Flashback (for A.)

Image: rock-cafe, Yandex

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you
(Isaiah 43:2; NLT).

1. Here comes a flashback,
Always undesired:
My mother, screaming at me
Without restraint.

2. I’m two or three years old,
So I can neither
Understand her words,
Nor guess what lies behind them.

3. I’m at her mercy,
Paralysed by fear;
Helpless, lost, defenceless,
And alone.

4. But here you are, Lord,
Entering the scene.
You pick me up,
Then take my mother’s hand.

5. “Peace, be still!”
These are your only words.

6. You shine with love,
And radiate concern.
Your voice is steady, gentle, calm,
And kind.

7. You look at us
With perfect understanding.
Comfort and healing
Flow from your wounded hands.

8. My mother’s screaming stops.
My terror ends.
Together, we absorb
Your silent joy…

9. And then my flashback fades, but from now on
Every time this memory intrudes,
You will be present, Jesus, at its heart,
Just as you were, in fact, so long ago.


References

4. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (Isaiah 40:11; NIV).

5. He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39; NKJV).

6. His face shone like the sun (Matthew 17:2; NIV).

8. Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21; NLT).

9. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4; NIV).

A letter (with thanks to M.R.)

Image: Ulrike Mai, Pixabay

Trigger alert
Today’s blog is about emotional abuse, and its consequences.

Introduction
The following quotation sets the scene, though its relevance might not be clear until you have read the whole article:

Turn your steps towards these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. Your foes roared in the places where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved panelling with their axes and hatchets. They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name. They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshipped in the land (Psalm 74:3-8; NIV).

An open letter to my mother
Mother, despite claiming to love me, you established control over me from my early childhood onwards. You did this through scorn, criticism, bullying, condemnation, rage, and bouts of violent destructiveness. These behaviours made me fear you deeply. I lived in dread of your next outburst.

You continued to maintain control over me during my teenage years and adulthood, too, using intrusion, disapproval, and anger when I dared to express personal feelings, thoughts or beliefs you didn’t like. Similarly, you reacted with fury and threats of coercion if I tried to make my own decisions about what I wanted to do with my life. When I made mistakes, or got things wrong, you never forgave me, or forgot it. All this made me dread seeing you and spending time with you. I particularly hated the sound of your voice, and loathed you touching me, but was afraid to stand up to you, or to say “no”.

Your ways of controlling me have had severe, pervasive, long-term consequences for my mental health, in the form of low self-esteem, anxiety, dread, panic attacks and agoraphobia. I have also had to cope with a constant sense of not wanting to be alive, with chronic depression, and with episodes of acute depression. Furthermore, one question has always preyed on my mind:

How could you say you loved me, yet behave as you did towards me?

It didn’t make sense. I just couldn’t square what you said with what I experienced.

Then, on the 24th of May, 2020, a friend sent me a message she had seen on a Facebook site about domestic abuse. It read:

It’s not CONSENT if you make me afraid to say no.

I stared at these words, instantly electrified by their brevity, clarity and profound truth. Within seconds, a personal variation flashed into my mind:

It’s not LOVE if you make me afraid to say no.

Deeply stirred by this insight, further phrases began tumbling out of my unconscious mind. Here are just a few examples:

It’s not love if you make me afraid to disagree.

It’s not love if you criticise me all the time.

It’s not love if you make me afraid to be myself.

It’s not love if you make me afraid to choose for myself.

It’s not love if you belittle my achievements.

It’s not love if you only approve of me when I behave like you.

At last, in my late sixties, my friend’s message had given me the answer to my question: your behaviour towards me shows clearly that you did not, in fact, love me in any meaningful way at all.

This shocking realisation made me consider what kinds of behaviour do, in fact, reflect and express genuine love. Here are the best answers I’ve found so far:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, or boastful, or proud, or rude. It does not demand its own way (1 Corinthians 13:4-5; NLT).

It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5; NIV).

I know that none of us is perfect, mother, but when I confronted you, you could at least have admitted what you did to me, and said you were sorry. Over the years, I managed to raise the subject of your behaviour with you several times, always at huge personal cost. However, you never responded with genuine understanding or honesty, instead always trying to justify, minimise, or deny what you had done.

For many years now, I have worked hard to forgive you. Sometimes I even think I’ve succeeded. Fortunately, God understands and accepts the intense anger and bitterness that can still occasionally emerge from my mind, heart and soul. Slowly, gently, he gives me the insights I need in order to be healed, for which I am profoundly thankful.

Ruth.


References

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other (Romans 12:9; NLT).

Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them (Ephesians 6:4; NLT).

I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:27; NIV).

Wake from the nightmare

Image: Johannesburg Plenio, Pixabay

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows
(John 16:33; NLT).

