Headache

More than anything, this is a post that I am writing to myself. I need to be reminded of these things at this moment, and will probably continue to be reminded until glory.

I had a terrible headache a couple of nights ago. I went running with the children in the morning, and I probably didn’t drink enough water after that, or who knows. So around 11 am, the headache began creeping in. It was one of those headaches where your head is not in full-on pain, but the headache is just there, lingering.  I didn’t have any medicine available that I could take, so I hoped it would go away.

We had such a busy day, that by the time we came home after running errands, I just couldn’t imagine making one more stop at the pharmacy to buy some Tylenol. I was miserable. Long story short, I had two pills at 8 pm, and went to bed. I was not really asleep, I was just closing my eyes in hopes that the medicine and the darkness in my room will make me feel better. Then, I told the LORD, “This really hurts, please, take this pain away.”

A headache is all it took for God to show me that He is in charge, and that I am, despite my illusion of power, not really in control of anything that happens in my life.

The next morning when I woke up, it was like I could SEE how my anxiety and all my first world problems had just gone away along with the headache. I was so relieved of that horrible pain that I felt happy. I was thankful that my head did not hurt at all. And I praised the LORD for that. That morning I also read this in my daily Bible reading:

Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

Exodus 4:11

For the last six months I have been going against something that I know it’s true theologically, but it seems to escape my heart again and again – that God is sovereign.

That word in itself – SOVEREIGNTY – has many different meanings to different people. I don’t think it is because there are many meanings – there is only one meaning – but most people do not like what it actually means. When I say God is sovereign, I mean that from all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself (Isaiah 46:10). God did this by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably. Yet God did this in such a way that He is neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any in their sin (Ephesians 1:11).

All that seems like a lot if information, but writing these things helps me. There is more.

Since all things come to pass unchangeably and certainly in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God (Acts 2:23), and God being the first cause, then nothing happens to anyone by chance or outside of God’s providence (Proverbs 16:33).  Yet by the same providence God arranges all things to occur according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or in response to other causes (Genesis 8:22). In His ordinary providence, God makes use of means (Acts 27:31), though He is free to work apart from them (Hosea 1:7), beyond them (Romans 4:19:21), and contrary to them (Daniel 3:27) at His pleasure.

So, I believe that, biblically speaking, God ordained my headache. God used means to bring that headache come about; whether it was dehydration or stress, I don’t know.  God, however, can do as He pleases with me, and with my body – with my entire life, really,  He made me. I am His creature. He has that right over me. That is what it means for God to be God. And I don’t think this makes God evil, or mean, or in any way unloving when He brings about suffering in my life, because I believe that my suffering has a purpose. I cannot go over everything that I believe regarding the character of God in order to convince others that His purposes for His people are always good.

My point for this post is that my heart gets stuck when life happens and it struggles catching up with the theology in my head. There is this particular situation in my life right now that I have no control over, and yet, I find myself going at it as if I could actually make things happen… and it’s just not happening. And it makes me angry, and it makes me sad. And so that headache the other night reminded of how fragile I really am.

I am also being reminded that I don’t pray over the situation. I pray, but not as fervently as I should; therefore, I forget that prayer is also a means that God uses in order to accomplish His purposes.

It is simply staggering that God, the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, would ordain that prayers cause things. Prayers cause things to happen that would not happen if you didn’t pray. I wonder if there are any Calvinists out there squirming…

– John Piper

Uh, yes… Me.

Just the other day while studying Astronomy with the children, I saw a picture of a basketball side by side with a peppercorn. That’s the difference in size between the Sun and the Earth! The whole Earth is a peppercorn. What about Mount Everest? It would be a speck in the peppercorn that is next to the basketball.

What about me? What size would I be, really, compared to the Sun then?

And what size would I be when I compare myself to God?

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And yet, this magnificent God, at the right time, choose to enter into His own creation to dwell among us! He freely humbled Himself, and had He not done that, I wouldn’t even be here. There are bigger purposes and bigger realities that the ones I can see. Sometimes (more like all the time) I suffer from tunnel vision. I hate that. When I pray about my situation, I pray for God to give me what I desire, but that is not the purpose of prayer. I think I am missing the whole point of prayer which is communion with God. The LORD of the universe hears me! What other thing can be more amazing than that?

