What is truth? It is a very slippery slope to begin to define and stand by something as truth. Dogma. Absolutes. Black and white answers which sound rather good, but have big holes in them. I have long avoided that thing many people have called ‘truth’ . I have said for years, “the only thing I am dogmatic about, is not being dogmatic”. This has given me much freedom and the ability to never quite stand for anything…to stay hidden. I have lived my beliefs rather than share them verbally. I believe in that and am glad I have lived it, rather than spout something which I have not lived. Yet, this has gotten me into some trouble over the years as well, and into more than one or two unequal relationships, which have caused me, and the other person, much pain. Yes, I have experienced a lot of pain in my lifetime. A lot of loss, poverty and lot of grief, and much of that has centered around the truth growing within me, which I chose not to share, as I was not certain of it at that point. Yet, it could not be completely hidden and was growing and changing me in every way. It kept coming to be in ways which made me respond to the other in a way which was opposite of them. I want to say here, I am not saying their life is right or wrong, just saying what has taken place internally in me, has been different than what has happened within them and has lead me here, to this place of my truth which can no longer be denied or left unspoken.
One reason for this was rather a good one, I thought: I grew up in Christian fundamentalism (if you ever saw the move Footloose, I am not just six degrees from Kevin Bacon, I AM Kevin Bacon). I was taught that there was one way, one church and our family had it. We were the only ones. Everyone else in the world was wrong. It was very black and white, yet it was also very full of judgment, subjective and a moving target of truth. It seemed that whatever one wanted to do was ok, the truth and ‘convictions’ were about things the person may or may not like in the first place. I grew up with people who were great at arguing, and I noticed, on more than one occasion, that the people really liked to argue more than they liked the ‘truth’. In fact – many of them could argue very convincingly for both sides of an argument and win the argument on either side. That always troubled me. So what then is truth? and what is good and what is evil? Is good just something that I, personally, like and want? Is evil anything that I choose to not want. I do not want to bash my parents. They were, and are, very good parents doing what they believe is right and I respect and love them very much. I am so glad that I had a safe and protected childhood. I have come to some different philosophical conclusions than them in my life and faith, not to belittle theirs, but I must speak from what I have experienced, and my own personal experience has been all about the way of Christ and the examinations of our motives, how our heart is revealed by our tongues, and what really matters as we seek for truth – to be right, or to be open to a God who is un-understandable and I cannot possibly understand or dictate to? I choose the later.
The seeds of this thinking were born early, and yet, I had no one to talk to about these things and was really more interested in being beautiful, fashionable, popular and famous than in anything else. I can describe my teen years in just a few words…I wanted…
Yes, I wanted everything the world had to offer and I was convinced I could have it. I remember praying, Lord, “I don’t want to marry a preacher, because I don’t want to be poor” – yup. I want… I remember sitting in a sermon hearing about the ‘mark of the Beast’. A story about living in a period of time when, if you didn’t accept this mark, you would be killed and could not buy or sell goods in the world. Now I see that passage is really about standing up for your beliefs, or remaining hidden. I remember thinking, “well I would still be a believer, but I would take that mark, God would know my heart, but why would I suffer or be killed? How would that help the world?” Yup, I had no intention of suffering or being poor. I wanted the right shoes for every occasion and I was bound and determined to have them – no matter what. My spiritual life was there, I accepted Jesus as my savior when I was around 7, I was one of just a few kids in my small Christian High School who didn’t try marijuana when it was offered. I am very grateful I have never been tempted by drugs. I have never wanted to feel ‘high’. I was more interested in fashion and beauty. I took the verse, “I determine not to know anything among you save Christ and Him crucified” I Cor. 2:2. It was a good verse, and it helped me, but on the other side of that was my insecurity (I never received one compliment growing up – ever) and my desire for someone to find me beautiful. I want…has been the recurring theme in my brokenness and in my healing.
