Category Archives: Abuse

Forgiving, Again

I’m sitting at my desk with the computer on, iPod playing with an inviting, warm mug of coffee sitting next to me.  They are waiting patiently for me to start work, but I don’t.  My feet are resting on the edge of my desk while I hold our big, fat cat in my lap.  She contentedly purrs and occasionally nuzzled me on the chin.  Absently, I notice how her soft, heavy, weight in my lap feels comforting.  I continue to stare out the window lost in thought.

My chest feels heavy like an invisible brick is pushing down hard between my breasts, my head aches, but it’s the heavy sensation on my chest that’s troubling me.  The weight isn’t the beginning of a heart attack; it’s the result of years of hurt.  This brick has been carefully constructed by the fibrous tissue of judgment, verbal abuse, bitterness, unjust behavior, self-protection, and un-forgiveness.  And it’s heavy, pressing down on my sternum making it hard to breathe.

The unusual thing about this brick is that it’s frequently weightless, as if gone from my life.  During this time my heart is hopeful and I want to spend time considering and praying about my relationships.  With a hopeful spirit I choose to forgive; I choose to lay my hurts down before God. I desire to draw closer to Him and see others through His eyes.

Then something happens to set off old patterns of abuse and hurtful words are hurled through the air and I feel the impact of them.   I feel them working their way into the brick, finding a comfortable resting place next to the other festering pain.  The brick is back, heavier than before, pressing mercilessly down on my sternum and I wonder how all those negative, hurtful emotions from the past can come back with such force after I have chosen to forgive and let them go. 

So, here I sit at my desk with every necessary tool for a productive day.  But instead of working, I watch the tree branches move to the rhythm of the wind while pondering the uncomfortable pressure of the emotional brick on my chest.  I want to know how to truly lay down the hurt from yesterday.  I want to forgive so deeply that past pain will not have the power to mix with and amplify the hurts of today.  But, I’m human and for some unknown reason God made us emotionally complex beings that feel passionately, struggle mightily, and desperately need His guidance.

With this knowledge I ask God for his forgiveness and help.  I acknowledge my pain is real, but so is theirs.  I admit my part in the situation, because I’m not innocent.  Then I thank God for the good within my loved one and within myself; we are both God’s children.  And the brick gets lighter; for now.  Each time I practice seeking God’s truth in the midst of emotional pain they strengthen me and give me courage to forgive, again.

I’m grateful that God’s forgiveness is not like that of humans, Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (sins) from us.”  This verse is comforting and humbling; how can God forgive so completely?  I long to be able to forgive like God, but as of today, I don’t fully understand how to forgive the transgressions of others.  Maybe that’s the point. Maybe our seriously limited ability to forgive keeps us humble before God.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

God’s Healing Hand On a Wounded Heart

healing-hand-of-god

I kneel at your feet

Head resting in my hands

Tears of pain flowing without restraint

 

My soul, battered, is without hope

My dreams of love and acceptance gone

Success, I’m unable to define

 

You let me cry, uninterrupted

Knowing I must taste the bitterness of pain

And acknowledge its vise like grip on my heart

 

Slowly I sit and lift my hands up to you

“Take my battered heart, oh Lord

It feels constricted and small from the wounds

 

Like a piece of paper, crumpled into a ball

No longer resembling its original purpose

Rendered of little value or use.”

 

Your strong hands encompass mine

Comforting and warm

Applying pressure without pain

 

My wounded heart beats a little faster

With a rhythm I’m unfamiliar with

Steady, strong, sure, secure

 

A healing balm of forgiveness and acceptance

Is  massaged into my heart

A spark of hope glows deep within

 

The Holy Spirit breathes the breath of life

Into my heart, mind and body

Smoothing out the crumpled edges of my life

 

Lord God Almighty, you are the great healer

Of wounded hearts and messed up lives

Restoring hope and purpose to those who love you

 

To God be all glory and praise.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

Below are the lines from a chorus in Jeremy Camp’s Healing Hand of God and a link to his video. Enjoy this beautiful song.

