Life in FOCUS Blog

Is There Any Hope For Me?

A diverse church congregation worshipping together

Ann sat gazing at the stain-glass window as she listened to the worship songs being sung. She noticed the varied colored pieces that had been carefully placed to form the intricate design. Her mind wandered to the hopes and dreams she had once carried inside now stomped on and broken by the person who was supposed to love her. The court system had played havoc on her life adding to the abuse that had weighed her down. Contempt of court was only a laughable phrase that meant nothing to the abuser. Where was the justice?

The church that was supposed to be a safe place for the brokenhearted was ill-equipped to handle her situation and others like hers. Just give grace was all she heard. Truth was not acknowledged and no accountability to the perpetrator was given. Friends disappeared tired from hearing about the mess. Christians judged. The phone sat silent in its holder. No encouraging and supportive messages were left.

Although she had long left the destructive marriage behind, she sat noticing that every movement caused the shattered pieces to move and rewound. Life was a hard struggle financially and loneliness seemed to be her constant companion. Trust still remained an uncertainty.

Her emotional roller coaster kept her encircled in a journey she did not want to repeat. Progress in her personal growth came in baby steps that were sometimes hard to measure. She was free from the relationship but was she really free from what dwelt within, the persistent struggles. Will God transform the shattered pieces of her life into a masterful piece of art?

Like Ann most of us struggle with the effect of hardships life brings that has been buried deep within. We may or may not be aware of the churning inside for our body has become numb to the pain.

Sometimes we cover the struggles with outward addictions to people, food, drugs, alcohol, or things. These self-medicating coping skills keep us from addressing the issues that have permeated our life. The issues associated with the hurt and pain have mounted up like a pile of garbage that is toxic to our souls.

Not only do we hold on to them with every bit of strength we possess, but we remain in situations and relationships that are detrimental to our well-being. We don’t realize that the splinter of hurt caused by the initial pain inflicted by others has penetrated deeper over time. The infection of our thoughts and feelings caused by the puss oozing from the wound spreads rapidly throughout our body.

Do we allow the wound to fester until it makes the whole-body sick or possibly die? Are we willing to endure the pain to remove the splinter, cleanse the wound with antibiotics, and give up our coping mechanisms? Or do we just slap a band aid on and pretend it doesn’t exist as our God given treasures are eaten away?

An important question arises to the surface. Are we being a good steward of the treasures God has created in each one of us, the treasures that make us unique?

Our treasures:

  • Relationship with the Lord
  • Soul and spirit
  • Feelings
  • Attitudes
  • Beliefs
  • Opinions
  • Thoughts
  • Values
  • Talents
  • Abilities
  • Desires
  • Dreams
  • Personality

How we use and protect these treasures is our responsibility. Setting appropriate boundaries is necessary. Being consistent and giving consequences when they are violated is essential. Allowing others to come in and destroy our treasures is not good stewardship.

Ann’s treasures had been shattered. She realized she had been holding on to each little piece trying to figure out how to put them back together. As she looked up, her eyes were drawn to the cross. “Give Me your broken treasures,” she distinctly heard.

Ann glanced back at the stained-glass window. A rainbow of color shone through. A tear rolled down her cheek.  She heard a soft whisper. “Ann, I have collected the pieces. They are in my hand. Be patient for I am creating a unique masterpiece so My glory will shine through the pieces of your life.”

“I have caught every tear. I keep them close to Me. I know every heartache. Nothing is a waste. Hold on to Me. There is a purpose, My purpose, in all of your suffering. There is coming a time of rejoicing when everything will be revealed.”

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:14 NIV

 

Paula Silva©2010 FOCUS Ministries, Inc., www.focusministries1.org

 

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Betrayal, Church Response, Domestic Violence, God's Faithfulness, Insights, Spiritual Direction

What Do You Want Me to Do for You?

bigstockphoto_woman_attending_church_1913667Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said , “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:46-52 NIV

This passage of Scripture denotes elements that correlate with devastating times in our lives. Times when we desperately need Jesus.

Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, did not possess the appropriate social status to be noticed or acknowledged especially in a large crowd, but he had a pressing need that he knew Jesus could meet. His need created a boldness within that was expressed by shouting “have mercy on me.”

