Archive for the ‘self harm’ Category



The Silent Scream

Understanding The Distressing Path and Aftermath
of Sexual Coercion and Betrayal

Rape is an ugly word.
What thoughts, feelings, or images come to mind as you hear or actually say the word rape? In all probability, the word conjures up graphic images in our mind of a stranger lurking in the shadows, an intruder in the darkness, a predator who violently and with overpowering physical force assaults, overcomes and forcefully penetrates the victim sexually. More disturbing than the images are the sickening feelings that come with them. That is one form of rape, an overpowering physical assault by a stranger with the intent of forcing sexual intercourse or penetration. As awful, as prevalent, and as devastating as this type of rape is, it is not the most common type of rape. Rape actually takes a number of forms, such as:
o Date rape is a brutal betrayal that can occur on the first date or any there after. It is what the name implies, a prearranged social outing where the perpetrator sexually assaults his date by coercion, force or by taking advantage of the dates condition such as intoxication;
o Acquaintance rape, similar to date rape, often occurs at a party setting or in a situation or set up by an acquaintance or “friend.” The acquaintance is not a date, but someone who commits sexual assault as previously described;
o Partner or Spousal rape is was it implies;
o Child Rape occurs in many degrees and perverted varieties.
o Senior Rape and sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes, etc.

But the most prevalent form of rape in our society and in the church, in the teen and young adult years, is something much more subtle than what we normally think of as rape. This form often goes unrecognized and is wrongly and regularly dismissed as something far less. The most common form of rape does not feel like rape, especially to the victim and her family. Frequently, the victim, her friends, her family, or her community or church do not recognize this subtle variety real rape. The most prevalent form of rape is Boyfriend Rape. Many victims of Boyfriend Rape know and feel that they were forced, coerced, pressured or intimidated into performing or participating some form of sexual act, but deny that they were raped. Why? Answer: It doesn’t fit the image of rape in their minds. Also, since they had chosen to be with the perpetrator or were in a relationship with him they feel partially at fault. Victims of Boyfriend Rape often mistake their own desire for intimacy or temptations as somehow contributing to or minimizing what was done. The lack of validation by parents and others adds to the internal turmoil and confusion. The result of this conflicted experience is the victim’s silent scream of intense shame, guilt, feelings of worthlessness, abandonment and emotional pain. Often the silent scream goes unheard or unheeded by parents and others in spite of definite changes in the silent screamer who is crying out for validation and understanding. The vast majority of the rapes among teens and young adults in the United States and in the church are Boyfriend, date, or acquaintance rapes.

The National Crime Victimization Survey, 2001 showed that 73% of women who had been legally raped didn’t believe they had been raped. Over one-third did not discuss the incident with anyone; only 5% reported it to the police. That same study found that
44% of male college students reported some likelihood of “forcing a female to do something sexual she didn’t want to,” if they wouldn’t be punished or found out. At least
1 in 4 female college students will be a victim of rape or attempted rape. And these statistics are old and very low as compared to today.

But Was It Rape?
Rape (or sexual assault) is any sexual activity that is attempted or completed by force, threat of force or by coercion, duress or intimidation against another person’s will or consent. This includes forced or coerced oral or manual sex as the unwilling recipient or stimulator; and other non-consented to sexual touching. Rape and sexual assault is not limited to vaginal penetration by force. The person does not consent if she cannot reasonably choose to consent or refuse because of age, circumstances, mental condition (including that induced by drugs or alcohol), level of understanding, or dependency/relationship to the offender.

Victims of Boyfriend Rape experience extreme guilt, shame and denial because they feel they somehow contributed to the rape or assault because they trusted the boy friend, were aware of his intense sexual desires, yet chose to continue the relationship. It didn’t feel like rape as normally pictured in the mind. She is lacking objectivity.

It will help the victim to reframe the event picturing someone other than herself in the situation. Once she can relive it in her mind, but with another girl such as a niece or sister or daughter at the same age most victims will readily see that a rape has occurred. She will answer the question, “What is he doing to her?” with the words, “He is raping her.” “What did he do you?” Answer: He raped me.” Saying those words aloud for the first time is a powerful step toward freedom from the unwarranted guilt and shame that has resulted in the silent scream.

It will also help the victim answer the question, “What were you thinking, believing, and feeling about yourself during and after the event?” A flurry of untrue self-beliefs normally emerges. These false beliefs are what prevented the person from seeking the help she needs and also further enabled the control and intimidation of the boyfriend, thus enabling further sexual mistreatment.

How Does This Happen?

