How to say “NO” Without Getting Physically Hurt

One of the worse noises in life is the sound of a human body being repeatedly thrown against a hard surface. Words can’t describe how disturbing this noise is, and when you grow up hearing it frequently, it becomes an expected and terrifying alarm. Nighttime is not sweet dreams, bedtime stories, and lullabies. Instead, you’re constantly on alert, never sleeping soundly and always primed for the abuse of verbal attacks. Some sense of relief came if it were just the verbal abuse, but even then, I had to be ready to step in the middle of a physical battle at a moment’s notice. Now far removed from the threatening circumstances of that abusive reality, the remnants of the trauma are still with me. They are ongoing reminders to guard my heart and renew my mind to God’s peace. Through the Lord’s grace, I do all that I can to protect the serenity and calmness He has taught me, but honestly, it has taken me a very long time to give “no” it’s rightful place in my life.

“NO!” can save a life or help to preserve one. It’s serious business, and this is by no means a lesson on the right time to say it. That is solely left to an individual to decide for themselves and use their judgment about what is or isn’t an eminent threat of danger. What this is, however, is my account and what I believe to be the scriptural and spiritual foundation that anchors my courage and confidence to say “no” even today. Many people that have lived in abusive homes grow up believing they have no right or authority to say “no” to abuse and expect it to stick. They accept whatever comes their way, and their judgment has not been vetted through the scrutiny of self-worth. That was certainly my experience.   

Ephesians 6:12(NLT) says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” When I learned about this verse in my teen years, it was literally a game changer for me. In general, I’m motivated in life by the truth of spiritual knowledge. It is my greatest hunger, and I subscribe wholeheartedly to the reality that the right knowledge will position any person to exercise power.

As a teen, I didn’t understand why the person that had caused so much pain didn’t regard me as someone they were forbidden to hurt? Why was my childhood prematurely chiseled away? The answer to these questions lies in the spiritual realm, not in the natural realm. Everything that we see with our physical eyes is temporary, and everything we see was made of things we can’t see. Hebrews 11:3(NLT) tells us, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” I had battled a physical enemy for many years, and even though I grew in physical strength as I aged, my physical strength was no match for his. But spiritually, this was not the case.

As I gained spiritual knowledge, I also gained spiritual strength. Boy did this make the devil mad, because I had exposed the lie that he wanted me to believe—the lie that I was powerless and had to continue being his punching bag. My faith in Christ unleashed God’s power in my life, and he began to do some amazing things. I had always been terrified to talk back, but the Spirit of Christ within me gave me a boldness I had never known. The truth had given me understanding, and my spiritual eyes were open. I realized that I was not fighting against a flesh and blood enemy, but the evil at work within him.

We are often tempted to take full credit for miraculous demonstrations of courage, but I am not tempted at all by that notion. On the day that I said “NO!” I was as desperate for answers and rescue as I had always been. It could have gone in a completely different direction were it not for my faith in the power of Jesus Christ. I witnessed it with my own two eyes, the person that had been my oppressor for years was muzzled and bound by a chain and restraint invisible to human eyes. He could not move against me, and although I couldn’t see the force that held him, I felt it in every way.

It amazes me even till this day, but I am under no illusions about what happened. A person cannot rise above what they don’t know or haven’t been taught. I sought the Lord, spent hours in prayer, and made Him the center of my existence. I believed 2Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” I accepted His liberty with all that was in me, and He backed my “NO!” I believe He will do this for anyone that dares to trust wholeheartedly in His awesome love and power.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“How to say “NO” Without Getting Physically Hurt”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

God Is Validating the REAL You!

Do you feel honored, valued, appreciated, and loved by others? Do you feel as though people know the real you—the ‘you’ that you believe yourself to be at the deepest level? We all want validation from those we care about, but the truth is that it doesn’t come that often. I will venture to say that there are more people that feel undervalued and unappreciated than those that feel valued and appreciated. This doesn’t paint a very pretty picture I know, but so many of us feel as though we’re doing all the right things, yet it doesn’t appear we’re being rewarded. Well, God has something to say about this, and if we’ll open our hearts to receive it, I believe that it will make all the difference in the world.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a young woman that is very disillusioned with life. She was raised with parents that love the Lord, and she doesn’t remember a time when their lives didn’t revolve around their faith. She told me she does all the things that she believes a Christian should do—reading God’s Word and praying often, but something doesn’t feel the same she said. She’s reached a point in her spiritual walk where she feels depleted—like no person or thing can fill up her empty spaces. She has feelings of hopelessness and is emotionally exhausted.

