A Well-Worn Traveler

This morning, I woke up and had kind of a radical realization. I was reading my Bible and praying, as I try and do every morning, when suddenly it hit me. I am not afraid. (Pardon the long post, but this is something I have to write down, especially since fear and dealing with it has been a huge theme on this blog).

Those of you who know me and who regularly read my blog will know that the past year or so has been very intense. Job, David, and I became good friends. Not that I lost everything physically, but God certainly had plans for some major, major pruning. And just when I would relax and think, “Okay, this has to be it. I can rest now,” something else would happen. I mentioned in a post long ago that I had somehow managed to convince myself that because I am a Christian, nothing bad will happen to me, which of course is the opposite of truth. We have only to read the Bible to know that this is not the case. But when we are afraid of things, we will subconsciously twist words to mean what we want them to mean so that we can be falsely comforted. But I was wrong: something bad did happen. And it rocked my world view for months, and then more bad things happened, and they seemed to never stop.

You know those people who you look at and go, “He/she is weathered but they’re still here.” The well-worn travelers of the world, those people who have suffered and come out of it and they’re still standing. They are not afraid, because they know that no matter what happens, they will come out of it. They will be okay. God is sovereign. Life will go on; maybe not immediately, or even soon, but eventually, one day, life will go on, even if it is only in eternity.

I was not one of those people. I was afraid. Because, if I’m being honest, I was missing the point. If I live for myself and my own comfort, of course I’m going to be afraid. I have everything to lose. If my happiness, contentment, strength, and identity lie in the things I do, or the people around me, or what I own, or any circumstances around me, then of course I’m going to be afraid. Losing something of that, or, say, almost being mugged on my way home from campus, will shatter everything.

But I’m not here for me. I’m here for Him. And this morning I realized that I know that. That I can honestly say, as Job did, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” (13:15). Because, quite simply, I’m not the point. HE is the point. And quite easily and suddenly, my fear seemed to simply melt away and a brilliant peace took its place.

The Way Things Are

My heart is in pieces.Although I know that there is hope, and that there are good things in the world, and that the light overcomes the darkness, today I feel the world is in ruins, and today I have no optimism in me. We have the hope of Christ, but today I struggle to find that hope. And I have to speak up.

For how long will this suffering continue? For how long will men continue to rape, abuse, and molest children? For how long will basic human decency be a luxury when it should be just that – basic?

I don’t care about gender issues right now. I know rape is a growing threat to men as well. But right now I care that yet another little girl has been found dead and raped – not by strangers, but allegedly by a family member. A family member. She was four years old. Four years. A society where this kind of thing happens is a sick, dying, twisted, abysmal one.

For how long?

I am a woman. I have to be more on my guard. I have to be cautious even with friends. It is a reality. No, you can’t live in fear, and yet if you look at rape statistics, most rapes are committed not by strangers, but by acquaintances, friends, and family. We can beat around the bush all we want. We can go on and on about how most men are wonderful and won’t do this. We can say it is silly to be so cautious. But numbers don’t lie. Statistics don’t lie. I am asking, what are we supposed to do? Can you understand? Is this getting through? We can react with feminism and gender battles and what not, but not wearing a bra and shaving my head isn’t going to do anything. Talking about the power of women isn’t going to do anything. Arguing about the definition of man and woman and gender and whatever else isn’t going to do anything.

And I am asking, what are we supposed to do?

Apparently the reason why men rape is to feel powerful, and to make the woman feel powerless. Well, congratulations. Women feel powerless. Not only for themselves, but for their children.

What kind of a sick, twisted bastard rapes a little girl? Rapes a baby?

I’m a Christian and I believe in the love of Christ. I believe in His forgiveness. I believe that we should love others.

But right now, today, I am having a hard time with that. Right now, today, I feel like buying a machine gun…no, that would be too quick…I feel like buying every sing torture device known to mankind and hunting down the men who do this and make them suffer like hell. Because no human has the right to take away someone else’s rights, and when you do, you forfeit yours.

