Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011

Life is really good right now. My dear husband is happy again, now that he returned to his old dose. Son is happy. Daughter is happy. House guests are mostly happy. I hope you too are happy, dear readers!

And for all those preachers from my past who told me that happiness is over-rated, and what you really need is joy, I say: You can't separate the two. If you claim to have joy while you are in fact unhappy, you are just playing with words.

Happiness, I was taught, was dependent on circumstances, while joy is a gift from God that enables one to be happy regardless of circumstances.

Huh? You can be happy and yet you are not experiencing happiness at that time? Gobbledy-gook.

So I wish us all happiness, in the midst of all our circumstances: those laced with uncertainty, those that are easily enjoyed, and even those that sanity demands we NOT be happy about. May little moments of laughter sneak in and lift you out of even those unhappy circumstances.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guest Post by Sandra

I put back up the last two posts, in part because I received this instructive and encouraging email from Sandra (you can read her blog, Chronicles of a Christian Heretic here). She gave me permission to publish it, so here it is!

Also, good news, as my husband returned to his former dosage his joy in living has returned as well. He still needs to make an appointment with his doctor to let him know that coming off the meds was not working well so he went back to the old dosage. I'll be praying for him that he will be able to do that soon and with no shame. For whatever reason, there is a lot of shame associated with needing medication for anything in his family. Fundamentalism is so weird. Without further comment, I give you Sandra's email:

And why is it the depressed can't just say "I'm not doing so well today. I'm sad and I don't know why." or "I can't stop thinking about xyz and it's really bumming me out." ? Doesn't my husband know by now that I can be counted on to be compassionate, understanding and lower my expectations accordingly?


You took down your posts this morning but last night's was still in google reader this morning and this paragraph jumped out at me.

I can only speak for myself and not your husband, but I know that when I am "in a state" (whatever not-healthy state that may be), I literally and truly don't usually know it for a long time--well past when it is glaringly obvious to everyone around me and even to myself in retrospect. In the moment, I am literally blind to my condition. And when it is pointed out to me, even in all civility, I turn on whoever is unfortunate enough to have thought I could be civil in return.

It would seem like the simplest of things to make one the statements you suggest above and I know my family would be incredibly gracious if I could bring myself to make them. But I can't do it very often. Most often, I can't because I can't see that I'm creating a problem; when that is pointed out to me, I refused to admit that I've been creating a problem (it's ridiculous and REALLY makes things worse but it is just how the chemistry works). Partly I am so embarrassed to have been caught in a state I was unaware of that I am furious at myself and I take it out on whoever brought it to my attention (kill the messenger). Of course, I know that my family is (still) loving and gracious enough to accommodate me when I am "not myself" (certainly not the self I prefer to be) if I could just give them the chance to be. But when I am not myself, I literally am not rational, I canNOT think in such a straight line.

In another paragraph, you mention "faking it". Mostly, I don't realize that I am faking it (although, again, clearly I am). "Fake it 'til you make it" has become more than second nature to me--it has been my default position for so long that I don't even know what not faking it looks like. I have to think really hard to find my real response to things (and that's when I'm in a rational state). The learned behaviors were learned so well, so young, and at such cost to my Self that I can't NOT respond with them when I'm in "a state".

Much love and "been there, done that" grace to you and yours.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

The day started out bad, was good in the middle, and ended poorly. My husband is clearly depressed again, and though he put a lot of effort into trying to make a good day, he crashed. I wish instead of faking it and trying to push through, he'd just come out and say "not feeling well today, I will be doing the best I can but understand it is like slogging through jello".

But he won't. Sigh. I was relying on him to be well, and when he fakes it that just winds up in an argument. I notice he's not really "here". I keep catching him withdrawing from the conversation, doing poor work, acting socially inappropriate, and not knowing he's depressed, I get irritated.

If he drops the ball when he's not depressed, and I point it out and ask for help getting it going again, he is quick to apologize and get in the game. But when he's depressed? Oy vey. "I'm sorry I'm not good enough for you." And then the anger and invective come charging out at me, for daring to say anything about his obvious anti-social, childish behaviors.

I wonder how often depression results in domestic violence in other people's lives?

And why is it the depressed can't just say "I'm not doing so well today. I'm sad and I don't know why." or "I can't stop thinking about xyz and it's really bumming me out." ? Doesn't my husband know by now that I can be counted on to be compassionate, understanding and lower my expectations accordingly?

Or is it just my depressed husband who does that?

We had company this evening that we could have easily rescheduled. Our guest even called and said in light of the storm moving in, were we still going to go ahead with the dinner party? If I had known my husband was depressed, I would have taken the phone and told him that he probably shouldn't come and we'd do dinner another night. As it was, I left it up to my husband and he told the guest to come on over. And then ignored him once he got here. Such an unnecessary and unpleasant thing to have happen.

So, anyway, he did agree he was depressed again. We both had a good cry and then he went to bed early. I cleaned up after the dinner party and my teen and adult daughter helped. I had hoped that going back to the full dosage of his med would kick in right away, but maybe it will take awhile. Anyway it is not very much fun, and after things were going to well, too.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Peace and good will, SS

12/26 Dh went to bed at 8pm last night; woke up considerably happier. Looking forward to the meds stabilizing again. Ayiyiyi.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Antidepressants and domestic abuse

Republished December 29 after publishing Christmas Day and removing late that evening.

Two weeks ago my husband started weaning off of one anti-depressant and increasing the dose of another. I sent an email last Sunday to his therapist "for your info and my permanent record, as I will be keeping a copy of this email."

Just wanted to let [name] know that [my husband] was doing a medication change, and it has not gone without affect on his personality. He was more aggressive in driving, compulsively eating again, withdrawn, and antagonistic when any of these issues were brought up as a problem. This is a change back to old ways of thinking and behaving. After weeks of no time-outs at all, there were three days of time-outs last week, with Friday night requiring more than one time out that evening alone. He went ahead and took another dose of the med he was quitting (I don't why the doc didn't choose to taper him off) Friday night and he is better, but not fully happy and participating in life with joy like he was before.

I'm posting it here because I know women in other bad marriage situations read here, and it would be duplicitous to hide problems. He is still not "fully happy and participating in life with joy like he was before."

He is returning to the old husband, the one who pleasantly enough ignored everything I said until I was frustrated, and then responds to me as if my normal human frustration at being stone-walled is characteristic of "a bitch". My efforts to talk to him about how his personality and behavior have changed are called "mean and hateful". I can not account for this return to his old ways other than the changes in medication.

Last night, as we went to bed he read from one of the marriage books we have found helpful, apologized for not helping me as I had asked earlier that night, and promised he would help today. We got into bed and were both almost asleep. My cell phone rang.

It was my daughter with an unexpected crisis (no one's hurt). My husband's response was to turn his back to me. When the phone call continued, he let out an exasperated sigh. He did this a few times.

Wow. Total abandonment of both me and my daughter in one grand gesture. She is shivering in a parking lot afraid and worried about this fender-bender, and he has NO COMPASSION. He hears me comfort her and offer advice and he HAS NO DESIRE TO COMFORT HER OR SUPPORT ME.

Instead, he feels put out and has no problem passive-aggressively broadcasting his self-centered disorder as self-righteously as he can. Unbelievable.

When I do finally take a break from my phone call to tell him to get up (my job as ezer, and he has agreed repeatedly he wants that kind of relationship) he grudgingly does so. He is very kind to my daughter on the phone, but not to me. When the crisis is past and I try to talk to him, he is not at all interested in bringing healing to our relationship.

Unbelievably, he denies that he abandoned me to deal with this myself and was a self-centered jerk, because in his mind once he did get up, then the facts, that he laid there for five minutes sighing in irritation and never did man up and do anything motivated by love, but ONLY took any action in the form of REACTING to my frustration and rebuke, were magically erased from accountability.

All attempts to address the real issue- his self-centered return to PAPD- are being met with classic PAPD behavior. Trite apologies with right words and no emotion. Self-righteous withdrawal into himself when I point out the reality that in human relationships, this is not enough. One must do more than apologize, one must repair the damage done. He knows this. PAPD counts on it. That way the original offense can multiply and cause more pain and damage in the relationship while allowing the PAPD to pity himself as the victim here.

(Religion teaches this constantly. Anyone who brings up a problem "needs to forgive" i.e. suck it up and accept the mistreatment. I hate what the church has done to the words of Christ.)

Well, I had hoped that after a full night's sleep, he would be reasonable again. Nope. Full blown PAPD this morning, complete with physical, verbal and emotional symptoms. When I tried to talk to him this morning (yes, in a calm rational voice, though we are discussing a problem that an apology alone won't solve) he first withdrew his arms, next crossed his arms over his chest, and then actually started to walk out of the room.

I thought his conscience must be scratching his heart somewhere, because then he did come over and lay beside me and put his arm around me, though his arm was now across my neck. I noticed he could have hurt me badly, but chose to assume it was not intentionally intimidating. But then he started repeating, "poor baby" and I then I knew for sure this man was not in his right mind.