Back in the day, and in many churches today as well, the diagnosis would be one of judgment and perhaps not one of compassion and spiritual maturity. We can’t get it twisted, we live in complicated times and the enemy is busier than ever. There are a multitude of darts aimed at our direction, and they are aimed at various and important areas of our existences. Sometimes we are attacked on all fronts. Someone or something at the job is weighing heavy on our minds; boyfriend or girlfriend ain’t acting right, and maybe a family member or friend is not providing the support and care you expect. When you add financial instability, environmental craziness, and the state of the world today in this mix, becoming weighted down emotionally is a very real possibility.

Jesus Christ has told us to cast our every care upon him, and most Christians know this passage in the bible. It’s Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT): 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Many of us do this. We give our burdens to Jesus Christ because we know the awesomeness of his power, and initially we trust him, but many of us take our burdens back. There are a couple of reasons why we do a take-back and why our commitment to surrender, release, and let it go doesn’t stick. I’d like to put a few out there for your consideration.

Lack of Prep for the Next Phase
Like the young lady I mentioned, many of us have been on this journey a while, and we know that God requires a commitment to His Word. In our minds we might be doing all the right things, but this doesn’t always mean that we’re growing spiritually. A routine can turn into inflexibility in a hot minute. It can lock us into habit patterns that work for a season, but what about God’s plans to take us higher now and in the future? Heavenly Father created life to be dynamic when it comes to spiritual growth. In this arena, stagnation is a minus and not a plus. When our spirit has received the message it’s time to go higher, but our soul is not in a listening mood, the disharmony gets translated to our hearts and minds as feeling bad. Surrendering to the reality that God wants us to cling more tightly to Him and that it’s time to move up, this will prepare us for the next phase of our spiritual journey. Praying for guidance through His preparation process will aid us tremendously.

A Misleading Need for Emotional Validation
Heighten emotions of praise and thankfulness are such a big part of the way we worship and experience God. But some us have developed a kind of dependency on emotions, and we start to trust our emotions more than we trust what God says. We have to switch that around. Our emotions should follow what God says. In other words, when we turn our dials all the way up to believing and trusting God, we might not feel like skipping through fields of daisies, but we have to trust Him anyway. The skipping will follow.

Looking to the Wrong Source
Validation is part of the soul’s appetite. All of us will seek it because it’s part of being human, but the source of our validation is monumentally important. Many of us sense this big hole inside, and it just feels awful sometimes. So, what do we do? We try to fill it. We seek to feed our souls validation from those we love, admire, and support. The trouble with this is that their food is not eternal, and it can’t affirm the truth of who we are and who we’re meant to be. So, if we’re looking to feast on any other source than Heavenly Father, we will be in a constant state of soul-starvation. This is where many of us are right now.

The soul can only be as fulfilled and whole as its most hearty and healthiest meal. When we understand this, the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:4(NKJV) magnify exponentially. After fasting forty days and nights, he was tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread. He responded to the devil’s temptation with “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. ” The eternal wisdom, counsel, and promises of God’s Word is the food our souls were meant to eat. The psalmist lays out God’s spiritual menu in Psalm 34:8(NLT). He tells us, “Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

God knows us intimately. He knows the REAL you better that you can ever know yourself. When we’re depleted in our inner beings because our souls are starving spiritually, God can give us what we need. He has the very best medicine, and He knows exactly where to administer it. We are spiritual beings, created to thrive from spiritual nourishment. When we’re feeling depleted, devalued, and low, we need not cling to what worked in the past. God’s resources are infinite, and He loves to help us tap into His treasures. Let’s be good to ourselves and surrender totally to Him. Let’s be willing to release the things that hold us back so we can make room for the things that propel us forward. Then, we will be prepared for the next level of spiritual growth. As we feast on His Word, we’ll learn to trust the Lord in a greater way, and He will validate our souls and keep us continually satisfied.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“God Is Validating the REAL You!” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Better and Not Bitter

I got out of a relationship with someone that I thought was a really good guy. He loved the Lord, preached on Sunday at times and was a really good father to his children. We loved each other but after about a year together, the relationship took a turn. His love became painful. If he called and couldn’t reach me, his insecurity would rear its ugly head. It wasn’t apparent at first, but as the relationship progressed, I saw that he handled his own pain through manipulation and playing mind games. I was just not willing to remain in a place where hurt and pain became the constant, and love took a backseat.

I left this man, and it was indeed a difficult break-up. I was truly committed to him and the relationship. It took months before I could even think about him without shedding a tear, but I endured the pain, because I’ve lived long enough to know that trouble doesn’t last always. When we face heartache and trouble, God tells us exactly how to handle it. In Romans 12:12(NLT), His Word says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Instead of letting myself become bitter, I followed the Lord’s commandment.

As I busied myself, going on with my life, I happened to see this man in passing one day, and before I knew it, I had given him a smile. It was not forced or fake but came from a place that the love of God had created in me. He emailed me and said he was so happy to see me, but he said he was even more happy to see the smile I had given him. He thought I hated him.