And so I married, I say fortunately NOW…but I married someone abusive. Verbally, mentally and sexually. For the first five years I was in a vortex of pain and overwhelm. I tried to ‘figure it out’. I tried…I lied…I cheated with the mall…I got through by spending money. When the pain got bad I went shopping. In 1990, through a series of events I left and returned to my parent’s house for 3 months. During that time I really reached the bottom of despair and at that place of complete raw disillusionment, I lay in a bed and I cried out to God in a real smack down. I didn’t need God, I need to be happy and if He was not real then I was ok with letting go of that fairy tale. I gave God the first shot and opened my Bible and it feel open to the words of Jesus in red, Matthew chapters 5-7, commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. As I read, a giant click happened in my soul and I determined I would live these words as an experiment and see what happened. I would walk away from them any time I felt they weren’t working for me. (Haha)
I am here and whole, because, in 1997, in the middle of the worst thing that could ever happen to me – losing custody of my children (Ages 10, 9 and 5), losing my family and every person I ever loved, losing my beautiful home and the luxury I was surrounded with at that time, losing my reputation and even the very fundamentals of what I thought I knew about myself, yes, losing who I thought I was. At the bottom of that big overwhelming ocean of loss I clung to the only thing that could allow me to keep going. I believed that God had a purpose in it all. I believed, if anything God said was true, then I had to believe it all was true. Everything I was went into the basket. And so, in the middle of devastation, loss, poverty, pain, grief so big I could not touch it, but locked it away under guard for 9 years (still in the process of healing), I began to look for the signs that God was good. I began to seek goodness as Joseph Campbell says, ‘a man with his hair on fire’. I needed something good to get me through the day, and I always found it! Usually I found more than one thing! There was goodness every were and, so as I began to say thank you each day for those gifts of goodness, I began to get to know God in new ways. I began to see life and loss from a new perspective. I began to see the motivations behind people’s words and actions. I began to see my own actions in the light of this amazing love of God, so different than I had been lead to believe.
In 2007, at a very critical time in my life, when I was not sure I would make it out of an abusive and obsessive relationship alive, I wrote my life story (up to then) and I have to say it was like writing a cancer out of myself. It was not pretty. It still isn’t pretty. As I write this, I have finally made it to a place I can call ‘home’ – it’s not glamorous. It’s a speck of a place, but 350 square feet of pure joy for me. It is a huge moment in my life journey, yet I have nothing to brag about. I recently lost my job because I stood up to a boss who was a bully and a Pharisee of a man who owned the business, and so I have no clue if I will be able to continue in this wonderful spot I can finally call ‘home’. My faith is strong and I feel that God has lead me here and will make the way, but I also know God’s ‘way’ is rarely what I would personally choose to do if I was walking my own way, and so I pray and seek for trust without borders. Ruthless Trust, as my fellow ragamuffin, Brennan Manning called it.
Over the years I have shared my written story with several people. One man, who is a successful writer, told me that he really enjoyed (questionable word for so much written pain) my story, he gave me the name of his editor and encouraged me to bring it up to date and share it. Then he said, “I wish it didn’t have so much God in it, but if that is your truth, then you must keep it in.” I laughed, because, YES, my story and my truth is ALL about God. Every moment is about reconciliation, a path of grace, a pilgrimage of redemption. I have nothing else, I am nothing else. The changes and the transformation inside of me, which have remained somewhat hidden until now, are nothing short of miraculous and have nothing to do with me as some sort of personal over comer of life’s unfairness, and all about the love and goodness of a God who loves me just as I am and is ready to give me as much of the mystery as I am able to open my life and heart too – not because I’m great or special, just because I am willing and have come to understand, just a tiny bit, of how loved I am. There is no other reason for me to be here. There is no other reason I am alive at this time and place. Nothing else matters and I have found this love alone is worth the fight. Love alone is what changes me in every way: from what I want in my life, to who I am in relationship with, to what I watch and laugh at, to what lifestyle I live.
And so I reached this place called home the first of February 2014. I lost my job on February 13. I have sat and prayed for the past 2 weeks concerning the way forward, about this place of rooting, about what I am to do now. I have praised God for all the goodness I have experienced. I have prayed for my souls ‘true other’ and I have prayed about ministry. I have prayed about provision. I have given thanks and raised my stone of Ebenezer to God for bringing me safely thus far. I have sat in silence and rested. I have spent days praying for my friends and loved ones who have not understood my walk, and many whom I have had to leave regardless of how much I loved them. I have prayed and sought understanding on how to make the changes which I need to make, in order to build a long and lasting life here with roots and flowering.
Today, I have come to realize it is time to speak truth, to be revealed. To speak, write, sing and in every way in my life, actions, words and relationships I must reveal my truth and no longer walk the way of hidden faith. These things I have experienced are real to me, I reveal them, not to challenge someone else, but to release me into the glorious freedom I have come to on the inside, which I want to allow to manifest and be known on the outside. Christ is my all in all, my husband, my lover, my best friend. I have found love, beauty, joy and intimacy in this walk of suffering with Christ. I die daily and pray to be less so that God can be more. I have found the truth which has transformed my very being, my desires, my insecurity, my voice. I am no longer the same, in any way, as the girl who decided to try to walk the words of Jesus in Matthew 5-7, as an experiment, in 1990. In October 2011 that experiment came to an end and I realized that the miracles I have seen, the great God I have experienced cannot be denied. I was all in. On January 10, 2012, I married Christ in a very special experience and was renamed Beloved Song of Christ. My nickname from Jesus is Beppe – which means Favorite. Yes, I know I am beloved. I know I am beautiful in Christ’s eyes. I know what love is and how love acts. I have experienced it in every way. I became aware of the true meaning and obligation of the word ‘commitment’. I realized that 99.9999999% commitment is no commitment at all. Only 100% commitment is a true commitment. WOW! That realization changed everything for me. I want people who understand this truth in my life.