While each Boyfriend Rape scenario has its own characteristics unique to the needs of the victim and the dominating traits of the abuser, there is an observable pattern that each case generally adheres to. In most cases Boyfriend rape is not spontaneous, but the result of a well thought out strategy for conquest and control. This is usually difficult for the victim to accept because it means that she was devalued and connected with to be used from the very start. All the pretense of caring and deceptive compliments was part of an act to dupe and use her. That is very difficult to accept and undermines the ability to ever trust or love again. Boyfriend rape often follows a predictable sequence of phases always ending with the discarding of the victim as a used and item of no worth or value.
1ST: The Connect and Care Phase Somehow and somewhere the young man deliberately connects with the young woman. There is a steady, engaging, and heart-warming pursuit of the girl or young woman. There is a relational connection. They both can feel it or so it seems. Her heart comes alive with the potential fulfillment of her dreams and desires. Her need to be loved and valued promises to be met as never before. She feels relationally alive and cherished as never before. Phase one brings hope to the unsuspecting young woman and creates the desire within her for more and deeper intimacy. There is a part of her that has been awakened that yearns for stimulation and closeness. Her heart and her head begin to conflict as her long held values bump ever so gently against her growing desire to be closer, to be kissed and to be held. The hook has been set and now he will play her as a skilled angler plays a trophy fish slowly wearing her down always with the intent of reeling her in to use her to feed his own appetite.

2ND: The Caress and Compromise Phase Who among us does not want to feel the warmth of a caring touch and the softness of the kiss given and received in love? Touching begins to occur in this phase, but it is normally safe and appropriate touching (holding hands, an arm around her shoulder, a simple kiss goodnight, etc.). It feels like part of the dream coming true. She feels fully alive. This is a feeling, a relationship, and a sense of fulfillment that she does not want to lose. The Boyfriend is counting on this. A bonding is beginning to take place in this phase, both emotionally and physically. As one writer puts it: “Touch enhances the pleasure of relational bonding, and relational intimacy gives meaning and vibrancy to physical contact.” These feel like the initial stages of genuine love. The love for her is real, but the love by the Boyfriend is part of the act and the power of the snare.

After she has been conditioned to the pleasure of his touch, he begins to cross an uncrossed and inappropriate boundary ever so slightly. It might appear accidental. It both stimulates and frightens her at the same time. Values and desires are conflicted.
Even if she put off the inappropriate touch she did so fearing that she would lose something she now had, the feeling of being loved and giving love, and the relationship that seems so real to her. Already she is conflicted by the mixture of guilt and pleasure, love and pressure, and feeling responsible when in fact she is not. A small simple compromise or series of them begin to raise doubts in her soul about the boundaries she has held so dear in her mind. Her heart beckons her to not let him go. After all, she has been saving herself just for him. A small deposit surely would not be too big a price. What seems so innocent is the beginning of a deliberate betrayal and the tightening of the snare.
3RD: The Coerce and Conquer Phase To paraphrase a very wise counselor: Sexual abuse occurs in the context of emptiness, confusion, loneliness; a context that sets up the victim for a baffling interplay of betrayal, ambivalence, and powerlessness as the Boyfriend moves the girl or young woman from one phase to the next. Initially he nourished her soul, and then combined the stimulation of touch with the thrill of feeling alive and the awakening of her sensuality. Even the compromises seemed but small slip-ups and surely it would stop because he cares. He would stop, if he genuinely cared, which is not the case. What is so easily seen by an outsider is so mysteriously disguised to the girl whose emotions and body are being betrayed by the one person who brought her the feeling of being alive and loved. Betrayal is without mercy.

The hook was set with the birth of relational hope. The bait was swallowed when emotions were affirmed by the pleasure of touch and the promise, implied or spoken of a lasting love. The girl or young woman was worn down by being played with the illusion of freedom in what appeared to be an occasional compromise. And now the Boyfriend is going to reel her in by bringing the line taught and pulling her in the direction he wants her to go through manipulation, coercion, pressure and in some cases physical force.

When he senses the time is right, he may place her hand where she would never put it. If she recoils or retracts she will be met with whatever ploy will work to manipulate her, guilt her and pressure her. He might even physically force her. The irony is that she is made to feel guilty if she does not comply and is accused of being selfish or uncaring or a freak by the one who actually is all of these.

The common forms of coercion often involve not what is done to her, but what he makes her do to him. His aim is to gain control and to gain control he must move her past any safe boundary until she is far from shore and drowning in a sea of shame and guilt and imprisoned by the fear of exposure. Secrecy is essential. A common ploy is for the Boyfriend to make her masturbate him either manually or orally, the latter being the ultimate form of shame as he ejaculates into her mouth and face. The act may be followed with his gentleness and compassion only adding to her confusion and shame. To whom could she turn if not to him? She draws close to the very person who abused her. Drowning in a sea of shame, guilt and feelings of worthlessness she ironically clings to her betrayer as her only means of staying afloat.

4TH: The Control and Compliance PhaseThe Boyfriend will now use whatever means necessary to ensure secrecy and further compliance. He needs to instill both fear and absolute loyalty in the young woman. The shame insures her silence. If her virginity has not been taken from her by now it soon will be, but not as she once imagined. The dream of intimacy and romance she once imagined in her dreams will now become of nightmare of numbness, nausea, fear and pain.

