Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Forgive Yourself...

It's the Choosing

Bumping Into Things

“For what I am doing, I do not understand...”

The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

I recently caught this viral clip of a cat bumping into things.

And I found myself relating. I believed I knew exactly what I was doing.

You need to laugh right here.

And, for those of us in recovery from disorder and addiction, it, indeed, seems absurd. Really, are we truly experiencing only fantastic results from our erratic, out of control choices?

There is a way that seems right to a man. But its end is the way of death.”

Proverbs 14:12

Whether it is alcohol or drug-fueled decisions, binges of food, gambling, shopping or any other extreme behavior, we are, sooner or later, bumping into walls like our feline friend here.

 And we’re not really sure WHY we’re doing it in the FIRST place!

 “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do.”

The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

But God knows.

“For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.”

Psalms 103:14

He gets our desperation and its demanding, self-destructive choices.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:23

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

Yet He promises to lead and guide us.

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand, and whenever turn to the left.’”

—Isaiah 30:21

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.”

—Psalm 32:8

However, it’s up to us to ask for and seek that wisdom and leading. And that’s where we need to get real with ourselves. What do we really want?

“…‘Do you want to get well?’"

John 5:6

Or, again, do we want this?

We can decide if we want to keep bumping into walls. This behavior is not working; we look as ridiculous as this cat.

The viral clip is worth pondering for the state of our lives, isn’t it?

Copyright © 2019 by Sheryle Cruse

A Certain Curiosity

“Beauty invites a certain curiosity. But beauty is just five minutes long if you don’t have anything else to sustain that curiosity.”

Monica Bellucci

“Pretty is as pretty does.”

Ever hear that?

With so much fixation on appearance, it probably has not been heeded with seriousness.

Let’s face it, in this society, looks matter.

And, unfortunately, we learn that lesson early. I certainly did.

As a little girl, my mother and I had a rating system for females, focusing on those exact words. It was not uncommon for the two of us to focus on a friend, a classmate, a teacher or a celebrity and decide where she fell under the “Cute, pretty, beautiful and small” system. Great mother/daughter bonding, huh?

And it wasn’t just a judge-y sport, it also underscored a dominant rule which eventually sparked my full-blown eating disorder behaviors: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and, of course, constant self-loathing.

It sprang from the curiosity I had with beauty. It started with fairytale princesses and aesthetically pleasing dolls; they were aspirational focus points.

 But somewhere, things took a dark turn. Cute eating disorders.

...They were now competition for me. If I could be thinner than these women, then I’d be better than they were as well… Competition grew between me and any thin girl or woman. Mirror, mirror: I had to be the thinnest one of them all. It was life or death importance, anything less than that was unacceptable. Gaining any weight, whatsoever, meant failure, simple as that...What I didn’t realize at the time was that my eyes and mind were incapable of seeing anything but a distorted image...”

(Excerpt from “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death Of An Eating Disorder”)

Try as I might, no matter what I did, I could never perfectly attain that fuzzy four star rating. And so, what was I? Answer: an ugly failure.

Why aren’t we enough?

It’s because we don’t see what Elohim sees. We are curious about temporal, often distorted, inaccurate and harmful depictions of beauty rather than our Creator’s eternal, spiritual truths.

Therefore, we need The Most High’s beauty/value rating system.

Check out The Song of Solomon:

1:15: “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.”

2:14: “O my dove…let me see your form…for your form is lovely.” 

4:1: “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes...”

4:7: “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.”

6:4: “Thou art beautiful, O my love...”

7:10: “I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.”

Beauty is part of who we are, but it’s only one aspect. There’s so much more to our inherent value.

Let’s get curious about the full package, not just appearance!!!!

 “...I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Psalm 139:14

Copyright © 2019 by Sheryle Cruse

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Real Victim...

The Feelings Button

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

Years ago, there was a popular song, “Feelings.”

As the lyrics go, “feelings, nothing more than feelings...whoa...whoa...whoa...”

(It’s bad Karaoke, let me tell ya).

Anyway, I’ve been giving some thought to the feelings factor. I’ve seen how it has done some damage in my own life. Temper tantrums, crying jags, meltdowns of epic proportion- whatever you want to call them- feelings, let’s be real, rarely lead us to make great decisions which improve our lives.

But wreck our lives? Well, that’s a different story.

And, for those of us in recovery, for those of us coming from abuse, the feelings thing is a tricky course to navigate. In my case, because feelings weren’t safe in my home, growing up, I learned to suppress, stuff, until...boom! Explosion happened. Not a good coping mechanism.

And so, a girl of extremes, when life moved on, I was determined to fully express my feelings whenever I had them. Oh yeah. This was fun and games. No one was going to control me!

Hence, I was OUT of control.

The cliché in life is true: it’s about balance and moderation. And that was NOT something I was good at. I was not good at dealing, in a healthy with my emotions.

