Sunday, January 20, 2019

My Father (or lack thereof, really) Part 2

Despite the lack of relationship with my biological father (if you haven't read Part 1, find it here), God has put several men in my life over the years who have helped teach me about what it is like to have a father.

First and foremost was Poppy Rumbolt.  I lived with him until I was 7 years old.  So, during the very important formative years of my young life, Poppy was a positive, nurturing, disciplining, Godly influence in my life.  Because I was the oldest grandchild, I was sometimes more like one of his children than his grandchild.  Poppy would do almost anything for me, including getting me cheese when he asked what I wanted at the store.  On some Sunday nights, just the two of us would go to church.  Sometimes, he would even let me lay on his lap, which was generally a no-no for church.  I remember him frying eggs for evening lunch, playing church with me, and being on his knees praying with us as a family.  He would skip rope with me, take me out in boat, and take me for rides in his "bumpy truck."  Poppy would always ask me to go get him when Ernie and Bert would come on Sesame Street - they were his favourite.  I felt proud every time I was with him.  We always shared a very special bond, and I love him more than any other man in my life.  Poppy went to Heaven in March of 2017, and there's not a day that goes by that I don't miss him, but I am so grateful that I will see him again on eternity's shore where we will live together forever.  

There were two periods of time where my mom and I lived in the same town as my Aunt Maxine and Uncle Wayne.  Once was after my mom and I moved out of Grammie and Poppy's house, and the other was when we moved back from Saskatchewan.  During our years there, Uncle Wayne was like a father to me.  He would always take me along when he took his boys somewhere, such as going to set rabbit snares, or fishing, or moose hunting.  He also taught me the correct way to eat soup, how to play Rook, and proper general etiquette.  

Over the years, there have been men in my life that played a dad-type role, for a season.  Uncle John was around when I was little, my other Uncle John when I was in grade 12, and several pastors have guided me along my journey.  

During the summer before I started grade 11, my mom got married, and I received a step-dad.  He was the first man I had lived with since Poppy.  He immediately accepted me as one of his own (he had three teenage daughters already).  I always felt like I was a part of his family.  He took care of me, loved me, and showed me what it was like to have a dad.  I am so grateful that God brought our lives together.  

It can sometimes be too easy to blame God for not allowing me to have my biological father in my life.  And, I admit, I have done that a lot over the years.  Although I had several amazing men in my life, there was always a part of me that wanted my father, my flesh and blood.  I wanted to know who I came from, and what traits I got from him.

Then, there was the way God identifies Himself in the Bible - "God the Father."  I had some ideas of what a father could be, but it was difficult to truly attach the "Father" attribute to God when what I knew about my earthly father was the opposite.  God, as Father, knit me together in my mother's womb, He chose to create my life, He loves me unconditionally, and He will never leave me.  As much as I would sing lyrics like, "I am a child of God," "You are a good, good Father," and "in my Father's house there's a place for me," I couldn't fully reconcile God the Father to be that way when my earthly father wants nothing to do with me, rejects me over and over again, and has never welcomed me into his home.  I struggled with this concept my whole life.

I couldn't figure out why my Heavenly Father would not allow me to have a relationship with my earthly father. That is, until a few days ago.

After reading my last post, a minister God recently placed in my life, and who has already been a blessing to me in so many ways, sent me a sermon he preached about a year ago on the topic of Father-God.  God used this message to completely change my perspective on Him as my Father: 

"In the same way, if God, like that ideal ancient father, was really committed to giving the best opportunities for all his children no matter who they were, then surely God’s concern for them wouldn’t be limited by social status."

If this is true, and God really is committed to giving me the best opportunities, then I must believe that God knew I would have those best opportunities by not having my father in my life.  I must believe that the life God gave me is His best for me.  I must believe that this life, even with its many challenges, is not only better than what I would have had with my biological father, but it is actually God's very best for me. 

My healing journey just took a huge leap forward.  I now believe that God chose this life for me because it has His best opportunities for me here.  One of my favourite verses growing up, and still today, is Romans 8:28, "We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan." (The Voice Translation)

I have to admit that most of my life I did not like God's plan of me not having my biological father in my life.  I thought God was keeping the best from me. I mean, how could having my father in my life not be the best thing?  This is where trust comes in. I can trust that God is committed to giving me the best opportunities, because He really, really is a Good, Good Father, and the evidence of that goodness in my life is overwhelming.  