This "poor baby" crooning is a personal symptom of his when he is in a PAPD episode/domestic abuse. It's physically manifesting that in his thoughts he is belittling and infantilizing my concerns. Another term for is is misogyny. He is not an adult having a conversation with another adult; he is a god managing an inferior being. His patronizing behavoir is intended to make him look good and reveal his contempt for me at the same time.

The literature about PAPD points out that this is (subconsciously?) intentional and that this thinking about oneself and others is the bedrock on which all the passive-aggressive behaviors are built. Heck, it is the bedrock upon which all domestic abuse and violence is built.

So silly me, I tried having a rational conversation about this too. Why do I think he will hear me with a heart of good will when he is like this? That is about as likely as snowfall in July.

So he turned that around to say I was saying hateful, cruel things about him (pointing out his PAPD behaviors) but he loves me anyway. O. M. G. The therapist calls this the reptile brain and I see why. I might as well be talking to a reptile.

So, he is in a "time-out" right now, but barring some miracle of God all it really is a free pass to avoid dealing with his very real personality problems that are causing distress, pain and frustration to those he loves while indulging his ego. There was absolutely NOTHING humble or honest about his going to this "time out". He is attempting to use it as just another weapon that keeps intimacy and love from invading his life. Ugh.

Well, good news on my front. I am frustrated, but I have a plan. Go back on full dose of the anti-depressant immediately and make an appointment with the doctor next week to discuss the persistent personality problems that are accompanying these changes. That's my bottom line.

And if he chooses not to? At the very least, he will be sleeping on the couch. As to further consequences if he persists in misogyny/self-absorption/resentment? I don't know, but I know that God will be my strength and deliverance.

Peace and good will, SS

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deify or Defy?

What should be the proper response of a believer to an other who wants to claim for themselves the title of gatekeeper to God for that person? Is not complying with that demand giving to that mere mortal equivalence with God himself? If this mere mortal claims the right and responsibility to interpret Scripture, issue edicts, demand total submission and obedience, are they not putting themselves in the position of God himself?

What blasphemy! What arrogance! And yet, whole ministries and families run on these very presuppositions. Not only so, but they market the ideology and ensuing lifestyle to others. It is an extremely profitable business, if the Vision Forum full color catalog and the prices of their wares are directly related to the success of their venture. Big bucks are flowing into the idolaters coffers.

It all comes down to this for the children of patriocentric homes: deify or defy.

Deify your father, ascribe to him all the rights and privileges of God Almighty, live as if his words are the edicts of the Most High, in other words, commit blatant idolatry... or defy him.

Just say no. In that simple act of honesty, "no, daddy, you are not god", the children of these homes face an emotional cruelty that mirrors the excommunications the Roman Catholic authorities handed out to those who dared defy their claims to supreme authority acting as the sole representative of God on earth.

I have seen and read with my own eyes, listened with my own ears, of multiples stories of excommunication. Daughters who just say no to idolatry are cut-off from their families "for their own good". Just like the Catholic church excommunicated Martin Luther for defying their idolatrous claims to power and authority, these daughters (and sons) are sent edicts, damning them to hell in some cases, cutting them off completely from all love and fellowship with their families in all cases. And like the devout Catholics of the seventeenth century hated the Protestants and joined in the persecution of those "rebels", followers of patriocentricity band together to ostracize and persecute the faithful believers who have just said no to Daddy, casting them out with the dreaded charge of "rebel" as in days gone by.

I never thought I would see the day when the evangelical community so closely resembled the Roman Catholic church of the Middle Ages. Everything that was wrong with the Roman Catholic church then, all that our fore-fathers struggled against, is now repackaged as "the true faith" and sold in glossy catalogs, wholesome-looking web sites, promoted by fresh-scrubbed speakers at well-attended modern convention centers and parroted by a world of wannabes looking to be included in the esoteric circles of the truly committed. The office of "priest" is now conferred upon daddy, but all of the power ascribed to the role remains the same.

Deify or defy. Idolatry or obedience. Traditions of men or the terrifying leap of faith into the holy wild with Jesus.

To all of my sister in Christ who have chosen Jesus over Daddy, even though it meant excommunication and exile from all you have known and loved, you are in good company. I know that Jesus will never fail you nor forsake you, and life will be a grand adventure as you go from glory to glory with the Lord leading every step of the way.

Mark 10: 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

You made the right choice.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Love and Peace at Christmas

One of my favorite blog authors is Eric Pazdziora, who a regular guest writer on one of my favorite blogs, Quivering Daughters.

Both Hillary McFarland, the blog owner of Quivering Daughters, and Eric Pazdzoria, guest author, write with a gracious gentleness that soothes and heals. I hope your heart is inspired and uplifted by this recent blog post about Christmas trees, as mine was. Peace and good will to all who read here. May you find what you're looking for, and when you do, may if satisfy your heart in every way. SS

Monday, December 13, 2010

Biblical Economics in Comics: A Home School Mom's Review

*This post will be edited at a later date for clarity, style, spelling, grammar and punctuation. I am extremely busy IRL but just had to get this out there!

Many years ago (6? 8? 10?), back when I still frequented home school conventions every chance I got, I first came across this book. I was thrilled at the concept of a complicated subject presented in comics. I had a gifted student for whom I was always on the lookout for fun-loving ways to introduce higher concepts. Having already purchased A Cartoon Guide to Physics on a previous shopping spree, I didn't even look at this book before whipping out my wallet and adding it to the home school treasure trove known as my learning library. Besides, Vic Lockman was a famous catroonist. I was familiar with his work because I grew up reading newspapers. Smugly I placed it on my library shelf when I got home, knowing I had my students' future educational needs already covered.

Middle school days arrived sooner than expected, but I did not panic. I was well prepared. We had spent years learning world and American history, so once our state history had been duly taught, learned and mastery quantified, it was time to move on to civics and economics. I searched the social studies sections of my book stash to see what I had available so I could plan a unit study on economics. I smiled broadly as I rediscovered my long ago purchase, Biblical Economics in Comics by Vic Lockman.

I poured myself a cup of coffee, grabbed a spiral notebook for planning out exactly how I would present the contents of the book, and settled down for what I thought would be a comfy read. After only a few pages, though, my opinion of this book, Vic Lockman and the vendor from whom I made my purchase, went through a radical revision. And I do mean radical.

You see, I was still living in a spiritual wonderland where I believed that everything described by the adjective "Biblical" would actually be wholesome evangelical doctrine, safe and nutritious as mother's milk. Surely it would glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and his finished work of atonement on the cross. It must have been written to draw people closer to the Lord of Love, the God of Grace, the Shepherd's leading of the Spirit of God. It would be full of things that were "true,...noble,...right,...pure,...lovely,...admirable,...excellent,...praiseworthy" in keeping with Philippians 4:8. That was my naive assumption.

Instead I opened up a book that was base, mean-spirited, ugly, opinionated and not at all praiseworthy. In shock, I kept reading, like one stares in fascination at an infected wound. How can this exist in the world?! Who lets this happen?!

By the time I was done with this little tome, and I read it cover to cover, though not without many outraged interjections to my husband ("Honey you won't believe what he says next!), I decided to keep it on my library shelf. It is the single best example of propaganda I have ever come across, and I have used it as such in my civics courses ever since. I even have my students write essays explaining how the propogandist Vic Lockman uses style (cartoons seem wholesome, innocent), caricaturization (the way he draws the "bad" characters versus the "good" characters), demonization of entire classes of people (those working for the government, called "beaurarats" and drawn as rats; people using government assistance as all lazy con-artists), misrepresenting opposing ideas (portraying economists promoting government spending as economic stimulus as heartlessly promoting vandalism in order to stimulate spending) and worst of all, denying the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by calling for a theocracy in America based on the Old Testament system of law as "Biblical".

I kid you not.

Jesus said plainly that his kingdom was not of this world, and told Pilate that if it were he would have led his followers to war in order to establish his earthly kingdom, but He did not. The Savior of the world was never interested in setting up a political realm where people were forced by law to obey the Bible. Instead, he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. He even plainly pointed out the deficiency of the law when he said, "You have heard it is written...but I say unto you..." several times in his Sermon on the Mount. The apostles later reiterated by the power of the Holy Spirit that the kingdom of God is not "meat or drink" but "righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit".

Theonomy is blasphemy against the Lord Jesus Christ, and this little cartoon guide promotes this blasphemy unabashedly. Be warned, home school parents!

For years I have been using this book as an example of propaganda at home, and occasionally posting about my experience with it on various online forums, but without every bothering to go look up the title and author from the shelf and naming names. What prompts this post now, you may wonder? I saw a full color Vision Forum catalog yesterday, and there in living color this poison little propaganda booklet is prominently featured. If I had the catalog in my possession, I would give out the page number.

