Tearing Off the Mask

Moving from a life of shame to a life of walking in freedom with Jesus Christ.

August 7, 2011

Filed under: August 2011,Uncategorized — tearingoffthemask @ 8:49 am
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  Today, my counselor and I visited the little girl that I blogged about in my last post.  He led me to immerse myself back into the situation and let my mind lead me where it will.  My mind led me to imagine that God was there, watching me as I wept at the thought of the impending eternal damnation.  In my mind, I could see God…oddly enough, He looked like a combination of my earthly father and the Jesus we often see in pictures.  God was sad.  He rubbed my back as He tried to soothe me.  He repeatedly sang, “You are the apple, you are the apple, you are the apple of your Father’s eye.”  (If you don’t know what song I’m talking about, click here http://youtu.be/GilWu6LqHpM .)  When my counselor asked me to reflect on this, I felt as though God was beside me all along.  He was trying to comfort me, but my angst overwhelmed any sense of His presence.  I then imagined Jesus as my could-have-been-playmate.  I would run the Barbie, and He could control the Ken doll.  Of course, I always made it that Barbie and Ken fought over who got to use the car.  Jesus probably would have had them pray together and work out some sort of compromise.  These thoughts make me smile, and I think they make Him smile, too.  I think it saddens Him that so many who were and still are in the cult-church have not been able to experience His grace.  It frustrates and angers me, and I feel a sense of urgency to do something to help.  It does seem like the only way out for many people is for them to move away for college or marry someone from outside the church.  There needs to be an opportunity to see another way…a more beautiful, grace-filled way.

I wonder if this will always be my default.  If I will automatically feel fear and shame and then have to talk my way into grace-receiving thoughts.  Will I always be the scared little girl?  Or will I truthfully find my identity as His daughter without any doubts or waivering?  Today, I just need to repeat in my mind: I am the apple of His eye.  I am the apple of His eye.

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I Am Here for You, Little Girl August 2, 2011

Filed under: August 2011 — tearingoffthemask @ 11:05 pm
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I didn’t dare to go to sleep for fear that I would wake up in hell.  I imagined a dungeon-like pit–a seemingly neverending well–that was made of large gray boulders.  At the bottom, it was dark and engulfed in flames.  I was in the middle of the flames, burning and screaming in agony as I reached my hands to the pit’s opening far above.  As I reached, I could see heaven and God.  I have no picture of what heaven and God looked like in this scenario, just the knowledge that they were there.  I was ignored as my screams drowned out all other sounds.  As I saw these things in my mind’s eye, tears ran down my face as I felt helpless in my bed.  I was a scared little girl, sure that I was so despicable that God hated me. “Don’t fall asleep.  Don’t fall asleep.  Don’t fall asleep.”  I’d fight it until exhaustion won.  In the morning, I’d awaken with relief that I had gotten by for at least one more day. 

I don’t know for sure how old I was when I first started having these horrid nights, but I was as young as 8 years old.  Recently, I worked through some of these events with the help of a counselor.  I was surprised at how quickly those terrors flooded my soul.  I wept and felt that intense fear–fear of waking up in hell.  That scared little girl…I wanted–I want– to hold her.  I want to love her and cuddle her.  Then, I want to rescue her and her brother and take them far away from the crazy church, the crazy people, and the crazy lies.  I want to tell her that I love her more than anything in the whole wide world and tell her that she is special and beautiful and a child of God.  I want to give her hope and show her grace.  So I will.  That little girl is still so very much inside me.  She is afraid and feels unlovable.  When I am relentlessly degrading myself for being too fat, too loud, too sad, too overbearing, too impulsive…well, I need to remember that little girl and her need for acceptance and love.  She is imperfect and always will be.  Instead of striving toward that unattainable perfection, I pray for the strength to give up and just melt.  I imagine her crawling into the lap of our Father as He wraps His strong, protective arms around her.  She puts her head on His shoulder while He nuzzles her hair as a loving father does.  “Shhhh,” He says.  “Everything’s going to be okay.  Daddy’s here.  Daddy’s right here.”    Thank you, Daddy.  I love you.

 

Sometimes You’re the Bubble, and Sometimes…You’re the Bubble July 9, 2011

Filed under: July 2011 — tearingoffthemask @ 11:41 pm
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I had my nieces overnight this week, and we made these large bubble wands.  It was a lot of fun to make these enormous bubbles and watch them pop.  It didn’t matter how long we did it…it was exciting with every bubble.  We hoped that it would last longer than the previous bubble, and that the breeze would carry the bubble, in tact, far off into the sky. 

I’m a bubble.  I am in a cycle of insanity…for those of you who don’t know the definition to insanity, it’s doing the same thing over and over again–expecting different results.  I get my hopes up for staying inflated for longer periods of time, but life happens and pops me…spilling me vulnerably out of my thin shell. 

What’s the answer?  I already have Jesus.  Why hasn’t that just “fixed” everything?  What’s going to make this life better?  Oh, I know how Paul felt when he longed for heaven.  I want my Lord to return today…to end this pain and heartache and to rescue us into His arms.  The wait is baffling to me, as I do not understand what He is waiting for.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe tomorrow will be the day.  For now, I will continue on…and hope.

