Tag Archives: Faith

Pondering the Why of Suffering

When Jesus and his disciples encountered the man born blind as recorded in John 9, the disciples wanted to know why he’d been born blind. Was it the man’s sin or his parents’ sin that had caused this tragedy?

Why me? Why her? It’s a question we all ask in the face of tragedy and suffering. I know I do. Why did my mom have cancer not once, but three times? Why did her dad die of cancer when she was only 14? Why did my sister die of cancer at only 61?

Why was I raped by someone I thought I could trust when I was only 14? Why was I faced with the impossible situation of a teen pregnancy because of being raped again when I was only 17? Was all this tragedy ordained by God to make me the person I am today? Would I have been less compassionate and more judgmental if I’d never experienced all the suffering I have?

I have a friend who is a Christian and yet she lacks empathy and compassion. Her words reveal the pride and judgment of others that flow from her heart. She hasn’t experienced the trauma I have or anything close to it as far as I can tell. I wonder if I would have been just like her—legalistic and critical—if I’d been spared the fertile soil of suffering that mercy needs to grow.

Or perhaps my suffering and my mother’s suffering are God’s punishment for the sins of her parents, my grandparents, or even earlier generations. There is certainly scripture to support the conclusion that God punishes the children for the sins of the parents even to multiple generations.

Then again, my own suffering may have been the result of my own sin. The first time I was raped happened in large part because I disobeyed my parents and hung out with the guy who did it. And after that it was one sin after another that led to more suffering.

I’ll probably never know why this side of Heaven. I can speculate until I’m blue in the face and never know for sure. So perhaps it’s most profitable to stop asking why and focus on the next part of the story of the man born blind.

Jesus answers His disciples, saying that the man was born blind that God might be glorified. Then He heals the man. He gives the man who had never seen so much as a blade of grass full sight. He took the man’s utter darkness and gave him light.

He did the same for me and that’s what matters. He healed my brokenness that He might be glorified. I’ll admit that there are days when even that answer can cause tears of anger to well up in my eyes. Couldn’t there have been an easier way for God to be glorified than for me to struggle under the weight of multiple traumas?

Then I remember the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, thrown into jail by Pharaoh for a betrayal he didn’t commit, and then ultimately raised to a position of power in Egypt. When his brothers came to him for food in time of famine, fearing he would punish them for the wrong they had committed against him, Joseph responded: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:19-20 (NIV).

I ponder that perhaps God intended the harm that has befallen me for good, to accomplish great things for Him. This helps me let go of the “why” questions and focus on where I can encourage others who have been through similar circumstances and haven’t yet found His healing light. Perhaps I can even be used by God to save many lives.

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Growing Peace in Forgiveness

Each time I see a Facebook post or Internet meme stating that abortion is murder, calling on us to save the babies, I feel a pang of anger. It’s not that I disagree with this truth. I do not. I know the medical facts that show that a baby has a heartbeat as early as 4 weeks after conception and can feel pain as early as 20 weeks after conception. It is even possible for a baby born only 23 weeks after conception to survive outside the womb.

I know all too well this truth. My anger comes from two places.

First, I am angry that the doctors and nurses at the clinic where my abortion was performed didn’t share that information with me. I’m angry that they didn’t provide me with choices or give me the opportunity to make an informed choice. I’m angry that they didn’t ask how I got pregnant. I was raped, but that didn’t concern them. I am angry that the supposed pro-choice movement in this country continues to lie to and withhold facts from women facing crisis pregnancies.

Second, I am angry that the pro-life movement spends so much time focusing on the babies that they often forget the women (or quite often young girls) who have been traumatized by the abortion industry, having believed the lie that an abortion was the only answer to their crisis pregnancy.

But then I feel God’s Spirit remind me that anger and vengeance are not mine. What is mine is forgiveness. And when I focus on God’s forgiveness, knowing He understands my regret and desires to heal my broken heart, peace begins to grow in my heart.

This is when I realize that God doesn’t call me to try to change the hearts and minds of those who are pro-choice or to condemn the methods of those who are pro-life. What God calls me to do is to bring His message of mercy and forgiveness to women, like me, who have endured the trauma of abortion and sometimes feel like there will never be peace.

There is peace. It is found in Jesus, who died to pay for all our sins, including the murder of our children. He will forgive all. His forgiveness will grow peace in our hearts when we let Him.

Are you among the millions of women who have had an abortion because you believed you had no other choice? Were you pressured by your boyfriend or husband, or perhaps even by an abuser? Were you single, with insufficient income to care for a child, and felt there was no other choice? Did you see your whole life’s plan ahead of you, a plan that didn’t have room for a child, and were told you had no other choice?

Do you live now with regret and heartache over the child you aborted? Do you struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts but don’t know why because you’ve buried the guilt over your abortion so deep you aren’t even consciously aware of it? Do you long to be closer to God but somehow feel that you will never be good enough for Him?