Be warned away from this blasphemous book, home school moms who love Jesus! Don't be fooled by the innocent presentation of the comic format, there is poison inside. Jesus did not come to set up a political kingdom on earth, but to transform hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, given to all who call on His name for mercy and life.

* If the temptation to attempt utopia on earth by promoting a "Biblical" theonomy appeals to you at all, run out and find a copy of Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale and Albert Marrin's Stalin: Russia's Man of Steel . Read them both repeatedly until you are cured of your idealistic fantasy about the power of government to bring heaven on earth.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Personal Holiday Update

For all my longtime readers, I wanted to give a personal update on the state of my marriage.

EMDR/trauma therapy is continuing to be, well, therapeutic. =)

My husband and I are both in therapy, but we are NOT in marriage therapy. I can hardly stress that enough. We are each in individual therapy working on our own issues. We happen to be seeing the same therapist, but that is ONLY because this therapist is competent enough to keep her clients work confidential and separate in her mind, even though we are married to each other.

For newcomers, we are in therapy because of domestic violence issues, even though we are not in marriage therapy. Long story short, for many years we were happily married. I am not saying we were perfectly healthy- looking back there was emotional abuse going on and warning signs that things were not all right- but there was still a lot of love between us, forgiveness, affection, fun. I guess an apt comparison is to diet: we were not always choosing the healthiest foods (thoughts, behaviors) but we were young, active, and making enough good choices to stay healthy.

We had first one child, a daughter, and then another, a precious son. We were actually pretty happy (though my husband had some stress from work relationships now and then). We both had active spiritual lives. I was loving being a SAHM, and my husband was still my hero. Life was good most of the time.

Then (and the timing did not seem significant at the time) my husband took a job that required full-time travel. He was drawn to this occupation at about the time my son grew to be the size/age that my husband had been when he was sent away to boarding school by his missionary parents. Looking back, it is clear that the emotional wounds my husband suffered at that age resurfaced, yet the denial surrounding the life of missionaries is SO STRONG that neither of us ever considered that a contributing factor.

All I knew was that in spite of my being super-supportive of his new career venture he began to be a real jerk whenever he was home. He became very harsh with my son, openly favoring my daughter and treating me like I was stupid. All my concerns were emotional hysterics, rather than valid observations. Looking back, I am amazed that we lasted through this scenario as long as we did.

Every time I was close to leaving him, he would pull it together. I am both a forgiving and an idealistic person. Second chances are my specialty. And when confronted, he did make the big changes once he saw I meant business. The first time we almost divorced, he managed to get placed locally and get off the road. He renewed his spiritual life. We went to an Assembly of God Marriage Encounter and he diligently applied the program. Disaster was averted.

Time went on, and our marriage managed to do okay. With a lot of effort on both our parts, we got by. We even had moments of happiness that could even be called seasons. But always he would revert back to his misogynistic, patronizing behaviors eventually. He would stop communicating with me, and start trying to manage me. All of this time, he had some deep personal issues that went completely unacknowledged. Everything was my fault. I was overreacting. I was too emotional. Women, huh? >:[

I have two close friends with whom I would share all the frustrations and triumphs of life. One started telling me that my husband's behavior was abusive. I blew her off at first. We were good Christians, dontcha know? His behavior was certainly carnal. He was living a somewhat fleshly lifestyle. I could even admit he was "in sin". But abusive? That was a word for the drunk who came home and beat his wife up physically- not for my professional, white collar, middle class, suburban, evangelical Christian husband!

Finally it got to where life was impossible. I could not get my husband to hear me, no matter how I tried. He no longer considered me a fully functioning human nor a friend. He responded to me as if I were insane and unreliable no matter what the subject. He sparred with me verbally as if he considered me an enemy. He was unkind, obstructive, and rude when he spoke with me at all. Most of the time he used passivity, silence and inactivity to hurt me.

I remember once when we took a walk to go talk, and I sobbed deeply asking him why he hated me, what had I done? In a moment of honesty, he admitted he hated me and also that he had no real reason for hating me. He was genuinely distressed to admit this and promised to stop. Ah, if only it had been that easy.

I was talking with my other friend, a retired career woman, and asking her for help in formulating a plan to support myself so I could leave the marriage. Her precious husband advised me to at least give it one more try, as he did not want to see me plunged into poverty after all these years of faithfulness on my part. They suggested the ministry my other friend recommended. And so I agreed.

Shortly after that I began this blog. At that Marriage Intensive Seminar by Joel and Kathy Davission, I realized that I was in an abusive marriage. I came to see how by internalizing wrong teaching from the church (woman submit crap) I had intensified the problem and enabled it in reaching the dangerous proportions the abuse in our marriage had reached. I learned how my husband, by resisting my stated needs and obsfucating the conversations I had with him, my husband was (subconsciously but still purposely) manipulating me to become so frustrated I would be the first to raise my voice, allowing him to dismiss me as "too emotional" "hysterical"- even calling my response to his stone-walling tactics "abusive". And my Christian training enabled that to happen. Whoa.

My husband woke up to the fact that he was in fact an abusive man. At this point it manifested only as long-term emotional, psychological and verbal abuse. It was soon to escalate to physical abuse. Ironically, the wall of denial had already begun to fall down before it reached that point. If you would like all the details of how change and healing began to come to us, take the time to read all the past posts labeled "home school marriage" and/or "PAPD". (There is a lot of overlap on posts under these two labels.)

So now we're caught up, right? Okay, FINALLY the update!

My in-laws were here this past weekend. My husband remained affectionate and attentive to me while they were here, and I know that was purposeful and I appreciate it. My father-in-law spoke very disrespectfully to me once, and I calmly and immediately replied, "do NOT speak to me that way, I deserve to be treated with respect" and my father-in-law offhandedly said "sorry" and continued to make his point with respect. Wow. That was pretty cool.

I did not helplessly let him talk to me that way. I did not "wait" for my husband to confront him, and then feel hurt and dismissed when my husband didn't take up for me. I don't need my husband to take up for me. I can take up for myself. BUT knowing my husband was emotionally on my side was a satisfying reward.

He still isn't strong enough to personally confront his dad, and I am okay with that. He's working on it, which is more than most Christian men will ever do. I am so proud of my husband that he has stopped blaming me for all his deadness inside and is healing and growing as a person. He thanked me for taking up for myself and not trying to push him into something he agreed needed to be done, but that he was not ready to do. Isn't that awesome? It's like our marriage is an egalitarian partnership! (Ooooh, I said a naughty word. heh heh)

He recently met with his doctor to go over his meds and evaluate how they are working, and he came home so happy. When his doctor asked him when was the last time he had depressed thoughts of wanting to no longer be alive, he couldn't even remember that time. The anti-depressants and therapy are really paying off for him. I am so happy for him. He is so happy.

So, there you have it. The state of our marriage is: healing. No major problems since these posts here and here. We have come to a place where I can confront him calmly, and if he remains in his reptile brain, I can calmly walk away. He then gets it together (amazingly sooner rather than later!) and we get back in synch. So far, so good.

For my part, I am continuing in EMDR therapy for myself. I want very much to be able to go back to school and finish some kind of training and start a real career commensurate with my abilities. :) I would appreciate all prayers that I be accepted into the training course to which I have applied, and that I will be able to finish the course and succeed in a career that would pay enough that I could be totally self-supporting. Not because I am planning on leaving my marriage, but because that's what grown-ups do.

I want to take my place in society as a useful contributor now that my home school career is coming to an end. I am more scared than I thought I would be, and for the first time I am actually worried about being accepted for something I am applying to for admission. Yikes! Wish me well.

Peace and good will, SS

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

I can't believe I am up typing at 5:00 am. I have been up since 3:00 am. This doesn't happen to me often. I hope it doesn't happen again for a long time.

Holidays are often such stressful times for people because of family of origin issues. I don't usually have much trouble with those, seeing as how I am a grown adult with a family of my own. However, my twin sister being so seriously ill complicates things a lot. It has drawn me into the outskirts of family of origin complications, and that's why I can't sleep tonight.


It's a Biblical term, you know. Once a year, the High Priest would lay his hands on the scape goat, pronounce the sins of the people over the goat as he laid hands on it, and then the goat would be led into the wilderness and abandoned.

As the Priest turned his back on the goat and walked away, he was walking away from the responsibility for the sin of the people. None of them would be held responsible. It was all the goat's fault at that point.

In my family, I am that goat.

I didn't volunteer for this role, I assure you. Neither did my twin sister, who shares the role with me because of the misfortune of being born a twin.

Talking to her recently, I also was reminded just how negatively my family of origin chooses to view me. My oldest sister, whom I once asked for temporary shelter if I needed to leave the marriage, is spreading this confidential news all over the family of origin relationship sphere. Of course she puts her own twist on it.

In her version, I am melodramatic and just crying for attention. Plus, if there actually IS any problems in my marriage, they are all my fault. I am lying about my husband, he would never hurt me. I am an evil, vindictive person out to destroy a good man. *sigh*

I can't believe I trusted her.

