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My Faith & Transformation Journey

Living with Disgrace

“No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.”
Psalm 25: 3 New Living Translations

I grew up believing in Jesus—I went to church and I prayed. We lived in a time when being a Christian was a proud thing, until you did something awful and then that was pretty much that! And if someone else brought evil into your life, they were out of there too. As a young woman I lived somewhere between these worlds. I was disgraced by the behavior of the men in my life and I was disgraced by my behavior as a result of these actions. And I tried to hide all of it.

Following the sexual abuse I was taunted by the boys in the neighborhood. I was an innocent child thrown into a world of sexuality, before I knew what that meant. One day I was the princess being carried around on a makeshift throne. It seems the next day the boys were trying to take advantage of me at every chance. I was now free game and the attention I was getting set a thinking pattern for me that said, “Sex brings attention—sex must be the way to go.” Those I once trusted now became my foes. My belief system faltered because I no longer had the same compass leading me. Some translations of this verse say: “Do not let anyone that hopes in you be ashamed. Let the people that say false things without a reason be ashamed.” I was ashamed to be a Christian who felt tarnished and who also was now drinking, drugging, and sleeping around while trying to convince others that I was still this “good girl.” I simply lost my way.

Through my teen years and those as a young woman, I made a lot of bad choices for myself. I had ‘relationship’ after ‘relationship.’ And yet I kept a foot in the church door. I went to church on Sunday. As a good Catholic, I went to confession, only I never confessed my sexual acting out. I taught Sunday school and brought a number of my hurting girlfriends to church and laid a foundation for their belief in Christ today. I went through the motions and in my heart I clung to the belief that somehow God understood. Somehow, one day God would make this all right for me. What I didn’t realize was that it was up to me to make it right by first accepting it was wrong. I needed to look at myself and quit making excuses and blaming others and literally lie in front of the cross and ask the man who died there for me to help me. I needed to be forgiven and changed. I needed to stop living ashamed and disgraced. With each step toward him, he pulled me closer. As I was willing to let go of the blame and the shame, he brought me new dignity. It has taken a very long time to get here, and I’m still working on it, but I no longer have shame in this story of my life. I have peace that today I am wiped clean and can share this with you so that you too can know this peace and joy.

Are you living with the shame and disgrace of past behaviors? Are you afraid someone will find out? Do you want to stop being that person? I suggest then that you do what I did and recognize that God already knows so you can’t really hide it from him anyway! Tell him your pain. Tell him your disgrace. Give him your tears and let him wipe them away. Visualize Jesus holding you and telling you he loves you, NO MATTER WHAT you did. Read Psalm 25 or find one that speaks to your hearts and pray it every day until you feel whole again. Share your healing journey with someone you trust. Ask them to pray with you. And then share your grace with someone else that needs to hear.

Be healed. Be restored!

Categories
Poetry

My Psalm 25 Path

My Psalm 25 Path

Defeated and Shamed.
Disgraced and Embarrassed.
Trapped by the past;
setup for failure

Pathway and Choices.
Deceived and Defrauded.
My road of shame;
lying to myself.

Revealed and Revived.
Forgiven and Humbled.
Freed from the past:
the pathway of light.

Living and Loving.
Trustful and Courageous.
Living today;
protected for life

Sharing and Caring.
Restored Integrity.
Joy with laughter.
Faithfully transformed!

© maggiemarcum.com

Categories
A Psalm 25 Study for Personal Transformation

Shamed

“Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat. No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.” Psalm 15:2

As a young woman, I carried the shame of being sexually abused with me into nearly everything I did. Pia Mellody, founder of The Meadows, developed the concept of “carried shame,” that which we bring into our adult life from events that occurred in your childhood. These are the events over which we had no power and that sets the stage for negative behavior in our adulthood. Until we can acknowledge this shame, we are somewhat powerless over our behavior. Without validation for what has happened to us, we may think we are worthless and therefore not allowed to be in respected or valued.

The shame I carried with me stemmed from my abuse and the reaction of those who knew back when it occurred. My memories are fuzzy, but I do know that in that era the victim was usually held at least partially responsible for what happened. It didn’t matter that I was only 8 years old. And there was nothing really done to the perpetrator other than to separate them from the child. To this day I am not sure if anyone really understood, including myself. I do know that I went from being one of the girls that the neighborhood boys treated like a princess to the butt of their jokes and sexual harassment. From then on I came to believe my body and my life was of little value. And for the next 40 years I acted that way too.

And then, at The Meadows I found out that this was not my fault. I was not protected by the people who should have protected me. I was a naïve young girl, desperate for someone to notice me, who was noticed and taken advantage of by someone we all trusted and admired. I did not understand how that period of time had polluted my thinking about myself. And in the desert of Arizona I found that God loved me and would rescue me from the shame others inflicted upon me. I could make the decision right then and there to accept God’s love as an incredible gift and to remove the hooks that held me to this carried shame. The shame was that of the man who hurt me. It was the shame of the parents who neglected me. It was the shame of the friends who turned their back on me. It was not mine anymore. God created a new person that day. I began to walk without shame, having sought forgiveness for my own behavior and a willingness to live a different lifestyle.

