Category Archives: My own worst enemy

Slightly burnt toast

I am enamored with the phrase “slightly burnt toast”. Although, I am not entirely sure why. There’s a parallel somewhere in there between my life experiences and the phenomenon of slightly burnt toast. I’m gonna see if I can suss it out.

I love toast. Golden, crispy, all melty with butter (and sometimesb jelly). There’s something about well-made toast that just makes me happy and all melty inside. I’m a little fussy about how my toast is cooked. I don’t like it undercooked. I don’t like it overcooked (Sam I am must be around here somewhere). I like it to be the perfect shade of golden brown.

I don’t own a toaster due to the fact that I have about 1 foot square of counter space to do all of my cooking and dirty dish stacking. So, we cook our toast in the oven under the broiler. This can be a little precarious if one gets distracted easily(ahem) and forgets they are cooking toast in the oven. Sometimes my toast gets all crispy and black. Yuck.

I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment if I burn my toast to the point of carbonization.

But I’m not talking about toast bricks here. I’m talking about toast that is slightly burnt. Not quite black, beyond golden brown, but still somewhat edible (Especially if I slather it with cream cheese and jelly). Slightly burnt toast is not quite perfect in my mind. It is slightly left of my ideal. Not burnt enough to hate, but too burnt to fully love.

I realized the last time I made slightly burnt toast (which involved a little bit of whining to myself), that sometimes I feel the same about myself as I feel about slightly burnt toast. Not bad enough to hate, but not good enough to fully love. Tainted, slightly to the left of center, just a little off, a little too sinful, a little too burnt.

Sometimes I don’t feel good enough to be loved. By God, or by other people (mostly other people). I’m not perfect enough, pretty enough, popular enough, witty enough to be loved. I’m slightly tainted with my sins, idiosyncrasies, weirdness, genetic makeup, acquired habits, weight problem, opinionated mouth. The list goes on.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that I am not perfect because only one Man on this Earth was ever capable of being perfect. I also realize that I am a mostly okay person. But that slightly burnt feeling keeps me back from fully being who I was created to be. It keeps me back from fully expressing myself. Mostly because I crave to be loved by people. I am pretty sure God loves me the way I am, although sometimes I wonder. But that’s another story for another day

Sometimes I wonder why so-and-so doesn’t talk to me. Or why such-and-such (I have changed the names of people to protect the innocent) won’t even look my way. I imagine that it’s because I am slightly to the left of what I need to be to be their friend. But my Friend won’t let me settle there with my tent and campfire, burning my toast and cursing myself for it.

I get the feeling best place to be is right where God has me right now. Not looking for approval from those that aren’t meant to be my friends. Not comparing myself to my imagined “ideal” person. Instead, He pushes my thoughts towards the friends who approve of me. The ones who like and love me despite my deficiencies. The people who pick me up when I am down. The ones who make me tea and imperfect toast when I am sad. The ones who celebrate my successes with parties. The friends who take my delicate dreams carefully into their hands to encourage me. The ones to whom I can pour out my appreciation love and reciprocate with tea and toast. The people that God has put in my path. These folks help me to feel perfect, even when I’m not.

So, friends, don’t look for friends in the wrong places. Don’t compare yourself to your imagined ideal friend of those who don’t notice you. Rather, celebrate the friends you have. Make them tea and toast. Wipe their tears (or cry with them). Shout with joy at their successes in life. Tell them about your successes. This is what makes life golden and perfect.

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5mf- A single ray of light

It’s easy to forget in the deepest, darkest moments how connected I am. Connected to my immediate family, my church family, all the I have touched, and all the people I will touch. Pain can be overwhelming and convince you that you are alone, that going on with life is hopeless, it might as well end now before more suffering occurs. But if I take a moment to reflect on how severing those connections would hurt those I am connected to, the pain of leaving is great enough to keep me here. Connections are what is keeping me here fighting my way through the muck, the mire, the agony, the hopelessness and despair. Life is so hard all on it’s own. Life is harder when one is forced to deal with pain inflicted by other people who were bigger and stronger. The strongest connection of all keeps a small ray of light shining ever present in the darkness, in the deepest pain, the lowest despair. That connection calls me to take another step, no matter how much it hurts, even if I think my legs are broken, or my muscles torn. A single ray of light offering me hope. “Stay connected”, He says, “don’t give up.”

