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.


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.


The Hottest Levels in Hell June 25, 2011

Filed under: July 2011,June 2011,Uncategorized — tearingoffthemask @ 11:00 pm
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 If you’ve ever read “Dante’s Inferno“, you are familiar with the phrase levels in hell.  I had never heard of Dante’s Inferno until I was a junior in high school, but I was all too familiar with levels in hell at a fairly young age.  The parochial school I attended had Bible class each day and Chapel each Wednesday.  Mr. Van Tol*, my junior high Bible teacher, was good as far as teachers go.  Looking back, my instinct is that he was (and is) a good man, but he had some really messed up theology and passed his religious dysfunction on to his students.  One of the most prominent memories I have of Mr. Van Tol are his words: “There are levels in hell, and the hottest levels in hell are for Netherlands Reformed boys and girls…because you know the truth, but you won’t listen.”  Just another affirmation that I was damned to eternity in hell…a neverending existence of agony and gnashing of teeth.  If I ever bump into Mr. Van Tol again, I think I will ask him if he still feels this way.  Maybe–20+ years later–he has experienced grace as I have.  If he has not, I think I will share my story with him…I will tell him this:

By the time I was 17, I had developed an eating disorder that, over the years, bounced back and forth among anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive overeating.  Misery, depression, and hopelessness plagued me.  Even though I felt damned to hell, I prayed often and went through spurts of Bible reading with the hopes of being miraculously saved by God.  The hope was faint as I was convinced that I was too evil to be saved, and I kept trying to fix myself up, so God would find me worthy of saving.  The depression hit an all-time low, and I spoke to my 12-step sponsor.  “Have you given it to God?” he asked.  Of course, the phrase “let go and let God” is thrown around quite a bit in 12-step circles, so I this was not an unforeseen statement.  “I’ve tried,” I said, “but I just can’t seem to stop holding onto whatever it is that’s hurting me.”  He responded, “Go home.  Get on your knees, and ask Him to take it from you.”  I did.  I went home and physically got onto my knees.  I wept and begged God to take it from me since I couldn’t seem to give it away completely.  Suddenly, I felt a physical load lifted from my body, and calmness overcame me along with a fullness and warmth.  I felt these thoughts pressed vividly into my mind: “He is not who I thought He was!”  My image of God was transformed from a God of wrath, damnation, and scorn to a God of grace, love, and compassion.  The next realization that overcame me still brings tears into my eyes: “And He wants me.”  There was no reason for me to have this revelation–not a book or a conversation that caused me to change my view of the Lord.  I know now that it was the Holy Spirit who revealed the true God to me. 

John 14: 16-17, 26-27   But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

Grace.  Yup.  It really does exist. 






*Names have been changed to protect the identity of people in this blog.