hurt

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The Temptation of Sorrow

Published April 18, 2015 by Dawn

“When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping,” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” –Luke 22:45-46

It was very late at night and no doubt the disciples were worn out. Jesus had brought them to the garden because, in his deepest hour of need, he wanted them to pray with him. He knew what the next few days held, and that great temptations awaited them. Jesus was soon to be betrayed, arrested, sentenced to die and brutally attacked and beaten. The disciples faced a reality they had yet refused to believe: Jesus, whom they knew was the Messiah, was the One who would lift the oppression off of Israel. They had expectations. Visions in their mind as to how and when and where things would happen. And even though he kept telling them he would be killed, they couldn’t seem to grasp the concept. When the night finally came, and Jesus was in deep distress because his life would soon be given over to the enemy’s wrath, the disciples experienced the sorrow of a friend. And it brought over them a depression-induced sleep.

“Why are you sleeping?” Jesus asked them, knowing what things would happen next. That Peter, in despair, would lash out in anger and strike a man with a sword. That the rest of them would flee. That Peter would deny Jesus, Judas would hang himself and that in just one day, all of them would be in a pit of despondency. Their hope would be dead.

I wondered to the Lord yesterday, “What are the temptations of sorrow? What temptations was Jesus referring to?” His Spirit gave me a list.

  • The temptation to run
  • The temptation to self-pity
  • The temptation to seek earthly comfort
  • The temptation to grumble and complain
  • The temptation to angry outbursts
  • The temptation to suicide and other self-harming behaviors
  • The temptation to feel lonely, deserted, rejected, victimized, abandoned, scared, and hateful

These are the temptations I often feel when I am sad. I want to run and hide from my hurt. I’d sleep through it if I could. I want to pity myself, and wonder why my life is the way it is or why things are happening. To eat everything in the house, and then top it off with a jar of fudge icing. I am often tempted to grumble and complain, and make everyone around me miserable with my angry ranting, and in the past, I have been driven to harmful behaviors and thoughts of suicide because of my misery. I often curl up and wallow in loneliness and all the bitter feelings mentioned above because these are the temptations that sorrow brings!

The Lord spoke softly to me yesterday. “Watch and pray so that you do not fall into temptation.” Why is it so important to pray through our sorrows? Because I have found that in the midst of our deep pain, we often look at God and say, “Why aren’t you taking care of me?” We don’t want to believe that he would let us go through hard times, and when he does, we wonder at his goodness. In truth, we believe the lie of Satan which says God is not really good, or He does not really love me. And these thoughts leave us completely hopeless. “Not even the God of the universe loves me,” we think.

Understanding this, Jesus says to us, “Watch and pray.”

I was sharing all of this with my kids last night and the Lord led me to a scripture in Romans. I am often tempted to go through my sorrows alone. I have set the example for my children and they do the same thing. In Romans 15:30, Paul says, “…Join me in my struggles by praying to God for me.” I believe that our families and our friends are gifts that God gives to us so that we don’t have to sorrow alone. It’s vulnerable, to be sure, to admit our weaknesses, our fears and our pain. But last night, my kids and I shared our sorrows and prayed together and it was one of the sweetest moments I can recall. To be fully aware of my allies, knowing that this war going on inside of me is being fought in the spiritual realm in multiple directions by people who love me. And to know that I can fight for my children in their struggles when they are tempted by despair. And then, God gave us Romans 16:20. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” What a precious treasure this promise is!

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Prom

Published May 10, 2014 by Dawn

Today is my first prom. That’s right, I’m 28 years old and going to my first prom. I didn’t go to prom in high school because by the time my prom rolled around, I was a mother and would have rather went with a wet dog than the guy who asked me. So today, I go as a chaperone to my special needs students. I am super-excited, and thought that perhaps, even though I don’t want to dress up in a prom dress, I do want to dress up. So I looked in my closet and pulled out anything I had that I thought might be worth wearing. I tried it all on, and nothing seemed to give me the look I wanted. I looked fat and frumpy in everything. So I invited my sister over, and she brought something she thought might look good. It was a bust. So my first dilemma was, there’s nothing to wear!

My second was I have no idea how to fix my hair. If it ever looks good, it was either my savvy sister’s work, or a complete accident. My hair air-dryed after the shower this morning, so it was pretty wanky from the get-go. But then she tried to fix it … I own three bobby pins. So, my hair was a no-go too. I thought I might like the ‘do she put in better if I put on make-up, so I went for my make-up bag and since I hardly ever wear make-up, I had no idea where it was. Turns out, it’s nowhere to be found. With the stress building in me, I yelled, “I’m such an ugly woman!” And then laughed about it, because that’s what you do when you realize you hate yourself in front of other people.

After she left, I headed off to shop for something to wear. Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day, I’m going to prom tonight, so preceding that all is a me-party! An hour or so later, I came home with a few skirts and shirts that looked good in the dressing room mirror. And the weight of rejection on my heart. My old church was hosting a b-b-que in town to raise money for their children’s program, and half the congregation was there. Four years as the youth leader, and out of every fundraise I ever held, my record number was eight people from church helping out. Just so you know, eight is way less than half.

