I am so excited! I could harly wait to get onto my computer and share this awesome news with you. Eric invited me to speak at our church today in anticipation of the launch of my book, Secure on the Rock. You can pre-order it on Amazon.co.uk for a reducded price and it is already availalbe for my USA friends on Amazon.com. My talk consisted mostly of what you will read in the book with a few extra bits, you can have a listen to it here. The exciting news though, is that the girl that I mentioned in my post a few weeks ago accepted Jesus today. My hearted raced as I did the altar call at the end of my message and I nearly jumped for joy when I saw her hand go up! Thank you so much to everyone that has been praying for her and please keep praying for her in the weeks to come.
This is one of my all time favourite books. Nevertheless is John Kirkby’s story of the adventure of starting Christians Against Poverty. In 1996 John and Lizzie Kirkby set out on a faith adventure. John felt God call him to give up his successful career in the finance industry to do what he could to help the poor and needy in his home town of Bradford. John did what he was best at and devised simple budgeting systems that allowed people to reduce their debt whilst living a decent life. In doing this John found that he could share the life transforming faith he himself had experienced some four years earlier, and people’s lives were changed before his very eyes.
Being pieced back together
Being rescued by my prince Jesus was amazing; it was the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me. I often remember that day, 1 September, with great fondness. My hero, reached down from heaven, and swept me off my feet, rescuing me from the evil clutches of sin and death. He did it with style and flair, with all the things I needed to make it really memorable. He didn’t need to do it that way I am sure He could have done it a million other ways, but He chose to make it memorable in a way that was special to me.
Not only does my prince rescue but He also redeems. The word ‘redeem’ means to buy back, trade or exchange. My prince didn’t come down from heaven and steal me back to himself. No! He paid a high price for me. He exchanged His life for mine; He paid for my life with His. Not only did he redeem my life but He also redeemed the lost years from my past and He redeemed my entire future too. He bought back what I had thrown away to the pigs. What I had disregarded He prioritised. What I had given up He bought back. The life that I had wasted, He not only redeemed but He also made it brand new.
Have you ever watched the movie Joshua? There is a particular scene in this movie that sums up redemption beautifully. The leading lady, Anne, had recently lost her husband. She was obviously very confused and hurting and was seeking a new start in life. An opportunity arose for her to relocate so on the eve of her departure she visited Joshua to say good bye. Anne because understandably upset as she was sharing her hurt and frustration with Joshua. In the next scene she grabbed a vase and threw it on the floor saying;
“This is my life now, broken into pieces and there is no way it can be pieced back together again!”
She storms out the room crying and the camera turns to Joshua’s thoughtful face. Towards the end of the movie you see Anne opening a gift from Joshua. It is the most beautiful glass angel made up of all the broken pieces of glass from the vase that she threw on the floor.
Each time I watch this scene I cry as it reminds me of what God has done in my life. I took the whole and complete life He gave me and smashed it into thousands of pieces. He could have left it at that but He didn’t. He picked up each and every broken piece of my life and lovingly put them back together to make me into a whole person again. He didn’t waste one tiny bit of me. Best of all, He made me even more beautiful than I was when He started. He not only redeemed me by the precious blood of Jesus, He also rebuilt me and gave my life back to me to enjoy.
Jesus’ death on the cross was only the start! His death redeemed me. According to God’s law I should have been stoned to death and on judgement day I deserved the eternal fires of hell. Romans 6:23 clearly states that the wages of sin is death. I deserved death. Jesus’ death was the purchase price for my life, without accepting his death my death was certain. The great thing is that Jesus didn’t only die for me but he also rose again for me. His resurrection paved the way for the resurrection of my life. If He had only died, my sins would have been forgiven and I would have been saved from death, but that would be the end of the story.
But it’s not the end of the story! On the third day Jesus conquered death and rose again – He came alive again! This beautiful and powerful fact is what gives my life hope as all the dead parts in my life are resurrected too. What seemed to be lost and buried has been given a second chance. What was dead in my heart was given a second chance to live.
God sent Jesus to buy me back when I was broken. He didn’t buy me back when I was perfect or when I was pretty or even when I had it all figured out. No, He bought back the broken pieces of glass. He looked down at my messed up, broken life and said;
“I will pay the highest price possible for that pile of brokenness because I can see the potential that lies there. I love her and will not let her stay useless, ugly and broken. I will buy her back even though she doesn’t love me or appreciate all that I do for her. I can’t help myself, I just love her so very much!”
Can you imagine going to a pawn shop and asking the sales person if you could please buy the broken vase that a previous customer had dropped and lay in pieces on the floor? The vase was on its way to the rubbish bin and lay in the corner in the dust pan and brush ready to be discarded. You however insist on buying that vase, not the one on the shelf that is in perfect condition. Essentially that is what God did. And He paid with the blood of His Son.
So let’s take this scenario one step further. You go to the pawn shop to purchase the broken vase that lay in the dusty corner on the floor. The sales person says that it is not for sale but you insist.