Telling my story…

My stomach is in knots right now.  I have never publicly stated my story before today.  But, I promised that I would write about what did, or did not happen, this past Saturday.

I was supposed to meet with a gifted counselor to work on an important issue, only, it didn’t happen.  Right now I am trying to deal with the reality of this issue moment by moment until I find release.  Meanwhile, it is only by the grace of God that I am functioning normally right now.

I have suffered with dissociative identity disorder (I offered a link to Wikipedia here, but feel free to read about it wherever you like) for many years.  Not in the Faces of Eve kind of way, I do not move in and out of full-blown personalities regularly.  I am not Jane, or Jim, or any other person.  I am always me.  For me, this means when something traumatic happened, I would squirrel away a part of my personality somewhere safe in my subconscious.  This has meant that sometimes, if a particular personality was present, I would only be able to see things from that perspective.  I was still me, but my thoughts were one-dimensional.

In 2000, through some intense therapy, the Lord integrated 5 personalities.  This was both good and strange.  I no longer had 5 voices in my head, I had one voice, my integrated voice.  It took a couple of years to get used to feeling multiple feelings at once.  11 years later, I can say I  have successfully handled all the feelings a person can have in any given situation at once.  I thought that this was the end of that episode of my life.

Recently, I have become aware of a personality.  It hangs out on the edge of my consciousness.  It is waiting to be brought back into the fold, if you will.  Because the Lord has done this in the past, I know He can do it again.  And, I feel certain he will.  Just not yet.   Excuse me while I remember to breath.

This personality is my sexuality.  I experienced sexual abuse starting at around age 3.  I know for certain that this stopped when I was 11 because my mother and stepfather moved us out to the East Coast.  I had multiple abusers, but my father was most consistent offender.  My childhood is fraught with confusion and pain.  In the moments of this chaos, I hid away my sexuality somewhere else.  And, this part of myself has stayed hidden all this time.  God in His wisdom has decided that now is the time for this last piece of myself to be reintegrated into me.  Because of this, my sexuality has been handicapped.  It’s not quite all there.  I cannot fully express myself.  Some of what I have experienced as an adult has been broken, twisted, and tainted.  I have fought to overcome Satan’s version of my sexual identity.  Thoughts and feelings that I did not understand would crop up.  I always knew that things were not quite right, but I did not understand until recently the full extent of my need.  I need to be healed and put back together.  And, only God can do this.

This is the last piece of the puzzle.  I look forward to the day when I can welcome this last part of myself back to where it belongs.  And, I hope that day comes soon.

 

Milk

I had no ideas about what to write so I asked the Lord for something to write about.  Four words came to mind: milk, honey, plenty, and promise.  These words obviously go together (Promised Land anyone?), but I believe I am supposed to write from heart about them individually.

The word milk automatically makes me think of the Promised Land.  Moses was sent to bring his people to the land “flowing with milk and honey”.  Evidently God sees this as a good thing.  The one thing that speaks to me about the Promised Land was that everything that the Israelites was available to them in this land, if they just did what God told them to do.  The Israelites had a hard time doing this because it took them 40 years to get there.  But they did get there.

I often see myself as one of the wandering Israelites waiting to get to what God has promised me.  In my mind I can just see over the cliff, just enough to know that the promise is there.  I wonder when I will ever get there.  I ask God, “Haven’t I done enough now?”.  I am so ready for the promises.  I am so ready to be there in the Promised Land.  When can I go Lord?

