Monday, June 30, 2014

The Subtlety Of Abuse

As a person recovering from childhood abuse, I read many books about the subject matter. 

Right now, I’m reading some books from abuse therapist, Lundy Bancroft. It’s been an eye opener. Growing up with a verbally and emotionally abusive dad, I thought I had an understanding about how subtle abusers can be.
Not quite.
For much of my childhood, I struggled to have the reality of my abuse validated. My mother, herself, a survivor of her father’s physical abuse, repeatedly told me things like, “At least he doesn’t beat us” whenever I challenged the torture of the verbal and emotional warfare going on. I felt belittled and filled with self-doubt. I wasn’t sure if what I experienced was really “that bad” after all.


It was; it is.
Emotional, mental and verbal kinds of abuse are all real. And they’re all damaging. And, part of the confusion and pain lies in detangling the standing argument, “if he doesn’t lay a hand on mother and children, there’s no abuse going on.”
But it’s not just about the outward physical expression of a hit or a punch, so much as it is a mindset, an attitude, a belief system.
Indeed, Bancroft even states abuse happens not because the abuser’s angry, but rather because abuser is abusive. Because he’s abusive, he’s angry. But anger is not the reason for the harm to occur. Everyone gets angry; however, not everyone is an abuser.
The abuse mindset is fraught with a value system of entitlement/superiority, blurred boundaries, an obsession to control and fault finding. Through this prism, the abuser “decides” it is his right- and only his right- to do whatever he deems necessary to rule and reign and to ultimately, oppress.


Hence, tactics like verbal abuse.
“The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Proverbs 18: 21
 Sarcasm, threats, insults and misogyny are a few of those avenues.
The purpose is not only to control the individual, but also to remove any sense of self, identity of value of that particular family member. I experienced it; my mother did as well from my dad’s words. We were never good enough. We were always at fault for whatever went wrong, either inside or outside of the house.
Indeed, according to the abuser, wife and children are viewed as having no more value to him than a slave to his master. And abuse is slavery because it’s about oppression; it’s about ruling, not loving the family members for who they uniquely are.
And that abusive mindset dictates all manner of abuse, control and power issues. Emotional and mental abuse, while never showing physical marks of bruises, cuts or broken bones, nevertheless, manifests itself in the uncertain, constant dread of hell coming down at any given moment. It’s the threatening undercurrent of “things are going to explode and we’re helpless to stop it from happening.”
And that’s usually where the subtle abusive tactics really flourish. It can be a facial expression, a gesture, taking car keys away or failing to come through on an anticipated promise. The core attitude appears to be “I’m going to punish you because I’m allowed to.” It exists because the abuser, in his mind, is the only one designated and qualified to do so. Only he is allowed anger and feelings, especially if they’re negative. Only his wants and needs are valid. Only he is allowed to get what he wants. And there’s hell to pay if those realities don’t happen to his specifications.
This is emotionally, verbally, mentally, physically and spiritually abusive. Rife with double standards, no thought concerning personal responsibility or other family members’ feelings, it is carte blanche for the abuser to act any way he feels like acting. That’s abusive.
Bancroft makes a great point in mentioning if anyone is in doubt as to whether he/she is or was abused, the mere fact of wondering points to its validity. Human beings, on instinct, know whether or not something is really wrong. Unfortunately, public opinion, status, mixed messages and negative family attitudes can challenge and muddy those on target instincts. If you have to wonder if your situation was harmful, more than likely, it probably was. Don’t just look to the obvious signs of abuse only, look for the subtleties. Look for the tone, the unspoken word, the feeling of dread. Pay attention to that.
Beth J. Lueders has further information about these more subtle forms of abuse. Please be honest with what you encounter; please pay attention to the signs. And please get help.

