I woke up last Thursday (October 5th) with one word screaming in my mind. The word was “Ophelia.” I had no idea what it meant, but when I got to work the Holy Spirit led me to write it down, so I jotted it down with this note.
Today I saw that there is a new storm forming in the Atlantic. What did they name it? That’s right…Ophelia. It’s the 15th storm of the season.
I looked up the meaning of the name Ophelia, and apparently it means “help.”
I’m not sure what all this means, other than that God told me the name of this hurricane five days before it formed.
As you can see, my rhema for that day was Isaiah 24. I’d forgotten what it said so today I looked it up. Now I’m trembling
“Behold, the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the slave, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor. The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. The wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh. The mirth of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the jubilant has ceased, the mirth of the lyre is stilled. No more do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it. The wasted city is broken down; every house is shut up so that none can enter. There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished. Desolation is left in the city; the gates are battered into ruins. For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done. They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.” Terror and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth! He who flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit, and he who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble. The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again. On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for the Lord of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders.”
Dearest friends, God is speaking to us. I pray we all have the ears to hear. And if anyone of you has an idea of what this may mean, please feel free to reach out. God bless.
On Sunday morning, I arrived early for an appointment and stopped at a local park to drink some coffee and wait. This is what I saw. Immediately I recognized this scene from the last dream I had (see Dream Of Martial Law). This is almost exactly what I saw in my dream, except in my dream the moon was much closer and bigger.
I sat here praying. Praying for God’s Spirit to move upon His people to bring them closer to him and to protect them. Praying for God’s Spirit to move and convict the lost and bring them into the fold of His protection. Praying for my own heart and soul.
The last two days have felt very heavy in the Spirit. A seriousness and solemness along with a sense of alertness. The Spirit has been convicting me of sin in deeper ways and bringing my own heart into a deeper sense of repentance. The urgency feels tangible. The heat of the Spiritual battles going on right now are intense.
I pray that all those who are marked by Christ be found safely in the shadow of His wings. I pray that all those who are lost will run full-speed into that safety…before the Spiritual battle reveals itself in the physical…because it’s close. So close that if you put your ear to the ground, you can hear the war drums beat.
I wrote this blog four months ago but apparently forgot to publish it. I just found it in my drafts folder and read through it. Oddly enough, it seems even more apropos now than it did when I wrote it four months ago. This world is changing quickly and I believe we are entering into the close of this age of grace. I pray so hard that the blind will start to see and those who sleep will awaken to the truth and realities that surround us each day – before it’s too late.
God has been greatly moving these last months and as expected, the climate is heating up. The winnowing continues as secrets long kept in darkness are brought to light. The keepers of secrets are scrambling, projecting their evil onto truth-tellers in a desperate attempt to get the limelight off themselves, demonizing those who expose them, and eventually hoping to lull everyone back to sleep.
Those who are spiritually awake can see through the smoke screen of lies, but those who sleep still follow them. The winnowing continues to polarize people as those who wake up begin to take a stand against the corruption and those who don’t continue to perpetrate it.
Though I see the temperature heating up and the polarization becoming more pronounced, these lies and deceptions are ancient. Whispers of the enemy so subtle we believe them without question, as though they’re our own thoughts. As though they’re just universal truths. We rage against the real truth without even knowing we’re doing so…or why.
It’s always the same with evil and while it’s presence seems to be a continual surprise, it’s methods are always the same. Sometimes I wonder how hopelessly deceived people must be in order to remain so blind to what surrounds them every day. Scripture speaks so often of evil, even exposing it’s methods that we may recognize and avoid it. And yet we remain blind and led around like sheep to the slaughter.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I wholeheartedly agree. Photography has the power to convey an emotion or experience in ways that words simply can’t no matter how many are written or said.
Part of healing trauma is finding a way to process the painful emotions in a way that breaks their hold on the mind and body. One of the best ways to do this is by finding creative, non-linear ways of expressing the painful and frightening emotions that are quite often too painful (or buried too deeply) to access in a more direct way. Music, poetry, painting, dance, photography, etc..these are all very common creative expressions that can prove to have powerful healing effects for victims. For me, well, I’ve always been partial to photography…
Last winter, my therapist noticed I was stuck in my ability to move past the sexual assault I experience a couple years prior. While I was beginning to understand what really happened to me, I just couldn’t shake the pain and despair of such seemingly senseless violence. The injustice of everything I experienced, including being silenced and shamed by police and “friends”, brought confusion and pain that lingered in my body and haunted my every thought.