A counselor summarized what he had heard from one young woman such an occasion and the taken of her virginity:

“…He gained an emotional hold over you — controlling you (not through brute force, but emotional coercion and secrecy). You were raped in many ways: physically, emotionally and spiritually. … When you told me what it was like when he planned and carried out your loss of virginity and what that awful event was like, my heart broke for you. You described the raw emotions, reactions and behaviors of other rape victims I have counseled — extreme terror or fear, frozen in passivity or paralysis, nausea, blacking out, excruciating pain… and much more. Your worst hurt, however, came when he later “discarded” you and you pleadingly asked of him, “Who will want me?” and he walked out of your life forever.”He has her silence and that silence is rarely broken. Her only hope is to comply with his darkest desires for as long as necessary always counting on the day he will marry her.
But, marriage, if she is fortunate, will never come, at least not with her abuser, her Boyfriend Rapist.

5TH: The Cast Off Phase“Your worst hurt, however, came when he later “discarded” you and you pleadingly asked of him, “Who will want me?” and he walked out of your life forever.”

The Boyfriend Rapist is filled with and consumed by self-gratification. His narcissism demands that he exploit and experience the control and muse of other young woman or girls. Unfortunate is the young woman who actual marries the one who has abused her. His character will not change. Just as he pushed, exploited and used her before marriage, he will do in other areas after marriage for self-gratification.

“Who will want me?” This is where the young woman will either experience life as a victim or find the path to being a survivor of sexual abuse and Boyfriend rape. There is no hurt or scar so deep that the power and love of God cannot bring healing to the wounded soul. The answer to the wounded hearts question is that first, God does and secondly, He has someone much better for you who will love and cherish you as He designed your for. But first you must heal from the silent scream. You are never more vulnerable to further exploitation and choosing unwise coping mechanisms than you are right now.

The Sounds Of The Silent Scream
The result of this conflicted experience is the victim’s silent scream of intense shame, guilt, feelings of worthlessness, abandonment and emotional pain. Often the silent scream goes unheard or unheeded by parents and others in spite of definite changes in the silent screamer who is crying out for validation and understanding.
How can we hear it? What should we look for?

Many Boyfriend or date/acquaintance rape victims suffer from Rape Trauma Syndrome. Symptoms include loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, suicidal ideation, nightmares, cutting and other forms of self harm, extreme phobias, preoccupation with the rape, anxiety about leaving the home and being with other people, inability to concentrate on studies or work, and sexual dysfunction.

Dr. Georgia Witkin-Lanoil notes that Rape Trauma Syndrome has three stages:

1. The Acute Phase. In the victim’s silence, her emotions may be expressed as physical symptoms: headaches, sleeplessness, nausea lightheadedness, blackouts, and/or muscle spasms. There might be aversions to certain foods or places associated with the scenarios that unfolded. In addition, she may experiences confusion, depression, anxiety, nightmares, and jumpiness.

2. Chronic Phase. After several days, a victim seems to slide into preoccupation with her role within the relationship by constantly replaying memories to figure out how the rape that didn’t feel like rape might have been prevented. The alternative is just as prominent: a temporary “adjustment” period that is based on mental and emotional denial of the incident. Numbing is the way most young woman cope with the ongoing abuse they are secretly experiencing at the hands of her Boyfriend. Along with the numbing comes the desire to feel normal again. The victims do want to feel, are desperate to feel, but the one feeling they crave is what they have been robbed of: normalcy. This may lead to use and abuse of alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, and self-abusive behaviors such as cutting or burning, etc. These are all part of the silent scream.

3. Long-Term Reorganization Phase. Often six or more months will pass before the victim digests and incorporates the reality of the experience.

What is important to realize is that the sexual abuse survivor will begin to act out of the belief system she has acquired during this abusive relationship. How does one act who believes she is good for only one thing, namely, to be used by men? How does one act if she believes that no one could ever love her because she is in her mind dirty, worthless, and unlovable? Couple that with the use of alcohol or drugs and you have a formula for further abuse and rape at the hands of other men. As bizarre as it may seem young women also may come to equate love with sexual activity giving rise to a need and aversion that is quickly destructive when coupled with the party scene she may now be drawn to.

Fear that God might punish them for the wrongs they perceive they are responsible for is not uncommon. The silent belief that they also deserve to be punished is also common. May we all begin to hear the sounds of the silent scream…

Whether the young woman becomes a boisterous party girl, a loner tough girl or one who lives in pretense behind a facade of normalcy while crying or hurting herself alone in silence, she is screaming for help and needs acceptance, validation of her rape and hope that she and the future are more than they appear to be. Let us be aware of one more thing. The Boyfriend needs help to.

What Can I Do To Help?
Listen and Believe
Above all else the victim/survivor of Boyfriend rape needs to be listened to and believed.
The greatest fear in all of this for most women, young or old is that they won’t be believed. Too often their fear is justified. At 50 years old my own wife experienced this fear when she chose to share what had happened to her with her parents. Fortunately they believed her and embraced her. It meant all the difference in the world.

