Monday, July 2, 2012

Open Season

Since September 2011, when I e-published my book, (see my "About Me" page), I've been exposed to a lot of unexpected criticism.  I happened to mention in my book a couple of times some of the history that led me to the place of living life all bound up in grave-clothes: raised from the dead like Lazarus, and thinking I was free but unable to enjoy anything, unable to make any progress, wondering if this was all there was to life.  Part of that history is the fact that I was abused as a child: physically, sexually, verbally, emotionally and (worst of all) spiritually. 

The book isn't about the abuse, though.  It's about the hopeless state of mind I was in as an adult and how I found a way out, a way which I had never been shown or told about, and into a place of real relationship with God, with myself, and eventually with others, including coming to a place of forgiving my abusers!

Anyway, with only ONE exception, the reaction from the people I mentioned (never once did I give a name or an address; I'm not after revenge) and the response from people who think they know them, has been nothing short of vitriolic.  I'm reminded of the Pharisees who were present at the stoning of Stephen, who, when they heard the truth that they were responsible for the greatest atrocity in history, were so incensed that they plugged their ears, ground their teeth and started throwing stones at him to shut him up.  It was "Open Season" on Christians -- and Stephen was the first to be targeted. Nothing mattered to the Pharisees except their own image. The truth did not set them free... they didn't want to have anything to do with the truth.

Of course, I'm not equating myself with Stephen.  Or my birth family with the Pharisees.  But their reaction has been far over the top of anything that I would have expected, especially since I had given them the opportunity of reading the book before I published, and they said nothing to me about it at the time.  Only after I was published did I hear the rumblings of second-hand stories regarding the reaction of "the family." As it was when I was growing up, they seem to be more concerned with how they appear to others, than they are about how many people (possibly even themselves) could be helped out of the same hopeless state of mind through reading about my experience of inner healing, and applying the principles for "living life" that I learned along the way.  

Their reaction has helped me redefine some boundaries.  I spent my whole life, almost into my 50s, feeling ashamed if I told the truth about myself: hiding so much behind respectability and "what people might think" that I avoided becoming vulnerable and open.  As a result, I not only wasn't able to come to a place of healing from the hurts of my past, I wasn't able to help anyone else either.  When God finally brought me to the place where I was forced to ask for help, I discovered that what was required to begin to heal inside was absolute, rigorous honesty and openness at all times - first and foremost with myself.  

Since that time, it's been "open season" on Judy - all bets are off.  I have given (and continue to give) my will and my life over to the care of God, and nothing in my life is off-limits to Him.  And the road has been quite bumpy; at times it's been nearly overwhelming.  He's brought some pretty difficult things to the surface over the last while, things that I couldn't possibly face by myself - and has stood with me, strengthening me to face those things with honesty and trust in Him. 

The reaction of those people has only served to refine the lessons I have learned (and which I continue to learn!) while healing.  Forgiveness is a process that starts with a decision to want to forgive - and continues as you learn to let go.  Forgiveness doesn't mean you let people walk all over you again and again.  Some relationships can be salvaged and restored.  And some ... can't.  It takes willingness on both sides.  If the other side isn't willing, and wants to go back to the way things were (dysfunctional, manipulative, controlling, etc.) then it's time to walk away.  It's sad, but sometimes it has to be that way.  I can't expect them to be in the same place to which God has brought me by His grace, much as I might want that.  They need to come to that place themselves, and NOTHING I can do will make that happen. 

What I CAN do is continue to be open and honest with myself, with God, and with others - especially with those who might be getting to the place of desperation, the same place I was at 48 years old when I looked at my life and knew I needed help, knew enough to ask for it.  

And I got help, and hope, and healing.  And so can you.

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