I Confess….

I’m a doubter.
Yet ridiculously gullible.

I don’t even know how those two go together into one outfit of skin, but they mashed themselves up solid in this one.

For instance, I have a hard time giving people the benefit of the doubt. I tend to automatically assume the worst about people if I hear or observe them in certain scenarios, because, in my mind, you don’t toy with situations if you aren’t an active participant. Why go near fire unless you kinda like fire? (I say that with no judgement, just honesty from where I’ve been. Because the times I was accused of being involved in something negative, I usually was.)

On the flip side, if you give me your word, I’ll believe you. And will fight for your honor because you gave me your word.

And I’ve been burned both ways many times.

I’m accused (by myself mostly) of being entirely too skeptical and too trusting all in one breath. And what is left is a seriously confused set of schizophrenic trust issues.

Enter the husband.
All of the above applies to every second of my days with him.

I doubt every word that exits his mouth and could easier stuff a hippo in my back pocket as I could believe him. Yet, I believe him. And still defend him. And thus keep the giant pendulum in full swing.

Enter people.
Everything above applies to them, too.

I have a beautiful support system, but I cautiously step out every day wondering if that will be the day that someone will decide I’m not worth supporting anymore. I’ve very openly trusted so many people with the position of ally for my family, because I couldn’t fathom anyone not believing in restoration. And now, because I’ve opened myself up so wide, I’ve watched people abandon me and my children; I’ve watched people sit on their hands and say nothing; and I’ve watched people align themselves with the side of infidelity because ruffling feathers is too uncomfortable.

Enter God.
Surely the above doesn’t apply here.

For me it very sadly does.

Transparency is my only option here, and so, here is my very transparent story with God….

I doubt Him.
At least every 5 minutes. Of every hour. Of every day. I doubt Him.

I hear the promises of Jesus, and I believe them with everything in me and then find myself convincing myself that the husband could never change. My finite mind can’t wrap its feeble wires around the thought, so instead of leaning not on my own understanding(Prov. 3:5), I end up deciding to lean on doubt of the One Who Holds Everything Together.

Shameful.

Yesterday, I shut myself in my bathroom, sat on my toilet seat, and just cried. And begged God to forgive my unbelief. I had found myself (after a series of heart-wrenching emotional blows last week) ready to give up and throw in the towel. I knew that there was no end in sight, and I wanted out. And then I had to stop and confess and remember Who I was claiming couldn’t make miracles happen.

But not 8 hours later, I was back at it again.

More confession.

This morning, again.

Seriously? I feel as though I have no business even approaching the Throne in prayer after all that.

And I feel like a big fat hypocritical liar.

For several months now, I’ve claimed and professed sincere hope and expectation. I’ve tried to wear faith as a medallion around my neck for all to see, and have tried to be a voice to those that are suffering silently. And the whole time, I haven’t even really believed with everything in me that restoration for my family is possible.

I feel like a fraud.

Just for the sake of honesty, here’s where I get tripped up:

First, I don’t fully understand free-will vs. God changing lives. I know that the husband has to surrender fully from his own will, in order for repentance and reconciliation to ever come. But I know God can change lives and hearts. But, I don’t know where one ends and the other begins. And because I’m so gray, I tend to put all the responsibility and hope on the husband. And he’s not doing himself any favors. So my very limited mind feels like its only option is to just believe it’s all too hard, and all this hoping and waiting and watching has been for nothing.

Second, I, at times, tend to fall back onto a pathetic little pillow of thinking that my marriage isn’t quite as high up on the Lord’s priority list as I would hope. The magnitude of aching and hurting and abused and broken people is devouring this planet. Why would He choose my family to be the one to save and make new?

Third, sometimes it’s easier to feel sorry for myself than to keep going. I will not for a second say that needing time to grieve and mourn is not justified nor 100% okay. I would take that back pocket hippo from earlier and smash it into the face of whomever said otherwise. But, wallowing? Not okay. And I can cozy up to wallow on most every day that begins with a morning and ends with a night.