The transaction was bitter sweet. Pain stabs at your heart as you walk away from your little boy but joy fills your heart when you look at your pile of broken glass. You can see the beautiful, priceless angel that will become of this glass.
It’s not that you didn’t care about your little boy. No, you loved him deeply. It’s just that you had already tried every possible alternative to buying the pile of glass and your little boy was the final attempt, the last resort, the only way. This is redemption.
This is a snippet of the fifth chapter from my new book 'Secure on the Rock' which will be released in paperback on 1 March 2011. Chapter 6 of Secure on the Rock will follow soon, more info available here.
Being rescued by my Prince
Her long, shiny, blond hair blew in the wind as she screamed a desperate scream of anguish. Within seconds, the handsome prince rode up on his white stead. His sharp, glistening sword immediately severed the ropes setting the princess free, rescuing her from the evil clutches of the nasty, foul smelling tyrant. The handsome prince swept the princess off her feet and onto his stead and off they both rode into the sunset. They both lived happily ever after in their beautiful castle on the hill.
For me it didn’t quite happen like that but it DID happen! Fairly tales are real and princes do rescue princesses and life is a great, big, magical adventure!
Here are some journal entries from my romantic story of intrigue, romance and rescue from the evil clutches of my tormentor. These entries are from a time before I had ever met Eric, from a time where I was recovering from a few relationships that had turned out badly. I was a broken woman, a single mother and was desperately seeking God yet again to rescue me from the mess I had made of my life.
1 September 2003
I woke up with the sun streaming through my bedroom window. It was a gorgeous sunny day in London and I woke up feeling particularly excited this Sunday morning. Peace, joy and extreme favour was flowing over me and I felt unusually loved by my wonderful daddy in heaven.
Today was going to be a good day, I could tell. I had a bounce in my step and a song in my heart. In fact I had a very particular song in my head and I sung it all the way to church. I had a suspicious feeling that we were going to sing this very song in church this morning and when we did God was going to do something very special in my heart. I was so excited. The expectancy was high and I couldn’t stop thinking that there was something special about this day!
The worship was beautiful and I sung in my prettiest voice to God so He could feel my love. It was so special but we didn’t sing that particular song. The one that I was convinced we were going to sing. The one that I thought God was going to do someone really significant in. Oh well, not to worry, perhaps I was wrong. Still excited though, I settled into my seat and started listening to the sermon.
During the sermon the visiting preacher said that anyone who felt that they were in a crisis should stand up. I knew I was at this service for breakthrough and I came fully expecting it, so I stood up. Perhaps this was the special moment that I was so excited about. I have been really struggling and wrestling with many heart issues lately and the whole “I hate myself” thing. How had I managed to stoop so low and get to this place where I deeply hate and despise the woman I had become?
Without God’s help there was no real future for me, so when I stood up I felt fully justified in classifying my circumstances as a crisis! The preacher man prayed and I waited with baited breath for God to zap me. Nothing happened. I felt nothing. Oh well, I knew that you don’t always need to feel anything for God’s touch to be powerful and real. I had kind of hoped for something radical though, something a bit more memorable, but not to worry, I know in time the fruit would show! The preacher continued with his message a little longer then said;
“If there’s anyone here who needs a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate in life right now, stand up. As we sing this song trust God for a new beginning.”
The first notes of the song seized my heart! This was it! This was the song that I had been singing all morning and this was the moment that I had been so excited about. My heart was pounding and I knew I had to stand again. I stood to my feet all the while feeling very nervous. It was as if a thousand people in the service along with all of heaven were watching me. I sang the song with all my heart while the preacher prayed for everyone. I was sure everyone could hear my heart pounding as it was so strong. I stood struggling to sing the words of the song but determined to get a few out. My eyes closed and my hands stretched out to heaven, I waited… then bam!
My Rescuer made his majestic appearance and reached into my chained up heart. I bent over and cried deeply and (unfortunately) loudly as He ripped all the “stuff” out of me. I began trembling and shaking a little. This was not the sort of church where this sort of thing happened; we were way to cool for emotional outbursts, so I tried to keep calm. The pastor stood up and told everyone to sit down. I couldn’t, I was frozen and could hardly control my body. After a few uncomfortable minutes I managed to sit down. Once seated I just cried and cried and cried.
My left leg started shaking uncontrollably and the rest of my body shook. People around me asked if I was alright and I motioned to them that I was fine. I saw in my mind a closed door and felt in my heart that God was saying that He had shut the door to my past. It was over, the heartache, the struggle, the pain was all over. His hand had closed the door. It wasn’t done by my will or strength; He shut it and at the exact same time, opened the door to my future.
I knew something life changing had just occurred. He touched me, He gave me the breakthrough that I have cried out to Him for, fasted for, prayed for and begged for. He gave me a breakthrough in my heart and I knew I would never be the same again.