Dear one, you are not alone and you are loved. You are not the mistakes you have made and the wrongs you have done. You are loved by God and He desires to heal your deepest pain and hurt, to bring you forgiveness and peace. You only need to lay this burden—a burden that is much too heavy for you to bear alone—at the feet of Jesus. His truth and love will set you free to live in His peace.

Here are some resources to help you:

Silent No More Awareness

Eternal Perspective Ministries

The Radiance Foundation

Walk for Life

Lifecall – Directory of pregnancy resource centers

CareNet – Pregnancy resource centers

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You Cannot Grow Peace from Murder

I read a post by Anne Lamott on Facebook the other day regarding the Women’s March. I kept coming back to one line: “You cannot grow tulips from zucchini seeds, or peace from murder.” Today this thought continues to resonate in my heart and soul as I see so many friends posting in support of the march. It resonates because I am confused at the inconsistency of this statement and the position of the organizers and sponsors of the Women’s March that is decidedly in favor of murder, and yet believe that from it they can grow peace.

Or maybe it’s not really peace they want, but power. Power can be a very attractive temptation.

In case you hadn’t heard, several groups were originally listed as sponsors of the Women’s March, but were removed when the organizers found out that they were pro-life. The removal of New Wave Feminists and a pregnancy crisis center from Idaho were reported by Christianity Today. Had they remained on the sponsor list, showing that all women were welcome, I would support the March as well. But it was clear that the Women’s March was not meant to be inclusive of all women.

Remaining on the sponsor list are Planned Parenthood and NARAL (the National ABORTION Rights Action League). Neither of these organizations care about anything but maintaining the status quo in which unborn girls (and boys) are murdered in our country on a daily basis. My personal experience is that they do not care about the long-term affects of abortion on the women they serve. They only care about their profit margin.

In 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided by the nine male justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, medical technology did not allow us to see inside the womb. But now, 44 years later, there have been significant advances in medical technology that allow us to see the developing child. There can no longer be any doubt that abortion murders an unborn child.

In addition, after 44 years of legal abortion, during which time millions of women have murdered their own children, we have learned that there are significant adverse affects on the women themselves. Organizations like Silent No More Awareness and the Facebook group Shout Your Abortion Regret attest to the millions of women, like me, who believed the lie that abortion is only about our own bodies. We live with the pain and regret of a decision we cannot undo. But perhaps, if we speak up in spite of our shame and share our regret, we can save other women from the same fate. We were told that having an abortion would bring us peace. But you can’t grow peace from murder.

It saddens me that the best our society has to offer women facing the prospect of having a child they can’t afford is to have an abortion. Why don’t we offer assistance in raising the child or in finding an adoptive family? Are we so convinced that women are so weak that they can’t handle having and raising a child in spite of difficult circumstances? When we say we want women to have the equal right to have it all, do we mean only if they’re willing to sacrifice their child? Is abortion—is murder—the best we have to offer? Is the right to murder your child really worth marching for? I once thought it was, but I was wrong.

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Silent Whisper

I hear her whisper in the darkness
Sometimes in the light
I hear her giggle from beneath
the frilly dresses at Costco
Can I have one, Mommy?

She’s not really there
I silenced her voice
thirty-five years ago
But Jesus whispers, She’s with me

______________________________

For Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub the word of the day is whisper. Head on over and check out the many Quadrilles offered by the regulars and maybe some newcomers.

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Messy Presents

We want our presents in pretty paper
All wrapped up in a shiny neat bow
We want our faith to be the same
So our doubts and struggles never show

Yet the greatest gifts aren’t neat and tidy
Like the manger birth steeped in blood
A child born like any other babe
With the addition of dirty stable mud

And Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross
After flogging caused welts and spit adorned
The bleeding brow of the King of kings
Ringed by crowds who mocked and scorned

Each trial and loss we face in life
Can draw us closer to the God we need
If we don’t bury the doubts that rise
But seek the gift each death has freed

Open the messy presents He gives
To find healing for all of life’s woes
Remember when you grieve the most
The Babe born to die for you knows

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My One-Note Song

Last summer I entered my first poetry book, Light in My Darknessin the Writers Digest Self Published Book Awards contest. Riding high on the coattails of being named a finalist in the Cascade Writers Contest in the published poetry category, I decided to submit my book on the last possible day of the contest and see what happened. I didn’t really expect to win, but I thought the feedback I would receive might be valuable.

I received an email with the judge’s comments just yesterday. I was a bit surprised to find that my submission was only read by one judge. Given the price tag on entering and the national scope of the contest I figured they’d have at least two judges per book.