Often parents, siblings or peers simply attribute to the sexual involvement to the boy and girl being mutually responsible. Why? First, promiscuity of any degree would be easier to handle than facing that your loved one or friend has been raped. Injustice is a cruel dagger. Second, they do not understand the phases and control that occur unless they have been through it themselves, and use logic instead of understanding. Why does an abused wife stay with a wife beater? There is nothing logical about it, but rather relational control. They do not understand the desperation that the young woman goes through trying to hold on to the desperate hope of marriage. Third, some refuse to deal with reality and retreat in to judgment and accusation rather than reaching out to help the victimized. And lastly, some men do not dare admit that what has happened is rape or sexual assault because they know if it is, then they would be guilty of it as well and are afraid to face the truth.

Protect and Provide
Above all else the young woman needs a safe place with safe people. Deal with the issue forthrightly and in a way that protects your loved one from having to have unwanted contact with her abuser. Do not try to fix her. She needs to see her parents or spouse react appropriately with hurt, anger, sadness, and yet without sinning. My own wife has thanked me for entering into her suffering by listening, holding her and praying with her. These survivors of sexual abuse are validated as we show a desire to know the truth and the harsh realities, not out of curiosity, but to share in their suffering.

Do not handle this alone, but find safe people and competent counselors. The more she is able to tell her story or what she is ready to tell to safe people who validate her feelings, the better and faster she will heal. Become informed. Read good solid treatments of this subject.

Encourage and Embrace
It would be normal for the young woman to experience PTSD and flashbacks or awful memories assault her mind. Encourage her and tell her this will pass in time as she moves forward in the process. She may doubt her memories, but you must not. They are probably all true and real. She may need to be held and prayed over. Take the initiative.


Forgive and Confront

In time you will need to forgive the person and ask God’s blessing upon him. Jesus did not die so you or I could hate someone. HE died so we could be free from the hate by forgiving very specifically what has been done.
How has he wounded you, your loved one?
What judgments are you making of this abuser? Identify them and give God the seat of judgment as Joseph did when he refused to sit in the seat of God.
What debt does he owe you? What would make it right? Identify these specifically and when you can, cancel each of the debts based on the blood of Jesus. Give up the right to punish.

Do not expect the victim to forgive until she is ready. In time this will occur, but not yet. Its not your job to get her to do this. It is God’s.

If you do confront, and I believe you should, do it in a way that protects your loved one. Do not condemn or berate the abuser, but do bring this into the light. The best thing that could happen to him is to get caught and be exposed. Do not mistake forgiveness with acting as if nothing happened. Boundaries are necessary. Trust is not warranted.

Pray and Pursue
Pray and pursue God and all that is good. Pray and pursue time with safe encouraging friends. As you move forward and your loved one moves forward you will find that God is enough for whatever lies ahead.

What Is Next?
Jesus died so you and I could live…really live. Whatever else lies ahead for you, please trust Him and His promises. Time alone does not heal, but we still need time for healing to occur and occur it will. Do not stop living, but keep moving forward, loving God as you go.

Jeremiah 31:3-4 (NIV)
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O __________________ (your name).
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
“Forget (don’t obsess on) the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

Lastly I would say, do not waste the pain and suffering. Dozens of women (and some men) have been helped simply because my wife and others like her dared to share their story with others and through them doing so, many have found the path to freedom and healing.

You can find healing, hope and freedom.
You are a survivor, no longer a victim.
I Promise.

Note: I have not tried to footnote or reference some of my resources, but simply tried to consolidate what I normally share into one paper that hopefully will benefit many.
God is with you. God will not let you down. As you heal tell others of the path you have found and have followed and of the God who has walked with you through it all.
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APPENDIX

MYTHS ABOUT RAPE

From Focus on the Family

Rape is any sexual activity that is attempted or completed by force, threat of force or coercion against another person’s will. Men, as well as women, can be violated, and it is not a crime that necessarily strikes any one group of victims. The person does not consent if he or she cannot reasonably choose to consent or refuse because of age, circumstances, being impaired in thinking by drugs or alcohol, level of understanding or dependency/relationship to the offender. Young and old, black and white — anyone can be raped.

Nobody has the right to demand physical or sexual favors from another person without their consent, regardless of their relationship to them. Rape exploits one person in order to meet another person’s sexual or emotional desires. Psychologically, it devastates its victims. Economically, it’s extremely costly in terms of physical and mental health care, as well as lost time from work or school. Victims of sexual assault often experience fear, anxiety, depression, difficulty in sexual relationships and many other psychological and physical symptoms.

Rape, and the issues of shame and silence surrounding it, are not new: The story of Tamar, who was violated by her half-brother Amnon, is described in 2 Samuel 13:11-12, 14 and 20. When her brother Absalom learned of this incident, he told her to keep silent and she remained a “desolate woman in his house.” Many misconceptions about rape exist, and the following are just a few of them:

(Note: Since research shows that the majority of violent sexual acts are committed primarily against women, and for the sake of brevity, we will use feminine pronouns when referring to the victims of rape. However, it should be remembered that either gender can be a perpetrator or victim.)

