Last night I shared something with my husband that had been weighing on my heart.

Something that choked me up as I spoke it aloud;

“Thank you so much for what you do for our family!” I stammered as warm tears poured down my cheeks.

You see, it had dawned on me that I live quite a privileged life. Not only because of the favor of the Lord we enjoy, but also because my husband works really hard in response to that favor.

I basically get to sit at home in the presence of Jesus all day, reflecting on His goodness and then write about it whenever I feel so inspired (which is often). It has it drawbacks like anything else, but there are many wonderful things that I enjoy. For one, I don’t have to miss time with my children to go to work. I can be here for all the incredible, frustrating, and incredibly frustrating moments that bind a family together over the years.

None of this is without struggle, on my husband’s part or mine, but I want to focus here on his sacrifice. His selfless sacrifice.

Peter doesn’t work out of selfish ambition. When I thanked him for all he is doing (presently, it entails being away on deployment for long periods of time), his response was simply, “I asked God for a big family and I got it. Of course I’m going to take care of you.” All his hard work is a response to the grace of God shown in an answer to prayer that my husband had prayed since childhood.

Now… the backstory on why his dedication is so moving for me:

I have been without a provider.

I have been without protection.

I have been a young girl without a father.

I have been a mother without a father for my own children.

I have been a mother with a father for my children, but that man was actually relying on me to provide and he was happy to remain unemployed as I toiled in the strip club several nights a week.

I always thought there was something better. A better quality of man out there. A better way to run a family.

Then I met Peter…

This man has done nothing short of everything in his power to ensure the financial security of our home. It has never been for the purpose of being affluent or achieving some lofty, social status. It is all done in and for love. My wildest dreams are coming true, in large part, because of him. On top of being the breadwinner, Peter has been the iron that sharpens me and the embrace that comforts me. The voice that holds me accountable and stands by to soothe the delicate part of me when I finally breakthrough my pride, and my anger turns to tears.

This is what a Godly man looks like.

He is not perfect. But he is my leader.

I struggled for a long time, trying to shape Peter into the man I thought he ought to be if he were going to lead our home. If he were going to lead me. I’m not going to follow just anybody, you know. You had better know where you are going, because I sure do!

I wasn’t so sure he should be leading me.

Every so often, he was right about some important things, but Peter didn’t seem to have the adequate vigor for the Lord that I deemed necessary. He didn’t measure up to my standard of leadership. He didn’t qualify.

Then I reread this scripture:

“Wives, submit to your own husband as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.”

Ephesians 5:22-24

The verb “is” became the game changer for how I treated my husband. Embracing this truth is the very thing that allowed me to shift from a nagging wife who accused her husband of trying to control her, to being a woman who cries in overflow of gratitude for the sacrifice that he makes.

The truth is, Peter IS the head of our home.

“Is” is considered a verb is because it “expresses existence or a state of being.” The Lord didn’t say that he could lead if he was a good leader, deemed worthy by me on any given day… He said that my husband IS the leader.

Leader is his state of being, not a thing I decide for him.

My willingness to walk in submission to my husband ultimately became an issue of my willingness to submit to the Word. And while I can argue with my husband all day, often getting my own way after wearing him down… you won’t ever find me arguing with the Word of God.

It was in this place of surrender that my marriage began to find true peace.

I could write on this all day (and I will again soon, I am sure of it), but for today I will leave you with this:

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church… but wives, if he does not do this, he IS still your leader and you should honor him as such. The Word does not return void. Apply it without prejudice to your own life and watch it transform everything!

I have seen this myself, that even in our hopelessness, the Lord is faithful and just to fulfill His promises.

Love each other well and without selfish ambition, my brothers and sisters. You are the reflection of the living God who has created us. The world is looking to you, to us, for example of how our Father loves. What will they think of Him if we tear each other to pieces while claiming victory in Christ?

Follow Him, follow His Word, without reservation. That is the only way to bring about true revival that we long for.

