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Friday, August 27, 2010

Answering Anonymous...Again.

I received an anonymous comment on my post about the Botkins' marriage article. Although the lady put it there, it seems to refer to most of my blog posts in general. Since many of us from legalistic backgrounds hear these sentiments often, I thought I would address them for all to see.

Here is what she wrote:

"This all just goes to show that we should never follow one person's/ organization's views on everything, but take the good from each. EVERYTHING should be tested against God and His Word first.
I am a very happily married, home schooling mother of 13. I have made mistakes and hope that my children will not judge me as harshly as some of you are doing towards your own parents. I am sure most of them meant well. You will make mistakes, too, not the same ones necessarily but mistakes none the less. You will beg for God's mercy and grace as you see the results of your own personal mistakes in your children.
It would be healthier to get on with your lives and not have a victim mentality forever. It is best to forget the past and press on towards the prize..."

I addressed some of this in my guest posts on Quivering Daughters, entitled "Abusing Abuse?". But I will now address them here. Again.

I never follow anyone's or any organization's views. I judge the merit of all things by what is written or spoken. I am not a follower of anyone. When it comes to my religious beliefs, I'm pretty much a mutt. But I assume that's not what you meant. I am judging by your comment that you generally agree with the Botkins but perhaps not on this particular subject. You seem to be cautioning us "not to throw the baby out with the bathwater" because these people have many good things to say. That is your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it. But let me be very clear here. When it comes to Visionary Daughters, Vision Forum, and all their associates and affiliates, or anyone who promotes the Patriarchial system, I do not believe there is any baby in the bathwater. I stand for everything they stand against. Every scripture they interpret, every issue they expound on, their very foundations for their beliefs....I disagree with them all. Matter of fact, their ideas and beliefs disgust me. As far back as their very foundational proof-text, the creation story, we disagree. Why? Because I DO "test everything against God's Word" and I have found them in error. Now that that is cleared up, on to your next point.

You said: "I have made mistakes and hope that my children will not judge me as harshly as some of you are doing towards your own parents."

But I thought that we weren't supposed to follow everyone's views, but instead test them by God's word?

That is exactly what I, and others like me, are doing here. We are taking the teaching of our parents and weighing them....denouncing the bad and clinging to the good. I don't believe this to be "judging" as you call it. It merely digging out the good from the bad.

Allow me to quote myself:

"Yes, healing is our choice. But we first have to recognize the wound in order to apply the correct balm. Ignoring it, or telling yourself to "just get over it" won't work. If I've grown up with the belief that I am only pleasing to God if I perform correctly, then I must see the lie in that messege, and apply the correct truth. The lie: that any works of righteousness can make me acceptable to God. The Truth: "for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" and "when we were still without strength, Christ died for the ungodly" and "He has made you accepted in the Beloved".

This is not a "blame game". We do not believe in sitting around and blaming our parents, church, friends, whomever for our pain and the consequences thereof. But the fact is, there are things passed down to us from our parents that contributed, if not outright caused, certain wounds in our lives. This is true for everyone, regardless of religious beliefs. Acknowledging this, recognizing it, and discussing it is not the same thing as blaming others. I believe in family wounds and generational curses/pain. A woman who was told she was never good enough is going to pass that lie to her daughters and they to their daughters unless it is acknowledged and healed by the Healer. I can see some lies and strongholds in myself that were present in my grandfather. I am not blaming him, just recognizing where the lie started and looking at all the heartache it has caused in subsequent generations. I also know that it does not have to be this way. That lie and the wounds inflicted by it can stop with me. I do not have to pass it on to my children. I will not; I refuse. I'm sure my mother would have said the same had she but known to even look for it. Had she not been told "You're fine, get over it."

This is why we even bring this up. Not only so that we can live from a healed, whole heart, but for our children and our children's children. Broken people produce more broken people. It is an endless cycle of pain and brokeness and the Enemy of our souls loves it. Ignoring it will only perpetuate the pain. The Church today has very little understanding about matters of the heart and this has to stop. It is because of people saying "Buck up, stop blaming everyone else, get over it" that there is so much brokeness and dysfunction among Christians today. We've ignored our pain and the causes for too long and are now reaping the harvest of broken people, broken families. Christ's little ones are stumbling and falling and being told to "get over it" because their wounds aren't visible to the world. These things ought not to be."