Myth #1: Rape is an expression of intense sexual desire. Rape is an expression of violence, not sexual desire. It is motivated by the need to dominate, control and degrade the victim. This act of aggression is often triggered by feelings of anger or violence. Some rapists punish their victims out of a need to release pent-up anger or frustration. Others have deep feelings of inadequacy that are relieved by their ability to control and dominate another person. This display of aggression is due to low self-concept, doubts about masculinity, feelings of social distance or general unhappiness. In reality, many rapists state that during the rape they felt no sense of sexual stimulation or arousal.

Myth #2: Rape always occurs spontaneously. The act of rape is almost always carefully premeditated and executed. In the majority of cases, the rapists acquaint themselves with their intended victims before they actually attack. Rapes committed by men who are known to the victim may account for as much as 74 percent of all rapes. Rapes are not committed by lonely men looking for affection and temporary closeness. And because they are planned, rape almost always includes the use of force or threat of harm and often the use of deadly weapons.

The victim of date or acquaintance rape commonly experiences extreme guilt, as she feels her behavior somehow contributed to the rape. Often victims feel partially responsible for the assault because they trusted the assailant or dressed seductively. She may hesitate to report the incident if there are a number of mutual friends because of embarrassment or shame over potential public exposure and the resulting stigma.

Myth #3: Some women secretly desire or invite rape. The act of rape is a horrifying and life-threatening experience. No woman wants to be used against her will. And when rape occurs, the victim’s sense of self, as well as her body, is penetrated and used without consent. In the same category as homicide, rape is the most profound violation of a person’s body. It deprives the victim of both physical and emotional privacy and autonomy.

Myth #4: Some women deserve to be raped. In actuality, physical appearance or actions have little to do with who gets raped. Infants, elderly women and females of all incomes and living arrangements can be raped. No one deserves to be raped. This thinking shifts the blame from the attacker to the victim, faulting her for her dress, behavior or whereabouts. Victims of non-sexual assault are not subjected to such attitudes, and neither should rape victims.

Myth #5: A woman is raped because “she asked for it” by being careless. A woman who goes out alone or after dark is not “asking” to be raped. Everyone should take precautions to avoid being victimized. However, some women are raped in their own home. Open areas in daylight or automobiles are also common places for rapes to occur. No woman is responsible for the behavior of a rapist merely because she happens to be in a particular place at a given time or with a certain person.

Myth #6: All rapists are big, mean and tough. There are no obvious features that would make a rapist stand out in a crowd. It could be your neighbor, a repairman or a door-to-door salesman. Rapists may be nicely dressed, masquerade in disguises (including a policeman’s uniform) or pose as a woman.
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Gods's Unfailing Love

Gods’s Unfailing Love

HEALING OUR WOUNDS –Part One

Not all wounds are visible.

Crash!  The sound of two cars colliding at high speed in the street brought me to my feet and out the door.  Two badly smashed cars, several people injured, and one bleeding profusely right in front of me.  I tore off my shirt and made a compress to stop the bleeding from his head wound. His mother took the compress and held it tight. I proceeded to assess the others, some still in the vehicles.  One young man involved in the accident was walking around directing me to the others who might be injured. He seemed unscathed, just as the paramedics arrived  he collapsed and was quickly taken care of and transported by ambulance to the hospital.

He had no visible wounds because his were internal.

Sometimes the wounds that you cannot see are the ones that are the most damaging of all.

 So it is with soul wounds… injuries to your soul, heart, and/or mind. 

What happens when your emotions are torn, there is a hole in your heart, and your thinking and beliefs have been damaged?  How can you identify your soul wounds and what must you do to heal from them?

Why Identifying Our Soul Wounds Is So Crucial —

Here are some key thoughts, proven principles about this:

  • Soul wounds affect how we think, how we feel, and therefore affect how we act and relate.  The wounds are at the root of everything in the sense that they affect everything.  I heard someone say that a heart early broken will grow back crooked and that crookedness will make us live and relate that way.
  • We are powerless to change that which we are unaware of, do not understand, or deny.
  • Soul wounds hold us back I life, in relationships, in loving, in serving or work, and even in our ability to receive love from others.
  • Soul wounds become walls to protect us from being hurt, but walls don’t keep just one person out.  The walls we erect (and they take many forms) keep all people out.
  • Our protective but destructive behaviors anesthetize, numb, or push down unwanted painful thoughts, feelings, and memories.  But, listen! We must feel in order to heal.

