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May 2018

Posts from June 2018

Did she really just say that? or... Life in Dying or....the hardest thing I've ever written

My goal for this blog is to be transparent with those of you who read here via email or the WWW.  I have tried to talk about the good and the hard in these posts.  My post today is probably one of the most difficult I have ever written.  It is a post I don’t suggest everyone read, especially younger readers.  If you may not be comfortable with hard things I would suggest you click close and wait for the next post. My prayer is, as you read this, you would see Him at work and seek Him.

 

When I moved to Honduras I was 38 years old.  I went there for an indefinite time. 

A year later I was in the states, sick and finding out I needed a hysterectomy.  It was 2 months before my 40th birthday. I've said for a long time if I didn't have kids by 40 I didn't want to.  I think it was the Lord preparing my heart for that April sitting in the MD's office telling him my choice was surgery. When I turned 40 I didn't mind so much, I was living in Honduras with my kids, ministry, and a crazy full life.

2 years later I was leaving Honduras, My kids, my heart, behind with a country I had come to love, full of people who held my heart.  The Lord made it clear it was time and I was okay with it.  Sitting on the water tower the last night I was at Emmanuel just sealed the deal, with the Father telling me He would take care of the 100+ kids I had come to call mine.  I left Emmanuel at 42. 

Moving back to the States brought a whole culture shock that I did not expect.  Returning from the mission field I knew would be hard. I felt out of place and like my life was a bit chaotic and completely unsettled. I know my return was His plan.  He was clear, confirming it over and over. He provided a job before my return, a car, a place to live with a great family.  

His plan for me included that job ending after less than a year then 3 months in Israel at the age of 43.  His plan was also for me to move to Ohio after my time in Israel.  I knew this going to Israel and He used even that uncertainty to teach me. It's crazy that I haven't blogged about my time in Israel or since I returned In December.  I think it is because I didn't know what to say.  In a lot of ways I still don't. It was just so rich and sweet. 

I loved my time in Israel and could talk about it for days.  I think it was rest for my heart and soul I needed after the shock of returning from Honduras.  It was like being on field trips with Jesus and Him showing me where He had been and what He did.  His presence felt more tangible there some days more than most days of my life. I am grateful for my time there. I am thankful that He is still teaching me from the word about places I have been in Israel and things He did when He was physically present there. These places and His truth still echo in my heart. My time in Israel was a rest and a time alone with Him He knew I would need in days to come.   

I share this background information so that perhaps you can see what He has done to get me to where I am today. That you would see His hand and His heart was not distant in bringing me through and to where I am, especially in the past 5 years.  

I know I am not alone in my struggles and it is my prayer that if nothing else, this would encourage you in yours- whether they feel similar or not, at the core they are the same. They are struggles and sin we fight until we see Him face to face. 

When I had my surgery in 2014, it took me months to heal up and feel somewhat normal.  Normal being nothing was hurting.  I don't know that I will ever feel "normal" after 2014.  What I found about 5 months after my surgery and things stopped hurting was that my body had changed.  For whatever reason- increased blood flow because my super huge uterus was no longer hogging blood, hormonal changes (I still have my ovaries so it's not really that so much) or I don't know the reason why.  

My body has lost it's mind.  It's cranked up and some days really sensitive. I told a friend about it and she said "It's like you are a teenage boy!" I never really have felt like I do in all my life.  It was so bad and completely frustrating, distracting and making me crazy I went to my Doc about it.  His nurse said "You realize ladies come in here with the opposite problem right?"  I told her "Yep, but I am single and this is really NOT helpful in ANY way."  My Doc is a wonderful guy and told me that there wasn't any clear physical reason why my body was acting like it was.  He suggested I could try birth control pills to see if it helped.  He also told me that perhaps  finding physical release might be helpful- masturbation. I prefer the term solo sex, but either way it's awkward to talk about.  

I took the pill samples home and had a conversation with a friend who knew what was going on.  I am sure there were tears involved.  I knew after researching the pills  it was not an option for me, just too many side effects to deal with.  And solo sex was not an option either.  The Father had made that very, very clear to me as soon as I realized that I had this problem with my cranked up body.  It was NO.  He made it very clear that engaging in that would not bring any sort of permanent relief I was seeking, not even temporary relief really, and that it would mentally take me places I don't need to go. He has made it clear to me in scripture and confirmed through people I sought counsel, it is not an option.  It creates a selfish view of sex and does not in any way reflect his design.

So for almost four years I fought it.  Lots of tears, scripture, long nights, prayer, prayer with my friend, more scripture and the Holy Spirit's constant reminders, I fought.  My time in Israel oddly was pretty calm.  I joke that the more I spend time with Him in His word and prayer and worship the worse my body gets.  I joke that I guess it's like when you are in love with someone your body responds.  I am in love with Him and the same is true.  However my time in Israel was a lot calmer than any other time since this started. Perhaps the spiritual battle I feel like this also involves was just different while I was there.  Satan just knew He needed to back off- it wouldn't work for Him.  I'm not sure. 

I am sure of one thing... My return to the US brought nothing but more difficulty and me falling into sin.  

Less than two weeks after I returned from Israel I was no longer saying no to what my body was continually screaming at me.  The very thing He made clear to me that I had to say no to, I said yes.  There was very temporary relief in it.  But the struggle remained and even felt more difficult.  I know knew what the "maybe" looked like and there was no taking that back in my mind.  I chose sin. I wish I could say it was one time deal.  It wasn't.

I told no one.  Not even my best friend who had supported me through 4 years of battling this. I couldn't face the Father about it.  I knew I had gone against His command for me.  I knew I had broken His heart and my relationship with Him was affected. I was living in a new darkness that I had created because I was choosing to sit in the dark apart from Him.  