Well, for all of you who pray, please pray for protection for my very sick twin sister. I was surprised when the whole family came together to help support her in her time of illness. Our family is so ungodly, though very religious, so any practical compassion on their part is a true testament that the forces of good are at work in the earth!

They are still one screwed up dysfunctional family though, with a history of blaming everything on the twins, perpetual scapegoats that we are. One the one hand they do currently provide financial support for my (very sick) twin. On the other hand the last time my oldest sister visited her in person, she accused her of faking her illness.

She made these accusations publicly and with a great deal of anger. Talk about kicking a person when they are down. It was wicked. It was cruel. It was destructive. It was ugly.

But she is the one who holds the purse-strings. What can my twin do? She is completely at the mercy of my oldest sister.

So here's the bad news: my oldest sister hasn't spoken to me since she freaked out on me almost a year ago. She had just returned from a visit to my mom's, which seemed to take her right back into the old family role of mom's co-abuser.

Now she is going back to visit my mom again, and intends to then immediately go see my twin sister. I am terrified for my twin. At the very least she will be verbally and emotionally abused during this visit. Don't suggest I am just being negative; I know these people well.

But at worst, my oldest sister is about to abandon her again. It is entirely likely that she is going to announce that the rest of the family is tired of financially supporting my twin. She will probably tell my twin that the Lyme disease is her fault somehow. Likely my oldest sister will hint it is all in my twin's head, and if my twin would just try harder to be well, she would be. Maybe my oldest sister will outright accuse my twin of faking it, like she did to her on her last visit.

I know how my family works. If they want to stop supporting her financially, they will do it in such a manner that they can blame my twin. They will torment her until she breaks, and then spread the news amongst themselves about how ungrateful and hostile my twin was, and after all they did for her! They will tell themselves that my twin doesn't deserve their support. They will try to torment her to the point that my twin herself will refuse their money.

I say "try" because that is not an option for my twin. She is permanently disabled by Lyme disease. She can not work. I think she is still getting government disability, but that is a paltry sum. She is on Medicaid, but then Medicaid doesn't cover Lyme disease. The government health care doesn't acknowledge that chronic Lyme exists, even though Americans die from it every year.

We send her rent money every month. My younger sister pays her prescriptions. My older sister pays her private health insurance. Even my NPD mom chips in, surprisingly.

My older sister organized all this, in her moments of Christian conviction, about the same time that she reconciled with me. Of course those days are over now, and I am afraid that all the Christian charity has dried up as well.


I am asking God to heal her, as I have been all along, but no miracle has been forthcoming yet. Maybe if you join your prayers with mine?

Pray that God will turn my oldest sister's heart: that she will not be able to go see my sister immediately after visiting my mom. That's is the absolute worst-case scenario for my twin.

Pray that God will stir up the hearts of my family once again to true Christian love. It was a miracle the first time. It would absolutely rock my world if He would do it again.

Can you hear me now, God? Out here in the exiled wilderness where the scapegoats go? Does anyone else hear me? If you will join me in prayer, please leave a comment. I am so in need of hope this morning. Maybe God will come through for my precious twin if we all pull together in prayer?

I feel rather puny right now. ~SS

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Own Olive

Yesterday was bitter sweet for me. I had a wonderful relaxing low key Thanksgiving with my husband, children and a good friend. We feasted and laughed and life was good. We don't have much in the way of leftovers, just some turkey and of course the vegetables. As much as we love them, if the leftovers for grazing are cold vegetables versus cold pumpkin pie, it's a no-brainer.

After dinner we watched a movie about family loyalty, Little Miss Sunshine. Take that, my fundie upbringings! There is more real love and loyalty in the final scene of that movie than I think I ever experienced in the totality of my life growing up in my (self-) righteous "Christian" fundamentalist family. It is quite a contrast.

So after the movie, my dear friend, whom I admire greatly, found the cajones to make a difficult phone call. Her life, her story so I won't elaborate here, except to say that I found it inspiring. I decided to make a difficult phone call myself.

I had been thinking about my twin sister and praying for her more than usual. (Back story here.) I always hesitate to call, because she is gravely, chronically ill and I do not want to be the person to wake her up just as she has finally fallen to sleep. It's safer to e-mail.

An email is just not the same as a human voice, though. Sometimes the payoff is worth the risk, so, following my friend's example, I picked up the phone and made the call. I didn't even get her voice mail. The phone just kept ringing so I assumed she was on another call and hung up. I resolved to try again later, and by later I meant another day. I don't think she can handle two phone calls in one day.

Well, to my surprise, she called me back later. We would up talking for almost three hours. I consider it one of my finest achievements of the year that she was actually laughing when we got off the phone. If I accomplish nothing better this year, my life counted for something good in that moment. She deserves to laugh and experience joy in this life.

Most of the two hours was not overflowing with laughter. She is truly ill, and that is a reality that hangs ominously like a dark cloud over every moment of her life. It IS her life right now, unfortunately. All of her energy is focused on getting well, getting treatment, fighting the ignorance and indifference of overworked medical staff, struggling against the insurance establishment, and then underlying it all, the abandonment, rejection and vilification from her effed up family of origin is still there.

I hate what fundamentalism did to my sister. I realize that is was just one of many tools that my NPD mother used to dominate and control us, but the weapon itself is still nasty, really destructive. My twin is one of those who went through the terror of believing the rapture had taken place and she was left behind. Damn that horrid movie A Thief in the Night. Understandably, having been abandoned at birth to the hospital preemie ward, then abandoned by mom completely when sent to live with my Grandma, and abandoned by our biological father by the age of two years old, abandonment was already her biggest fear and greatest source of pain.

For those of you not in the know, the "rapture" was made up by Americans in the 1700-1800s. It was never a traditional Christian doctrine, i.e. the apostles who walked with Jesus never taught it. It remains a great tool for terrifying people to convert to a semblance of Christianity, a la "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", and it is an especially great tool for controlling people once they "get saved". Walk that line, people, or get abandoned by Jesus right when the world starts to get the ugliest it has ever been!

(For the record, the gospel message is the opposite of Jonathan Edwards and his manipulating sermon. Jesus came to seek and save those separated from the loving heart of God. He came to reconcile us to God. Jesus tore the veil separating us from the Divine Presence of the Holy Trinity. The Father sent Jesus to us, to show us the Father and because the Father so LOVED us! God is not disgusted by you, and anyone who tells you different is a liar. (All of this is in the Bible, plain as day, but I will not thump you with references here. Email me at to_shadowspringATyahooDOTcom if anyone wants the references. Be warned that if you want to merely argue doctrine, I have no time for you.)

Rejection was my twin sister's earliest emotional experience, so of course when a preacher one day told her that God planned to burn her in hell for all eternity, but if she would walk the aisle and pray this prayer, then God would relent and not punish her forever, she fearfully, tearfully made her way down the aisle. It was no hard sell to convince her that God rejected her as she was. That preacher had it easy on that count. The gospel of grace, though, the truth that Jesus will never fail us or forsake us? The truth that Jesus will never reject anyone who comes to Him? She was never able to rest in that. My twin sister couldn't really trust that His love was steadfast, unfailing, totally secure. She was never fully assured that He wouldn't snatch back his offer of mercy at any moment.

The Baptist proclivity for Finney style hard-sell high-pressure audience response techniques did nothing to assure my sister of God's love. In fact, re-dedications were almost as rewarding to the preachers as first time salvation responses. They worked that angle all the time, your need to "get right with God". For the insecure and the wounded it just muddled up what little true gospel had gotten into their message even further. Just thinking about fundamentalist doctrine upsets me, so let's just leave that bitter taste behind and get on to the sweet, shall we?

I was able to tell my sister that I loved her and that I accepted her as a sister in Christ, even without the fundamentalist trappings. Like many of our most vulnerable and weak in society, she talks to God all the time. She relies on Him to get her through each day, and is continually asking Him for help. She has an awareness of His presence and His love (thank God!) but it does hurt her to know that our fake Christian family rejects her as a heretic because she left fundamentalism behind so long ago.

I am just really really grateful that Jesus is not defined by fundamentalist doctrine. I am really really grateful that the Holy Spirit of the Living God doesn't take orders from the American Christian politico-business machine. I am thankful for that Amazing Grace that John Newton knew, and for all the drunks sitting around campfires today still crooning out that paen to the true grace of our Loving God. Keep singing.

I am thankful that I finally get it, that doctrine over person is WRONG. Jesus said that his new command was that WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

He did not say that his greatest desire is that we all get doctrinally correct, and finally uncover the hidden message of the rapture.

He didn't say that all men would know we were his disciples because of our regular church attendance, or the way we snubbed "unacceptable" people.

It was sweet to be able to honestly, sincerely tell my twin sister that she is acceptable in God's sight, just as she is, holy and precious to him because that's who Jesus is: He is love. It was sweet to be able to say honestly that yes, I believe the Holy Spirit is at work in your life, leading and guiding you on a daily basis. That meant so much to her and to me. I am ashamed that I missed out on that for so many years because I let fundamentalist fear be my truth, instead of trusting in the gracious love of God.