James 1:2-4(NLT) tells us, “2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” God wants us to get to a place where we are not dependent on a person to do for us what only God can do. Heavenly Father is the Source of our joy, not a person.

If a relationship is harming us, it’s harming our relationship with God. He will give us the strength to let it go. One thing I know to be true, time causes us to forget some wounds, but only the love of God can truly heal them. Just as 1John 4:11 tells us, because of God’s love for us, we should be able to love one another. Even if we want to hold a grudge or be angry for a lifetime, our growth in the Spirit of Christ will not allow us to do this. We can let go and be better and not bitter, and we’ll be so much stronger for it.

Pray and ask God to give you a new heart, and let His love blanket all your pain, as only He can.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Better and Not Bitter” written by KYada, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Hero’s Blindspot

The women I grew up around were warriors in my eyes. They were not champions of academia, didn’t have loads of money by any stretch of the imagination, and not all of them would measure up to what we consider to be spiritual veterans of today. They were the ‘least of these’, women that were incredibly humble, fiercely determined, and in many cases, fantastically resourceful; they had to be. Survival depended on their ability to take what most consider to be nothing and turn it into something that added beauty, comfort, and sustenance not just to their lives, but the lives of their families. I will always consider them heroes, but like most heroes, they had a blindspot. It was the very thing that ultimately broke their spirits and left their souls depleted of all life’s joy.

Love is our life’s work. A person can run a billion-dollar company, go to the moon and back, or entertain millions with their talent and abilities, but if love has not been their motivation, their accomplishments will have been in vain. 1Corinithians 13:2-3(NIV) tells us, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” This is profound wisdom. It is the machinery of life, and it is a truth that can never be refuted no matter how much we might try. Everything that we do will be judged on whether love was purely and solely our motivation.

Talking about love immediately summons imagery of ooey gooey feelings, but this isn’t the love 1Corinithians 13:2-3 is referring to. Most of us associate love with feelings, but if love’s work was dependent only on how we felt, very little could be accomplished. God is our Father. John 3:16 tells us God so loved everyone in the world that He gave them the most precious gift He owned, which is His only begotten Son. He paid the highest price that could be paid. Why? John 3:16 tells us why. He did so that everyone that believes in His Son will not perish but will have eternal life. His love for everyone knows no boundaries, and He didn’t just talk the talk so to speak, He walked the walk. He demonstrated His unfailing love for us all.

Jesus Christ said in John 15:13(KJV), “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” We are the friends he’s referring to. If you don’t believe in the value of the life of Christ, you will not have the heart depth to be grateful for his sacrifice. In truth, there is nothing that exists in all of eternity with the capacity to measure what Christ gave up, and what he accomplished on the cross. Nothing can compare with the suffering he endured. Philippians 2:8(NLT) says, “he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” The suffering he took on was the suffering humanity deserved for its rebellion against God, and although Christ died over two thousand years ago, humanity is still rebelling.

The value of a treasure is recognized by the price that is paid to acquire it. The highest price was paid for our souls, and by this we can know a little bit about the value God has assigned to them. He treasures us. When we live in such a way that we honor God with the gift of life that He has given us, and we demonstrate our gratitude by celebrating it the way that He does, we are no longer blind. It is through this lens of God’s love that love’s work begins.  

My beloved heroes loved the Lord, but they didn’t realize the beauty of the destiny He had for them. They allowed the men that were used by satan to keep them blinded to their worth. Through the domestic violence and abuse that was afflicted on them, their voices were silenced, their opinions were belittled, and any attempt to be strengthened in confidence and faith was brutally attacked. It is impossible to rise above that which we do not know or haven’t been taught. We can only rise to the level of which we are willing to believe in our worth.

Heavenly Father is our Creator. He is the only One that can assign our value. No other human being has that right. Jesus Christ lives within us, and God tells us that we are the hope of his glory. The suffering of domestic violence and abuse can make a hero a victim, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. You don’t have to settle for scarcely getting by. You don’t have to stand by as someone maliciously tries to dismantle the hope that is in your soul. You can begin to change the way you think about yourself. You can recognize that you’ve underestimated your ability to capture your destiny and carry it out through the Father’s love. Trust God wholeheartedly through Jesus Christ. It’s how you demonstrate that your eyes are open to the glory of all He’s created you to be. God will continue to light the way as you honor the worth of the life that He’s given you, and only make room for those who do the same. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

“A Hero’s Blindspot”,  written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

I Want to Make It Right!