I have seen, The healing hand of God, Reaching out and mending broken hearts. Taste and see the fullness of His peace, And hold on to what’s being held out. The healing hand of God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-aE7zQTeEg

The Healing of a Wounded Soul

                Healing the wounded soul          

Amy let out a guttural growl followed by a loud “darn it!” Protectively, she wrapped her wounded finger tightly with the other hand, applying pressure hoping to alleviate the pain. Her frustration level was already high today. The kids were ornery and her husband Chuck appeared to be deliberately employing every last irritating quality he had.   Accidentally smacking her already injured finger on the counter’s edge was the end of her rope. She could feel the irritation boiling up inside; a full hissy-fit was about to erupt. “Family hide”, she thought, “I’m one unpleasant women right now.”

While running cold water over the offended finger hoping to minimize the pain,  Amy realized the house had grown strangely quiet. “Odd” she thought “they were just here deliberately bugging me.”  Putting some crushed ice in a zip-lock bag she headed to the family room for a little rest; the house was still quiet. Her mommy instincts said it would be wise to see where everyone went, but she didn’t want to, she wanted peace and quiet.

Lying down on the couch she propped up her right hand on a pillow. The pain was subsiding a bit however, her irritation was not. Lately, Chuck had been difficult, prickly like a Sea anemone, reacting to everything negatively. At first Amy had given him grace, after all his career had hit a difficult patch. But instead of receiving her grace with the minutest amount of gratefulness, he’d became more difficult. Amy’s feelings were hurt. She believed her reaction to his prickly mood would be different, maybe her patience greater, if they hadn’t been through so many difficult years already. Amy felt used up and tired. Why couldn’t Chuck just grow-up, mature, evolve, become a better man; and stay that way instead of lapsing back into old negative patterns?

Her finger began to throb even with ice on it and she wondered if it was broken; the house was still quiet. Laying there absorbed in her pain a thought wiggled its way into her considerations. Her wounded finger was much like her relational wounds with Chuck. Both wounds were easily injured and each time it seemed to take longer for them to heal. Truth is, sometimes the reinjured wound hurt more than the original one. “How many times do I have to forgive the same old bad behavior” she stewed. “God, I don’t want to forgive him again, please help me, I know it’s the right thing to do.”

An uncomfortable thought floated across Amy’s mind. “How many times has God forgiven you for the same sin?” “Is your intolerant reaction to Chuck’s bad behavior equally bad behavior?” Amy didn’t like this thought, it put way too much responsibility on her; after all Chuck was the one with issues. This self-righteous attitude didn’t last long, she could feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Again, “Is your reaction to Chuck’s bad behavior also sinful behavior?” She thought about all the self-righteous thoughts she’d had and the disrespectful words uttered in response to his prickly behavior. Painfully, it dawned on her that her own destructive behavior could be hindering both of their emotional and spiritual healing.

“Oh God please forgive me; forgive me for not forgiving as you forgave me. Forgive me for being such a hypocrite. Please help me to see Chuck as you see him. Please help me treat him in a way that honors you. I’m sorry God, I didn’t realize how out of line I was.” Amy knew she needed to ask Chuck’s forgiveness and that was going to be tough.

“Why aren’t you holding Chuck accountable for his bad behavior?” she complained to God, even though she knew the answer. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior, it’s the only behavior we can control. “Ok God, I’ll humble myself and ask for forgiveness.”

Suddenly the kids and Chuck appeared with a bouquet of flowers freshly picked from the yard and some homemade cards. Stunned, she asked, “What’s this?” “We’re sorry for being ornery today, will you forgive us?” Yes, of course I will. Thank you kids.” Now it was Chucks turn.  He approached her with one beautiful red rose, got down on his knees and said, “Honey, I’m sorry for being such a negative guy lately, please forgive me.” Amy stared at him for a few moments then did what she knew she must. “I forgive you honey, but will you also forgive me; I’ve been harsh and disrespectful toward you.” Chuck looked at her and said, “I’ve waited years to hear you say that. Yes, I forgive you.”

An uncomfortable sensation enveloped Amy. “He’s been waiting years to hear me say that? He thinks I’m the one with issues!” She started to laugh and the kids and Chuck looked confused at her reaction. “We’re all such nuts,” she said “perfectly imperfect nuts and blessed beyond measure to have each other and God’s unmerited grace.”

