Into the Depths: HOPE????

Monday, August 21, 2006


Alright, here ya go. You will want to be sitting for this, well, I was glad I was sitting, anyway.

So, in typical Baptist churches today, you are required to take a 'Pastor's Class' if you are considering joining that particular church. This church also requires an interview with a staff member before you may join, but that will be another blog later this week, after said interview. Anyway, I went to the class after church this Sunday. I was expecting the typical, this is what we believe, this is what the Bible says about it, yada yada, heard it all before. It began pretty standard, you know, salvation. What came next floored me. I have to quote the pastor's book, because my words will not do it justice.

Excerpts from "Hospital Church" by James Reeves

"Simply stated the principle says, You can never be more spiritually mature than you are emotionally mature. The principle can be expressed in several ways. Your spiritual growth will never go beyond your emotional growth. You can never have a more intimate relationship with God than you are capable of having with other people. Your level of emotional maturity will always create a ceiling for your spiritual maturity! All of these statements ultimately communicate the same truth. There is an unbreakable link between our emotional health and our spiritual health."

"That is because God has created us as both emotional and spiritual beings. These two are intricately linked according to the design of God. The result of addressing only one, will always be the realization of less than our full potential in Christ. Far too often in the Christian community we only address the spiritual. In fact, many in the Christian community have been unwilling to even acknowledge the connection between our emotional development and our spiritual development, much less address it adequately. The result has been spiritual stagnation and frustration for so many who genuinely desire to grow in Christ. Not to mention the pain and devastation of failed human relationships along the way."

Now, obviously the book goes into greater detail, but for the sake of room, I will leave it there, and if you want to read it, I will email you a copy. There are numerous scripture references to back up this principle, which I am thankful for because I don't believe in something when there is nothing to back it up. And I REALLY want to believe this.

This was my glimmer of hope. To me, this states that maybe I am not Esau after all. Maybe it isn't that God hates me. Maybe it isn't that grace and mercy and the love of God were meant for everyone but me. You see, as a Christian of twelve years, who hasn't moved an inch, I believed that it must be that I was wrong. Not that I was doing something wrong, because when I applied the Christian disciplines, I knew what they were and I knew how to do them, so I deducted that it must simply be me, at the core, that was wrong. Each time I applied my life to the Christian walk, in time, through desperation at my inability to ever move, my consistent stagnant state if you will, I would give up in hopelessness. That is why this principle nearly knocked me out of my chair. I was shocked and dumbfounded and for the first time in some time, actually sensing a bit of hope in the depths of me. It makes perfect sense, why had no one ever told me this before, why hadn't I thought of it? It is huge!

The pastor relayed this principle than stated that he was in the process of writing a book and would email what he had so far to whomever was interested. I of course was. I got home from dropping my nieces off around six last night and started reading. I took an hour off for my walk, then came right back to it. I finished the book around midnight than wrote the pastor an email to thank him for it.

Here was my email to him:

I spent the evening reading your book, and first, let me say thank you. Secondly, since you asked, I think it was thought provoking, full of depth and more importantly full of authenticity. You told in the chapter "A Safe Place" about last Sunday when you spoke about your own 'grasshopper tape.' Your having told that story, and the genuineness with which you shared it, convinced me that Celebration is where I want to be, or need to be, not sure which, I just wanted to thank you for that.
Perhaps you could tell by my dumbfounded look today, (now you are wondering which face was mine) that I was shocked when you told of the correlation between spiritual maturity and emotional maturity. I won't tell you my life's story, I don't do that, but I will say that today was the first glimmer of hope I have noticed in some time. If it proves to be real and true, which seemingly it does, what a relief. Maybe that sounds odd, maybe not, I have just always, at least since I learned the story, assumed that I was Esau. That from my mothers womb God's hatred toward me began and He hadn't decided to change His mind as of yet. In that single statement there lies the potential for a different life.
So, I wanted to ask if you would mind if I mentioned this stuff in my blog. Yes, I am a geek with a blog and I am not ashamed to admit it, by email anyway. I would of course be sure to quote you and acknowledge whom I was quoting. You could even read it first if you wanted to. The few who read it always get the bad, I figured they deserved some good, however minute it may seem in the beginning. Really though, it isn't minute, is it. Potentially, it is huge. It is the difference between life and death really, even if only figuratively speaking. Ok, for one not telling a story, I sure have rambled.

Here was his response:

Thanks for your words. I am thankful that you got a
glimmer of hope today. Let's see to it that becomes a bright and
shining light, how about it?
Stephanie, I would love to hear your story in its fullness if you would
trust me to hear it. Either write it to me in an email if you feel more
comfortable doing that or give me a call and we will schedule a time to
get together. I really would love to hear it so I can give you better
direction about how you can move forward from here.
Esau you are not! Soon, let me hear from you.
(I will say that I found it amusing that he was sounding like Yoda.)

So, then came the debate. I read his email before I left for work today, so all day in my truck I was thinking. Do I write him, do I call him, do I tell him anything at all? Can I? Should I? Is there a point to that? So first, three hours later I decided that since I am ok with writing as I am still able to stay separated, that I would email him some of my story. I started typing in my office but people kept walking in and I couldn't handle someone catching a glimpse, so I saved the draft and went about my day. All day I wrestled within myself. Finally, it came down to this. "If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always gotten." My thought was if I am really going to take the plunge, if I really do want to move, I was going to have to make a decision. I would have to decide that I wanted it more than I feared it. For me, that first huge step was to call and speak rather than take my usual route of writing my life and experiencing none of it.

