The reality of there only being fourteen days until I leave for the She Speaks writing conference where I will have the opportunity to pitch the book I’ve been working on is really setting in. Fear and anxiety at times are overwhelming. I’m not afraid of being turned down or told it’s not ready by publishers and agents. In fact that’s to be expected. No, the fear that kept me from writing throughout my twenties has crept it’s way back in now that I’m truly chasing after the “dream” God has called me too.
So what am I so truly afraid of?
More Specifically, being consumed by them.
I’m finally at the place where “my deepest joy is confronted by my greatest fear”(McKinley, R). My deepest joy is bringing glory to the God who loves me. If I could spend the rest of my life sharing my story, pouring out my gratitude for all that God has done in me, I would be living a dream.
But the desire to share my story with others wasn’t always for the right reasons. There was a time when sharing with others was all about me. As a teen, it was about pointing out how far I had brought myself and about shaming the mother for whom I had so much contempt at the time.
Because of this, I refuse to write anything including articles here, without seeking God first. And I was doing just that yesterday morning when God put this passage in front of me.
Acts 12:22-23 The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!” Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.
This path that God very clearly has me on is not just to be voice for the voiceless. It’s a daily declaring that He is in control of my life, not me. If it’s because of anything I’ve said or done, then it’s too easy to accept the praise and end up like King Herod.
Here’s an excerpt from the end of chapter 3 that speaks directly to this point.
As I read the story of Tamar over and over, this verse is where I get stuck:
2 Samuel 13:20 …So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house.
It weighs so heavy on my heart because it could have just as easily read like this:
So Shelly (the daughter of King Jesus) lived, a desolate teen, in her grandmother’s and eventually her mother’s house.
Yes, like Tamar, the consequences of my parent’s sin spilled over into my life.
Yes, like Tamar, I was manipulated/forced into sex with a then family member.
Yes, like Tamar, I went unprotected for a time by a parent.
Yes, the years following were a time of desolation and wandering. They were a time of feeling alone and sorting through all the questions, all the emotions, all the baggage that teen rape brings. They were a time of believing that I was damaged goods and could never be loved the way I so deeply desired to be. They were a time of wondering where I could carry my shame and a time of being silenced by the shame of those involved.
My sin, however, was not to hide like Tamar did. Instead of allowing legitimate shame to expose my sin, I shielded myself from God’s healing hands by embracing contempt. It was easier for me to blame my mother, than to own that any part of me had any part of the events that transpired. It was easier for me to hate her, than to give in to my desperate longing for her to be restored as mother in my life. She had lost that right and out of fear that she would ever fail me again, I was determined that I was the only mother I needed.
It wouldn’t be until college and a strange conversation with my future father-in-law after my future husband’s twenty first birthday celebration (although I didn’t know they’d end up family at the time), that I would come to embrace the idea I could only love my mother. I finally owned that I could not control her, I could not change her, and my contempt for her was only hurting me.
I’ll never forget the drive back to Bakersfield from my college dorm at California Baptist University. The mental anguish and at times self-loathing for what I was about to do argued in Gollum like fashion with the deep conviction that this was the right thing to do. I just couldn’t believe that I was again about to apologize and I felt she never had. It wasn’t, however, worth a life time of waging war against someone so precious to me.
The yelling, the screaming, the direct defiance, the often subconscious yet intentional ways I tried to even the score of pain, the disgust, disdain, and dishonor in my attitude towards her, all the walls I built between us were my fault. I knew that I didn’t want our relationship to continue the way it was. If there was ever any hope of having a “normal” relationship with my mother again, I was going to have to ask for her forgiveness.
If there was any hope that I would put down my shield of contempt and let God, the Great Physician, the Miraculous Healer, work on me, it was time to own my depravity and stop attacking my mother’s dignity.
So, I apologized. Admitting that I too, was a sinner in need of forgiveness, was the first and most important step in my healing process.
Here too is where the answer to why God allowed this to happen to me no longer dominated my thoughts. This was a sin issue that began in the Garden of Eden and continues in our broken world today. Every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve live with the generational consequences of sin.
I knew God loved me.
I knew God loved everyone…including Ken…including my mother.
I knew God loved the whole world and that’s why He sent His son.
I knew that I was a sinner who’d been saved by grace and was in desperate need of His mercy.
I knew that God had never left my side. He patiently waited and I’m sure could barely stand to watch as I self-destructed in what was probably a G-rated implosion by most standards. He never allowed that hole in my heart that only He could fill to be satisfied with any lustful endeavors or prideful moments of proving that I was not broken.
Like King David, it was hard to see that I’d wandered from the presence of God because I’d left the light of His glory in search of my own. Thankfully God always leaves the porch light on so we can find our way back home.
And when I turned back, God embraced His broken daughter who had been devastated by circumstances. He kissed her bruises and tended to her wounds. He walked with her daily restoring her soul, restoring her ability to trust, and ultimately leading her to a place of forgiveness.
God had a purpose and a plan for this pain. He has a purpose and a plan for every pain. Your devastation may be different than mine. Desolation, however, is not the end of the story; it’s the beginning of God’s glory (Tweet That)!
While I was once a victim, I was always a sinner. I still am. It’s by God’s love, grace, and mercy alone, that I am who I am today.
This story is no longer one that I want to be known for. Every ounce of me cringes when I share, but not because I still experience pain from the past, because it’s not who I am any longer. That is where God’s glory lies.
Only God can can lead the victim down the path of victory (Tweet That)!
The fear though that my sinful self will ever go back to the place of self glorification still exists. It’s in remembering that I’m capable of such a thing, that I do all I can to safe guard against it.
It would be so sad to have walked all this way with Christ only to end up being consumed by worms.
What does this have to do with you?
We are all capable (and probably do) in small subtle ways take God’s glory for ourselves. I think it happens in ways like accepting a compliment on how awesome our kids are or saying only thank you when we are praised for a job well done. There is no accomplishment that a Christ follower can take credit for. We breath by the grace and mercy of God alone. It’s easy to forget that and allow pride to wiggle it’s way in without us even realizing it.
This is place of community and conversation, which means I shouldn’t be the only doing the talking. My job is to just get the dialogue started. Here are some ways you can participate:
- Leave a response in the comments below. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? If you’re still not sure what to say try answering this question: What are some other ways we are guilty of stealing God’s glory?
- Did you like what you read? Did you learn anything? Gain any insight? Then share that with others. Let your friends know. Use the share buttons as a way of engaging others in this dialogue.
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