May you be humbled with God’s gentle hand of correction and may you know you’re blessed to have an imperfect family that loves you.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

A Soul Offended

offended

When bitter strife replaces peace; offenses grow… and poison grace.          
When hurts flood in with dark deluge and pessimism guides our view.
When every path is blocked with battle; the heart turns cold and becomes fragile.
Our minds tell us to be on guard and we hear words through wounded hearts.
As we smolder in hurt and pain; where grace once grew, now judgment reigns.

With righteous heart we dish out blame, we feel like victims in life’s hard race.
We fix our focus on others’ faults, pointing our finger while blaming all.
We throw our shoulders back and say, “They’re the ones that need to change!”
We think we know the heart of man, when God alone knows their real plans.

O Lord show us our wayward hearts, expose our sin so pride departs.
Cast out that dark, offended spirit; give humble grace that knows no limit.
Help us see the offender’s way, through Your eyes and heart of grace.
Help us to pray before we speak… to know our understanding’s weak.
To know You’ve placed us where we are to test our faith, to try our hearts.
Help us to trust when life’s unjust …to see ourselves like others must.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

REDEEMED

 Mary Redemption

Her room was still like time had stopped, Her eyes at nothing, stared                             Until a beep from the machine, brought her back crystal clear.                                       She looked down at her arm and saw the IV in its place                                                       Just for a moment, she had gone back, to another time in space. 

Tears trickled down that old drawn face, her lips began to quiver                                     As she recalled the years gone by and pain that she’d delivered.                                         It all seemed clear, as she looked back; it wasn’t clear back then.                                   She wished to have a second chance, some way to make amends. 

The angry names her mother hurled still made her cringe in pain                                  And knowing that she did the same brought grief, regret, and shame.                            She didn’t end dysfunction, as she was sure she would                                                        And life went by, so very fast; it was too hard to change. 

She looked up at the ceiling, and yelled out “Are You there?                                               Do You care about me? Can You remove despair?                                                                 Does hope exist? Can change be known? If so, then show the way!                                  Hear my prayer, see my heart; I’m buried in mistakes!” 

Questions filled her weary mind as she lay there exhausted                                                  Is it true that God restores the hurt and broken hearted?                                                   She shut her eyes; her shoulders shook, as tears continued falling                                With humbled heart, and contrite spirit; she longed for a new calling. 

The hours trickled slowly by with no response from heaven.                                                But a strange rest had filled her heart and peace was like a fragrance.                           That restful state was broken with a stroke upon her hair                                                      A voice that she had longed to hear said “Mom, I’ve news to share.” 

“A year ago, at my ropes end, I gave my heart to Jesus                                                               Since that day I’ve changed and grown, more than I can measure.                                        I’m learning to submit my will and die to my own way                                                                   The chains that tightly bound us, He’s breaking more each day.” 

“I love you Mom, and know your plan was never one to hurt us                                      You too were hurt, and it’s been said; hurt people… will hurt people.                            But hope has come into my heart, revealing a new path.                                                      We cannot change the hurt-filled past, but hopes with us at last!”  

“For I can see a future paved, with a new legacy                                                                         It’s there for us if we will grow and seek God on our  knees.                                                     In God’s all knowing timing, He’ll heal each hurt and scar                                                          Submitting all and letting go; our lives will be restored.                 

“The devil brought destruction, to our heart and soul                                                              But God is here to lift us up and take back all control.                                                             We can forgive each other, as Christ’s forgiven us                                                                     He’ll wash us clean and make us new as we give Him our trust.”  

“Dear Mother, I invite you, to join us in this path.                                                                        To know that you’re forgiven and all that’s past… is passed.”                                          That withered hand reached out to hers, as tears rolled down their faces.            With breaking voice the elder said, “OH…the years I wasted.”  

“I’m sorry for the things I’ve done, and for the words of pain                                                   I wish that I could turn back time and wash it all away.                                                              But know dear, that I love you, and I’m sorry for the hurt                                                           I need the hope that you have found to mend my broken heart.” 

Just before the morning broke with no bells or alarms                                                        With peaceful heart, she breathed her last, and went to Jesus’ arms.                             Her children knew that she was free from bitterness and shame                                  And they rejoiced, with hands upraised, to hope in Jesus’ name. 