Scripture tells us, like it or not, we all need to do this:

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

Years after the immediate damage of both my eating disorders and my childhood abuse, God has patiently- and gradually- led me into honestly looking at my heart, the factory producing all of these blessed feelings in the first place.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalms 139:23-24

It’s often not pretty...or quick...or easy... But it is necessary. Life will, inevitably, push our buttons. And those feelings, which, left unchecked, can blow up our lives.

But we aren’t left powerless. We choose what we do with the feelings switch. We may not be able to control what, exactly pops up, but we can choose our reaction to it.

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

Proverbs 25:28

Self-control is something, yes, God has given to us.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

It’s up to us to use it, practice it, apply it

 “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”

2 Peter 1:5-7

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

So, with that in mind, let’s remember that when it comes to the switch, whenever we’re tempted to just let life “push our buttons.”

We can make another choice. We can feel our feelings without allowing them to wreck our lives.

 It IS possible!

Copyright © 2019 by Sheryle Cruse

Carefully Taught

I am astounded by the number of young people who approach me with such intense self-loathing. I frequently hear them say things like…

“I hate myself; I’m so ugly, disgusting and stupid.”

“I hate myself. There’s nothing good about me.”

When I ask them, however, why they feel that way, I usually get this response:

“I don’t know.”

 “For what I am doing, I do not understand...”

Romans 7:15

Statistics show…

“One in every 200 girls between 13 and 19 years old, or one-half of one percent, cut themselves regularly.”

 “The three leading causes of death for 15 to 24-year-olds are automobile crashes,        homicides and suicides – alcohol is a leading factor in all three.”

 “About 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.”

“Suicide is the third- leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds in America.”

www.dosomething.org. (Used with permission).

It reminds me, of a South Pacific musical number, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.” Its theme was learning racism. However, the song’s lyrics are too eerily close to teaching self-hatred:

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year. It has to be drummed in your dear little ear. You’ve got to be carefully taught…”

It seems to be reflected in so many young people’s minds now. Self-hatred is never far from the conversation. Threats of suicide and self-injury often pop up.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

Unrealistic body images, consumerism, and conditional love statements are just a few examples of things which are “carefully taught.”

And we usually don’t see the damage until years later when, for instance, “all of a sudden,” someone has an eating disorder or is a cutter. And then we ask what happened?

The reality is, often times, eating disorder sufferers and self-injurers, these kids with tremendous self-hatred, are the “good kids.” They’re the pleasers, the overachievers and the ones we tell ourselves we’ll “never have to worry about.”

Perhaps, we didn’t teach these kids as carefully as we should have about their inherent, everlasting value. The kids learned all too much, all too often, toxic, manipulative and distorted lessons. And they didn’t learn our Creator’s lessons about their worth, beauty and identity.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Things like…

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”

Isaiah 43:4    

Whenever I speak with a young person, a large challenge I have is convincing them of this scripture’s relevant truth for them, individually and personally. They are not excluded.

“…‘God is no respecter of persons.’”

Acts 10:34

But that Truth has such toxic competition with this world’s harmful messages.

And today’s youth, unfortunately, are repeatedly “carefully taught” its destructive “exclusive” lesson. Whether it’s the preferential treatment of high school popularity, bullying or the emphasis of celebrity status, the message conveyed is often the beautiful/worthy people are included, while the worthless, ugly and defective people are to be shut out.

And another toxic message, the “conditional love” message, is also constantly bombarding us- and of course, today’s youth. Indeed, this “conditional love” can come from such avenues as popular culture, school or even from the family unit itself. Whether it’s conscious or not, intentional or not, the message is this: results are prized, warranting love, affection and positive affirmation. If, however, the individual does not obtain these desired results, then he/she feels worthless.

Vulnerable youth are often left to personalize this conditional love message. Besides eating disorders, body image and self-esteem issues, addictions, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts/actions can also occur.

These toxic messages exalt a temporary or nonexistent estimation, like image, fame, achievement or money to make someone loveable and valuable. When we, therefore, subscribe such god-like importance to them, the cries for help from our youth often occur.

Any message which promotes hatred/rejection of self is not from the Divine.

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”

Proverbs 10:12

That’s, perhaps, the most dangerous message a young person can receive: God hates him/her. 1 John 4:16, sadly, is not their experience.

Again, we have allowed ourselves to be carefully taught, seemingly everything else except Elohim’s Love and Word. Repeatedly, He tells us He loves each one of us- unconditionally, faithfully.

“…‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

                                                            Jeremiah 31:3

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

He commands us also love each other…

 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

But that love must begin with self. We may nod our heads and roll our eyes at that statement, but we still have so much difficulty living it. We hate ourselves in the name of achieving acceptance, popularity, success and unrealistic beauty and image standards. I’ve seen it; I’ve done it.

How many addictions, disorders and suicides does it take? Who’s expendable enough to be the sacrificial lamb? When does the insane self-hatred lesson stop being taught?

Our Father is not the enemy; often times, we are. In every harmful and wrong message, when will we accept and teach this one, when it comes to a person’s value?

 “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

Copyright © 2019 by Sheryle Cruse