Once I had recovered from this incredible experience I tried to look back in my mind on all the stuff I’d been struggling with and it wasn’t there, all I saw was the door. It’s really over! This long, hard, journey, this heart struggle is finally over. I was so very excited. I could suddenly see so much more to my future. I could see myself preaching one day perhaps, that was my first thought. This thought was quite random, especially for someone who fears public speaking with a deep, sickening fear. Well I didn’t have a clue what was coming, all I knew was that from this moment forward I was going to be painting on my new, crisp, clean, white canvas and this time I was not going to mess it up.
I sat fantasising about painting very careful, colourful strokes onto a white canvas. I saw how beautiful my life’s painting was going to be. God is truly the God of second chances and I just couldn’t wait to see all the great stuff that was going to happen that week!
This is a snippet of the fourth chapter from my new book 'Secure on the Rock' which will be released in paperback on 1 March 2011. Chapter 5 of Secure on the Rock will follow soon, more info available here.
I was restless last night, she was on my mind. So young, so pretty and so lost. Earlier in the day I had emailed someone who had known her for years to find out a bit more about her, but his response only confirmed the rumours. Still I wasn't satisfied. Something simply doesn't add up! In the day time she goes to college but eats with the homeless people wherever there is free food, on Sundays she comes to church but despite explaining the gospel in every possible way, she still hasn't accepted Jesus into her life. At night she walks the streets and sells her body for money but I can't figure out why as she lives at home with her parents.
I remember the first time I met her, she seemed really sweet. A bit shy but nothing seemed unusual. More than a year has passed and her story has slowly unfolded. She has joined us for dinner and parties at our home, she has come to our children's birthday parties and family celebrations, she comes to church every Sunday and is a part of our life. On the outside it looks like we are building a relationship with her but on the inside I know that something is desperately wrong. She is well known to many Christians in Gloucester but why then is she not showing signs of life and freedom. Surely if we, who know Jesus, are loving her as we should, then she would be free by now? This is what was troubling me and I was trying to pin my concerns down - what was bugging me?
So I chatted to Eric about it and as I did I realised something. It is easier to give someone a free sandwich and pat yourself on the back than it is to give them a hug - especially when they smell really bad. It is easier to tell someone about what Jesus has done for them than to sit down next to them and chat to them like you would a friend. It gets a little more difficult to invite someone into your home and allow them into your "private" life but the most difficult thing out of all that I have had to do is this.... simply to sit and chat. I don't mean the how are you, how was your week chat. I am talking about building a true friendship where you sit and listen to whatever they want to talk about, where you show the love of Jesus by taking the time to just sit and be with them. Out of all the things that I have done this seems to be the most difficult yet I imagine that this must be the most powerful thing for them to receive - true friendship.
I know I am rambling on here, forgive me for not communicating well today. My heart is in turmoil and I am just sharing it with you. I don't have the solutions I only have the questions, perhaps you can help me?
Why do we as Christian hide behind our good works rather than offer true friendship to those that are lost and hurting?
Why do we as Christians seem to work so hard at "church stuff" but see so little of the power of God in people's lives?
Why are we content to play church every Sunday but not get our hands dirty with the real needs during the week?
Why are we content with the way things are?
I am not content, I am troubled. If the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of me (Romans 8:10) then surely this beautiful, young girl should be free from whatever mental or spiritual problem is plaguing her? Oh and she is just one of the many people that are on my heart. I could write a book about all the people that I have encountered in Gloucester. People who are plagued with mental illness, addictions and hopelessness. With all my heart I believe that if these people had just one sincere Christian friend, then they would find the freedom that Jesus is trying to give them.. This is why we at D7 Church have committed 2011 to focus. We will focus on having just one best friend this year from our community. Our best friend will probably be smelly or might be drunk more often than not. Our best friend will not come neatly packaged in a comfortable box and will definitely not be easy to be around. I firmly believe that if every Christian sincerely chose to befriend one unsaved person for a year then we could change the world we live in. Are you changing your world or are you hiding behind your comfortable Christian deeds?
I am proud to be best friends with a very smelly alcoholic who is very precious to God. She often wakes up in a drunken stupor in a gutter or in a graveyard, but I love her and I believe that in time she will soften her heart to the love of God through me. Personally, I don't have enough love in me for her, my heart is too selfish, but I am praying that the love of God will work through me. But this woman is not the same woman that I mentioned at the beginning of the story. The girl at the beginning of this post is not much older than my own daughter. I desperately want to reach her too, please pray for me, please pray that God shows me what to do for her, please pray that as I investigate a little deeper that I will find the truth, please pray that other Christians will become unsatisfied with the way things are too. Please pray that we all break free from our comfortable lives and get out into the world and start to make a difference. As you know I am a firm supporter of causes that fight against human trafficking - but perhaps the problem is closer to home - perhaps this young girl has been sent out at night to work the streets by her parents. I don't know if this is the case, but isn't it easier to send money to organisations or write about causes than it is to actually fight human trafficking that exists on our doorstep? Think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Are you doing good works to make yourself look good or are do you actually care about what is really going on in the world - your world - you street - your city?
Can I tell you a secret? When Eric and I started our church we thought that all we had to do was build a cool church and people would come flocking to it! If only it were that easy! Jesus is our example and He spent most of His time out and about with the people. It is so much easier to build an organisation that feeds the masses than it is to be a good friend to just one person. It is so much easier to preach to a crowd than it is to get up close and personal to one sinner. What do you think about all this?
