#metoo #Ihave

SunriseQuite honestly, it makes me sad that I feel fear in sharing this with the world. I’m not the only one who feels that fear. Thankfully, someone was brave enough to open their mouth and be first, giving all of us a platform to join the ranks that will no longer remain silent about this epidemic of violence and sexual harassment that is plaguing our society.


#metoo. I was raped at knife point as a teenager while on my paper route. I didn’t tell anyone out of fear of the threats the perpetrator made. The toxic shame and guilt I carried as a result worked like duct tape, silencing me for years. It wasn’t until a friend asked me to take her teenaged daughter to the police station to file a rape report, that I began to deal with my own rape experience. It was too painful for my friend to go and she didn’t want her daughter to be inhibited from sharing the details with the officer, so I agreed to take her. As we sat with a crisis counselor at the station, the counselor began explaining to the young girl how important it was to talk about it and get help in dealing with the ramifications of it. The counselor went on to say that there were women out there who had been raped as teens who never told anyone. They lived years of their lives suffering with their secret and now they are 40 years old. I was stunned! There I sat, frozen in a police station chair with my secret. I was 40 years old at the time. I decided it was time I got help.


#metoo. I’ve lived with abusive husbands. Yes, I meant to make that plural. One was abusive to me and the other, more so to the kids, but either way, it wasn’t right. When a man throws knives at your head and sticks them in a wall behind you to terrorize you, or threatens to drive in front of moving trains, or pushes you outside without clothes, or holds you down on a bed with his hands around your neck, or tries to push you down a flight of stairs while you’re pregnant, or to push you out of a second floor window, or spins your vehicle around on a freeway, or a child feels a need to try to protect you, when you have to sleep with a knife on the bed railing to protect yourself, when you live in fear of the next rage and you walk 24 hours a day in fear, on eggshells, or the one who says they love you so much has affairs with other women… that’s abuse. It’s not right. It has to stop.


#metoo, #metoo, #metoo, #metoo, #metoo… Those are just a few, for all of the rest. Those are for the men and even women, who abused their power or authority in a position they held or a role they had in my life story. There were the bosses that made inappropriate moves or propositions, the married men who attempted things, thereby offending not just me, but also their own wives. And of course, there are the disrespectful words spoken many times! Based on the responses of this whole #metoo movement, it seems that every woman knows what I’m talking about here.


#metoo is a start, but it’s not quite enough, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve gotten counseling and been a part of many support groups for women dealing with these issues. I’m ok. I don’t need any sympathy as a victim. I don’t need my experience to be validated by anyone. I lived it and I’ve recovered from it. I don’t need revenge. I don’t need to face my perpetrators and hear an apology or get some kind of closure. What I need is for it to stop. What is it going to take for it to stop? What if all of those who posted, #metoo, also started naming names. Would that get those who continually victimize women to think before they do it again?


#metoo. This is where my list of perpetrators should be inserted. But instead of naming names, I’ll address you here. You know who you are. I can finally say, I forgive you. This didn’t come easy. I paid a high price because of what you did to me. My kids paid a price because of what you did for me. I’ve lost much because of what you did to me. Years of my life were affected because of what you did to me. How can I forgive you? I can because I’ve been forgiven. #Ihave. She who has been forgiven much, can take the risk to love again. #Ihave

Pointing finger.shame

#ihave. I’ve been an abuser. You see, when you don’t use something for it’s intended purpose, it’s abuse. I’ve abused men and women. I’ve done it in the work place. I knew that I could assert power over a man with flirtatious words or actions. I knew that I could intimidate to get what I wanted. I knew that I could use my appearance or my body to get what I wanted and #ihave. It worked for me for a season. Sure, some of it was because I had been broken by past experience, but that’s not an excuse for my inappropriate actions. I take responsibility for my actions. #Ihave and I’m sorry.


#metoo. I know my own darkness. I’ve hurt myself. I forgive myself.

