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It's the eve of December 1st; 5:55 p.m. to be exact. 'Just got in. I've fed my dog, and now I'm enjoying a cold beer as I wait for her eleven-year-old tummy to digest her dinner. (I can't have my best friend cramping up on her one-mile-walk-jog to canine happiness.) I, on the other hand, will risk it.
This month, I'm compelled to talk about revenge. Why?
Now is as good a time as any to spend the next few weeks unwrapping revenge and man's natural desire for it. Take heart, there's a gift in the center. Like Blow Pops. Those suckers from the 70's with gum in the middle. Wait for it . . . by the end of this series you'll know how sweet it is to fully submit the desire for revenge to Christ.
1. the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.
2. inflict hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong done to (someone else).
We begin with a story.
Memorial Day weekend, the year of our Lord 2000. Somehow the betrayal had mutated into an anniversary date. Don't [they] always? Like clockwork, I could recall what I said, what he said, and what the police said as they ticketed me for the swings I took at the father of my child when I discovered him with another woman.
I could even recall what I was wearing right down to the color of my undies. For years, I feared I was the only woman this neurotic until a girlfriend gave me a book titled: Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Touché.
Five years later, buried beneath a forgiveness prayer that never took, I remained hell-bent on making him pay for it. Here's why:
In all that time, I was never convinced that he felt as badly about it as I did, which was all the motivation my broken heart needed to bring it up again, and again, and again. If you've been betrayed, you'll get this. I just know you will. There was a particular look in his eyes that I longed to see. A look of genuine sorrow coupled with an empathetic acknowledgment that he understood how much he'd hurt and humiliated me. And is a girl shooting for the moon is she desires a little respect from that day forward? I don't think so, and neither does God.
So, now you know . . . I know how [it] feels. And I know the steady disappointment of suspecting [his] only real regret is being found out. (An unfortunate scenario that repeated over the years.)
In all my longing and subsequent fury, I couldn't see that I lacked respect for myself. I didn't value me, a blindness that shined brightly through my relationship choices. .
This month, I'll share personal stories with what I learned the hard way, and then challenge you to peer inside your own heart in the presence of God--who only wants what is best for you.
A wise woman once said to me, "Wendy, I'll give you twenty minutes to talk about [him]. I know you need to, but after that, we're talking about you and God. Because we can talk about what he did to you all day, but it isn't going to bring you closer to the truth."
Something to consider:
Beneath all the bullshit, you are valuable. If you'll take the time to engage with God and embrace the value He reveals, you will learn things about yourself and the nature of God that will truly set you free. Free.
Freedom always begins with the truth. If you need to express your pain--you need to express your pain. Respect this about the process. Journal. Find a safe and healthy friend to listen. Enlist the aid of a professional counselor. AND then be willing to identify behavioral/relationship patterns that are in direct opposition of your personal worth and what you tell yourself you want.
We do not have the power to change another person's behavior. We can only change our own.
True or false?
I find snarky ways to form my words in the hopes that he/she will finally feel as badly about [it] as I think he/she should.
Journal your thoughts. Meet me back here next Tuesday!
We get better together!
Published on Friday, November 30, 2018 @ 7:31 PM CDT
With Thanksgiving just around the bend it would be remiss for this Native American not to share a little Indian humor before conveying how incredibly grateful I am that God is faithful to gather every fragment of a broken heart and make all things new.
[Enter] Wilson Elementary School cafeteria--circa Thanksgiving, 1991.
I've invited my mom (full blood Cherokee) to join my son's second-grade class as they "break bread" and offer sincere thanks for the role Native Americans played in creating a holiday destined to repeat on iPhone calendars across North America until Jesus returns.
Imagine long tables lined with make-shift table clothes. All you need is a roll of white paper from art class roughly the length of a football field and some crappy tape that doesn't hold. Remember these?
The finishing touch is brought to fruition by dressing half the children as Pilgrims and the other half as Indians. Can you see it?
My sweet mother, within ear-shot of my son's teacher says, "If they really want to be acurate they should segregate the Indians and the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims refused to sit next to us, ya know."
On a more serious note, I meant what I said about being grateful my life fell spectacularly apart in 2012. At the time I wasn't grateful. At the time I felt confined to a tunnel of pain with despair at one end and rage at the other. I'd loved my husband for so long; given so much. All that "praying and staying . . . to no avail.
Betrayal is a vicious beast of a thing that can cause a person to feel as insignificant as humanly possible. The few years after the divorce I felt like a discarded speck caught in a vortex of disillusionment. Who was I? How do I relate to God, suddenly single?
I could no longer read my Bible. I'd always read my Bible. At night I'd place it over my heart before drifting off to sleep. In the mornings I'd read a sentence or two at my kitchen table before closing my eyes and resting my head upon open pages. Several months passed before it dawned on me that my prayer life had been founded on the fervent seeking of the strength needed to stay year after year with a man who did not have my best interest at heart.
No matter what he did to hurt me or my older sons, I prayed harder. Tried harder. Pushed (read: controlled) harder. I was exhausted from my attempts to manage the damage. For the first time in a long time, I had nothing to offer anyone. It was all I could do to get out of bed and breathe.
I fell apart. But then I made a commitment to face the pain, the confusion; the illusion I'd wrapped scripture around for multiple years--expecting God to bless the world of denial I'd built in the name of Jesus. Well, He did bless it. He brought it down Old Testament style. If life was a board game, I guess you could say the God of the Universe cleared the pieces of mine with one breath.
To be stripped of oneself is a great gift from God. I remember the first day I opened my Bible and could read again. Really soak it in. Not because I had something terrible to survive, but because I had a life to live. And a God who loved me unconditionally. What would become of my relationship with Christ . . . as a single mother? More importantly, as a woman who no longer lived in denial.
What I've learned so far; what I'm most grateful for this Thanksgiving is that today, when I open my Bible, chalked full of highlights from years of study, what means the most to me are the pages stained with tears. God used every one of them to water what I'd highlighted in yellow and bring me back to life.
I'm alive in Christ--not simply Christian. Which is to say, I'm not afraid to let myself feel or face anything. Good or bad. I've learned that in all things He communes with me. What I find most touching is that just this morning as I thanked Him for a life replete with the manifest evidence of His goodness, in my heart I heard the gentle whisper, I'm grateful for you, too, Wendy.
I am not a speck.
I am somebody.
I am grateful to be God's child. And He is grateful to be my Father.
I wish you the same peaceful resolve this Thanksgiving. You are not alone. You are not a speck! You are God's child. You are somebody!
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalm 126:5--6).
Published on Monday, November 19, 2018 @ 2:27 PM CDT