Finally 3 weeks later, sitting in the car in a parking lot, I told my friend what was going on.  I found the Father's grace, love, and forgiveness in her words and her heart. We ended that conversation with prayer and time before Him. I finally brought into the light the brokenness in me that only He can fix.  I don't know why it took so long to talk about it other than shame and guilt.  Fear of being vulnerable in  admitting failure, because after 4 years of fighting I had failed. 

But He has not failed.  My choosing sin has not changed the victory He has won.  His victory over death and sin is permanent.  My choices that lead me to participate in the sin my flesh craves does not change the fact that He is a Loving Savior who Forgives and Holds Life and Victory in His Hands. 

I can say He is drawing me in to Him like I have never experienced.  He has provided friends to be honest with and share my story.  To pray for me and with me.  He has overwhelmed me time and again with human beings in my space to say "If you have to come to Him again and again He will not grow tired or weary of your approach.  His love for you hasn't changed."

He even provided a small group for women that has been offered for the first time at our church for women and sexual struggles of all kinds.  It's helped me identify that days I need to feel control and comfort will be harder days for me.  Mostly it has reminded me again and again the truth of His word and His heart for His created people. It has been my heart over the past 4 years to have some group like this for women because I have known I am not the only one fighting this battle. It took me moving to Ohio to see He has provision for it.  Little did I know how much I personally would need it last summer He laid it on my heart to move.

The past 4 plus years He has taught me over and over what putting on my armor means (See previous blog posts about that).  What it means in Ephesians 6  to "Stand. Stand Firm."  That fleeing from temptation isn't just to blindly run away, but to run to HIM (1 Corinthians 6:18).  (1 Corinthians 10:13-14) And most recently I have asked for months what does it really mean when Paul said "And He said to me, 'My Grace Is Sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness'  Most gladly, therefore, I will boast about my weakness so that the power of Christ may Dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

At the beginning of April I started getting angry at God about all this. It's not about the internet or blaming anything else...It's about whatever happened to my body to change it this way.   He allowed this and he could stop it, but He hasn’t.  I became so angry I stopped listening to Him.  I stopped reading His word.  I stopped even reading devotional emails I would get daily.  I unfollowed almost any Jesus related thing on Instagram and Twitter that wasn't person related.  I was ANGRY. I did not care what He had to say.  I also knew every argument I had was empty and was based on feeling not fact.  But I told myself I didn't care. I told no one for over a week about my anger. Surprisingly my body felt a lot calmer. It was mostly because I felt numb and dead. 

Yet He kept pursuing me.  Speaking to me undeniable words of love, grace, and mercy.  Calling me to repentance from my embracing rebellious anger.  A few weeks ago I asked a friend if we could pray.  As we prayed He called me to death.  I really felt like I just had to die.  I had to die from fighting this.  I had to die from striving.  I had to die from thinking that I could do any of it. For the first time in a long time I didn't feel so burdened and crushed by it. 

His power perfected in weakness.... I finally see what Paul was talking about.  For me weakness looks like complete death.  

Again, I would love to say since I got up off the floor when that prayer time was over that I have not struggled.  I would love to say that when things get hard I have always said no to sin and chosen Him.   I have not. It hurts my heart to say that.  I know my choices affect my relationship with Him and with others.  My choice to sin darkens my days and provides NO relief. 

However, I can say that I don't and I won't stop asking Him to do His work in me.  To teach me each day How to be His in this.  How to find His victory for me in it. To confess my sin to others in repentance and ask again for Him to forgive me when needed. Ask Him daily to change my heart to be more like His.  For the Power of Christ to Dwell in me.  Because that is the only way. For this or any sin we may struggle with to lose it's power....for Him to have victory over it.  To die to Him in it. To walk in His freedom even in the midst of what feels like war.  

I share this because I know we all have issues that are sin in our lives we struggle with. Many of you have shared them with me.  Lately I am finding I am not alone in this...it is not simply a "dude problem" It is sadly an issue for many teens and women.  It is not simply about being safe on the internet, or choosing the right boyfriend or girlfriend.  It is about our hearts and choosing things that do not honor Him, WHATEVER  that sin may be.

We have to bring it out of the dark into His light.  If we can't do that as the body of Christ there is no hope to be found for it anywhere else. The same is for sin of any kind.  Sin is sin and He doesn't want us in it. Drunkeness, Drugs, Lying, Cheating, Sex outside of Marriage, Gossip, Coveting, Stealing, and I could go on for a page... Every one breaks the Heart of God, Grieves the Holy Spirit, and is Why Christ Died for us.  Somehow we have created "levels" of sin and some we cannot speak about or admit we struggle with.  It is a lie.  The Body of Christ must expose the lies and speak truth. To edify and encourage.  To help bring freedom to brothers and sisters we serve with. To expose those things that we use as things to replace where God should be (idols). I share this to encourage any of you to ask Him to do His work in you.  Find someone to confess and pray with and for you.  To push you to His word and speak truth when things feel too hard.  When the lies just feel too loud.  May we find grace to admit that often we will continue to struggle with things and it's not always immediately fixed? That we find Him day to day, moment by moment as we walk, and be ok with being in process... 

I share this with you to once again say:

Be His.  

Because being His is the best place to be. He created us.  He knows our hearts (He made us).  He loves us (He knows and made us).  Trust that He does have His best for you.  Even when it feels dark and hard. Even when it feels like death. He does amazing things with death...like bring new life. 

The Shepherd will always take care of His sheep.  (Psalm 23, Ezk. 34, John 10) So follow Him. Let Him take the crap and take care of your Heart. 

Love you guys. 

Be His. 

 

If you wish to contact me instead of commenting on the blog please feel free- aalongest@gmail.com