Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hiding

The human heart does some pretty interesting things when constantly put in a space of pain and stress.

In this journey out of fear, I realized a way that my heart dealt with the constant pain and stress that I submerged it to for so many years was to find ways to shut down the pain, to hide from the pain.

You see, pain and stress were created for a reason.
Pain and stress were created to induce change.
They were designed for us to see them as red flags.
Red flags that something isn't working for us in a particular pattern or choice in life and we need to reevaluate what we are doing and change.

Just a simple red flag that something needs to change.

Now there are things that happen in life, that we have NO control over whatsoever, that create pain and stress in us.
And that kind of pain and stress HAS to be walked out... really walked through with the Father, and sometimes with a counselor.

In both cases... if we don't make the changes that pain and stress are red flagging in any particular area of our lives, and/or we don't walk through the pain and stress that life is bringing on, our minds and heart will figure a way out to shut the pain down.

And this is when addiction comes in.

Ways of coping, numbing pain, hiding, and shutting down all those little red flags.

In my own ignorance, and not realizing that all these areas that I thought I was making my flesh submit to my spirit...cough cough... and trying to be what other people said I was to be, the pain and internal stress that I inflicted on myself for years and years, brought on some pretty interesting "coping" mechanisms.

A heart was not designed to be submerged in pain constantly, day in and day out, year upon year. You will, maybe or if here my friends, but you WILL develop an addiction of some sort to deal with the pain.

In all the years that I attempted to squeeze myself into other people's molds and ideas of a good and right women/wife/mom/daughter/friend/minister, I began to cope with the pain of all the squeezing and pain.

In all honesty, I have had so many addictions in my life, I have lost count.
In our frail humanity, we can become addicted to just about anything... from slamming a door constantly, to eating too much chocolate, to loving a certain mood or dynamic in life, to sniffing cocaine and clicking on pornography.
We can hide behind anything!

Some of my addictions were obvious and others not so obvious.
One obvious addiction is my addiction to food.
You can see when I am walking in freedom.....she goes down.
And you can see when I am not....she goes up.
Food was my buddy for a loooong time!
It worked for a long time, until it didn't and I started getting adverse affects.

The price gets higher and higher with addiction doesn't it?

What worked for a time, after awhile stops working, and you have to up the ante.
Ooo, and the shame and the guilt that were thrown in that ugly pattern were monsters!
Being a worship leader, and being in front of thousands of people, my food addiction was in full throttle.... I was so embarrassed and so filled with shame. My clothes wouldn't fit...and then they would... and then they wouldn't....and then they would....
Weeeee.... like a teeter totter, right?
NOT!
Awful awful ride.

But another one that I have battled with wasn't so obvious.
This one was a little more tricky.A little more subtle and except-able.
It was underlying for years.

I began to hide.

No no, not in the closet or under the bed... in more subtle ways.

As I look back over my life, I can see where it started... it started after my first baby was born, and has carried on ever since.

I hid behind "doing" things...

Some of my doings were really really good too!
But they kept me in a space of detachment... of not having to engage and connect.

I would.....














Hide behind busyness.
Hide behind my computer.
Hide behind tasks.
Hide behind housework.
Hide behind projects.
Hide behind ministry.
Hide behind events.
Hide behind work.
Hide behind buying too much. (racked up a good many credit cards with this one.)
Hide behind listening to music and podcasts and sermon teachings.
Hide behind reading.
Hide behind my moods.
Hide behind denial.
Hide behind phone conversations.
Hide behind pointing my finger at other people and their issues.
Hide behind gossip.
Hide behind tv.

You get the picture..

Hide behind anything I could to not have to connect, feel, engage, be real and honest with myself, and be present in my own life.
Hide so that I didn't have to hear my own inadequate thoughts about myself.
I even created a virtual "space" in my hiding, to actual go to because I felt I was never alone...
I felt so bad about my own needs and feelings...
I really felt I was THE most selfish person in the whole entire world to NEED anything for myself.
So in that pain and need, my heart created the space that it needed.
It was a counterfeit space, by all means. But it created it....is that not just wild?
It will do that if we don't create the change that the pain is creating.

I hope all that makes sense.

I have hid behind so many things.... I am sure there is more I am not thinking of right now.
I felt safe in my hiding.
I didn't have to deal with any of my bad feelings, or operate in my roles, or be somebody else...
I could just hide.
Hide and NOT think about the pain my heart was in.

Until.....

Guilt and shame came along... and started knocking at my door.... bad bad Amy for hiding.
Bad bad mother you are for not 'wanting' to engage and play with your kids.
Bad bad wife you are for being too busy for time with you hubby.
Bad bad bad.. all around bad.