I was freed.

© maggiemarcum.com

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

The Path Through the Fire

I have been trying to figure out what God really wants me to do with the stories of my life—surely they are just the things that happened on the path to recovery and wholeness. I know I am supposed to write. I am supposed to share things with people as I meet them. But share the whole thing? Really? Apparently so.

This morning I turned to Psalm 25. It is MY psalm. It has given me strength and courage and helped me heal and let go of the past. I have read and reread is so many times that the page is now falling out of my bible. As I read it and prayed, I finally saw what God has been waiting for me to see. This is my story, this is the story he gave me. From crying out in my pain and shame to understanding that we all make mistakes, and coming to believe that he is still here. He has forgiven me which helped me to forgive me. He has returned my integrity and given me a new life. And that is what I will be sharing over the next few days as I take apart Psalm 25 and tell you how God used it to reshape me.

When I started my journey I was stepping back from a life of heavy drinking and partying. A life of sexual and love addiction. A point where I had broken every, yes every, commandment and felt worthless. Little by little God revealed why I was living like I was. He revealed the childhood sexual abuse. He revealed how I felt invisible in my family. He revealed how my parents violent marriage scared my thinking about relationships. He forgave me, and I myself, for my abortion. He taught me that I didn’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul for fun. He showed me I could live with little to have it all.

Come with me on my journey. Hear my story. Share your story with me. Let me weave your story into mine as we grow stronger, because that is what God wants for us. He has inspired me through his words to want change. I am motivated to help others who desire change to see the hope and possibility. I am praying that the words I write will transform your life as they have mine.

“To you oh Lord, I life my soul. I trust in you, my God.”
Psalm 25:1 And so it begins.

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

The Hidden Abuser

News that actor Stephen Collins, who played the beloved father on 7th Heaven, has sexually abused young women is heartbreaking and shocking. He is, however, the face of the predator next door who steals the joy and innocence of girls while pretending to love and care for them. He is the face of the man who befriended me as a child, whom my family trusted, and who took advantage of the situation because he was given the freedom to do so. We are justifiably angered that this man who portrayed the father many of us wish we had, would turn out to be such a monster. And for many out there, it has torn open wounds and brought to the surface memories we have put away or tried to forget.

As someone who suffered at the hands of a sexual predator, it is perfectly ok to feel anger and pain and sadness. As a parent it is perfectly ok to be afraid for your children and to question the relationships men have with your children. That said—don’t let all these emotions take hold and control you. Be proactive. If you are struggling with memories, talk to someone about it. Write it in the comments here. If you are a parent, have a talk with your partner or other parents about how best to protect your child without stifling them. Communicate about this—don’t let this opportunity slip by. More importantly, don’t let the actions of one sick man steal your joy. Take control and have power in your life.

My prayer for you today comes from Psalm 5. I suggest you read it through. The end says: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Protect them, so all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord, surrounding them with your shield of love.”

http://www.maggiemarcum.com

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

Victim

Victim
I hate that word
Used Abused Prey
Casualty
Sufferer

Survivor
Still means victim
Spent Harmed Target
Lost
Martyr

Redeemed
The pain erased
Exchanged Rescued
Found
Freed

See me as I am today
Restored
Transformed
FREE

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:11-12 (New International Version)

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

Inspire Monday

At church we have been talking a lot about sharing our faith and how best to do that. The thought of talking to someone we don’t know about Jesus can be pretty intimidating. This morning as I was reading my devotionals I remembered just how grateful I am for all the changes in my life that are the result of my faith in a power greater than myself. That is what inspires me to share so that others will know they too can have a different life, one that has new freedom and purpose.

I was, and still am, a slow learner. I can also be strong willed and self righteous about the way I live. Thankfully God is patient with me. For years he put me in the right place to hear what I needed to hear. He sent messengers and messages over and over, and waited and waited for me to take the wax out of my ears and respond. Little by little he took my “poor little me” attitude and changed it to an optimist who couldn’t believe the doors that opened for her. Ever so slowly he prepared me to let go of negative behaviors and to accept a better more peaceful life.

Be inspired today by the world and people around you. Watch to see where God is speaking to you; where he is showing you the possibilities for your life. Watch the person who is content and happy in their lives and ask them what inspires them. Take a minute to pick out an app with a devotional and let the words you read inspire you to transform your life. Do it today, don’t wait any longer.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling about me everywhere… Acts 1:8

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My Faith & Transformation Journey

Timing

I admit it—I’m a rusher. I want what I want when I want it and I have been known to manipulate the situation to get what I want. Did you catch that? I said “what I WANT;” This attitude has caused such pain in my life. I never asked if this was what God wanted for me. And even when I knew it was not what God would want—I did it anyway. Or worse yet, I convinced myself that no matter how wrong I knew it was, surely God would make it right for me!