When our circumstances become greater than our ability to fix it, we cry out to Jesus hoping that He will supply. As our need increases, our desperation is more boldly expressed.

The crowd’s reaction though to Bartimaeus’s cries was one of rebuke. It was as if they were saying, “You are not worth being heard. Shhhhhh!!!!” But that did not stop Bartimaeus. He shouted louder trying to get Jesus’ attention.

This kind rebuke often happens to those who turn to the Christian community looking for compassion as they tell the secret of domestic violence that is destroying them and their families. They are told to be quiet and to live in peace, but Jesus is calling them to him for He hears their voice just like He did for Bartimaeus. Jesus values each one of us in spite of our circumstances. Read more ›

Posted in God's Faithfulness, Insights, Spiritual Direction Tagged with: , ,

What’s in Your Grip?

istock_000006493749xsmallWhen life is chaotic and out of control, we have a tendency to hold on to areas of our life that are detrimental to our well-being. We hold onto:

LABELS

Labels become badges of negativity: ugly, fat, dumb, too sensitive, uncooperative, no talent or abilities, unlovable, reject, etc.

ANXIETY AND WORRY

Racing thoughts compounded by the “what if’s” increases anxiety and worry. We become so accustom to the chaos and trouble that peace and rest are absent.

Scripture reassures us. “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:31-34 NIV

ANGER

Holding on to anger leads to bitterness and unforgiveness. This keeps us in bondage to our circumstances and can lead to vengeance. Since anger is a feeling, learning constructive ways to release it is critical.

SHAME

We compare ourselves to others who seem to have it altogether pointing out our failures and judging ourselves harshly. We long to be all that God created us to be and to experience His grace, but we have become stagnant in our perceptions telling ourselves we are not worthy of anything. Read more ›

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Effects of Abuse, Insights, Spiritual Direction Tagged with: , , ,

A Time of Testing

pablo (5)When someone has sinned against us, we must choose our response carefully. We may hear various voices from church leadership claiming to know what we should do. Forgive and forget are often the words they choose to say followed by a forceful push toward reconciliation.

This approach places a heavy weight of guilt on the victim of abuse if she does not comply. Shunning occurs and support is lost. In Scripture, we are told to guard our heart, yet the victim is put in a position of vulnerability without seeing evidence of change by the perpetrator. Read more ›

Posted in Betrayal, Insights, Reconciliation, Spiritual Direction

“Pit Living”

Pit LivingThere are days when we seem to be caught in the fog of life. Dreariness shadows our every move. Directional signals telling us which way to turn in our present situations allude us. So we wander aimlessly and fall head first into the darkness of the pit, the pit of despair.

Walls seem to close in on us. We grope around trying to get our bearings. The surface of the walls feels rough and jagged. One false move and we scrape ourselves. Fear and anxiety begin to engulf us. A beam of light shining from above is the only thing visible. The only way out is to make it to the top. But how?

Have you ever been one of those “pit people”. Maybe you have fallen into that pit so many times that now it has become the norm, a familiar place to dwell. We begin decorating the walls with pictures throwing a bit of color here and there. We decide to move in furniture just to make it cozy. We rename our circumstances as “pit living”. Read more ›

Posted in Betrayal, God's Faithfulness, Grief, Insights, Shame, Spiritual Direction

How Big is God?… How Big is The Mountain?

IMG_0054We live in an era of uncertainty for the future. A sense of security seems lost and life’s problems loom like dark clouds overhead. Media pictures doom and gloom causing us to sink into despair and fear. Are these times any different than the ones found in Scripture?

  • The Israelites facing the Philistines (giants)
  • Moses facing Pharaoh in Egypt
  • Israelites’ fear after scouting out the Promise Land
  • Captivity of the Israelites in Babylon

The circumstances in each story appeared to be impossible to resolve. The future seemed to be uncertain and unknown. Yet the God of the impossible was there all along showing His glory and faithfulness. He wasn’t vacationing on some tropical island. Read more ›

Posted in Insights, Resources, Self-esteem, Spiritual Direction Tagged with: , ,

Lord, Are You Still There?

iStock_000005459695XSmallWith her dreams in her hand and hope for the future, Pat walked down the long aisle of her church to marry a Christian man who was well liked. As she gazed into his eyes, a moment of doubt flashed before her. Dismissing it as wedding jitters, she spoke her vows with a smile on her face. After all she was older and much wiser now.