So just for the last three or fours days after my headache, when I am tempted to ask why this would be happening, and why God is still not granting my desires, I just don’t question Him anymore. I don’t want to question Him. I really want to trust Him. If God can make people mute, deaf, seeing or blind, I’m sure He can change my situation, but He hasn’t, so I need to rely on Him.

I also believe that the perfectly wise, righteous, and gracious God often allows His own children for a time to experience a variety of temptations and the sinfulness of their own hearts. He does what He does to chastise them for their former sins or to make them aware of the hidden strength of the corruption and deceitfulness of their heart so that they may be humbled. I am actually experiencing this, and He is allowing that, too, to happen.

I have noticed that what I desire is taking precedence, and I can feel it in my heart. It becomes a must in my life, and that shouldn’t be. In my heart sometimes I desire my desires more than I desire God Himself. That is Idolatry 101.

God is humbling me. Uh… a headache knocked me out the other night. How foolish of me to think that I can be in control. I realize that my sin is bigger than I think it really is. I am not being faithful. I am not trusting that God allows this to lead me to a closer and more constant dependence on Him to sustain me, to make me more cautious about all future circumstances that may lead to sin, and for other just and holy purposes (2 Chronicles 32:25, 26, 31; 2 Corinthians 12:7–9).

I want to trust that whatever happens to me, happens by His appointment, for His glory, and for my good (Romans 8:28). And that DOES NOT mean that I will get my desires after suffering for a while. I am learning to trust God whether or not God gives me what I desire. I want to desire God more than I desire anything else, even if that means my desires will never be granted.

So that’s where I am lately. God will conform me to the image of His Son. I am resting on that 🙂

 

Pinocchio

It is hard to believe that it has been four weeks of homeschooling the children. I am excited because Emerson and I get to be the ones who train them and influence them the most.

That was evident to me this week as we read Pinocchio. I had never read Pinocchio as a child. Actually, I never read as a child. So I am reading many books with them and for them. And that Pinocchio, I tell you, he is such a disrespectful, nasty, little brat. He deserves every single bad thing that ever happened to him and way worse**.

Then the fairy says Pinocchio has a good heart. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!

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Going to church.

As we were reading, I was able to train them to see the worldview that Pinocchio presented them with. I began telling the children the truth about who we really are apart from Christ – we are not good, we are not righteous (Romans 3:23). We are blind and dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2). Also, when we read the Scriptures, we realize we are not really free; we are always slaves of the one we obey, either sin or righteousness (Romans 6:16).

And thanks be to God that it was Christ who actually set us free (Galatians 5), but not to live according to the flesh, but to live according to the Spirit (Romans 8). There is no way that out of our own self-determination we would be able to become “good” as poor little Pinocchio was trying to. So, yeah, we basically ripped down Pinocchio’s theology to shreds, LOL! Then we watched the movie just for fun!

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CyFair Fire Station

We have also read about Egypt, the Sumerians, and the Minoans. I almost feel bad because we can’t keep up with all the “suggested” reading. We built a ziggurat with sugar cubes and peanut butter. We also visited the Fire Station, and got to see a fireman put on all his gear. 

This month has been awesome. There are also days like today in which I  feel weird, and we ended doing school at the coffee shop. I was super sleepy, so I am glad I had a coffee. It was not a bad day, they had a lot of fun working their way to earn a cookie. I guess I am still getting used to doing this, it is a lot of work 🙂

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Doing Math

**I am thankful that the LORD does not give me what I actually deserve. I have been much, much worse than Pinocchio. Even today my feelings tried to rule my heart. The thought of the Holy One giving me justice, and treating me according to my iniquities makes me shudder. It is something that I don’t think about often, not because it is not true and right, but because I know that the LORD himself has provided THE way to escape His wrath – His own Son, Jesus Christ. In Him, justice was served, the righteous for the unrighteous. And for the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:6) I was given mercy.

I am thankful that I have been called to tell my children all about this amazing grace. And while I cannot open their eyes or bring spiritual life into their hearts, it is a privilege to be used as a tool in the hands of my God to bring them the only message through which God might save them – the Gospel (1 Peter1:22-25).

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103: 8-14

 

God’s grace

Today I was reminded of how gracious God is in my life. I forget often. I take for granted His goodness, and then, in days like today, I am convicted of my sin. He is so good to me even in the things that may seem mundane – like a bike ride.