In July 2012, I stepped out of an unequal relationship into the holy wild of the unknowing. Nothing was certain, except that God had a plan. I did not know anything. I no longer had any plans. My goal was simple, to make it home to a place I could belong, where I could put down roots and build a good life, and to come into my own place of service and to find the place where God would have me to begin whatever I am supposed to do with this one very wild and precious life I have been given as gift to pour out as a gift of love in return.
I’m still not sure of what that is or what that looks like. The glimpses I get are of music and working in relationship with my ‘souls true other’ (no I haven’t met him yet) who understands this in the same way I do. A life of joy and sharing a life of love and speaking into the world on relationships and the importance of speaking truth in them. A relearning of why we build them on truth and the principles of God. What that looks like in this world today. How do we build relationships on truth when the world is selling us the opposite? Why that is so relevant in our current place in time? Why are our thoughts so important? Why is it important not to flirt? Why do we suffer? Why do we choose to be less when we are so loved?
Yes, that is what my heart desires more than anything. My true other, who has this same desire and thinks about these important things and wants to explore them and speak them into the world as I do. Who wants to share and make room in life for each other’s gifts, ideas and desires. One who wants to grow and share and become more of what God wants for each of us to be. Who wants to commit, all in, to Christ first, and to me as to Christ. My true other who understands that true beauty is on the inside and we only become beautiful as we live in obedience. As we begin to understand the truth of being loved in this way and allowing our human selves to be moved out of the way, so true beauty, love, glory, holiness can flow through us. This is my truth, this is why I have been born, this is why I have learned what I have learned and why I have suffered as I have suffered. Not so I can brag about what I’ve done, I would not have made it one day in poverty without Jesus showing me that true riches come from integrity and giving me the strength to hold on and see life from a different perspective. True beauty comes from loving our enemies and it is only when we do something different than them, do we get a different result than them. If we refuse to hit someone back, but offer them the other cheek this does not show weakness, this shows we are not them, we are stronger than them. This narrow gate leads to life. True and glorious life full of the bountiful fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, gratitude, faith.
What we seek, we find. When we ask, we are given, when we knock, the door of life opens and we receive so much more than we ever expected. These paths lead us (at least they have me) into very unexpected areas. In time we find ourselves coming to a place where all the hidden things we have experienced become us and we find we must stand up and surrender to the glorious consumption of of love and share this light. We must speak and live and do what we have become. It is all we can do.
This, then, is my truth, The way, life, words, death, burial, resurrection and continued interceding of Christ Jesus, my savior, has changed everything about me. He has given me life. He has redeemed my life from sure destruction. He has given me riches such as cannot be overshadowed, even by the Queen’s jewels. He has given me strength, courage, truth, hope, healing, love, security, esteem, peace, joy, stamina, words, a voice…the list goes on and on and ends with, all good things.
I no longer keep that just within me, I no longer keep it hidden in my heart. I gladly and bravely share that with everyone who will listen – this truth is the only thing that matters. At least for me, this way of Christ is the way to be truly happy, whole and live a good life. It is my truth. I do not have to be anything, I do not have to do anything. I am loved because I am loved. It is enough for me to be me. It is enough for me to just sit back and recognize my place in this very moment in time. This freedom doesn’t make me want to be less than – no, this freedom calls me to my highest and best potential. This is not an excuse for me to embrace my darkness, no, the love of God is the freedom to overcome my destructive nature, to move into pure joy and light. It is not about petty things that I do, or do not do. It is for freedom that Christ has made us free, and that is a bright and shining city on a hill full of gold and silver.
This is my truth. It cannot be shaken from me. It cannot be denied. It cannot be manipulated. It cannot be hidden. It is my truth. I have experienced it. I am so grateful and I am so in love that I want to share it any way I am called to share it. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him. And given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11
Oh, how He loves me.
It’s all I have. It’s all I want. It’s more than I could ever have imagined.
I am Yours and You are mine.
To Him be glory forever and ever.
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