Father God, thank you for this 'best' life and 'best' opportunities You have given me. Thank you for giving Scott the exact words I needed to hear from You, and opening my heart to trust You as my Father.  I look forward to this new dynamic of our relationship - Your beloved, chosen daughter, and her loving, perfect, protective Father - walking this best life together. Amen. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

My Father (or lack thereof, really) Part 1

I have never lived with my father.  In fact, I have never even met him, nor has he ever been a part of my life.  

According to the stories I have been told about my biological father, he rejected me from the moment of conception by asking my mother to have an abortion.  He came to see me when I was a newborn in the hospital and decided he wanted nothing to do with me because I was a girl.

When I was in kindergarten, he contacted my mother and threatened to kidnap me.  My school teachers were all put on alert, and I was not allowed to leave with anyone except my mother or my Poppy.

We didn't hear anything from him again until I was 15 years old.  I was visiting my grandparents who lived in a town very close to his.  I was walking around the mall with my walkman and headphones, minding my own business.  When I met up with my Nan, she pointed down the hall and said, "Do you know who that is?" I had no idea.  She said, "That's your father."

Later that evening, when it was just Poppy and I home, my father called to talk to me.  This was the first time I had ever heard his voice.  His first words were, "This is your dad."  We went on to have a conversation, though I have no idea what about, and we planned to meet the next day at his mother's house.  When I hung up the phone, I started to bawl.  I was feeling so many different emotions.  It was a moment that I had been dreaming about my whole life. 

The next day, my father's father showed up at our door.  It was my first and only time ever seeing him.  We chatted for a little bit, then he went on his way. Later that day, my Nan, my mom, and I drove to my father's mother's house so I could meet my grandmother, father, and other family members.  While there, I met my half-brother and half-sister, as well as my grandmother, some aunts, uncles, and cousins.  My father, however, did not show up.  I was rejected again.

Three years later I wrote him a letter and included my phone number.  Then, one evening, just as I was leaving for work, he called me.  I didn't have time to talk, but, again, I started crying the moment I hung up the phone.  Over the next few years, we chatted off and on.  At one point he offered to buy me a plane ticket to go visit him, which never amounted to anything.  He also told me he would come to see me, but that never happened either. He sent us a Christmas box one year, and I sent him a Bible.  

We lost touch for a few years because he moved and I didn't have his new phone number. 

A couple of years ago, he found me on Facebook.  It was one of the most surreal times of my life when he and my mother commented after one another on one of my pictures.  Both of my biological parents commented that they liked my photo.  It was a first for me and I screenshotted it to save the moment forever.

When we began preparing for our trip to Newfoundland this summer, I told my father what night we would be in his town because I really wanted to meet him.  At first, he was excited about it.  Then, when the meeting was a couple of months away, he stopped responding to my messages.  I texted him along the way, right up the night I was in his town, but he never did respond.  I was rejected again.

I decided at that point I was done with trying so hard for something that clearly he didn't want. I was hurt and upset, so I blocked him on Facebook because I didn't want him knowing anything about my life. 

A couple of months later, this past November actually, I had an assignment in one of my classes to write a Gospel Letter.  So, I wrote a letter to my father and explained the gospel to him.  I closed the letter saying, "Jesus died for you."  At that point, I broke down in tears.  God had softened my heart again towards my father.  God helped me realize that I may be the only person in his life who will ever share Jesus with him.  And, if the purpose in being his daughter is to share the gospel with him, then I better make sure I do that.  

After that revelation, I decided to try messaging my father again.  I told him I was sad I didn't get to see him and that I couldn't understand why he didn't want to meet me.  I asked him what happened to our plans to meet.  With every line I sent, he read it, yet he never replied.  I sent him one last message telling him I was assuming he didn't want to hear from me anymore, that I was sad it didn't work out, and that I will continue to pray for him.  I have not heard from him since.  Rejected again.

I am still planning to mail him the Gospel Letter. 

If I can be real and honest for a moment... Since these last two rejections, I have been asking myself some difficult questions that are attached to who I am as a person, and questions I may never get an answer to.  

Why doesn't he want me?  

What is so wrong with me that he doesn't want me? 

