Epiphany at the gravesite

Today marks 21 years since I lost my Grandpa Snyder (my maternal grandfather). I’ve visited his grave many times over the past two decades, but today I finally had an epiphany on why I struggle so much with his loss. This realization has come after a year long period of making several self-discoveries about who I am and what effects the various abuses I experienced have had on all aspects of my life.

Grandpa passed away when I was twelve years old. Even though we lived in the same town, we didn’t spend large amounts of time with him because my mother had converted to Christianity when she met my dad, and Grandpa was still a Jehovah’s Witness. Even though I was too young to understand that kind of separation at that time, looking back now I believe it caused distance that wasn’t there between Grandpa and his other daughters and grandchildren. His death happened just months after I had stopped allowing my cousin to molest me. As I’ve stated before, my little girl mind thought that my cousin had loved me because of what he did to me, so I was probably struggling mentally and emotionally with the loss of “love” from one male in my life when another was ripped from me.

What dawned on me today was that Grandpa was the only male family member whom I felt showed me true affection, and it rocked my world when death stole that away from me. I truly believe that my history of abuse and his death triggered my bipolar disorder. I don’t remember him hugging me except for when we said goodbyes, but you could tell with his jovial, lighthearted manner that he had with all his family that he truly loved every one of us. Grandpa had been ill for a long time, and I remember one instance where I had to leave his room because my stepgrandmother needed to help him use the restroom. He seemed ashamed to admit that he needed help with something so basic, but to me it showed a strength and humility to state out loud this weakness he had.

My friend Nancy and I had a lengthy discussion tonight about my Grandpa, and I so cherish the questions and insights she provided to help draw the answers out on why I still feel this pain so deeply. She helped reveal that I’ve struggled with seeking and maintaining male approval even to this day, but that my identity lies in the God who created me and loves me unconditionally and eternally. She praised God for all the work He’s done in my life over this past year, but God couldn’t start this progress in me until I took the first step back towards letting Him have control. I am still battling my depression, low self-esteem, financial difficulties, and family stressors, but God is opening several doors that will lead to my full recovery and reestablishment of my independence. She told me to cherish the time I had with Grandpa, and to count it a blessing that I saw what love from a male figure should be through the way he lived. Grandpa was definitely not perfect by any means, but the love I saw him demonstrate to his family is probably the greatest quality that I long for in a relationship of my own someday. I searched for love in the wrong places, and they were a sorry substitute for what Grandpa showed me can be a reality out of a partner. But even then, Grandpa is a tiny comparison of what love exemplifies next to my Savior who died for me. Jesus gave His life willingly so that I could be restored on all levels and enjoy eternity with Him in a place with no more tears or heartache or pain. So as I mourn my grandfather’s death on this anniversary, I will thank God for the legacy Grandpa left behind and continue to grow to become the type of woman Grandpa and God would be proud of.

Just tolerated

My heart is extremely heavy tonight after a rough past couple days. Scratch that, after a rough past few weeks, months, years. I have been feeling for quite some time that I’m just tolerated by those I am in close contact with. My friend has offered to let me live with her during the week for the next month as a chance to get a break from the negative environment I’m in now. On the weekends I am staying at my ex-husband’s to spend time with the kids. I don’t need to delve into specifics, but at both households where I currently stay I feel like people just put up with me. This is probably due to my borderline personality disorder that I am feeling this emotion so intensely, and to me it seems that people handle me with care so as not to exacerbate my mental illness symptoms. Or maybe they just find me insufferable to deal with on a daily basis. Whatever their personal feelings and conclusions are, the bottom line is it hurts to the very core of me and I so want to be done with it.

One of my life groups is going over Beth Moore’s Bible Study¬†Children of the Day, which covers the books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. This weekend the video was about the six vital components to being a healthy child of God. They are as follows: Nurtured, Affectionately Desired, Accepting Parent’s Very Self, Exhorted, Encouraged, and Charged to Walk Worthy. Although males or females can demonstrate any of these, the first three are characteristics of maternal tendencies and the latter three are paternal tendencies. We can receive these components through one or more human beings, but only God our Father can completely fulfill each of these needs we have.

