the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: (Lamentations 3:19-21, The Message)
At the library Thursday night I found a book by Kay Arthur entitled When the Hurt Runs Deep. No stranger to pain (her first husband was a suicide victim) Arthur titles her first chapter "It Wasn't Supposed to Be This Way".
Which coincidentally has been the title of my latest litany to God. From Monday on I have emphasized over and over to Him how the church is supposed to be the last place on earth that someone gets hurt. How that walking into a church shouldn't make me have panic attacks.
Dealing with resulting pain from other's choices isn't easy. Arthur doesn't hold any punches as she relates stories of a woman impregnated by her dad, a girl molested for eight years by her pastor father. Another mother of a suicide victim wrote:
Everyone said he was the strongest Christian they knew, so it is almost impossible to understand. my other child is...very ill. Why do these things happen? I had it all...now we are left with rubble. Does God care?Arthur writes:
This woman's questions are ones we all wrestle with at times...Why us? Why now? Does God care?
A technique I tried (unsuccessfully) to deal with the pain and questions was to measure my pain against others, such as this breaved mother. "At least all my family made it out of the cult alive." The thought in itself is fine and true. I can be thankful that no family members were a suicide victim in the cult.
The thought in its completeness was this: "No family member lost their life to the cult. Therefore there are others who have greater losses than me and deserve the right to mourn and ask questions."
And the Pharisee me pops back into light: everything from pain to righteous acts are measured on a scale and I don't measure up.
This line of thinking was promoted by the pastor of the Dade City church. I was called in the office once and berated because I was worried about a family member that had a broken arm. I was told that there were members of the church suffering so much more (the members happened to be her 'special' 'family' members) and that they had the right to be worried about family circumstances. My pain didn't measure up. I didn't deserve to worry.
Just another of her devilishly brilliant tactics: If you take away the person's "right" to feel pain they never bother questioning God why the pain is there. Take God and the need or "right" to ask God questions out of the equation and who's left? The cult leader...standing where she always meant to stand: In God's place. The pain of life is too much to take by yourself and since you don't have the "right" to talk to God about it you would end up talking to her.
Wow! I just realized once again how incredibly twisted this woman was and unfortunately still is...she is a true witch!
So maybe that's the point of this portion of pain...I finally figured out that I have the "right" to talk to God about it. I'll tell Him again today how I am tired of the fall out from a sick, narcissistic woman's need for control. I'll ask again when He is going to stop her evilness. I'll beg Him to give me a day off from all the questions...a day to just be.
David had to understand. He talks about hiding in God's presence in Psalms 91...hiding from deadly traps and hidden arrows under God's arms. God tells him:
14-16 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care
if you'll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I'll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!" (Psalm 91:14-16, The Message)
I'll keep a grip on hope. I have the right to communicate with a heavenly Father about the fall out. I don't know why everything is "this way". It wasn't supposed to be this way. But as Jeremiah said:
22-24God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He's all I've got left.
25-27God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It's a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It's a good thing when you're young
to stick it out through the hard times.
28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The "worst" is never the worst. (Lamentations 3:22-30, The Message)
I'm sticking with God...I'll say it over and over.
31-33Why? Because the Master won't ever
walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way: (Lamentations 3:31-32, The Message)
I would remind the pastor of the Dade City church of the next verse:
34-36Stomping down hard
on luckless prisoners,
Refusing justice to victims
in the court of High God,
Tampering with evidence—
the Master does not approve of such things. (Lamentations 3:34-36, The Message)
photo by fortschreitend of Parkersburg tornado damage