If my sister's life could be likened to the character Olive, putting her whole heart into something my religion told me was the wrong song, then like Olive she still deserved to be loved and supported. God looks at the heart, not the outward appearance. I wish I had loved my twin sister unashamedly like the non-religious family in Little Miss Sunshine loved their Olive.

I am thankful for all the families out there in the world that are like the family in Little Miss Sunshine, standing behind one another in solidarity no matter how tough times get. In that movie, the little girl may have made some embarrassing choices, but her family saw the innocent heart behind her efforts and refused to condemn her. I want to love like that: whole-heartedly, willing to be embarrassed if love calls for it, never rejecting but caring for people in the ways that they need, in that moment, to be cared for. I want to love like Jesus.

As a cyber friend wrote recently on his blog:
Do you think that if all the other voices were silenced (as if it were possible) and all you had were the scriptures and your own children to teach you about God that you would assume God loved you despite your behavior?

Good question, Ryan. Good movie, Michael Arndt. Good conversation, sister.

May the grace of God be a very real experience to all who read here. SS

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Wow. I am a little blown away by the traffic that my last post generated. I have had more hits on my blog over that post than any other ever, by a long shot. I guess that must mean I am on to something. And here I thought I was pretty radical and on the fringe. Maybe I am, but it at least appears I have a lot of company here. *waves enthusiastically at the other radical fringe Christ followers* =D

Today is Thanksgiving, so Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I am the main cook around here, so I don't have time for a long thoughtful blog post. But short thoughtful I can do! So here's the thought:

2 Corinthians 13:11-14 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

So marks the close of the second letter Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth, that we have in our possession still today. Wow! What a giant humongous great big bundle of good will and high aspirations, no?

Rejoice: I hope all of you find joy today in everything you do: chopping veggies, caring for children, cleaning for company, setting the table, making small talk with in-laws, walking the dog...all of it. I hope that you will all rejoice to be alive, and rejoice that there is a metaphysical Super-being who loves you overwhelmingly and unconditionally. Rejoice.

Strive for full restoration: That's a tricky one. Holidays often mean that we are around people with whom we have fractured, unhealthy relationships in some way. (Not for all you perfect families out there, but the rest of us! ;-) I hope that many of you will have been praying about these relationships, and that today is a healthy step toward full restoration. I myself will have no such awkward relations around the table this year, but I have in the past. So I will say a prayer for the people dealing with that today. As much as lies in you, seek for peace, but don't accept abuse in the name of peace either. Full restoration is going to have to take everyone's feelings into account, including yours. For me and my family of origin, it will probably always be something we strive for but won't attain this side of glory. But we do what we can.

Encourage one another. Speak that kind word. Be a cheerleader to your aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, spouses and parents, neighbors and friends. We all need it. Sow some good stuff out there in the universe. Always a good idea.

Be of one mind. What the heck can that possibly mean in a world where two witnesses to the same accident will see things differently? I think it means of one purpose, not doctrine or belief or point of view. So here's hoping all of you come together today to share a day of peace, and can at least be of one mind on that. Jesus did command us to love one another, so I am praying that we can all be of one mind in this: asking Jesus to live and love others through us today.

Live in peace. Overlook what you can; take a stand when you must- but do so in gentleness and respect. I realize these things are tricky, and the trickiest part is what gets first place: keeping peace or living in truth? If everyone in the home is there in good will, it shouldn't be a problem. But if like my family of origin, there is a history of emotional abuse, that can be super-tricky. Me, I decided that it was actually impossible. I have not spent a Thanksgiving with my mom since she kicked me out at seventeen. In my defense, I've never been invited. On the other hand, I deliberately live half a continent away, so that pretty much guarantees I will never be invited. So, live in peace, fellow Christ-followers. That might mean you have to avoid certain people, if after striving for restoration you have not attained it. I give you permission to do what you must to live in peace, abuse-free, restorative peace.

Greet one another with a holy kiss. That's a lot easier if you're Brazilian or Italian or Romanian, but kinda tricky if you're American. Whatever makes you and your friends comfortable. The idea is to greet each other with true welcome and affection from a place of Christian love.

And now the good part:

"And the God of love and peace will be with you." "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

Intimacy with God is what I live for: that whisper of the Holy Spirit in my heart that He loves me. The gentle nudge of grace that says I am a delight to God just be being, whether I burnt the mashed potatoes or not. The sense of being surrounded by love and the peace of heart that this sensation produces in my life. That's the stuff. That's what I wish you all on this holiday, and what the Lord Jesus came to welcome us into: fellowship with the Trinity. May it be the joy of all our lives today. Peace and good will, SS

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anne Rice and a new exodus?

According to the ladies at the Wartburg Watch, a lot of formerly committed evangelicals are now calling themselves atheists. I have made cyber-acquaintance with a few over at No Longer Quivering. I have a cyber-friendship with one such person who has come full circle and wants to return to enjoying a walk with Jesus, albeit without returning to organized religion or at least not the organized religion of her past. Her blog is fittingly titled Chronicles of a Christian Heretic.

Anne Rice, famous author of the Vampire Chronicles, turned away from atheism and embraced Christianity, specifically Catholicism, a decade ago. Recently she felt that in order to be true to the teachings of Christ, she needed to separate from the organized religion of Christianity. Fox news had this report at the time.

More than one young woman, having been raised in a committed evangelical home, complete with daily devotions and weekly church attendance, are now questioning how what they have personally internalized from the Bible and more importantly, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives, fits together with what is being taught in American churches. Men also are beginning to question what they have blindly believed and taught all these years as "the true faith".

What is going on here? Is this a Spirit led exodus out of the politicized business model that has become American Christianity? Is all of it the responsibility of the American Christian booksellers/curriculum providers/church growth/music/movie industry? For the capitalist enterprise that is the Christian market, it has been very profitable to promote a parallel Christian society that exists apart from and in opposition to "the world", i.e. all the other dear people with whom we share the planet.

I'm just wondering out loud, but maybe the death of the American church industry wouldn't be such a bad thing. My mentor, good friend and life-long Catholic believer has quit going to church because of the politicized, hierarchical money-making empire she believes her church has returned to with recent papal decisions. As for me, good Protestant I was raised to be, everything that I see is wrong with the Catholic church is wrong with the rest of the organized American religious empire.

We may not have ever sold pardons, but we have still twisted the good news of salvation to a profit-making enterprise that steals from the poor and blesses the rich. Ed Young Jr is merely one high profile preacher to get called out on the "tithe or God will getcha!" sermons I have heard in so many churches. How is that so different from selling indulgences? Both are taking money from people under the guise of "god's will".

All over my little corner of the internet, I am finding people who are fed up with abusive churches, pastors, and doctrines. Most of these people, like myself, like Anne Rice, are not leaving Christ Jesus. We haven't rejected the Bible. We reject how so-called "spiritual authorities" have misapplied the Bible to build up their own influence, power and wealth.

We are however coming out and voicing our discontent, and not letting people shame up with misapplied verses to get us to shut up. The internet has given formerly marginalized people a voice, and we are using it. The exodus I speak of is an exodus out of silence. In some cases it is also an exodus out of organized religion. It raises even more questions for me.

The apostle John wrote "we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may also have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ...if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (I John 1:3.7) Surely he was not referring to the superficial Sunday morning gathering most American churches call "worship". It has to mean more than that, something real, heartfelt, and yes metaphysical.

Maybe it means you and I meeting over the internet and making the effort to come together in real life and pray for one another. Maybe it means having communion like Jesus first shared it- around the dinner table with friends- remembering how Jesus died for all of us and secured the new covenant in his blood for the remission of our sins! A joyful thing, not a solemn religious ceremony; a meeting of people you know and want to spend time; not a public event controlled by a grave man who does not personally know you and passed out by other dour-faced suit-wearing middle aged strangers.

Anyhoo, I have to go hang out with my daughter now. I leave you with musings and questions, and I have no plan to come back later and give you any "answers". Enjoy the mysteries. SS

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Servant Leader"?

I love the writing of the Apostle John. His gospel, his letters, even his vision on the Isle of Patmos (though admittedly not nearly as straight-forward practical as his other works) all speak to my heart so profoundly.

This week I am reading again in the gospel of John, the Passover discourse with the disciples that begins in chapter thirteen and concludes at the beginning of chapter eighteen. The first verse of the discourse:

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love (John 13:1, Thompson Chain Reference Bible, New International Version, 1983).

Wow, get ready for what happens next. Jesus is about to show the full extent of His love! This is the big reveal. The next thing Jesus does will be all about love, His love for us. This is so important because He will soon command his disciples to do the same for each other.

If you are a Christian, you know the scenario about to unfold. Jesus, the guest of honor, is about to take off his "outer garment" (take off his jacket, roll up his sleeves, so to speak), wrap a towel around his waster and start doing the house slave's job. He is going to wash everyone's feet.

