God called me back to basics as the new year rolled into view. My blog post to that affect was posted in January, 2020.
What basics? After all the wrestling and questioning, it came down to one basic, a familiar call:
“Mary, Mary, Mary”….”you so easily forget the main point. Don’t miss the simple truth right in front of your face. If you keep charging off into the weeds, you will keep missing the plain path I have put in front of you; you will exhaust yourself.”
The single basic activity, the main point, the prime directive, so to speak, is to focus on and follow Him on the plain path He puts in front of me, and He will take care of the rest.
In the eight months since the reminder to focus and follow Him, I have many times been grateful for the pre-emptive timing of God’s message to me. As for most people, the past few months have delivered stresses and strains, numerous occasions to question and doubt my roles and purposes in our little corner of the world. There have also been more than a few temptations to pull me off center, away from the quiet place next to His heart. I have not consistently been successful in resisting temptation, (…but quick to scramble back when I find myself lost in the noise of the world.) One vulnerability has been a thorn in my side as long as I can remember—a weakness I used to hide at all costs.
But I came out of hiding when I was a new Christian and heard Kris Kristofferson sing, Why Me Lord? Since then, I have found it a blessing to share my experiences, praying the Lord will use my story to encourage others.
“Try me Lord;
if you think there’s a way, I can try to repay, all I’ve taken from you.”
I can show someone else what I go through myself on my way back to You.”
I have two deep-rooted sinkholes in me that, under certain circumstances, rise and threaten to engulf me. I can trace the roots to when I was nine years old—the sense that I was alone and left with a job too big for me, but nonetheless I must complete the task. The other one quickly rises on the heels of the first—a sense that no one is going to walk with me for long; they will eventually leave me alone again, and I can’t count on anyone to help me.
Circumstances of my childhood and some painful adult experiences could illuminate the origins of those “thorns” and I have written and spoken about them often. But for the purposes of this post, I want to talk about how these firmly rooted beliefs are representatives of constant companions of survivors of abuse, even those who live otherwise successful and productive lives.
These “sinkholes” open in the presence of a situation I think is over my head, or too hard for me. When I am most present in the moment, I just lean right into those feelings with the Lord and trusted friends—and the overwhelm passes. However, when I am distracted, and work harder, frantically trying to fix things in my own strength, I get caught up in self-contempt; I eat too much; I keep my friends at bay.
I am aware of how I am choosing each time. Yet, it is a choice that often doesn’t feel much like a choice. But it is a choice. It really is a choice. And when I choose to turn again to Him, He infuses His strength into that very weakness now submitted to Him—and the burden lifts, peace is restored. Peace as a child experiences in the safety of her mother’s arms.
In the opening verses of the book of Matthew, chapter eighteen, we find Jesus engaging a child, and placing him in front of the disciples, he said, “Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me. But if you have given them a hard time, bullying, or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do. (Matt. 18:2-7 MSG)
Hard words to hear if you are one who has bullied or otherwise abused a child—yet, for the abuser there is also the remedy, the promise–praise God for repentance and forgiveness!
But for the child who was bullied, or neglected, abused, or left alone with a job too big for her, Jesus’ words are balm to our souls. Though the Lord has pronounced the millstone upon the perpetrators, it is often the ones who were abandoned or misused who go through life feeling like they are pulling or pushing through a heavy burden before they can even greet their day, approach their work, enter into an intimate experience with their spouse.
For those readers like me, I just remind us all that Jesus Himself has taken up the role of Life Coach, Helper, Companion, Bearer of Your Burdens, Protector of You and Healer of the holes in your heart as well as the soul wounds you still carry.
And praise God, He has brought people into our lives who bear the burden with us…. Pray for WGA staff and leaders who serve in so many ways. At Where Grace Abounds, we have the privilege of walking alongside survivors of abuse in their journeys to wholeness in Christ. The journey involves opening our hearts to one another, risking that our pent-up emotions, shame, and loneliness will be exposed. It sometimes feels impossible, but in the warmth of another’s welcome–especially in the face of seeing us as we are—we begin to heal. That is our privilege and gift to one another—the gift of our presence, and together we manifest His healing presence to one another.
We are so grateful for the supporters who pray for us and give financially toward this mission. May the Lord return to you a hundredfold for your generosity.
Founding DirectorMary is one of the founders of Where Grace Abounds and served as Executive Director from its inception on July, 1986 through March 31st, 2007. She speaks and teaches at churches and conferences across the country. She has also served on several boards of non-profit organizations, is a conference speaker on a variety of topics that include: Intimacy with God, Healthy Sexuality, and leadership development. Currently serving in leadership in her denomination, Mary’s favorite ministry roles are discipleship counseling, group facilitation, and leadership development. Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motivation. Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, independent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University. Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.
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