Until next time, may the Lord keep you in His perfect peace and in harmony with one another.

Your sister,

Monica

*This is not a disclaimer where I will advise you to leave if you are in an abusive relationship. God can heal that too. If you don’t believe He can, however, you should leave because He probably won’t. If you do believe He can bring healing, you need to seek counsel immediately and ensure your continued safety while your spouse begins a process of healing and restoration in the Lord.

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Many people, like myself, have come to Christ and yet still carried the burden of trauma.

This can take the form of various addictions, broken relationships, and PTSD that exacerbates it all. The question is, what do we do as Christians with this lingering affliction? We know that we have been healed by the blood of Jesus, but…

We don’t feel like it. We can’t seem to act like it.

One of the most important components of changed behavior is understanding why you behave a certain way in the first place. Why you are constantly making decision, or avoiding making decisions, out of fear. When we understand the way trauma works, we can begin to heal and a strategic way.  In a way that enables us to overcome the mysterious process in our brain that leads to unwanted behavior and sin.

If we want our heart to be “holy ground” where the Holy Spirit can move and grow within us, then we must first address how trauma has impacted the heart; that it has, instead, caused it to beholey ground. We have to come to terms with the fact that a painful experience has left a gaping chasm within the mind and heart. (Which in Hebrew are the same, by the way)

So how does this all work?

When a life-threatening event occurs (or one that feels life-threatening), our brain records the event in stunning detail. Survivors of the attacks on 9/11 have reported the onset of depression triggered simply by waking up to a crisp, fall day… the same weather as the day the towers went down. The event and each association with the event gets programmed into the brain for later recall in order to improve chances of survival.

The problem is that we will likely never encounter that extreme circumstance again and the associations are often a part of normal, everyday life. This leaves us living in fear or constantly disassociating in order to avoid that buried fear.

Recent studies have identified that a person’s perception of his or her ability to control the situation affects whether or not a tragic event becomes “trauma” or is simply recorded as a negative experience.

As believers in a God who has all power… trauma is essentially the unhealthy emotional interpretation of a painful experience that has taken up residence in our psyche.

The determining factor of whether the trauma remains or not, lies in our ability to surrender any perceived control to a God who is Sovereign and able to heal. We are in need of a Savior who can walk into the hell we have experienced, retrieve the broken part of us that we left there, fill that void with love, and walk back out unscathed.

So…

You who are still trying to heal. You, brothers and sisters, who have all but given up hope of a joyful life… take a moment to reflect on what our God has done. Dig into the Word and re-familiarize yourself with the victory that was won over the enemy. It was not just for some distant future rescuing that Jesus died, but so that we might live fully alive, here and now, with Him.

The world has never known a greater force than our Lord. Your trauma doesn’t stand a chance in His presence.

Talk to your pastor. Get some references for a good Christian counselor who can walk with you through the healing process; who can remind you of Christ’s victory along your journey. If you don’t have a pastor or even a church, shoot me an email! I’ll help you find a healthy one.

Most importantly, know that you are not alone. Know that there is always hope. I have seen God work miracle after miracle on my PTSD until it was nothing but a lingering recollection, awaiting my approval to be written into a powerful, testimonial memoir.

I am no different than you. My healing is not the exception to a rule. It is the result of surrender to a God who makes the rules. He said, in Him there are none. Anything can happen. Even full recovery from experiencing hell on earth.

As always, my prayers are with you.

Your sister,

Monica

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This is a message I would rather not deliver. It’s so counter-cultural that it’s bound to cause some frustration with people. Even Christians. Nevertheless, there are lie-ridden, sweet sounding, “inspirational” sayings and twisted words we are accepting as gospel truth. The importance of sharing this today was made clear to me when I saw a woman, whom I admire VERY much, sharing some of this confusion on social media.

Brothers and sisters, the world’s view about forgiveness has become our own. This worldview about forgiving, its purpose, its necessity, and it’s function, are beginning to warp the hearts of the best of us. And, because we are to guard OUR hearts above all else, I am going to guard yours today for you.

