Under the Church Door

Trip and Auction 118.JPG

I’m sitting here wondering if I can talk KD into writing a whole book about this topic. Knowing her as well as I do, I think it would a lot of convincing. But. Maybe someday. She has the real life experiences to bank on.

The title intrigues me. This isn’t about the normal events that take place in church. These are the secrets that destroy the church from under the foundation. Pain and hurt that happens behind the title of Abundant Life. Wounds become infected instead of healed. This is about the things that creep in – Under the Church Door.

The biggest question in my mind right now is, how did this happen? How did we stop welcoming people into the truth but instead keep them trapped in lies? How did we learn how to use fear instead of the Holy Spirit? When did we stop protecting the weak? When did we start giving broken cisterns instead of Living Water?

We ask an individual how they could possibly leave. I want to know how they could even stay. There are stories of the horrible pain this person has gone through. It’s not just one person either. You can ask an Amish: a Beachy Amish, a Mennonite, a Baptist, a Catholic, the stories are all traumatic. The wounds are real.

Not every church or every person is hurting or wrong. There are healthy people raised by the church. But why aren’t there more? Why are the hurting the majority? Maybe you are wondering exactly what has hurt these individuals. Here are a few of the instances I have heard about; physical abuse, emotional abuse, even sexual abuse and one of the hardest ones to explain, spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse is using the name of God to inflict pain into people.

Church leaders use the Bible to control, shame, and manipulate their members. They preach hellfire on those who sin and at the same time, brush sin under the church door because they don’t know what to do about it.

There are two kind of pain in churches. The first is all the active abuse that happens, things like fathers beating their children. The other kind of pain is passive. It happens to the people who are brave enough to ask for help. Many churches don’t have answers. They honestly don’t know how to help. But, they are the church; they are supposed to have answers. To admit that they don’t is almost like admitting that the Gospel isn’t truth.

What happens to the people that ask for help? Not much. The church might send them to a treatment center. That’s sometimes the best solution they could hope for. Other times they will just get a list of rules that, hopefully if they follow, will give them the answers they are looking for.

This. This is what hurts so many people. The church isn’t willing to help them find answers. The church isn’t willing to get real and messy with people.

What has hurt you?

Has the church given you wounds?

I’d like to tell you the truth.

This is not what God is like.

He is good.

He has hope and answers for you.

I believe it.

~Hope

The Altar of Lament

 

black and white black and white branches cloudy
Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

I was curled up in the back seat of my car tonight talking with a friend.

We were discussing grief, I’ve concluded that all the times in my life when I thought I was going through grief I was actually dealing with alternatives.

I mean sure, I have had some really good long cries and I felt better afterwards. It was definitely not a bad thing  but they also have so far not helped me in the long term. Often I was simply feeling sorry for myself and I don’t think I ever faced reality enough to feel the full extent of my pain.

My friend was telling me how she always feels guilty when she pours her heart out to God because it feels like self pity. It made me take a good look at her life, she did spend years in bitter pain and agony but in the last couple of years she has walked an amazing journey and it started when she was honest with God. I knew that she was not feeling sorry for herself, she was actually lamenting. Then I took a good look at my life, I’ve never been real at all with my struggle and I’ve been wallowing in self pity.

I’d cry, I’d beat myself up both literally and figuratively, I would get lost in binge eating then attempted to throw up or overdose on laxatives and try to add more workouts. That’s totally not grieving, it’s just a sick form of idolatry.

I have scars on my body from cutting myself because I wanted to prove something:

  1. I was hurt
  2. I have a voice to let everyone know it.

But did it do any good? Not at all. Am I sorry I did it? I’m not sure yet. I sometimes have shame when I look at my scars but I more often have a sense of pride because I’ve felt they proved I have an excuse.

But now God has been calling me to the altar of lament and I really want to go but it means I’ll have to let go of this version of KD that I’ve discovered nad that means letting go of all of this bitterness and self justification and I’ll have to face the reality of what has happened to me and all the consequences of all I have done. It means I no longer have an excuse, I simply have brokenness and a God who will walk with me to wherever He wants to take me and that place might be somewhere I don’t want to go. I would have to come under authority and to me that’s scary, as long as I keep my knife, my alcohol, and all my other little idols in one hand I’m fine with reaching out to God with the other hand because then I’ll have some measure of control. But God has showed me that He has taken me as far as He can take me while I’m dragging the idols along on the other side of me.