For the longest time (almost three years) I’ve been trying to encourage Enzo to ride his bike, but he has refused. He does not have a go-getter personality. I’ve been feeling frustrated all that time mainly because of my selfishness. I can’t exercise. Well, I could exercise, but I’m lazy, and I don’t want to get up at 5 am. I am trying to exercise after dinner, but sometimes I feel tired, and I just don’t feel like going for a run.

Long story short, Emerson began talking to Enzo about how to ride his bike. It wasn’t that long ago, probably a month? He was not really teaching Enzo how to ride, but just talking to him using F1 car drivers as an analogy. They did practice some days, but mostly, Emerson just talked to him. 

When you ride your bike, always look at your target.

– Daddy

Last night I saw Enzo riding his bike for more than ten seconds for the first time in my whole life. I was so excited.

We went for a run today. Our first mile took us fifteen minutes. Enzo’s arms and neck were so stiff… we prayed together, and I told him he had to catch up with me. I could tell he was afraid. I assured him he already knew how to ride his bike. All he had to do now was keep going without stopping every twenty seconds. I was able to run three miles. I exercised, and the children had a good workout – Libby was rollerblading.

I was so thankful and happy after that. It was a good day. There are things that I just think will never happen or I think they are taking too long. This simple bike ride that I had been looking forward for the last three years was a good reminder that God is aware of every single thing in my mind. He cares for my needs.

I guess today was our first official P.E. class 🙂

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Astronomy Lab

Hello, Homeschooling!

Our first day of homeschooling went great! I was very tired because the night before Mia got sprayed by a skunk, and we ended going to bed at midnight after giving her a shower with some chemicals.

The children say they are enjoying it, and even though it is a big change to my routine, I am enjoying it, too. I know that this is definitely the LORD guiding our path as a family because I never got bored or anxious about being with them the whole day. The first two weeks of summer vacation were rough as I basically realized I had them for realzzz. However, as time is passing, I am actually grateful that I am with them all the time that I have available, and so being able to disciple them in the ways of the LORD.

Libby cried the second day because she think she knows it all (I don’t know where she gets that from). Math is easy for her, but when she realizes she can’t figure something out right away she gets frustrated. Trying to help her only gets matters worse. I am super pumped about History and Apologetics. We don’t really do Apologetics formally, but we do talk about everything from a Christian worldview, and we listen to tons of podcasts in the car. Lately we are learning about transgenderism, and homosexuality, and what the Bible has to say about that.

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Meet the Teachers

 

Here’s a good video on stuff relevant to the Southern Baptist Convention, and teachings on homosexuality that are being taught lately. I wish I had the time to write more regarding that, but I don’t. So if any of this is of interest to you, you go ahead and listen to it 🙂

I don’t have a lot of photos from the first day. And I have uneasy feelings thinking we are not doing enough, but I am trusting that God did guide me when we selected the curriculum. My faith is not in the curriculum per se, either. I love being with them, and them being silly with me most of the time. My daughter did say that it seems we are not doing enough, but what we are doing instead of going wide goes deep – whatever that is. It’s only been three days, we’ll see… She did complain that her Science teacher is not doing his job (that would be Emerson), so she’s going to talk to the principal (who is also Emerson LOL!).

Let’s hope for a great second week 🙂

 

 

White-Qadhi Dialogue

I hope you find these videos interesting: Dialogue 1, Dialogue 2

We – Muslims and Christians – need to learn to dialogue like this.

 

Inshallah – Part 1

I was given the opportunity at my church to share some of the things I learned in India. Given the fact that I’ve spent a lot of time comparing belief systems – and cultures – I thought it would be a great idea to teach my class about Muslims, and how to relate to them.

Well… I was wrong. I wrestled with God in preparing for that class. Like the Lord God wrestles with Jacob – and God wins – I think God led me to talk about something deeper that just information. The truth is – I told my group – that if they really want to know what Islam is or isn’t, they can go find out on the internet. And even then, information is so widely available that they would go insane trying to figure out who is representing Islam correctly and who is not.

My Muslimah would tell me, “Well, if you want to know about Islam, learn from me. I am a Muslim.” 

Well, yeah… then again, I see other Muslims, and they practice Islam very differently than her. So who is being really faithful to their religion? And the same goes for Christianity. I’m not being a hypocrite here. Therefore, I decided not to talk about these issues in my class. Instead, I decided to talk about HONOR AND SHAME cultures.