It is a very challenging situation when you’re in a relationship that isn’t good for you, but you can’t seem to turn it loose. It’s taken you through all kinds of changes, and you know that your life is far from peaceful and content, yet you’ve made yourself okay with it. Why is that? Some would say that it is because of a soul-tie. It happens when our souls have a need that our heads are not aware of. We’ll sometimes draw someone that identifies or vibrates with this need, and in these cases, good judgement and sound decision making goes out of the window. It happens because the will of the soul can easily overwhelm the heart when the mind is not renewed.

Heavenly Father has given us the gift of free-will, and we can use it however we choose. We make our own decisions and choices, and this freedom is birthed from God’s love. 1John 4:16 tells us a whole lot about God’s identity. It tells us that God is love. Love is not only what He does, it is who He is. Because of this pattern the Father has demonstrated by giving us free-will, we can know definitively that love does not withhold the choices of right and wrong or good and evil. In the beginning, when God created Adam, He commanded that Adam should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but God did not remove the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from the garden.

The access to do those things that would harm his relationship with God was not restricted. Heavenly Father wanted Adam to honor Him as his sovereign God and to continue treasuring their relationship, but this was Adam’s choice to make. Heavenly Father will not force us to love Him. He didn’t create us to be robots. He created us because He wanted a family. He made us in His image because He wanted children to love.

Many of us hang on to relationships and situations because we tell ourselves that we can make it right or make it better. The proverb Jesus spoke in Luke 4:23 comes to mind, ‘Physician, heal thyself.”  It is a delusion to think we can make anything truly better when we will not seek to make our own souls better. In Luke 6:41(NLT), Jesus Christ asked the poignant question, “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” Many of us trap ourselves in a vicious negative cycle because we’ve refused to deal with the log. We can become so invested in a relationship that we lose ourselves in it, and therefore can’t see things for what they really are.

Unknowingly, many of us will use the person in our significant relationships to feed something within us that shouldn’t grow. This isn’t always easily identified, and the notion of it is very often rejected. But if abuse has been in our backgrounds, it is possible that we’re carrying fear in our hearts, and we’re using the relationship as a Band-Aid. Unconsciously, we may be allowing this fear to call the shots. Jesus has the solution for this, and it requires us to be humble enough to ask him for it.

Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:21 that wherever our treasure is, that’s where our hearts will be also. We don’t want to be treasuring fear or treasuring the person that keeps us in it. Our hearts belong to God, and He has given us His precious Holy Spirit to help us root out fear, so that no part of us is ruled by it. Fear cannot bring us anything but heartache and disruption, and this isn’t the way God wants us to live. Jesus Christ said in John 10:10 that he came to give us access to a more than abundant life, and if we choose to lean on his love, we’ll gain the spiritual strength to give fear its walking papers.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“I Want to Make It Right!”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Hiccups of the Soul

Ashley was obsessed with Derek, and when he broke up with her, the world as she knew it came crashing down. She believed she couldn’t live without his love. And although she ultimately acknowledged her emotional instability after the breakup, she rationalized this instability as ‘When I truly love someone, I love really hard.” Like many people, her definition of what it means to love hard is a willingness to put everything you’ve got into a person or relationship. It’s to empty one’s self of everything they can give, all for the cause of what they perceive as the other person’s need. Jesus Christ was the only true Savior capable of giving to this degree. He sacrificed all that he was in order to save us from eternal damnation. To believe that we are to offer ourselves to another in this same manner is a misappropriation to say the least.

Love is not hard. 1Corinthians 13:4-5 tells us that it is patient and kind, that it’s not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love doesn’t demand its own way and doesn’t get mileage out of someone else’s mistakes. Love doesn’t have to prove itself by supreme acts of devotion or self-sacrifice. That would be bondage, and it would not exemplify the liberty that Christ made available to us. God has freed us through Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father warns us in Galatians 5:1 to never allow anyone or anything to put us in prison again.

Contrary to what others believe, love is predictable. It’s not erratic or obsessive, and it doesn’t behave out of step with God’s nature. God is love. Just as God doesn’t need anyone or anything to be what He is, love does not require us to subtract or add to it to be what God intended love to be. It doesn’t force, so wherever there exists a need to pressure or forcibly pull out of someone something they have not willingly and lovingly chosen to give, we have stepped out of love and into fear.

We know at the most basic level we all need love. This is wired in our DNA; it’s how God created us. 1John 4:8 affirms that God is love, and everything He has created was made from His tremendous love. 1John 4:16 says that all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. It’s the God living in us that allows love to flow from our hearts to others. We must also recognize that this love emanating from our hearts is going to be tested. It will be tested by the devil to see if we truly love God with all our heart and soul, or if we have entered enemy territory by making a human being an idol.