God used her children’s hurt-filled past; took beauty from the ashes                                 As they reached out to hurting souls and others who had suffered.                               No troubled path, no chains that bind, no mountain sized life problems,                   Are greater than the power of God who brings good from our losses.                         But stubborn hearts we must lay down; to change, we must be willing                       And as we do, we shall fulfill, God’s awesome, glorious, calling.                           

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Fighting to Forgive

Forgiveness is a higher call
It challenges the heart of all.
It often goes against all reason
It seems like granting grace for treason.
But in this misconception lies
A home for bitter roots to hide.

God tells us that we must forgive
But we ask “Why?” as pain’s relived.
“They don’t deserve it… don’t You see?”
“Why am I the one You’re punishing?”
“They must pay an honest price!”
“Only justice will suffice!”

The hurt keeps circling in our heart.
Replayed by memories that won’t depart.
And as we pound the golden gavel
God weeps and sees our lives unravel.

For unforgiveness chains our heart.
And bitterness blooms… while joy departs.
A once soft heart turns to a stone
And bitterness rots once healthy bones.

And that’s why God says to Forgive
For bitterness dies as grace we give.
Its not to set the criminal free
But to heal and restore and set OUR souls free.
Forgiveness sets us free from shackles
Reminding us, God fights our battles.

Confront the one that brought offense
With love and grace… seeking to mend.
Leaving the heart of our offender
To our God… our true defender.
For there’s no heart that we can read
And if we try… our peace will leave.

Know that we are not our hurt.
That we are more than pain asserts.
Let go of bitterness, judgment, and wrath
Let them all go, let grace take their spot.
Knowing that God moves mountains for us
As we humbly submit and in His wisdom, trust.

It may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
But trust in the Lord… He’ll walk it with you.
Get out of God’s way… He knows what He’s doing.
Pray for the offender and for their renewing.

And blessings will fall, more than we can count
And love, joy, and peace will grow like a fount.
Out of the hurt new life will grow and rather than bitterness,
God’s love we’ll sew.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Ephesians 4:31-32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Job 42:10  (NIV) After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored
his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.

A Reflection of God’s Love

 

The office was unusually quiet with that late Friday afternoon hush that happens in August when all but a few essential employees have left early for the beach, camping, vacation, or a barbecue.  Sue’s interest in writing a weekly report was waning fast and the music coming from her IPod wasn’t enough to break the late afternoon doldrums.  Feeling the need for a little excitement Sue headed to the front office to see what Renee, the receptionist, was doing.

Renee never failed to amuse Sue with her freely given, uncensored, and unedited stories about her life and the world around her.  Frequently, Sue found herself shocked by Renee’s frankness; there was nothing sacred or private in her world. With this in mind Sue went looking for a little excitement from an unconventional conversation with Renee. Walking through the reception area doors Sue immediately knew something was wrong, Renee’s eyes were swollen and red, her face puffy, maybe even bruised.  For one brief moment Sue considered turning around and heading back to her desk, dealing with a serious issue wasn’t what she felt like doing, she wanted funny conversation and to be entertained.


Asking the obvious question Sue said, “Is something wrong”?  Renee’s sarcastic nature sparked in those brown eyes for a nanosecond but was quickly replaced with a worn-out and defeated demeanor.   Looking down at her long acrylic nails Renee said in a soft voice, “Kevin and I are having problems again and that bastard hit me”.  To Sue it looked like he had hit her many times, Sue’s heart panged with sadness for Renee.

Kevin was a bad apple who Renee insisted was the love of her life even though he had anger issues, sex addictions, PTSD, abused alcohol, and treated her and her two kids poorly most of the time.  On several occasions Sue had encouraged Renee to protect her kids and herself by moving out, to this Renee always said she could not afford to support the three of them without Kevin’s help and he was the love of her life.

“I’m sorry Renee, what are you going to do”? Sue asked, hoping Renee would respond with, “Leave him now”.  But instead, Renee picked at the gold stripe wrapped around her dark purple nails apparently deep in thought.  After a few long moments Renee looked up at Sue with a mischievous smile she said “I’m going to kick his ass then take his money and run”.  Sue smiled back and said, “what about the kids, are they ok”?  Renee insisted they were ok then loudly blew her nose.  After several minutes of Kevin bashing she looked at Sue sincerely and asked, “How long have you been married”?  “22 years” Sue replied.

