"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's Be Honest

I was looking through some old family photos and having a good laugh at all the different costumes my parents used to dress us up in to go Trick-or-Treating. The fun was always in the creativity of making something from nothing, and then getting to pretend to be that character. Even as a toddler and in primary school masquerading for candy and treats was such fun.
But as adults, masquerading takes on a whole different meaning, and usually is not fun...

How many of you have you ever masqueraded around acquaintances, co-workers, and strangers to keep your private life private? Most people do that - society considers it normal behavior. People put on facades for various reasons. But are there times in your life that you have tried to keep things hidden from your family or your trusted friends because you're embarrassed, or ashamed, by your situation, whatever it may be? I know I have at one time or another. It's as if I'm hoping my life will just correct itself if I deny the truth. I think to myself, "If I can just hide it long enough from these people, then maybe I will forget about it too and it will just simply dissolve on its own." But let's be honest, no matter how long we hide truths from others, we can not hide them from ourselves without it affecting our life and the people around us - eventually. Most importantly, we can never hide from our Creator who has known us since before the womb.

Psalm 139: 13, 15-16
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Isaiah 46:3-4
3 “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
all you who remain in Israel.
I have cared for you since you were born.
Yes, I carried you before you were born.
4 I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.

Let me tell you my story of trying to hide from the world...and I'll be brutally honest. Thirteen years ago, before I was a teacher, I was masquerading around everyone I knew for several months. I was trying desperately to hide the anguish and despair of my life from the people around me in my little corner of the world. You see, I had recently broken up with my boyfriend at the time, in which he started stalking me, I was being sexually harassed by a co-worker in my secondary job (as a youth director) and I thought I had done something to "lead him on", and finally my primary job - which was also ministry work (as a missionary) - was not paying the bills. All of this put me over the edge after several months of hiding it. I wanted to seclude myself from the world, but at the same time I was not wanting to be by myself. My soul was in so much turmoil and I had such enormous amounts of internal contradiction.

I found myself praying - no, CRYING OUT - to God every night for Him to just take me (like He did Enoch and Elijah in the Old Testament) so I could be in Heaven with Him and not have to feel the pains, or deal with my life.   I WANTED TO BE DEAD! (Please notice I said I wanted the Lord to take my life...suicide was never an option, but dying was definitely on my mind every day and night.) I couldn't understand why I needed to remain on earth. I could see no purpose for my life. Therefore, my thought was to just let me die.
That was my state of mind. Sad, huh? Scary even! More over, I was losing weight by the day it seemed. I had lost 30 pounds in about two weeks time. My lowest weight was 97 pounds...even for my height I knew that is too skinny. I didn't notice any of these changes in my body. I was too focused on successfully pulling off this facade. Thank goodness though my friends and family noticed the changes in me. And not only did they notice, but they approached me with love, concern and conversation. My parents thought I was anorexic...which I tried to convince them right away there was no concern... I wanted to eat, I just wasn't hungry. But it was a friend who I had only known for about a year, who mentioned depression to me and opened up dialogue on the subject. I hated that word - depression - the moment she said it. All I could think of was How could I be depressed, I'm in the ministry doing the Lord's work? What kind of example was I to the teenagers and college students I was leading if I was depressed? I'm supposed to be the strong one. But she was right. I was depressed! and I needed help! I was too embarrassed to admit it at first. Worse than that, I knew I needed professional help, but I couldn't afford it. I was even more embarrassed by my poverty. I was willing though to speak to a Christian counselor/psychologist, even though I abhorred the idea, and was nervous, about "spilling my guts" to a stranger. I swallowed my pride and spoke with my pastor to see if my church could help - quietly of course with no one knowing. They agreed immediately.

Side note: Did you know most churches have a Benevolence Fund specifically set up to support the needs of their members in the church body?
It was definitely a blessing. My pastor was also able to point me in the right direction for a Christian Counselor. Long story short...I wasn't as messed up as I felt. It took 2-3 sessions where all I did was cry and be brutally honest about what I was thinking and feeling. Then with two more sessions we discussed what changes needed to take place in my life, and all under scriptural guidance and prayer.

*Now moving ahead to present day....

More recently, I have found myself at times again asking that same group of questions from so many years ago, "Why am I here? What purpose can You have for me on this earth? I am still without a husband and children. I again do not see Your will. Please just take me, Lord!"  This time though the depression was brought on by grieving my father's death.

It is a year today, June 14, that he has been physically gone from our family. So many guilts are still fresh, the longing to hear his voice and to see his face still stir my heart... but I am finding joys I was unable to find in the past eight months. Throughout the year, it seemed that in the hours when I was alone and my soul hurt the most, all I wanted was to be so busy my mind could only think on the task at hand, and therefore, I would not have to think about missing Daddy. Well, the most difficult time was between months 4 and 10 of my grief journey and my most needy of times for friendship.
Let me pause and say that I have been blessed with one or two long-time friends, and one or two new friends, who have been kind enough through this year to lend a listening ear to my sorrows, and to give of themselves (and their family-time) when they saw my need to be around others was so great. I am realizing now how much their support drained their own emotions and energy. Unfortunately, I feel I may have worn some of those friendships thin due to my constant need and my overwhelming personality. I only hope these sweet individuals know how much they are appreciated and that I hope I have not damaged our friendships permanently. I am on the mend, and I wish to thank you each deeply for your individual ways you have helped my journey along. Your tender and tough love has been much appreciated, as well as your constant prayers. {You know who you are, Friends!  Thank you! xo}
In my anguish, and with each step of my journey in grieving my father's passing this past year, I was  denying myself (not on purpose) the actual grieving process. Instead, I was pouring myself  into helping others and staying constantly busy. One of the friends mentioned above recently gave me some advice, in which she quoted from Henry Blackaby's book Experiencing God...she reminded me, "Don't just do something - stand there!"  How true! But until a few weeks ago, I was unable to be still in my grief and just stand there for the Lord's comfort to wash over me. I was not ready for that step, although I can not tell you why. I do know that God's timing is perfect, and His word reminds us of the stillness we must have to be in communion with Him.

Psalm 46:10a says, Be still, and know that I am God;..."  

And what is so amazing is when we allow His perfect timing to work in our lives. When we are still enough to hear Him will we be able to experience His fullness; and oh, the wonders of His grace which will take place.

I've had a facade up around most everyone I know this past year...I was "wearing a mask" so my true hurt could not be seen. I may have peeled back a few layers of myself with some people, but only those few friends I mentioned earlier have come to know me in my journey. I am seeking to look fully to Him now, and to completely de-mask so I can be myself with others and know the Joys of the Lord. I still hope to confide in those few trusted friends, and partner with each of them in prayer and to be held accountable while continuing on my journey, and theirs. I am striving to not monopolize their time, or emotions, but to seek Christ in those moments of loneliness or hurt. The Lord will provide His comfort in His ways.

I am looking to Him...

May you look to The Creator for comfort as well...and find those trusted friends to hold you accountable and be partnered with in prayer.

Your Sister in Christ,  Terri


  1. Beautiful Terri, beautiful like you. I can relate to many of the points you have written. Thank you for sharing. I wish for you grace, peace and love. Carey P

  2. Thank you, Carey. I know you can relate. His grace is sufficient for us all. May the Lord bless you as He works through you. :)