Discovering my daddy’s delight in me
It was a crisp, sunny, spring afternoon in the tiny, dusty town where I lived. This wasn’t just any spring afternoon; this was the 3 September 1991 at about 1 o’ clock. This very specific spring morning I was flat on my back on the hospital bed insisting that the baby was on its way. I pleaded most urgently with anyone nearby that they should get the doctor! The nurse walked into the hospital room and again I insisted that the baby was on its way. She took one look at me and said;
“No it’s not; you still have several hours to go.”
She promptly turned around and walked out of the room completely dismissing my plea. She wasn’t mean or anything, it was just that she assumed that I knew nothing about labour or child birth as I was only seventeen years old, a child in her eyes.
Again I pleaded and insisted that the baby was coming, so for the sake of peace and quiet the nurse came and took a look. Her countenance dropped and she sent for the doctor immediately and promptly told me to stop pushing and to hold the baby in until the doctor arrived. Within a few minutes I was holding the most precious gift in the whole world, my beautiful baby girl, Lorah! Never had I experienced such joy and peace and complete fulfilment. I cried from sheer joy, she was so beautiful. In my arms was my very own pure and innocent child. Love consumed me and my life changed forever. All my fears about being a mommy at such a young and tender age subsided, this was completely natural and felt totally right. The days that followed were filled with flowers, gifts, cards and complete and utter delight! How is it possible to feel such strong feelings for such a tiny thing, how can you love so intensely and so completely? I had never felt this sort of love in my life, it was incredible.
Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and months turned into years. Time flew by but the love I felt only grew stronger. My heart ached for more of this and along came Jordan. Now I was blessed with two precious baby girls and the love in my heart continued to grow. I could spend an hour simply sitting at their bedside watching them sleep. Each new step and each new word they spoke brought even more joy into my life. I loved being a mommy!
Being a mommy saved me, I was so busy and so consumed with these precious little ones that I lost all interest in my past life. I walked close to Jesus so that I could learn how to be more like Him so my girls would have a great life.
I prayed my heart out that He would help me be a better person so that my girls wouldn’t have to have the childhood that I had known. I cried out to God for my little girls covering every area that I had suffered in my life making sure they were fully protected from the evils of this world.
Of course there were bad days too! Children are children and they did naughty things, said naughty words and at times even hurt my heart. That didn’t change my love for them one bit though! My love was set to maximum all the time. How could it not be, they were my very own children?
It dawned on me from time to time that I am God’s child and His love for me was even more than my love for my girls. His love was perfect too.
Because you are mine
One of the things I decided that I would do was to teach my girls that I loved them simply because they were mine. I wanted them to grow up totally secure in my love not feeling that they could earn it in any way. I remember that feeling as I was growing up, the feeling of never quite being good enough. The only time I felt really loved was when I did something good or something clever. I was determined that my girls were going to be showered with unconditional love! So I developed a routine bedtime habit for them, this is how it went;
“How much does mommy love you?”
They would stretch out their arms to either side and try and put it behind their backs and say;
Then I would say; “And why do I love you?”
They would reply with; “Because I am yours.”
It was simple to them, I love them because they were mine! That’s it, no strings attached. When they were naughty I disciplined them with a smack on the bottom but only after explaining that this didn’t mean that my love has changed. I still loved them very much and it was because of that love that I disciplined them.
If I love my daughters this much how much more does my Father in heaven love me?
Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
I know this verse is speaking primarily of giving gifts, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to apply it to love. If I, being evil, know how to love my daughters, how much more does my Daddy in heaven love me?
watch my girls closely to look out for the things they get right and then very supportively encourage and point out the things that they get right. On occasion I have to mention their mistakes too to keep them on the right path, but my motivation is always love.
Most of the time I can see my daughter’s potential even more than I can see who they already are. I nudge them forward; sometimes even give them a firm push to help them reach their potential. On occasion they don’t like the feeling of being pushed but I still do it because I know that they will thank me later when they realise what the push did for them.
In the same way, I know that God sees my potential and sometimes has to give me a push. I don’t always like that feeling of being “out in open water” but I know why I do it to my daughters so I know why He does it to me.
Looking back, I can see how being a mommy helped me understand how much my Daddy in heaven loves me. I have learned that He takes delight when I “play in the garden”. He can spend hours sitting in heaven with His chin resting on His folded hands watching me sleep at night. I know that just as I peep through the kitchen window taking delight in watching my babies play, so He peeps through heavens window and watches me enjoy my life. I have learned that loving life and enjoying the life He has given me is the best gift I can give God. He takes great pleasure in me being happy. He smiles when I smile and when I cry He cries. I thank God so often for giving me the gift of children; it has taught me many things about Him and has also brought tremendous healing to my life.
I remember specifically on one occasion, how what I thought Jesus was thinking and what I realise He was actually thinking were two completely opposite things.