So I tried to manage it.
I tried to make myself STOP it.
I tried to break this cycle of hiding.
But a funny thing happens with addiction, you put a cap on one, and another pops up.
Addiction changes faces.
As you can see by my looooong list up above, it changed faces many times over.

Dealing with and managing my hiding became all that I did after awhile.

It became a vicious cycle of beating myself up, repenting to God, trying to stop the behavior, falling off the wagon, beating myself up again, repenting to God again, trying to stop the behavior AGAIN!
Over and over and over again I did this.

Until my Rescuer came, and He gently knocked on the door of my heart...

I opened the door, and I let Him come in.

In my shame and my guilt....
It was honest desperation, I let Him into my mess.

And He did.
He came in.
He walked right past the sin/addiction/hiding.
He didn't flinch at it, like I thought for sure He would.
He walked right past it, like it wasn't even there.
He walked right up to this massive curtain.

I hadn't seen that curtain before!

Where did it come from?!

And He pulled back the curtain and this is what I saw....
















I saw my own heart.
Beatin up, bleeding, torn up and just a mess.
All those years of living so afraid of doing something wrong.
Seeking out what I thought was the true and right way to do everything.
Being taught that any desire in me was evil and wrong.
My own heart was evil and wrong, and to never listen to it.
There it was.... a mess on the floor.

Then I saw all the molds I had been pressing my heart into for years upon years..... like those little chocolate candy mold trays.
And I saw me, taking my heart, shoving and shoving and pressing and pressing it into all these little molds.. making it fit.

And then His voice came...

"Amy, how painful do you think that is?
Is it any wonder that you have been hiding?
Is it any wonder that you have been eating your pain away?
Is it any wonder that you want to be some were else?"


Bing.
Light bulb moment.

I had been trying to deal with my addictions. I had been trying to manage them....overcome them...beating myself up. "Making" myself stop it, and get over it.
But it didn't work. It never worked.

It's like having a weed in your garden, that has produced all kinds of fruit, and just hacking off the top of the weed.

What happens?

The weed grows back...you have to go after the root.
Uproot that sucker, and it will wither.
This is what my Abba God was doing.
He went right past the behavior/sin/addiction to the root of the behavior.
There's a concept for ya.
This way... this one right here, guess what?
It works!
Sin management doesn't work.
Going at the root of "why" I sin DOES.

When we go at just the behaviors, it's like plucking off the fruit of a tree.
Or maybe even whacking off a branch.
But that fruit will grow back, and that branch will grow back.
But go at the root and the whole thing will wither.

And that is what is happening in my life.
It's wonderful!
I have never been more free from addiction in my whole life.
Yeah there are still things that I am hiding behind that I probably have no idea yet that are there, but I trust and know that my God will bring those to the light in His time.

The beautiful truth of His love... that My Father God loves me ALWAYS!
Nothing changes that.
His favor is on me ALWAYS!
He never leaves me EVER!
He is with me when I hide... He is with when I am present.
He is with me when I make good choices. He is with me when I make wrong choices.
He doesn't look at me with disdain and disgust. He sees me for who I really am.
He sees me complete and whole.
So when He sees me struggling in my sin, in my addiction, in my hiding, His heart is moved with compassion to remove that thing that is destroying me.
He hates sin because it hurts me.

Such a different view for me.... I had always felt I needed to get my sin in order so that I would be except able to God.
When really, Jesus and the cross have made me except able to God...always!
I AM except able to God whether I sin or not.
It's something that already is and always will be!
The sin hurts me. The sin has it's consequences, and THAT is why my Father wants to remove it from me.
I distance myself from God because of shame, not Him.
He never leaves, I just "think" He leaves because I am ashamed of my sin.
But He doesn't. He never leaves. Always in me... always with me.
Oh thankyou, Father... thankyou, Jesus....thankyou, Spirit of God.

More to come... Amy the Free

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fear ~ Part 2

These next few posts are going to be raw and pretty transparent.
As a matter of fact this blog is going to be pretty raw and transparent.

Just wanted to forewarn ya, and give you a way out before you read on.

My continued journey to freedom with God started about 3 years ago. It's been a continual unraveling, and untwisting and un-knotting of my heart. This is my journey. It's messy. It's not pretty all the time, but it's worth every step.
I have come to such a big resolve that He has indeed completed the work in me, it's just the process of Him bringing all the facets of myself to realize, and walk in His complete work in me.

It will take my whole lifetime, but I am ok with that. I am safe in Him. He isn't affected by my timetable. I am so grateful.

This is part 2 of my journey out of the area of fear.

Fear was everywhere in my life, it's hard to pick which area to share about....

As a feminine heart, it dictated everything that I did in my relationships with God, my husband, my children, my family, my friends.
Fear slapped so many roles on me that I needed to play, so many masks that I needed to put on, and so many obligations that I needed to fulfill.
"Go! Go! Go!"
"Do! Do! Do!"
"Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!", It shouted at me...constantly over and over and over again.

And when I couldn't keep up the facade, and faltered in any of these things, shame and guilt came to finish up the job.

I had so many layers of shoved down emotions, roles, obligations, people I wanted to be, opinions I never shared...on and on.... so many layers over my heart, I couldn't hear it.
I had never heard it.
I didn't know it.
I honestly became this shell of a person, with a painted on smile, and a pleasant voice.
Agreeing with you, if I thought you had "it".
Letting you tell me what I should do also to achieve "it".....in every area of my life.
Very sad.
Very scary.
I fed off of what people said about me, their opinions of me.
I sought out roles in my church community that would gain praise...that would make me feel special, and a part of the "in" club.
You see, I didn't know who I was...so I needed people to tell me who I was.

I was miserable.
I was depressed.
I was dying inside.

The more I tried, the more miserable I became.

I would get so frustrated with myself... beat myself up with my words.
Why couldn't I achieve "it"... whatever "it" was...
Peace?
Happiness?
Why could I have it ALL together?
What was wrong with me?

I wanted it SO bad!
I truly love peace and happiness.
As a matter of fact, I tried to achieve permanent residence in Happy Land?
Yep! I tried very hard to stay in Happy Land for years, but the price kept getting higher and higher.
The more I tried the more I fell apart.

The area that is near and dear to my heart, and that I am continually walking out is the area of my children.
Being a mom.

After my hubby and I had been married for just a couple months, we decided (he decided, and having no opinion whatsoever, I agreed.) that we should make our family complete, and have a baby.

I had my first baby, and really struggled with being a mom.
I didn't like being a mom, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me.
I didn't feel like these other mom's I had seen with their babies... connected and fulfilled.
I felt numb and disconnected to my baby.
I had a baby because, again, it was a "supposed to do" area.... my hubby brought it up, and I followed.
I look back at the condition of my heart, and I was SO not ready for a baby.
I know nobody is, but I really should have waited to know myself more... to get to know my desires.
But that's what I did tho... I just did what was expected, and what every woman did after getting married... you had babies.

I don't regret my babies.. so I hope that my thoughts don't paint that picture.
I am so grateful for each of them.
I just think the mom that they deserved has come along 10 years after they arrived on this earth.
The mom that they have experienced has been so broken, and so lost.
Not knowing my own heart and desires has really cheated my children of a lot of the nurture and love that they really needed from their momma.
They have gotten a lot of different women to be totally honest, but not me...not the true me.

Because I didn't know and understand that God had equipped me specifically for my 3 lovies, I became what I saw other mom's who had "it" were.
I became a master duplicator, and that's what my kids got.
And when I couldn't keep up with that particular mom, I got frustrated at myself.
Angry that I couldn't be what I saw a godly woman was supposed to be.
And then, my children would get a whacked out, grumpy, irritated, "leave me alone" mom.
It's really sad isn't it?
I think so.
My children's desire from me, is for me to be me.
For their momma to be the woman that I was created to be, NOT what other women are.
Not what the church had taught me my whole life to be either...you know, the Proverbs 31 woman?
But who my children really needed was me.

This is an area that fear has ravaged.
My children.
The guilt in my life that I have experienced in my relationship with my children, is absolutely ludicrous.
Fear of doing it wrong has robbed my children of what they needed

That scripture, "Love covers a multitude of sin." is one that I lean on to fill in the gaps in my broken years.

I pray for their hearts that His love and grace does cover what I have missed... and that I may continue to be the momma that they need me to be.... me.

To share something closer to home, something that I am just stepping into.. is the decision to NOT homeschool my kids anymore.
This area... WOW!
I have many friends that I have not shared this with yet, so this might be a surprise.
I have nothing nothing against homeschooling. I think it's wonderful!
But no longer do I think it is for everyone.

At the beginning of this summer, the Father started showing me areas that I have walked in that were just covered and motivated by fear, shame and guilt.
And if there is anything that I can guarantee you that is NOT of God, it is areas that we walk in that have fear, guilt and shame in them.
Unfortunately, we are a culture that is run by fear.
We are a church culture that is run by fear. Fear of the unknown... fear of the "what if".
It's sad, but true.
But that's a whooole other post :)

Me in my zest for freedom, said with all gusto,
"Go for it, Lord... show me all the areas that I am operating under fear with!"

And then I saw it...
His big finger pressing on the whole "homeschool" area.
I came undone.
I couldn't believe it!
Not that!

He started to unfold it, and showed me this was an area that I have been trying to shove myself into. A mold that was not made for me.
He showed me that fear has run me and this decision to homeschool my children.
Shame and guilt keeping me shut up, and pressing myself into this mold.

For years I heard from different friends and sources that to send your children to school, be it private or public, would squash their personalities, they would fall away from God, their education would be less then desirable, their attitudes would change towards each other, all compassion and love would be out the window, a worldly mindset would be ingrained, and they would lose their connection to their father and I.

These words might be true of some children. Maybe this is what some parents have experienced. Maybe.. maybe not. But for my heart is was gas to a flame... it just ignited every fear in me about the future of my children.

These words, and teachings, scared me to death! They dictated my decision to homeschool, and to continue homeschooling.

But, can I ask... what do all those words create in a person?
These words create a fear of the unknown.
They create a fear of uncertainty, and the "what if" factor kicks into play.
What if this happens to my children... and honestly it's not what if, it's this WILL happen to my children, it's just a matter of when.

Is this how God works? Is this how He leads? In fear?

So, each year pushing forward, I would remind myself of all of the above reason of why I needed to homeschool.

"Remember, Amy.... remember you don't want your kids to lose their way. You don't want them to fall away from Jesus. Everything is pending on you keeping it together, and offering this to your kids. You have got to keep it together here! Get over yourself, and be strong and do this!"

So I pressed and pressed and pressed myself into the homeschool mold.
Time would carry on, and the melt downs began.
Press press press.... another melt down.
And on and one... until my melt downs became more and more frequent.
I would melt down, and cry and totally lose it... pick myself back up and keep trudging forward.

Increasingly, as time continued to carry on, the melt downs kept getting more and more frequent, and I began to build ways to cope with all this pressing.... addictions came along to help me on my journey.
Addictions. Yep.

All kinds of them.... my mind created ways to survive and to numb me on my way.

I started to become incressingly depressed, and my ways of coping weren't working anymore.
Remember I said earlier, the price kept getting higher and higher?

But I so desired to offer my children the home school experience, to give them away out of all these thing that they would become if I put them into school.

Last year was my worst year homeschool year to date.
I was dealing with my food addiction, and was crumbling intensely in the whole homeschool arena.
Food was my friend.
It helped me for a very long time to cope and to numb and to keep pressing myself into the mold. Food had to go now, and I wasn't dealing very well with all the pressing and squeezing that continued to go on.
I wasn't numb anymore, and I could FEEL everything.

With food not being in the picture anymore, I couldn't keep up with the pain. I was melting down intensely now, depression came intensely now, aaaand that's when the Father stepped in, and asked me...

He asked me THE question... to take a year off from homeschooling, and lay it down.

"Will you lay this down? Will you trust me that I am your children's God, just as much as I am your God? That I am leading them, just as closely as I am leading you?"

I was shocked.
I thought for sure He really liked that I homeschooled. That this is what God wants for every family... for every mother to offer her children.
"What, Abba? Homeschool? Not homeschool?"

Silence.

Then I came completely undone.
Lots of emotions came after... oh boy.

I was mad.
Sad.
Grieved.
Frustrated at myself that I couldn't DO it. That I couldn't get it together, and just die to my self and homeschool my kids. Gheeze! What kind of mom was I anyway...apparently NOT a good one if I could at least offer my kids this.

It was a hashing out session for sure!
And eventually peace came, and a surrender in my heart.... and when I could see past the pain, and the guilt, I was so relieved.

I was so incredibly relieved. My gosh... what a burden I didn't realize this had become.

I now look back, and I see why He showed this area to me way back at the beginning of the summer. He has walked me through the emotions... the letting go....the trusting that if He asks me to lay it down, that His grace will follow my children, as it follows me.
And it has.

So, in this season, I have laid down homeschooling my children..
It's been hard, but it's been a fear that I have walked into with my Abba.
You have to walk through fear. You can't avoid it. You can't hide from it. You have to walk towards it and through it.
The beauty of walking through it, is that there IS another side. There is a new found freedom and strength on the other side.

My son went to school today, and my girls' started last week.
Big steps for me. BIG!
I have cried, I have let go, I have stepped towards what I know the Father has asked me to do...and I have peace, and am no longer afraid.

The lies that I believed about them going to school outside my home are just what they are... lies.
When I choose to believe a lie that my kid's are going to fall away from Jesus and never to be found again because I send them to public school, I am saying that my God is NOT able to lead them and guide them as He does me.
His words are Truth with a capital T.
And if His words are Truth, then when He said that His law is written on their hearts, and that He now lives and dwells within their hearts... and He is their Shepherd and will lead them into all Truth, I believe it.

That is a truth that I had to swallow. That is Truth. That is NOT a lie that is spear headed by fear, guilt and shame.

Anything that tells you that you "should" do this or do that is not from God.
It isn't.
If He asks you to walk towards something, He will never intimidate and operate in fear.
He will bring your heart and your desires to what it is He has for you.
Will there be nerves, yeah.
But nerves and fear are very different.
And in Him...He being LOVE, there is NO fear. None.
Oh, and there is NO condemnation either. So that includes shame and guilt.
This has become a HUGE filter for me. If I am listening to something, be it a person or a teaching or a conversation... if I began to feel fearful, or want to operate out of "should do"/shame and guilt, then it's not for me...because it's not my Abba God.
He doesn't operate in fear, guilt or shame.

It's a scary season, but today... as I sit here in my quiet house, I can't wait for my kids to come home. I miss them, and can't wait to see their beautiful faces.
I am looking forward to coming up along side their teachers, and volunteering at their schools.
Being as much a part of their education as I can!
I am so excited for it! I have such peace residing in my heart.
And guess what, they are doing so good. So so so very good.
This isn't for everybody, and just as much as I would never tell someone to homeschool their child is they felt they were not called to do that, I would never tell someone to NOT homeschool their child if they felt they were called to that.

But can I say this?

Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing?
Don't do anything that is dictated by fear, shame and guilt.
Try it out, see if it's for you. Maybe it is.. maybe it's not.
But don't continue to do something that is causing you major internal stress and pain because you "should" do it, or that it equals a good, Christian person.... do it because you want to do it...do it because your are passionate to do it. Do it because your desiring to do it.


Part 3 on it's way.....

Hiding.

Fear

My blog name is Amy the Free.... but another word that is coming very quickly right up along side of Free, is Fearless.

Fear.

Fear has been a constant presence in my life, for as long as I can remember.

As a matter of fact, fear, shame, and guilt. I like to call them the 3 amigos, but I will save that for another post.

Having been walking this new life out with Abba, I have come to such a HUGE revelation of the words,

" Perfect love casts out all fear...because fear has to do with punishment."


I AM STARTING TO GET IT NOW!

My life was run by fear.
Fear of being unpleasant to my parents.
Fear of being unpleasant and not pleasing God.
Wanting to do what was 'right', so that I didn't displease ANYBODY.
I became what I thought was right....
I shoved my heart into all kinds of different molds to do what was right...

Aaaall of who Amy became at 30 years of age was all due to wanting to be wherever the "right" side was.
If I was there, then I would be pleasing to people and God, and therefore not going to hell...not being out in the open away from God's umbrella of protection.

Doing wrong = Not pleasing to God
Doing wrong = No favor from God
Doing wrong = No protection from God

So my life's goal became to just always stay on the side of what was good and right.
But the problem is, good and right always seemed to change.

What is good and right?

To answer this question, became my life's purpose.

Always searching... always looking...

For example:

Oh, look at Julie, her life is all put together.. what is she doing?

Ok, Julie get's up everyday early early, has her quiet time, doesn't drink coffee but tea... she sews and chooses to be joyful all the time. Ok, I am going to do that.

Oh, and there is Bill... he has such peace and settledness in his life, what is he doing?

Ok, Bill spends an hour praying every morning, AND an hour reading the Bible.
Ok, I am going to do that.

Oh! There's Jane.... she has it all together. Her kids are so well behaved. Oh look! She is so organized.... she seems to just always be so peaceful, and so put together. What does she do?
She homeschools her children, let's God plan her family for her, has her own garden, bakes all her own breads and makes her children's clothes. Ok, I am going to do that.

And if I couldn't achieve all of what I saw that person do, the guilt and the shame came right on in.

It's madness!

I think if a person did hand stands everyday, and jumped on one foot, and yoddled 10 times, I would have done it if they looked like what I thought a good and pleasing child of God looked like.
Sad, but true.

So there was never any sense of peace, or rest, or just being ok in my relationship with God.
Never just "being" ok.

I think the sad sad part is that I didn't even know that I was doing it, until the day God flicked on the light. It was such a ingrained behavior. I think I still do it in areas.

Part 2 to be continued.....