Most of you know that I am from Mexico. My society – my people – is very similar to the Muslim society. And for all I know, very similar to Eastern cultures. So I shared basic examples to help them understand how Honor and Shame look like in real life – specially because this is a church in which the majority of people are white. Their culture is totally different than mine. You can adapt to a culture – I believe – but there has to be a basic understanding of the dynamics of a culture (other than your own) if you want to be effective in sharing the Gospel with them.

So what I’m planning to do with the next series of posts is to share the things I talked about in the class, and after that I hope I can shed more light into the issues of salvation from the Muslim perspective, and how it relates to my perspective. I never really grasped why Muslims would say Inshallah.

Inshallah what?!

A Muslim could explain to me that they try to please Allah, and that their salvation is based on whether or not their scale is tilted to their good deeds at the end of their lives. But they would also tell me that even if the scale were tilted to the bad deeds, Allah in His infinite mercy, could still grant them paradise. The point is Muslims do not know. And so when I asked, “So are you going to heaven?” They always replied, “Inshallah, I will”. And that really confused me for a while. I’m learning new things about my own faith, and I’d like to share them.

More and more, I am letting go of myself and really running into His arms. He will keep me. He is amazing. He deserves all the glory, and all the praise, and all the honor. My prayer is that these posts would shed light into what has happened in my life lately. God, through these situations, has enabled me to see Him for who He is – The Greatest name, The All-Compassionate, The All-Merciful, The Inspirer of Faith – and I submit to Him.

NO. I’m not a Muslim at heart. Let me make that perfectly clear.

So just to make sure we are on the same page: I bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of my faith. Christ died on the cross. I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God, for by Christ all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Christ and for Christ. Christ is before all things, and in Christ all things hold together.

I am not a Muslim, but I deeply love Muslims. I pray earnestly to My Father in Heaven that He will bring His chosen ones from Islam into a relationship with their Creator. If you are Muslim, I encourage you to keep reading. Hopefully, you will get to see for yourself why it is so difficult for you to reject Islam as your identity. You might have no idea of Honor and Shame in your society. Oh, but it is real… so real.

Rest assured though, when Allah calls you to faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, you will dare to call Him Father.

 

To Muslims, on Ramadan

I’ve been hesitant about whether or not to write this post. There’s pain involved – my pain and others’ – and I’m not sure I will be able to communicate exactly how I feel. But being Ramadan, I felt compelled to write this piece. It will be long for sure. I wanted to share this for the sake of my own memory keeping. It’s easier to write down my thoughts once they’ve been processed.

I know some things about Ramadan. I spent a Ramadan in India. I wanted to fast with my friends, but I just didn’t seem to have the guts. I know it is one of the pillars of Islam. I know it is a time to get closer to Allah, and that Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sex to purify their souls. They feed the poor and the homeless. They make a big deal out of family. They help each other and the community. They pray. They give.

If you’re Muslim, I say to you, “Go for it”

Fast. Pray. Thank God for what He has given you. I love the idea of you wanting to please the Lord of the universe – The Creator of this world who is above all names. The God who made this Earth – so immense and full of glory. I love the idea of celebrating Him and Him only. I love the idea of worshipping Him with all our might.

Make no mistake, though, you will never be able to earn God’s favor. So watch your motives this Ramadan. I pray the LORD will reveal His glory to you this month. That’s exactly why I want to share what has been of me during the past few months: I’ve been in counseling.

I’ll skip you the details of how I got there, but there were some behaviors towards my spouse, and my children that were not right, or good, or healthy. I did not know this, of course. I thought my spouse was the only one in the wrong, and I wanted his behaviors to change. I was angry, but mostly sad – heartbroken. A friend who came alongside me encouraged me to get some help. So I did.

I was terrified of going to counseling. I think I had a panic attack while driving one night. I couldn’t take a deep breath. What am I gonna do? That is all I could think of. I had no idea about my future or my children’s future. I could only see what my fear was allowing me to see – a divorce. I mean, what else, right? If you go to counseling, and your husband doesn’t ever change… What did that mean? It obviously means he doesn’t love you enough to change.

Right?