 

My Cardboard Testimony July 5, 2011

Filed under: July 2011 — tearingoffthemask @ 11:16 pm
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http://journeytobeloved.blogspot.com/ (One woman’s journey to discovering God’s passionate love for her.)

Cardboard Testimony Lie-Speaker Now Truth-Seeker 

 I was born into a cult that hid behind the word “truth”.
But the truth was not accepted.  
We lied about who we were, what we did, and how we thought.  
I lied to avoid rejection. 
I lied to cover my sins. 
I lied to please others.  
I lied because I didn’t know what truth really was.  
We said one thing and did another. 
It was hypocrisy, and it was exhausting.  We belonged to “the truth”, but we
were going to hell–and we knew it. 
It was a helpless, miserable existence.
Then Grace came and swooped me up from the pit of despair.  
I learned that He is not who I thought He was. 
He loves me.  He wants me.  He cherishes me.
People still tell me the lies. They say I need to look better to be
accepted.  I need to have a nicer house, fancier car, better job.  I
need to talk less and laugh softer.  I need to conform to the
pretending, lying ways of the culture around me. 
I struggle today. 
I struggle to shed the lies and grasp onto the truth-but I continue to
SEEK TRUTH. 
My Jesus continues to guide me and love me…
unconditionally.
 

Testimony July 4, 2011

Filed under: July 2011,June 2011,Uncategorized — tearingoffthemask @ 6:01 pm
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This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.   For there are three that testify:  the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.  Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.  And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.   1 John 5:6-12

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:  “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and he authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.   They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.  Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you!  He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”  Revelation 12: 10-12

These were the verses we focused on at our last Bible study.  I admit that I am not spiritually mature enough to appreciate the depth of these passages.  Our leader asked us a difficult question, however.  What is your testimony?  I immediately thought of my “being saved” story as my testimony, but he questioned us further.  What is your testimony of what God is doing in your life today?   I was stumped.  Kind of pathetic that I’m such a mess that I had no idea what he is doing in my life right now.    I’ve been pondering it all weekend, and I keep feeling this pressing on my heart: “this is My church”.  Yes.  My Lord is teaching me what it is to be a part of His church–a REAL family.  I had no idea what a healthy family or what a healthy church family looked like.  To me, church was a building that you hated going to, but you went anyway.  You pretended to be way better than you really were.  You left before you got stuck talking to anyone, and fellowship was a foreign word…a foreign concept.  Now, when I’m at my lowest and highest, I seek the church.  These people know me more intimately than any other human ever has, and they still want to be around me.  They still love me, help me, guide me, hold me accountable, and laugh with me.  As a teenager, I hated spending time with my biological family.  Not real unusual for a teenager, I know.  When it was my birthday, I got to spend it with whomever I wanted.  When I was a younger child, it was with friends; as I got older, it was with friends or a boyfriend.  As an adult, it was with my husband.  On a day when I could choose anyone, I never ever chose my pastor, Sunday school teacher, elder, or anyone who was a “good” member of the church.  This past Friday, it was my 35th birthday.  I chose to spend the evening with my church family at home where we had “house church”.  This is a beautiful illustration–not of me, but of my church family.  I see Christ in them, and I long to be around them.  We ate together, worshiped together, studied together, prayed together, and worshiped some more.  Thank you, Jesus, for showing me your love through Your people.  Unlovable Beloved.

 

Happy 35th Birthday to Me! July 1, 2011

Filed under: July 2011,June 2011,Uncategorized — tearingoffthemask @ 8:15 am
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Really, nobody cares about your birthday after a certain age.  (I’m thinking 10-ish or so.)  But, I thought a little photo celebration was appropriate since I’m a photo freak.  My favorite is the picture of me sleeping in the back window of our 1977 Caprice Classic as we made our way halfway across the country to Washington state.  

 

I Came from a Normal Family (of course) June 29, 2011

Filed under: July 2011,June 2011,Uncategorized — tearingoffthemask @ 11:35 am
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Me and my dad in Chinatown (Seattle) when I was 5 (he was 29). I was so proud of those shoes because they were exactly like his shoes (except mine were velcro–I was stylin’ like that).

Yes, our family was normal…isn’t everyone’s?  For years I believed our family was normal because we were surrounded by like-minded people who had the same types of lives and beliefs as we did.  We did normal family stuff like vacations, working on the garden together, taking turns with the dishes, sibling fights, chores, going to the library, etc.  I knew that we were a part of an abnormal church, but we were prepped for this.  The teachers at our schools told countless stories about Christian martyrs and how people will make fun of us for being a part of the Netherlands Reformed Church and School.  We quickly learned to be proud of our “persecution” and felt vindicated by it.  “The world will take the easy way out.  They do not like our religion because they want to belong to something that tells them what they want to hear,” was a common mantra by our Catechism instructors and teachers.  Truthfully, I happen to agree with that statement.  We live in a world that proudly says “well, the Bible may say that, but I don’t agree.”  Picking and choosing what Biblical truths to live by has become commonplace, and our culture is overwhelmingly unwilling to blindly follow God’s commands and desires (myself included).  Today, I pray that God grants me the willingness to give up–to stop trying to rip the stearing wheel from His hands for fear of being out of control.  Thanks for driving, Jesus.  You are so much better at it than I am.  I love you.