Emotional and Verbal Abuse
by Beth J. Lueders

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is difficult to define and many cases are never reported; nevertheless, it's clear that this form of destructive behavior is based on power and control. An emotionally abusive person may dismiss your feelings and needs, expect you to perform humiliating or unpleasant tasks, manipulate you into feeling guilty for trivial things, belittle your outside support system or blame you for unfortunate circumstances in his or her life. Jealousy, possessiveness and mistrust characterize an emotionally abusive person. Widely recognized signs of emotional abuse include:
Rejecting or denying a person's value or presence and communicating devaluing thoughts and feelings to another person.
Degrading, ridiculing, insulting or name-calling to lessen the self-worth and dignity of another person. Examples include humiliating someone in public or responding to a senior as if he or she is not capable of making decisions.
Terrorizing by inducing intense fear in someone; intimidating and coercing; or threatening physical harm to a person or a person's loved ones, pets or possessions. Stalking, threatening to leave and forcing someone to watch violence toward a family member are all types of terrorizing.
Isolating, physically confining or limiting another's freedoms. These restricting behaviors include denying a person contact with others and controlling someone else's financial affairs.
Exploiting someone's personal rights and social needs or using another person for profit or advantage. Enticing someone into illegal activities for financial gain (drug selling, prostitution) is an example of exploitation.
Detaching and denying emotional care or affection. Shunning a person's efforts to interact or neglecting someone's mental health needs are forms of this type of psychological abuse.1Although emotional abuse can occur on its own, all types of abuse involve some form of emotional abuse. Similar to other forms of relationship violence, emotional abuse happens most often to individuals with the least power and resources. Over time emotional abuse brainwashes the victim. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, it is clear that for many, emotional abuse is even more devastating than physical abuse.
Emotional abuse tears at a person's self-esteem and can greatly impair psychological development and social interaction. In children, emotional abuse can hinder attention, intelligence, memory and the ability to feel and express emotions appropriately. For both children and adults, emotional abuse can manifest itself in social withdrawal, severe anxiety, fearfulness, depression, physical complaints, avoidance of eye contact, self-blame and substance abuse. Emotionally abused seniors may feel extreme guilt, inadequacy, depression or powerlessness. Unfortunately, many psychologically abused elderly people are labeled "senile" or "inept."
Because emotional abuse is not as regularly reported as other forms of violence, statistics are sparse. A Canadian study on abuse in university and college dating relationships revealed that 81 percent of male respondents admitted they had psychologically abused a female partner.2 According to a 2000 report by the National Institute of Justice, an estimated 503,485 women are stalked each year in the United States. Emotional abuse is a worldwide problem for people of any age and any sex.3
Verbal abuse
The well-worn chant, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me" is just not true. As Dr. Grace Kettering writes in her book Verbal Abuse, "Cruel names and labels can hurt us — dreadfully! Many times the emotional damage is unintentional. Crippling comments may seem so trivial to the speaker as to be soon forgotten. But at a crucial moment or from an important person, certain words spoken to a vulnerable, receptive individual can make or break a life."
Verbal abuse takes on many forms including criticizing, insulting, degrading, harsh scolding, name-calling, nagging, threatening, ridiculing, belittling, trivializing, screaming, ranting, racial slurring and using crude or foul language. Disparaging comments disguised as jokes and withholding communication are also examples of verbal abuse.
Hurling hurtful words at another may sound like: "You're a nag just like your parents!" "You don't know how to do anything right." "It's your fault!" "You're too sensitive." "Come on, can't you take a joke?" "That outfit makes you look fat." "You're worthless in bed." "Who asked you?" "You don't need that second helping." "All you do anymore is go to church stuff." "Your ex sure screwed you up emotionally." Verbal abuse can happen anywhere, at any time. Individuals who are teased and pressured at work or school may in turn take out their pent-up frustrations at home. "Kicking the dog" is not enough; instead, they verbally attack their spouse, children, parents, close friends — no loved one is safe.
Wounds that typically accompany emotional, physical and sexual abuse must not be ignored. Both men and women inflict verbal abuse, but women tend to be more often on the receiving end of this destructive behavior. What may seem innocent and infrequent at first can escalate. Verbal abuse frequently plays a major role in violent crimes. According to a 1998 U.S. Justice Department report on violent crimes, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.4
All forms of abuse follow a pattern that, left unchecked, will only increase over time. Injuries from verbal and emotional abuse can run deep and leave lasting scars. Many emotionally and verbally abused people reason that, because there are no bruises or broken bones, their abuse must not be serious. But it is. Fortunately, support and resources are readily available to guide individuals into safe, loving relationships. In their well-received book Boundaries, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend state that, "Our pain motivates us to act." If pain motivates you to act against emotional and verbal abuse, then listen and act. You may be saving more than your life.
1 The National Domestic Violence Hotline, http://www.ndvh.org/
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
Copyright © 2002 Beth J. Lueders. Used by permission.