Here are a few phrases we need to reconsider:

“Forgive yourself”

This one is just utter nonsense that doesn’t derserve a mention outside of me reminding you of something you probably already know…

You cannot give what you don’t have and we are NOT the creators of forgiveness. God is, ergo you can’t “forgive yourself”. If you could, then the cross of Christ was a cruel and unnecessary joke. (Which we know to be otherwise)

Next we have this gem of earthly “wisdom”:

“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace”

It baffles me on how this even made the cut to get into our thinking in the church. These words musthave found a back door into our minds through the gate of pride, sneaking in like a thief in the sheep pen. I deserve peace, but another does not deserve forgiveness?? Um, excuse me if I am wrong here (I’m not), but didn’t Jesus die because NONE of us deserve anything but hell? Where do we get off professing to be Christians (which means “little Christs”) and saying stupid, hateful things like this?

Best to drop this one in the trash, set it on fire, and walk away triumphantly as pride goes up in flames behind you like a scene from a bad action movie (think Steven Seagal explosions).

We need to obliterate this saying from our vocabulary and, more importantly, from our mindset. Not only is it used to show unjust partiality to our selves, but the idea that a person should be forgiven because they “deserve it” negates everything we know about Jesus’s sacrifice and what grace is. It steals the hope of our own salvation (not salvation itself, but our surety of it), and stifles our ability to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit in carrying grace and forgiveness to a dying world. Each time we spew this lie, it is as if we are at the foot of the cross, jeering insults with the crowd as Jesus hangs for us.

Lastly, we have a beautiful, theologically sound statement (by a theologian at that), which has been taken out of context as the be-all-end-all authority on forgiving, rather than an excerpt from the discussion on forgiveness that it actually is.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you”

The man who spoke these wise words, Lewis B. Smedes, was a brilliant and renowned thinker… but that doesn’t mean he got it all right. Mr. Smedes also referred to “people who do terrible evil” as “monsters”. Clearly there was something clouding his judgement which led him to speak in contrary to what the Word tells us. Which is this:

For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

Ephesians 6:12

This great thinker had some other wise words we should consider, especially in light of our current discussion on forgiveness. Lewis Smedes once stated:

“There are some things about God that, were I to stop believing them, my world would change color, my hope would turn sour, and the meaning of my life would be yanked inside out.”

I couldn’t have said it better. This is precisely that state of heart we are headed for when we take upon any manner of considering what forgiveness is that is not fully and solitarily defined by what occurred at the cross of Christ.

We seem to of lost touch with the purpose of forgiveness. We stand in public and profess our faith, even dunking each other under water to make sure people see what we are proclaiming about forgiveness and “death of self”, and the next moment we stand in judgement as though we are God Himself.

We agree, heads nodding and smiles widening, that forgiveness is solely for the person who does the forgiving. This is not only incomplete, it is an offense to the cross and what Jesus did there. I know this is redundant, but I will say it a hundred times to see my family freed of this lie…

Jesus forgave us for US! If there were anything He did for Himself in dying on Calvary, it was to make way for a restored relationship (another topic for intricate dissection at a later date). His intention, as ours should be, was for restoration of relationship with the Father. 

I will forever be an advocate of the rugged cross and the severity of what was accomplished there… through a sovereign God who loves us WITHOUT RESERVATION, even unto death. It is only at that cross that we comprehend Love and it is only in bearing that cross that we can show that Love to the world, thus healing it.

So here it is…

Yes, forgiveness is for you

But it is not ONLY for you

If it is… you have missed the whole point of Jesus’s death and ministry.

The church needs to embrace, once again, the fullness and the extremity of the sacrifice of the man we profess to be our Savior… and then we need to walk that out in our own lives.

Until next time, may God keep you humble and forgiving without reservation or partiality.

Your sister,

Monica