And, lastly, this is all really very hard. And weariness and weakness breed sleepless nights and a brain that swirls in circles and paints ornate pictures of my oh-so limited self.

I cannot describe to you the beauty of the hope I crave to have. It’s not hoping something will happen; it’s expecting it to happen. It’s believing in a God so radically huge that it’s incomprehensible to even contemplate another way.

I long for it.
I want to go to bed at night and wake up the next morning with that faith so attached to me that it like another skin.

I don’t know how to get there except to trust God.

There’s that trust thing again.

Trusting God that He’ll help me trust Him.

I know it’s really no more complicated than asking a cat to purr. Or a green bean to be green.

God doesn’t change.
His Word is pure.

It’s me.
This is all on me.

But, Praise Jesus, He is okay with baby-stepping me through this thing. And then just carrying me when I botch it up and trip all over my feet.

Every 5 minutes.

—–
UPDATE:

Want to see how cool God is? And how I need to find that hippo and smack myself around a time or two with it?

I’m currently sitting in Chicago on a layover. I wrote that blog post about 30 minutes ago on a plane. I have a 2 hour layover, so I pulled out my Beth Moore James Bible study and thought I’d get some homework done. I opened up to my page for today and just had to lift my eyes and praise Him for His sufficiency.

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Here I go… Going to try to actually DO victory instead of just talking about it.

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Self Therapy Repetitions and Mutterings

To God….
I am beautiful.
I am special.
I’m worth it.

God…
respects me.
honors me.
loves me.
wants to be with me.

God will not….
trade me in.
throw me away.
use me.
forsake me.

Because of God…
I have hope.
I am still breathing.
I can face the day.
I keep on doing the little things that add up to big things.

He is faithful.
He will not fail me.
He will not break His promises.

He loves me.

I matter.

To Have and To Hold……Now Just Being Held

I’ve started this post a dozen times.  Maybe more.

If you could see all the drafts, they all start the same. 

I’m tired.  And raw.

And that’s about as far as I get.  Because I can’t think of anything else to say. 

I’m so ready for the cup to be taken from me.  For the dark shadows to have a light shined into their corners.  To be delivered.  Released.  Rescued.  For my Boaz to come and redeem me from the gleaning floors.

I believe it’ll come.  One day. 

And in the meantime, I’ll be held.  And let Natalie do my talking for me….

And I’ll wait…..

Once a Cheater….

Yesterday I received a text from an old friend who was checking in to see how things were going. My support system is precious, and I’ve been lavished upon with a pretty extensive one. So “hey, how are you?” texts are beautifully frequent. And they make my days so sweet.

But for every couple of hardcore supporters, there is someone who doesn’t understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. Some are more vocal than others. Some are quick to tell me I’ve lost my ever-lovin’ mind. And on most days, I tend to agree with them.

After a few pleasantries with my friend yesterday, the text came through that I could feel looming in the air.

You know, once a cheater; always a cheater.

Wow. Those are heavy words. And I’m pretty sure that I’ve had the very same verse escape my lips more than a time or forty. But those words couldn’t have hit me harder had he taped them to a ton of bricks and hurled them at me.

I understand statistics. I do. I really do. I’ve read book after article after journal on the subject of infidelity, and it does seem that the adage proves true more often than it doesn’t. Once a cheater; always…

But, the thoughts started to swirl, and it made me so very glad that God doesn’t listen to statistics. Because I’m pretty sure that if I had enough minutes to spare, I could make quite an extensive list of adages that would give plenty of reason for God to give up on me.

Once a gossip; always a gossip.
Once a liar; always a liar.
Once lazy; always lazy.
Once a skipper of her Quiet Time; always a skipper.
Once a girl who lost her temper and yelled at her kids about dirty clothes in the floor; always a girl….

Silly?
Yes.

But how ridiculously grateful I am that God doesn’t deal in statistical analysis of my sin. The Word says He throws our sin into the depths of the ocean (Micah 7:19) never to be thought of again because He has compassion on us. And Praise Jesus for that.

Let me interject here and say that I absolutely believe true repentance is a part of that whole redemption process. I don’t want to come across as if I don’t understand the complex and intense significance of confession and making the 180* turn.