God never wants you abused in any way! He loves you and has blessings for you instead:

“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
                                                             Jeremiah 31:3        
     
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse


Friday, June 27, 2014

Reaping What You Sow...

If at some time you show mercy to someone, mercy will be shown to you.
If you show compassion to one who is suffering (and of course, this is not a great deed) you will be numbered among the martyrs.
If you forgive one who has insulted you, then not only will all your sins be forgiven, but you will be a child of the Heavenly Father.
If you pray from all your heart for salvation - even a little - you will be saved.
If you rebuke yourself, accuse yourself, and judge yourself before God for your sins, with a sensitive conscience, even for this you will be justified.
If you are sorrowful for your sins, or you weep, or sigh, your sigh will not be hidden from Him and, as St. John Chrysostom says, “If you only lament for your sins, then He will receive this for your salvation.”
- St. Moses of Optina


A Neely O’Hara Moment: “God-d-d-d-d!!!”


I’ve repeatedly watched the cult classic, “Valley of the Dolls,” the chick film based on Jacqueline Suzanne’s legendary book. The film took the 1960’s by storm for its dish-y look at starlets in Hollywood as they deal with fame, sex and drugs.

One of its lead characters, Neely O’Hara, played by Patty Duke, indeed, travels down a rocky, highly dramatic and addicted road of stardom and self-destruction. It’s drama queen chick film at its epic best!
And, at the end of the wild ride, Neely suffers the damage done to her acting career, via her drug addiction. She is reduced to being in an alley, at night, screaming, “God-d-d-d-d!”



Yeah. I believe one calls this “hitting bottom.”

Been there, ever? Perhaps we’ve never had such a dramatic low with addiction or disorders, but it’s probably safe to say we’ve all reached a personal crisis point or helpless state.

And, because of our inherent imperfect human vulnerability, God has created a deep heart cry of help for Him. Hence, “God-d-d-d!”

“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
to all who CALL upon Him in TRUTH.”
Psalm 145:18

A dark alley is not mandatory.

Are you screaming, in pain, in need, right now? Who are you calling for? Is it God?
He assures us He’s there, He hears and He responds to that cry:

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Romans 10:13

“Then you will CALL upon me and go and pray to Me, and
I will listen to you and you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me
with all of your heart... I will be found by you, says the LORD.”
Jeremiah 29:12

What’s stopping you? Pride? Shame? Failure? Whatever it is, God already knows- and STILL loves you. Just look at what He says about that love!

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’”
                                                             Jeremiah 31:3          
   
“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.”
Isaiah 41:9

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”
Isaiah 43:4

He’s not waiting to squash you, to punish or shame you. He wants to be in a relationship with you, help and, of course, love you.

What’s your heart cry today? Whether or not you know or believe it, you are crying out for Him. Please don’t let anything stop you from reaching for Him. He wants you more than you know.

Take a tip from Neely O’Hara; cry out to Him now! And see how He’ll love and answer you back!
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse









Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mirror Image...









“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass. And, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
James 1:22-24

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
Genesis 1:27



Funhouse Mirrors


When I was a little girl, I once went into one of those carnival funhouses with the mirrors. It was the one and only time I did so. I remember I didn’t get very far. I took one look at my distorted series of reflected images and high-tailed it out of there so fast, you could probably see my streak marks hang in the air.
Festive.
Cut to about fourteen years later: I was nineteen or twenty years old when I was, once again, standing in front of multiple mirror images. Only this time, there was no carnival- and certainly, no fun. It was, instead, just me, choosing to stand and scrutinize myself in front of my three-way mirror, picking myself apart, via my disordered eating and body image behaviors.
It was often during those times that I would ask God why He made me in the first place. What was the point? Was the torment of eating disorders all there was? Were the constant weight and food battles all there was to me? I hated what I saw so much of the time, regardless of where I was on the scale. At my thinnest, I hated what I saw; at my heaviest, I hated what I saw. Did God see me the same way?

“Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees?”
Job 10:4

Yeah, I was certainly living a Job kind of existence. It’s not a “skip to my loo” kind of approach. But no, God doesn’t stop at surface appearances- thank God! He looks deeper…

 “…God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the LORD looks into the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7

And, isn’t that one of the problems for those of us dealing with eating disorders and body image issues? The old adage states there’s no reality, only perception. So, some of us perceive ourselves to be ugly and worthless. But is that the truth?
Scientific studies state that there is a chemical disturbance in the brain function of many who suffer from eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Simply stated, the brain wiring of these individuals prevents them from seeing their physical bodies as they actually are. Instead, they only see themselves as the distorted “funhouse mirror” version of themselves. You know the saying, “seeing is believing?” Well, I guess that’s what can happen if the brain can only register one particular perception, even if it’s an inaccurate one.
I believed that inaccurate perception for a long time.
And, as years have passed, I’ve also had a spiritual reawakening as well concerning my disordered eating and image issues. Eating disorders, at their core, are spiritual matters. For my own situation, I had to recognize and confront how I let my own eating disorder behavior become some form of idolatry.
Pleasant, isn’t it?
According to “The Oxford American Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus Second Edition,” the definition of idolatry reads as follows: “the worship of idols, great adulation. The image of a deity, etc., as an object of worship, the object of excessive or supreme adulation, a graven image icon, effigy, symbol, fetish, totem, god, hero or heroine, star, celebrity.”

Yeah, that covered it for me. Whether or not I knew it, my image desires and eating disorder behaviors were idols. I thought I was in control. But, before I knew it, all of my “little idols” turned into razor-sharp funhouse torture mirrors, mocking and threatening me. I had lost sight of my one true God.  

 “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Exodus 20:2-3

And by disobeying that very first commandment, I had opened myself up to unnecessary pain. My eating disorders were not God’s Will or God’s fault. And, while it would be all too easy to blame myself here, I had to accept the fact that I was not completely hopeless; I still could make another choice. No matter how low I went with my eating disorders, there still was a way out: God.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13

Like that childhood experience of the funhouse mirrors, I had a choice about what I could do. I could continue to stare into the scary, inaccurate reflections, or I could leave them and shift my view elsewhere? So, where- or more accurately, who- is that elsewhere?
Three letters- starting with a “G…”

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; a righteous person rushes to it and is lifted up above the danger.”
Proverbs 18:10

What’s your funhouse mirror? Is it an eating disorder? An addiction? Some other self-destructive behavior? Are you choosing to stare into that hopeless, futureless and lifeless reflection or are you choosing to look for God?
If the funhouse isn’t so fun, then what? What will we do? We do have a better option out there. There is a better reflection, waiting to look back at us: God.

 And He’s there to help 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

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalms 46:1

Will we choose that reflected option?
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse



Monday, June 23, 2014

And Action! (Encore)


I was a theatre major in college. Yes, I was “one of those.”

And part of that involved studying directing. As a director, I was in charge of the lighting, the staging and the actors involved the scene. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I was able to play God, be all powerful and call the shots. So, it’d be no problem whatsoever for control freak me, right?

Yikes.

For those of us with addictions, disorders and compulsions, it can be tempting to believe the answer is if we’re just in control enough, perfect enough or powerful enough, then life will be solved. And so, we chase playing God, often using our vices to propel us to such a state in which we feel in control of our lives, comforted and confident. But we aren’t. The exact opposite occurs, actually.

And that’s where, yet again, we come back to God and His Word; we can’t do anything without Him:

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
John 15:4-5

That’s the cold hard truth, whether or not we want to accept it. In fact, God’s fully aware of our vulnerable condition.

“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”
Psalms 103:14

And that’s precisely why we need Jesus. We cannot “get it together” enough in our own strength.
But, with Jesus?

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Philippians 4:13

We must never forget we are not alone in life; God’s always there, always offering to help us.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Psalms 46:1

“Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.”
Psalm 73:23

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.”
Psalm 32:8

But HE is the ultimate Director, not us! Are we insisting on calling our own shots? God knows better.

“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

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Let’s allow Him to do better by us, call action and direct us to incredible lives and blessings! It is possible!
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse









Comfy Change?


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Yes’s and No’s


Choice is an often used word today. Let’s face it; we have a lot of choices at our disposal.

Experts say, on any given day, we think 60,000 thoughts daily, 48,000 of which are negative. We choose to do that.