Through that teaching I realized that with the various types of abuse I went through as a child compounded with my mental disorders, I have a deep rooted desire to be Affectionately Desired that is nowhere even close to being satisfied. Since I turned my life back to God, my relationships with close family have drifted apart, and I lay the responsibility both on myself and the other parties. I struggle with not wanting to be involved in sins that have plagued generation upon generation in my family, yet wanting a connection that each person is instinctively born with in regards to their blood ties. I’ve realized that I hadn’t been able to process my sexual abuse properly for a long time, so I looked for love from people whom God did not ordain for me. I just took the control in my own hands of trying to find a partner, and each time things did not turn out well, which only exacerbated my feelings of rejection. I see my siblings and the relationships they have with their spouses, and I wonder if I may have had that if I just would have let God lead the way to that special person. With my BPD I even question at times if my close friends want to talk to me or spend time with me. There are a dear few right now who are helping me remember that I am a beloved child of God who has great worth and value, and it’s torture when I debate in my mind if they really desire a close relationship with me, or if they are just putting up with me as well.

I believe God is trying to get to the very center of me and make me realize that no one individual or no group of people can give me everything I need in this life to be a whole person. He designed this ache in me to be fulfilled by only His love and affection. He is the only perfect One who can give me unconditional love 100% of the time. But I still keep searching and longing to get those core needs met through other people. So I will continue to bring my hurts to Him, and allow Him to do a work in me until I depend on Him alone. God will use other people to complete this work in me, but they themselves are not the ones who complete me. I am so grateful to have a Savior who never changes and is always willing to forgive me when I admit to Him that I’ve messed up again. So whenever I feel that I am just being tolerated by others, I need to wrap my mind around the fact that Jesus loved me so much that He died on the cross for me so that I can live with Him in heaven someday, and for me to have abundant life through Him while I remain on earth. Doesn’t mean that my personal hurt will feel any less real; it just means that it is bearable and God will grow me into a stronger person every day despite those feelings.

Disillusionment

Today my devotional from My Utmost For His Highest centered around disillusionment. I’ve struggled with this for so many years now. God had an original intention for this world to run perfectly and in harmony, but because of sin that design was shattered. Yet somehow I keep expecting things to get back to a perfect state, and I have this grand illusion that I will be better off. I think to myself “once this happens” or “once I can attain/achieve that” then everything will become so much better in my life. Yes, certain people, possessions or accomplishments can make life easier for me, but to what extent and what type of standard am I measuring it against? Just to receive comforts in life alone is not enough to make my time here worthwhile. God’s intent for me is to grow through the here and now, and not be living in a fairy tale in my mind where I believe certain scenarios will make me happier than how I feel at this moment.

These past couple weeks have been so difficult on my heart, mind and soul. I can’t understand why certain situations are allowed to continue, or why things have seemed to come to a halt for me instead of progressing forward. Anger and bitterness were fighting ruthlessly to gain back ground in my heart, and yes it did take some back. Now I have to repeat the painful process of trying to let that go and let God show His compassion and grace through me to the rest of the world. I’m not in the pit of depression like I have been in the past, and thank God for that much progress.

My daughter wanted to quit piano already over some foolish reason, and I had to explain to her that she can’t give up because of some minor irritation. It resonated in my soul that God is trying to teach me the exact same thing on a much grander scale in regards to my life. I can’t give up my time with God or trusting in Him, because what am I left with then that would possibly make my life any better?

I am not an extremely materialistic person – I do wish I had more conveniences in my life, and I’ve had to adapt to living without. Instead, I turn to people to try to fill my needs. Here is what Oswald Chambers wrote in the devotion I read today:

“Refusing to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering of human life. And this is how that suffering happens – if we love someone, but do not love God, we demand total perfection and righteousness from that person, and when we do not get it we become cruel and vindictive; yet we are demanding of a human being something which he or she cannot possibly give. There is only one Being who can completely satisfy to the absolute depth of the hurting human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord is so obviously uncompromising with regard to every human relationship because He knows that every relationship that is not based on faithfulness to Himself will end in disaster. Our Lord trusted no one, and never placed His faith in people, yet He was never suspicious or bitter. Our Lord’s confidence in God, and in what God’s grace could do for anyone, was so perfect that He never despaired, never giving up hope for any person. If our trust is placed in human beings, we will end up despairing of everyone.”