Now before I go further, I must admit that I haven't studied ancient Roman household codes, so when I say that washing feet was the house slave's job, I am repeating what I have heard from the pulpit many times. I am assuming that is true, as I have heard it repeatedly. That is not always a wise practice ( 0.0 ) but I think no harm is done here. In the passage, the disciple Peter acts truly shocked that Jesus would do such a thing, and resists letting Jesus debase himself to touch Peter's filthy funky feet.

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them (John 13:15-17).

Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, has just shown in living color than no job is beneath Him. He is willing to serve in any way that is needful to the ones He loves. He conveys to his disciples that now there is no task too humble for them, because they can't possibly believe that they are above Jesus. The messenger cannot honestly consider himself of higher status than the Master who sent him out. That would be inconceivable.

I remember being fascinated as a little girl with the state of my sandal clad feet at the end of a summer day. It was amazing how white was the skin covered by leather straps in comparison to the filthy darkness of the exposed parts of my feet. The crevices and wrinkles would be near black, the rest the color of coffee stains. I also remember being amazed at the amount of dirt left in the bottom of the tub after washing my feet. Oklahoma is a dirty state, and didn't even miss the half cup or so of dirt that clung to my little girl feet on any given summer day.

Our feet these days are safely encased in socks and shoes, so while they may be a bit smelly come evening they are not filthy. They are well protected from the elements by our clothing. Our pathways are no longer dirt. If we are walking outside at all, it will be on concrete sidewalks and paved parking lots. That is the farthest many of us walk outside most days, from the building to the car or vice versa.

I am not sure of any job in our household that would be the equivalent to foot washing in an arid climate before modern transportation. In that culture, one would have walked all day on dusty roads, stepping around (hopefully) any animal droppings lying around, while wearing sandals. A country child's feet may still get that dirty, but it is the exception not the rule.

There are no slaves anymore. If we accept that the most distasteful tasks are the ones we hire out when we can afford it, then housecleaning and the care of young children are at the top of the list. I think it no coincidence that in patriarchal families that is considered woman's work. Notice I do not write "in Christian families" because patriarchal homes are hardly Christian. Patriarchy is a world-wide phenomenon and has been around since the fall of man, long before Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist that fateful evening.

What would be the social equivalent of a slave's task these days? Coming over as a guest, grabbing a pair of gloves, paper towels, toilet brush and cleanser and cleaning the bathrooms? Taking out the garbage? Changing a baby's diaper? Rinsing the soiled diapers well before placing them in the washing machine and renewing the bleach water in the diaper pail?

Whatever task you choose, it would have to be one in which the host would be tempted to jump up and say, "No! Never!" in shock, like Simon Peter said to Jesus (v. 8). We can't get what Jesus was really telling us if we don't relate to Simon Peter. There is a reason his response is highlighted in scripture. It relates to all of us.

There you have my musings from my time in the Word this morning. Whether anyone reading here gets anything from it, it is speaking volumes to me. The picture of true humility is being a servant to all. And not a servant-leader either, but a true servant. Jesus didn't serve by calling the slave to come in and wash the disciples' feet. He made sure it got done by doing it Himself. There was no display of any kind of authority or taking charge of things. He did what needed to be done.

And then he specifically commanded us, don't think you are above me. Do as I have done. No excuses (vs. 12-17). No job is beneath you. You are not in charge of anything but your own choices. Jesus is the Teacher and the Lord (vs. 13) and he is the One giving commands here and His command is humble yourself and serve.

Go and do likewise. Indeed. I think I better get busy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eternally Secure in the Love of God

For this reason, I argue, we can be assured that God has an eternally prepared response to every possible free choice that agents might make throughout history, which is why I contend that the open view of the future offers as much providential assurance as does Molinism. Whatever comes to pass, God has been preparing for it from all eternity, as though it had to take place. ~Greg Boyd

The above quote is taken from here.

Rest easy, beloved.

Jesus is with you.

*He will never leave you nor forsake you. *He will never cast you out. *He is with you always, even to the very end of this age (eon, generation, decade, ordeal- all of it! =)*He loves you with an everlasting love. *Tell him your troubles, because He really cares for you. *He will work things together for the highest good of all who love Him in the end. Jesus is smart like that, *able to do more than we can possibly imagine.

I commend you to the loving heart of God, SS

*for those who love references, plus the above phrases into Bible Gateway. Start with NIV, and if you can't find it, try KJV. I memorized a ton of scripture in KJV as a new Christian. If that doesn't work try Amplified**. I refrain from posting references today in response to Bible thumpers everywhere. Smacking people with references doesn't make the Word of God more true, and it certainly doesn't make your personal interpretations any more valid. Less thumping, more truth. Peace out, SS

**Edited to add: NASV as well. I wasn't picking my fave translations, just the ones in which I was most likely to have memorized these verses. Let's not forget The Message and the NLT while I am adding translations. Peace, SS

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And the Answer Is....

Healing is a journey, but my husband is a trust-worthy traveler on that path.

I am just so...what word am I looking for? Happy. Satisfied. Content. Serene.

Let's go with serene, in honor of the Serenity Prayer. It's stupefying to me, the easy way I handled this last little relapse. Really, I amaze myself. It has got to be the EMDR, because that's the only thing that has really changed in my life since we began the process of recovery.

I have changed. I was not distraught, ruined, devastated by his rejection and his insults. I am not saying I was unaffected, but I was not knocked breathless. I am not saying I didn't want him to repent and work to restore the good vibes we had been previously sharing, but I was not in agony waiting for it to happen. I was not desperately pleading for him to " fix it NOW" as if the agony of being rejected by him was more than I could bear.

Part of my resolve has no doubt come from Kantor's book. Reading the description of how passive aggressives interact with their victims was like watching secret footage of my marriage over the years. The book called the psychological tortures my husband put me through abuse, which it was. It also showed me how I fell into the sado-masochistic cycle that perpetuated the abuse.

Kantor underscored the truth I already learned from various self-help books and support groups through the years. I can't change my husband. The only one I can change is myself. Pleading with him to change not only didn't help, it egged him on. Ditto attempts at calm rational discourse and yelling angrily. I tried it all, and I knew none of it worked. But that didn't end my compulsive need to get him to stop rejecting me. Even though I knew no good would come of it, I still felt driven to come to closure, to keep engaging him until he repent of being cruel and show me love and acceptance instead. I could not seem to stop myself.

This time it was easy. It has to be the EMDR. I can't think of any other explanation.

This EMDR stuff is now on my list of must-haves. Any daughter of an NPD out there still in pain? Zip your search engine over to this link and look for a competent therapist as fast as you can. I looked for the highest level of training in my local area and started there. You have nothing to lose except years of anguished relationships and some money you were going to spend anyway on something. Why not spend it on healing your heart? You deserve it. n_n

He has changed too. Joel and Kathy Davisson's Marriage Intensive got the ball rolling. Like Skills twenty-six week program kept it moving in the right direction. And EMDR is helping him keep that ball rolling in the right direction on a daily basis. I am so proud of him and how quickly he recovered himself from the pit in which he fell most recently.

I don't know how much, if any, my lack of tormented response had to do with his quick recovery this past incident. It may have only affected me, or it may have been helpful to him as well. Don't know and don't really care, LOL. It sure made me happy! =D

And in general, he is much happier than he has been in years! In addition to the EMDR, let me remind my readers that he is also taking anti-depressants. That in itself is a huge break from his family dysfunction, which says that physical need is a weakness that good (Christians? or just members of his particular family?) people don't experience. He left a broken leg untreated once for almost twenty-four hours to "see if it will get better" because of the shame he feels about receiving medical treatment. (Oh, his family system is so mean! Yet very Christian "nice" on the outside. God save us from their fate.) So humbling himself to take anti-depressants was huge.

I am really happy today, and satisfied with our relationship. So many insights, people and therapies have come together to help us have the relationship we both always wanted, but just couldn't reach. We are, as Joel and Kathy Davission like to say, "living it and loving it". I almost hate to type that out, afraid I will jinx it.

I also want to strongly emphasize to any battered women (emotionally, spiritually or otherwise) that the only reason this marriage is healing is because we ditched the whole traditional "man rule, wife submit" false teaching of the church. We embraced the "husband source of life" and "wife ezer- ally and friend" interpretation instead.

My husband took responsibility for both the state of our marriage and his own mental health. That will never, ever happen with an NPD partner by the way. If you suspect NPD, do whatever you can to get out of the relationship with as little damage as possible. I can't stress that strongly enough.