It occurs to me that perhaps I am already there.  I am like a blind beggar sitting in the lush landscape begging for a scrap.  Satan has feed me enough lies that I believe in my blindness as my reality.  I can just smell the flowing milk and honey, but I have yet to taste it.  Perhaps if I stopped believing I was blind and poor, I might be able to partake in the feast before me.

When I accepted Jesus into my heart, I had access to the abundance of God.  Yet, my heart believed that I was not good enough, or clean enough, or whatever enough to take what is rightfully mine.  I could not tap into the infinite and good resources available to me because I believed the darkness more than I believed the light.

Today, I ask you Lord to take the scales from my eyes so that I can see and partake in all that you have given to me.  Amen.

Day 10 of Just Write!- Ugly

If  you have been following this at all, you know the drill about what I am doing.  If not, click here.

Ugly

I’ve heard people say “God don’t make ugly”.  Which is supposed to be a comfort to those who feel bad about themselves.  I’ve also heard “God don’t like ugly”.  Which is supposed to be an admonishment for people who are behaving in an ugly.  Some of us out here feel ugly no matter what.  Both of those phrases can feel either like a lie or a condemnation.  It is not difficult to believe that God did not make me ugly.  It is easy to believe that Satan has perverted God’s creation (like h e always does).  Of course God doesn’t “make” anything ugly.  Satan makes things ugly.  Then he tells us that God doesn’t like us with his lies.  It’s just not true folks, God loves those that are ugly, and likes them too.  Otherwise, what was the point of Jesus’ life and death?  Jesus himself said that only the sick need a doctor, those that are will do not need a doctor.  Please Lord, help me to move past the ugly that I perceive (real or not) and to find the beauty that is there.

Day 8 and Day 9 of Just Write!

Yesterday was kind of a fog of recovering from the weekend + Monday, and some kind of little stomach bug.  So I never got around to doing the post.  I actually miss not writing, so this experiment must be working!  So I am going to write yesterday’s and today’s in this post.

One

One day I will see you again

One day I will be forever yours

One day I will look on your face and feel bliss

One day I will no longer be worried, or frustrated, or angry, or sad, or in pain

One day LOVE will wrap me up in warmth, and comfort, and peace

One day earthly concerns will no longer matter

One day my prayers will be answered

One day I will understand it all

One day it will be you and me and everyone else

One day the mysteries of the universe will unfold themselves to me

One day Jesus will be my bride(groom)

One day the Holy Spirit will no longer be invisible to my naked eye

One day EVIL will be vanquished forever and ever

One day (and already know) I will be in eternity where there is no beginning and no end

One day I will receive the crowns that are mine

One day I will touch the center of the universe

One day I will be filled with joy unending

One day the struggle will cease

One day I will have a job in heaven that is perfectly suited to me

One day I will be with you, and you will be with me.

Peace

Peace that passes all understanding seems so far away from me.  I struggle, I fight, I yearn, and I bleed.  Yet, God promises these things to me.  They are mine for the taking, if only I would reach out my hand and take them.  I understand this with my head, but not necessarily with my heart.  Some days it seems that I like the struggle and bleeding more than I like the peace.  Perhaps the fighting gives me a sense of power.  Perhaps bleeding shows I am alive.  I don’t know, but most of the time I would like to be at peace.  With people like me, sometimes being at peace means being dead, because peace eludes us so easily.  However, I have work to do on this earth before I die, so dying must wait a while.  I’ll go when it is  my time, and not before.  Oh Lord, show me how to reach out and grab peace like a climber grabs a rope to get back up the mountain after a scary plunge from the sheer cliff.  Help me not to squander your gift for me.  Help me to surrender to your ways and your peace in this lifetime.  Help me to know when to pick up my sword, and when to lay it down and rest.  Help me to know true peace that passes all understanding. Help me to know this before death takes me to you.