A friend of mine had heard of this thing called inner healing where you go back to traumatic times in the past, relive the memory and then ask Jesus what He has to say about it. I thought this was a great idea and wanted to give it a try. What happened next completely set me free! I sat in my living room reluctantly digging up the past and placing it at the forefront of my mind. I placed myself back in my bedroom on the day that my father was touching me. I felt a bit ill thinking about it and started crying as the memory became strong and real. I was reliving that awful day.
Fully expecting a scolding from Jesus I reluctantly asked Him what He had to say about this situation. I expected Him to be upset with me for allowing my dad to touch me, I expected Him to scold me for being weak and afraid and not saying no. I feared Jesus was ashamed of me for being so dirty and impure. I held back at first in fear of the disapproving look on Jesus’ face.
The scene was as if I was I was actually reliving the whole thing. In my mind’s eye I could see my father sitting on one side of me and I could sense Jesus on the other side of me. I hesitantly turned to look at Him and although I couldn’t see His face, I could clearly tell that He was sobbing uncontrollably. I took a closer look and wondered why He was so upset, was He angry with me? Did I disappoint Him that much? Suddenly I felt a strange power come over me and I burst out crying too as Jesus said sorry to me. He said;
This is a snippet of the third chapter from my new book 'Secure on the Rock' which will be released in paperback on 1 March 2011. Chapter 4 of Secure on the Rock will follow soon, more info available here.
Freedom from controlling insecurity
Despite growing up with the absence of a healthy male role model I still longed for romance and the big adventure. As a little girl I found it in my childish games with my dolls or by acting out movies in the back garden, where I was the gorgeous leading lady in a romantic, adventurous soap opera. As a teenager I searched for love in boys, hoping that one of them would notice me for who I really was and that he would treat me like a princess. Many boyfriends came and went and I realised that this fairy tale was never going to be a reality. Slowly I gave up, and submitted to the harsh reality that I was not a princess but perhaps merely a prostitute. Harsh? Yes, perhaps that is a very strong word to use but it was definitely how I felt most of the time. I would trade sex for just a drop of love, I would use my body to fill the deep, dark void in my heart. I would lay there and take it in the hope that at the end I might get a cuddle.
Sure, I wasn’t paid any hard cash, but my hope was always for some form of reward. The more I searched for love, the more I collected hurts, and the more I tried to fill the emptiness inside of me, the more I realised how deep the emptiness went. Even marriage didn’t take that emptiness away; it only forced me to face the things I didn’t want to face. Synonyms for darling are sweetheart, wonderful, gorgeous and lovely. With every fibre of my being, I longed to be all those things to some charming man, believing that he would make me complete.
Two halves don’t make a whole
A broken young seventeen year old girl from a messed up background cannot be made complete by an equally broken messed up nineteen year old boy! Two halves don’t make a whole. Two broken people don’t make one complete person. What they do make is a mess.
With all my heart I firmly believe that you attract who you are. Messed up people don’t attract healthy people who have got it all together. No matter how much you try to fake it, the real person hidden underneath all the layers attracts another real person hidden underneath all the layers. Your façade won’t fool nature!
Layers of insecurity
Marriage has a funny way of bringing out things that perhaps could have remained covered up as a single person. My brokenness reared its ugly head in many ways during the years of marriage in many colourful shapes and sizes. The most significant of these was the underlying root of insecurity. Insecurity was the heart of many other issues in my life and it took a good twenty years to discover this. Insecurity can suck the life out of you and if you are not careful, can actually kill you.
My precious baby girl was getting to the age where she enjoyed bedtime stories and her daddy was at the stage where he enjoyed reading them. Lorah and her daddy sat in bed together having a nice cuddle while enjoying an Enid Blyton book. A healthy, loving bond was forming between a daddy and a daughter.
Outside the bedroom was where I sat. I was sitting in the hallway outside the closed bedroom door crying my eyes out. Why on earth was I crying? I was crying because I was riddled with fear and insecurity. Fear that my baby girl was being molested by her daddy. Trapped in this insecurity, I was too afraid to go into the bedroom for fear of what I might find. Too paralysed to move away from the door and too scared to go into the room.
Was Lorah being molested? No, of course not, her dad would never dream of doing such a thing. So why did I have such an unreasonable fear? My foundation was set on the wrong things, my view of men was based on my past experiences and my view of daddies was based on my past experience with my daddy and step daddy.
Thankfully I met Jesus before Lorah was born and although I had a long road of healing ahead of me at least the process had started. This incident with me sitting outside Lorah’s bedroom door was a part of the healing process. It was essential that my perception of men was undone, that my expectation of men was changed and that my foundation was re-laid so that God could rebuild me into a healthy whole woman. As time went by, I was able to change my mind about Lorah’s dad and see that all men don’t abuse their daughters.
Next came the layer of insecurity in the area of intimacy. How was it possible to be married and do the intimate things that married people do whilst all the while feeling like a dirty prostitute? For me sex either felt like rape or prostitution or on occasion reminded me of my dad’s hand on my body. How could this possibly be God’s plan, why did God come up with this horrible thing that we have to do for the rest of our lives? It’s so dirty and so horrible. As the years went by I was able to totally destroy this horrible perception and fully understand the beauty of two flesh becoming one .