She headed for her new life leaving an excellent job, friends, family, and church to move to another state foreign to her. As they drove up the long driveway, she noted the remoteness of the area. The promise of a house on the lake slowly slipped away.

As she moved her things into his house, she realized how damp, cold and dreary it was. She determined to make it a cheery place. She soon learned there were limitations placed on her by her new spouse. The words, “there’s no money” rang in her ears. When she offered to get a job, she was told that a submissive wife does not work outside the home.

Read more ›

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Domestic Violence, Effects of Abuse, Insights, Self-esteem, Spiritual Direction Tagged with: , , ,

What Color is Your Elephant?

Hope

Wherever I go, I see evidence of God’s most beautiful and unique design in creation in the women I meet. With just words, each woman was designed by God. Actually if you think about it, God was and still is the first HGTV program (House and Garden TV). HGTV is one of my favorite TV programs. It is amazing to me with just a dash of color and certain arrangements something is created from basically nothing.

I admire people who have the gift of seeing the potential in a room or house. I can view the beautiful results but cannot create it myself. The decorators remove the blemishes, cover up flaws, and add flair from their own design.
Read more ›

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Domestic Violence, Effects of Abuse, Insights, Self-esteem, Shame, Spiritual Direction

Take Heart, Daughter!

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. Matthew 9:20-22

This woman was clothed in shame from the illness she suffered for twelve years. Year after year she had been considered unclean. This affected any kind of relationship she would have. This had to have caused immense isolation and loneliness.
Read more ›

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Effects of Abuse, Insights, Self-esteem, Shame Tagged with: , , ,

Responding Wisely to a FOOL

After identifying our Fool, we may ask ourselves “Now What!” We can once again turn back to the wisdom of scripture to learn how to respond while heading its warning.
Proverbs 24:25: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.”
Wisdom: Over time we can become like the angry person when we continue to be in relationship with them. The longer we stay connected the more entangled we become in their behavior.
Proverbs 13:20: “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Wisdom: Physical injury and/or mental damage will occur to the companion of a FOOL. Stay away from the FOOL. We will grow in wisdom if we choose to be a companion with the wise.
Proverbs 19:19 “A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.”
Wisdom: Don’t keep the FOOL from suffering the consequences of their behavior. If you rescue them, you are enabling their behavior to continue and you will have to rescue them over and over again.
Proverbs 17:12: “Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly.”
Wisdom: Keep your distance from a FOOL otherwise you will experience fierce, frightening actions that are worse than a mama bear fighting for her cubs.
Your FOOL could be your husband/wife, mother, father, sibling, your son/daughter, friend, employee, or your boss. For various reasons you may feel these individuals must remain in your life at some level.
You can begin to see the effect they are having on your life. You know you cannot change them (although you would like to fix them), but you can change how you interact with them.
The first step you can take is to DETACH. You may not be able to physically remove yourself from the FOOL’s presence, but it is important to emotionally detach. Words will still come at you from their angry lips but tell yourself “I’m dealing with a FOOL This is their foolish behavior. Their words are lies.”
Emotionally detaching is not an easy thing to do and will take practice and time for it to happen. When angry darts fly at you, try to remove yourself from the FOOL’s presence. Do something that you consider as self care. One woman went into the bathroom and turned on her radio to listen to music so she could not hear the words.
If the FOOL is at your place of employment, you may have to busy yourself with your job responsibilities. In some cases, you may have to get a new job.
Try not to lash back with angry words. You will only be adding fuel to the fire. Your words will be used against you presently as well as in the future.
Since the FOOL repeats his folly, you can in calm moments develop responses that could be options to relating to the difficult person the next time an incident happens. This will help you not to become so entangled in their behavior.
In summary:

  • Identify the FOOL in your life
  • Seek God’s wisdom in dealing with and responding to your FOOL
  • Detach or physically distance yourself from the FOOL
  • Pray for your FOOL that they will allow God to work in their heart and renew their mind so their behavior changes.
  • Forgive your FOOL

Paula Silva

Posted in Abusive Relationships, Domestic Violence, Effects of Abuse, Insights, Spiritual Direction Tagged with: , ,