurt and then you move past it.

We talked about grief at church last Friday for a while, then we were given a chance to feel it, and deal with it. I found out most of my grief had to do with past ministry experiences. I sat and thought for a long time, and God spoke some words to me – he told me what I needed to do.

At the front of the church, on the stage, were some basins of water. God told me to put the water on my head, my eyes, my lips, my tongue, my hands and my feet. I thought it was an odd request. I asked why, and he said so that I could let go of my grief and experience healing.

So, I did it – and as I walked back to my seat, every step was lighter, my tears of sadness were replaced by shouts of joy and laughter! As I sat back down on my chair, God showed me why he asked me to do this – I needed to let go of grief, grief that I had both experience and caused.

God asked me to anoint my head because my plans had become more important than his. He asked me to anoint my eyes because I saw people as things to be used and manipulated into doing my will. He asked me to anoint my lips because my words had twisted the truth and I used them to hurt people. He asked me to anoint my tongue because my speech honored only myself. My hands because my work served only to glorify myself. My feet because I had made my own path apart from God.

Also, I was holding on to pain others had caused me in all these areas. I had held onto this pain and it turned into anger and bitterness.

Now all these parts are holy and His! My past is grieved over and reconciled. I will not dwell on the pain I have felt or caused any longer. It’s done – it’s finished. It’s now a foundation that God will build the rest of my life upon. I welcome him into my life to begin his work!

You can experience this, too! Right where you are, right now. Ask God to show you the things only he can help with, ask him to show you what you have held on to that is poison to your soul. Take time to grieve over those things, then hand them over to God. He’ll take them from you and make you whole. Your whole life can change, right now! Trust him to be big enough to wade into your darkness, trust him to bring the light! He’s not afraid of your messes, he’s not intimidated by your anger, and he’s strong enough to take all the blame you throw at him. He’s YOUR God, and there’s no other name to call upon. Take delight in him – take it! He is offering it to you, and when you take it, He’ll give you your heart’s desires!

Aftermath

November 7, 2012 — Leave a comment

arch

Aftermath. It can be pretty messy. Have you seen pictures of the devestation of Hurrican Sandy? It’s not good.

Most history books have pictures of wars and natural disasters. In a few of them, if you look just right, you can get a sense of not just the destruction, but of the human suffering as well. It’s scary, sad, gut-wrenching.

Have you every been through something like this? I know my home town, Harrah, OK has been through some tough times in the last few years – tornadoes and wildfires just to name two things. I have friends and family who have been affected. Some have lost everything.

About a year and a half ago, a tornado swept through Joplin Missouri and caused massive damage. Less than a week later, I was in my front yard here in Texas looking straight up over my house at the circulating wall cloud thinking, “We are in bad trouble here.” Many tornadoes touched down that day all around us, but we were spared.

I had panic attacks for weeks after that. I had never been scared during any kind of storm before. But I never had a wife and two little girls crying and praying for their lives in cramped closet before either.

I saw how close it was. I saw with my own eyes. The cloud, the part that was spinning and dipping down and going back up. My heart was racing, I was almost hyperventilating. I was well and truly scared – like I had never been scared before.

None of this was in my control. All we could do was pray and ride it out.

It was completely out of my hands.

How much of life is like that? Things happen. Bad things. Horrible things. Things that tear up our bodies and minds and souls. Things we have no control over – illness, loss, abuse, job loss, families torn apart.

These things change us, these things scar us. They can even destroy us, and what we are left with is a wasteland in our hearts and minds and bodies. Who can pick up the pieces? Who can make us whole, when we have been so completely torn apart?

Tonight at church, an assignment was to make a diagram of our families, and using symbols, show a variety of things – addiction, divorce, mental illness, death, just to name a few. Mine looked like the pictures above – the aftermath of a nuclear strike. I was not prepared for this.

I know everyone has their own baggage, and they all deal with it in their own way. I discovered that I haven’t dealt with it.

My birth mother is dead. She ruined her life, and ultimately her liver from drug use. She was bi-polar. She was abused and abusive to my birth father. My mother was adopted, so I have no idea what her parents were like, but I do know her mother got pregnant either outside of marriage or due to an affair with someone she wasn’t married to. She always felt like she was unwanted, and she always acted like nobody loved her.

My father was a hippie and from what I can tell he got over it. He was a drug addiction counselor, and is selling real estate in Las Vegas now. We don’t keep up with each other.

I was adopted, along with my sister, by our great aunt and uncle who were the opposite of my birth parents. Very strict. My new dad was career military, a command sergeant major. Tougher than nails. A veteran of three wars. He has his own scars from what he had seen and done as a soldier on the battlefield. He never spoke of it.

My mom raised the family while he was away – I have three older siblings – 2 brothers and a sister, who were the grown children of my new parents. I think my youngest/older brother is 17 years older than me.