Yikes.

Scripture tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21).

And, while it’s dangerous and foolish to believe we’re all powerful, it’s just as dangerous to believe we’re all power-less. Yet how many of us do that?

Each day, we think 60,000 thousand thoughts. Things like, “I’ll wear this,” “I’ll drink that,” “I’ll believe of doubt this bit of information,” “I’ll have this attitude.” The choices span the mundane, to the extraordinary, to the life- altering variety.

Yet each thought has this in common: it has a yes or a no possibility attached to it. 

That’s no small thing. If we say yes in one particular thought, we also answer no, and vice versa.

Recently, I had a situation in which a collective family opinion did not accept my unpleasing “no’ of an answer. That’s not surprising. After all, how many of us enjoy being told “no,” especially if it’s in regard to something we REALLY want?

Exactly.

Yet, for those of us in recovery, blurred boundaries, conflict avoidance and healthy self-mage are all challenging for us. We want to be pleasing, be a rescuer and be considered a “nice person.”
But that’s not always the healthiest choice for us; it’s not the best choice.

Scripture gives us the permission to say “yes” or “no.”

“Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Matthew 5:37

There are results from either path. And we need to accept that. Our thoughts will produce something. Is it something we really want in our lives? We need to think about that carefully.

And, make no mistake about it, there are no free passes when it comes to the results of our yes or no decisions. Something will happen. We, therefore, cannot choose both options simultaneously. To do so is to be “double minded.” And let’s see the results of THAT choice:
James 1:8
We are to be good stewards, not perfect stewards, of our lives. God has given each of us free will. Will we choose well?
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse



There comes a time...


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June- Candy Month


June is candy month. 




It started me thinking. Typically, the “candy holidays” are geared more toward autumn and winter: Christmas, Valentine’s Day and, of course, Halloween. So, no one really thinks candy when they think the summer season, right?

I remember my college days when, of the many wacky disordered eating patterns and crash diets, I went on a “candy diet.” Nothing but candy, day in, day out, for a period of time. I’m surprised every tooth in my head did not rot and fall out. Grace of God.

And then I hit a point in my life/recovery in which sugar was taboo. Keep that demonic white stuff away from me! To say I was paranoid was an understatement! I felt it would “do me in” if I had the tiniest trace of it.
Years later, I’m more at peace with the candy situation. It’s not been an easy road, but scripture has helped me tremendously. It’s the cliché moderation stuff. You know…

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”
1 Corinthians 10:23

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
1 Corinthians 6:12

I know candy is not “health food.” Vitamins and minerals aren’t found in the stuff. But I also know that one gram of sugar is not going to kill me either. And I know God wants to bless me; He wants me to be healthy.

“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”’
John 10:10

That does not require perfection. So, even if/when I believe I’ve “blown it,” there is no condemnation:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1

There is grace, no matter what. I think of that now whenever I see candy.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
Romans 6:14
So, happy June, happy candy month!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse




Sunday, June 15, 2014

Some Thoughts About Father On Father's Day...


(Excerpt from "Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death Of an Eating Disorder) 


"...One of the main realizations I gained about my father through therapy was that he was a person too. He wasn’t my enemy, a villain, or a monster. He was a man. My father was 49 years old when I was born, and fatherhood, I’m sure, was an unexpected new role for him. Having never been parented in a nurturing home himself, he wasn’t equipped to give me that atmosphere of unconditional support and love. As I pondered this, I decided to go through some photographs. My dad, reclusive in nature, is pretty camera-shy and there aren’t a lot of pictures of him. But there is one rare one of him as a child no more than six years old. He’s sitting on some farm equipment, next to one of his brothers. As I looked at this picture, it hit me: My dad was once a child.

            As I stared at this image, at this little boy with the mop head of bangs, wearing overalls and no shoes, I couldn’t hate him. I couldn’t hate a little boy; I couldn’t hate a child. I couldn’t hate God’s child. Instead, I found myself wanting to connect with him somehow. I was nowhere near direct communication. I hadn’t spoken to him or seen him in years. But I wanted to touch him; I wanted to reach him somehow. The only way I knew how to physically touch him was to draw him. I drew the little boy.