For me it was a given that my husband would be attracted to his female co-workers or bosses. There was no way in my mind that a man could go to work and be alongside women and not want to be with them sexually. At one point it was so ridiculous that I even thought my husband was having an affair with his homosexual colleague! If he was five minutes late home from work I started to panic, instantly thinking that there was another woman involved. This caused me to cause such a scene when he ever came home late so my poor husband was left with no choice but to be home on time or else.
Over the years I had understood who my real daddy was; I loved God and knew He loved me too. In my mind I was safe in His arms, I was His little princess and I felt Him close to me most of the time. This helped me feel secure in many ways but not in every way. I had a long way to go in trusting men. I saw God as a daddy and was secure in this but I didn’t see Him as a husband or lover and was not at all secure in this side of things. My foundation was still based on earthly romantic love and not heavenly romance, which left me very insecure.
Facing the Truth
Lying in our bed, enjoying the warmth of Eric’s embrace, I pondered on the truth that was becoming very obvious to me. It was a gorgeous summer’s morning and we had a full day ahead of us so we felt justified in a little lay in before we braved the day. Meetings, band practice, community outreach and our weekly team meeting were ahead of us and we knew that we would be dashing from one thing to the next until we were able to flop back down in our bed later that evening.
Taking full advantage of this rare and precious moment I simply lay enjoying a nice cuddle with my wonderful husband. We had covered a lot of ground and come a long way in the six years that we had been together. It was not yet our sixth wedding anniversary and already we had two new beautiful children in addition to our daughters from my first marriage, we had a mortgage and a nearly new car, we had planted a Church from scratch and were one week away from recording our first music CD.
Those are just a few big things, in addition to those biggies we had also covered a lot of ground as a couple, overcoming baggage from the past and helping each other reach our full potential. It was beautiful what God had done in our lives but I knew that I had to face the truth. Even though I had experienced a great deal of freedom, I was not yet totally free. There was one giant I still had to face... and it was big, fat and ugly. Everything inside of me didn’t want to admit that I still had to face this. I had spent years having a measure of success in this area and had already overcome a large amount of it, but the ugly truth was that I was not free from it yet.
I lay in the comfort of Eric’s arms, feeling completely safe and peaceful, remembering the lovely date night we had the night before. I knew we would never have the best possible marriage if I didn’t kill this giant. Our Church would never be the best it could be if I didn’t kill this giant. My children would inherit the giant and they would have to face it and kill it if I didn’t. Continuing to deny it and avoid it was now becoming very selfish. I had to face the truth. I was insecure, that was the ugly truth!
I turned from my comfortable position in Eric’s embrace and faced him.
“Darling, I have to tell you something.” I said
“There is something I have to deal with and it’s going to be very painful and I really need your support without any judgement.”
Eric listened intently trying to understand where I was going.
“You know in the past I have struggled with insecurity? You can clearly see how much I am struggling with it right now, with this whole CD recording thing? I really don’t feel good enough as a singer to be recording this CD with the band and I really don’t want to let the team down.”
He offered some loving, comforting, encouraging words which felt nice but I knew I had to push through and be completely honest. Stopping here would achieve nothing. I really wanted to linger in his kind words and leave it at that but I knew that would keep me in hiding from the whole truth. Yes I did feel insecure about my ability as a singer but that was not the root and the heart of my insecurity, which was just a little fruit of it! So I continued...
“Facing this season of singing and being on stage and recording our album is a great opportunity for me to press into God and for me to find my confidence in Him. It is a great opportunity for me to work on my insecurity but once the CD recording is over I should be fine in this area. The pressure of it all is just causing me to face some things I have buried.
I believe that after the CD recording I will have to face the real giant. I am still insecure. You know how I have struggled and worked at it, but it is still here and I haven’t fully faced it and overcome it. In all my struggles I think I have managed it or even suppressed it but I have never overcome it and been able to live in freedom from it.
I believe God has called me to lead women as I understand so much of the struggles and constraints that we have as women. But... I don’t believe He will be able to fully use me as He wishes while I am still bound in insecurity. I need you to understand what is coming so you will not judge me, but support me. When insecurity comes, it consumes me. It is like some evil spirit takes over and I lose my ability to be rational. I know you love me darling, I really do and I have no doubts that you will always be faithful to me. I know that in my head but my heart doesn’t always hear my head when the insecurity comes. Sometimes I feel so insecure I actually get physically nauseous.
Please don’t judge me; I am so scared that you will judge me. It’s not my fault, I have a broken foundation. The way I see things is that a father should be affirming his little girl from a young age telling her how beautiful and how clever she is. He should be showing her the father heart of God and lavishing her in his ‘daddy love’. This sets the foundation for her entire life and this is partly where she will draw her security from, from her father’s love.