I cried myself to sleep some nights thinking I was a liar. I had lied to my children… All those times in which I had told them Mommy and Daddy would be together forever might not be fulfilled. But what was I going to do as a divorced woman? I did not work. I had forsaken every single thing that could have allowed me to work. Plus, I was in a country that was not even my own. If I divorced my husband, that meant I was getting out of the country. Would I then stay with him just for my children? And I was so fearful of everything. Of every possible outcome. Then, if we divorced… my parents, his parents.

Oh, God! What was I going to do?

Why would God be doing this to me?  Maybe I didn’t pray enough. I always said I’d pray more for my marriage or my children, but I end up forgetting to pray more. Maybe I didn’t have enough faith. Maybe God was just testing my faith. Maybe I just had to persevere… Persevere? Doing what? I didn’t like my situation…

I just read an article this morning so full of everything I am feeling. You can read the original article here.

You might be feeling that if Jesus really cared so much for your comfort, then you would not be dealing with such pain. But that is not true. What is true is that you likely prefer the comfort that comes from the absence of discomfort, while Jesus prefers you to have the ultimate comfort of your holiness.

So while you might feel frustrated over a very uncomfortable situation you’re being forced to deal with, Jesus is actually pursuing your long-term comfort through that very situation.

That did not make sense six months ago. That Jesus wanted to achieve something in me through pain. Yet, in my counselor’s office, there’s a plaque that says:

Every true strength is gained through struggle.

The article continues:

If you’re a Christian, you are a disciple of Jesus. And by necessity, a disciple undergoes discipline. If a disciple is a student, then discipline is training. Jesus’s discipline for you, however severe (and it is severe at times), is not God’s wrath against you. If you are tempted to believe that, don’t. It’s your unbelief or the Enemy talking to you.

No, discipline is training. Training in what? Training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The unique training course that Jesus has designed for you (he designs a unique course for each disciple) has one great aim: to teach you to trust him in everything. That’s his goal for you. Jesus wants you to learn to trust in him in all things at all times. For the more you trust Jesus, the holier you become.

And this is horrible. It has felt terrible at times. To trust God in everything…

Fearful, yes, but I went to counseling. Alone. I thought my marriage needed help. I needed help. I needed perspective. Hands down, it has been one of the best decisions of my life.

Of course, I wanted my counselor to tell me if I was gonna end up having a divorce. Or for her to tell me if the situation that had led me to finally look for help was really that bad. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, you know? Maybe I was overreacting, or maybe I was making a big deal of something that was not a big deal.

During my very first session I learned that I am prone to make idols of things or people. And that was so weird. My counselor said, “If you cannot say NO to something or someone, you have made an idol out of that thing”. She then told me to go, and ask the Lord to reveal things to me. I was supposed to do that for the next week. Just to ask the Lord.

“Why do I make idols, God?  Why do I get in these kind of relationships? Why do I feel the need to rescue or care for people?”. 

I kid you not, the word CODEPENDENCY came to my mind. I am familiar with the word because my sister has always said my mom is codependent. I had no idea of what that word entailed, though. And, of course,  I never thought it would involve me. But after reading about it, I realized the condition fits me quite well. Like a 100%

I have always felt that I’m stupid. That I am unworthy. That I am a failure. That I am not enough. I have always felt the need for approval and recognition, the need to control people, and how dreadful it is to make a simple decision. I know about low self-esteem, and compulsive behaviors like trying to be the best mom, or the best cook, or the best wife. Always trying to find purpose in something outside of myself because it helped me to avoid dealing with myself. Pleasing people.

It’s taken me some time to read about codependency, and the reasons that drive my behaviors – specially with my husband and my children. My family of origin played obviously a big part on that. My dad is an addict, and my mom has always enabled him. I can’t generalize a whole culture based on my childhood experiences, but my culture revolves very much around shame.

 I lived in a very dysfunctional family where pain, and anger, and fear – feelings in general – were not to be expressed. There was never confrontation. I learned to repress my emotions, and disregard my own needs. I became a survivor. I developed behaviors that helped me deny, ignore or avoid difficult emotions. I don’t think I had every trusted anyone for real – not even my husband. Just until recently I thought self-control was meant to be swallowing what you were feeling. Stuffing it deep down inside you, and you never talk about it. That was not right.

