Tag Archives: compassion

Shattered Faith

Cycle Dude and I listen to NPR (National Public Radio) a great deal. This morning, I caught part of an interview with a young woman who had been sexually abused in the 1990’s by the youth pastor in her church. The interviewer asked the young woman if she still has her faith. I did not hear her answer, but I got the impression she did not.

My heart aches for that young woman. Although I was not sexually abused by a member of the clergy, Catholic or Protestant, I was “relationally” abused by a Protestant pastor.

My family had attended a denominational church in Mytown for four years when my marriage started to disintegrate. I turned to a pastor for help, for marriage counseling. Ex and I were sent to a non-licensed, non-professional church member for counseling. For the first 30 minutes of our hour-long session, the man told us his story and why he liked the program he would use with us. This happened weekly for about a month before I finally said, “Enough. This is about us, not you.”

When ex sought counseling one-on-one with a pastor, he was told he could not be counseled because he had an issue with another member of the congregation. We were basically treated as pariahs because we no longer met the church’s definition of “holy”. My children were even treated with disdain – and they didn’t do anything!

One does not have to be sexually abused to experience abuse at the hands of a trusted church leader, church member or congregation. Christians have no qualms about shooting their own wounded.

For about a year and a half after the incident with the folks in the Baptist church, I shied away from church, attending occasionally out of respect for my children. My marriage did fall apart and I felt shattered – my life, my relationships, my faith.

I began attending another church that was led by a pastor I knew several years earlier. He put together a team to help ex and I walk through the separation and divorce. I was so thankful. He even said, “We’ve never done this before, but we know we need to take care of you.”

I tell this story to say that not all churches or church members are abusive. It is difficult to trust again after one has experienced any kind of abuse, no matter who the perpetrator is. My faith in Christ is stronger today than ever because of people like the pastor who knew it was his responsibility to care for a wounded member of his congregation. I know that my faith is not in man, but in God. I know that His heart broke as well as mine at the abuse my family and I endured.

My faith was shattered for a long time and it was painful to pick up the pieces. I had two friends who helped me to pick up those pieces. I have learned as a woman of faith that I need to extend a hand and to give grace instead of lobbing scripture bombs and judgement at my Christian brothers and sisters who find themselves in time of need. None of us are “holy”, no not one. Give grace. Stay tuned. . . .

Advertisements

To Be a Friend

I have a friend who works for the same hospital in Mytown that I used to work for. We didn’t start out as friends. In fact, about two months after I started working there, she called me and laid into me: “I have NEVER had as many problems with your office as I now have with you! I have been here for over 13 years and you have only been here for two months!”

I must admit that I was taken aback by her biting words. Even though I felt like crying, I didn’t. I was determined to be nice to this lady. Over the next three years, whenever I would email her or call her, I would be as nice as possible to her. When I told her I was leaving for another job, she panicked. “I will miss you! You have inspired me to be a better person!” I must admit that I was taken aback by her complimentary words.

She and I got together for dinner about a month ago. When I emailed her to invite her to dinner, she was very grateful. At dinner, she told me, “I am not a very nice person. I was surprised when you emailed me.” I almost cried. I told her, “I can be a pain in the patooty sometimes, too – just ask my children!” I invited her to go to dinner next week with my best buddy whom I have known for over 15 years.

It takes a great deal of effort to be a good friend. When we commit to being someone’s friend, we commit to the seen and the unseen. We commit to them – past, present and future. That’s a very difficult thing to do. What if they have a bad, dangerous past? What if they are extremely needy right now? What if they do something really stupid in the future?

We all have something in our past that makes us vulnerable and maybe a bit dangerous. Your friend could be needy right now because of her past. All she may need is someone to talk to who will show some compassion. I can guarantee you that I will do something stupid in the future – never fails. So will you.

To be a friend we need to step outside of ourselves, to b-e willing to give our best when our friend is at their worse, and to be willing to give abundant grace to others (and ourselves!). My best buddy has done all of that for me. She knows my past, has seen me at my worst, has given me abundant grace and compassion and still wants to hang out with me.

To be a friend is to take a huge risk. I am so glad my best buddy risked it with me. She has been a wonderful friend. Who will you take a risk with? Stay tuned. . . .

 

The Golden Rule

I will be leaving my current job in a week and going back to work at my Alma Mater. I am excited to be on a college campus again and to be a part of all the activity. I enjoy helping students and faculty. I enjoy learning. I enjoy serving my coworkers. I enjoy giving back to the community.