How can my own father dislike me so much that he doesn't even want to meet me? 

Why am I not good enough?

These questions leave me believing things like:

My own father keeps rejecting me, therefore all men reject me.

If I can prove to the men in my life that I'm capable of certain things, or that I am valuable because of what I can do, then perhaps I will receive some positive affirmation from them, and they will accept me (which mentally I know is only a substitute for the person I really want to be accepted by, my father.)

I have a father-sized hole in my heart that will never get filled. 

I will never be good enough.

That's the story.  My next post will share of the Hope I have despite all of this.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Religious Morality vs Religious Egoism


Religious standards, rules, and morality create religiously egoistical believers. These believers wear their achievements and obedience as a badge of honor, and those who fail to uphold those standards are looked down upon. While presenting various positive outcomes of being religiously moral, this paper will argue that using those morals as standards to judge others and present themselves as members of an elite super-moral group, ultimately turns into religious egoism, which causes damage to Christian and non-Christian alike.
Moral standards are taught from a very young age. Parents train their children in the ways they follow or the ways they think should be followed. This happens in all circles, religious or not, which shapes a child with biases and standards dependent on their teachings. Some are taught moral absolution, which simply means certain actions are absolutely right or wrong no matter what the circumstance. Most grow up with respect for the law and its enforcement and hold those standards in high regard. Along with these basic teachings, many children are taught some kind of religious morality, be it the ways of Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, or no God at all. Molding happens by the influence of parents/guardians, and later, peers. This is the groundwork for religious egoism.
The term ‘morality’ can be descriptively used to refer to the codes of conduct put forward by a group, such as a religion.  Most religions have a particular set of rules or codes they have constituted with an expectation that the members of that group will do their best to abide by them. These expectations can include women not allowed to wear pants, tithing, no drinking alcohol, and attending church every Sunday, as well as many more. Christian denominations use the Bible as the basis for their moral code, therefore enforcing the Ten Commandments as a high priority to live by. Religiously moral people are those who adopt the morals of their religion as their own code of conduct and work hard at upholding those codes on a daily basis.
Religious morality, in and of itself, is not a dangerous activity. In fact, there are many positive results to holding religious moral standards. Three of these are in the physical, the social, and the emotional levels. Johnson gives a description of the physical benefits;
“The studies on organic religion overwhelmingly indicate that greater involvement in religious practices is associated with reduced hypertension, longevity, reduced depression, lower levels of alcohol and drug consumption, less engagement in risky sexual behavior, reduced risk of suicide, reduced delinquency, and reduced criminal activity... higher levels of religious involvement provide protective factors that generally reduce deleterious social outcomes.”

Because the person described here has morality and involvement in religious activity, their physical body reaps the benefits of it.
Not only does religious morality affect the flesh, it is also beneficial to the social aspect of the religious moralist (R.M.). Pichon remarks on a study that was done regarding the social conduct of those who read religious material in comparison to those who didn’t. She said, “the impact of positive religion on prosociality is probably ascribable to the combination of valence with religious ideals and norms, thus making positive religion a powerful inciter of prosociality.” Moralism betters your relationships with others.
When it comes to the emotional level, the positive outcomes of being an R.M. are significant, as Johnson explains; “.... greater involvement in religious practices conveys the sense of well-being, purpose, meaning, and educational attainment. Thus, religious involvement is associated with promoting prosocial behaviors and enhancing positive outcomes.” Having religious moral standards gives a person a sense of who they are. They grow up with their lives being shaped by the virtues they have learned, and they have clear separation between right and wrong. An R.M. has a faith foundation that is grounded and unshakable. They know what they believe and the values they hold on to, they are not easily pulled to the right or to the left, and they are not easily distracted by evil (Proverbs 4:27).
A religious egoist (R.E.) on the other hand takes their morality to a conceited level where they believe that their religious standards are the absolute. They impose on others, both verbally and not, their ideal criteria for proper living and judge those who fail to live up to their specifications. One of the complications with the R.E. is that they most often fail to admit their judgments of others for fear of appearing in violation of their own dogma.
The R.E. presents him/her self in different ways. Some hold that their religion (a supernatural power and its institutionalized set of beliefs) is the “right” and only way. They reason that all other religions are wrong, therefore elevating themselves. This kind of egoism is evidenced by their refusal to even consider another religious way as having any truth, or to fail to research other religions because they are convinced that their beliefs are the final say. Evans suggests that “it is surely a mistake to regard either prevailing scientific theories or one’s preferred logical system as automatically “trumping” the other, without need for further, careful consideration.” An R.E. fails to take any other belief possibilities into account because they are convinced their way is faultless.
Others use their religion as a standard for all, and those who don’t line up to what they believe as true, is lesser of a person and not even in the same category as they are. Evans sums up a critique by Nietzsche, a 19th century German philosopher, this way:
“Nietzsche exposes the way that Judeo-Christian religion, in particular, with its ostensive glorification of humility, justice and love for one’s neighbour, may be used as a front for a kind of power grab, with its true motivations lying in weakness, envy and a desire for revenge. His critique reveals the way that true religion so quickly becomes Pharisaism, in which religion is used to separate people into categories of “us” (the good, the righteous, those favoured by God) and “them” (the evil ones, the sinners, those destined for judgement), in order to elevate ourselves, both in our own eyes and in the eyes of other people.”