Renee exhaled loudly, then responded with a stream of heartfelt comments and questions, “All I ever wanted was to have a happy family, I’ve tried so hard and yet my relationships are a mess.  Your life looks perfect, you have a nice home, good husband, successful kids, why can’t I have that?  Why do I keep making the same mistakes?  I feel like a failure, unworthy, stupid.  I just want to be loved and have a happy family”.  Sue felt that nudging deep inside that said, “She needs to know she is loved; tell her about God’s love”. 

Now, Sue wasn’t known for being brave and outspoken when talking about God, but sometimes there’s just no getting around it, so she shot up a silent prayer and entered uncharted territory; talking to Renee specifically and directly about God. “Renee, I’ve lived through many hard and dark situations, more than you can imagine, but in the darkest of times there is one truth that keeps me going and that is the knowledge that God loves me.  Because of his love I have value, value that human words and actions can’t take away.  We are God’s children and He wants the best for us and He will help us do the right thing in difficult times”.

Renee looked at Sue with a surprisingly interested look on her face and said, “Yea, I’ve heard about that God stuff before, I had a friend who took me to church a few times but I really didn’t like it, seemed too judgmental”.  Danger, Sue thought, how do I navigate this without getting into the politics of Christianity? Sue issued a silent request, “Lord, please give me wisdom.”  “Different churches have different personalities so your friend’s church may have been the wrong one for you, I can’t speak to the quality of a church but I can talk about the unfailing love of God.  Did you know that you, Renee, were made in the image of God and are a reflection of his love”?

Renee responded with a skeptical tone, “That’s hard to understand because I’ve made some really bad decisions and I keep making them, I don’t think I know how to live differently.  I’m really not an image of God; I’m rebellious and naughty sometimes, in fact, I like being naughty.”  She gave Sue a mischievous smile but her eyes were sad, defeated.

Sue continued, “The most amazing thing about God’s love is that it’s not dependent on our behavior; God loves us even when we make bad decisions or don’t love him back.  He loves us and wants the best for us, always.  Renee, you’re precious to God, He values your life just the way it is today”.  Renee looked at Sue directly in the eyes for a very long and thoughtful moment; obviously pondering God’s unconditional love.  And then the phone rang invading their deep and private conversation. 

The client on the phone had a serious problem Sue needed to attend to and just like that their conversation ended.  The sad thing is they were never able to continue the conversation.  The following weeks were busy and every time Sue went into the reception area Renee was on the phone or other people were around.

A few months later Sue left the company but continued to pray for Renee and often thought about that quiet afternoon when she had the unusual opportunity of sharing God’s love with her.  She felt grateful that God had nudged her spirit to share the truth of his unfailing love even though she had no idea of the outcome.

Human nature likes to see results, we like to have everything wrapped up in a neat package at the end of a story but frequently real life isn’t like that.  We may never know if our actions, words, or prayers have had a positive impact on another’s life and that’s ok, the end result is God’s responsibility.  Our responsibility is to be faithful in sharing God’s love through actions, words, and prayers; God will do the rest.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Emotional Baggage


I’m sitting at my desk with the computer on, IPod playing, and an inviting warm mug of coffee sitting next to me.  They are waiting patiently for me to start work, but I don’t.  My feet are resting on the edge of my desk while I hold our big fat cat in my lap.  She contentedly purrs and occasionally nuzzles me on the chin.  Absently, I notice how her soft, heavy, weight in my lap feels comforting.  I continue to stare out the window lost in thought.


My chest feels heavy like an invisible brick is pushing down hard between my breasts, my head aches, but it’s the heavy sensation on my chest that’s troubling me.  The weight isn’t the beginning of a heart attack; it’s the result of years of hurt.  This brick has been carefully constructed by the fibrous tissue of judgment, verbal abuse, bitterness, self protection, and un-forgiveness.  And it’s heavy, pressing down on my sternum making it hard to breathe.


The unusual thing about this brick is that it’s frequently weightless, as if gone from my life.  During this time my home is peaceful, my heart is hopeful, and I want to spend time considering and praying about my marriage.  Once again, with hopeful spirit, I choose to forgive.  I choose to lay my hurts down before God and set aside my right to hold harsh judgments so that nothing hinders my drawing closer to
God.