You said: "You will make mistakes, too, not the same ones necessarily but mistakes none the less. You will beg for God's mercy and grace as you see the results of your own personal mistakes in your children. It would be healthier to get on with your lives and not have a victim mentality forever. It is best to forget the past and press on towards the prize..."

As for my own children, I know I will hurt them. I know that I have made and will make mistakes. But I have something that my own parents didn't. I have an understanding of my own pain...where it came from, how it came, and how to end it. Because I dare to go where they didn't: into the darkness of my own heart, and the pain of my own past. I don't expect to do anything in this life perfectly, certainly not when it comes to raising my kids. But I would never tell them not to judge me, to ignore the pain I caused them, and to "get over it". My oldest is 4 years old and I am already practicing how to admit I was wrong and apologize.

I don't have to beg God for grace and mercy. He freely lavishes it on me so that I might in turn lavish it on my children. I am not offended when my daughter tells me she doesn't like me. Instead, we talk about it, work through it, and I tell her I am sorry when I am wrong. We are practicing grace and communication now while it is easy so that later, when it becomes more complicated, grace and communication will be an integral part of our relationship.

You said: "I have made mistakes and hope that my children will not judge me as harshly as some of you are doing towards your own parents. I am sure most of them meant well."

I've said this elsewhere, and I'll say it again. It is not a strength to deny pain. Nor is it a strength to ignore inner wounds and say "well, my parents had good motives so I won't worry about the outcome and actions caused by those motives." I'm fairly certain the Puritans who killed hundreds of innocent women, the Jesuits who tortured natives "to convert them", the Mormons who practiced blood atonement to save people's souls, and others who have used God's name for horrible things had "good motives". What makes a teaching good or bad? The motives of those who teach it?

I will never use the excuse "I meant well". Because that's all it is: an excuse to not own up to my own sin. Sometimes I think we use that line on others because it makes us feel better about our own problems and mistakes. But I personally don't care how well I meant. If I've hurt people, my well-meaning doesn't negate their pain.

Do the motives of the people who hurt me negate the pain they caused? I think not. I can appreciate that they really wanted what was best for me. But can I be honest? There were times when I am certain that all they wanted was what was best for them. That their desires for their own lives overrided their desires for my good. And that they couldn't even tell the difference. Is it "judging" them by saying so? I don't think so. It's just sayin' how things were.

I don't resent them, though I certainly did at one time. I am not bitter toward them, though God had to do much healing in my heart in the past. We actually have a pretty good relationship now. Only God couldn've woven our lives with the healing, forgiveness, and relationship that we have now. We're not perfect and we have a long way to go. But none of this could've been possible without first going right where you say we shouldn't: into the pain, darkness, mistakes, and sin of our hearts and the hearts of our parents.

Allow me, one more time, to leave you with something I wrote not too long ago:

"Jesus said "Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest". But how can we get that rest unless we first admit we need it? How can we leave our burdens with Him unless we first admit we have a burden? Ignoring the burden or downplaying its effect on our lives will not make it go away. It will only cause us to live a half-hearted life and when we die, to pass that burden on to our children. Brothers and sisters, I beg you, do not perpetuate pain by ignoring, comparing, downplaying, and telling others to "get over it". And stop critisizing those who are recognizing wounds, denouncing lies, and inviting healing into their pain-wracked hearts. Be cautious lest you find yourselves fighting against the very God you serve. In the words of a very wise man, "And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it---lest you even be found to fight against God." Acts 5:38,39""

I encourage you, and anyone who has the same sentiments, to read a few of the other posts, such as Stories, and Abusing Abuse? (and part 2), so you can get a better idea of why I write and what my heart is.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Remember.....

I remember wondering if it would hurt to pull the trigger....and wondering if even that would silence the voices in my head that told me that God hated me and I was an awful daughter. And if anyone would even miss me.

I remember trying so hard to look like all the other girls at the Basic Seminar (ATI). Because they were so Godly, so happy...they must've been doing something right.

I remember musing aloud to my mom during a geography lesson that I would love to visit the Bad-Lands sometime because they looked so wild, beautiful, and untamed. And she then telling me I should examine my heart because it obviously had rebellion in it.