Almost five years ago, one of the faith groups on campus started a food pantry for students. I am looking forward to serving the campus community by volunteering my time and resources for that food pantry. It wasn’t so long ago that I often wondered where the next meal was going to come from as I chose between food and utilities or gas. But God was good – my dogs and I always had something to eat.

But, I digress. The real purpose of this post is to share that many people have come up to me at work and expressed their sorrow that I am leaving. As I was running an errand at the hospital this morning, I ran into one of my good friends who is a housekeeper and is also an Elvis impersonator (that’s a whole ‘nother story for a whole ‘nother time, but he has an unbelievable ministry through his impersonation). Tom and I talked and I started to cry. I told him I was leaving, but that I was sad and overwhelmed at the same time. Tom encouraged me with prayer and scripture and told me that I had made an impact at myjob.

Why have I made such an impact? For one, the love of God. As I have received, so I give (Matthew 10:8b). Another is that I strongly believe in treating others as I want to be treated, or The Golden Rule (Luke 6:31). There have been times when I have been lost and afraid and in dire straits and others have reached out to me. I have been treated with love and kindness and that’s how I try to treat others. Is it that way 100% of the time? Heavens, no! I am not perfect and I will be the first to tell you so.

I find joy in serving others and treating others well. I know that I am doing what God has called me to do – to make a difference in this life. I may not be rich or famous, but I want others to know they are loved and valued. If I have positively influenced one person in my time at the hospital, then it has been worth it. If I have shown one soul the love of God and brought joy to their heart, then it has been worth it. If I have given one sad heart a big smile that broke through that sadness, then it has been worth it. And so I move on to serve others who need to know the unconditional love of Christ. Stay tuned . . .

It’s Going to be Okay

Several years ago, I came across a “Survivors Guide for PMS”. I clipped the piece from the paper and put it up on my refrigerator. Some of the tips were things like, “Don’t make any big decisions when you’re PMSing, get plenty of sleep, don’t tackle all the household chores at once”, etc. The one that really caught my attention was for the guys, “Hold her close and tell her everything is going to be okay.”

We all need to be reassured sometimes. When we have that horrible day, when we made that really stupid mistake, when we said the absolute wrong thing at the absolute wrong time, when did something really dumb that we laughed about in others – yup, been there done it all!

A couple of weeks ago I had my review at work –  and the day before was the anniversary of my dad’s death. I cried all the way home that day. When I got home I just went over to Cycle Dude and cried in his arms. He wrapped his arms around me and said, “It will be okay.” Of course, he was right. The next day I was feeling better. But at that moment, his arms and those words were just what I needed.

Do you need to be reassured? Do you need to know that it’s going to be ok? Let me give you a cyber hug and tell you, yes, it really is going to be okay. Your life may not be perfect, but you’ll be okay. Give yourself a hug! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Tell Your Heart to Beat Again*

It’s easy for me to feel happy and contented seven years post-divorce. I wasn’t always happy and contented after my divorce. The first few months, even years, after my divorce, I was still angry and bitter. It took a long time to get over that. I eventually went to see a counselor for PTSD. Yes, women who have been through a divorce do experience PTSD, especially if there was any kind of abuse involved, no matter how subtle.

Even though Cycle Dude and I started dating not long after my divorce, I was still angry and bitter, though I made sure not to take it out on Cycle Dude. I worked diligently to get past the anger and bitterness in order to have a good relationship with him. He was so patient with me. I cannot express how much that meant to me.

I was listening to my Pandora Praise and Worship station this morning when the song, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey started to play. The first verse and chorus are this:

You’re shattered Like you’ve never been before The life you knew In a thousand pieces on the floor And words fall short in times like these When this world drives you to your knees You think you’re never gonna get back To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again Close your eyes and breathe it in Let the shadows fall away Step into the light of grace Yesterday’s a closing door You don’t live there anymore Say goodbye to where you’ve been And tell your heart to beat again (*Songwriters: Matthew West, Bernie Herms, Randy Phillips – performed by Danny Gokey).

The phrase, “Yesterday’s a closing door, you don’t live there anymore; say goodbye to where you’ve been. . .” spoke volumes to me. I don’t want to be the me I used to be. I am not the same person I was when I got divorced. I don’t live with that anger and bitterness anymore. Yesterday is long past. My heart can beat again. I no longer feel that ache in the pit of my stomach. I no longer cry myself to sleep. God has used Cycle Dude and his unconditional love, two friends and their incredible wisdom and His Word to heal my heart.