When I say they were all great, I really, really mean it. But I was already screwed up. When I was four my mom injected me with heroin. She rolled me up in a rug once. She would put me in a dark room and scare me just for fun. I got thrown around a bit, too. But the worst part was when she would disappear for days on end, with just me and my one year old sister in the house alone.

The little family tree I drew tonight was supposed to give me some insight into areas where I still need to experience freedom, so that I can help guide others to freedom as well. The purpose was to help identify life patterns, and to break them – in ourselves and in others.

Folks, I have a ways to go. All of this devastation, all the broken pieces still laying around in my soul were brought to the surface tonight. I’m a mess. Most people are in some way, and sometimes they don’t even know it. Now I know it – and now I have the tools to deal with it. And maybe one day I will be able to minister to those who are going through this as well.

We’ve been in Freedom Training for about two months. This was the last night. Every single week, this one verse always pops into my head – “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (Is 53:5)

Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but look at that verse – we can have peace and healing through him! Not just forgiveness – we can have that and we need it, but we can have healing in our souls and in our bodies! We can have peace! We don’t need to have a stiff upper lip, we don’t need to bury our hurts, we don’t have to act like everything is ok – everything CAN BE OK! You can have what God has promised – if you ask!

What is God saying to you right now? What are you struggling with? Ask God to show you if there is a lie associated with that. What is the lie? Ask God to show you what is true – accept his truth, and live in it! Be free!

Fear

September 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

scared_face

Fear – not something that’s easy for me to talk about or even think about. I feel like I have to be strong, hold it all in, deal. But it’s there, showing itself in a variety of ways – panic, blood pressure, negative thinking, various minor illnesses.

My church has a wonderful healing ministry. Every Monday night, people come from all over to be prayed for, with, over. Many of these people have experienced healing from illness and injury. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.

I went last week because I’ve had constant allergy problems for over 40 years, including sinus infections, tinnitus, vertigo, hives, and other pretty nasty symptoms. I was assigned to a prayer team and walked into the room and as I was walking in I looked at everything going on around me – people crying, praying, laying hands on people. There was laughter, too, and excitement and some shouts of joy. I didn’t know what my experience would be – I just wanted to be made well.

I was led to my prayer team and saw the look on their faces – there were three people all looking at me – eyes wide, mouths slightly open, like in shock. I thought maybe my zipper was down or something…And I’m going to tell you what they told me. It’s hard to talk about and I’ve been processing it all week. I’m not making this up either -

The first lady shook her head and smiled and told me there was a glow about me and something that draws people to me. The second lady said she felt calm and secure in my presence, then all three of them started telling me I would minister to multitudes of people – “thousands” they said. But at this point it is just potential – I need to deal with my fear.

This is the point when I told them about my sinus issue. It’s like they didn’t even hear that part. I was dizzy, my ears were ringing, and I hadn’t tasted anything but snot for days. Gross, right? And I went to be prayed over and experience a miracle healing event and never have to blow my nose again.

They did pray over me. They prayed that God would show me the root of fear that was holding me captive, keeping me from my destiny. They layed hands on me and prayed that I would be strong and courageous. They got on their knees around me and prayed even more that I would learn to trust God and his provision for me instead of focusing on what people have done to me or against me.

And this is when it gets weird. Some very specific things came to mind. Things I don’t think about much.

When I was five my dad walked me to school and said he’d be back to get me but he didn’t show up and I walked home by myself. I was afraid because I’d never done it and I didn’t know what happened to my dad. I didn’t see him again until I was nearly 40 years old.

I got home, and my mom was there but had to go out. She said she’d be right back. My little sister was there with me. We were left alone for several days and finally rescued by my aunt and uncle, who eventually gained custody of us and adopted us both. I saw my mom several times after that, but never lived with her again.

After that, I never really trusted anyone. I was afraid to trust. I did things to keep people away, to make people not like me. I was rude at the very least and even violent a few times. I prayed that God would kill me sometimes. I never felt on the inside like anything was right.

Before all this, I knew things weren’t perfect, but I felt loved and protected. Then that was gone. I thought it was gone forever. I’ve always, always felt that way. Even as a Christian, I’ve felt and acted like I was on my own, like I had to do everything under my own strength.

My fear is the fear of abandonment. Everybody leaves. Everybody dies. My real mom died years ago and I still don’t know how to feel about that. Sad? Relieved? Happy? My Grandmother died next. I miss her every single day. I still feel like I need her. Same for my dad – the one who adopted me. I miss them both so much.

I had a wife a long time ago, and she left too. Will Cheryl? How about my kids? They’re growing up so fast. Yesterday they were babies, tomorrow they’ll be living in Possum Trot Indiana with kids of their own.

I’m afraid that God will abandon me, too. I’ve felt like that for a long time, like he already has. I know in my head that’s not what he does, but I feel like he has anyway.