1. Let’s wake from the the nightmare
Of childhood,
And think of the mountains
We’ve crossed.

2. Let’s cast off the hell
Of our parents,
And rise above all
We have lost.

3. Let’s wake in the light
Of God’s kingdom
To think of his Son,
And forgive.

4. Let’s cast off depression
And darkness,
And rise in his strength –
Then we’ll live!

Image: nonmisvegliate, Pixabay

References

1. Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you (Ephesians 5:14; NIV).

The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult (Matthew 7:14; NLT).

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

2. Banish anxiety from you heart and and cast off the troubles of your body (Ecclesiastes 11:10; NIV).

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21; NIV).

3. [Give] joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:12; NIV).

If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (Matthew 6:14; NIV).

4. Those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired (Isaiah 40:31; NET).

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10; NLT).

Reconnect me (#1 of 2 linked prayers)

Image: engin akyurt, Pixabay

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb
(Jeremiah 1:5; NLT).

Don’t you realise that all of you together are the temple of God
and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

Lord,

1. Reconnect me
With the mind of Christ,
Then I’ll be perfect.

2. Reconnect me
With his Mother’s love,
Then I’ll be whole.

3. Reconnect me
With your Holy Ghost,
Then I’ll be joyful.

4. Reconnect me
With your presence, Father,
In my soul.

References

1. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NKJV).

2. I will give them one heart (Jeremiah 32:39; NLT).

3. We all share the same Spirit 1 Corinthians 12:13; NLT).

4. All who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

All one

Photo: geralt

1. Lord,
You’re the Father of Jesus,
The Christ:
And also our Father within.

2. Mary,
Christ’s Mother, the Lady of Grace:
You’re our Mother;
Your children: our kin.

3. Immanuel,
Brother, born here on the earth:
You share in our frail flesh
And blood.

4. Comforter,
Spirit in all humankind:
You make us all one
In your love.

References

1. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3; NLT).

You are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).

2. God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings favoured woman!” […] You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:28,31-2; NLT).

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home (John 19:26-7; NLT).

3. She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’ (Matthew 1:23; NLT).

Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35; NIV).

It was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:17; NLT).

4. The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and remind you of all things I said to you (John 14:26; YLT).

“In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people” (Acts 2:17; NLT).

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you (Romans 8:11; NLT).

I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one (John 17:22; NLT).

Let me join your followers


1. Let me join your followers
And learn from you each day,
Walking at your side, Lord,
Step by step.

2. Let me join your followers
Along the narrow way,
Asking your forgiveness
For each debt.

3. Let me join your followers
And all your kindred, too,
So I can meet your Mother,
Full of grace.

4. Let me join your followers
To live and die with you,
Then I will see the Father,
Face to face.

References

1. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him (Mark 5:18; NLT).

2. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12; NIV).

3. God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. Gabriel apprised to her and said, “Greetings favoured woman!” (Luke 1:28; NLT).

4. If we die with him, we will also live with him (2 Timothy 2:11; NLT).

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! (John 14:9; NLT).

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; NIV).

Without you

I am nothing but dust and ashes (Genesis 18:27; NIV).

1. Father,
Without you I’m nothing –
Vulnerable flesh and bone.

2. Mary,
Without you I’m nothing –
Motherless and all alone.

3. Jesus,
Without you I’m nothing –
Sinful, weak, condemned to death.

4. Spirit,
Without you I’m nothing –
You alone give life and breath.

References

1. You lived in this world without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12; NLT).

2. He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home (John 19:27; NLT).

3. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23; NLT).

4. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).

Distraught

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3; NIV).

1. Father God, I’m scared –
Help me to trust you.

2. Jesus, help me,
For my faith falls short.

3. Mary, much-loved Mother –
Please support me.

4. Holy Spirit, help me:
I’m distraught.

References

1. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me (Psalm 55:5; NIV).

Trust in God (John 14;1; NLT).

2. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief”
(Mark 9:24; NIV).

3. He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home (John 19:27; NLT).

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14; NKJV).

4. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer (Psalm 4:1; NIV).

My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? (Psalm 6:3; NIV).

My mother

1. Mary,
You’re my mother now:
Kind eyes,
And gentle hands.

2. Mary,
You’re my mother now:
Wise mind,
And perfect soul.

3. Mary,
You’re my mother now:
Soft voice,
And loving heart.

4. Mary,
You’re my mother now:
Ask God
To make me whole.

References

1. Here is your mother (John 19:27; NLT).

2. Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often (Luke 2:19; NIV).

4. He wounds, but his hands make whole (Job 5:18; NKJV).

 

 

We share your beating heart

1. We share your beating heart, Lord God,
Although we may forget;

2. We share, with you, Christ’s mind,
Although we may not grasp this yet.

3. We share his mother’s flesh and blood;
Yet still we may not see:

4. We share your Spirit’s life and breath,
For all are one with Thee.

References

1. There is one Lord […] who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT).

Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 8:11; NLT).

2. We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; NLT).

3. Here is your mother (John 19:27; NLT).

I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant (Daniel 12:8; NLT).

4. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).