We make idols of other people, substances, money, and material things because we think they will fill the void in our lives. There can be no mistake in owning the reality that humans were created with the aptitude to worship because worshiping is such an important part of our relationship with God. Worship increases intimacy with Him, but worship is meant for God alone. So, it stands to reason that we’d be in dangerous territory to take what God intended for Himself and give it to someone or something that pales in comparison to the magnitude of all that God is. But this is exactly what many of us do, and it causes hiccups of the soul.

The nurses in my family tell me that, in the physical sense, hiccups are involuntary bursts caused by the contraction of the diaphragm. This contraction causes a closure in the vocal cords, and it makes a ‘hic’ sound. It’s an interruption in the normal way we breathe and can be prompted by many conditions. Because of this interruption in normal breathing, we use this word ‘hiccups’ metaphorically to describe situations that cause interruptions to life as we define or know it. This is also a good way to describe what can happen to the soul. Our souls have a breath, and just as our bodies hiccup, so do our souls.

In Proverbs 4:23(NLT), God tells us, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” This verse makes it very clear that we live from the inside out, and not the outside in. It also reveals that God has placed the responsibility of guarding the heart, which is part of the soul, in our hands. We are the protectors of our souls, and we need help to do it right. Many people are not aware of this, and they are also not aware of what their soul needs. Like the physical body, the soul requires a proper diet in order to remain in a place of wholeness and to continue to be well nourished.

Anything that needs to be fed will also have a hunger. The soul hungers for the very thing from which it was created, love. When we meet someone that we believe has the capacity to feed us, the guardrails come down, and we will latch on to them in hopes that they will latch on to us. Just as Ashley did with Derek, we allow them a place in our souls. And even though they present conditions that cause hiccups, or they are no longer interested in feeding us, some of us will attempt to maintain that connection at all costs. Why? Why do we ignore the warning signs and continue to put our souls at risk? Most of us do it because the pain and suffering of detaching from a soul connection can be devastating.

Many of us indulge junk food from time to time. Even though we know it’s not the best or most nutritious food, we eat it because we crave the taste. After we’ve eaten it, we might feel just as full and satisfied as we would have if we had eaten a nutritious meal. We didn’t get the nutrients our bodies needed, but it tasted good and the damage isn’t immediate, so we don’t think about it too much. If we persist in this behavior, it’s only a matter of time before the hiccups begin. Sooner or later, they will turn into a much larger problem, because it is inevitable that a malnourished soul connection will end in heartbreak.

Few of us have ever realized just how deep our love for someone can go. Heartbreak bears this out. It also allows us to see the connection between our souls and our physical beings. The emotions and feelings of heartbreak can exhaust us; the soul feels almost breathless and this can translate to actual physical illness. The link between the soul and the body is one of the major indications that the care of the soul is monumental to a flourishing existence. When the soul breathes deeply from extreme jubilance, it is nourished in an indescribable way, but when heartbreak forces it to breathe deeply, the very core of our being can be ruptured. When this happens, it is very important to recognize that we’re not broken because the person failed to feed us what we needed. We’re heartbroken because we have come face to face with the possibility of life without connection.

Heartbreak forces us to experience a void, and a void can be the most painful thing in all of creation to experience. It is nothingness, the feeling of being in a perpetual state of falling, with never a bottom in sight. Fear is birthed from this place, because you are conscious of falling and you are panicking because of it. It is horrific, and it is why obsession can find its way to take root, because many of us will do just about anything to stop the pain of separation, chasing desperately after the person that once fed us junk food.

The thing with us is that we recognize that any ol’ connection won’t do. We want it with someone we’ve deemed compatible and to our liking. They have to make our heartstrings sing, and if they do, we let the guardrails down and give them a seat at the table. At some point, we will have to wake up to the reality that this is a very self-punishing exercise. What’s crucial is for us to decide if we’re going to believe the truth about the soul. The truth is that it wasn’t created to receive food from another human being. It was created to respond to God’s love. He nourishes the soul through His Spirit.

Genesis 1:2(NKJV) says “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” During the time of this verse, the earth was not as we see it today. It didn’t have structure, and it was dark and void. The earth was in tremendous pain, because everything that is in darkness and void is in pain. Hope entered the picture when the Spirit of God hovered. The power of the Spirit of God takes nothingness and makes a masterpiece. This is what God wants to do to our lives through His Son, Jesus Christ.He tells us in Romans 12:1-2 to bring our everyday ordinary lives before Him as an offering, and then we must embrace Him. As we change the way we think, and begin to think like Christ, God will transform us from the inside out.

It is very true that sometimes we must experience the pain of heartbreak to appreciate the blessings in life. The break can make a crack just wide enough for God’s love to get in. Jesus Christ said in Revelations 3:20(NLT), “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” He stands at the door knocking, but it is up to us to open our hearts and let him in: to let his love into that crack so it can be healed.