Self-Control (Day 2 of the Just Write! campaign)

Welcome to day 2 of the Just Write! campaign here at Beauty in it’s time.  Mary Kathryn Tyson is hosting this campaign in an effort to get her creative juices flowing, and other people’s as well.  I have chosen to participate because I need a kick in the rear to get myself writing more frequently.  So,everyday that she does this she will give us a one-word prompt and we “JustWrite!” for five minutes without editing (note: editing for grammar errors is okay, just don’t do a total rewrite). We are not trying to craft masterpieces here, we are attempting to “Just Write!” and get the creative juices flowing. MK has offered to allow us to write in her comments section, or to put a link in her comments if we have our own blog to write in.

Self-Control

Go!

Self-control is the most difficult aspect of Christianity to master.  Self-control is a gift of the spirit, but it’s up to us to control ourselves.  Our hearts are full of evil desires that we must fight constantly to hold back.  This can tire one out.  Fortunately for us, God gives us the tools we need to fight back.  The trick is remembering the sword we have in our possession.  All we have to do is pick it up and wield it in Jesus’ name.  He gives the power needed to defeat the enemy, we just have to be willing to pick up that sword.  We have to say “yes” to fighting back.  We have to say “You will go no further” to the enemy.  One of Satan’s great tricks is to help us to forget that God can help us control ourselves.  Practiced self-control gives the power to keep walking the walk and running the race.  Otherwise, we get caught in the sticker bushes that crowd our path.  We become stuck like a rabbit that was running from the hungry wolf and was not watching where it was going.  Lord I pray that you help me to stay on the path.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

5mf Post- Rest

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Five minute Friday’s are a stream- of- consciousness exercise hosted by The Gypsy Mama every Friday.  In an effort to get myself writing more frequently, I am going to participate as frequently as I can.  I am also participating in a weekly bible study at Beauty for Ashes onWednesdays, and in “Just Write!” campaign also hosted by Beauty for Ashes.  The 5mf exercise is simple, The Gypsy Mama gives us a word prompt and we write for 5 minutes.  There is no editing and no backtracking.  Just write whatever comes into your mind.  So here goes this week’s edition of 5mf:

Rest

I just got up from a  nap.  I was attempting to rest, because I feel so tired.  I just needed a nap.  Instead of actually sleeping, I thought of all the reasons that I don’t have time to sleep, or that keep me awake.  Secrets about my sins, things that stress me out, physical pain, spiritual hunger, needing more God in my life.  It’s easy to look at someone and say, “You need more rest!” without actually understanding what keeps them from resting.  Truly resting is not an experience that involves sleep.  Truly resting involves trusting.  Trusting that everything will be alright.  Trusting that God’s got it covered, that He has my back.  I struggle and struggle to find this place of rest and abandon.  I struggle to just let go, and let things lie where they in my life.  I want to be able to feel the sweetness of utter and complete rest.  Of lack of control.  I mean, if God is big enough, why do I need to worry?  He says he wants my burdens, so why not give them to Him?  Why not let Him fight the good fight on behalf?  The pain, the worry, and the frustration don’t have to be mine.  Here is a prayer hoping to let go and let be.

Thanks for stopping by!

Steph

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Hold on, just a little longer.

Thief

by Third Day

I am a thief, I am a murderer,
Walking up this lonely hill.
What have I done? I don’t remember.
No one knows just how I feel;
And I know that my time is coming soon.

It’s been so long, oh, such a long time,
Since I’ve lived with peace and rest.
Now I am here, in my destination,
I guess things work for the best;
And I know that my time is coming soon.

Who is this man? This man beside me,
That they call the King of the Jews.
No, they don’t believe, that He’s the Messiah,
But, somehow I know that it’s true.

They laugh at Him in mockery,
They beat Him till he bleeds,
They nail Him to the rugged cross,
And they raise Him, yeah, they raise Him up next to me.