How We Can Begin To Identify Our Own Soul Wounds—

  • Look at your own copes:  What do you do to cope? Why? If you were not doing what you are doing to cope (to numb the pain), what might you begin to think about, begin to feel, or remember?
  • Look at your over reactions or under reactions.  When have you over reacted to a situation or person?  How about a gross under-reaction?  Either may point to an earlier time, event, or person that hurt or threatened us and how we learned to cope in a situation where that “button” gets pushed.  The soul or heart (limbic system) does not tell time, so when that same type of wound is opened the soul or heart react the same way. Who made you feel this way before? How old were you? What did you tell yourself as a result of what was happening to you?
  • Look in the mirror:  Who do you dislike?   What about them do you dislike the most? What negative quality in other people do you dislike a lot? It could be that you are projecting something about yourself onto others…something you can’t accept in yourself.
  • Ask Others.  I have at times of personal evaluation asked others, “What is it like to experience me?”  When honestly answered the results are very revealing though sometimes painful.  At one point of burn out I told my wife I had asked my staff that question.  She then asked, “When do I get to answer that question?” Sometimes the truth hurts, but truth is necessary to our healing.
  • Ask God.  A great man once asked God this of God: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
  • Ask Yourself.  Where does it hurt? Why?  Your wounds may be internal but they still hurt and they still “bleed.”  Write it down.  Discuss what you are thinking about with someone who can help you identify truth and discern the real issues.  You see, the truth is, we are all wounded.  So do not be embarrassed at that being the case for you.  Safe people are also vulnerable and honest people who are real and authentic and caring rather than judgmental.

 What We All Need To Heal Our Wounds —

Part Two, to be released later this week, will address a Ten Part Process of Healing.  But for now let me give you a few keys to get started with:

First, no one heals from soul wounds and destructive relationship patterns through counseling alone. I counsel many and it is essential.  But people are wounded in relationships and people are healed in relationships, but (LISTEN!) it takes real people in real community in real relationships. Find or create a safe forum of safe people for yourself and for others.

Second, we must experience truth in our soul, truth that identifies and replaces the lies or false beliefs we may unknowingly hold in our hearts.  When Jesus of Nazareth said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” He wasn’t talking about facts or head knowledge.  The word he used from that culture meant to know by experience or to know something in your soul.

A number of years ago Dave, a counselor  I was seeing asked me a question.  “What are the three deepest hurts in your life?”  “Let’s ask God to show you,” he said.   And God did.   

Dave had me pick one and relive it in my mind, narrating all that had happened.  IT involved rage and abuse from someone dear to me but much older.  I was a young boy. When I finished, Dave asked, “Do you sense Jesus coming into that room in the scene?”   I answered, “Yes.”

“Well,” Dave asked, “What does He do and say?”  To my surprise Jesus came over to me, held me close, and said, “I love, you, Bobby.”

There is more, but my life changed that day.  The lie I had learned to believe, that I was not loveable, was erased and rep-laced with the truth that I was lovable and deeply loved by God.

I knew the truth (experienced it) and the truth then set me free….

Well there is more to come about healing our wounds.  Next time we will look at the 10 or 12 keys to our healing….

PART 2 Coming Soon…

Gods's Unfailing Love

Gods’s Unfailing Love

CHRISTS EMPTY TOMB

THE EMPTY TOMB OF CHRIST

 

PLUG AND PLAY CHURCH

To look at something as if we have never seen it before requires great courage. – Matisse

Standing in the empty tomb in which Christ was buried and from which Christ arose put everything else about my faith in perspective.  It was no longer about “church” or growth or funds or programing or attracting people or even caring what people might think.  Suddenly it was about what was it was meant to be… about Jesus and life and meaning and caring about others and resurrection and a changed life a new life unhindered by the past and being freed to live for God in the present.

Just prior to His death and resurrection Jesus did something unusual even for Jesus:    He took His followers on a 26 mile detour into the Golan Heights to make one statement, Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”  This city, which sits at the foot of Mount Hermon, butts up against a large cliff, referred to as the ‘Rock of the Gods.’ Shrines to many gods were carved out there.  In the center of the Rock of the Gods is a huge cave, from which a stream flows This cave was called the “Gates of Hades”, because it was believed that Baal (a god of the underworld) would enter and leave the underworld through places where water came out of it doing irreparable harm.

In spite of all the denominational preferences for interpreting “this rock” to mean Peter or his confession of Christ as Messiah, the most obvious interpretation was a direct reference to the Rock of the Gods and what it stood for…. Namely the most degenerate places and morally repugnant on the planet.  Why else would He walk them to the most sin filled place around within walking distance?

Gates of HadesIn that era, it would have been the equivalent of New Orleans during Mardi Gras in its most debauched places or Las Vegas in the not so glitzy parts of Sin City—but Ceasara Phillipi was much much worse.  As one writer points out: In the open-air Pan Shrine, next to the cave mouth, there was a large niche, in which a statue of Pan (a half-goat, half-human creature) stood, with a large erect phallus, worshipped for its fertility properties. Surrounding him in the wall were many smaller niches, in which were statues of his attending nymphs. On the shrine in front of these niches, worshippers of Pan would congregate and partake in bizarre sexual rites, including copulation with goats – worshipped for their relationship to Pan.