If we let the Lord Jesus Christ in, it will be the absolute best thing we could possibly do for ourselves. Jesus Christ rescued us from that perpetual state of falling and reconnected us to Heavenly Father, but heartbreak can reveal the degree to which we are still looking for a human being to do what only God can do. Heavenly Father wants us to love others, because this is His commandment, but we are not to offer ourselves as sacrifices to other humans, and we are not to depend on anything other than God’s love to nourish our souls. The very best thing we can do is surrender Lordship of our souls to Jesus Christ and then allow his Spirit to help us guard them. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Hiccups of the Soul”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Keepers of the Secret

Melissa was one of the few people I felt comfortable around, and it is only now, after looking back at our lives, that I know why. She was a few years older than me, and before I moved to another state, she married David, the only man who she felt ever paid her any attention. In my eyes, Melissa was an extraordinary person. She did even the small things with the greatest amount of care, and as long as everyone else was having fun, she seemed content to be in the background and remain unnoticeable. For as long as I can remember, she talked about becoming a teacher for children with special needs, but she always let things get in the way of pursuing her dream. And when she married David, she gave up on this dream altogether. She let him convince her that college was an unachievable goal. After he manipulated her self-esteem, he took control and had the final say on all her friendships and just about every other aspect of her life. She accepted and excused his emotional abuse.

An abusive environment is breeding ground for insecurity and low self-esteem. Often children learn to be keepers of the secret, and they sometimes gravitate towards one another, never speaking their truth verbally, but knowing it spiritually. Melissa and I shared this unspoken truth, and the moment I witnessed the interaction between she and David, I knew exactly what had happened. Like a magnet, her insecurity had attracted that familiar cursed and deceptive cyclone we both knew so well. Its rotations are both oppressive and comfortable, pushing its victim further in the shadows. It was what she knew, but she would not acknowledge abuse for the web of dysfunction and evil that it is. Instead, she would cling to it as if it was all she deserved, like it was her last and only hope to be loved.

The Creator of the universe loves us. The enormity of this reality should fuel our every move. When it does, we hear the voice of confidence resonating in our hearts, because Romans 8:16 tells us that the Spirit will testify within that we are children of God. If we allow it, the confidence of truly knowing God loves us will bring us out of the shadows and into the light as we begin to walk through God’s process of Fathering us. He pours His love into the gaps that we have tried to fill with other things.

There is no question that if those we love most have harmed or caused harm to come to us, the ground that would normally secure the foundation of our minds and hearts will break; and it is a sizable crack. The tremors from this crack vibrate brokenness, and it is so uncomfortable and hurtful, that some of us will let those with parasitical tendencies latch on. Everything that an abused person in this cycle of insecurity and denial is fed just goes right through those cracks and adds to their brokenness. We can never get full this way, but many who have been abused will continue to chase the thing that keeps them empty.

We must see ourselves as worthy, not just a little bit, but a lot. Galatians 5:1 declares that Jesus Christ has set us free, and we should never again let anyone put a harness of slavery around us. This freedom that Christ offers is our birthright. He is our Brother, and we are his siblings because of his sacrifice. He gave his life for the remission of our sins and rescued us from the kingdom of darkness. He delivered us from the bondage of low self-esteem, insecurity, and feelings of worthlessness. All this self-loathing negativity comes from satan’s kingdom, and he wants to continue to rob us of life’s vital juices so that we will walk the earth completely depleted of joy, and dependent on his kingdom of fear, sadness, and shame. We can resist this plot of deception and destruction, and we should.

Jesus Christ said in John 3:19(NLT), “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” To love light is a choice, and there is no gray area. We will either love it or love darkness, and loving darkness is not a good choice. It’s the worse one of all. God hopes we will not make that choice. The thing is, sometimes we’re not aware of what we’re doing. We’re accepting whatever comes our way, not discerning what’s from heaven and what’s from hell. We must know that we have a choice, and we can rely on God’s help. We have to wake up and realize that the packages from hell we can and should refuse. We owe it to ourselves to receive freedom from the secret, so we can be released from the pain. When we take even the tiniest step to love ourselves this way, God will begin to fill the cracks and teach us what it means to be free.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Keepers of the Secret”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Transforming Mistakes to Lessons Well-learned

How do you move beyond the fear of poor decision-making? The answer to this question is one that many people will not seek, because it will require them to get closer to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of them fear the possibility of intimacy with Him more than they do the vicious cycle of making mistakes repeatedly. The one reality that every living person must accept is that life doesn’t discard the lessons we need to learn simply because we ignore them. In John 6:63, Jesus Christ tells us that it is the Spirit who gives life. Life belongs to God, and He has designed it in such a way that spiritual lessons must be learned. When we do learn them, the fear of poor decision-making is put to rest, because if we are humble and willing to be led, God will lead us to the right choices for our individual lives.