I most certainly do.
And believe that is that the first and foremost key in restoration of my own family.

What hits my heart with supernatural force is that the possibility and HOPE that it can happen.

It’s the same hope that allows for alcoholics who now celebrate days, weeks, years, and decades sober. The same hope that produces gorgeous testimonies that glorify God in the most beautiful ways but were bred from horror and evil on the streets. The same hope that allows for a tired mom who dishonored her child with her words in the heat of an exhausted second to be placed back on her pedestal the next day.

And it’s that hope that spurs me on to wait and watch and pray for this man that I promised my life to.

Because I believe in the power of Jesus to change hearts and lives. And the use of absolutes like “he’ll always cheat” or “he’ll never change” seem to deny the power of the Almighty God and His miracle capability.

I absolutely do not expect people to understand the stand I’ve taken. Because, like I said, I don’t most days. And I’m absolutely aware that my position is not the only position to take for spouses in my spot. I’m not mega-holy or a martyr for staying. Divorce is certainly Biblically justified for cases of adultery, and I believe whole-heartedly that it is justified for many marriages who have walked the rocky roads of infidelity.

It’s just not for me, right now.

Right now, God says, Wait for this big gorilla of a man.

He hasn’t told me why I’m waiting. He hasn’t promised restoration for my family, but there must be purpose.

Once a cheater; always a cheater.

Realistically, maybe. Free will in this very broken world could lend itself to that.

But, I know my Jesus.

And my HOPE lies in Him. In the One that is fully capable of making this the new story, the story that I pray for without ceasing:

Once a cheater; now redeemed.

Empty Beds and Full Floors

There is a set of bunk beds in the room across the hall that hasn’t been slept in for four months. Four months. The camouflage jungle animal comforter on the bottom bunk has only been pulled back and crawled under during games of hide-n-seek, and the blankets with the BMX bikes on the top bunk only catch dust, not dreams.

There’s another bed down the hall that now is more of a wrestling ring. It used to hold a pre-teen who needed his space, and now it holds three brothers who can’t stand to be near or away from each other.

And I love it.
And hate it.
All in the same breath.

It’s 11:03 p.m. as I’m typing this, and I have the feet of a tiny seven year old in my face. It’s his turn to sleep with me tonight, and he fell asleep with his fingers wiggling his two loose teeth. There are two pallets in my floor, one on each side of my bed. The other two boys are snoring and sighing in their sleep. The one with the freckles has a death grip on his wolf, Wolfy, but would kill me if he knew I told you he still slept with a stuffed animal. The pre-teen with his peach fuzz and disdain for deodorant fell asleep after he kissed me gently on the cheek and told me I was beautiful. A good husband that one will be.

And so we have slept for many a month. Taking turns rotating through the pallet/mom’s bed cycle. Snoring breathy baby snores in gorgeous unison. And leaving perfectly good beds untouched and unslept in.

There is safety in numbers, I guess. And all four of us are feeling a bit unsafe. We’re scared. And unsure. And it’s just a little easier to stomach the fear if you know you aren’t sleeping on it alone.

I’m asked often how the boys are handling all this madness. And my answer is honest. They’re doing great.

Considering.

We haven’t experienced rage or silence or violence or tragic rebellion with the boys. The textbook is proving wrong with my three so far. And I throw my hands in the air and push them as high to Heaven as I can in an attempt to voice praise and thanksgiving for it. In fact, my kids are better kids now than before. They’re more attentive, kinder, more respectful, and more appreciative than I’ve ever known them to be. And I’m, for the first time, truly truly honored to be their mom. I’ve always been proud of them. Now I’m proud of them.

They’ve stared devastation in the face and were faced with a choice. And, so far, they have chosen to choose to hang on to Jesus with all the grip their tiny fists can muster. And I love it.

These three precious young men have witnessed miracles of Biblical proportions. They know our faith story, and they have been active in watching God provide for us. Their prayers have transformed from asking for grace over green beans and for winning baseball games to fervent pleas for their daddy’s safety and protection and for milk money. Nothing will bring the salt water to your cheeks like hearing a dear one who can’t say his “r”s ask Jesus to “bwing” his daddy home or thank God for “miwuhcles.”

