"For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths." 2 Timothy 4: 3-4
What are you searching for? Are you searching for approval? For agreement for the choices you are making? Are you searching for truth?
I have been searching. I have shared briefly over the past few years that I have really been struggling. I have wrote a lot of journal pages and wasted a lot of time scrolling on social media trying to figure out how to heal from the hurt.
My husband and I have dedicated our Saturday mornings to coffee and "discussion". My husband and I met on a missions program where we toured across Canada speaking in high schools. When you are travelling all the time stuffed inside mini vans you learn a lot about each other really quickly. After the tour we both went home to our different Provinces, thousands of kilometers apart. Our long distance phone bills were outrageous and many emails were exchanged. Our only form of building our relationship was with communication. At the time I resented it, but now I really appreciate that time because it built our relationship firmly on our ability to communicate well with each other and to express our thoughts and emotions through our words - there was no Facetime - it was a receiver, attached to a cord, that attached to the phone on the wall. Yes I am that old. I still remember the party line we shared with two of our neighbours. Don't judge.
Anyway, back to our Saturday morning coffee - we have always been able to communicate well but we weren't always making the time for it. Now we do. I have been doing a lot of journaling and reading and self exploration over the past year. I was tired of struggling and it was time to move forward. I wasn't sure how but I took the first step on the journey. Last Saturday I was sharing with Dustin about what I have learned about myself over the past few months, about the people who have come into my life at the perfect time and how I am feeling lighter. I told him that I feel like sharing about what I am learning with others but I don't feel like I have the answers yet. Dustin then told me to start sharing. He said normal people don't share publicly about their struggles as much as I do (I think that was a compliment 😁), that many struggle through things alone. He gave me example after example of times I have stepped forward to share, and how it has helped others. We talked about a time in high school english class that my class was asked to write a page about ourselves. I was so honest in that page that I ended up in weeks of appointments in the student counselling centre. 😂 Dustin then told me that I was most likely the only one to write how I honestly felt, most would have written either what they felt like should write or what the teacher was expecting of them. I chose to be honest in my writing and that has never changed because it is who I am. My book became another example of that.
In my journaling workshops I ask people to write in their journal about who they are in the dark. Who are you when you are sitting in your room in the dark, with the door closed and your phone is in another room. No one is around, no one can see you - who are you?
The last few years have been a struggle for me. I do not have the answers but I know that my healing comes from me sharing and teaching. The hurt that I experienced went deep. It hurt to the core of my being. When you are hurt by something that is tied so close to who you are, it shakes everything.
I experienced a hurt that I still haven't been able to define. I was trying to figure out how to deal with it and I didn't even know the words to search on google.
It has been largely described as "being hurt by the church", or when "Christians attack their own".
Mine came in the form that it was a message from God that I needed to hear and it was one that left me feeling rejected, abused and hurt on such a deep level.
Trust me I have experienced church hurt in the past, we have pastored in two different churches that did not end well, I have had many experiences over the years that would be described as mental abuse and shaming. I know how hurtful Christians can be to one another - Christians are sinful just like everyone else. They have selfish agendas, they struggle with jealousy, they gossip, they are searching for validation. I know this can be the person sitting in the pew, the usher at the door, the person on the music team or the person behind the pulpit. I taught a youth Sunday School class where I told them not to believe anything the pastor says in the sermon that day, but to make notes and go home and search the scriptures for the truth.
I have struggled within myself because I know these things and yet I was so very hurt and didn't know how to heal. Over the last few years I have seen a deconstruction in my faith. I still attended church, but I didn't want to be there. My Bible that was once opened regularly, with worn pages and tons of highlights and notes written in the margins now sat on a shelf gathering dust. Worship music was no longer heard in our home. I just couldn't. It felt dirty. It felt like manipulation. My life of praying without ceasing didn't exist. It became words of rejecting God and anger for all the years I had devoted to serving Him and all I received was His rejection in return. I was in a very dark place.
Yet through that time, as much as I was pushing God away, there was still a desire in me that needed to figure it all out. I didn't understand why this person said these horrible things to me. I noticed that as my faith diminished, it did in my family as well. It was as I looked at my daughters that I knew I had to start figuring this out.
