Jesus, A King Like No Other

Thinking about a worship song for this Wednesday has brought me to “A King Like No Other”. I have been dealing with the challenges of PTSD that has been exacerbated lately. My head swirls with intrusive thoughts and terrifying flashbacks of a really dark time during my adolescence. It has been hard to choose just the right song to express my gratitude to a Savior who gave up everything for me, me. Feeling so undeserving, unworthy, and tainted, why would the King of the Universe leave His throne to redeem ME? So many millions of His children have been ravaged by abuse, and I know it breaks His heart. It is much easier for me to have my heart break for others than for myself. As survivors we very often feel blame, that we are at fault for the things done to us. The abusers plan it that way when we are told we are bad, dirty, worthless, disgusting, all we are good for is sex. So while we can have compassion for the stories we hear from other victims, it is hard to stop the self-damning messages in our own brain.

Our perpetrators commanded their power over us to keep us in submission and keep our voices silent. The following song explains how the one true King of Kings and Lord of Lords did not come to this torn apart world as a powerful ruler ready to wield His sword. He came to this world in the weakest form, as an innocent baby to grow up among us. Emmanuel. God With Us. You and me. Despite what our history holds, He wants to hold us, He wants to redeem the abuse and give back the days the locusts destroyed. How can we not worship a King like that?

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Stress Before Christmas

As the holidays creep up on us, many people have a very difficult time emotionally. There is pressure in every thing from planning events at work, to family gatherings at home. There may be travel to see family you would rather not, possibly even the person or people who abused you. There are decorations to put up, cookies to bake, and gifts to buy. All these projects and expectations bring on much anxiety for some of us, especially if perfection is the expectation from either yourself or perceived from others. This picture might illustrate how you’re feeling.

Christmas stress
In a season that is all about merry and jolly I did not expect to find so many lurking triggers and I have, in magical movies about Santa; in commercials; in shopping trips. My depression and PTSD have intensified and my doctor is trying to balance, change, balance, change my anti-depressants. Anyone who is or has taken them, understands how all the changes negatively affect your mood in itself. I start slipping into that “I just don’t care” mode and this picture demonstrates my preference for the season.

rushed
Whether you are trying to survive and get everything accomplished with anxiety, or your mood is such that just getting out of bed takes enormous fortitude, the Christmas season is challenging. My encouragement for all of us is in the final picture, a lesson we learned from “Frosty the Snowman” when we were little children.

life ME
Those in the first category need to slow down their pace, one step, one errand, another step, another project. I know you may be thinking, she just doesn’t know what I have to do. Yep, been there, have hosted the extremely large extended family Christmas at my house more than once and will this year again. Getting too many things going at once just gets you lost, confused, frustrated, more anxious, and then guilty because it is not all done; and certainly not up to your standards. Breath. Take a step. Breath.

For those of us in the second category this year. One step may feel like dragging a hundred pound lead weight across the floor. The same advice works here. One step. Just do the next thing. Then rest. Then do the next thing. You will not only be surprised with what you have accomplished, you will feel good about yourself for completing a task and that will help motivate you to face the next one. And remember, that bed will be waiting at the end of a masterful day!

All pictures are from one of my favorites: Mary Engelbreit

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Avoiding Avoidance

I apologize for the avoidance of my writing. My mother had brain surgery
and I have been tied up with the emotions and visits there.

Today is Motivational Monday again so I would like to share something
that was shared with me at the AHMA conference a couple of weeks
ago. One of the speakers, who is both a migraine sufferer and a
prominent migraine doctor shared about the isolation we who suffer can
succumb to. He told us about a concert he really wanted to go to but
knew the noise and lights would likely trigger a migraine. He told us
that he pre-medicated and took the chance because life would become
dormant and idle if we gave in to our fears and avoided all potentially
triggering situations.