Things are the same now as they were then. Religion brings separation between people because of different morals, standards and practices of each belief system. Some religions allow their children to befriend only children within their sect. Other groups maintain such close-knit communities that they rarely even interact with the “outside” world. Some Christians do the same with the different denominations within their religion. Some refuse to attend a church of another denomination because they understand them to be lesser of a Christian by not believing and practicing the same things as they do. These “same things” could be liturgy, baptism or gifts of the Spirit. Some grow up believing that their doctrine is correct, their denomination is the only way to Heaven, and that all other church-goers still need to get saved into their particular church.
Another way that religious people separate themselves from others is in their virtues. Using the bias’ they’ve learned from family, peers and church, the R.E. will judge others based on their actions and when those actions don’t line up with theirs, they pride themselves with the statement, “I don’t do that because I’m a Christian.” They use their religion, when it’s convenient for them, to get out of doing something, while at the same time, making the person engaging in the activity feel inferior to them. Let’s take for example a friend from work who asks the R.E. to go to the Tavern and have wings with them. In response to their proposal the R.E. says, “No, I don’t go to the bar or drink because I’m a Christian.” What has the R.E. just done? They’ve brought condemnation to the co-worker and closed the door for relationship and all possibilities of them ever having the freedom to talk to them about their religion. The co- worker will never feel “good enough” to the R.E.
By making others feel inferior, the R.E. hopes to boost their own self-value. They learn to base their worth on how well they uphold their moral law. Schaeffer clearly states the reason that people can find no real value in themselves or others. He said they reject that all men are made in the image of God, so “he downgrades the value of other men and produces the horrible thing we face today – a sick culture in which men treat men as inhuman, as machines.”
Some religious believers use their morality as a judging and condemning tool against others in their own particular affiliation. As they enter the church building on a Sunday morning, they sneer at the lady smoking, mumble under their breath about the girl wearing a short skirt, and put on a fake smile for the man they saw having coffee with a lady that wasn’t his wife. Then, later on that day, they go for a drive with their friend only to gossip about the imperfections of the church people not realizing they are in violation of the Bible because of their words and judgment. James 1:26 reads, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” According to this verse, it is pointless for the R.E. who gossips and slanders others to be involved in any kind of religious activity, because the damage they do with their tongues far outweighs any good that might come from upholding their other morals. The R.E. will shoot their wounded (like shunning a woman who left her abusive husband, while tolerating the father who violently disciplined his children), and take every opportunity to talk about others who are not meeting their moral obligations. Even those who grow up in the same denomination, and perhaps the same church as the R.E., will be quickly cast aside and looked down upon at the slightest hint, or even rumour of, a moral infraction. They reason that they have the right to point a finger at them for the speck in their eye, unable to see the three fingers pointing back at the R.E. due to the plank in their own eye (Matthew 7:4).
Finally, there are those who use their religious deity as a personal elevation tactic to make others believe that what they say or do is coming as anointed orders from their announced deity. Schowengerdt suggests when writing about the war in Iraq that Christian leaders let their religious egotism get in the way of rational judgement. He writes, “George Bush publicly stated that his God told him America should invade Iraq.”  These are the ones who go around saying things like the recent false predicament concerning the return of Christ.  They believe they have special insight from God Himself to know things that even the Son of God doesn’t know because their moral lives put them higher on the holiness scale, therefore making them closer to and more in tune with God.
Although the temptation to allow moralism to turn into egoism crouches at every door, the benefits to being a religious moralist are high. It is good for physical, social and emotional health. The problem arises when those morals are held in such high regard that they are used as judgment tools for those who don’t hold to those same standards as they do. When people consider themselves and their religion to be the ultimate in morality and authority, therefore giving them the right to look down upon anyone who violates those morals, it ultimately leads them into being a religious egoist. The R.E. has little to no regard for the feelings or beliefs of others. If people are not doing what the R.E. reasons they should be, judgment and condemnation begin to flow quickly and freely though their minds, and oftentimes their mouths and actions.
Religious morality encourages religious egoism by presenting the idea that because they have standards and abide by them that they are somehow better than those who have few morals. The R.E. lets themself feel the pride of their moral achievements to the point where it becomes damaging and hurtful to others. They elevate their religion over others because they are firm it holds the absolute truth. The R.E. gossips about and put down members of their own congregation when they appear to fail in a certain area, they separate themselves from non- Christians by pulling the “holier than thou” card by turning down an opportunity to socialize with them on their turf, and they appear to be closer to God when they voice ideas that “God told them to do.” The good news is that it’s doesn’t have to get that far. Religious believers can hold their morals in high regard and never reach the egoist level by remembering that God created all of us the same. And, He died for the whole world. [2317 words + the picture’s worth a 1000 words ;)]