This was especially true with relationships. I was always looking for better, or maybe just different. I could not stand the idea of being alone. So I was willing to do what I needed to have the relationship I thought I needed. I wasn’t willing to wait on God’s timing for me. The end result for me was three marriages and countless affairs in and out of those marriages. Nothing seemed to make me happy so I kept looking and manipulating. And then one day I said: “enough” and God said: “finally!”

I learned that the most important relationship I could have was with Jesus. Coming to know him by reading the Bible and talking with others about his love for me changed everything. Suddenly God was enough. He filled my life with wonderful new relationships—with other women. I can sit here today and breathe in his love and look at the change in my life and I am overwhelmed to tears. I am no longer hunting for the next husband or lover. I am content and trusting that if God wants that in my life I will know it is time. For today, I do my best to be available for all the good relationships God places in my life. It is so much easier when I take my hands off and trust God’s timetable for my life.

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’ He replied, ‘Father alone has the authority to set those dates and time, and they are not for you to know.’
Acts 1: 6-7, New Living Translation

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

Marmalade and Coffee

Saturday sounds fill my room.
Mowers starting up;
blowers moving leaves.
Engines turning over;
errands to be done.

Autumn breeze flows over me.
Covers pulled around;
breathing in the air.
The new season comes in;
rest in the moment.

Sunrise turns to day light.
Feet touching cold floor;
smells flow through the home.
Marmalade and coffee;
ease into the day.

Categories
Transformation Stories

Managing Energy Drainers

Energy drainers are those things that distract an individual from reaching their goals (Collins, 2009).They may be short-term obstacles that we can handle for a brief period of time without derailing our progress. Other energy drainers may pull us way off track and require us to take specific steps to reduce the negative impact. That said, there are a few things that I have allowed to stop me from doing what I believe God has called me to do and I am slowly finding ways to stop letting these things derail my progress. Some of these will be quick fixes while others will take longer to accomplish and require more of a change in my behavior.

Finances

One of my primary goals is to reach financial security and to get my spending under control. The first step for me was to pray and then to seek out a program that would bring success. I have taken some pretty drastic steps to get the ball rolling, including holding a yard sale to get rid of things that I didn’t need and giving away pretty much everything else. I moved out of a large house into a manageable apartment that costs me a fraction of what I was spending. I am building up my savings for emergencies and have a plan to pay off my expenses. I am more deliberate in my regular giving. It will be a long slow process, but I truly believe this is what God is calling me to do today. And from this will come one more testimony about transformation that I can share with others.

Family and Friends

I have a great relationship with my daughter; however, I have a real tendency to drop everything to hang out with her when I should be focusing on writing or my other tasks.  And I have a bad habit of spending money that I have budgeted for bills or savings on spur-of-the-moment outings with my daughter or with friends. I used to claim it was “single mother syndrome” but really it was just neglectful planning.  I have found it necessary to set boundaries in my relationships—to say “no” even when my heart says “yes.” I am committed to the Dave Ramsey[1]  financial plan which means I have to make changes in my overall lifestyle. Part of that change includes setting new priorities while keeping the focus on reaching my long-term goals.

Emotions

I guess you could say that the primary energy drainer for me is fear and panic. The fear is a byproduct of my financial insecurity and it has kept me from moving forward. I have learned that the most positive thing I can do is stick with my budget plan and continue to pay down my debt without acquiring more debt. And I am working with a spiritual director as well as a healing minister who are helping me to see God’s plan instead of my plan. I cannot begin to explain the newfound peace I have discovered in my obedience to praying, writing, and talking with others.

Home

Ok—I will admit it. The TV probably is the largest energy drainer in my life. When I feel insecure about my ability to step into this new role of story teller and author or I am overwhelmed by my financial situation—I retreat to mindless TV. I may spend hours at a time watching TV and avoiding the world outside.  Additionally, TV is sometimes a crutch for not spending money on things with my daughter and so we will sit together watching movies or TV shows rather than going out. This obstacle also keeps me from being more physically active, which is not a good thing for someone trying to live a healthier lifestyle. For now I will work to set aside time to walk instead of watching an hour of TV in the evening. I am sure I won’t avoid TV completely; however, I do need to set boundaries in this area as well. This may be one of the harder areas for me and it could continue as an energy drainer and stressor if I don’t get it under control.

Reflection

I have found it is useful to identify things in my life that are keeping me from reaching my goals and to consider the changes I need to make in my life. Some of these things were not easy to confront, especially since it made me realize how much time I have wasted.  It also became apparent that I cannot make these changes on my own and that I need to be honest with people who I trust about the obstacles in my life. It is equally important to have people in my life that will hold me accountable and encourage my success. One step at a time, I move forward.

Reference

Collins, G. R. (2009) Christian coaching: helping others turn potential into reality. NavPress. Colorado Springs, CO

[1] Dave Ramsey provides Christian-based financial counseling and provides a strategy to help individuals achieve financial freedom. Refer to: http://www.daveramsey.com/home/