At any rate, I thought I’d share the less-than-glowing review here with you all. I know, it seems weird to share a review that doesn’t just rave about my book, but I do so for a reason. Although the judge found fault with my labor of love, it was the very fault that he or she found that made me smile. Here’s the review, copied and pasted with grammatical errors and all, with my favorite part in bold:

Judge’s Commentary*:

This book of Christian devotional poetry is written by a woman who pulled herself up from the depths of depression through faith, and she should be admired for it. I also appreciate is that the poet uses many different forms of poetry to express herself:  pantoums, sonnets, villanelles, cinquains, triolets, sestinas, ghazals, acrostics, and even a concrete poem, as well as other rhymed verse and free verse.

My problem with this 127-page book is that it is composed almost entirely of poems of praise, and after a while it becomes a one-note song. The entire first section uses the metaphor of darkness into light to describe her salvation and coming up from depression. One can say the same thing only so many ways. There are five more sections to the book, on themes of “bring light to the darkness of others”, “being set free from the past”, forgiveness, “god in the midst of pain and suffering”, and a last section of what I would describe as “pure praise”.  Recurring themes come up in poem after poem: darkness vs. light, Jesus vs. Satan, “jars of clay”, etc. Most of the poems have an addendum of a Scripture quote too. Also, the poet chooses to label the type of poetic form beneath the title of most of these poems. This isn’t necessary, and many rhymed poems here are mislabeled as “free verse.”  The book conveys its message through its cover too – a kneeling figure on a cliff looking up to an image of a cross on a mountainside. The type size is quite large- was it meant to be a “large-print” book ? (I’m not asking this facetiously.) The bio and blurbs on the back cover are well-presented.

Granted, I am not a devout person, so maybe I don’t take the message to heart as a more religious person would. Still, I think even a faithful reader may find this book a bit repetitive after the first twenty or thirty pages.  My advice to the author: Use your interest in poetic forms to your best advantage, and diversify your themes and subjects. There is so much you can say from a perspective of faith about nature, your family and friends, social issues, even your career.  Don’t be afraid to bring in more details of your life and less of the language of praise, and your next book may be even better.

I am thrilled that this reader saw my praise of God so prominently in my poetry. If that is my one-note song, I’ve succeeded in doing what God has called me to do. I’ll keep singing that song until the day I die. To those struggling with depression, I want to clearly reveal the love and hope of Jesus so that they might one day praise Him, too, for being the Light in their darkness.

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Prayer Sparks

Despair sparks desperation
sends me to my knees
I want to cry
I don’t know why
Sobbing turns to prayer
deep in my soul

Mercy sparks forgiveness
sends me to my knees
I find healing
for this desperate feeling
Life that makes me whole

———
This is my writing for Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. The word for today is spark.

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What Is Bravery?

Why say I’m brave?
You don’t call robbery victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call shooting victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call mugging victims brave
when they tell
Yet your clouded view calls me brave
when I tell
I was raped

_______________________________

Today is Quadrille Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub. The prompt will be up at 12:00 PT, but I learned that the word for today is “cloud” from Victoria who has access to the prompt earlier than I do. But I wrote the first draft of this Quadrille earlier this morning not knowing what the word was and then worked it in later. I think it’s better with the change.

The impetus for this poem was something that happened last week when I told a group of people in a meeting that I had been raped. I won’t go into the context of the discussion, but during and after the meeting several people told me how brave I was to speak up. As I pondered those comments over the past week I felt an anger welling up. To me, those comments were indicative of the stigma that still remains on victims of sexual assault, like somehow we are partly to blame for what has happened to us and we should be ashamed of what we’ve been through.

I am thankful that God doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t call me brave; He calls me beloved.

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Anger Gone Awry

She told me I had a right to be angry
And so anger became my constant companion

Thoughts of self-defense courses fled
I dwelt on thoughts of revenge instead
I was obsessed with Murderous meditations

If I had a gun I’d shoot him
If I had a gun I’d shoot him
If I had a gun I’d shoot him
Like a never-ending echo

I wrote in my Journal my bloodthirsty plan
I’d line up Mike and Russ and all the others
I’d blindfold them and shoot them all
with hollow point bullets
Aren’t they more painful than regular bullets

In hindsight, reading this Journal entry
I wonder if the blindfold represented
my deep longing for Mercy
They wouldn’t see death coming

My plan never came to fruition
which is probably just as well
God’s plan of forgiveness
released me from my hell

I know that what they did was wrong
but vengeance is not mine
It would consume my life
if I let anger my pain prolong

I may have a right to be angry
yet anger gone awry
is no saving grace

So I choose peace

______________________________

Thursday will be Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub and I will be linking this poem. I was going to wait to post it until then but changed my mind.

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Light Shines in the Shadows

Lurking in the shadows
of my mind, of my heart

Anger, hatred, fear, doubt
dwell where they think
they escape the light

I dare not enter
the shadows alone

With Light in hand
I reveal that which hides
in the shadows
of my soul

________________________

It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub once again and De has assigned us the word “shadow” for our 44-word tomes. Head on over and see what others have to say about their shadow or shadows.

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