But that’s how I learned to do life. I asked my counselor, “Where is God in all this? Where has He been?”. She said, “What do you mean? He is in the middle of it…”

I did not understand what she meant at that point, but little by little it’s beginning to make sense that God IS the One revealing all these things to me. He is the One guiding me through all this process. And I’ve been given the opportunity to face who I am – to know who I really am. I heard a sermon the other day in which Rich Nathan said that we really are worse than we think. But God loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Also, God has been singing a lot of songs to me. With me, I think. So I will share many of those lyrics…
Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying? Let me lift up your face. Just don’t turn away.
Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?
To where will you go child? Tell me where will you run, to where will you run?

Idols. My husband. My children. My friends. It all made sense. I am always trying to make people happy. Somehow I grew up like this. Trying not to rock the boat. It has become clearer than water that all I have ever wanted is for someone to love me. And the need for love has been so great that I went way too far in so many relationships to make that happen. I would lose myself – if that makes sense – so that other’s would love me.

It was painfully obvious with my husband. He never asked for this, but I put him on a throne. The throne that God deserved. I was expecting my husband to fulfill something that God did not create him to fulfill. I was setting my husband for failure really – expecting him to make me happy and to satisfy my most deepest need for love.

Dear God, won’t you please…  Could You send someone here who would love me?

Who  would love me for me, not for what I have done or what I would become. Who would love me for me… ’cause nobody has shown me what love really means.

I know you’ve murdered, and I know you have lied… And I watched you suffer all of your life. And now that you listen, I will tell you that I – I will love you for you. Not for what you have done or what you will become. I will love you for you, I will give you the love, the love that you never knew.

What love really means

After my first session – that obviously rocked my world – I told my husband that I was going to start making changes for me, and that I hoped that we could really have a good relationship, and work through the challenges that lied ahead. I said I did not want to be afraid anymore of anybody or anything. I was going to follow God wherever He would lead, even if that meant that our relationship would have to come to and end. I never felt that God was telling me to divorce my husband – let me be clear about that.

The Lord has been very gracious to me, showing me that it was not my husband who needed to change, but me. Mainly ME. It was liberating to see that this person I thought was perfect, was so imperfect. It opened my eyes to the fact that I had been trying to get my worth based on my husband, or my children, or my friends. On what people thought of me. Counseling has really changed my life. The Lord is changing my life through it.

God has shown me that even when I had been so unfaithful to Him (basically breaking the Shema Yisrael, and the first three commandments since EVER), He still wanted ME. God wanted ME. He was pursuing me. He was like a husband in love with His Bride.

And I was His Bride! 

I have always wanted someone to love me like this. And I was so angry at God, because this love that He was offering to me, I wanted it. Yes. But I wanted it from my husband. I wanted to be everything to my husband. God showed me, very gently, that I would always be disappointed if I kept on expecting this from my spouse. That was not my spouse’s role. He was not meant to make me happy. That was not what marriage was all about. Marriage meant something much deeper. Marriage was about intimacy.

An intimacy that I had never had – not even with my husband. Intimacy meant more than sex. Intimacy meant feeling wholly accepted just the way I was. Marriage was a mirror, like a reflection of the intimacy God wanted to have with me. But all those dreams, and hopes and expectations were for the Lord to fulfill – not my husband. I would keep hitting a wall if I expected somebody else to fulfill them. Only the LORD was perfect to meet and surpass my expectations of love.

Another thing was I didn’t even know who I was. And I’m still learning. I know this might sound weird, but it’s difficult for me to know what I like or dislike. I was raised to mirror everybody else. I am afraid of making mistakes,  I’m afraid of being rejected. I was rejected as a child. I felt rejected by the people who were supposed to love me the most – my parents. I was abused emotionally. It’s difficult to say those words because maybe it wasn’t that bad. I’ve tried to find memories – good memories – but it is so difficult. I cannot remember my dad telling me he loved me while sober. And I cannot remember my mom not being worried, or angry, or crying, or yelling, or taking care of him. And it hurts.

But it was bad.  Yes, it was that bad. It was not okay. It was not normal to go through what I went through. No child should ever need to hear a parent calling her stupid. No child should ever have to beg for forgiveness from a parent. No child should ever have to wake up in the middle of the night, and decide if she should stay with her dad or go with her mom. I think I faced these feelings and for the first time I said, “Yes. It hurts. And no, it was not okay.”

I had never done that before.

Do you dream of a home you never had?

An innocence that you cannot get back

The pain is real. You can’t erase it. Sooner or later you have to face it down. Down.

You have to face it down.

You are loved.