And it’s not me. Don’t pat me on the back for perfect parenting. Not for a second. My children witnessed more horror in the months last year than anyone should ever have to be exposed to. Their father was an icy statue in their home, and their mother was on a spiral of self-destruction that almost left them orphans. They somehow picked up the pieces of their crumbling home and took the burden upon their tiny backs. Those children carried this family and were strong enough to grab hold of their mama’s hand and love on her instead of rebel against her. Jesus has carried my boys tenderly and has given them the strength to dig deep. No, it had nothing to do with me….

So what do they know? They know that “daddy is making bad choices.” And they know that their mama sounds like a tired jukebox stuck on one song when she repeatedly climbs her soapbox and rattles on about God’s plan for husbands and fathers being that they are to stay with their families. I have tried to share truth with them, yet honored my husband. I don’t trash talk him, and I have to bite my words when giving my “bad choices” speech, but I try to show respectful honesty. They know nothing about another woman, and my prayer is that it remains that way. To feel traded in and cast aside is a feeling that I will go to my grave bearing and protecting my children from if I can. Oh, that they would never feel such grief.

I’m a mom. A woman. Raising men. And praying everyday that God would reshape their legacies. That they would grow to respect and honor the model of husbandry and fatherhood set before them by the Perfect One, and that they would ache to become that kind of man.

It’s safe to say that the boys and I are all taking one day at a time. We pray daily for their father’s return to our family, and their childlike faith believes it will happen. We don’t dwell on what we’re missing though, and that is definitely done more out of self-preservation than forgetfulness. We have developed new habits and new ways of doing us. The majority of pictures scrawled in crayon of our family don’t include a daddy; and though it saddens me, it is our reality we’re living in at this moment.

It’s almost midnight now. I still have feet in my face, and I can hear the rustling of the boy by the door shifting positions.

The beauty of the moment isn’t lost on me….

You may remember my very first post here. The very raw, blood-curdling Sleeping By the Door. That post was written when our bed was still warm from a husband who had just left.

Four months later, I still hate sleeping by the door. And I’m frustrated that I’ve been placed in a position to have to. But how beautiful is it that God very silently urged this new co-sleeping pattern?

Because not only does a mother hen love having her chicks brooded in tight to the nest, but there is a primal feeling of security and safety in numbers.

But, also, God knows my resentment towards doors in the night. So He decided to step in and handle it. I believe with all my heart that my Perfect Husband Himself is standing guard at my door, but the beauty of what is happening right now is almost too much.

Because there is right now a strong, gorgeous man-child that is sleeping by the door.

So I don’t have to.

Positioned to Pray

I was texting back and forth today with a dear friend of mine who is walking this road alongside me. Our stories are unique and carry weight and burden of their own, but they are similar enough that (and I hope she would agree with me) the load is lighter just because we know there is someone who will help us carry it. Today in one of her text messages, she wrote, “I love how we kinda go in and out of stages opposite of each other…we are positioned to pray for the other.”

She couldn’t have hit the nail any more square on the head.

It’s probably safe to say that over the past few weeks, though I’ve had a few rough patches, most of them have been really good days. I use the word good pretty loosely, because it is all so relative, but for me…it’s been good. My friend has had a rather hard few weeks. The tables turned yesterday. I felt myself growing very weak and weary, and God has blessed my friend with a few lighter steps in her days. Opposite stages.

I don’t think it’s specific to living with family trauma like we’re dealing with, for I think any burden of any size can bring on weariness. And in weariness sometimes we are too weak to be effective intercessors for others. I know, for me, in times of emotional exhaustion, I can barely form a coherent sentence once I begin to pray. I’m so thankful for a Holy Spirit that sees my heart and hears its cry, because it, quite literally, is the way the prayers make it to the Throne of God Almighty.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. — Romans 8:26-27 (The Message)

What comfort that brings me. There are so many days that the pages of my well-worn Bible or my pillow are just sopping with tears, because I cannot do anything other than weep. I’m so glad that it is on those days, that God’s Spirit is right beside me helping to keep me present before God.