When COVID became a thing and the churches were closed, I was thankful. I struggled going to church, some Sundays I would go to church and stand in a location where a lot of people would pass by and they just passed by. I had no connections there, the people I did reach out to at the time of my hurt just dismissed it. I didn't understand how deep it would affect me, so I can't blame them for not knowing either. People have always said that I am such as strong individual, but everyone struggles, some just hide it better.
As months, then years of my struggle have gone by I have asked myself a lot of questions. Today my anger towards God is less, I don't hear His small still voice like I once did, but I feel His presence. I now search for truth. That is in the scriptures. That is always where I have found my hope, joy and peace. I am going back to the scriptures to search for healing on this journey. I am thankful for the deconstruction of my faith. It has helped me to develop roots that will become my strong foundation. I still have a lot of healing to do. But after a couple of years, I am beginning to feel more like myself. I am not scared about who I am in the dark. I am ready to give it light. I am ready to share more than I need to because that is just who I am.
I am ready to take the first step on this new journey and I am ready to start sharing about what many would like to keep in the dark.
Today I am sharing a devotional I wrote for a Bridal Shower. I hope you enjoy!
My husband and I have been married almost 10 years. My how time flies! Sometimes it is hard to remember my life without him in it - what an exciting journey you are about to begin.
I am honoured to share a few thoughts with everyone today. I am thrilled to be your bridesmaid and to be a part of your wedding day. I take my responsibility as a Bridesmaid very seriously. In weddings that my husband and I have participated in the past as well as a recent wedding that our girls were invited to participate in. We have told the Brides and Grooms that we are honoured to be invited as a part of their new family and that we are there for them to keep them accountable, to be a shoulder if they need it, and to help them navigate the bumps. So, Jessica please know that this includes you and Brad as well.
I have two words of advice that I received early in our marriage that I want to share with you. The first was shared at our wedding reception. I really didn’t understand what he meant at the time but it has come in handy throughout my marriage. He said, “You may not always like your spouse but you will always love them.”
I would like to take it a step further. And that is “You may not always like your spouse but you will always have to choose to love them.” Love is not something that you fall in and out of; it is a choice and a lot of work and dedication.
You have chosen to marry Brad and spend the rest of your life with him. There will be days that you may wish you made a different choice. To be honest, I’ve had a few of those with my husband. But I am determined and I refuse to go against the vows that I promised to my husband the day of our wedding.
I hung a picture from our wedding with our vows written underneath on the wall outside of our bedroom as a reminder for both of us - of what we promised to each other. We wrote these vows together and we are people of character and integrity; we will always honour what we promised to each other on our wedding day before God, our friends and family. That is an active choice.
The other word of advice can be hard to follow through, but it is essential.
Right after our marriage my husband and I joined a Bible Study that was focused on marriage. It was interesting because we were newlyweds and the group varied in length of marriage; I think the longest may have been 10 years. The one thing that stood out to everyone throughout the video series was, “Never make fun of or put your spouse down, especially in a public setting.” Maybe you can add that to your wedding vows, and promise yourself to stand firm in it. You need to use words of encouragement and support - not just in public, but in your everyday language.
I asked my friends on social media what advice they would give to someone getting married and this is what I received and I have added my thoughts as well:
I found a quote that I really like.:
“Marriage is a journey toward an unknown destination – the discovery that people must share not only what they don’t know about each other, but what they don’t know about themselves.” Michael Ventura ~ I am still learning things about myself.
“You” meaning Brad AND Jessica are about to embark on an exciting journey -- a new life together. I strongly believe in what the Word tells us in Titus. That the older women need to come along side of the younger women and teach them. I’m not that much older ? but I want you to know that I am here for you. If you don’t want my advice than I have a ton of books you could borrow and there are many godly women in our church who would be glad to come alongside you. You are not alone and whatever you may face on your journey please know that you are not the first and you are not alone. But we also want to rejoice with you and celebrate with you, with all the great joys and special moments that you and Brad will share.
I feel like all I have been telling you about is all the trials and hard things of marriage. Honestly, marriage is work, kind of like a job, but a job that you are excited about. That when you wake up in the morning you are excited to see Brad beside you and after a day at work that you will be excited to go home and spend time with Brad. Your marriage is the most enjoyable and rewarding job you will ever have.
What a wonderful time in your life that you are about to begin! Have fun, this is the time in your life that little girls dream of. I know my girls are already planning their weddings and who they are going to marry which is a little scary.
Remember your wedding is only one day, and your marriage is forever. Enjoy every moment!
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