Last night I took his advice and went to a concert I have been wanting to go to for years and have been afraid to. Some of you may be familiar with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and their incredible electrophonic music complete with pyrotechnics and laser lights. I love their Christmas music and I knew this show stood to be incredible. At first my husband offered the ticket to a friend because we both figured it would be a bad idea for me to go. When the friend was unable to attend, and I had the encouragement of the migraine doctor, I loaded up with my meds and we went. It. was. fantastic! And though I wore earplugs and sunglasses, got a little nauseous a couple of times, I am very thankful I overcame my fear and decided to go.

I thought about this and how it relates to recovering from sexual abuse and the many triggers we encounter on a near daily basis. If I lived in hyper-vigilance, trying to protect myself from every potential trigger, I would have to sit at home, alone, no phones, no TV, no music, no internet. I would become a very bored recluse…and my perpetrators would win. This is not what I desire. I want to thrive in this life as I pass on my healing and hope to others. I encourage you today to remember:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to act in the presence of fear. ~Rev. Mary Harvey

And for fun, here is a sample of TSO’s Christmas music.

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Moved by Mercy

The lyrics of “Moved by Mercy” are familiar for many abuse survivors. Nightmares are a part of PTSD and adults who were sexually abused as children are survivors of war to be certain. I can’t count how many times both night and day, I have wished I could go back and hold the child who was being broken; to protect her, to comfort her. When the tears start flowing, another piece of my heart is breaking because I know so many precious children are being abused as I write this. As a CASA for children, I can speak up for them. As a fellow sojourner, I can cry and scream for them. As a Christian, I can pray for them. As a human, I cannot save them.

The words to this song may be a recognized cry of your heart if you have survived abuse. I pray for each one who listens. I thank Matthew West for continuing to make these stories known. They are usually brushed under the carpet because they are difficult to hear, and as a society we don’t want to believe they’re true. They’re true. It is happening in your neighborhood. It is happening in your work place. It is happening in your church. As Matthew West’s writes,” take [Jesus’] hand and be moved by mercy.”

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. ~ Psalm 34:5

 

 

Here is the story behind the song “Moved by Mercy.” I also strongly recommend purchasing the Into the Light: Life Stories & Live Songs (Deluxe Edition) as there is much healing in all the songs Matthew West has written.

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The Strength of the Butterfly

Butterflies are an amazing symbol of the good on this journey of healing. Beauty is perhaps the most obvious and often referred to.  They are also frequently associated with old things becoming new again. Butterflies seem so delicate and fragile so they are rarely referenced for their strength. To even experience life, a butterfly has a very difficult battle to emerge from the cocoon that encapsulates it while it matures. The struggle is long and seems quite agonizing. Scientists studied this process and learned that when, in human wisdom, we feel it would be helpful to cut the shell and ease their burden, we intervene in necessary development.



In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push it’s way through the tiny opening of the cocoon forces fluid out of it’s body and into it’s wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never fly.

Lesson: As I go through  life I must keep in mind, struggling is a common experience and an important part of  maturing. In fact, it is the struggle that causes me to develop my ability to fly. Avoiding difficulty could cause me to also miss my purpose.

Every fall, North American monarchs fly south to spend the winter at roosting sites. Monarchs are the only butterflies to make such a long, two-way migration. They fly up to 3000 miles. Amazingly, they fly in masses to their same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. (How incredible is that?)  ~MonarchLab

It doesn’t appear there are muscles in the butterfly’s thin little wings and still they fly for days. They struggle through all sorts of obstacles and hindrances because it is necessary for the survival of the species.

Lesson: Embracing God-given ability to fly, never give up just because the journey is a difficult one.

Along your journey, God will cause your story to evolve in such a way that others will marvel at the beauty, innocent of the pain that created it’s brilliance. Each new struggle has a purpose. Our Creator will do the work to intensify the beauty you already possess. Then your life will reflect God’s beauty onto others and the cycle will continue. He will bring about the elegance in their stories as well.

Moral: By the power of His grace and the strength of His mercy, may we choose to spread our wings again, and on the breath of the Holy Spirit…take flight!!

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