            It sounds simple, but it did help. It didn’t matter what hurtful things he’s said to me some fifty years after that photo was taken. He was a little boy “subject” now, and I could choose to draw him any way I decided. After drawing him as this innocent little boy, I didn’t want to return to the way I’d drawn him before. Hating someone and refusing to forgive them takes a lot of energy. I was tired, and I didn’t want to do it anymore.

            I had a revelation about forgiveness. For my entire life, I’d viewed forgiveness as something that denied the occurrence of a wrong. He hurt me, and I didn’t want anyone, especially him, telling me otherwise. But forgiveness, I was finding out, wasn’t denying a wrong. It was just adding God’s healing power to that wrong. And I needed forgiveness just as much as my father did.

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
—Jesus in Mark 11:25

2 Corinthians 6:18:
“And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty”

“…You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
—Romans 8:15


           ... Please, wherever you are, whatever hell you may be going through, know this: God is more loving, more powerful than your problem is, and He will get you past it. Just trust Him, turn to Him. Just trust Jesus to be you Savior and Lord. And just watch. You too, little girl, will arise!"

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse




Friday, June 13, 2014

God: Father AND Mother


With Father’s Day coming up, there’s attention focused upon our dads.

And, in that mix, we’re reminded how God is the complete, perfect and loving Father.

And that’s great.

However, what gets lost, so much of the time, is how God is also a mother. God has masculine AND feminine characteristics.

As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
And that’s not a bad or an inferior thing.

When we think of unconditional love, mothers often come up. 

Moms are supposed to love us, no matter what. We could be serial killers; there’d still be someone out there who looks at us as her “little baby.”
And how much more does God?

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”
Isaiah 43:4

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

And that’s the thing to keep in mind, no matter if you had a dysfunctional relationship with either your father or your mother. God is the complete, perfectly loving Father- and Mother. God loves YOU- Right now.

 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
                                                             Jeremiah 31:3

Pay more attention to that spiritual Truth than any pronoun out there!
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The “Snail on a Turtle Thing” About Glory


“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

Recently, I saw an image of a snail, riding on the back of a turtle.


I suppose that sums up the frustration of life.
Anyway, I started thinking about all of the hype attached to the glory concept. When we think of the word, the usual association we have to it involves a celebration, hoopla, fanfare, beauty and perfection...and the Divine component of God in the entire mix.

 “And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory.”
Exodus 33:18

“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.”
Numbers 14:21

“And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Isaiah 6:3

“O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.”
Psalms 8:1

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.”
Psalms 24:8-10

“They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power;”
Psalms 145:11

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Luke 2:14

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14

 “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Romans 11:36

 “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:21

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.”
1 Peter 5:10

“For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
2 Peter 1:17

“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”
Revelation 5:12

“Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”
Revelation 7:12

Whew! Yep, glory is mentioned a lot! And that’s just a SAMPLING!!!

Yeah, I think we can all agree that glory is a fabulous thing. Of course we’d want IN on it! And, whether or not we know it OR feel it, we are very much in process OF it.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

But, here’s the thing- it’s not instantaneous; it’s gradual...

over time...years...experiences...awkward phases, failures...losses...and, yes, victories also.
And, this is usually where a little thing called patience comes in...

“In your patience possess ye your souls.”
Luke 21:19

Indeed, patience IS the other side to the glory coin.

 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
2 Corinthians 4:17

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”
1 Peter 1:7

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”
Romans 5:3-4

Scripture NEVER Said, however, it was always a fun situation.
Nope.
Does it change the reality of that truth?
Again, nope.
After all, check out this little ditty...

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:6

It has a lot to do with our attitude. It can be negative or positive about God’s very real perspective concerning us...

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Does our soul agree or argue with God?

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
Psalms 43:5

C’mon, be real!

Yes, our souls, our emotions, our feelings would probably prefer the presto change-o element to each of our glory transformations. But, the reality is the slower, snail on turtle circumstance. Let’s be honest. We’re not as ready for glory as we think we are!

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
1 Corinthians 10:12

‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’”
Mark 10:38
Hence, the very gradual process.
Instantaneous would be too overwhelming for us to handle all at once.
But delay is NOT denial. It’s just an ongoing, individual process, tailored to each one of us.

 “Even everyone that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”
Isaiah 43:7

Be patient then, even if you feel like a snail or a turtle. It IS happening!
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse