Category Archives: suffering

Brain Robbers

I’m restless this afternoon–probably dehydrated, I reflect–could the news from my friend put me in this funk? Don’t I believe God is good? I say it enough…so I should just start thanking Him that He has this too. And I’m sure He does. So I drink two glasses of water and began to write here. That’s one of my best processing strategies.

Did you know stress doesn’t kill us? There is now a great body of research to show it (Cohen, 2006). It is the state your body is in when the stress hits. Are you healthy? What do you do with the fear that presents itself with bad news? What are your feedback systems? What are your patterns? How do you cope?

We are emotional creatures. There is no way around it. We’re built to feel. We have to have outlets for emotions and pain. Fear is real when you hear a good friend has just been exposed to Ebola. No the fear isn’t for me–he’s in another country. The fear is for him and his family. It’s worse than hearing someone here has cancer–and that is bad enough.

And no, I’m not afraid of death for people who know God, their pain is over. I feel for the people who are left. The ones who suffer. I’m not afraid his wife and three children will get the disease–they are here. But how awful it would be to go on without him–he’s so full of life and fun. Humor is his second nature, as is adventure, and faith.

Sooner or later everyone comes around to the question. Why do good people suffer? Or Why does God allow suffering? Does He cause it? Those two have made many atheists.

I’m clear on both. Why is there suffering? Freedom. And no, He doesn’t cause suffering. He has no evil. So what’s my problem?

Part of it is the pathways I have. Fear used to be second nature to me. That network–mostly dormant is still there–ready to be activated at any time. Another part is that I know God sees what we don’t, and sometimes He sees that it is better not to intervene. I admit that one still gets me nervous from time to time. Faithful suffering speaks.

So what is the real problem? Do I know Him well enough to ask Him and listen for His voice? Do I take my shocks and fears to Him? Can I trust that He really knows best if He doesn’t do what I think He should? I am shocked to realize that I haven’t talked to Him about this yet!

Why not? I got caught in feeling–in the awfulness and emotion of what happened. That is purely human. But I could have turned to him immediately instead of wallowing in feelings for two hours. Now that is crazy! 

One of my friends even said the right words, but they went by with my agreement but not my action–not connecting with Him about this.

I even talked to Him about something else! Wow! I’m amazed.

Fear does NOT come from God. But neither will He jerk it away from me. I have to want to give it up. Processing helps. Can I trust Him? His goodness? Really?

Yes! Will I? That is my choice.

 

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Filed under A God perspective, Grief, Joy, Love ed, Mental Health, suffering, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Finding Gain through Your Pain

Yesterday I looked in the mirror and saw someone I hadn’t seen in over 25 years. Evidently physical headache pain and emotional pain look the same in the eyes.

I remembered how I used to catch glimpses of my face in unexpected mirrors and be horrified at the anger or fear I saw. I’d think is this what my daughter sees?

Oh God, no! This isn’t what I want her to see as mom, this can’t be comforting!

So when God opened a door for therapy, I jumped at the chance: One of the best decisions of my life. I knew I was uncomfortable and dysfunctional, but had no idea why.

That was 29 years ago. Uncovering the pain was hard work, I’d grown up very good at avoiding it. But it was so much better and easier than carrying it.

I’ve been grateful to catch glimpses of myself in unexpected mirrors the past few years and see a peaceful reflection. I was just as surprised. What a difference.

Don’t let fear block your joy. Most of us carry fear and anger without knowing it, like I did. If you have a chance to sort things out in your head, do it. If you have insurance that covers therapy, get it.

In scripture God asks, “Why will you suffer? Why will you die?” He’s asking because He’s offering life and joy.

We can choose suffering. He will let us. But it’s as if He says to each of us, “I know you need to learn, but do you really need to learn everything the hard way? I’m willing to guide you, just come to Me and ask. You’ll still have hard times. You’ll still have to make choices. But it could be so much easier than what you’re doing.”

Make some good choices today. One of them could be to trust God. He is safe to trust.

As I’ve been saying lately, trade in your pain for joy. Learning how to hang out with God and get His validation is a great place to start. “In His presence is joy…”

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Joy, Living well, Love ed, Mental Health, suffering, What is God like?

Love can Alter Perspective

IMG_3598

This picture brought to mind the old saying, “If you want to understand someone, walk a mile in his shoes.

But what if you can’t? What if they are just too heavy to walk a mile? Or across the living room! You might have to rest.

He was trying to walk his stepdad’s boots to his room for Mommy, but they are so heavy he had to rest half way.

Some of us try to walk in the shoes of Our Father and find them just too heavy–way too heavy–to make it to our destination, and instead of resting we give up.

Interesting. Jesus said being connected with Him makes life light. So why does it sometimes feel so heavy?

Last week I had so many commitments, it could have felt way too heavy, especially since I was fighting off some virus, but my weakness made me focus on Him and relax, until the last day. He told me to rest, but I had so much to get done, that I got all tense and tired and irritable! But at least I learned from it–the next day was a great day because of “resting” in His love instead of trying harder and getting tense.

Maybe we don’t rest enough. Maybe we are too conscious of us, and not conscious enough of Him.

I’m sure my grandson had no thought of quitting. He might have been surprised how heavy those boots were, or how hard it was to walk in them; but he just needed to rest a bit–no big deal. In fact he felt honor, I’m sure.

There’s three of them adjusting to a new life, new home, new Dad; but he loves them, and that takes most of the pain of their new life away. When they focus on him, and how he feels about them, how he treats them, it’s worth it. He’s worth it. They feel his love. They rest til they can see their dad again.

Just like their new Dad, your Father-God is worth it. Focussing on His love, His respect, even His discipline, makes you feel secure and safe. He’s worth it. Let yourself rest and feel His love. He will reveal more and more love.

Research says the younger ones (<4) are typically most impacted by life upsets like divorce, but I’ve noticed where there is love on both ends, the little ones do much better than predicted. Sometimes even better than the older ones.

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Filed under divorce, fathering, Fathers' Day, Grief, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Parenting, parenting and divorce, Separation, suffering, Uncategorized

Perspective Part 2

Is it possible that for all these years Greek scholars have been translating this passage incorrectly: “If you love me keep my commandments”? Is it possible that religion got it wrong?

As a former high school English teacher, I say yes! On two counts: the context and the collective consciousness.

First, the context: Jesus has just said some of his strongest words to Peter, one of his closest friends, “Get behind me Satan!”

Peter and all the disciples are shocked. Peter was simply saying what they all felt and believed. “God won’t let this happen to you!” But Jesus needed them to hear him and understand. He wanted and needed their support. He wants to get them ready for the pain that is coming.

He leaves the topic of his crucifixion and tells them that soon he will be leaving them. They are so sad. They are still hanging onto the idea that he will be crowned king. They don’t understand. They ask lots of questions which he is answering, trying to comfort them and reassure them that everything is unfolding according to plan. So it is highly unlikely that he would throw in a challenge and say, If you love me, keep my commandments.

Especially since his very next words are. “And I will ask my Father and He will send you another comforter.” (emphasis mine) He is still comforting, and if the true translation is, “If you love me, my commands will keep you,” his commands or commandments would be the first comforter.

How do his commands comfort? In much the same way that a child or a dog are comforted by knowing who is in charge. Then they can relax and calm down. They are safe. It’s one of the functions of boundaries. We know what is truth. We know what to believe. We know true north. No more running down blind alleys.

There is security, peace and comfort in knowing the truth about God.

Secondly, the collective consciousness couldn’t have wrapped around “…My commands will keep you.” It made no sense to them. God was a God to serve, as in slaves obey your masters. They had no concept of God’s ways keeping us. Don’t ask me why—the whole Old Testament is full of,  “If you will keep my laws and walk in my ways, none of these curses will fall on you…but you will be my special (favored) people–blessed beyond belief.”*

I can only think it was because they feared God rather than loved Him. They thought He brought the curses. Fear filtered their perspective. It kept them from seeing Him as Love. They had a dualistic picture of God: He was both good and evil.

Many people suffer from that perception of God now: God is scary, demanding, and vengeful. Others see him as ok with anything–He just hopelessly loves.

But the whole of Scripture shows a balanced picture of Almighty God. He isn’t scary but he is all-powerful. He isn’t vengeful, but he does have good boundaries. He isn’t weak, but he loves freedom. He has no evil; he is love, a love strong and wise enough to end evil when every question is answered and everyone has clearly chosen one side or the other. In the end everyone gets what they really want–based on their choices.

*Deuteronomy 7:12-15

For the best picture of  God, go to http://Godhelps.net/God-in-a-Box

 

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Filed under A God perspective, suffering, Uncategorized, What is God like?, When religion gets it wrong...

Dreams DO Come True

Last week my daughter was totally rewarded for her trust in, and intimacy with, God.

After her decision to divorce (which process and pain is recorded in my blogs for the  past year on http://www.arlaboo.blogspot.com) she and a friend began hanging out. She really liked him; and he, her, but then the twists and turns of life took them other places.

It was a hard year for her, learning to depend on God for everything from finances to friendship. The learning curve was steep and at times painful, but it included healing for many beliefs that kept her stuck in fear and dysfunction. Though sometimes painful to watch, I knew it was good–even when she did some needed separating from me. I just tried to be there when she needed to process or vent.

I have to admit, though, that her intimacy with God both scared me and made me jealous. (And I work at a relationship with Him.)

Nevertheless, there were times when I asked God if I should have taught her that we all need to hear God speaking to us personally, that He desires that, and that we each need our own relationship with Him. Watching her experience (even though I had been through something similar 30 years ago) stretched me to the max. I often didn’t know what to think. I just had to trust Him and her.

In the beginning, she would just tell me what God had said to her, but by the last month she was reading her journal to me.  Sometimes I felt like a voyeur. And I was always praying, “You wouldn’t let her be deceived would you?” I know scripture says people will be deceived because they don’t love truth, but I trusted that her heart was too pure, and God was too good for that.

It has been quite a ride, with her trusting that God can and will do what he says, even when it looks impossible. And last week the beginning of everything God had been telling her for months came to pass. Needless to say she is ecstatic! She waited on God, trusted Him, and has been vindicated and rewarded. Even though seven of us on her inner circle were a little nervous.

It’s a great story of intimacy with God and faith rewarded, and she’s going to publish it. Remember the title Shards of Grace and the cover picture–it may be awhile.   

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September 8, 2013 · 12:33 pm

Abused by the Dark Side

Yet another story of atrocious kidnapping has hit the news from Cleveland. More children taken, kept and abused–these for ten years!

I was so glad that two of the anchors interviewed former victims who are recovering to show that there can be good life after that. I have a small private practice, and even so have heard four such stories, not as long term, but the worst of them from foster care! Two of mine have a good life now, two of them continue to struggle.

Recovery is hard and can take years. I am amazed at the those who can go on national television and talk about it. Kudos! I am so proud of you!

I don’t understand how people can live in this world without God. It can get so ugly. The wars and threat to life that many people live with every day are horrible, many of them losing loved ones. But it has to be worse to be held and abused for years, not knowing if you’ll ever escape.

It makes me wonder how many are held in houses all over this country that we haven’t found. And that doesn’t touch the sex trafficking in other countries that has gotten crazy in recent years.

For those of you who think God could stop this, let me remind you of things said here before, we have freedom–even freedom to carry out the schemes of the dark side. Even the freedom to take away other people’s freedom–except in their minds. I believe God protects that for us if we want it. We are free to give away our freedom, of course.

