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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A matter of Perspective

Knowing where to start with this post is tricky,
because it seems like I might need to go far, far, back...
like farther than anyone living that knows my whole story,
except for one of my childhood friends...

But I also feel like I need to start with a disclaimer. For real. Like, "Don't read this if you are under eighteen, have too tender of a heart, or are easily prone to nightmares." I wish I was kidding, but I'm not.

Or I could start with, please let's all have an open heart.
This post is not about "I am better than You" or "You are better than me",
nor is it "I'm the stronger Christian and you are the weaker one"
or "You are the stronger Christian and I am the weaker one".

This post is really all about perspective.

Mine is probably different from yours and that's alright.

This is not a post about,
we're all entitled to our own interpretation of the scriptures...

We're not.

Again, it's really about perspective.

I will get to my three favorites too... Love, Mercy and Grace.

As I study God's word daily,
I just can't get away from how obedience to God
is completely wound up with these three.

The Bible has a lot to say about perspective.
It gives a lot of different people's perspective from all walks of life.
Godly people, forgiven prostitutes,
loving mothers and hypocrites.
Fishermen, rich and poor.
Angels, innocent children and even Satan, himself.

Some people have a wrong perspective, because of faulty reasoning.
That should go without saying.
Some should be listened to,
others ignored.

But too often we ignore what we don't understand.
Not necessarily because we are trying to discern from God's word
whether we should listen,
but simply because we disagree and discount there perspective,
just because it is not ours.

They weren't raised in a Godly Christian home, like us.

What could we possibly learn from them?

In our own heart of hearts we deem them "weaker Christians",
"lesser Christians",
though we wouldn't utter these words out loud.

Instead we give furtive looks to other "stronger" Christians
as the "weaker" share their perspective with us.

We exchange "knowing" glances with other "stronger Christians" as the "weaker" talk on.

I'm not talking here about someone who is a novice or new convert.
Nor am I talking about someone who is living in error,
though they have been a member of the church for years.
I'm not talking about immodesty issues,
or being off on the working of the Holy Spirit, or marriage, divorce and remarriage,
or those that will not put away sin they are involved in.

I'm talking about Christian's ignoring the perspective of other Christians.
I'm talking about being closed minded where God did NOT say to close our minds.
I am talking about having a little more love,
grace and mercy for our sisters and brothers in Christ.
I'm talking about compassion and understanding and
throwing the holier than thou attitude out the window.

I'm not talking about lowering our morals, our standards or our guidelines. God's word is immovable and not able to compromise.
I'm talking about not focusing or thinking that our way is the ONLY, BEST, RIGHT way,
And instead, remembering that it is GOD'S way that we are to follow.

The sin condemned over and over in the Bible is pride, not humility.
The pride of those that exalt themselves and their own works.
The pride of those that look down on the lowly in heart, simply because they can not read their hearts, and unjustly condemn those that God loves with tender mercy.

The pride that forgets that we are all filthy sinners that deserve to be lost.

The pride that will not look at or listen to another's perspective.

The pride that forgets that LOVE is the Greatest and Highest command and that the pure blood of Christ washes EVERY sin, and every soul, no mater how blackened by the darkest sin, whiter than snow upon their penitent confession and baptism.

God uses His word to teach us about perspective, but sometimes it seems either accidentally,
or sadly, on purpose,
we choose to ignore those lessons He would have us to learn.
We get caught up in tithing mint and cumin and forget the weightier matters of the law...
like the LOVE that goes with OBEDIENCE.

Sometimes when I read the verse "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
I catch myself sighing, deep down in my heart, and thinking...

Only condemnation by other Christians.

You see, I have been labeled as that "weaker Christian" at times in my life.
I have sat in my own kitchen, or even in the house of family or friend,
and seen those knowing glances exchanged over my head.
Sadly, it was not imagined on my part.
I wish it were.
I will share my story shortly.
But first, can we not pause to consider that it takes all kinds,
of all walks to make up the church?

Can we not realize the suffering that some have had to endure,
or at least take it under consideration?

Can we not realize, that they may have something to give in the way of knowledge,
because of the battles they have fought and overcome?

Can we not realize that their souls are every bit as white as ours?

Can we not remember that unto whom much is forgiven, he loves much?

Can we not realize that Heaven will not be compartmentalized between "us" and "them"?

Here is a bit of my story.

Let me back up. This is not a plea based solely on emotions, but emotions are involved in this post. That's the nature of the beast. I will share a few things that some may feel is nothing but an attempt to appeal to your heart/emotions, rather than your heart/mind. However, hopefully most that read this will understand that sometimes in life, you simply can not separate the two. God is the creator of both. We can not be ruled by our emotions, but some life experience are so strong, so hurts so deep, you can not separate them.

Christ's foreknowledge of His crucifixion caused him to weep, and sweat as it were great drops of blood. That was powerful emotion coupled with an agony of thought...inseparable as He fulfilled the Father's will.

