Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where Can I Get Rid of My Disgrace?

I’ve been interested in studying about and helping victims of sexual abuse since I was a little girl.  When I was in 5th grade, a classmate told me her step-dad was sexually abusing her.  I told my parents, and they immediately contacted the authorities.  She lived in our home for a couple of months.  She was put through the system and eventually adopted by an aunt.  Because her mother sided with her step-dad, I am now fully aware of the impact of my parents’ quick action to the injustice.  

Over the past several years in counseling with couples, Chris and I have met with many victims of sexual abuse, both men and women.  There is nothing more damaging to the soul than stripping a child of innocence, confidence and identity through sexual abuse.  And, it continues through adolescence, adulthood and marriage warping sexual identity and self-image causing a multitude of shame, guilt, anger and despair.

Justin Holcomb and his wife, Lindsey, put out a book this year called Rid of My Disgrace – Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault.  It is the best book I’ve read concerning issues of sexual abuse because it is gospel-centered.  It dispels self-help and points to identity in Christ.  Victim of sexual assault or not, I wish everyone could read Chapter 5 on Distorted Self-Image.  Justin and Lindsey say, “You need to know God’s statements and images about who you are, not self-produced positive statements or the lies being told to you by your experience of disgrace.  Confronting your distorted self-image and having your identity reconstructed is not a chore you do but is the fruit of having faith in the person and work of Jesus.”  The chapter on shame is also one of freedom for all who deal with shame and speaks of the story of Jesus on the cross as one of victimization and shame.  “The purpose of the cross was to expose, display, and humiliate the condemned.  The passion of Jesus was a ritual of humiliation.  The cross was, and is, the way of shame in the eyes of the world.  On the cross, Jesus felt shame but was innocent.  He suffered the shame of others that was placed on him.”

The most gut-wrenching part of this book, for me, has been reviewing the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel and looking back over her story in detail.  The words keep ringing in my head, “Where could I get rid of my disgrace?”  I think about second grade boys and girls that only God sees.  I think of my friends who were victimized by neighborhood friends.  They’re adults now but once had the face of a child.  I see the kids walking out of school every day and know many of them must be carrying shame and want to be rescued.  Where can they get rid of their disgrace?  The radical grace of God through Jesus Christ is the only way to redemption.  “Not only does God heal your wounds, but he also defends you and avenges the shameful things done to you.”  One day, this too shall be made right.

There is certainly more to this book than I have been able to express, so if interested, please check it out for yourself.  It is very beneficial if you or someone in your family has been sexually assaulted, and it is also beneficial for those in ministry.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pride Disguised as Insecurity

I have an incorrect view of myself.  

I've often read and heard that girls who struggle with eating disorders can weigh 80 pounds, but look in mirror and see a fat person.  I also have friends who are attractive and smart but look in the mirror and see ugly and stupid because someone in their formative years so wounded their thinking with harsh words that the reality of who they are is warped.  I, on the other hand, can look pretty rough and see something different in the mirror.  I've always thought it's funny that what I may have found acceptable in the morning is clearly not by night.  What I'm saying is that, ultimately, I'm not very insecure about my appearance.

I've assumed the same goes for my personality.  I definitely care what people think about me, and I strive for peace in relationships, but I don't worry a lot about what people think about me.  Or, do I?  Recently, I had some friends over, and once they left, I started mulling back over a specific conversation.  I sent a text to clarify something I said, and the friend responded telling me not to second-guess myself.  I had to think about that for a while.  Second-guessing sounds like insecurity to me, and I'm not insecure, so there must be another issue. Right?  This was my thought.  Oh, I'm not second-guessing myself.  I'm second-guessing your ability to see the fullness of what I'm trying to say.  In other words, I'm great, and there is more to me than meets the eye.  I just hope everyone can see how deep I am.

Oh, sweet conviction.  The probing of God to tell us that we're not and He is.  He is the only one with depths and riches unknown.  Since that text, I have found myself wanting to  defend my "lack of shallowness" many times.  Just last night at small group I said some things that I so badly want to clarify.  There's always more to the story with me.  What that means is that I'm prideful and that I want to defend my honor by explaining myself so I am not misunderstood.  My pride gives me an incorrect view of myself.

This is a good reminder this holy week that there is only One who is worthy of defense.  One worthy of honor.  He was misunderstood and second-guessed.  There is more to the story with Him.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Make Holy Week Holy to the Lord

When I've been out of town for a week, I usually go into Monday morning like a wild woman. So, this morning has started with much irritation because I feel overwhelmed before my feet hit the floor. I'm looking at four unmade beds, a mound of laundry, a little work for a part-time job, a child who I should have registered for kindergarten (who is without a birth certificate and immunizations), making dinner for small group -- and those are on the big list before noon. That list doesn't include shower, groceries, exercise, and schoolwork (for Coop). Then, I take a quick look at Twitter and see a post from Jonathan McIntosh that says, "Set your gaze steadily on Jesus during holy week. Watch him love you to the uttermost." Some think the Gospel needs to be preached to those who do not know Christ (and it does). But, likewise, for Christ-followers, the Gospel has to be preached daily -- by others and ourselves -- to us. I have to be reminded of what I already know.