So no matter how much I keep turning to other people for help, it will all be futile if I do not admit and accept that God has to be the center, the very center, of my desires. Yes, He wants to use others to encourage me and help bear my burdens, but they are imperfect human beings with a limited source of strength and resources. No one can fully give me everything I need to live my life, and I need to stop this disillusionment of expecting to be filled up or completed through anything or anyone else besides the Almighty God who created me. Every time I am disappointed by another person’s comments, actions, or lack of response, I need to differentiate between fact and feelings and then accept that they will be held accountable for themselves some day. I have a much greater Source to rely on through my hard times right now, and His help is infinitely greater than the best of intentions or assistance from anyone else on this planet.

My haunting past

I found out today that I did not get hired for the position I interviewed for last Monday. They are, however, keeping my resume on file because they have another employee retiring in the near future. I guess I can take that as a compliment that I wasn’t completely rejected. But I am doing surprisingly well with being passed over for this position. I think my faith has grown a lot over the last few months, so I can realize that this job just wasn’t the right one that God has lined up for me. I don’t have to take the denial of my skills and capability personally because I don’t know all the details. I just need to keep trusting that my Heavenly Father is still in control and is guiding me to the right employer.

I did find out through my friend why the temp agency I applied to is having a hard time placing me. In her words, remnants of my past mistakes are creating conflict for them to find me a position, but they are still advocating for me and have my file as priority. It shames and frustrates me that my past would haunt me when I’m trying to turn around and do better for myself and my children, but realistically it couldn’t just hide when I came back to approach the working world. Of course I want to be known for the great work and accomplishments I made when I was able to go to work. I don’t want to be shackled with the title of “unreliable” because my health issues made me miss so much time at work. The only hope I have is that my God is bigger than any shameful and hurtful title I may have attached to me, and He can navigate the circumstances in my life to provide a job that will work out tremendously for me and the employer. I’m just praying I can find that one employer with a gracious spirit who will look at my past and give me a chance to prove that I have overcome some of those daunting obstacles. No matter how this works out, my God will provide for my needs everyday, and I can tell this will be an intense testing of my faith in His goodness and timing. I am up for the challenge because I want the opportunity to show how God has changed me for the better, and give Him all the glory and honor for those changes.

Prayer of Jabez

A couple months ago I had picked up a book called The Prayer of Jabez at a garage sale. I didn’t read it right away, but when I did at the beginning of June I did a 30 day challenge to pray that prayer and record my results. I did miss some days, but I had some wonderful and some painful things happen. Each taught me something in their own way. The prayer is found in I Chronicles 4:10: “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”

I’d like to share some of my answers to prayer. Some of the painful experiences were just situations that came to light, and although they hurt, they gave me clarity on some things, which could have been God’s way of keeping me from harm. I had a couple opportunities to volunteer and serve come up, and although they fell through, I think God was testing me to see if I’d be willing to say yes to a calling to begin with. I am still in the process of signing up to be a hospice volunteer. The orientation with the volunteer coordinator was amazing. He is a compassionate man who has a wonderful heart for the dying, and his stories and encouragement were inspiring. He even asked for my resume to help circulate for me. Through the generosity and effort of some of my friends, my van is finally off my hands and in the junkyard, which put some money in my pockets. It felt wonderful to tithe again, and I loved being able to purchase things for myself and as gifts for others all on my own. I was able to stay at a couple of my friends’ houses for a few days, which was a much needed respite. I had several fun outings with my kids and other family members that I will treasure. I had so many deep and soul-searching conversations with several of my friends, and I’m so grateful to grow closer to each one of them through those talks. I made progress with my health issues in regards to finding out I was deficient in vitamin D and getting back on a sleep med. Not being able to fall asleep until almost two in the morning every single day was obviously exhausting, and I’ve had much better rest over the past week! I had a job interview for the first time in awhile, and although I don’t know if I’ll be hired yet, I’m proud that I am stable enough to get back into the work force.