The Holy Spirit is positioned beside me.

My sweet friend’s choice of words couldn’t have been better.

Because in our intercession for each other, we are positioning ourselves right alongside our sisters and brothers, taking a seat right next to the Blessed Holy Ghost, to help them along. What great company to keep.

I’m exhausted. I’m so weary. And I’m weak. Nightmares are creeping back in at night, and confusion keeps me staring at the ceiling for hours on end. My physical health always begins to wane during these periods, and my patience and energy levels are short. These are the times that I’m so blessed with precious intercessors.

I don’t say all of this to try to evoke a feeling of sadness for me. God is handling me very tenderly, and I think I have His full permission to crawl in His lap and just cry. To just be tired in this very broken body that lives in a very broken world.

Speaking of crawling up in the lap of God: My sweet friend, was not short on encouragement nor precious reminders today. She also reminded me that in Isaiah 54, God reveals Himself as our Husband.

For your Maker is your Husband — the Lord Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit…… — Isaiah 54:5-6

One thing that the husband always did for me when I was feeling sad, was let me snuggle up to him and he would just quietly let me cry. Even if it took hours. He wouldn’t ever hurry away. It is beyond beautiful to me that Christ, my Precious Bridegroom allows me to do the same with Him. He has positioned Himself to allow me to sit and cry. To pull the hair back from my wet cheeks and let me drench His chest in tears.

And while I’m crying, because words just don’t form, He has summoned the Holy Spirit to sit beside us and intercede to the Father for me.

And then He sends for my kindred spirits on this earth to pull up a chair, too.

Someone asked me just yesterday if I had a good support system? I’d say so.

I’d absolutely say so.

Surrendering Passal

Passal moved quickly through the rain. She hadn’t realized that the need for an umbrella was in the forecast when she left her tiny apartment that morning, so now her only goal was to get out of the downpour as quickly as she could. Two more blocks to go, and she would be able to peel herself out of her wet clothes, dry her hair, and snuggle under the warmth of some flannel pajamas. And then she’d finally be able to open the box.

The rain had attacked just as she was entering the post office, so though she couldn’t hardly contain herself, she had forced herself to wait to open the long-awaited package until she got home, instead of ripping into it the moment the postmaster had handed it over. She didn’t want to run the risk of any of the precious cargo being touched by the rain and suffer possible damage.

Passal was an artist. A brilliant artist. Though she loved to paint and draw, her best work was done when she sculpted. And she lived and breathed for creating and building her pieces. Her already small two room apartment barely allowed space to breathe as it was, and the lining of the walls and packing of every nook with her masterpieces only compounded the claustrophobic area. Her day job was mundane and tired, but it was her evenings and weekends that drove Passal to wake up each morning and face the day. And today was no different. In fact, the anticipation of the package had spurred her on to quitting time all the more.

She jogged on wet feet as delicately as she could until finally reaching her building. She fumbled for the key in the rain, unlocked the front entrance, then quickly made her way up the three flights to her place. Once inside, she made quick work of shedding her now-drenched layers, pulling on fresh clothes, and towel-drying her soaked hair. Then almost skipped out to the pocket-sized table where she had dropped the box, now soggy from the rain.

It didn’t take long to peel the tape and packing material back to reveal the treasure that Passal had so long been waiting for.

The finishing touch for her latest sculpture.

The sculpture that Passal knew would finally bring her happiness once it was completed. The piece that would finally make her feel whole. And needed. And wanted. And special.

She clung the prize to her chest as she surveyed the corners of her cramped home. All the other beautiful works of art that she had convinced herself would bring the same change for her stood at attention. The sculptures that were perfection to look at, yet had not propelled Passal out of her world of isolation and hopelessness as she had so thought that they would.