In this week of all weeks, the laundry can wait. The beds can wait. The immunizations can wait. The shower... well, I'll keep for the sake of others. I must set aside the trite for what has been set apart for me -- the death I deserved the die. He lived a life I could not live and died the death I deserved to die. Then, He rose victorious over the grave. Death, where is your sting? Hell, where is your victory?

How can I wake on Monday morning focused on myself and my schedule? I must set my gaze steadily on Jesus during this holy week.

Make Holy Week Holy to the Lord

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Quick and Easy Dessert

There is one dessert that has stood the test of time at my house.  Chances are, if you ever make last minute plans to come to my house or make last minute plans to have me over and ask me to bring a dessert, you will have blondies.  My friend, Kari, gave this recipe to me years ago, and I cannot count the times I have used it.  When she passed it along, she commented that I would already have all of the ingredients.  If you make sure to keep chocolate chips in your house, you will too.

Melt 1 stick butter
Add 2 C brown sugar
Add 2 eggs

I do not mix dry ingredients separately, but I stir them a little on top before mixing them in.

Add 1 1/2 C flour (I've started using whole wheat)
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
(I even added a scoop of ground flax seed this time around).
1 T vanilla

Stir in 1-1 1/2 C chocolate chips
For variety, you can use toffee chips, white chocolate chips, any variety or add nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  I bake mine for 25.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Christ from the O.T.

I'm at The Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago this week hoping to retain even a portion of the knowledge being poured upon me.  Mostly, though, my hope is for the knowledge to penetrate the depths of my heart and so provoke change.  I am able to sit under the teachings of some of the greatest preachers of our time and what will be some of the greatest preachers of all time such as Tim Keller, D.A. Carson (brilliant), John Piper, Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Crawford Loritts and many others.

The topic for the week is Preaching Christ from the Old Testament.  Tim Keller preached from Exodus our first day here, and I want to add my notes from his sermon.  I will not come close to doing his sermon justice, not even in my notes, but there were a few key points, one in particular, that were pivotal for me.

Exodus 14:5

1.  Salvation is about getting out.  What are we getting out of?  Bondage with layers.  Even though the people were freed from Egypt, they still felt like slaves in their minds.  We wrestle the same the sin.  Keller said, "You can take the people out of slavery, but you can't take the slavery out of the people."  That's why we have been freed, are being freed and will be freed.  Sanctification is progressive.

2.  How do we get out?  Crossing over by grace.  The Israelites, in passing through the Red Sea left false masters on one side and crossed over to life.  We cross over from death to life.  Some probably walked through with confidence, some afraid.  You are not saved because of the quality of your faith but by the object of your faith.  That object being Christ.

3.  Why is it possible for us to get out?  The Israelites weren't any holier/better/righteous than the Egyptians.  They weren't freed because of who they were.  They had a mediator.  We have a mediator - Christ.

I love that I am not saved by the quality of my faith because it is definitely lacking and wavers day to day.  Thankfully, it relies only upon the Object of my faith.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex -- to Babies

We started talking to our kids about sex extremely early.  Sarah is 9, Abby 7 and Cooper just turned 5.  They obviously know different things for each of their ages, but they probably know more than most kids their ages.  We have a few ways and reasons we have done this that I will share.

1.  Unless there is an unexpected question, Chris and I are both present to engage our children in the discussion.  While there will be a time for dad/son and mother/daughter discussions, for now, we want them to understand there is nothing private or embarrassing about what God has created and that we are not hiding anything from each other.  Another reason we both engage them in conversation is for future accountability.  If only I talk to the girls, they may feel they are free of accountability from their dad and vice versa.

2.  We want our kids to hear the truth from us before they hear a warped version at school.  At school, they may hear another parent's version, a friend's older sibling's version or what someone has seen in a movie.  We expect fully they will still hear those things, but hopefully, they will think back to what they were taught here for what is true.

3.  Sex will always be an enticing topic, but we believe teaching our kids here will take away some of the curiosity.  Maybe when it's news to everyone else, our kids will be bored with   trying to overhear lunchroom conversation.  Maybe they'll think my mom and dad talk about this at dinner all of the time.  :)

4.  One of the rules for our kids is that they can ask anything they want.  Anytime a question or curiosity arises, they can ask.  They can ask us anything BUT they may not talk to their friends about sex.  It is conversation for home.

A few more things...
We are not naive enough to think this will cover or take care of all issues we will face in elementary school with sex.  This is simply our way of dealing the best we know how.  Also, we have had some uncomfortable conversations.  We get crazy questions and comments!  We have also had some of our funniest talks with our kids by being open and honest about sex. They keep us laughing.  If only I could share something that was said yesterday, but it's too inappropriate to blog!

One of the resources we have used is called Facing the Facts, The Truth About Sex and You by Stan and Brenna Jones.  There are four books in the series covering different age ranges.