Hebrews 11:3(NKJV) tells us, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Human beings have a propensity to become incredibly arrogant, so much so that we value the creation more than we do the Creator. We ignore the reality that everything we see was created by God from the things we can’t see; that there’s nothing humans can manufacture, produce, or build that isn’t made from the invisible realm of God. Most of us focus our attention on all the wonderful things humans can do. We don’t marvel in gratitude to God for His gifts, instead, we become puffed up on our own abilities. We depend solely on our own intelligence, and in this respect, we trust human beings more than we do the Creator who made them.

We now have an environment where ignoring our spirits and refusing to nurture our connection to God is very commonplace. Continuing down this dark path will be inevitable if we don’t wake up. Life isn’t a color-by-number situation. We’re not puppets, and God doesn’t pull our strings to make us move the way He wants. He’s given us free-will choice, and we can make any decision we’d like. However, God has a way that is always and forever going to be best. He invites us to follow this way through the Lord Jesus Christ. If we take Him up on His offer, we must begin to wake-up to the treasure of what lies within.

God’s Spirit is inside us, and John 16:13 tells us that the Holy Spirit that indwells us will guide us to all truth. He will speak to us in marvelous ways, and he will show us dreams and visions that will help to steer us to the blessings that have our names on them. All of this is available to the believer, but we must slow our rolls and begin to press into God. We must pray and talk with Him often.

In Matthew 6:8(NKJV), Jesus Christ tells us, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” God knows everything, and one of our greatest mistakes is to behave as if we don’t know this. The greatest decision we can make is to wake-up to the reality of His omniscience, and to also wake up to His desire to keep us safe and moving on a forward and upward trajectory. The psalmist said in Psalm 116:8(NIV), “For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,” Heavenly Father will do this for us, but we must develop a habit pattern of paying attention to the Spirit within. 1John 4:4(NLT) tells us, “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

Many of us have wondered why we can’t catch a break, and why, although the people are different, the situations and behaviors they bring mirror conditions and problems that continue to cycle back around. Through the Spirit of Christ, indeed greatness lives in all of us. We can get off the vicious cycle of mistake after mistake and reclaim the life we are destined to live. Wake up to the lesson of love God desires to teach you. James 1:5 tells us that if any of us lacks wisdom, we must ask God, because He gives His wisdom liberally to anyone who asks, and He won’t be upset with us for asking. Now is the time to recognize that we are spirit beings having an earth experience. We’re here to learn to walk in love like Christ. When we wake up to this and pay attention to the Lord, we’ll transform our mistakes into the victory that comes when lessons are well learned.■

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Transforming Mistakes to Lessons Well-Learnedwritten by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Take Your Power Back!

A friend of mine told me about a woman she works with because she’s concerned about her. For anonymity’s sake, we’ll call her Katie. My friend has worked with Katie over five years. They are very friendly, and about five months ago, Katie invited her to a dinner party for fans of the Downton Abbey series. Katie’s home was as beautiful as the exclusive neighborhood she lives in, and it was clear that her husband is very successful. They were having so much fun that evening, and Katie was the life of the party, but when her husband arrived towards the end, there was an immediate change in Katie’s mood. Everyone noticed and took it as their queue to politely say their goodbyes.

My friend said that initially no one else at work spoke of the awkwardness, but because she grew up with an abusive alcoholic father, the shift in the energy in the room that night was for her a very familiar thing. A few months later, Katie spent a couple of days in the hospital. A brand-new luxury vehicle was waiting on her when she was discharged. It was rumored to be a ‘makeup’ gift from her husband. If you have any familiarity with domestic violence and abuse, you know the rollercoaster ride of fear and emotions that come with it. Constantly walking on eggshells is a given, and you hide behind a mask that you put on every day, because you don’t want anyone to know what’s really going on in your life.

If asked, the person that remains in an abusive marriage or relationship will have a thousand and one different reasons for staying. Often those reasons involve children. I’m intimately acquainted with instances of women in my own family leaving their abusers several times, and each time going back to more abuse. They tried to make it on their own and support their children but found it incredibly difficult. So, leaving an abusive situation for some can be very challenging, and the reasons are sometimes more complex than we might know.

Being on the other end of abuse is often about the abuser’s need to feel powerful and to syphon this power from the person they claim to love. This power isn’t a tangible reality that we can touch or handle. It’s a spiritual reality, and we need the spiritual strength of Christ to take it back, because it is in Christ that the victory over satan has already been won. Romans 8:37 cements the reality that overwhelming victory is ours through Jesus Christ.