There was a tall work of art that stood proudly in the far corner. It had been one of Passal’s earliest creations and still brought a smile to her face when she looked at it. It was constructed entirely of shiny unused cases of makeup. There were mascara tubes and wands. Sparkly lip glosses. Skinny eyeliner pencils. Compacts in all shades of shiny jewel-tones. Fresh eye shadow casings. And fancy bottles of nail polish in every color imaginable. Passal had pristinely connected them together to create a cute, yet elegant, 6 foot representation of a tube of lipstick. It had been during that time that Passal had hoped that creating the perfect cat eye and having a fresh manicure would complete her. That it would fill the void. That looking beautiful on the outside would allow her to find her place in the world. It hadn’t. In fact, it had left her feeling less and less beautiful each time she reapplied her lip gloss.

In the opposite corner stood another fun sculpture constructed entirely out of shoes. Passal had invested a huge chunk of her paychecks to finish this piece, for she had spared no expense in ordering and purchasing just the right footwear. There were stilettos that had been handcrafted in Italy. Heels that bore the names of infamous designers. Sneakers in all of the latest styles and hot colors. Sandals. Flip flops. Flats. A pair of leather boots that Passal had spent a whole month’s rent on. All of the shoes were masterfully crafted into the shape of a high heel. Passal had devoted so much income during that period of her life to all manner of clothing. She had foregone paying her bills and taking care of her other responsibilities for the sake of wearing name brands and filling her closet with all the offerings of the latest fashion magazines, catalogs, and store-front mannequins. Surely the jackets, scarfs, and jeans would finally bring Passal’s heart to rest. Looking her best at all costs would surely finally soothe her wounds. It hadn’t. In fact, she was left broke, lonely, and depressed inside her Jimmy Choos.

Under the window, there set another sculpture that glittered when the sun streamed through the panes. It, too, had cost Passal a near fortune, but she hadn’t been detoured. She had even picked up a second job to help pay for her frequent trips to jewelry stores and florists. It was a short, squatty rectangular piece made entirely out of diamond rings and roses that had been dipped and coated in gold. Passal had become convinced during that period that finding a good man, or any man for that matter, would be the solvent to all her problems. She became so obsessed with the need for intimacy that when she wasn’t exposing herself to one bad relationship after the other, she had taken to buying herself flowers and gifts. A man, or even the illusion of a man, would surely be the salve for her broken heart. It wasn’t. In fact, it left her even more alone and desperate than before.

On the counter in the kitchen, another sculpture took up most of the space available. It was enjoyable to look at for outsiders, but for Passal it brought back deep memories of sadness. It was created entirely out of tiny replicas of cupcakes, candies, cookies, and every other confection imaginable. Passal had been so detailed in her realism, that it seemed as though one could lean over and take a huge bite out of the whole work of art. She had made this piece when trying to deal with her loneliness. Rich food and late night snacks became Passal’s best friends, and they soon consumed her. She gained weight at an exponential rate, and soon Passal didn’t even recognize herself in the mirror. Her friends of food had betrayed her and had left her in a mess of pounds. She had thought meaning and comfort could be found within the morsels. They couldn’t. In fact, Passal was left fat, hopeless, and wanting to die.

There were other sculptures that were so significant, too. The large homage to exercise and fitness that Passal had constructed in hopes of smothering the pain from the period of food addiction. The art that paid tribute to alcohol and prescription drugs that Passal had tried to drown the pain with. A display showing loyalty to books and education that had been created when Passal thought that true fulfillment might come from more knowledge. There were sculptures honoring her favorite television shows. Pictures of friends and acquaintances. Money. Music.

And, yet, now as Passal took inventory of her life story wrapped up in these gorgeous masterpieces, she reflected back on a journey of loneliness and loss. None of the things that she had been told would help her had helped. None of the things that had been advertised as fixers had ever fixed.

Passal looked lovingly then at her latest addition that she held cradled in her hands. Her hands stroked over the fine edges, and she moved softly across to the tiny space she had carved out of her apartment that served as her studio. Her latest work sat proudly on the table, finished to Passal’s perfection, minus one piece. The one she now held.