I’ve been mulling this whole thing over for days now and I’ve been wrestling with God. It seems everywhere I look there is a message waiting for me on surrendering and facing pain and I know God is calling. Today I saw a quote “Let your grief be poured out so your cup can be refilled.” It speaks exactly into what I know, I can’t cling to this pain and expect to receive blessings, so I can either let go of the pain and walk with God or sit here in my misery till it either kills me or forces me into surrender.

I can just hear you saying, “but KD, why are you so stubborn and hesitant?”

I’ll be honest with you, I’m deathly afraid of the truth. I’m sitting here like a 3 year old who refuses to eat their broccoli and people all around me are coaxing and coaxing me to move on.

I don’t blame little kids for not eating their broccoli, have you ever tried eating something you hated and your gag reflexes kicked in?

My soul is rejecting the truth it needs and it feels like no amount of willpower will ever open me up to the truth.

I got drunk again this past weekend, it wasn’t planned but it happened, I found it was easier to keep pouring the drinks then to face reality but once again I’m seeing just how insidious and foolish it was.

I’m aching for the altar of lament if only I could gather up the courage to go there and cry and pour out my my grief. I’d become a whole new person I just know it.

But I don’t know where courage comes from. God, I need a miracle.

-KD

Without a Voice

gray blue yeti
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

I have wanted to write about this subject for awhile now, but when I sit down to write, I don’t know how to say it. It hit me that this is exactly like the topic. I want to speak yet I don’t know how. Should I explain?

A very old quote that we have believed is, ‘children should be seen and not heard’. I understand why we recite it because children out of control are terrors, but I don’t believe or agree with it. You are more than welcome to disagree with me. But you should also know that I have experience backing my belief..

I was the child without a voice.

Writing that down actually helped validate the fact in my mind. Sometimes I wonder if it was all just created by my vivid imagination.

Here are some of the memories.

I don’t remember ever telling my parents that my church friends kept leaving me for other friends. If I did tell them (and I don’t remember), I never felt like they understood.

I didn’t share with them very many of my interests and passions. I was afraid they wouldn’t listen or approve.

I definitely never told them about my struggle with crushing on boys.

It took me a very long time to tell my mom that I wanted to quit taking piano lessons.

Would they have listened? Probably. Would they have understood? Occasionally.

But it was hard to ever actually tell them. There was a wall between them and I. I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I didn’t know how to be vulnerable. I was afraid.

I felt like a child without a voice.

I wanted to be validated and not ashamed.

I wanted to be told I was brave.

I wanted to feel secure in my parents’ approval.

Why couldn’t I tell them that?

I think the first reason was that I was only a child and I didn’t understand what was happening. That was the way I thought everyone lived. The other reason is, I didn’t know how to voice my heart.

The few times I convinced myself to tell them something personal, I would write it on a note and leave it for them. One time after I blew up in a letter, Mom was kind and understanding. I felt guilty for laying everything open like I did. I felt stupid for being vulnerable.

I don’t know who taught me that I didn’t have a voice. Was it my parents or was it just something I learned as a survival tool?

What about you? Can you relate to what I’m saying?

Just in case you were wondering, my parents are very good people. Maybe your parents are good too. What is the truth about your childhood? Don’t try to lie to yourself. The truth will catch you eventually.

The truth about my childhood?

My parents did not pursue me. They didn’t know how to teach me to use my voice.

I tried to create my own voice.

That still hurts me today.

What is your story?

Where is your voice?

~Hope

Diary of an Addict

alcohol-asphalt-beer-909497

August 25, 2018

Dear diary,

I am sitting on the edge of my bed tonight trying to make sense of my feelings.

I’m all alone.

Not really though, I mean I’m home alone but two really close friends just texted me and that happens a lot.

The thing is, I am an addict. I have been for a long time.

Since yesterday afternoon I have been feeling the urges to pick up my knife and cut myself again.

Does that surprise you?

In my nightstand drawer I have a knife and a box of matches. I often forget I have them but tonight I feel like I have to physically restrain myself so I don’t use them.

Why am I feeling this way? I’m not even sure….

I could go for some shots of liquor right now but I don’t have any. If you look into my laundry room closet you will find all my empty bottles of liquor and beer.