But for the PAPD, there is hope. They can learn to identify and express emotions safely, with therapy. That would include treatment for domestic violence as well as trauma therapy. Supportive aids like anti-depressants can make this process easier, as there is good reason these people have been suppressing their emotions. They are usually wounded very deeply, and very angry about that at their core,

So, to all my friends, thank you for your prayers and support through this healing time. To readers going through hell in their marriages, I hope my experience benefits you in some way. And to home school parents reading here who are being marketed to by the "man rule, wife submit" crowd, take warning. It's a simplistic and sinful twist to scriptures written in foreign languages and then translated into English a thousand years later. Go back to the source, dig deep and don't be led into bondage by the home school industry big wigs. They have plenty of money already, they don't need yours.

Peace and good will, SS

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Guess He Can't Be Trusted After All?

Well, faithful readers, here we go again. My last post about my husband behaving, ah shall we say, boorishly, was September 21, in the post titled "I Can Take Up For Myself".

Tonight is almost surreal. For weeks now my husband has been a great partner. I have credited the antidepressants and the EMDR therapy for giving me back the man I married. This afternoon when he came home for lunch we went on a walk together. It was so romantic. He stopped to brush back my hair and kiss me tenderly at one point.

So wonderful.

This evening after work he held me close on the couch and promised me that he wanted to dedicate his life to cherishing me. I was surprised, but in a good way. It sounded like those Christian wedding vows all over again.

Then, he went upstairs to watch soccer, but first he offered to share a glass of wine with me. I declined, but drank Vitamin water and snuggled up next to him talking while he drank one. Then I had to go pick up our son from Tae Kwan Do.

When I got back, my daughter was just walking in the door. Dad greeted her, and already then she noticed alcohol on his breath. I didn't really notice he was still drinking, because he was upstairs watching soccer. I was watching sitcoms downstairs.

Well, my daughter watched one of her favorite shows with me and then went back to campus. After a good while, my husband came down and sat abruptly on the couch. He was acting a bit off, but I hadn't figured it out yet. It wasn't until I scooted over next to him and he groped me that I started getting annoyed. And then, his breath hit my face.

Ugh. I hate the smell of a drunk. It is definitely something he knows. He rarely drinks, which I appreciate. But when he does start drinking regularly, he just drinks more and more every day until it gets noticeable. He has promised, on more than one occasion, not to have more than two drinks at a time, so that I can feel safe. He agreed to this in therapy. He broke his word tonight.

That's classic PAPD of course. He has to find a way to provoke me to anger so he can let off all his repressed negative emotion. The more patient and kind the people around him, the harder he has to work to provoke them. I hate this personality disorder. >:[

Of course I let my annoyance be known. I didn't yell at him, but it doesn't really matter if I raise my voice or not. Those of you familiar with misogyny know that all a woman has to do is express disapproval or displeasure with a man in that frame of mind and she's a bitch.

And so it goes. Not only am I a bitch, it's probably that time of the month too, he tells me. He "apologizes" by saying that he's sorry I'm so easily offended. Sigh. When I ask him why he is breaking his promises and undoing all that we have accomplished so far, he retorts "why are YOU undoing everything".

And so. He is sleeping in the guest bedroom. He has been such a jerk tonight, walking away from all the love he has built these past weeks, tearing down the reputation for integrity he was rebuilding.

The good news. I am not crying. I am still smiling. I am unhappy with him, of course, and unhappy that he has betrayed me again. But I am not distraught. This makes me very proud.

My son is still up, all six foot two inches of him. I am not at all afraid that my husband will even think of trying to physically intimidate me anymore. I don't hide what's going on from the kids like I used to do.

I already texted my daughter and she is willing to come home if I need her. My son has told me that he's sorry his dad is relapsing (his words not mine) and that means the world to me. I know the only person in this household responsible for this ugly turn of events is my husband. Even more cool, I know the only person in this household who would blame me for this turn of events is my husband.

I am making progress. I can't believe I used to let him make me feel like the crazy one. I can't believe I used to cover for him, keeping all the conflict behind closed doors, crying and praying in private. I can't believe I used to be so full of turmoil when he would pull a little mind-screw head game like he is tonight.

I am happy. I think I'll check on him once more, see if he's sobered up, and if not, it is off to bed alone. Sure, it sucks that he lied to me again, causing me to hope only to disappoint me in hopes of a fireworks show. But the therapy is helping. And so, we will see what tomorrow brings.

Peace and good will, SS

Home School in My House This Week

I was texting a young acquaintance last night, and she wanted to know what my son was studying. So, I sent her the following list:

World History
British Literature
SAT Test Prep
martial arts

She was impressed, but I'm not sure why. That list seems to be a pretty normal high school schedule to me. Do public school students not think the home schooled students study too? *shrugs*

Anyway, I thought I would give credit where credit is due. My son does most of the work. He is the one who makes home schooling work, not me. I assign readings, quiz him on what he's read, ask him if he's finished his vocabulary words/chapter outline/end of chapter questions, and proctor his tests. Pretty much, his education is between him and the (secular) textbook publisher.

I do actually "teach" British Literature. I do this because a) I love literature and b) my son does not love literature. Knowing that he loves people and also that reading British Literature out loud increases comprehension, I opened our study of Brit Lit to other home schooled teens. This is working out well for all concerned, as far as I can tell. My son has the added pressure of wanting to not look stupid in front of his peers, and I have the wonderful joy of truly interested students (also his peers) to keep me motivated to teach. I love it!

Also I will here confess that his World History tests are open book. However he must answer questions thoroughly and use complete sentences. In other words, he can't answer a question like, "What events led up to the War of 1812?" with a cop-out answer like, "The British were sore losers." At the very least, cite the text, come on. I don't feel bad about having open book tests, because I know he's learning. Tests are to gauge how well you as a teacher are getting through to your students, and figure out who needs extra help. I can figure out those things with an open book test just as well in this home setting.

Now, biology, since he wants to do something in the medical field, is a no-slack course. But then, he understands the importance of knowing how life works, so he has no objections to stricter testing protocols in biology.

And some days, like Mondays when he has speech club, we only get one subject done. This is the very first semester in my fourteen years of home schooling that the Prime Subject was not math. It's biology. I occasionally have little bouts of panic that we are not doing math everyday, but he is slated to take Pre-Calculus at community college next semester. Since he has already tested into that class, I let him out of taking it here at home. But I still worry about it sometimes.

Also, I gotta confess, Test Prep is freaking me out. We spent all the late elementary/early middle school years doing Wordly Wise workbooks, and completed three different SAT vocabulary cartoon books in middle school and early high school, and he apparently does still not understand a lot of the words he previously "learned". Yikes! Do I blame that on my teaching, or video games?

I vote "video games". Yeah, right.

The martial arts I do nothing to teach. I only give rides and write checks. He has added kick-boxing to the Tae Kwan Do, which I think is cool. If he passes his Spanish CLEP in April, I might buy him Rosetta Stone Korean for next year. (After four years of Spanish, he missed CLEPing out by five points!! So frustrating!)

So there you have it. I better go get him up and get started. Peace and good will to all who read here, SS

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Acceptable to God

There was a time in my Christian life when I was dead sure that I was a fundamentalist. No one ever really defined that term to me in a theological way, and so I accepted it when I was told I was a fundamentalist.

I knew God's Word to be truth. What I meant, was that God spoke to me through the Bible in highly personal, directly applicable ways that were profoundly meaningful to me. I meant that I believed as true that the Person of Jesus literally came to redeem mankind in the flesh, fully God and fully man. I accepted this (and still do!) along with the truth that He conquered death and (in today's youth parlance =) re-animated here on this planet, walking around in His own resurrected body, the same one that had been crucified earlier. This body apparently had some dimensional qualities we lack, in that he could instantly appear in a room and vanish at will. But he still ate food, as proof that this body was real flesh and blood, not merely spirit.

If someone asked me, "Do you believe in a literal Adam and Eve?" I would have said yes. If someone asked me, "Do you believe God created the world in six days?" I would have said, "I don't know. He could have if he wanted to." If you asked me, "Was Jonah really swallowed by a big fish?" I would have said, "Why not?".

But the real truth is, I did not have permission in my mind to even consider there questions. I was told repeatedly from the pulpit that fundamentalists were the only "real" Christians, and I believed it. I was told that to accept any part of the Bible as anything less than historical and scientific fact would mean I could not accept the coming of Jesus, his death and resurrection and therefore my own reconciliation with God would fail. And I accepted that assumption as an absolute truth.

It's not.

While I accepted that, that all those other Christians around the world and here in my country were not really "saved", I just shrugged off these questions. How does scientific reality fit with the explanation in Genesis? Don't even go there. Too scary. I could wind up an atheist!

Now this assumption makes me laugh, as there is no way on earth I could ever become an atheist. I KNOW the Lord Jesus Christ! He is my Good Shepherd, the friend who sticks closer than a brother, the closest and dearest Love of my life. There is no substitution for experience, friends. From my earliest days, God has been wooing my heart with His loving-kindness and I am fully, completely His.

But for others, for those who internalized this idea, that "to accept any part of the Bible as anything less than historical and scientific fact would mean I could not accept the coming of Jesus, his death and resurrection and therefore my own reconciliation with God would fail", it has proven spiritually deadly. Some who truly believed this idea have found real evidence that the words in the Bible (a book meant to lead us to a living relationship with the Living God)are not historically and scientifically accurate.