I don’t have that. From a young age my father showed me that women are for sex and to hit when they felt angry. I never really had a good foundation set by my father and when he abused me as a young woman it shattered any bit of foundation that I had. I built relationship after relationship with boys on that foundation and each hurt and each breakup caused an even bigger crack in the foundation of my life. I have really tried to be free from this but it is a foundational thing that needs major repair and only God can do this.
I see now that God has been merciful and has given me a nice long break from feeling insecure so that I can gain some strength. I also know that it was just that, a break from dealing with it. It is still there which you will soon see when the giant comes back to taunt me. I know I have to face it and I feel God is preparing me for battle. He has been so kind and merciful to me and given me a good long rest from it but I do feel Him calling me to battle. I do feel Him saying that if I am ready, He is ready to begin His work in me.”
Eric nodded as he listened, trying desperately to understand what I was talking about. Finally he spoke:
“So what will this attack look like, what am I looking out for? How will I know how to support you?”
This was the moment of truth! Either I spoke the brutal truth or I continued to hide behind how it really worked. So I just said it as I saw it.
“The attack will probably come in the form of a woman. She will come into our life, probably into Church and she will have all the things that I feel I don’t have. She will be confident in the areas that I don’t feel confident in and she will be all the things I feel I am not. She will be totally lovely and I will take an instant disliking to her. None of it will be her fault, it will all be my foundation of insecurity.
This is my battle - you can’t fight it for me. I have to face this and I have to win once and for all. Have you noticed how few women we have in Church? It’s because of me, it’s because I am not a healthy leader and I would damage healthy women. Please don’t judge me, I don’t want to be this way but I can see that this is the truth now. Our marriage, family and church will never flourish until I kill this giant. You can’t do anything for me except pray and most of all, when you see me struggling and being totally unreasonable, please don’t say anything. Don’t judge me, just understand that I am fully aware of what is going on and am in a battle. This is most likely how it will happen but of course I can’t say for sure.”
As always Eric had the perfect response, he always knows what to say and how to help me. Oh how amazing it is to have someone to confide in, someone to trust with this heavy burden. He gently responded:
“Darling I will cover you in prayer and do whatever you need me to do. I don’t blame you; it’s not your fault that you are struggling with this. You were never given a solid, healthy foundation and I don’t blame you, I won’t judge you.”
It was a done deal. I had confessed the whole truth to Eric and now I was accountable. I desperately wanted to be free and healed. Confessing the whole truth was a very important first step. As it says in the book of James in the Bible, this will bring about healing .
The next step was to get ready for battle. I wasn’t going to sit around being ignorantly and unsuspectingly pounced on by the devil. Not this time, too many times had he caught me out and won the battle. This time I was going to be prepared and then I was going to pick a fight with him. Thankfully I have an example of someone who did the same, He was much younger than me but He too picked a fight with the intention of winning. The result: the giant died and an entire nation was freed from oppression. Perhaps I could do the same thing, perhaps in conquering my giant I too could win a battle for all the girls in England or perhaps even the world. Why not, I serve a big God so may as well think big!
The journey began; I decided to study 1 Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath, to see if I could find any tips on giant killing. Why not, there could be no harm in learning from one who had done exactly what I intended to do.
This is a snippet of the second chapter from my new book 'Secure on the Rock' which will be released in paperback on 1 March 2011. Chapter 3 of Secure on the Rock will follow soon, more info available here.
A Sandy Foundation
Daddy, do you think I am pretty? Daddy, watch me dance! Daddy, I love you. Daddy, why did you touch me there? Daddy, why did you kick Mommy down the steps? Daddy, what are you doing to my brother?
Sadly, not every little girl has fond memories of her daddy. Although I love my daddy very much now as an adult, I don’t have very many fond memories of him when I was growing up. I don’t blame my dad as he didn’t have a great childhood either. Who knows where it all started, perhaps my granddad had a horrible childhood too? My dad was the sort of dad that grew violently angry from time to time and on occasion took it out on his children. He also did many inappropriate things as a married man, but that’s his and my mom’s story to tell if they choose to.
From a little girl to a young woman
One afternoon I was in my bedroom having a cleanup and thorough sort out. I was a neat freak so took pleasure in having regular cleaning sessions in my bedroom. My dad came into my bedroom and sat next to me. I can’t really remember exactly how things transpired but I specifically remember his hand slipping under my nightgown and onto my breast.
Shock, horror, confusion and disgust filled me as he held a cheerful smile on his face. I cried and screamed internally as he continued to fondle me but didn’t have the guts to stop him. I could see that he was going to go as far as he could and I got really frightened. Although I wanted to scream ‘Stop!’ at the top of my voice, I couldn’t. A very quiet ‘Stop’ escaped my mouth. He continued a little longer but after I began to cry bitterly and mustered up the courage to tell him to stop again, he stopped. What hurt more than the physical violation was what he said afterwards. As I sat there sobbing uncontrollably, he looked at me with a grin on his face and said;
“Angela, I only did this for two reasons. One was to teach you about boys and girls and the other one was because I like it!”