Bibliography:, Posters/Unapologetics--Arrogance-.htm

Evans, C. Stephen, and Manis, R. Zachary, Philosophy of Religion: Thinking About Faith. Illinois: IVP Academic, 2009.

Johnson, Byron R., Tompkins, Ralph Brett and Webb, Derek. “Objective Hope: Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Review of the Literature.” Abstract. NCJRS Library collection (2003),

Pichon, Isabelle, Boccato, Giulio and Saroglou, Vassilis, “Nonconscious influences of religion on prosociality: a priming study,” European Journal of Social Psychology (2007): 1032-45. Doi: 10.1002/ejsp.416

Schaeffer, Francis A., The Mark of a Christian (InterVarsity Press, 2007) 15, 16, id=6b2BzkJqEfYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+mark+of+the+christian&hl=en&ei=SRNwTrS tO4Hj0QGYypGaCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v= onepage&q&f=false

Schowengerdt, Carl G., “The Religious Subversion of Democracy”, (2008): 61, id=2nhEj3oak4QC&pg=PA61&dq=religious+egotism&hl=en&ei=GIRqTrv3Jufw0gHUvfDcBA &sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CEIQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=religious %20egotism&f=false.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Morality”, last modified March 14, 2011,

Wikipedia. “Moral Absolution”, last modified July 29, 2011,

Woodall, Angela, “Doomsday herald Harold Camping's show goes off the air at the end of the month,” The Orange County Register, June 22, 2011, vid=4&hid=111&sid=e50776e7-5a11-41a0-ae96- b5ed932f5791%40sessionmgr111&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d %3d#db=bwh&AN=2W63112555254

Thursday, January 10, 2019

I Almost Quit Yesterday

Putting oneself out there is always a risk.  It involves weighing out the pros and cons of sharing something personal.  It means there will be some people who are onboard with what you do, some who are against it, and others who are completely ambivalent (which I think is the majority).

In the past few days, I have encountered people from the first two possibilities - ones who are onboard and ones who criticize.

I am not going to get into the details of the criticisms as I do not think it is beneficial to share - and I would never want to intentionally hurt someone's feelings.  I will say that out of those criticisms, I was able to re-evaluate my purpose in writing as well as acknowledge that I am not sharing the whole story.  I have been challenged to be more open and honest about my role in the domestic violence.  This piggy-backed on a question that was presented to me last week - "What is my role in the breakdown of my marriage?"  It is time I stop passing all the bucks and instead take what is mine by the horns and own it.  It is not pretty and it is not easy to admit my faults, but it is also not the whole truth when I leave out the part I played in it all.