Since they were not taught that the Bible is primarily concerned with man's relationship with God, they cannot accept it as fulfilling that purpose. By their religious instruction it must be historically and scientifically accurate or all a lie. Then they discover the physical evidence of reality points to an old earth/universe. And so, they decide the whole book is a fraud, a series of obsolete stories.

Well, guess what I am discovering? Fundamentalists were wrong! The rest of the church really DOES have a living relationship with Jesus! So-called "liberals" are not on their way to hell in a hand basket! Smart, educated people who believe in evolution also love the Lord! *gasp*

This is a beautiful thing God has done, is it not? Faith in the Risen Lord is not dashed to bits by an old earth. Faith in God's great love for us demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Christ can even survive in the heart and mind of a person who believes in evolution! Wow. God is much bigger than the fundies would have me believe. 0.0

A friend recently posted this little video on the internet. Like all analogies it is meant to highlight one particular truth, not serve as a definitive explanation for all metaphysical reality. It is accurately titled in this blog the Cupboard Analogy.

Fundamentalists will hate it, of course, because at the end it seems to imply that even other cultures and religions might have a relationship with God. This insistence that what a person believes, rather than what Christ has done, is what really saves a person has always been confusing to me. Apparently I am not the only person to have these thoughts.

But aside from that issue, it is a great analogy for how the rest of the body of Christ differs from fundamentalists and yet are still very much Christians. It is also unfortunately an accurate representation of their intolerance for other Christians who integrate their faith and this world in non-fundamentalist approved ways. =(

Here is an essay by one such brother in Christ. This author does not fit the fundamentalist mold, and yet his faith in Jesus is obvious. I was told this was impossible by fundamentalist preachers. *big grin* I guess all things are possible for God after all! (I read that in the Word of God too.)

Human Evolution in Theological Context.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Power and Control Wheel

Power and Control Wheel from Paul Hegstrom's Like Skills web site.

If you are very unhappy in your marriage because of the way your Christian spouse is treating you, please check out this wheel. Many of us hesitate to call abuse what it really is because it has not yet escalated to physical violence. Abuse starts our far more subtly than that, and escalates over time. Please check out the resources at the Life Skills web site, as well as any other resource you can find, if your partner treats you like even ONE spoke of this wheel outlines.

Bad marriage relationships can be healed in some cases, but not without treatment. Start getting the help and support you need to find healing or move on. Jesus loves you more than life itself! He certainly loves you as a person more than the institution of marriage and/or the reputation of the church.

Peace, SS (

The Why of the Shed Blood of Christ

Faithful Christian brother Steve McVey weighs in on the reasons Jesus shed His blood on the cross for us.

Live loved, my fellow Christ followers!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Darcy's Declaration.


On second thought, I am a rebel. I rebel against the idea that life can fit into a neat formula. I rebel against the teaching that says I am only acceptable if I perform correctly. I rebel against the thought that I, as a woman, cannot have a voice except through the men in my life. I rebel against anybody and everybody who invokes the Name of my Savior to control me. I rebel against the "christianity" that is promoted by posts like the above, and propped up by people who resort to name-calling and attacking a girl who they don't even know, whose heart they cannot even understand. I stand with a growing army of rebels, whose cry is "Give us Jesus! Give us the pure gospel!" No apologies. Just grace and truth.


Monday, November 1, 2010

No Room at the Inn....

One of the attributes I like best about God is His good will. We never read of Jesus telling anyone to go away. Jesus never rebukes anyone for asking Him questions, not even those with spurious motives. The apostles James writes that God will generously give wisdom to all who ask. (James 1:5) He helps us out later in chapter three by pointing out that godly wisdom will produce very different emotions in our hearts versus "earthly, unspiritual, denomic" wisdom which springs from selfish ambition and envy.

Wisdom from God will produce minds that are "peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere". Who doesn't want that? Who doesn't want to hang out with people who exhibit this kind of fruit? Who doesn't want to be that kind of person?

In church yesterday, our pastor wisely admitted that he doesn't have all the answers to all the questions about the Christian faith and life. He came right out and asked for a show of hands for everyone who had ever been dissatisfied with the teaching of a church before. Everyone lifted a hand. He asked if anyone was ever dissatisfied with teaching at our church. No one raised a hand, out of love for our pastor and congregation, but he laughed out loud and told us it was okay to admit it. (A friend of mine pushed my hand up in the air at this point! ;-)

He went on to tell us that really, it was OKAY. Unity of the Spirit doesn't mean complete agreement on every issue of faith and doctrine. Unity of the Spirit comes when we love God and let him love people through us. Unity of the Spirit is NOT the same as agreeing to share the same doctrinal ideas and parroting the same party line about (insert issue here).

I really needed to be reminded that Jesus has made me accepted in the beloved, because sometimes there are other "beloved" who make it pretty plain to me that they are not very happy about me. I am so grateful to have found a place where there is truly room for as many as the Lord our God shall call. We do not have to agree on anything beyond Jesus and the gospel of grace.

Questions are not only welcomed but encouraged, both publicly (it's a small church, so people are invited to speak up during church, when our pastor sees they are bursting to talk) and privately. He might even have a few questions for you now and then. But like the Savior himself, pastor starts with a presumption of good will. People respond with the same determination to "accept one another" in spite of disagreeing with each other on things that are important to us as individuals. (Romans 14:1-5)

I love this so much about my little church, because it is so rare. I can't tell you how many times I have been pushed out and excluded for asking questions people are uncomfortable with and/or for which they don't have good answers. Lots of times I have experienced the unsettling reality that there is no room at the inn for people who think and question. Ostracization is the fall back for not being able to answer questions, usually with some name-calling and finger-pointing to get the process started.

Mostly the name-calling/finger-pointing is behind the scenes, as challenging anyone openly leaves the challenger at risk for their true intentions being exposed. I have had emergency meetings called to exclude me from home school circles. I have endured contemporary American versions of mini-inquisitions called merely to let me know I am hated by my fellow disciples. Blogs have shut down in the hopes of making sure my questions don't infect other Christians. We can't have people thinking too deeply now, can we?

Last night I saw that the same thing I have experienced so many times is happening to other Christians I love and respect. A sweet, gentle, tender-hearted and compassionate woman of God is accused of being "antinomian". This is a scurrilous charge brought up often to discredit people who rely on and emphasize the grace of God. It's true meaning is akin to hedonism or anarchy, and anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with this woman's writing knows that nothing could be farther from the truth. Her caution about crossing the line into sin, her constant checking of herself lest she also be tempted (Galatians 6:1) is admirable and evident to all. The attacks on her character and theology are just more wicked envy bearing fruit in her agressors' hearts.

Similarly, theologian Gregory A. Boyd has a blog post up today. A fellow believer he has debated many times has taken to outright lying about what Greg believes and proposes as truth, because it's the only way to discredit the man. Mr. Boyd appears to be amused by this, but I am not amused. It's an ugly reality in Christendom that breaks my heart and would turn me completely away from Christianity if it weren't for the reality of Jesus. Selfish ambition is a prime motivation of many ministries. Lying, name calling, misrepresenting others in unflattering ways- for way too many Christians this is the way to build their own little kingdoms on earth.

I have full confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to see my fellow believers safely through this life and into the next. But I am not naive enough to think it will be easy. Hate hurts. It hurts no less when the hater signs off with "Love in Christ".

The theologian I have every confidence will weather this new attack on his ideas. He seemed amused even, that a person he had known for so long and debated so often could still misrepresent his position. I don't find it so funny, because I don't believe it is accidental or merely fuzzy-headed. I have overcome more than one knife wound to the back from a Christian brother and sister, so I find it hard to buy the innocent mistake theory.

I fear more for the author of tender heart. As a devout and sincere believer, I think she underestimates the depth of the hatred and selfish ambition in the hearts of so many so-called "ministers" of the faith. Her book directly threatens other folks market base. That is where the rubber meets the road for the people who find not only their self-worth in "ministry" but also their future worldly needs provided by "ministry". The malice and fear in their hearts can not be overestimated.

As for me? Nothing can shake me from my faith in Jesus. I have experienced His grace and love. It is an objective reality. Being excluded and reviled by other Christians has absolutely no bearing on the reality of Jesus. It does make it harder to put into practice the command of Jesus to love my fellow disciples. But believing in the incarnation of Christ in me, the hope of glory, I am trusting in Jesus to bring that perfect love to pass in me in the fullness of times.

In the meantime, I am content to hang out here in the stable with Mary and the shepherds. In the meantime, I am content to go outside the camp with Jesus (Hebrews 13:13) and chill with Him. While here, I will remember to pray for others who are being excluded that they too will enjoy the presence of the Living God and relax in His bountiful grace. Sharing in his sufferings, we also share in his glory. In the end, it's all good. =)