So, I got home a little early and made the call to the church office. He had just left for the day. Hmmm was that a sign, maybe, maybe not. The pastor of a church with approximately 800 regular attenders, also included his cell phone number in the email. So I started dialing then hung up. I was terrified. I said, "God what do I do???" I didn't know if I should call, I didn't want to bother him, but it wasn't quite five yet. I dialed again and he picked up on the first stinking ring. "Hello" Uhhhhhhhhhh. I told him who I was, and he seemed genuinely glad that I had called. I of course mumbled and fumbled my way through everything I said. I gave him an extremely brief background, and he wanted more, uhhh. He said, I don't know how much you are comfortable sharing....I said, no, questions are good, ask questions. So his first, "Were you sexually abused as a child?" Well, let's just jump right in. He said he could tell by my email that I had been. I am not sure where he read that, but he has been doing this for a while. Anyway, he read me a story that he had just sat down to type for his chapter on forgiveness. It was the testimony of a woman in the church and it was overwhelming. "How interesting" he said, "that you called just as I began to type this." Yes, I concur. Anyway, he had already gotten the paper I had to fill out yesterday for the interview. They divide them up between the pastors and he had asked for mine since he knew we would be communicating. Interesting.
I was embarrassed that he had already read it, because in the spirit of desiring a new life, I was quite honest with the questions.
What areas have you previously served in at church: Sunday school teacher, counselor at both children's and youth camp, nursery worker.....but I wouldn't recommend me.
What special talents and skills do you have: None that I can think of.

I was honest. Ok the point to my extremely long post is that I am cautiously optimistic. apparently I am quite optimistic because I have made more strides today than in the past, well in a long time. I had dinner with a friend I hadn't seen in three years tonight. She and I are a lot alike in our emotional scarring, but she typically handles things in far more healthy ways than I. She is a therapist who works with abused children. She and I had a great talk tonight, probably more in depth than we have had in the entire 9 years we have known one another.

Ok, done rambling, just wanted to give some good since you get the bad every other day.


Blogger LiteratureLover said...

Wow, girl! That is amazing stuff. i am so proud of you for taking the leap and making a call. What a huge step! This pastor sounds like one solid guy. I am so happy that you found a glimmer of hope. I pray that it continues to grow.

August 22, 2006 12:15 AM  
Blogger heartsjoy said...

That is awesome. Looking forward to more info in the days to come!

August 22, 2006 12:29 AM  
Blogger Shayne said...

*Standing Up And Shouting Praises*
Stephanie, I'm almost in tears. Thank God, thank God...someone has been able to get through. I'm so proud of you (even though I don't truly know you) for taking the step and speaking with the pastor. Awesome does not begin to describe it.

I'm with LL and Heartsjoy...I'm looking forward to more growth and more information. God Bless you girlie girl!

(Can I just insert one tiny "Yay God!" in here? Thanks!)

August 22, 2006 8:09 AM  
Blogger Paulette said...

Wow great Stephanie,sounds like this pastor knows how do empathize with abuse victims and there pasts. This is important in leading a church. I have had such difficulty with this in a church as well. People just dont get it.
I wish we could exchange our stories. It would be soooo nice to be able to tell the whole story to someone who gets it. I mean the whole story.
This was so important for me to hear. i loved what he wrote anbout the emotional aspect of Spirituality.
Great Job in reaching out, God is definately in this big time.

August 22, 2006 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like the fact I need to come in as anonymous. So call me RC. I have been following your blog along with several others for awhile now. Shayne asked me to check it out and together have been praying for you. Although we may never meet, we have alot in common and maybe one day I will be able to share that with you.

I ditto every responce posted.
Tonight I will pray that this Hope you have will spread like wildfire within you. That it will be, An all consuming fire—consuming all that is within the heart of man that is not of God—A fire that is A controlled burn—A fire that burns up the dead bones, the underbrush that hinders life, choking weeds,
(These are the things that keep God"s word from spreading.)

Send a fire that is a controlled burn a fire that burns up the discarded & unwanted trash.
(This is what is hidden because of our past—in the attic and basement rooms of our hearts)
A fire that controls & changes the course of an unfriendly fire—(a fire break) An unfriendly fire that forms passions & hidden desires that pursue our flesh and place a barrier between our heart & yours. Lord send your fire!
Stephanie, I hope I haven't come on to strong, but I have been waiting chomping at the bit, and looking for that glimmer that you are going to fly, to live up to your handle bttrfly1976. So fly girl, fly.
Praise God that you were sent to a shepard and not a preacher only.

August 22, 2006 7:53 PM  
Blogger Bttrfly1976 said...

Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. I appreciate you more than you could know!

August 23, 2006 12:35 AM  
Blogger joyfuljourney said...

Stephanie! I am thrilled for you! Can't wait to see what God does next!

August 23, 2006 9:25 AM  
Blogger LiteratureLover said...

I LOVE this song!! How appropriate. You always know how to pick your music. ;)

August 23, 2006 3:36 PM  
Blogger Bttrfly1976 said...

It is a great song! I would love to say that it is because it took hard work to perfect the skill of finding the perfect music, but........really I just have lots of time to waste looking at one video after another until one speaks and says 'pick me, pick me.' ;)

August 23, 2006 5:22 PM  

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