I wasn't raised in a Christian home.
A lot of people have worse stories than mine.
I don't doubt it.
Sadly, I know it to be true.
I have done my fair share of attempting to read some "self help"
"deal with your past" books...
I read enough to get just a whiff of some of the atrocities other victims of abuse have undergone, and had to put the book(s) down.
But you can't avoid it.
Before you can get the channel changed an abuse story comes on the news and your mind is flooded with images and words about the real live monsters that live in this world.

They don't hide under your bed as a child, but sometimes they creep into it.

I was raised by my mother until I was nine. My mom had me when she was seventeen. My biological father, her first husband, was forty four. They divorced after my first birthday and I only saw him a few times after that. Mom re-married four other times before I was five years old, all to much older men fitting the description of a "father figure" to her, a product of some of her own issues. Some of those men were abusive to me. All were abusive to her. We were threatened regularly, cussed out, slapped, punched, exposed to pornography multiple times, and once even shot at. Most of them, perhaps all, I don't know, were alcoholics.

I love my mom.
I am thankful for her.
I remember her as loving, funny,
willing to do anything for anybody,
and overwhelmed by life.

She did the best she could, I guess, for what she knew.
She had her own demons to battle,
and lost that last battle to suicide when I was nine years old.

From then on I was raised by my wonderful grandparents, and life was much more normal. No more moving every few months. No more strange, dirty hands groping for me in the middle of the night. No more waking up in the night, terrified by where I was, or who was there with me, or wondering if anyone was there at all.
But, the damage had been done.

The first time I was molested as a child I was probably three. I remember those first groping hands from the teenage girl that was "babysitting" me overnight for my mom. Hands that a few hours before had played with me and tucked me in.

And I wondered where my mom was, and if this was normal.

That was only the beginning. And really, is not the most horrid of my memories. I remember liking this "friend", but being so confused by things. That is the nature of the beast. It is part of the twisted, nasty world of child abuse. The child usually loves and trusts her abuser, which really compromises our adult minds when trying to sort out what is "real" love "pure" love "normal" love, and what is not.

Too many abusers, too may strange houses and strange people over those first five years of my life. Always friendly, always groping, always acting as if it were just a game. I really don't remember exactly how many their were. Sometimes my mind things six, sometimes, eight.

Maybe I might have gotten off NOT so messed up if it weren't for the last one, my step father. He was husband/daddy number five. I was to call him "Papa Glenn", but later as trust developed, I called him daddy. He was my worst nightmare,
truly the bane of my existence, my molester and tormentor.

The marriage was a record for my mom, who was determined to make a go of things this time. Five years. I feel certain to this day that she did not know of the abuse. He was quite deceptive and manipulative about it all. He became my daddy, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. Finally I had "normalcy" a real family. Five years is a long time in the life of a nine year old. The abuse did not occur the entire time. Not even most of the time. I think that is better, but I don't know. Because the first several years I was learning to trust, to think this was real, to have a daddy that would love and protect me from the chaotic childhood I was accustomed to.

Then one night while mom was at work he crept into my room and came and sat on the edge of my bunk bed. He did not turn on the light. I remember the panicky feeling that gripped me. I immediately felt frightened, terrified, sick to my stomach. Then it began.

I will go to my grave with that memory burned into my mind, and many more like it. I have prayed I could forget it, but to no avail. The sounds of his breathing, the smell of his aftershave. It still causes bile to rise in my throat.

All the details are not needed. But a few I will have to share, to help you understand. To hope you understand. The abuse lasted for months...maybe a year.
Up until the day my mom took her own life.

I had already witnessed a prior attempt at suicide with a prescription drug overdose, a time when my "dad" drug her naked body from the bedroom where he found her, to the bathroom and made her drink raw eggs until she vomited it all up. Many months later while my "dad" worked a night shift and I got to sleep in my mom's bed, I cried and wrapped my arms around her and I begged her to never do that again, to please, please, never do that again.
She assured me she would not.

Less than a year later, she pulled the trigger and broke that promise.

We're not on that subject, but it's all wound up with this one.

Not too many details.
They make me tense.
Sick to my stomach.
They don't need to be repeated.

An eight year old girl and a fifty something year old man who did not want to get caught with his sick habit. One who told me, threatened me, to never tell about our "little games" or momma would be angry with me, everyone would be angry with me.

I mentioned that he did not want to get caught, so there was only so much abuse he could inflict upon me without doing noticeable damage. Only so much abuse he could make me perform, without his dirty secret being out.

So he did the next best thing, this daddy of mine. This man that I came to love and trust and be THANKFUL for. He told me that he was too big for me then, and that I was too little, that he would hurt me, and he didn't want that to happen, because he loved me so much.
But he MADE ME TO SOLEMNLY PROMISE that he would be my first.

And that damage just could not be undone.

Months went by and then my mother died,
and I went to live with my grandparents.