Dear governments of the world: you’re acting like a bunch of unfeeling jackasses. You think a few years in prison is punishment enough for rape? Good job. Clearly it’s working.

A Roundabout Merry Christmas

I realize that this is a somewhat unconventional Christmas post, but I hope you will be blessed in some way and perhaps be reminded of forgotten truths.

I ask myself why, since the incident on Main Road happened, I have struggled to delve back into my prayer life and into my relationship with God. I ask myself how I went from being diligent in my Bible reading and prayer and worship and just talking to Him…to being almost put off at the idea of reading my Bible. I always thought people who did this after some sort of crisis were weak or had a weak relationship with God, but in my case, neither of those things is true.

And now I begin to realize that it is because I am afraid. Accepting that it was a spiritual attack as well as physical scares me. Because if we believe God protects us, and yet also know that we are vulnerable to these kinds of things, that confused me. And I realize that despite always saying I believed the opposite, somewhere, somehow I began to believe that being a Christian = bad things won’t happen to you. I have said the opposite countless times; that being a Christian doesn’t guarantee you will be safe from harm. I thought I believed that, but after actually going through something like this, I realize I had a twisted version of the truth in my mind after all. Deep down, I thought that I could never get hurt.

proverbs

The aftermath of what happened was really all the other issues that came crawling out of the woodwork of my past, my memories, my skeletons in the closet. I will say it now, because I can say it and know it is no longer true. I was in denial. About so many things. Instead of dealing with things head on, I ignored them and told myself it was fine. But it wasn’t. I was afraid, of everything; of life, of change, of so many things. It is easier to ignore things than to deal with them. And that deep, horrible fear came out like a beast that had been caged, and I had to – and still have to – fight it back. But I refuse to suppress it any longer. I refuse to ignore fear and let it fester and thrive in the background. I refuse to allow fear to ruin my relationship with God, to ruin the dreams He has given me for my future, to ruin me.

I love The Lord of the Rings, and I relate much more to the character Eowyn eowyn-fighting(princess of a kingdom who just wants to fight in the war and save her people despite everyone underestimating her) than I do to Arwen (Elf princess who sits around looking pretty and crying). I am a daughter of God, yes, and the Proverbs 31 woman is my role model…but I am also a warrior. Warriors are warriors for a reason. Warriors are not needed when things are peaceful. Warriors are needed for a war. For a battle.  This is a battle. But the difference is, we already know who the ultimate victor is. We fight a winning battle, not a losing one.

The battle was won on a rugged cross in the desert over 2,000 years ago. Blood was spilt. A covenant was made. And when I was four years old, and again when I was twelve, I entered into that covenant, into that relationship with Jesus my Savior. The One who has overcome the darkness. It is because of His birth, death, and resurrection that I can sit here today and say all of these things. It is because of His birth, death, and resurrection that I am free. It is because of Him that I can say that I will overcome.

And so on this Christmas Eve, I thank my God for dying on the cross so that I may have life; abundant life here on earth, and eternal life with Him in heaven. And I thank Him for living a full life among us, for walking dusty roads and resisting temptations and feeling all that it means to be human, with all of our struggles and hardships and loneliness and sadness. I thank Him for giving up, for a brief time, the glory and perfection of heaven so that we might be, forever, truly free.

Merry Christmas, and may you experience a new revelation of who He is and of how great His love is for you.

Jesus Children-15

Frustration

In a word: frustration.

Frustration because it was just a rock. Nothing “serious” happened. He threw a rock at my head, and it hit me hard and it hurt. So what?

Frustration because I wish I could just shrug it off. Because I can’t. Because even though my head is saying, “It was just a rock,” my soul feels like it was so much more than that.

Frustration because after a few good days, when I think I’m fine again and everything is back to normal, I have a day where I plummet back down to rock bottom and I feel like nothing will ever be right again. Frustration because when that happens, I feel as if nothing is working, as if the progress I’ve made is all gone. Because I feel like I should be able to move on. Because it was just a rock.