Do you keep your thoughts inside your head? Will you regret the things you never said? You have a voice. You have to use it. You have a choice. Don’t let them shut you down. Down. Don’t let them shut you down

You are loved

Do you feel the ache inside your soul? You know you’ll never make it on your own.
Sorrow is too great for you to hold it. You’re gonna break. Why don’t you lay it down?
Freedom comes in letting go. Open up the window to your heart.

Freedom comes in letting go. Open up your heart.

Loved

Why would you want to be with me, God? Don’t you know who I am?

I cannot relate to a loving father. Let me be fair. I know my dad loves me – in whatever his idea of love is. I give him that. But then you tell me about a Heavenly Father who loves me. Uh… I know what the Bible says. I know.  It is the very first time that I am experiencing this kind of love, though.

God also has revealed to me that I know nothing about unconditional love. I grew up learning behaviors, and I made them my own to survive. Making people feel guilty, putting people down in order to feel better myself, I manipulated and controlled others. I basically knew emotional blackmail very well. I have blamed others for my lack of self control, and I have let others abuse me. I have tried to fill my need for love and acceptance the best way I had known so far. I don’t forgive. I always remember so that I can bring it back.

God has been been so very gentle and sweet while giving me a reality check of who I am now. I feel like I should not use these corny terms to describe the Maker of the Universe, but He has been so very gentle. Like if I was dating somebody for the very first time, He would be the perfect date. He has shown me that He has loved me forever. That even though I have rejected Him, He is still waiting for me to come back. That now that I had a clear picture of who I was, I was able to walk towards the woman He made me to be. And all this, He does because He loves me. Nothing else.

God is not codependent, that’s for sure. He doesn’t need me. And He loves me. Unconditionally. So it began to make sense. This intimacy thing. This is what it means. It means that God knows who we really are, and He loves us. There’s acceptance. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It meant that I didn’t fear divorce anymore. Becasue the truth is that my husband is a gift God gave me. He is my husband, and I want to know him, and I want him to know me. So I’ve been open in sharing with him these feelings and issues, and he says he loves me. It means conflict and arguments are there. It means I don’t need perfection. It means I feel accepted. And I also need to work on being accepting.

God loves me. I wanted this with God. Yes, with my husband, too. But God. With God. This is the relationship God wants with me. Why would I say NO to that?

I bought myself a ring. I married God. My other marriage is fine, by the way. We are learning to communicate better, and I’m not stuffing my feelings when I am angry. I’m learning to be assertive, and we are not divorcing – this goes beyond divorce. God is changing ME.

I am the Lord’s wife first. He is the one that will fulfill ALL the expectations of love I have. He is actually showing me what love really means. He has been faithful to me even when I have been a spiritual prostitute. He has shown me what a Covenant Keeper He is. He does not leave nor forsake me based on my performance. He has lived with me the book of Hosea. Even after I had gone after my Baals, my lovers, and forgotten Him; He has betrothed me in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy.

He is a devoted husband.

Your love is devoted like a ring of solid gold,
like a vow that is tested like a covenant of old.
Your love is enduring through the winter rain,
and beyond the horizon with mercy for today.
Faithful You have been and faithful you will be.
You pledge yourself to me, and it’s why I singYour praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

You Father the orphan. Your kindness makes us whole.
And you shoulder our weakness, and your strength becomes our own.
Now you’re making me like you, clothing me in white.
Bringing beauty from ashes, for You will have Your bride

Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

You will be praised. You will be praised.
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord!

You see it? It is LOVE. It is nothing else. If you know what I am talking about, if you have struggled with acceptance and your self-worth, you understand the need to be loved. And you understand that you would give yourself to people, and do things in order to get a tiny crumb of love. You may not be aware of it, but you stay in relationships that deep down you know they are not good for you, or you don’t even like to get something – acceptance, praise, whatever it might be.

I have given myself to get something in return. Always. Becasue I want to be loved. But God? What does He need? He doesn’t need anything. Why would God give Himself to me like this?

He wants me to be FREE

All my Christian life, I have been a slave. To my idols. I had failed to see that Christ died to set me free from my sin, but also from the things, and behaviors, and patterns of thought that have entangled my earthly life. This is what it means to walk with Christ. Yes, I get heaven, but I also get to enjoy my life here and now. My Lord and my Savior died so that I could be free to choose Him.

