From: Kathi Sharpe [Kathi] |
Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 8:44 AM
To: AOGDialog (at) yahoogroups.com
Subject: RE: [AOGDialog] Into & and a Question
[Note: This email from is in response to a post to the AOGDialog message board by "Janie," who related how she had suffered much abuse as a child of cult members, and whose child had also suffered abuse at the hands of her ex-husband. "Janie" concluded in her email: Janie, it sounds like you have been through a lot in your life. I've been in similar situations, where I've just had to ask "Why would God do this? Loving and merciful? Hah!"
I promise not to dump too much scripture into your lap … and I hope what I have to say helps in some way. Forgive my long-windedness :)
I was seriously abused as a child. We went to a "dead church" … people showed up for the social interaction and that's about it. I had many questions about God as a youngster, but they were never answered. In fact, I was punished for asking on more than one occasion. As a teenager, I investigated other churches, and really thought that all churches were alike. I stopped going to church altogether and remained a believer only in name. In reality, I started looking for God in alcohol and abusive men.
I was raped and became pregnant as a teenager, and I'm raising that child today. My first marriage (at way too young of an age!) failed miserably due to abuse and adultery on my husband's part. The final straw for my nominal Christianity was when my husband found a preacher to come to our house for "marriage counseling" and the preacher told me that Biblically speaking, my husband had the right to beat me. (I assume he was talking about the verse in Ephesians that talks about wives submitting to their husbands, but I'm not sure. This man was later fired by his church for a variety of reasons, this kind of "advice" being one of them.)
After a time of searching, I ended up leaving God altogether and becoming a Pagan. I embraced the occult for nearly ten years. While I didn't do anything "bad" by society's standards (don't believe anything hollywood says about witches), I was certainly living an ungodly life. Plus, the false gods that I was following were not providing any fulfillment … my heart was empty. I lived day by day with no hope for the future or anything else. My children and new marriage were suffering emotional and spiritual decay, although I didn't realize it at the time. I was also suffering serious health problems, including near deafness.
And then one day, I began to have dreams of Jesus. After ten years of not even thinking about Him except when the door-to-door witnesses dropped by, He all of a sudden shows up in person. <grin> Needless to say, it rocked my world. I've accepted Jesus as my savior and have been getting to know Him. The grace that I've received is amazing. Miracles have happened (including the restoration of my hearing) and my entire life has changed.
So, even though I'm not in the same place you're in right now, I know what it is to be outside of faith and trust in God. I know what it is to be questioning and confused and scared. And I know what it is, even now, to have to stop and think through a situation.
The first thing I did (once I caught by breath and sought the advice of some Christian friends) was find a solid, supportive, Bible-believing church. Additionally, I've done more than show up Sunday mornings … I've immersed myself into church life, made friendships with the people there, spent time talking to the pastor, gotten involved with programs, etc. From your letter, it's hard to tell if you have that in your life right now. It's important, especially in times of stress or pain, to have caring, supportive, and (perhaps most of all) objective Christians that you can rely on. Family is good, but they may lack the objectivity to really help in situations of faith. And Christian friends (even (or especially) internet ones :::smiling at Rich:::) are absolutely wonderful too. Also, you need to find someone that you can trust with your children. Always have a contingency plan for emergencies!
Our pastor discussed an interesting thing in sunday school this week … the passage we were studying was Romans 8:38-39 …
"Now I have no faith. I try but I can not find it within me anymore. When I ask questions of ministers all's they give me is bible scripture. I can quote the bible inside and out but that does not help the pain I feel toward a God I trusted.
"Now I am confused, scared, and I don't understand. I came here hoping that someone could help me to heal and trust again. And help me to find the faith I once had long ago" ]
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord". For this study, we really focused on one word out of one of the pairs … "neither death nor life". Death obviously is not a separation from God for the saved, so that leaves life.
Life isn't fair … anyone who's lived a while has to admit that. Plans fail, people get sick or hurt, houses burn down … I could go on and on but I probably don't need to. While I certainly don't believe that God causes harm to us, I do think that sometimes things happen to get us back on the right track. A plan may fail, only to open the door to something better. And certainly the devil will put things in our path to trip us up, anywhere he can. But people … ordinary people, you and me, your ex-husband, do a pretty good job of mucking things up ourselves. Sometimes its out of ignorance or neglect, and sometimes it's out of malice. Hurting people can do hurting things. It's the "down" side of free will.
It's what you do with the circumstances that fall into your life that really matters. You don't have to know the "why" of something happening. It's possible to take something terrible and use that experience to make something good. For example, in spite of the horror of being raped, I have a fine son who is growing into a young man of great promise. At the time I found out I was pregnant, I had a lot of choices to make: was I going to throw myself off the nearest cliff, abort, give up my baby, or keep it? I decided that the baby was a gift, not a curse … and I've never regretted it.
LIFE can't separate us from God … but we can separate ourselves if we don't keep the proper perspective on problems. In times of trouble, you can run from God … or to Him.
One last comment … Even as a Pagan, I was very familiar with the Bible. In fact, I could quote more scipture than my Baptist mother in law, a fact which caused several family fights! But I've found that now, as I re-read the Bible, even passages that I know by heart, it's "sinking in" to my heart. It's kind of hard to describe … but it sounds like you've got the Bible in your head, but not in your heart.
I need to end this and get back to work :) I don't know if this will help or if I've just been rambling … but I hope and pray that you'll find the answers you need soon. God will be there for you, just as soon as you ask.
Janie, just as I was about to mail this, your letter came in where you talk about your mother, the cult, and the abuse you suffered as a child. I urge you to find a good Christian counselor you can talk to about this. No, I'm not saying you need a shrink :) I'm saying that having a trusted professional who you can talk to can help you work through your past and move forward confidently into your future.
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