I remember standing in front of my mirror in a long denim skirt and button-up shirt that was 2 sizes too big and wishing I could dress in cute clothes. And wondering if I was going to defraud anyone that day. And feeling guilty for all of it.

I remember being told that godly girls treated their siblings with selflessness and submitted to their parents in all things. And that I wasn't doing that.

I remember thinking I would never be a Godly girl. And I desparately wanted to.

I remember my mom lamenting "Why can't you be more like _____??! I'll bet she never talks to her parents like you're talking to us!!"

I remember signing a paper when I went to teach a Children's Institute that stated: "I believe that my parents are God's ultimate authority in my life, that they are an umbrella of protection for me, and I will strive to obey them because they are directing me in the will of God." Even though I didn't believe it. And felt guilty for a whole year because I had lied on a contract.

I remember resenting my best friends because they got to look cute and girly and I had to dress like a frumpy homeschooler. And I hated my parents. Then, of course, felt guilty. Dad said I should be glad I wasn't wearing pants like them. Guys could stare at their butts instead of ours.

I remember the day I wore jeans and a cute top to college for the first time. I felt elated and fearful.

I remember the day I stopped worrying that my parents were going to send someone to my college to spy on me, who would then see that I was dressing "immodestly" and report back to them. And I didn't even feel guilty.

I remember crying because they wanted me to shut down my heart and just do what they say. And knowing I could never do that.

I remember being angry that a parent could ever ask their child to choose between their way and God's way.

I remember asking Sky why in the world he wanted to marry me when I was so selfish. "What makes you think you're selfish?" he asked. "My parents always say so". "Well, they're wrong" he said. "You're one of the most self-less people I know." And I cried.

I remember them telling me that loving Sky was dishonoring to God. That I wasn't following God's will for me. That maybe I wasn't even saved.

I remember them telling me that no man would ever want to marry me because I wasn't submissive enough. I was too independent and strong-willed. And I just knew they were right.

I remember not being able to tell them I loved them. Because I couldn't lie just to make them happy.

I remember one time Mom said "I love you" and I replied over my sholder, walking away, "Yeah right." She looked like I'd hit her with a two-by-four. And never said anything about that incident again. I felt terrible later.

I remember the first time Sky kissed me. And I was surprised that I didn't feel guilty. I felt like I was flying and that all was suddenly right with the world.

I remember the day I finially gave up trying to please anyone but God. It was a turning point in my life.

I remember the shackles falling off, one after one, day after day, until I was free and ready to be the person God was making me. I cried for a long time....for the joy and freedom in my heart, for the loss and pain, for the severing of relationships that wasn't my fault.

I remember the day that I realized that these memories don't hurt anymore. That I don't hate my parents for any of it. That I can remember these things and feel loss, but not bitterness. That God must've done this.

I write these things, mothers and fathers, so you may understand that what you say and do when your children are young will have a profound impact on the rest of their lives...for good or for evil. Your motives will not matter; your words and actions will. As a fellow parent, I urge you to daily run to the One who showers grace on you so that you may shower it on your children. What will they write about us when they are grown?? Will they say we stood for Truth and Mercy, even in our imperfection? Or that we stood for the rules and commandments of men?

I write these things, brothers and sisters, so you know you are not alone. That all manner of hurtful things are done and said in the name of God, love, and wanting what's best for you. That you're not crazy, they really did say such absurd things, and it wasn't your fault. That love cannot be earned by performance. It is a freely given gift. That there is hope for healing, forgiveness, and freedom...even if you cannot even imagine it right now. God is in the business of restoration.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.

"For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed."

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."

~Isa. 61

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Without A Dream....

I was perusing the job listings on Craigslist, looking, hoping for something that my husband could do that would let him come home every night, let us be a family again. While thankful he even has a job in these hard times, sleeping in the same bed only one night a week is getting really old, really fast. And when the weather turns, he'll be out of a job. So I'm constantly looking for something else.