Frustration because even though UCT is being supportive and helpful, and even though I will still get my degree and hopefully still do Honours next year, I feel disconnected. I feel disconnected from my friends, from my fellow students.

Frustration because everyone around me is bustling and busy and finishing up, but I am in this weird, floaty space where no one else is with me. I am alone. Because of a stupid rock.

Frustration because even though I know this will pass, it hasn’t passed yet. And I want it to. And I am tired of being afraid. And of being tired. And of feeling depressed, randomly, without any kind of trigger.

Frustration because, really, there are bigger problems in the world. I should be able to have perspective. Kenya. Pakistan. Countless other horrors we don’t hear about. And I am here, feeling broken, because of a rock. Why can’t I push through and get a grip and get myself together? It was just a rock.

Frustration because I can write and type and talk about these things as much as I want, but it’s not going to go away until it’s ready to go away. And it isn’t ready yet. Soon, but not yet.

I just want to breathe again. To not have laughter be a rare occurrence. The irony is that I usually laugh my hardest when I hit my head on something, because I find it so comical, even if it hurts. I guess it’s different when something hits my head.

 

PS I have been blown away by your support and prayers – the number of phone calls, texts, and emails we have received are well over a hundred. Please know that we appreciate every single one and every prayer.

this will come back...I just wish it was now
this will come back…I just wish it was now

Aftermath

It’s been a week and a day since a man threw a rock at my head. No, it’s not so serious physically. Maybe I should be able to handle it better.

People ask me how I am. I’m fine. What else do you say? You’re not going to have a breakdown in front of Leslie Social on campus in the middle of the day. Because if I say how I really am, that’s what will happen. “I’m fine” is what I can get out without crying.

Oh yeah, I’m fantastic. I’m depressed all the time and I cry when I get home, and when I wake up. It was a spiritual attack more than anything, and yeah, I feel attacked. I apologize for not being made of steel or for being one of those people who can let it just roll off of them. I feel attacked. I feel every ounce of how much the enemy hates me and doesn’t want me here. Yes, I know, God is greater. I KNOW those things. My parents are missionaries, for goodness’ sake. How would I not know these things? I know that I’m an overcomer because of Jesus. I know I am victorious. I know that. And yet, here I sit on my bed, crying because I feel totally overwhelmed and like I’m drowning in all of this. “Pray for your emotions!” Thanks, I know. “Don’t let your emotions rule you!” Yeah. I know. “Don’t let the enemy accomplish what he wanted to.” Sorry. I’ll add that to my list of things to work on, including “Don’t be such a freaking failure.”

These are all things that pop into my own head. It’s easier to project them on other people, but actually everyone around me is being very supportive and understanding towards me, more than I am towards myself. I expect myself to just be fine, and to be able to handle it, and to be ok.

But I’m not ok, and that’s ok. I’m afraid to walk home from campus, and that’s ok. I’m depressed, and that’s ok. I’m tired all the time, and that’s ok. I’m behind with my academics, and that’s ok. I’m overwhelmed by everything, outward things and inward things, and that’s ok. I cry all the time, and that’s ok. And God knows, and He understands, and He knows how deeply this is affected me, and He doesn’t expect me to be made of steel because He more than anyone else knows how weak I am.

There, I said it: I am weak. I’m weak. I’m a wimp. That rock knocked whatever pride I had left out of me. I have nothing left that shows that I, on my own, am strong at all. I am a crying, snotty mess who is afraid to walk alone on Main Road in the middle of the day with people around. I have to ask God for strength to get out of bed, let alone do what I have to do that day. And you know what? That’s a good place to be. So even though I’m in a bad place (and no, I’m not ok at all) I know that God is strong for me. My faith in Him is not shaken. He protected me; something much worse could have happened that day, but He protected me. I didn’t even have a concussion. I’m not ok, and I’m weak, and that’s ok because He is strong. And eventually, maybe not anytime soon, but eventually, I’ll be ok again and I won’t feel like getting out of bed and getting dressed and leaving my flat takes an impossible amount of effort.

Thank you for your continued prayers. I need them.