That’s what God’s more interested in – my freedom. I understand slavery. I have been a slave to my anger, and to these behaviors that I’m working on changing. Along the way, I had been raising little slaves… They don’t deserve this. No child deserves what I went through. And while I am not and will never be the perfect mother, I do want to change my family history. Without realizing it, I had been encouraging the same patterns of family disfunction that both my husband and I were raised in. It is so clear now.

On my last session I was so very happy to share with my counselor some changes that I’ve made, and some tough conversations that I had with people I was afraid of. I felt different. I turned around, and I read a verse that meant a lot to me:

Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19-19

This is in the context of the prophet Isaiah speaking to the Israelites. God is telling them He will deliver them AGAIN from Babylon – another “exodus”. Where there is no clear path ahead of me, God will create one. He is always a step ahead of me. He knew about all this. He knew about my fears, and about my shame. He has covered it all.

I am learning a lot about being a parent in counseling. I am learning to show my children who they are, and who God is. To show them, not to teach them. I was teaching them one thing, but showing them a completely different one. I was being harsh, laying down the law. If they did something, they paid. Again, God is changing ME.

I am being more patient. More forgiving. I think that can be mistaken as if I’m letting them off the hook many times, but I don’t think I am. I am just showing my children what I have been learning myself. I am showing them how to regulate their emotions, and really, how to manage them. I just feel that I haven’t been very gracious to them in all these years. I have been expecting a behavior that it is right -like obedience – but I don’t think I have taken enough time to cultivate what it takes for that behavior to develop.

Basically I haven’t been a very good listener. It’s taking a whole lot of help from the Lord to wait fifteen minutes by my son’s side while he cannot stop crying. Waiting until we can talk about what triggered that anger explosion. It was easier to spank him because he pushed his sister, and then make him apologize. And then he would cry more and more. And sometimes I do think, “You know, all this emotional Let’s-talk-about-it-crap takes a lot of time, and a lot of effort…”

And the truth is I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t. Then I close my eyes, and I’m like, “Yeah, well… nobody showed you how to deal with your emotions. You have stuffed them all your life and when they explode, it has been disastrous – in family, in friendships, in marriage… “

The Lord reminded me of this the other day at the library:

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Psalm 103:8-13

 

I have been treated so tenderly by my heavenly Father. He is showing me how forgiving He is. I deserve the worst, but I don’t get what I deserve. He loves me. Are there consequences? Yes. Is there discipline? Yes. But I am just happy that God is working something in me through both my children and their strong will. He is showing me how to be more like Jesus. Isn’t that the point of the Christian life anyway? Jesus will not leave me alone…

So yeah, feelings are not being stuffed anymore. I think it is being particularly difficult for my husband. Sometimes I think that what I do here at home does not really have an impact on anyone. But I am realizing, basically, that God is helping my husband and I to get closer to each other, and also to potentially change future generations. God is helping me to break away from the cycle of abuse and codependency of at least four generations on my side.

I’ve been swimming, so this next song means a lot to me. I’ve never swam before, so learning to breathe correctly and all that was very challenging for me. All those feelings of inadequacy, of being a loser, would continually come to my mind. But I kept on trying and I’m getting much better. In my class, sometimes we practice drafting for triathlons. When there is a lot of people swimming next to you, the water gets really choppy. And even though I know how to breathe correctly, sometimes when I open my mouth all I get is water inside. No air. I have to put my head back in the water, then lift it up again, and try harder.

This time in my life has felt a little bit like that – like swimming in choppy water trying to get air. But God has been with me every step of the way. We are not done yet. I’m sure He will keep on revealing things to me, things that as of right now I have no idea about.

I like swimming because God showed me that I can swim. When I see a lake or a pond, I feel like swimming there, even though I have never swam in open water before. The idea of drowning in an open-water swim terrified me, but I can’t wait to try it now.

One final thought. I began this post with Muslims in mind. If you are Muslim, and you are reading this, I think you can relate to a lot of the issues I talked about. We do share honor and shame societies. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have been treated like this. I pray that one day you will be able to relate to God in this forgiving, accepting, and unconditional-loving way.  There is no other way,  but through Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Life gets choppy at times. Being Ramadan I know you want to please Allah. I know. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him for a dream. Test Him on that. Dare to call Him Father. And always remember that if God calls you to swim, He will keep you breathing above the waves.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep. My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name. And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise. My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

Oceans