But make no mistake,God does have a boundary in mind. When freedom is gone from this planet, He will end this in righteous anger, rescuing those who agree with Him about goodness.

And here’s the take away: We have all been abused by the dark side. Maybe not this horrifically, in fact it might be life was made too easy, too good, by misguided parents, but it is abuse none-the-less. But as long as you’re alive, as Jaycee Dugard said to Diane Sawyer,  you still have hope.

As long as you can think and choose you have freedom inside.

To learn more about how God thinks:

http://Godhelps.net

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Filed under Mental Health, suffering, Uncategorized, What is God like?

When Bad things Happen…

I think God gets blamed for things He doesn’t do.

Many think if God is sovereign–all powerful–why do we suffer?

Especially if He’s already won?

Why doesn’t He stop things?

In my first job out of college–teaching in the California women’s prison, the number one question I was asked was, “If there’s a loving God why did He allow what happened to me as a child?”

It’s taken 40 years to come up with a good answer, and I call it The Story Behind Our Story.

I made it the last chapter in my book, The Worst Evil–Losing Yourself, and truly, I told it as faithfully as I could through human eyes. The gist of it is that God values love and freedom. He wanted a government based on love and that requires freedom.

Love is a choice, not a feeling. And it requires three things:

1.  beings capable of making choices

2.  real alternatives to choose

3.  that God allow and honor their choices.

It’s important to note here that God started us out with only good–we  were only attracted to good, only responded to good.

Originally we didn’t have this pull to evil or selfishness. Now we respond to good and evil. We’re pulled both ways.

So what happened? If we were only good…why is there evil now?’

First, we have to learn to think much bigger than we have been taught.

We have to understand that if God desired only Love, then He had to allow freedom.

We have to be allowed real choices that are really respected.

Creation was great until He was opposed, but then He had to allow the whole thing to play out.

Because the entire universe needed truth to be evident to all.

I’m sure that God tried over and over to reclaim the dissident–show him where he was headed, what would happen if he insisted doing his own thing.

But once evil is embraced, it takes hold –like cancer–it destroys good.

The war was on.

Now the question arose: who is responsible?

If God had completely separated from the opposition, they would have died.

But the whole watching universe would have wondered who caused their demise?

Enter, the developmental model.

The plan to give creatures procreation was a great stage for the truth to become obvious. It’s my belief that it was already a design in God’s mind, as another means of showing love. But now, though extremely risky, it was also the most powerful demonstration of good and evil choices.

If we embrace love we hand it down to  our offspring–even with broken natures.

If we embrace evil we hand it down to our offspring with its resulting death.

Again, we were started out good–with freedom.

Choices become the building blocks of our identity (also known as character).

Twenty-plus years as a Family Systems Therapist proved to me that generations usually repeat their dysfunctions. Sometimes getting better, sometimes getting worse.

Perception is a choice. There are always two ways, at least, to see things. But evil is resident here.

I like things simple. So I believe the Genesis story. And how exciting that science is catching up to endorsing it!

If evil moved in with Eve’s choice, then the Garden went from 99% good and 1% evil to 50% good and 50% evil.

God put a boundary on evil inside of us. He gave us a hatred for it. (Genesis 3:15) So I believe that it has to keep balanced unless we choose or agree with one or the other.

God doesn’t want us to be afraid. He will keep safe what is His. But He won’t force you to be his friend.  Neither will He force you to heal your brokenness.

The good news is God is always looking for ways to get through to you, to show you His Love. He doesn’t give up until you can’t hear or see Him anymore, until you truly are “done” with Him. And He is the only one who really knows when that is.

If you need a bigger, better picture of God, and suffering, come to my blog for five minutes a day. In a year you will have the most compact and comprehensive picture of God available. http://Godhelps.net/God-in-a-Box

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Filed under A God perspective, Loved, suffering, Uncategorized