In a stroke of brilliance, my therapist suggested that I connect with Liz Gilani, a photographer, to create a photo story to externalize my emotional experience with the assault. The purpose being to not only process and resolve the trauma for myself but to also bring purpose to the pain.
I participated in this project in order to heal, but I’ve decided to share it for many more reasons than that. Sexual assault is an absolute epidemic that is overwhelmingly ignored, denied, or at best met with indifference by our society. One in four women are victims of sexual assault and those numbers are even low due to a severe lack of reporting. Women fear reporting for many reasons including fear of retribution, being re-traumatized, shame and blame from others, self-blame, lack of support, and the most heart-breaking…because they see stories like mine where the police simply don’t care and they know their own fruitless efforts will only cause them more pain and suffering. Of all issues, sexual assault is one of the most prevalent, relevant, and yet oddly one of the most ignored by society.
This photo story is my way of bringing justice to a situation that never found justice. I want the friends and family of my fellow survivors to truly understand the emotional and spiritual damage that is done through sexual violence so they can show more compassion and support to those who have been victimized. I want our culture to understand that this issue is not to be taken lightly and that instead of blaming and shaming victims, we need to start holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.
More than anything, I want victims to know they aren’t alone. I want them to know that God did not want their experience to happen anymore than they did, and that He is on their side. If you or anyone you know is a victim of sexual assault and you feel like they would benefit from this story, please feel free to share.
** Before clicking, please be aware that some of these photos are very graphic and could be a potential trigger for some victims of sexual assault. **
For many, the idea of forgiveness brings with it a feeling of inner peace, comfort, and freedom. For those who have walked the road of deep remorse and regret for their own wrongdoings, forgiveness can taste very sweet. As Jesus says in one of his parables, “…he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:36-50 ESV). Likewise, he who is forgive much, loves much. Forgiveness is, and should be, a wonderful thing. But it isn’t always…
Like any other inherently good thing, forgiveness can be misused. It can be taken out of context or used selfishly to further one’s own ends, or it can be applied inappropriately in ways that bring about harm instead of healing. In these cases, forgiveness does not bring freedom at all, but rather further harm and in some cases, psychological and emotional trauma.
Here are some honest aspects of forgiveness and how they commonly get misused.
- Forgiveness is both a free-will choice and a process. Forgiveness is misused when it is demanded, guilted, or otherwise manipulated from a person who has been wronged.
- Forgiveness requires a full acknowledgement and assessment of the wrongdoing and its effects. Forgiveness is misused when it is equated with or implied to necessitate condoning, excusing, forgetting, or denying the wrong that has been done. (As Pastor Mark Driscoll states, “forgiveness does not come with a side of amnesia”).
- Forgiveness is the process by which rightful emotions stemming from wrongdoing are resolved. Forgiveness is misused when it is spiritualized in a way that dismisses the need for emotionally processing valid feelings of anger or pain associated with being wronged.
- Forgiveness is a personal process that takes place within the self. Forgiveness is misused when it is equated with reconciliation with another person, especially when the other person has neither acknowledged nor repented of their wrong.
Forgiveness is, essentially, about our own heart and our own actions that flow from our heart. It’s about not exacting vengeance or seeking retribution for the wrongs done against us (which is different from seeking justice, which should be pursued if violent or criminal activity is involved). Forgiveness is the process through which we are able to both process and effectively resolve anger, pain, loss, and even rage resulting from harm that has been done to us. The only emotion we are to look out for is that of resentment, which is simply the unresolved, unprocessed anger that has taken root in our hearts.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “be angry, and do not sin.” It actually says “be angry!” Anger is healthy and necessary to feel and process. The only thing we aren’t supposed to do is use that anger as a reason or excuse to cause more harm. But the emphasis of that scripture is on controlling our actions and responses, not in denying the initial emotions themselves. Clearly, scripture expects anger (Jesus got angry a lot), especially in the face of wrongdoing. However, scripture does expect and implore us to control it and handle it in healthy ways.
Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable with the emotions of anger and rage, hurt, or grief. Yet these are healthy and necessary emotions to feel, especially in the wake of loss, betrayal, or abuse. The full range of emotions need to be felt and acknowledged in healthy ways which, depending on the severity of the offense, may take anywhere from weeks to years to fully analyze, assess, and process. And while it’s true that dealing with hurt feelings isn’t always easy, expecting a person not to have them when they have been harmed (or dictating how long you think they should last) is not only irresponsible and ignorant, it is further damaging.
If the rightful feelings of hurt, pain, loss, or anger are not allowed to be communicated or expressed in healthy ways, the only alternative is for them to settle into resentment or repression…that’s just how it works. Allowing people around us to feel and healthily express the full range of emotions, especially in response to wrongs done against them is necessary and good. We must understand that the entire concept of real forgiveness was hijacked for many people, not being used as a healing balm to restore but rather as a battering ram meant only to control, shame, and manipulate. We need to understand how to help those people work through their feelings without further traumatizing them.
When people have been abused this way, they may hear the word “forgive” and, quite naturally, have a negative reaction. Conscious nor not, the body and mind remembers former attempts at manipulation or psychological/emotional abuse and will respond instinctively to avoid it again. What emotionally battered people need is compassion, a listening ear, and the freedom to both feel and communicate their emotions in healthy ways…not more dismissal of, shame about, or demands to feel or not feel their feelings. This, as one can expect, only pushes a person into resentment…not lead them out of it.
I believe it’s our job as Christians, friends, parents, pastors…or just as compassionate people in general… to understand what it means to have suffered from spiritual abuse and learn how we can help and not further hinder those who have suffered it. And whether intentional or not, callous dictates to “just let it go” or “move on” or “forgive and forget” can, and often do, deepen the emotional and spiritual damage of an already battered person, pushing them further away from healing than ever. I hardly think that’s the goal of any well-intentioned individual, Christian or not.
If we are to truly help those who have been wronged or spiritually abused, we need to properly understand the emotional and psychological ramifications of that abuse. We need to learn how to walk with people through the turbulent waters of emotional, psychological, or spiritual trauma so that we can patiently, kindly, and compassionately lead them to a place of healing and peace. Then, and only then, is true forgiveness possible.
When it comes to faith, the Grand Canyon feels like a smaller rift than that which separates what I know to be true from the emotional realities I experience every day. One is no less true than the other, but neither do they agree.
In my life, faith has felt a lot more like hauntings than tangible realities. It has seemed more of an unseen and entirely intangible truth. However, a truth none the less. And actually, sometimes the hauntings feel far more real than anything else I feel or even experience firsthand. Sometimes misunderstood, unnerving, inexplicable, and maybe even frightening…yes. On one hand, they’re easier to deny than material things I touch and feel, and yet, harder… because, like hauntings, they never allow me rest. Always gnawing on my insides and in the back of my mind, demanding attention as though constantly whispering (which sometimes sounds like screaming) in my ears.
“Okay, okay…” I say to myself. “What are you trying to say?” and I turn to face the whispers. But as I face them, they stop speaking. “What do you want??” I demand.
Apparently, faith doesn’t respond well to the insolent and angry demands of those it provokes.
And I do suppose that makes sense. Actually, it supports everything I know to be true about faith, but it’s no less frustrating. I’m a foot stompin’, hands on hips, give-me-the-answers-right-this-minute kinda gal. Faith does not work that way. No wonder we are so often at odds.
People have often told me they’re shocked to learn how strong my faith is. “You’re just so….logical” they say, as though that somehow negates the capacity to believe. Yes, I’m logical…and that’s a large reason why I believe the things I do. What I believe makes far more logical and rational sense than any other explanation or theory in existence. It has more scientific support as well. It’s not a difficult leap at all, as long as you have the information of course. If you’re ignorant, or have false information, or have petty emotions standing in the way of rational thought, faith may be more difficult for you. But for me, it is quite simple.
Simple, but not easy. Faith isn’t even easy for those who already believe, so I’d assume it’s downright impossible for those who don’t. It is tested at every turn, pressed in on every side, and it seems as though the universe is intent on taking all faith and pushing a person beyond the breaking point, just to see if it remains. I will not lie and say I’ve never been driven to despair of my faith and of my God. I have…many, many times over. And yet…the dust and ashes of what I’ve believed get pressed together in such a way as to create a whole new substance. A purer substance. A simpler substance. A substance I never had before. A diamond, perhaps.