I could just stuff my face with food right? No, I do that often enough and right now I’m really not hungry.

I want to see my own skin sliced open and bleeding right now. I want to feel the pain so  badly. The truth is, right now I have a headful of unsorted emotions,

I can’t cry, I can’t laugh, I don’t know what I’m feeling.

But I have this one nagging thought.

Not good enough.

I never was to anyone.

 

-KD

Islanding

aerial view of seashore near large grey rocks
Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

I hate islands; they are too familiar to me. While they are safe, they drain the life out of me. I know what it’s like to live alone. More than just being alone though, it’s also feeling lonely. To feel like no matter how loud you scream, no one will break into your loneliness and be with you.

Sometimes I think I can see you standing at the edge of your island wanting to be rescued. Well, I’d like to think that you want rescued. Maybe you like your land and the peace and quiet. Is this the only way we survive life?

Recently something has changed, I can hear the voices calling to me. They must have realized that there’s actually a human here. I’m scared but I think I’ll go with them. Hopefully they know the way out.

I was wondering… would you come with me? They said they have a boat and that there’s plenty of room. We can come and get you. I don’t know you but I can’t stand the thought of leaving you here. We can be brave and escape these islands together.

Hope

The System (Part II)

20180318_185622 (1)

How can a brick and mortar structure create so much emotion in my soul?

I long to go to church and worship God, to meet other believers and to belong. But I don’t.

People misunderstand me.

I misunderstand me.

I don’t hate church, I hate the system. Why is it that when we attempt to put God in a box we end up confusing ourselves and hurting people? I think when we take God and bring him down on our level we end up with another god. Our human minds can’t fathom their own Creator’s goodness.

I’ve concluded I have 2 gods. I gave my heart to the god of the system years ago. Then just recently I attempted to give my heart to the Eternal God of the Church but the god of the system won’t let me go.

There is nothing wrong with the brick and mortar structure we call church.

We are the church and the problems lies in us.

In me…

I carry years and years of pain from lies I’ve believed and still believe. And a deep anger at all the wasted years and energy I poured into being good and fitting in and serving a god who could never be pleased. It was all a waste and it never got me anywhere.

When I go to church all the pain surfaces and I choke up. All the lies come back… You don’t belong, you never will. You don’t fit in. God hates you, he’s long ago given up on you, you’re just wasting your time. You’re all alone in this. The thoughts swirl and I feel alone in a crowd of well put together people.

I smile, I talk, I say amen, I ask questions and I agree to help out with things but I’m not there.

That’s why I quit going to church.

-KD

Rescuing Myself

sepia photography of girl in polka dot dress
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Why do I feel like apologizing to God when I can’t fix myself? Where did I ever get the idea that I can heal myself? I didn’t become a Christian and get this far by fixing myself. I didn’t save myself from my own sin.

The truth is that I can’t rescue myself.

Somehow I like to think that I can.

After all this time, do I still not trust that God will come through for me? Does it feel safer to believe I can save me?

I’m afraid that I am not worth freeing. I don’t know if I want God pursuing and rescuing me if I’m just a mess.

“It’s safer for you to stay out of my mess and just encourage me while I fight for freedom. I feel bad about making you get involved in my painful life.”

When I write that, I suddenly feel like the prodigal.

Worthless

Ashamed

Afraid

“Really God, I’ll try to make it easier for you. You can just make me a servant. I don’t expect full freedom; I’m too muddy for that. If you come the whole way over here, you’ll see it all. That will be even more shameful. It won’t be safe. Just come partway and I’ll do the rest.”

Sigh

“That’s not what you want is it? You want to come all the way into my pain and wipe it away. You want to put your hands on my face until your tears wash my shame away. You want to wrap your strong arms around me so I won’t collapse from sobbing. You don’t want to leave me ever, do you?”

“Why didn’t they tell me you were this way? The way they talked, you sounded like a school teacher making sure I learned lessons correctly and gave the right answers.”

“You really are good. Just like a Good Father. Next to you my saving doesn’t even look freeing. You rescue with love I’ve never felt before. You are a wonderful rescuer. Somehow you’ve managed to make me feel worthy again. You believed I was worth pursuing when I didn’t. I don’t have the words to tell you how that makes me feel. Is this how freedom feels?”
~ Hope