Let the healing balm of the love of Christ wash over you this holiday season. Take some time to sit in the silence of your living room and listen – to the quiet, to the voice of God, to your own heartbeat. Healing will come and your heart will beat again. Stay tuned. . .

 

Not Alone

I was sexually assaulted. I remember that day so clearly. My family was visiting relatives in Chicago and we had gone to the Museum of Science and Energy. I think I was about 8 years old. There was one display that I was particularly interested in, but did not get to see when my family was around because there were so many people. After my family started to wander off, I stuck around to look at the display. I was surrounded by a group of older children. I thought nothing of it until someone slipped their hand up under my skirt and started to fondle my private area. I was shocked! I didn’t know who the person was, I didn’t look up and I didn’t look back. I broke away from the group and ran to find my parents.

I didn’t tell my parents about the incident because I thought they would make it my fault. I carried that memory with me for a long time before I told anyone. I thought it was my fault – if I had gone with my parents instead of staying back, it wouldn’t have happened. Forty years later, during a counseling session, I mentioned the incident in passing. My counselor said, “What? Go back to what you just said.” I did and we talked about it. It was good to finally get it out in the open.

I told my ex and my children about it once it came out in counseling. I didn’t tell my mom until several years later. I was angry with her and my dad for not protecting me. After I told my mom, she told me that she, too, had been sexually assaulted by a family friend as a young teen. We cried together.

I am glad that the sexual assault that has been so hidden but pervasive in Hollywood is finally coming out. I glad that more and more groups are tackling sex trafficking and bringing that horrendous practice out into the open. Women and girls, even men and boys, need to know they are not alone as victims of sexual assault.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please call your local law enforcement agency. A victim of sexual assault feels shame and guilt. They need to know that whatever happened was not their fault, no matter what anyone says. Please seek help and support to get beyond this horrendous experience. Please commit to walk with your friend as she heals and recovers from this trauma. God Bless you.

Lessons from a Dog

I have written before on this blog about my two canine children – Jack and Shirley. Jack is my 10-year old boxer/terrier mix. He is highly intelligent and very vocal – both traits from his boxer parent. Shirley is my 9-year old Dalmatian/hound mix. She is very energetic and a tad ditzy – both traits from her Dalmatian parent. However, her sense of smell is through the roof. She gets that from her hound parent.

Shirley loves to lay by the back door and watch things – she’s my watchdog. Jack is very protective and barks when the ice maker in the fridge makes noise because he thinks it’s someone at the front door – he’s my guard dog.

I’ve had both dogs since they were puppies, so we’re a pack now. When they sleep in the bed with me, we all have to snuggle up close and be touching. They know where I am 100% of the time I am home. They love to do things together – go on walks, chill on the couch, go ‘bye-bye’ in the car. I am a dog person and have had dogs most of my adult life. I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my canine children:

1. Love with all you have: My pups let me know I am their ‘hooman’. They wag their tails and bark with joy when they see me. They hold nothing back in showing me they love me. They bark with delight, make happy noises when I pet them, and freely snore when we hunker down for the night. We are delighted with one another’s company.

2. Don’t be afraid to show compassion and sympathy: Whenever I cry, Jack is right there to comfort me. He looks at me with a furrowed brow as if to say, “Are you okay? What can I do to make you feel better?” When I am sick, my pups snuggle up to me, keeping me warm and making me feel better.

3. Be boundless in your happiness: Jack does the full body wag and Shirley barks and wags her tail when they are happy. A head tilt and an excited, “Woof!” often accompany unbridled happiness. When my pups are happy, they show it to the extreme – from running like a crazy dog around the backyard to 100 mph tail wags!

4. Take pleasure in the small things: A warm blanket, a good snuggle, a tasty treat – all are small things that bring my pups great pleasure. One does not need a great deal of money to experience small pleasures. Some simple pleasures for me – beautiful clouds, a young buck in Cycle Dude’s yard, and Dove chocolate.

5. Forgive others and experience the joy of the moment: Sometimes my pups do things that are naughty. I tell them, “I am not happy with you!” They will still follow me around, not at all concerned that I am angry with them at that moment. One of them ends up doing something funny and I laugh, my anger melting away. I cannot be angry with my pups for long. Life is too short and they are too funny.

I know that divorce is painful. I would not have made it through that time if I did not have good friends and wonderful pups. In the middle of a bad night, when sleep would not come, I’d roll over to a cold nose and a warm pup. They helped to keep me on an even keel. God has blessed us with His creation – both for pleasure and for learning. I am grateful for my pups. Stay tuned . . .