This is all piled, of course, on the rejection from a job last week that would have really benefited my family, and years’ worth of rejection from falling in love with men who don’t really want my heart. Yes, I spent all the quiet me-time today reminiscing about the past…My me-party became a pity-party.

I realized, as I sat here letting all these things hurt me all over again, that I really do hate myself. I’m sure, though, that I’m not the only one struggling in this.  And as much as we know about God, and as much as we love Him and love Him loving us, we struggle to accept His love. we struggle to receive it. It’s so foreign, and I think, deep down inside, we’re waiting for Him to give up on us. Waiting for Him to get sick of us. We’re expecting God to reject us, because that’s what we know how to handle. Maybe we’re so used to pain in our hearts and rejection in our lives, and that it is more comfortable to us than being loved.

Here I am, in the midst of a storm of emotions, refusing even now to let go of what I know: God is good. He loves us tremendously, and even though right now, I’m feeling resentment, fear, frustration and bitterness, my God is big enough and loves me enough to rescue me from this pit of despair. And He will. I know that sometimes, God allows us to know the deep, hidden things in us so that we can be healed. So all we need to do right now is surrender this to Him. I have messed up so many times in my life, and not any less since becoming a Christian, and yet I find Him at the point of my need beckoning me. Or I find Him at the place of my pain wooing my heart. He hasn’t run away. He hasn’t rejected me. He’s still loving me, even though I am not good enough to earn His love. Every time I turn to Him, He’s there. Surely the same is true for you.

Father, I want so desperately to love myself. Regardless of how others treat me or make me feel. I want to be steadfast in you and able to love myself. Even if I mess up. Even if I’m ugly. Even if I don’t measure up to what other people want. I want to be okay with myself. I want to love myself. I want to be able to receive your love everyday for the rest of my life. I’m tired of wavering in my relationship with you. I want to know, always, that you are with me and that you love me, no matter what.

Father Love

Published July 25, 2013 by Dawn

I crawled into bed a few nights ago, not too long after my kids fell asleep, and while getting snuggly with my pillow, felt a piece of paper scrunching up under my head. Sadly, that was nothing out of the ordinary; I’m a writer, and guilty of sleeping with books, paper, and/or pens on many occasions. When I pulled the paper out from under me, I realized it didn’t belong to my collection of notes. Someone had written me a letter! I love letters. It’s my “thing.” I was overjoyed to know that people in my house (my kids) were embracing my love for letter-writing as a form of communication. Excitedly, I opened it and began to read (I have not copied it directly because it was written in a code we lovingly call dyslexia):

Dear Mom,
I can’t wait until church camp. I am excited. And also, sometimes, I am lonely. Can you help me with any of that sometimes?

He didn’t sign it. He didn’t have to. Needless to say, this letter tore my heart. I crawled up into the lap of God and bawled my heart out. Lord, what more can I give of myself? I would do anything to help him with that. I felt in the deepest part of me a desperation for my son. His need, expressed in so few words, cried out to me for help and attention. I’d give him the world if I could.

So very tenderly, the Lord said to me as I poured my heart out, “This that you feel right now; I feel this way about every one of my children.”

I’ve never known this about the Lord. Sure, I’ve read the scriptures but for some reason, the God I struggle to know gets wrapped up in the worldly understanding that He is distant and iron-fisted, stern and commanding. To know that my Abba Daddy is tender-hearted and compassionate toward all that He has made is the most wonderful truth the Lord has revealed to me yet. It’s one thing to read it. Quite another to hear it from His lips. My fears dissolved and relief swept over me. The Lord’s heart is aware of his pain. He is aware of my pain. He is aware of your pain. And it tears His heart.

David reveals this truth in Psalm 145:13, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.” Toward all He has made. This mother-heart in me that hurts when my kids hurt cannot even compare to the love of God’s Father-heart toward His children. Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who keep asking Him.” God is a good Father, not to be confused with the earth’s best in parenting. Because as good as we are, we still fail sometimes to do the best thing in relation to our kids. Our Heavenly Father, however, not bound by earth’s limitations or our limited understanding, is able to provide all that we need and gives these good gifts without showing partiality. All we have to do is ask. And He wants to! That’s the best part. His heart is attuned to our cry and simply waiting for us to ask Him. There is no need He cannot provide for, no emotion He does not understand and care about. He compassion toward us is deep and He loves us with an everlasting love, and draws us to Himself with unfailing kindness (Jeremiah 31:3). When we realize the inability of the world to offer solace, we are assured of His ability, and more than that, His willingness, to be all that we need. Loneliness? He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Orphaned or widowed? According to Romans 8:15, you, dear orphan, have been adopted. And widowed woman, for you He has spoken Isaiah 54:5, “For the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, is your Husband.” The cry of a human heart is His call to action. He feels your pain in the depth of Himself, and He responds out of a sincere desire to stop that ache. Nothing can separate you from this Love (Romans 8:39).

Father, thank you for such wonderful truth. Thank you that you hold our hearts and are attentive to our cries. Thank you for caring for us so much. I love that I can come to you as a daughter comes to her Father, and that you respond to me as a Father who loves His daughter very much. I am blessed to know You.