He left my room and I can’t remember a thing after that, or ever mentioning it to my dad. I can’t tell you how that incident left me feeling and I can’t tell you the immediate impact it had on my life. I was fourteen years old. A young and tender age where my body was only beginning to develop physically and take shape and my mind was only starting to come to terms with the transition I was making from a little girl into a young woman. As you can imagine, this shattered the foundation of my life and my views on what a daddy is and does.
I never mentioned it to my mother, mostly because I didn’t want to hurt her, but also because I was confused and didn’t know how to name it. If it had been full penetration I could have said; “Mom, Dad had sex with me”. There was no sex though, just a mere fondling of my breast while I was in my nightgown, so I thought I was overreacting and chose to forget about it.
If you have experienced anything similar, you will understand how this messes with your mind. Perhaps if you’ve never experienced anything like this, you might find it really difficult to understand why it is such a big deal and why I even bother writing about it. I believe this was a significant turning point in my life, a point where I lost respect for myself and started hating myself for allowing my dad to treat me that way.
Sunday Night Fears
Sadly it didn’t end here; I continued to allow my dad to treat me in an inappropriate way. Sunday nights became a time of fear and anxiety, as he would drive me back to the boarding school where I boarded every week. The journey took about forty-five minutes and after travelling for about ten minutes my dad would put his hand on my knee as he drove, by the time we arrived at my hostel he would have worked his hand all the way up to the top of my leg. On occasion his hand got uncomfortably high up. I hated it but never did anything about it at all!
Why didn’t I just say no or simply remove his hand from my leg? Questions plagued my mind. Why was he doing this to me? What were his intentions, did he intend to pull over one Sunday and go ‘all the way’? What was wrong with me, why couldn’t I just say no and make him stop? Worst of all, because nothing terrible was happening I thought it was all in my mind, making things worse than they seemed, so I didn’t tell my mom about it.
One particular Sunday night I couldn’t face the journey. Fear gripped me. I pleaded with my mom to drive me to the hostel but she said no. I continued to plead with her, and even started crying but she just said, “Don’t be silly Angela!” So off we went once again, he did the hand thing and then we both got on with our week as usual until the next Sunday evening arrived. To be honest I don’t know if he meant anything sexual by it at all. If it weren’t for our previous encounter in my bedroom I may not have thought anything of it, but that scene was still fresh in my mind. I didn’t know what to think or who to trust any more. Worse of all, I didn’t know my dad’s intentions any more. Did he love me or did he lust after me?
Needless to say, my view of the male gender grew increasingly negative. I struggled through my teenage years facing constant confusion and torment. My value was clear to me, I was dirty and worthless. Princesses only existed in fairly tales and men definitely didn’t help damsels in distress.
Every little girl wants to know that their daddy thinks they are beautiful! As we grow older that doesn’t change, our heart and soul still longs to hear the words, “You are beautiful”.
All my life I heard the words, “Angela, you are strong”, or “Angela, you will get through this - you know you are strong”. The words that caught me off guard one day were the words my husband, Eric, spoke to me. To my surprise the very words that I thought would cause me offense were the exact words that set me free. Quite simply, he said,
“Darling, you are not strong”.
Hearing these simple words caught me off guard. What do you mean? I have always been told how amazingly strong I am and how I can always get through anything because I can cope. Are you really telling me that I am not all these things? Why does this feel good?
Secure on the Rock is my journey in discovering the beautiful gift God has given me in making me the weaker vessel. He has shown me who I really am and set me free from the snare of controlling insecurity. No longer do I live life confused and unsure of myself; I know who I am and I love being me. I don’t have to be in control and I don’t have to feel insecure, I am totally free to be me. All my life I have longed for this freedom, believing it only to be a fairy tale, but today I can testify beyond reasonable doubt that this freedom is possible, it’s not a fairly tale and best of all you can have it too!
Tonight we had our very first King's Daughters Girls Night! It was a wonderful evening where we shared a meal together, played a super silly game and shared our thoughts about being a woman. We wrote down in our nice pink King's Daughters booklets, how we honestly feel about being a woman at this point in our life. Although it seemed like a difficult question at first, it wasn't long before we were all scribbling away frantically. My top observation of tonight's little get together, is that we all need to feel confidently beautiful! One thing or another has robbed us of that in our life, so us girls are praying for each other this week so that we can get back to being the beautiful women that God created us to be! I am very excited about what God is going to do in our life. If you would like to join us and start a Girls Night in your home, get in touch and I will send you the notes we are working through.
Since writing about my friend I have had a flood of responses from all over the world. It seems that it is not only my heart that is breaking for the lost and dying world out there but yours is too. Too often we feel helpless because we can't make a difference to all the injustice in the world. Perhaps what you might not have realised is that you can make a difference - a huge difference to someone else's world - just be being their best friend. Find out about how D7 Church is changing the city of Gloucester one person at a time, by being best friends with the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes, businessmen, city leaders, teenagers, alcoholics and many others. 'One Best Friend' shares the real life stories of people who have had their lives saved by the love of Jesus through their one best friend. Stories are currenlty being gathered and proof read - anticipated release date January 2012