All of this goes back to the day when I was so happy my daddy was walking me to school and that he’d be there to pick me up at the end of the day. And he wasn’t. And I never saw him again until almost 35 years later. With no good explanation of what happened. I was never sick before that either. And I’ve been sick ever since.

Crazy, right? How an emotional wound can turn into a spiritual wound which can turn into a physical illness that can keep you from being who you were born to be. How it can cause you to hold people at arms length your whole life. How it can cause you to wonder if anyone really cares or if they are just saying that because that’s what people say.

I need to get past this. I know where it came from, what it has caused. And I know I can be free from this.

I don’t know if this is helpful to you or not. But whatever is blocking your path, whatever is keeping you from being who God created you to be – you can’t turn it around by yourself and neither can I! Now that I know, I’m taking it to God, and he will be strong for me. He’ll tear it all down and I may just turn out to be who he dreamed I would be. You can do it too!

How do you honestly see yourself? And how do you think God sees you? God thinks you’re amazing, wonderful, beautiful and worth dying for. If you see yourself as anything less, you need to realize you’ve been lied to, and it wasn’t by God. He’s not going to condemn you or make you feel guilty. He wants to free you from that! Learn to trust him, and trust him to be everything you need. Trade your fear for freedom and be his child. He won’t let you down, you’ll never walk alone.

“I’m so disappointed.”  Have you ever heard that phrase?  Ever said it?  When I was a kid, it was always directed at me.  From a parent, a grandparent, another kid’s parent, a teacher, ad nauseum.  It’s because I was always in some kind of trouble!  Now, I catch myself wanting to say it to my kids, or actually saying it before I have time to stop myself.  My little Zoey is a lot like me – she finger painted the entryway to our house, used crayons all over her walls, used a sharpie all over a wall we had just repainted…”UGH!  I’m SO disaPOINTed!”

Sometimes life kicks us around a bit – health, marriage, work, finances, ad nauseum.  None of it seems to work out right, and when it does work we wait for the other shoe to drop.  “Something bad is going to happen – I just know it! Things are going too good right now!”

Five years ago, I was a church planter.  Things were going pretty well.  We had a nice little launch team, we had funding, we had a launch date.  We were all so excited!  Then one little thing happened (ok, it was a big thing) and it got a little (lot) hard and I walked away.  Just quit.  And for 5 years, I was so disappointed in God.  For letting it happen, for not having my back, for forgetting about me and my family.  So, I forgot about Him.  I got a new job, I worked hard, I became hard, I became wordly.

Always in the back of my mind I knew the blame I was placing on God was misplaced.  It was my fault!  I didn’t pray enough, I didn’t trust enough.  I relied on my own giftedness too much and forgot about the giver of the gifts.  What I recently discovered is that the disappointment I felt all that time was disappointment in myself.  I was pushing the blame off onto others and not accepting responsibility for my own actions.

And what I learned was, God is not disappointed.  He is loving, forgiving and kind.  When he sees me, he sees his son, not some burned out failure who got scared.

After the church plant, things got even worse.  We all started getting sick a lot – sinus infections, lots of colds and flus, stomach ailments.  I blew out my Achilles tendon, just walking across the street and was off work for 6 weeks.  Cheryl lost her job and was off 6 weeks during that same period.  We got into a big hole financially and actually had to declare bankruptcy.  Everything fell apart.  Because of me!

When disappointments abound, when everything is falling apart, when life sucks and you don’t know what to do, what do you do?  There was not one thing going on that I could fix.  It drove me further from God.  And it kept getting worse.

One Sunday, on a whim, we decided to go to a different church.  It’s a big church, several campuses.  We drove up, not expecting much, really.  God hadn’t shown up for us in quite some time.  We were in the desert, alone.  We walked in, found a seat, sang some songs, and one of the pastors came up and started preaching.  It was the first sermon in a series on being in the wilderness.  Cheryl and I cried tears of pain that had been hidden in our hearts for years.  We cried the whole time.  Sobbed out loud.  The lady in front of us had to get us each a box of kleenex.

What I learned that day was God is here!  Always!  He knows my name, he has a plan for my life!  He loves me and he’s not disappointed!  And if God is not disappointed, I don’t have to be either – not in myself, and definitely not in him.

I still have a ways to go.  I’m not there yet.  There are still things I need to deal with.  Last week I had another breakthrough.  God’s not done with his healing work in my heart and in my mind.  Just knowing he has a plan though – that gives me hope that I didn’t have before.

There is one thing I need to do – I need to ask forgiveness for walking away.  I walked away from my calling.  It’s not revoked, it’s not taken from me.  I abandoned it.  But, my loving, forgiving Father has kept it and it’s waiting on me to get my head straight so I can reclaim it.

So – to Cheryl Nifong, Jennifer Riedel, Kristen DeFaller – especially you 3 and of course to all of the others who are no longer around and whose names I can’t even remember now – I’m so sorry for what I did.  I let you down, I gave up, I quit, and I hurt you.  Please forgive me.