My time has come, and I’m slowly fading,
But I deserve what I receive.
Jesus, when You are in Your kingdom,
Could You please, please remember me.
Well He looks at me still holding on,
And the tears fall from His eyes,
And He says I tell the truth,
Today, yeah, you will live with Me in paradise, woah yeah.

And I know that my time, yes my time, is coming soon, woah yeah.
And I know that my time, yes my time, is coming soon, woah yeah, yeah
And I know that paradise, paradise is coming soon.

I was listening to this song the other day while I was driving…somewhere (can’t remember).  I have listened to this song a thousand times and sung along with tears in my eyes all choked up (which makes me singing this song not pretty to listen to).  And usually, I reside in the place of the thief when I dwell in this song for the few minutes that it plays.  From the perspective of the this thief, I feel the weight of my sin and understand the price that I must pay.  And at the end of the song, I feel hope in the redemptive power of Jesus’ death there next to him (me) on the cross.

This is all good.

But that other day (the one where I can’t remember where I was going in my car), when the last verse was being sung I had a waking dream.  A brilliant flash of understanding that I had never experienced before.  It was blinding.

And, I felt like I had been delivered a roundhouse kick to the chest.  I couldn’t breathe because of the depth of what I saw and understood in that brief moment.

Jesus/God was gracious enough to hang on that cross long enough for this one last person to be saved while He was still here on earth.

WOW.  And I cried, hard.

He could have chosen to give in to death a bit sooner and end his suffering.  Who would have blamed him?  From what I  have heard, death on a cross is an agonizingly slow death of suffocation.  If it had been me up there I would have prayed for a swift death.  But Jesus/God chose to go just a little bit farther for that one last person He could touch while he still breathed.

His example has taught me a crucial lesson: When others look at me they are supposed to see Christ in me.  When I am open and there Christ can flow through me.  Being human, I am required again and again to die to myself because I am not God and therefore not perfect, but the thief in the song saw a beacon of hope in Jesus as He hung there dying and I need to be a beacon of hope in my relationships so that others may see Him.  I need to hold on just a little longer.

What are the ways that you and I can hold on just a little longer?

Tower of Babel- The destruction process

Genesis 11

The Tower of Babel

1 At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. 2 As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.

3 They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

5 But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. 6 “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! 7Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

8 In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.

I wanted to write some prosy thing about this process, but I just don’t have it in me.  Instead, I am going to share the email I sent to someone who is sort of counseling me at the moment.  Here goes:

Phew.  This has been a tough week.  Still reeling from the smashed tower and wondering what to do next, the day after the last image I sent you (which would have been Wednesday) I sat down again and asked the Lord to revel himself to me.  This is what I got:

Part 1- No other Gods before me.
The scripture is Exodus 20:2-17.  The purple squiggly on top is Sovereign God.  The bottom left hand corner spiral is the Holy Spirit.  As the colors spiral inward the Holy Spirit is infusing himself with me.  I am in the center in the red.  I am not sure if the red represents anger/rage, or my heart, maybe both.  If you notice the majority of the spiral is in blue and moves to purple then to red.  All of the words of the scripture are moving inward from the HS into the center.  I felt that God was making clear that I am putting something before him.  But I really did not want to know what.

Part 2- Ouch! That hurts!
I met with someone I look up to on Thursday because I wanted to express some hurt and anger about some things that had happened.  I had something I was holding onto for the past 5 years that was still hurting me.  I wanted to be able to let go, but God wasn’t letting me let go.  So, I finally (after much goading from a friend) met with this person.  She told me she thought I had an attitude problem, an anger problem, and she I was held back from going forward in leadership because of this.  She said that I can have my opinions, and even feel anger, but she said that I am not very honoring in my approach to expressing my anger.  This, of course, hurt me and my ego.  I also felt frustrated because I only really feel anger is when I feel an injustice has been served to  me.  For a couple of days I felt distraught, anger, frustration, and more anger.  And I really did not want to ask God about this because I was sure I wasn’t going to like what I heard.