I am going to continue praying that God will increase my territory. I’m ready for bigger and better things, and I have faith that God is letting everything fall into place for me. I need His hand to be upon me, because with more responsibilities I am going to need more of His strength and guidance. I want God to keep me from harm, not just from other people or life in general, but from me harming myself with thoughts of doubt and self-criticism. He loves me and wants me to live life to the fullest, and I am going to continue asking for His blessings to make that come true. God has already answered some of my requests, and I have a lifetime of watching Him answer the rest in His wisdom and love, giving me His best when the time is right.

Shameless audacity

This was the title of the message I just watched. Having a boldness to go before our Heavenly Father who is willing to give us so many good things in our lives. God has been teaching me that I have to develop a willingness to say yes to Him, and things will start to happen in my life. I’ve been so frustrated because in several areas of my life lately I’ve had a few stops and starts. It reminds me of a new driver who isn’t used to the feel of the pedals yet. Things seem to be taking off and gaining a little speed, then the brakes get slammed and things halt for a little while. Then something comes back up or takes on a slightly different form, which in turn gets my hopes built up. I just want to scream sometimes because I have this overwhelming stuck feeling, or I don’t have clear answers on why a certain situation is being played out the way it is. My pastor today said that we see our lives frame by frame like in the old time movie reels, but God is not constrained by time and He sees our full story all at once. God knows what I’ve been through already, what I’m going through now, and what will show up in my path in my future. He knows how my past can be used to strengthen me and prepare me for what lies ahead. He knows I need to learn from my mistakes to make better choices and to help guide others to not make those same mistakes. He knows that some of the things I ask for now may not really be beneficial for me in the long run, so He wisely and lovingly chooses not to allow those things to happen. But I want to develop such a boldness in my soul to ask for things that are beyond anyone’s imagination of how it could possibly happen, and then brag on God as one by one those bold prayers come true. But I don’t want my prayers to be a selfish wish list either. Yes, I want to be blessed with certain material items that will make my life more comfortable, but more importantly I want people and experiences in my life that will help mold me into someone who looks, thinks, and acts more like Jesus every day. God is taking all the filth and darkness from my past and is using it for good so that I can live joyfully for the remainder of my time on this earth. How amazing that the God who created the universe and keeps it going in the palm of His hand loves me so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for me and provided a way for me to spend eternity with Him in heaven. I hated going through the times of abuse, mental health breakdowns, heartaches, doubt, worry, and fear; but they brought me to this point for a reason. God is revealing more of Himself and more of His purpose to me every day, and I am going to boldly ask God to give me the courage to take the steps to follow His leading and just wait for the blessings to flow down upon me. Thank you God for all you have in store for this redeemed sinner.

There is hope

I spent the past couple of days at my friend’s house, and it filled me up in so many ways. She knew that I needed to get away from my surroundings, so she and her husband picked me up after church on Sunday. We had several soul-searching conversations about what I’m experiencing and what God is trying to teach me. She has a gift of truly listening, because I will make some comments, and then she responds with “what I am hearing…” or “what I am sensing…” and she will give me some advice. She has a storehouse of both joyous and heartwrenching memories that she can draw wisdom from. Her daughter also came over yesterday, and she is so supportive as well. They are both fighting their own battles, yet choose to step into my battle as well by praying for me or extending a helping hand. They have faith in me because they have faith in the One who made me. This may be my desert time, but God is still leading me toward the Promised Land. I may be wandering in the wilderness, but there is still an ultimate destination for me here on earth and in my eternal home in heaven. In their home I was able to witness how a family should function, but they know and I know it only works when God is their primary focus. This is something I want to emulate with my children. God is transforming me from the inside out, and I need to realize that something better is down the road. I just have to trust His timing and know that this teaching time has a grand purpose. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.