I came across a job posting that went something like this: "Ranch Manager Position open. Commercial ranch looking for manager in eastern MT. Horses only operation. Along with monthly salary, provided will be: 5-bedroom, newer house, vehicle, benefits, utilities paid, and all the beef you can eat." I think I sat there, gazing at the screen, my mind wandering, for several minutes. I can't explain the feelings that came over me, overwhelming me. They were so strong, I involuntarily reached over and closed the website. Getting up from the computer in a daze, I couldn't seem to focus on anything for the next several hours. Something had been stirred in my heart that had long been silent. It was uncomfortable and disconcerting.

Later, after the kids went to bed, I opened the book I'm reading and read these words:
"It as become and informal tradition of ours around the turning of the years to do a little dreaming, allow desire to bubble up from our hearts...It's good for the heart to do some dreaming; it pulls you out of the rut, and lifts your eyes to the horizon. Hope follows, like children running to the song of the ice cream truck. Desire awakens hope, and hope is really good for the soul...Now, we don't know what the coming year holds. But we have found that if we don't dream about our lives then we are simply swept along by the torrent of demands, feeling like hostages rather than mature adults taking charge of our lives....So what is the mission of your marriage? What are the two of you called to do together? Can you name it? "We are in this together" is essential for the boy and girl in the fairy tales. Finding a shared mission as a couple is essential to a vibrant marriage....Our hearts are made to live a life that matters, a life of epic significance. Surviving the week so you can hit the food court at the mall on the weekend is not enough....In the same way that God has hidden adventures and surprises in the earth He gave us, God has also written dreams and desires deep in our hearts. Finding those dreams and desires, and sharing them as a couple, is one of the most romantic things you will ever experience."*

And I started to cry.

I realized that I, that we, had forgotten how to dream. That we'd become so hardened, so cynical, that dreaming seemed pointless. You see, we once were very young and had so many dreams and plans for our life together. We just knew that the world was open to us and God was for us and life was brimming with hope and joy and possibilities. Then life happened. We lost our home to a fire. We mortgaged our land to rebuild. The job market disappeared and we lost our home and property to foreclosure this year. Sky had to take a job trucking to pay the bills. The kids and I live all week without him while he sleeps on the side of the road in his truck. Our daughter was diagnosed with autism. Strain took root in our marriage, each of us falling into our own addictions and shame and anger. And the light and hope we once had for our lives slowly was choked out of our hearts. We put up walls to protect the gaping wounds of disappointment. No more dreams. We shoved our desires way down deep in hopes to quench the longing that reminded us that life isn't what it was supposed to be. If we allowed ourselves to think about "what if?" those thoughts only produced anger, despair, and resolve to forget about them.

But that one job posting awoke everything that had been sleeping and stirred our desires once again. It has always been a deep-rooted desire, even before we were married, to live and work on a ranch. To raise our kids with a love of the land. To use our hands and our hearts to be a part of something that was bigger than us. We were convinced that God had put those desires in our hearts for a reason. We almost realized the dream once. Then the bottom dropped out of all of our plans.

We talked about it this weekend as we drove through some of the prettiest country God ever made. How we've forgotten how to dream. How we can't seem to get past "why even bother?" How we are so afraid of wanting something because we are afraid of being disappointed. Again. It's easier to just go through the motions and live from paycheck to paycheck and forget that we ever had any dreams in the first place.

And yet....

I feel like I woke with a start and didn't even know I was sleeping. I'm tired of not dreaming. I used to be such a dreamer. So I'm letting these desires sit there. I've decided not to stuff them back into oblivion. They're uncomfortable, but they feed my starving soul. They hurt and prod at the wounded places in my heart, the lies that say "your life doesn't matter, God doesn't care, dreams are stupid, why hope for anything?". I'm not entirely sure what to do with them except let them be.

And since faith without acting on it is worthless, I replied to that job posting. And I made fliers that state "Hard-working, adventurous, loving family in search of full-time ranch work". My heart beats a little faster just looking at it sitting on my desk. But it's about to go up all over central Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Who knows...maybe God has put us here with what we have for a reason after all. I'll tell you one thing...it's a lot easier to dream here. There's a whisper of promise in this place that has been soothing and wooing our souls since we moved here. Saying "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light". And I think we're beginning to listen. If that turns out to be the only reason we are here, then it is reason enough.

*From Love and War, by John and Stasi Eldredge.