Part 3- The dream
Right before I woke up Saturday morning I had a most vivid dream.  Usually there are 3 signs that the dream was from God: 1. It was vivid, 2. It stays with me all day, 3. I can still remember it the next day.  Here is how the dream went: My husband was carrying our child because I could not after a certain part of the pregnancy.  We were in a hotel room that was more like an apartment.  It was time to deliver the baby, but it had to be done by c-section and I was the only one there to do the procedure.  I felt a little panicked, rushed, but confident that I could handle a dangerous procedure on my own.  I was rushing around to get the room ready putting out towels to soak the inevitable flow of blood and for the baby.  I was also changing my clothes into something more appropriate for handling surgery.  As I was removing my stockings, my husband said that he was waiting for someone to arrive.  He had called on another nurse, someone more qualified to handle the surgery.  I was very upset with him and threw a little temper tantrum.  I said, “I can’t believe you called someone else!!”  He said that someone who was qualified for this needed to be there to handle “multiple points of infection”.  I immediately awoke from this dream in a panic.  I knew almost immediately this was from God.

Part 4- The Revelation
Yesterday, I sat down and wrote out some thoughts I was having because I felt like the faith issue that you talked with me about, and the anger issue were related.  The dream was key to making that connection, but I still didn’t know why.  And, I was feeling angry with God.  So I wrote out a few things that I was feeling including the dream.  The first question I posed to myself was “What are the correlations?” between the anger issue and the faith issue.  Then I wrote out the possibilities which are:
  • I feel angry that I cannot just “handle” things myself.
  • God is saying he is “qualified” to handle things, and I am not.
  • I feel angry at injustices
  • Sometimes the lack of blessing feels like an injustice, especially when I feel that I have done what is required of me.
  • I feel angry at God.
  • I feel mistrustful of others.
  • I feel misunderstood.
  • What is the root of this?
  • I have an “I can (and now I think “must” is part of this) take care of myself” attitude.  That doesn’t jive with God.  I feel I have, and continue to be, treated unfairly, and unjustly by others.
  • Am I my own God (in this area)?
Then I wrote: Why do I care about injustice and fairness towards myself?  To the point of expressing anger?  Why do I feel God has treated my unjustly?  I feel I don’t deserve what has happened to me and angry at God for not stopping it.   Which is ridiculous since a deep understanding of pain makes me more sympathetic (and empathetic) toward others pain.  I believe this but find it difficult to accept.  Is this where “be the exclamation point, not the question mark” comes in?

So, yesterday afternoon, I sat down with my sister and we talked about why we want so badly to be heard.  We agreed it was because we weren’t heard as children, or as adults in our younger years.  I am driven to keep making my point until I feel I have been heard, which leads others to believe that I am trying to “get my way”, which is not my usual intention.  Then I began to wonder if, as Christians, we have a “right’ to be heard.  Meaning: Do others really need to hear my thoughts and opinions?  My sister felt that in some situations it was important to be understood.  But, perhaps in most situations it was not so important to be heard by others.  Then she came up with this scripture, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouth, but only what is good for giving necessary teaching, and for grace to those who give ear.” Ephesians 4:29.  Then I found the rest of that chapter “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:30, 31.

Part 5- The Conclusion
Obviously, I need to rely solely on the Holy Spirit to guide my words when I feel strongly about something, which, somewhere deep inside of me, makes me unhappy.  So I am coming to grips the full meaning of this revelation.  I expect that I will be fully on board with this soon enough.  So here is my conclusions on this matter:
  • It takes faith to trust that God is fully capable of handling whatever comes my way.
  • I need to rely on Him for revelation on how to handle a situation
  • I am not God in my life.  Only He must be.
  • My words must be tempered with love, honoring, cherishing, encouraging, full of grace.
  • Since I am woman of strong opinion and passion, I must go to Him EVERY SINGLE TIME I have a struggle to temper my reactions before I speak or do anything.

So there you have it.  Like I said: Phew!