Jesus said it is right at the worst places on this planet that He would be about building His community of followers to offer hope and life in his name.  Somehow I do not think plug and play church of today was what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” 

Where are the gates of Hades or hell today?

Where ever sin runs rampant… children are neglected or abused … wherever immoral sexual activity outside or inside of marriage is seen as ok…normal…. greed is applauded and security is found in money rather than God… disease runs unchecked because money is valued over the lives and welfare of others…. sin gets excused, grumbling and judging others carry the day….It’s wherever emotionally destructive relationships are tolerated and empowered instead of leaders of the faith intervening and making a difference… sex trading of children… impoverished people suffering when money abounds in governments…. Where churches  are caught up in themselves and fortress mentalities going out on projects to reach people rather than being the church and living among the lost and hurting people.

What is Jesus saying?  It is in these places…. At the very core of depravity, hopelessness, and injustice that I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail…overpower…stand up against it…  In a world that is dying I will bring new life and real hope… by connecting them to God….  How different is that from the plug and play churches of today?

Standing in the empty tomb in which Christ was buried and from which Christ arose put everything else about my faith in perspective.  It was no longer about “church” or growth or funds or programming or attracting people or even caring what people might think.  Suddenly it was about what was it was meant to be… about Jesus and life and meaning and caring about others and resurrection and a changed life a new life unhindered by the past and being freed to live for God in the present. It was never about bells and whistles to attract people, or the now in modern garb of Christian systems, but about just praying, going and being in order to reach the broken and the hurting people.

May this season of Easter and celebration be a realization of what Jesus wants His church TO BE rather than what we have become. No more plug and play…

Hesed & Meg

MEG…the Suburbanstein Girl

Written by: Anonymous in Testimonials

SHE – MEG

She was lost…but she didn’t know it… She, Meg, had never been found.  She survived but that’s it.  She was five when she first became aware of the fact that she was different.  That she didn’t wear monster-skin… that she didn’t need it to fit in with the Normals.  She became aware that “they” were not always trustworthy… that her “caregivers” “providers” and “spiritual guides” were all wearing monster-skin.  She assumed she was supposed to as well and figured God did too.

She wandered in and out of the years through the darkness that was seeping into her life. Though it was always present, the darkness slowly started creeping into her awareness like mist, at first barely noticeable. But it became more solid and started sticking to areas of her life and personality.   This darkness seemed to stick with every hurt whenever her reality did not match everyone else’s. People would come into her life and then leave especially once she got attached to them.  This was the monster way.  She had a family member who was a Normal but she abandoned Meg too when death took her away.  Then there was the time her unicorn lost its fragrance… when her father had monster claws but a nice voice…

What she didn’t know is that’s how the monsters make more monsters. She didn’t realize who she was.  That she was not alone.  Eventually the darkness became her friend.  Her security.  She knew it well and it was a constant companion.  It even talked to her.  It reminded her of her monsterness and how worthless she really was.

The darkness had left a shell of Meg by the time she started working in the “normal’s” world.  It became worse every year until her shell became so thin that she actually thought she would break.  To counteract this, more and more monsterness grew to protect her shell.  The razors in place of teeth became sharper…the tears of self- loathing became darker…the thoughts of suicide became stronger.

THEY – The Couple

They had experienced Great Change.  They had a love that was so strong it got them through anything; it radiated from their being because it came from THE GREAT SOURCE.  THE GREAT SOURCE… He is the beginning and the end… HE IS LOVE… and HE reigned in their life.  At the time, though, their Great Change didn’t seem like it was a positive thing. They were left isolated on an island amongst people.  They had and lost the very people they gave themselves to who didn’t seem to reciprocate in the time of Great Change.

They were Normals.  No people skin needed to hide their monsterness because there wasn’t any.  They were amazing. They had no dark mist around them.  They were people of light.  And even though they experienced Great Change they did not lose love.  Nor did they give up on THE GREAT SOURCE.  Their reality matched their lives.  Sure, they had flaws as all Normals do but their light and love seemed to make their flaws disappear. Even stranger, the light and love that radiated off of them seemed to make other people’s flaws disappear too.

They = a man and woman who were married and deeply in love.  They had grown children and many grandchildren and much love in their hearts for everyone.  They thought that THE GREAT SOURCE was done with building their family…

ALONE

At times, Meg could not stand life anymore she would cry out – watching the Normals…wanting to be one…wanting to belong and be known. She felt as though a piece of her dilapidated heart was missing.  She desperately wanted “family” people to love her unconditionally, darkness and all.  She would confer with the Normals she knew but she was told that was “impossible this side of heaven” and that her “expectations were too high.”  She believed in “God” but her God wore monster-skin and didn’t love her really.  Her God saw her needs but didn’t answer and if he did he answered her by allowing more hurt and people to abandon her either because of their monsterness, or because of death.  She was so conditioned to her perception of “God” that when THE GREAT SOURCE was working she didn’t even notice…not even when the evidence of this was right in front of her…