Then something happens to set off old patterns of abuse and hurtful words are hurled through the air and I feel the impact of them.   I feel them working their way into the brick, finding a comfortable resting place next to the other festering pain.  The brick is back, heavier than before, pressing mercilessly down on my sternum and I wonder how all those negative, hurtful, emotions from the past can come back with such force after I have chosen to forgive and let go. 



So, here I sit at my desk with every necessary tool for a productive day in front of me.  But instead of working I watch the tree branches move to the rhythm of the wind while pondering the uncomfortable pressure of the emotional brick on my chest.  I want to know how to truly lay down the hurt from yesterday.  I want to forgive so deeply that past pain will not have the power to mix with and amplify the hurts of today.  But, I’m human and for some unknown reason God made us emotionally complex beings that feel passionately, struggle mightily, and desperately need His guidance.


I’m grateful that God’s forgiveness is not like that of humans, Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (sins) from us.”  This verse is comforting and humbling; how can God forgive so completely?  I long to be able to forgive like God, but as of today, I don’t fully understand how to forgive the transgressions of others.  Maybe that’s the point. Maybe our seriously limited ability to forgive keeps us humble before God. 

Debora Shelford Hobbs


 

Abused

Verbal, emotional, intellectual, and physical abuse destroys lives.  It is prevalent in the church almost as much as in the world. This is a poem that looks at one small part of abuse and its devastating effects.  It does not seek to advise whether or not a person should remain in an abusive relationship as that is an individual decision. Do not stay in a relationship if you are in physical danger.

Abused

The words, they sting… c
ut deep like knives
They weigh me down, I grope for life
In shrouds of pain, Lost… yet I fight.
I said please stop, don’t you see the damage
But plea’s were lost on a heart like granite.

Who am I now, w
hat was my calling
Do I have worth or am I dying?
Did my God have good plans for me
Something different, something free?
Will this cycle continue for generations
A legacy of abuse is what I’m living.

As tears fall down in pools of grief
I seek you God for wisdom and faith.
Please send direction; a needed word  
                                                  A way to walk that isn’t blurred.                                                                    For hope from You is what I need
A brand new purpose; a brand new creed.

An answer came so gently and sweet:
No other idol shall be before Me.
Confusion wracked my weary mind
With doubting words to God I cried
What idol have I before you O God?
He said, The abuse that has broken your heart.

Abuse has told you who you are
It bound you in lies and played My part.
It wrapped you in fear and made your heart faint
It seeks to destroy you and fill you with hate.
But your name is precious, lovely, and honored
Your value is priceless… Know that I love you.

With abuse on your throne, destruction will reign
When I’m on your throne, true healing you’ll gain.
Abuse will entomb you and keep you in chains                                             I But I’ll set you free to walk upon shame.                                                         Take your eyes off abuse and the lies that it speaks
And fix them on Me, your Author and King.

When words of hurt fill up your ears
Hear them not my child, instead speak My Words.
They’re a Shield and a Sword,  a Rock of Pure Truth
They will teach you the way, they will show you your worth.
Unleashing pure beauty for the whole world to see
Place your hope and your eyes only on Me.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen 

 

Epilogue:

Its a strange notion to think of abuse suffered, as idolatry.  The fact is, abuse does become an idol because it becomes the ruler of our lives.  It takes us out of the game plan that God has for us, tells us lies about who we are, and keeps us from growing in character.  It usually hinders our confidence, gifts, and talents and it causes us to isolate and have fewer relationships that God could use for good purpose.  When God is on the throne of our hearts,  we should be always growing and prospering in character.  Our talents should be used to their fullest and we will readily serve others in need.  If a person chooses to stay in an abusive relationship it is of utmost importance to not allow oneself to be completely controlled by another human, for only God has the right to direct our path.  And God’s path will always be different from the one demanded by an abuser.  Don’t be afraid to step out of the cycle; for it takes two willing people for abuse to really destroy.   Take God’s path, pray for wisdom and courage, be in the bible, and be on guard against the devastation that comes from living in an abusive relationship.  God loves to take beauty from ashes and you can become a  better person because of what you’ve gone through and you’ll have greater compassion for others that are hurting.  Blessings to you…and may God guard you and keep you and may He use you mightily for His glory!

 



 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling Short of One’s Potential


The Unerutilized woman

Webster’s dictionary:  Underutilize
– to utilize less than fully or below the potential use; to fail to utilize fully.



I know a woman who has it all.  She’s smart, naturally beautiful with olive skin and long dark hair, and graduated college at the top of her class.  As if this were not enough she also has two handsome, tall, athletic, smart, college bound sons.  Yet, she is underutilized.   I know this doesn’t make since, but it’s true.  How can a woman who has it all be underutilized?  The answer is she has hidden from her own potential most of her adult life.  How has she done this you ask? By allowing her mistakes, disappointments, fear, insecurity, and the negative life commandments spoken to her throughout her life to be the foundation she uses when making decisions.


Hiding behind the responsibility of parenting she has walked on the periphery of all social activity saying she was too busy to get involved.   She has neglected developing her creativity because it might take away from focusing on her children.  She has also neglected the development of friendships.  Socially she is reserved and slightly detached only allowing a few into her thoughts and this self-protection has contributed to her being an underutilized woman.


We are all born with potential to be creative, vital members of our society and it’s our responsibility to nurture this potential.  Throughout the Bible there are verses stating that it pleases God when we use our talents to help others, be creative, and contribute to our community.  However, life has a way of knocking us down, disappointments can make us bitter, and abuse whether verbal, physical, sexual, or religious, can take away our belief that we have something to offer others.  This is what happened to my friend.


During her life my friend has experienced many hardships, as a child she was sexually and verbally abused.  As a young college student she conceived her first child out of wedlock, having been brought up in a Christian home she felt great shame but determined to keep and love her child.  Eighteen months after her first child was born she married an energetic, ambitious, dynamic, and successful man and became pregnant almost immediately.  This marriage became verbally and physical abusive and she lived in fear for her children and her lives.  After five years she divorced him and moved back into her parent’s home broken and defeated.


A few years after the divorce she met a wonderful Christian man at church and they started dating.  After about eight months of dating she found herself pregnant once again.  Too ashamed to admit this to anyone she had an abortion.  The guilt she felt from the abortion led to resentment towards her boyfriend and soon they broke up.  Now, twelve years later we find my friend living with her parents, working low paying jobs, still bound to failure by the shame, hurts, and disappointments of the past.  Her one constant has been the unwavering dedication she has given her children, living vicariously through them while neglecting herself.


My friend has lost sight of her potential.  Without the deep rooted belief that she has something to offer the world she has lived an underutilized life.  She sees herself and the world around her through a lens of disappointment, insecurity, fear and defeat.  But God sees her as a beautiful woman full of promising potential and he wants to help her develop that potential so she will become a fully utilized woman.


Like my friend each of us has scars from past mistakes, abuse, disappointment, shame, and a feeling of loss over abandoned goals.  We have also been given a combination of talents and gifts to develop, nurture, and use as we navigate life.  The question is, will we let the hardships of life derail us from using them to their fullest potential? There is beauty in our hardships when we gain understanding from them and then use this understanding to compassionately help and encourage others.    


God forgives our past and asks us to move forward holding onto his hand, clinging to his word and his promises.  As we move forward in Christ, God can and will use all our past mistakes, hurts and disappointments to help others; he will open up the flow of creativity and will help us forgive ourselves.  In his capable hands our lives will be created into lives that are fully utilized.  He will turn an underutilized woman into a fully utilized one.  We, as women need to let go of our past mistakes, accept God’s forgiveness as complete, forgive ourselves, and diligently use our talents to honor God.



Debora Shelford Hobbs


 



 

Alone in the Dark





Oh night of terror, long and dark
Alone we lay, together but apart.
Was I wrong? Was I bad? Or just not smart?
What happened in this room
while we lay alone in the dark?


A stranger you are.  Where did you go?
I knew you so well a long time ago.
Sweet looks once came from those cold, cold eyes.
Oh Lord, Oh Lord, please tell me why!


A welcoming body has been replaced
With ridged indifference and seemingly, no grace.
Two hearts united one day long ago.
Dreams of companionship fresh and aglow;
What happened, what happened, Lord let me know!


These dreams now replaced with uncertainty and fear
That seems to grow greater and ever more near.  
A cloud of darkness has enveloped us dear.
I no longer see you as a lover and friend
I just see fear.

By Debora Shelford Hobbs