It was a beautiful sculpture. Maybe her finest yet. It was a tribute to her latest grasp for completion. It was made entirely of intricately carved olive wood figures and of small stained glass panes depicting various scenes. She had searched long and hard for each item, and had purchased wooden lambs, crosses, lions, and arks. There were boats and scrolls and tiny mangers. There were glass portraits of a small boy hurling a stone at a giant; of a man surrounded by lions; of a basket with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Passal had been so careful in collecting every detail for this sculpture ever since she had started going to church and hearing more about God. People there had told her how this Man called Jesus could save her and bring her happiness like she had never known, and so Passal had leapt head first into religion with as much consumption as she had the food, the clothes, and the boys. And though Passal was doing all the things she was told would bring her finally to peace, she still felt lost and alone. But, surely, with this final treasure to add to the sculpture, everything would fall in place. All would be revealed to her and this Jesus would make her happy.

As she reached for her tools to set to work, Passal saw an unfamiliar slab of what looked like concrete propped comfortably against the wall near her table. She kneeled curiously to inspect it and found it was etched in beautiful calligraphy.

My Darling Passal,

I stopped by earlier while you were at work and admired your sculptures. I’m so pleased that you are using your talents that I gave you, but am so saddened by the hopelessness you feel. I remember these days with you, dear one. I remember when you thought if you could just look a certain way or have a person taking up space beside you that you would finally be happy. I wanted so badly for you to look to Me. You turned to food and shopping and even your art to comfort you, when I was all along just longing to be your True Comfort. I should have been happy when you began your quest for meaning and purpose through the church and even in My Word. But, you have treated knowledge of Me as a remedy and as a magic genie. You have found religion, yes, but you have missed relationship with Me.

My dear, I have been here for you the whole time. I’ve been your protector and guider even when you searched elsewhere away from Me.

Idols. You have made these beautiful pieces of art, and, not only worshiped them, but you have worshiped what they represent. Idols. You have devoted your time, money, love, and passion into these things that have left you defeated and destructed. And you continue to worship these things. Looking to false hope for true hope and coming up empty everytime.

Crush your idols, Passal. Tear these down and turn to Me. The One Who cannot be built or represented effectively by the things of this world. Destroy them, Passal. Seek Me.

Seek Me.

Love,

The Man Called Jesus

Passal melted to the floor in a pile of tears. Although she didn’t understand how it would be possible, she knew what she had read was true. She wept and ran her fingers over the calligraphic words again.

Could it be?

Without another thought, Passal stuffed the treasure from the box into her pocket and grabbed a broom. She made quick work of dismantling each and every sculpture in the house. She used brute force with the aid of the broom handle when needed, and after an hour of steady work, her living space was filled with trash bags brimming with the remains of her precious art. Before she could change her mind, she hefted the heavy bulging bags down to the garbage incinerator of her building and hurled her memories and idols of her past into the growling fire. As the last bag was licked clean by the flames, Passel collapsed in a heap of dirty tears on the disgusting scorched floor.

Oh, God. I do not know what I am doing or how to do it. But I surrender.

Those were the only words that left her mouth, but Passal stayed drenched in sweat, filth, and tears for several hours. When she finally picked herself up, she felt free. Released. And with a sweet relief that she had never known before. Though she didn’t understand what was happening to her, Passal knew she would never be the same.

Back in her apartment, she knelt in the corner where her lipstick sculpture had stood earlier and began to arrange her latest creation.

For though she had trashed her sculptures, she had kept one piece from each one. And now, with the true fingers of an expert craftsman, Passal constructed her finest work.

Not an idol.

But an altar.

As she prayed quiet simple prayers to this new God she had pledged her devotion to and who had changed her life so radically in just a matter of moments, she became aware again of the treasure that she had slipped in her pocket. This treasure that was to help complete her.

Passal drew it out slowly, and, with tears in her eyes, she made her way back down to the incinerator.

With a deep sigh, she threw it gently into the fire.

The perfectly handcrafted calf made entirely of gold.

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He….made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf….Then they said, “These are your gods.” –Exodus 32:4

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. –Exodus 20:4

Build there an altar to the Lord your God….rejoicing in the presence of the Lord your God. –Deuteronomy 27:5, 7