Throughout God’s Word, we find His encouragement and commandment to all of us to be strong and courageous. In the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 31:6(NLT), He told His people, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” In the New Testament we see many instances where our strength in Him is affirmed as well. 2Timothy 1:7 tells us that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to be strong in the Lord and in the power and strength of His might.

In all these scriptures, it should be clear to us that our strength comes from God. We are to meet Him in that place of faith, with a willingness to be totally dependent on Him. He tells us in Proverbs 3:5 to trust in Him with all our hearts, and don’t lean on our own understanding, but acknowledge Him in all our ways, and He’ll direct our paths. Putting on a little piece of God’s armor here and there isn’t going to equip us to take our power back. We need spiritual intelligence to outsmart the devil, and this requires the whole accoutrement of God’s armor.

Heavenly Father tells us in Ephesians 6:12(NLT) For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” The devil works through people to interrupt our destinies and steal our power. People are not our enemies, but the spirit that works through them is, and we must open our eyes to see this spiritual reality. Galatians 5:13 tells us that we have been called to freedom, and Jesus Christ tells us in John 8:36(NLT), “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” No gift that any person can give us is worth the price of our God-given power. Pray, study God’s Word, submit to the leadership of His Spirit, and be patient as He teaches you how to take back your power.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Take Back Your Power!written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Turning Pain into Gain

The notion of turning your pain into gain sounds a little pollyanna-ish for some folks, and I get it. Domestic violence and abuse can drastically change the way a person views the world, and sometimes it is very hard to snap out of being pessimistic. Personally, I felt so down on myself that I made a practice of always expecting the worse so I wouldn’t be disappointed. I was in that place so long that I had to be reprogrammed mentally and emotionally. It took a while for me to start believing that good things could happen to me, and that I was as deserving of them as anyone else. The thing that I got caught up on was how in the dickens did I end up with so many bad things happening in my life in the first place. There was no way I could get on the good foot if I couldn’t make sense of why I kept ending up with the wrong person and making the same mistakes over and over again.

I’m a person that loves organization. I’m not always organized, but I love it when things are in a place that makes sense and stay that way. Part of my professional life involves assessing the pieces of the puzzle and putting them together so that a cohesive picture emerges. In my profession, I understand from the get-go that the pieces I’m working with are not perfect and that the puzzle isn’t perfect either. Almost without fail, each and every time, I’m able to organize the pieces in such a way that my work blesses me and countless others. This very simple approach to my work gave me a foundation for comprehending how God could take someone like me and make the pieces fit. With all my bumbling around and making a mess of things, He continually pulls me together so that, like my work, my life blesses me and countless others.

We are not random beings, detached from the divine order in which God created everything in the universe. There was a time in my life that I felt very random and disjointed, but this was because I didn’t know the truth of God’s purpose for my life. Proverbs 16:4(NLT) tells us that the Lord has made everything for His own purposes. When it comes to our individual lives, He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11(NLT) ““For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”” When the heft of this truth became anchored in my heart, I understood more clearly why Adam’s and Eve’s actions were so catastrophic. God had provided beautifully for them, but they no longer wanted to be under His sovereignty and declared their independence.

They made a big mistake, and the consequences were dire. This is what happens when we buck up against God’s plan, consciously or unconsciously. When we fail to yield to the One who has all power and knows best—the One who has a plan for all of us, life loses its flavor. Many of us walk around feeling lost because we say we don’t understand how God designed this thing called ‘life’ to work. Some bad stuff happened to us, so we figure we can’t trust Him because He didn’t prevent it. We use this as an excuse to abdicate faith and cling to fear. God will judge us for running from His Word and abdicating faith, because He knows that we get ‘woke’ with a quickness about the things that are important to us. If we wanted to know Him and find refuge in Him, we would.

Like the many that have endured domestic violence and abuse, I was confused, angry, bitter, and resentful. There may be aspects of what I experienced that I will never get over, but the Spirit has turned my past pain into gain, and this is something God wants to do for every person that is suffering or has suffered. The Apostle Paul said in 2Corinthians 4:17(NKJV), “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Paul went through some pretty rough stuff and here he calls it light affliction. He lets us in on the reality that God will take our suffering and make it work so gloriously for us that the joy we experience will replace the pain.

1Corinthians 14:13 tells us that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace and order. He is life, and He has given us what He is. Heavenly Father didn’t give us such an extraordinary gift of life so it would be a vicious cycle of negativity. None of us have a perfect story, but all of us have the ability through Christ to transform and turn things around. Paul said in 2Corinthians 4:16 that we should never lose heart, because even though our outward bodies are growing older, our inward man is being renewed day by day. In other words, life gives us an opportunity to grow spiritually stronger through the Holy Spirit every day, and we should do our very best to embrace this grace we’ve been given.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“Turning Pain into Gain” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!