That is when I wanted to quit.  I wanted to shut it all down, deactivate my Facebook account, and never share anything personal again.  I thought it would be better to not write at all than to have people criticizing my purpose and telling me that I, too, am to blame for what happened in my marriage.

Then I remembered how very encouraged I was by those who opened up and shared their stories with me.  They were able to share their burden and pain because I took a risk, opened up about my pain, and shared part of my story.  

I spoke with one girl, and it turns out we were both violated by the same abuser.  Neither of us had any idea what happened with the other person, and I could relate to her in a way I never have with anyone else.  I haven't processed through all the emotions that surfaced from that knowledge, but there is a level of comfort I have not felt before knowing that I truly am not alone. 

I had another girl open up and share her story of assault with me.  I was able to validate her and she acknowledged that some of her current struggles are likely related to that event, especially since she has not yet received counselling for the trauma.  I will continue journeying with her. 

I also know that for each woman who shared part of their story with me, there are many, many women who do not share it with anyone.  If women can read my journey through pain and not feel so alone, then it is totally worth my discomfort.

From my very first decision to share my story and journey with others, I told myself that even if I help only one person then it is worth it.  I know that God made a purpose in my pain, and that is to share hope with others.  I recognize that my story and vulnerability is not for everyone, and that is totally okay.  I write for my own healing and to allow the journey of God's grace in my life to bring hope to others.  

I am not quitting, no matter how difficult the road gets.  I have an amazing support team, people who genuinely care about me and want to see me succeed, and a God who never fails.  What more could I ask for?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Why Weight?

Everyone copes somehow.  For many of us, we are still battling a coping mechanism that started in our adolescence or teen years. For this reason, there are programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS), Codependents Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, and a host more.  Most people find it difficult to break a long-term habit, especially when they've been using it for such a long time. 

I started coping with food after I was sexually assaulted in grade eight.  I was always a chubby kid, but it wasn't until this trauma that I used food as a means of comfort and control.  And, eventually, safety. 

After the assault, and inadequate counselling, my mental and emotional life were out of control.  So, I turned to food - something I could control.  At times I ate next to nothing, while other times I would eat the leftovers while clearing up from the meal.  Some days I starved myself and other days I pigged out alone in my room so no one would see me. This cycle continued all throughout high school, with grades eleven and twelve consisting more often of an intentional lack of food than an abundance of it. During my first year of Bible College, my eating habits were fairly consistent.  Meals were scheduled in the cafeteria, and while I put on the "freshman fifteen" I was pretty stable.  I got married a couple of months after college ended for the year, and that's when I started packing on the weight.  It was only two weeks into my marriage when I was punched for the first time, which had a profound effect on my mental and emotional wellbeing, which in turn caused me to resort to my old coping strategies - controlling what I could by controlling my food. 

This picture is my wedding day and one year later.  The abuse had already taken such a toll on me.

My weight continued to rise, and I reached three hundred pounds during my first pregnancy.  I stayed close to that weight until six months after the birth of my second child, at which time I knew I needed to get some help.  I went to a dietician and with some food training, I lost about 90 pounds.  

Newsflash: losing the weight did not help my mental and emotional health.  In fact, when my youngest was four years old, I was diagnosed as bipolar because of all the mental and emotional struggles I was having.  I was either very depressed or very happy, and I often considered driving my vehicle into an oncoming transport truck.  After a year on medication, it was determined I was not actually bipolar.  However, the medication had side effects that would last and still affects me today, such as my acne issues, and decreased lung capacity due to scar tissue from nodules.

I would like to say I kept the weight off, but one of the medications I was on caused weight gain.  And, there began the struggle, again, with my weight issues.  Over the next few years, I gained back about seventy pounds of what I had lost. 
What was more unhealthy than the weight I gained, was the self-esteem, confidence, and genuine joy and excitement for life that I lost.  I tried to keep on a happy face, but these pictures portray the hurt, pain, and shame that had overtaken my life. 

Those pictures were taken about six years ago.  Since that time, I have done a lot of work on my inside-self, and only a little on my outside-self.  In working through some of my struggles, I discovered that I use my weight as safety.  In my mind, I am at a much lower risk of being hurt again by others, especially men, when I remain overweight. I wish I could snap my fingers and have this belief disappear, but it is not that easy.  I strongly fear, and am terrified to the point of hypervigilance, of being hurt, and I will do what I can to prevent it from happening - even choosing to stay overweight.  