THE GREAT SOURCE

You know how when your heart skips a beat because of anticipation and excitement of something?  Maybe it’s going on your favorite ride, or watching a great movie, or spending time with a pet who loves you know matter what…  well, THE GREAT SOURCE — his love for us is like WAY MORE than all of the wonderful and exciting experiences you have had put together! He, although “he” is a relative term… he could be called “they in one”, “her and him”,  well, we should just stick with THE GREAT SOURCE… loved people very, very much.  Hesed was like a mist but instead of spreading darkness and pain… it wove itself through everything… Hesed was present everywhere and at all times because of THE GREAT SOURCE.  See, Hesed was THE GREAT SOURCE’s unfailing, all encompassing, palpable, permeating, penetrating, gentle, love.  And it began to weave this girl, now shell of a woman, and the couple who were Normals together…

THE MEETING PLACE

Some would say that “God” frequented it occasionally so they hoped to catch a glimpse of him and like rats trained to hit a button to receive food they would go in anticipation of this glimpse, often to be disappointed.

Others would say that THE GREAT SOURCE arranged this Meeting Place… and while Normals were flawed, despite their flaws THE GREAT SOURCE was present with them EVERYWHERE – even in The Meeting Place.  And The Meeting Place became a place of safety and family for Normals and for people trying to get help for their perceived monsterness.   HESED was great in this place.  And it was just this place that the girl now shell of a woman, Meg, turned to.

And they helped.  But they were not what her heart was begging for.   She was loved and accepted and cared for, monsterness and all.  But that was the problem, although she didn’t see it as one. Because she believed in her monsterness and the darkness that had become her friend…it showed to the Normals at The Meeting Place.   And they loved her.  But they saw it, too. Her monsterness and darkness had become stronger than the shell of who she was and it tended to be what people saw.

HESED at Work

Like a beautiful butterfly weaving its way through the world ~ HESED was at work weaving THE GREAT SOURCE’s love throughout Meg’s life.  The man from the couple approached The Meeting Place.  She ignored him.  Why connect?  Only to have yet another prove his monsterness and abandon her?  Meg chose to ignore him.   At The Meeting Place he sat across from her.  She was a bit less impressed with “God” thinking he was trying to set her up for something. (That’s the great thing about THE GREAT SOURCE and HESED, love wins despite people’s misconceptions and jaded interpretations of reality, including Meg’s.)

The man was gentle.  She didn’t see pride in his eyes or any monsterness.  He was nice.  He seemed to see in her what she secretly hoped hadn’t wilted when she adopted her monsterness.  She was intrigued by him.  He spoke openly.  They met over several occasions; each time he seemed to be a Normal.  And there was this light that permeated his being, so much so that his eyes sparkled when he spoke to her.  He introduced Meg to his wife.  Much to her astonishment, the woman was the same way.  When she spoke she was captivating.  Light would pour out of her smile and her eyes showed an acceptance that Meg found comforting.  Over time searing pain began to tear at the girl turned shell of a woman… it was the darkness…because darkness cannot exist in light and the shell of a woman only knew the darkness’ shelter.  The light that the woman and man exuded was inviting and felt so different than anything Meg had ever known…

The MIRROR

Meg saw the bright light, flow through the couple, a light she began to identify as THE GREAT SOURCE.  Every time they interacted with her she began to see herself differently.  Over time they helped her remove the darkness that clung to her life and memories…they helped her say good-bye to the darkness that was her friend, pointing out a true friend who would never tell her she was worthless.  And over time the HESED had woven them close, so close that Meg became who she never knew she could be. She became connected to THE GREAT SOURCE…

And the couple discovered something too.  They had a mirror that they wanted to show Meg one day, to show her what she looked like to them and, more importantly, to THE GREAT SOURCE.   They held it up…and in its reflection wasn’t her monsterness…nor was it the markings of hurt or the gouges that pain had left in her past.   No one saw any stains of self-loathing dripping down her face in her reflection.  Instead they saw something sparkling… something of great worth and beauty on the inside and out.  They saw a Gem… and in that moment THE GREAT SOURCE gave her to them and she went from wishing she was known and wanting to belong… to being THEIRS.  And at that same moment THE GREAT SOURCE filled a Gem shaped place in their hearts that only a daughter’s love could, and they became HERS.

 

FTT   – Failure To Thrive, describes an infant who should be gaining weight and growing but is not. Something is wrong on the inside that effects what is happening on the outside…. There is a Failure To Thrive. But life can be like that can’t it?

Ever feel like that…? You know something is wrong on the inside and its tearing your life apart on the outside as well? I sure have. The story in this brief video clip is the true story of an extremely intelligent,  and gifted person whose failure to thrive on the inside was exacting a toll on her life inside and out. It was killing her. But through the Genesis Process that we use at Real Life Ministries…she not only stopped the failure to thrive, but found her voice and the magnificent fullness of life Jesus spoke of in spite of challenging circumstances. She is alive to thrive… you can be too.