I was safe from abuse from then on.
I had a very good life.
I was free from abuse, fighting, alcoholic fits,
though not free from alcoholism in the home.
No more moving from place to place and school to school.
I had stability.

But every day I lived with the repercussions of what had been done,
and my fate seemed sealed to me.

I know now that I had very normal reactions to very abnormal circumstances.

The term "hell bent" is vulgar and not one I would use under any normal conditions, but it best describes my emotional state at the time. I was determined that my stepfather, who still had occasional contact with me (no one knew, you see) would not be "my first" as he had extracted that promise. And so at the ripe old age of fourteen, I gave up my "alleged" virginity. It wasn't a hard decision to make at all. I really didn't think anyone could or would actually consider me a virgin. I didn't consider myself one. I was simply determined "dad" would NOT be the one,
anymore than he already had been.

I thought myself truly in love with the young man that I gave my tainted self to, and we were faithful to each other for a few years. He is the biological father of my precious oldest daughter. But, truth be told, we were not Christians. I was a recipe for disaster in any relationship, and though I wanted normalcy and life long commitment I had not a clue how to find it, and neither did he. By God's Providence, and my sweet Grandmother's influence, we did not marry.

Besides the blood of Christ, and my obedience to the gospel, the fact that we did not marry is the single most important fact that I am most thankful for in my life.

It humbles me every day, with every breath, to think what would have been if I had married, divorced and not been a candidate for marriage to my husband, David, the teacher of my soul, the one who shared the soul redeeming gospel with me.

I believe that God looked down from heaven often at points in my life and wept for all the suffering I had endured at the hands of others.
But now, I brought suffering on myself in the way of a sinful lifestyle.

Again, I now know that it is common for young victims of sexual abuse to be promiscuous. What boundaries do they have? What boundaries did I have? None.

But after a year of living a promiscuous and chaotic life, I had come to my end.
I had a precious child to take care of,
and I knew I needed to straighten up and NOT repeat my mother's mistakes.
I was done.
I wanted peace.
I wanted life free of chaos and sin.
My "whole" young life, I always wanted what I never had.

A forever love me husband.
A forever love me daddy for my sweet daughter.
A forever family.
A large family to love and take care of.
No divorce ever.
That was what my will said.
But I knew nothing of what it took to get or to live that life.

Thankfully, mercifully, God had plans for me, only His plans WOULD be fulfilled. And by what I believe with all my heart was His merciful Providence and great love, I met my husband, David.


Once again, my post has blown up on me and grown too long. I will try to finish this another night this week. Please be patient with me...my point is coming.

Love to you all,


  1. There are no words, my sweet Mrs. Debbie. I cannot imagine how hard this post was for you to write, much let hit "publish" ...but thank you for sharing and for helping us all to see through another perspective and to hopefully help us remember to be humble and understanding with one another. I love you so much.

  2. It is heart-breaking to know the torment you went through as a child, but always encouraging to be reminded that your past does not define your future. I was just thinking yesterday how thankful I am to be able to raise my family in such a different way than I was raised. Truly blessed and thankful for the friends who shared with me the gospel, and showed me a different way! I feel so blessed for God's mercy, for His church, for you. Love you!

  3. most of us aren't lucky enough to be brought up in a "perfect" family environment. that being said...i feel like our life experiences mold us into the people that we are today. we have the choice to use those experiences to make us more understanding and compassionate...or the choice to make us bitter and angry.
    although i am so sad for what you have gone through as a little child...you have become a person of amazing compassion and can relate so well to others.
    something i know i need to try harder to attain.
    thank you for sharing this with us today.

    love you.

  4. you truly are one of the most amazing people I know. you know I hear stories similar to this at work much, much too frequently, but pretty much never do I meet with anyone who has been able to not just survive, but thrive, the way you have. You make a very good point that we need to be sensitive to what others have gone through and are going through, and make genuine efforts to be supportive and helpful in any way we can rather than looking at them as 'weaker.' Thanks for always making me think and for being my best friend, which I believe, by the way, was God's providence and love working in my life to keep me on the right path. much much love, Tammy

  5. Thank you for being in my life. I hope that as I get older, I will become more like you.

    "Sarah Jo" - Johnny Diaz. It made me think of this.

  6. Dear Mrs. Debbie,
    I know that this was an extremely hard post to publish, but thank you for posting. You are such a sweet and godly lady with a wonderful family! I look up to you! You are living breathing proof of the redemption of God! We don't have to have a "perfect" past (although no one has a perfect past) to go to Him and start living for Him. I love you and your family and am so thankful ya'll are in my life!
    Love, Lori Lynn

  7. Debbie,
    I am so sorry for the pain you have endured... it's awful. I wish the pain could just vanish away now, but I know that one day it will be gone... when the things of earth grow strangely dim. You are so strong and precious. I'm in awe of how you have chosen to let the Lord mold your life and who you are. You are a beautiful Godly woman!
    Love you!


I love your comments! Thanks for sharing them with me!