#metoo. I know my own darkness. I’ve hurt you. I hope you can forgive #metoo.

#metoo. I know my own darkness. #ihave. That’s how I can forgive you, too.



Letting Go…

I hate to use the words, “I quit”, so today my word choice is “letting go”.  There is a difference you know.

I quitI believe that “quitting” happens when you physically, mentally or emotionally come to the end of yourself and you can no longer bare the discomfort or pain of whatever it is that’s just too much.  There is no way you can possibly live with it, under it or bare it, not one more day, hour, not one more second.  It may be a very real or a very false perception that brought you to that point.  It may be that you’ve grown tired and worn.  Regardless, you are at a place where you feel forced to utter the words, “I quit”.

On the other hand, we have “letting go”.  Letting go of something is a choice.  We let go, not because we are manipulated or coerced letting go balloonsby an individual or forced by a situation.  We’ve been able to set emotions aside and have taken a good hard look at the situation, evaluated its cost and benefits.  We reach the decision to “let go”.

I’ve done a lot of deep thinking recently about many things.  I’ve been in a season of introspection or navel gazing as some call it.  Yes, there are times when we can be too caught up in this type of activity, especially if we’re the type that takes ourselves too seriously, but there are times when navel gazing is very necessary.  This particular navel gazing baby navel gazingseason for me is because of an abuse class that I’ve been involved with.  Navel gazing can bring healing.  It can bring us to a better place, plus it’s always good to get the planks out of my own eyes rather than point out the splinters in the eyes of others.  Navel gazing can help us find and know our true self.  It helps us be authentic.  Real.

Today, in an effort to be authentic to my true self, I make the conscious choice to “let go” of #NaBloPoMo, the National Blog Posting Month challenge.  The NaBloPoMo challenge was to write a blog post every day for the entire month.  While have absolutely no regrets for any of the posts that I’ve written over the last ten days, this past weekend writing wasn’t on my mind, yet I felt forced to write something because of the challenge.  That’s not me.  That’s not how I flow.  Of course, while it’s part of our nature to imagine that the world revolves around us, I’m not so naive to think that there are people out there Letting go quotethat can hardly wait to wake up in the morning so they can read all the golden nuggets I have to post.  When I write, it is because I feel that I have something to say, something someone wants to hear, something that may help someone.  It’s not being true to me or what this blog is all about to just post something for the sake of meeting a challenge.  It’s not fair to you, either.  You deserve better.  So for that reason, I’m choosing to let go.

While I do love to write and writing is something that needs to be practiced like any other skill, for the sake of all of us, when I post it will be because I feel I have something worth saying.  So, I’m sorry #NaBloPoMo.  I have to let go.  Don’t take it personally though.  It’s not you, it’s me.

When “Mr. Right”, Screws Up…

rainy dayFor those of you who look for my running posts, this isn’t one of them.  This post is on betrayal.  The only way I could tie running into this one, is if I were writing about my body betraying me.  It does do that!  I take good care of it and yet, it fails me from time to time.  That’s not the direction we’re going now, though.  Today we’re going on a journey into something darker, something that often leaves as much damage as a failed organ.  The resulting damage isn’t readily seen, but the pain can certainly be just as intense.

Who hasn’t experienced betrayal in some form?  We’ve all been lied to and blindsided by those we trust.  We’ve all been stabbed in the back by friends we thought “had our backs”.  We’ve all been more than a little disheartened when darkness that’s been hidden in someone we respected is exposed.  And I would be surprised if there is anyone out there that hasn’t had their trust totally crushed in a relationship with someone who they considered to be their soul mate, their “Mr. or Mrs. Right”.  It happens to people every day.  The person that we think is “the one” for us, the person that was supposed to love us “with all of their heart”, can get totally stupid and screw up.

It was my 25th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago.  If you’ve read any of my past posts, you probably already know that I’ve been married before, twice actually.   I have indeed, experienced betrayal.

It’s hard to forget.  It’s harder still, to forgive.  I can vouch for the fact that, so far, I’ve never forgotten.  Memories fade over time, but each new betrayal triggers all the painful emotion.  It’s surprising how an incident can make memories fresh all over again.

I remember the lies, the cover ups, and the clues that raised my suspicions.  I remember wanting to be in denial, not wanting to allow Things that can not be hiddenmy imagination to even explore the possibilities of what I was sensing.  I remember the moment that the evidence presented itself in a way that I could no longer deny.  The slow realization of what I was sensing was indeed a reality.  My betrayer was caught.  It happened more than once, actually.  More than twice.  It happened often with my first marriage.  Needless to say, that one didn’t last very long.

There was physical abuse within the marriage.  Physical abuse is a betrayal.  The hand that’s supposed to love you, gently caress your skin, instead inflicts bruising and pain.  That hurts emotionally and physically.

And then there was the time I was blindsided, totally and utterly blindsided.  I had no clue.  I wasn’t suspicious.  I had absolutely no reason to even go there in my imagination.  I was adored by him.  I was loved and loved well.  He was my soul mate, my Mr. Right.  How could he do this to me?

In all of these experiences, not one person ever came forward and confessed.  They had to be caught.

It hurts to be betrayed.  It hurts like hell!  Betrayal can turn a normal, calm and self-controlled individual into a crazy person.  Tumultuous, tormenting thoughts consume your mind.  Of course they would.  You’ve just experienced a loss, a huge loss.  It’s not a whole lot different than experiencing a death, only with betrayal, there may be no closure for a long time.

The normally confident person becomes insecure and fearful.  Self-esteem is brought into question.  “What did I do wrong?”  You begin to make unhealthy comparisons.  “How was I not good enough?” “How was the other person better?”  And the anger!  Internal rage!  What’s the quote?  “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s anger!”  Yes, the anger is very real.  You’re angry at everyone.  Angry with the offender, angry with the other party, angry with yourself, and even angry with God.

Sad-love-quotes-Trust-it-takes-yearsI remember a three month period of anger as my second marriage was coming to an end.  I worked retail and had a 30 mile commute home from work each night.  I was the one in that really slow car driving down the freeway late at night, after closing the store.  That was my alone time, away from people, away from my two children.  It was my time to think, my time to vent.  Of course there were tears, lots of tears.  I had conversations with myself.   Sometimes I would literally scream.   It was a safe place in my car on an empty freeway at night, so I could let it all out.  I was so angry.  Of course, I was angry with my betrayer, but more so at myself.  I was angry with myself for letting it all happen again, for allowing myself to be in such a vulnerable place, allowing myself to love and trust again.  I was angry at God for allowing my heart to be broken again.

There was the unfairness of it all.  It was so not fair that this was happening to me again.  Wasn’t it enough before?  Why me?

I hated that it made me feel so exposed, naked.  I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin anymore.  I didn’t want to be touched anymore.  It was like I was married to a stranger.  Who was this man that I had given my life to?

You feel betrayal physically.  It’s like your chest has been ripped open and your heart has been yanked out and crushed by the hand that said it loved you.   You’re left to bleed…  alone, helpless, vulnerable and bleeding to death…  It’s just so wrong.

As I’ve said already, betrayal takes many forms.  While the betrayal in your case may not have involved an actual physical affair, rosesomething far more valuable may have been taken from you.  Your spouse or partner turned the eyes that were supposed to be focused on you, in the direction of another.  The place where thoughts of you were supposed to dwell, allowed another to move in.  That person occupied your space.  The heart that belonged to you was offered to another.  When they held out their hand to the other person, they held out your heart and were allowing it to be crushed.  Those parts of the one you love are much more valuable than sex organs will ever be.

What do you do from here?  How do you process all of this as the person who has been betrayed?  For me, I write.  Writing helps me gather my thoughts, express my feelings, vent my emotion.  It’s much more effective and much safer than a slow, late night car ride.  I used to journal regularly.  I haven’t done that so much over the past several years, but recently started to do that again.  If you’ve never tried it before, give it a shot.  You have nothing to lose, but you have your sanity to gain.  It’s very therapeutic.

What do I write?  Start with a letter to the one who betrayed you.  Even if they never get to read it, you will be able to write what you really want to say.  It may be mixed in with things you don’t really mean, but you will get the benefit of it.  It will give voice to what you need to express and may help you be able to express it in a less crazy way than you would have.

revengeMaybe it would help to write a letter to the “other” woman or man as it may be in your case.  They are also an injured party in the scandalous, mess.  I know the natural inclination is to call names, lots of names and maybe even seek revenge.  If you don’t seek revenge, you can’t tell me that at least thoughts of something bad happening to them haven’t gone through your mind.  Fess up now.  Remember, I’ve been there.

Healing is ultimately what we need.  It’s a process.  It takes time, lots of time.  If you’ve just been betrayed, you aren’t going to like what I suggest as a next step.  It’s not something you will feel like doing at all.  It’s something you may think you will never be able to do.  But it’s the first step toward a healed heart, and I know you want that.  I’m not saying you have to do it right away either, but the sooner you can take this step, the faster you will walk toward wholeness.

Healing starts with a choice.  You have to choose to forgive.  You do it for you.  No, the other person doesn’t deserve it, but you do.  When you don’t forgive, you become a prisoner to your own bitter thoughts and feelings and the one who is truly punished, is you.

When we’ve been hurt, we become inclined to wall out the world to protect our own heart.  We aren’t willing to risk being hurt again.  By doing this, we actually hurt ourselves even more, though.  With a wall around our heart to keep the bad away from us, we also keep the good away.  Our heart never gets what it truly needs, because no one can see it or reach in and touch it.

When you make the conscious choice to forgive, in time, your feelings will catch up.  I promise!  Yes, situations will arise where words are said and opportunities for re-wounding will be present.  You’ll feel like you’re back to square one.  When you reach that spot, remember your choice to forgive and you stick to it or do it again.  Do it over and over again if you have to.  Eventually, you will find yourself in a place where you are surprised to realize, you really do forgive.  You can feel it.  You’re a bigger and better person because of it.

You have to come to a place where you choose to not allow your mind to be consumed with the whole situation.  Stop replaying the scenarios over and over in your mind.  Stop allowing yourself to be tormented with a need to get to the bottom of a story.  You may or may not have all of the details, but does it really matter?  The damage has already been done.  You have to come to a place where you choose to let go.  Finding yourself in a situation involving betrayal is emotionally exhausting.  I’ve come to the place where the internal struggle was so intense, I had no choice but to let go.  My mind and my body couldn’t handle the stress of it anymore.  If I didn’t lay it down, it would do me in.

When it comes to healing, I can’t help but to talk about God’s role in all of this for me.  I told you that I had a time when I was angry with God over what I had experienced.  God wasn’t the one who betrayed me.  He didn’t create us to be robots that he sits up in the sky and controls.  He made us human and gave us the freedom to choose our actions.  It was a human who betrayed you.  We are all human and humans aren’t perfect.  We all make mistakes.  I’ve hurt others and others have hurt me.  Maybe they hurt me more, but that doesn’t matter.  I may not be able to trust humans to the degree that I would like to, but I know I can trust God to take care of me and heal my heart.  He’s come through every time.Don't lose hope

When you let go, you find yourself in a calm place.  When you’ve forgiven and let go, you find yourself in a calm and peaceful place.  When you trust God to heal your heart, you find yourself in a calm, peaceful and loving place.  That’s the place I would hope for you, my friend.  Will you join me here?

My “Bad Day Roll”

Today was what I would consider to be a bad day.  Actually, I know my life appears to be great to many and it really is, but I’ve actually been on a “bad day roll” since this year started.  Some days are better than others, but has anyone noticed that I’ve not been writing recently?  The life has been sucked out of me.  My enthusiasm has dwindled, my joy, thus my motivation, pretty much gone.  What you are about to hear is the ugly.  Well, some of the ugly.  True confession, I still keep the really ugly stuff hidden.  I’m human too, you know.

This year has been an all time low for me.  My self esteem has never been lower.  My self-confidence hasn’t waned, because there hasn’t been any to wane.  January was the most stress filled month that I can remember ever experiencing.  I have had years of stress filled experiences in my past, I mean excruciatingly, intense situations that have the power to crush a person.  In spite of that, I can remember very few situations that made me feel the emotional upheaval and inner turmoil that I’ve felt this year.  I actually feared that I would experience what it really was to literally “lose it”.

My thinking has taken a much healthier direction in the last several months, but I can’t say that I’m past it all, yet.  The struggle has continued, sometimes like a volcano just rumbling under the surface.  Today though was an eruption.  I find myself shaking my head at the end of this day.  How and why is this happening?  I don’t have the answers yet, but life is a journey, right.  You don’t get the privilege of knowing it all while you’re running the path.

Part of my issue was that I had made myself vulnerable.  I had exposed parts of my life that were delicate and maybe not so appealing to the general public.  It made people uncomfortable.  It made me the target of unfair, critical, judgment and I began to see it, feel it and hear it expressed.  People I had trusted to be with me in this life journey, had backed away.  Wow, does this ever suck!

But what did I expect?  Everyone doesn’t think like me.  Many are uncomfortable with deeper relationships.  Most are ok as long as they can agree, as long as the person is like they are, but what happens when they aren’t?  Should that person who is different from you be devalued in your eyes, judged as unworthy and pushed away?

That’s what I felt.  People that I had no choice but to be around often, people that I trusted and opened up to, I now felt had unfairly judged me, devalued me and pushed me aside.  This little act sucked the life out of me and dealt a crushing blow to my perceived strength to stand up to anything.  My creativity was buried alive.  Intimidation towered over me holding a knife to my throat, daring me to open my mouth and speak.  The perceived threat was real.  If I spoke, any sound would be immediately snuffed out by it’s power.

I’ve had an “ah ha”, God type moment about this day, though.  I love when that happens!  Truth is, I had given over my power to those who I allowed to treat me this way.  I allowed myself to remain silent.  I had allowed the actions of another to rob me of “me”.  Today, I finally had enough.  Months of my life have been wasted because I allowed this to be.  It stops today.  No longer will I allow another to silence my voice or rob me.  No longer will I give my power away.

Truth is, my ability and confidence are not my own, but come from a power far greater than my own.  Truth is, my power is not my own, but is sourced from a power far greater than my own.  Truth is, relationship, honesty and vulnerability are still worth the risk because my power source has the ability to hold and heal my heart.  It sounds so simple now, but that was my “ah ha”, God type moment.

There’s more to all of this, but that’s enough confession for this day and tomorrow is a new day.  I’m going to get a good night’s sleep now.

To be continued…

Black, White, Gray or Squint?

Gray skies were the norm in the north east where I grew up.  I much preferred the sunny days, but they were few and often, far between.  Thus, my choice to live in the true sunshine state of Arizona.  I had gray countertops when we first purchased our present home.  I much prefer more vibrant pops of color and stated right at the beginning that the gray counters had to go.  Gray doesn’t fit my taste in clothing either.  I can pull off little bits as an accent but if gray is the focal point, my skin looks washed out and my eyes look sleepy.  Gray as a hair color, definitely not my thing, not yet anyway.  Gray hair started coming in at age 18 for me.  It is no more.

How many things look better when you squint at them, when you allow them to become blurred?  Cellulite pretty much disappears when you squint.  Sharp lines in a drawing soften when you squint.  Colors blend when you squint.  Even the repulsive becomes more palatable when you squint.  Some things are just easier to accept when the lines become blurred.

What about our thinking?  What happens there when we squint?  What issues did you once take a hard line stance about in the past, that now you just aren’t so passionate about?  Maybe it was a political opinion or a religious belief.  Maybe it was a critical judgment about another person.  Can you see any change in your thoughts toward that subject?  Has time softened the line or new thinking changed your beliefs?

Or maybe you haven’t thought about something that you were once really passionate about for so long that neglect has caused the color to fade.  The life that was once there now has barely a pulse.  Maybe it’s just daily life choices or circumstances that have slowly taken you in a direction that you didn’t originally intend to go.  You may not have even realized yet that you’ve gotten off track.  Maybe your dreams were stolen or you just let go of them somewhere along the way.

What I’m talking about here is the “gray” areas.  Those places where black and white meet and the colors meld as one.   The vibrancy of the original colors is lost in the gray area.  The clear sharp lines between the black and the white can no longer be seen.  Maybe you can still see some of the black or white on the outside edges, but what happened to the beauty in the contrast?  This can be applied to so many things, but what does it mean for you?  Is there a place where gray is beautiful, where blurred is better, where squinting should be applied?

If we’re talking about color, each can be beautiful when used and applied in the right way.  Each can and should be allowed to stand on its own, regardless of anyone else’s taste.

If we’re talking about opinion or beliefs, it gets more complicated.  Was our original belief or opinion founded on fact and truth or someone else’s interpretation of the subject?  Did our beliefs and opinions change or soften due to gaining more knowledge of the subject or did deceptive thinking sneak in and steal what we were once passionate about?  Or did the passion die due to neglect?  Did you stop caring for and nurturing that thing that you were once passionate about?  Should it have been allowed to die?

For you, is it those little daily life choices or circumstances that have slowly taken you off the course that you originally intended to travel?  Did circumstance or a choice steal away or kill your dream?

I know I’ve asked a lot of questions here.  These are things that I’m thinking about in my own life.  I can see where I have allowed some things I was once passionate about to almost die due to neglect.  Dreams have been let go of.  I can see how some of my beliefs and opinions have changed or evolved and I am evaluating the basis for that.  I can easily see how daily life circumstances and choices over the years have taken me in a different direction.  I’m not saying I have all of these questions settled in my heart, but I will say that I am acutely aware of the need to keep these questions in front of me until they are settled.  I’m just being honest here.  I know that I live in a constant state of being a choice away from doing the right thing for myself and doing the wrong thing for myself.  I am very much aware of my “humanness”, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Once again, my purpose in this blog is to make this journey with you.  It’s intended to be a safe place that opens the door for conversation, not debate, for healing, not hurting.  Is there anyone out there who cares to share what fits in the “gray” area for you, what looks better when you squint, (besides cellulite) or what looks better in vibrant color, what you’ve let die that you shouldn’t have, what you’ve lost passion about?  Anyone???




Dear Church, Your Religion is Killing Me…

Dear Church,

You and me, we have this thing going on.  I am not sure what to call it, but I thought as I wrote, my thoughts would congeal and help give a voice to the thousands who remain silent on this subject.  It’s like a love hate relationship we have and I am about to “dump” it for all to see.  Talk about feeling vulnerable and opening myself up for ridicule!  I’m feeling it already, but here goes…  I’m going to give it to you straight.

I want to be loved and accepted by you, but I don’t always appreciate your attitudes towards me and my friends.  There was a day that I was totally committed to you.  I mean, I did whatever you asked, even when it meant covering for you.  I sacrificed my family and even lost friends for you.  I turned my back on all I knew for you and gave up everything for you.  I didn’t walk away from you, I only moved away from you with the intention of doing even more for you.  But yet, when I did that and the going got tough for me, when my life was falling apart around me, where were you?  Why did you abandon me?  Why did I feel that I was left alone to deal with the mess?  Why do I feel that now I am being judged and criticized and even cast off?  When I needed someone to come along side me, where were you?  When I was longing for someone to find me and help me get to wherever the hell I was supposed to be, you were nowhere to be found.  When I even went out of my way to reach for help, I got, “I’ll pray for you”, but not a word ever since.  I bared my soul.  I poured out my heart.  I’ve been totally open and honest with you and look where it got me.  Cast out, forsaken, discarded…  What now?

I’ve followed all of your rules.  They left me empty and unconnected with your God.  As a matter of fact, they were a wall that separated me from him.  I put on the happy face and acted like everything was ok, no matter how much pain was inside, because that’s what you taught me to do.  I dressed it up and took it to church.  As a matter of fact, I took it to church so often that I forgot what life was like in the outside world.  I played the leader role and even was asked to be silent when I needed help, due to the not silent, but whispered rule that I needed to keep up an image.  I, like you, even willingly crawled up and sat on that pedestal and received your praises.

I looked at the leaders over me and held them in high esteem.  I trusted them to give me direction and be the role model, set the example, give me hope that I too, could do this thing called life and do it well.  I trusted you to do it right, yet you let me down, over and over again.  You’ve lied to me, you’ve hidden things from me, you betrayed my trust.  You were just as much a sinner as myself and yet even when caught in your sin, you remained proud and unrepentant.  I now look at others in your position with suspicion.  The more religious they act, the more suspicious I get.  I will never put my trust in a man, ever again.  But that is OK, you taught me well on that one.  That’s not who I need to be putting my trust in anyway.

I have a problem with your religious activity, the “holier than thou” attitudes.  As a matter of fact, hearing you say the word “thou”, makes me want to gag.  The religious speech of some drives me batty.  Really now, what about that makes anyone want to be like you.  Why do you have to act so “religious”?  Why do you have to put on a show?  Why can’t you just be yourself, someone I can relate to, someone just trying to do life to the best of their ability?

I see you looking at my kids that way.  My kids were raised in you and pretty much by you.  No, they don’t look like what you think they should look like now.  Their body piercings, tattoos and long hair don’t look like you and so you judge them by that.  It kind of makes me want to go get a tattoo, just for you.  Where’s the love?

Where were you when my family had to deal with mental illness?  Where were you when my family had to deal with alcoholism and addiction?  There were some who showed sympathy or offered prayers and I am grateful for them, but what about for the long haul when the problems didn’t go away quickly?  Where were you?  Where were your answers?  Oh yeah, I did hear some answers as to “why” it was all happening and they were doozies!  Enough said on that.

Please hear this loudly.  You know I love you. I know you are doing what you think is right.  You are doing what you think you have to do to get where you think you need to be.  You aren’t trying to hurt anyone, and I know you just want to help.  I know the job is so great and requires so much commitment.  I know about the few that pour out all they have while the majority sits back and criticizes the way things are done.  I know all of that and it is not my intention to hurt you, yet, I have no desire to be a part of your “religious” activity anymore.

I know that there are many who are doing what I did for you and their heart is right.  I am not criticizing them.  I am thankful for them and love them.  It is the rest that I am talking to, those who are using the church for your own gain, those who are proudly setting on the pedestal while living under a façade, those who are preying on the innocent and re-victimizing the weak and vulnerable.  I’m talking about the ones who think their religious actions make them better than their neighbors, the ones who think they are unsusceptible to sin and criticize and judge those who don’t meet their own standards or believe just as they do.  There are many more in this group than would ever care to admit it and some of you are getting pretty irate reading this right now.  Others are thinking that I’m just bitter from the hurt of a few.