Yes, I still use food as a coping mechanism, and that often includes emotional eating, or emotional starving.  My relationship with food is still messed up.  I am not happy with my body, but I am safer with this body.  I am scared to tackle the weight because I know in doing that I will also have to tackle the underlying fears that have been my closest companions since grade eight.  It is difficult to get rid of lies that have been attached to me for twenty-seven years. 

Where is the Hope in all of this?  My Hope comes from knowing I am on a journey with God and He is never going to leave me.  He has been with me this whole time, and He has already healed me in many areas along the way.  This emotional/fear/food struggle is huge, but I know that when I choose to take that step and begin working through it, the reward will be such an intense level of freedom - one I cannot even begin to imagine.  My Hope is in the Lord who has brought me this far... He will not leave me now! 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Why Now?

I don't know how much time I have left - no one does.  One of the sayings that I heard growing up is, "Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?"  While that mostly meant housework and errands, I think it also applies to where I am at in my life. 

This week I was asked the question, "Why now?" We had been talking about me now sharing so much of my journey, and the question that surfaced was, "Why now?"  Essentially, "What has happened in your life recently that sets you free to share now?"

Excellent question!

One reason I feel such a desire to open up, after 8.5 years out of domestic violence, is this: I feel super supported in my life right now.  I have different circles of people in my life that are so genuine, caring, interested, and supportive.  I have people I can talk to, ask questions of, pray with, laugh with, and be serious with.  I am being challenged and I am growing.  I feel like I am in a good place; not an easy place, but a good place.  I know that I do not have to walk this journey alone. 

Another reason is I recognize I have a story of Hope that God gave me to help someone else.  God brought me through events and circumstances in my life so I can "help others go through what I've gone through" (Kathe Wunnenberg).  There was a purpose in the pain and hurt - a Hope to share with others.  You can make it.  You can press on.  With God by your side, He will guide you through.  It's not easy, but it's possible.

The biggest reason for the "Why now?" question is this: God says it's time!  I've been waiting for the right time - the time God releases me and sets me free enough on the inside to share my journey.  That doesn't mean I have no fear, it means I am putting my fears aside and putting my trust in the same God who walked every step of my life with me.  I am keeping my faith in the God who has never left my side.  I am believing that what the devil meant for my harm, my God is going to use for my good and the good of others.

Taking the step of obedience to share my story has already opened up so much dialogue (real, genuine conversations) with people. I will share whatever I have to, regardless of how uncomfortable it may make me feel, to have others feel comfortable enough to share their struggles with me.  My uncomfortableness is worth the Hope God can bring to others. 

Why now? It's time!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hope in Action

2018 was the first year I chose a word for the year - Action.  As I reflect on that word today, I can see many times I have taken action in 2018.  A few stand out:

- Sharing my testimony at three Celebrate Recovery meetings in the area
- Taking my mom and my children on a trip to Newfoundland and Labrador
- Quitting a job in a good career
- Starting a Masters program at Seminary
- Becoming an apprentice Encourager Coach at Celebrate Recovery
- Starting personal counselling
- Starting a position at a church from a denomination I knew very little about
- Meeting and learning from some really incredible people that enrich my life

Overall, I feel like 2018 was a year of action, growth, and learning.  It was a good year. 

Now for 2019... my word for this year is Hope.  


The associating verse is from Romans 15:13

"Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!"

There's a song by Jason Upton called "I Build My House Upon a Stone" that I have listened to 100 times in the past few weeks.  I believe it was setting me up for 2019.  Some of the lyrics are:

To the lamb of God who knows me by my name

All the glory, all the honor, all the praise
To the One my future hope depends upon
I am trusting You, I am trusting You, my God

I've been the blind man on the road

I've been the boy running back home
I've been the sinner and the saint
But the love of God has never changed

Some questions I will ask myself on a daily basis:

- How can my story bring God's hope to others?
- What can I do to bring God's hope to others?
- Is what I am doing sharing God's hope?
- Do I speak hope?
- When people leave a conversation with me, do they feel encouraged?
- Am I listening to the Holy Spirit?

I am so excited about what God is going to do in my life this year as I focus on the Hope I have in Him! A Hope worth sharing!!