I don't know quite how to describe the state of my heart as I write to you in response to your your comments on the 'So Long, Self' post.
It grieves me to know many of you are in pain, that you feel defeated, and that perhaps it seems there is no way out of your situation. For my sister who shared being a victim of verbal abuse, I implore you to seek godly counsel. I pray you are not in physical danger though whoever said 'sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me' was a fool. Words do hurt and change who we are. Gratefully, there is a Word that trumps any that a person can speak over you. The only way to survive what you are experiencing is by filling your mind with the Voice of Truth to such an overflowing measure that the one who speaks lies can barely be heard. I realize this seems the simplistic answer but God is the only answer I know. He hasn't forgotten you. He is El Roi - the God who sees'. He saw Hagar as she ran from the abuse she suffered at Sarai's hand. (Genesis 16) God did not deliver Hagar from the situation but blessed her through it. It's my belief that from the day Hagar saw God, any degradation or insult simply paled in comparison to God's tender care over her. May this be for you as well.
Though this situation is one in which our sister may not have any fault, there are many things we are suffering that are a direct result of our own decisions in following after the flesh. For many, we know our choices are sin, but doggone it the sin feels so great, tastes so good, and/or looks really cute on. Then, the husband finds out, the scale tips, and/or the bill comes and self-condemnation sets in. Notice I said self-condemnation because even when we have blown it in a huge way, God promises He will not condemn those who are in Christ Jesus. THAT, girls, has got to be the best promise in Scripture.
So why do we feel condemned? 2 Cor. 4:16 reads, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day". This scripture leads us to ask ourselves, "Is my flesh indeed wasting?"
There is a concept at work here. As Paul's flesh wasted both physically and spiritually, his inner man was being renewed. Energized. Expanded. His Spirit was enlarged to the point of bursting forth from the thin shell of flesh that found it had little strength to contain the Power inside.
Obviously, this is a concept I want to see manifested in my life. God is continuing a work in me even now through this study. I can't count the number of times I've lost heart. Times that instead of my flesh being wasted, I've fed it instead with stress, control, and yes, especially eating. I shared with you about my joining First Place at church because I very much recognized I was medicating my stress with food. I wasn't greatly overweight but heading there quickly because I'd found myself in a rut from which I was having a hard time getting out of. I read a great quote today that said, "The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions." (E. Glasglow)
Enter condemnation. It feels like God is trying to destroy us sometimes, doesn't it? However, we know the truth is that God promised no condemnation for our Spirit - only the flesh. So, if we are operating day-to-day primarily in the flesh, how else are we to feel but condemned, forgotten, and angry? It is our spirit on which God's favor rests so if we are neglecting its growth, we will naturally experience the sense that God has left us. THAT, girls, is the exact place where Satan wants us because once there, he's sold the lie that God does not love us nor is He interested in what's best for us. What's more is that when we feel we aren't getting our fair shake, we begin to lash out in anger and bitterness to condemn those around us. I'm ashamed to say my children, as many of you have shared about your own, have born the brunt of my short fuse when I'm exhausted after a long day of meeting everyone's needs but my own.
And what do we need, exactly? Funny how we all have our own ideas about this one. I love the comment the sister left about the grass looking greener on the other side of the fence. The better husband, the bigger house, the perfect lives our friends seem to be living are all just an illusion designed by the enemy to distract us from what God's Word says is best. This is perhaps the biggest reason women are drawn into extra-marital affairs - the idea that somewhere there is a knight in shining armour waiting to whisk us away from this life we never meant to live. Thing is, that knight isn't so romantic anymore once you start picking up his dirty clothes. And girl, if he will cheat WITH you, what makes you think he won't cheat ON you? What am I trying to say? KEEP IT IN THE FENCE.
Heartbreakingly, there are some of you girls whose husbands who haven't kept it in the fence - whether it be physically or in their imaginations. I can't fathom the images Satan uses to fill your minds, dear ones, when all you want to do is forgive and hopefully someday, forget. Know I am in no way excusing what violations have taken place in your relationship, but what I do know is that God is not the one who dredges these sins from the ocean floor and replays them in your minds. My prayer for you will be to have the strength to forgive as Christ forgives - casting our sins as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) If your husband has repented and is seeking reconciliation, Satan will use you, the person whose forgiveness he most needs (outside of God's of course), to continue to accuse him. Resist, fragile one. God knows unfaithfulness and yet He loves. Beg Him for peace of heart and mind. I know He will give it.
I thank all of you for your insight as I continue to prepare for this teaching series. I have your comments printed and will pray for you each day as I continue to pour over them. If it is possible, I'm even crazier about you now than I was before. What you've shared with me has fed my desire to walk in the Spirit and to see you walking there, too.
Go with God, Girlfriends! Have a blessed, Spirit-filled weekend...
Sunday, February 10, 2008
So Long Self