The fact is, I’m OK, really, I am.  Yes, I was hurt by you.  But yes, I know a big God who can heal whatever you’ve done to me.  I am writing this for those who are not OK yet, for those who will stay bitter and never know they can make it past what has been done to them.  I am writing for those who are afraid to voice their thoughts or just don’t know how.  I am writing for those who are still being hurt by what you do everyday. I know my words sound harsh, but they were coming from where I was at that time and you need to hear that.  Maybe a few of you will take an honest look at yourselves and become a little more sensitive, maybe even make a change so that it doesn’t keep happening to others.  The world is already broken enough.  Lives are at stake here.  You have so much more to offer than what is being seen.  The world needs God as he is, not the God many of you are portraying him to be.  Can you hear me?  Do you understand?  Can you love me for me?

1 + 1 = 3, The God Factor

OK, so anyone who grew up with me knows that math was never my thing.  I did indeed develop a reputation for not being able to add anything to anything and the answer be something that any other person on the planet would have come up with.  As a matter of fact, just the word math and having to look at numbers on a piece of paper and know I am expected to do something with them, will cause me to instantly break out in sweat.

As a child growing up, our family moved just about every year.  Each new school was at a different place in the text book.  That isn’t such a big deal if you’re talking science or history, but if you’re talking math, it’s a big deal.  By the time I hit third grade, I had missed being taught key pieces of information that are necessary to be able to do certain types of problems.

My third grade teacher was Mrs. Beltz.  She told me to never forget her name, and I never did.  She had red potted geraniums all along the classroom window sill, which she meticulously cared for.  Mrs. Beltz was all about her own controlling head trip rather than taking the time to meet students where they were at to address individual needs.  This was years ago (refraining from inserting the word “many” and certainly avoiding using a number), so it was not an issue of class room size and not having the time.  Mrs. Beltz would make me miss lunch and recess to finish math problems. I can still see the chalk board filled with numbers that I was supposed to be doing something with, but I had no clue as to what.  What I was seeing, I had never seen before and no one was explaining it to me.

Imagine the frustration that little third grade girl felt as she sat hungry and alone in a classroom while all her friends laughed and played just outside the window.  Just look at her sitting in that big clunky old desk.  Those little freckled cheeks, that long silky brunette hair, those big green eyes…  She was just a little flower bud that just needed a little care before she would bloom.  All I can say is, “Mrs. Beltz, your geraniums stink.”  Thus, my issue with numbers and geraniums continues to this day.

You might be asking, “What does God have to do with numbers?”  Well, actually one of his books is called Numbers, so I guess he does care about them, not to forget the fact that numbers are referred to often in all of his books.  Why did I seem to get over looked, even left out in the numbers game?   Why are numbers so tough for me?

Why did so many bad things happen to me?  How many other women are out there that can say they’ve been raped, verbally and physically abused, cheated on and twice divorced?  Who has had to live years with addiction and alcoholism?  Don’t forget the cancer scares and near death experiences for myself and my children.  There are many who have lost loved ones and have had family members with disease, mental health issues, or who have been imprisoned. But how many have had all of this happen to them in their life?  I say I’m on the wrong side in this numbers game.

So where does God fit in my world, you might ask?  He is my world and he rocks my world!  Yes, I have questions without answers. Yes, not everything makes sense or adds up.  Much of it was brought on by my own stupidity and bad judgment.  Even still, I can say that through it all, I have NEVER been let down.  I have NEVER been alone.  I have NEVER lost hope.

Of course, there was much pain and many tears.  There were periods of intense anger and frustration, but I made it.  No, the pain has not ended.  Yes, there are ongoing trials, but I know that no matter what I can say, God is my faithful friend.  God is my loving Father.  I know I will make it.  Without him, I wouldn’t want life to continue.  It is the math that doesn’t make sense.  No matter what the numbers are, no matter what the problem, for me, the answer always equals my God.  Yep, he’s mine, but he’s big enough to share with you and the whole world!

Oh, and Mrs. Beltz, if you are listening, I forgive you.

Sharing this music video with you, not only because it is a great song, but for a much bigger reason.  Years ago, I got a collect call from one of my sons.  He was in prison at the time.  He called and asked me to call a radio station he was listening to from his cell and request this song.  Even for him, in a dark time in his life, God was still God.