what’s in a name? p1

love twisted.

i’ve said sharing has gotten easier over the years. sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. i’ve done all i could do to “get over it,” but every time i go back, i can’t help but relive those emotions. i know i can’t stay there long.  i don’t define myself by it like i used to. but the fact of the matter is is that it’s there. always.

but i am defined by Christ. who i am in Him. not my past. i never have to face it alone.

(now that that has been established…)

i want to explain to you the meaning behind the title of my blog, love twisted. Love Defined…because it does mean something. the lies that were and the truth that Is. who i was and who i now am.

for years my abuser (my stepfather) told me he was “in love” with me. it became “more serious” when i was about 14. it continued on until i was about 22. i left when i was near 24. (i’m near 27 now.)

no area of my body was sacred. i would completely shut down. i would try to go numb. i would hear screaming inside my head, as if that would drown it all out.  when i would push him away, he would say i was acting like a baby. he always wanted more. he encouraged me to initiate.

everyone in life had hurt him, including my mom. he accused her of cheating on him. he said he couldn’t help but fall in love with me, her daughter, because i was so godly, pure, kind and compassionate. so what we were doing was ok. it didn’t matter that he was 20+ years older than i was. it didn’t matter that legally, he was my stepfather. no. this was right. this was real love. God wants us to be happy. was i happy? no. but he was happy. and i was co-dependant. i didn’t want to hurt him (or make him angry), and it appeared to me that God was on his side anyway. somehow, it was always justified. i was always made to feel guilty. all those years, i carried such a conviction inside of me. it was wrong. i prayed, i read my bible, i listened to sermons…i even  confronted him on it. several times. but always, always, the tables turned on me. either he’d let me pull away and make my life a living hell, or he would somehow guilt me into it.

my body was not my own. my father used it. my stepfather used it. i was called every derogatory name in the book. it was my fault i was so appealing. men couldn’t help themselves, or so i was told.

he was always the victim. i was always the user. i genuinely thought he was in love with me, but no matter how hard i tried, i couldn’t feel the same. but for a while, i accepted it. i thought it was what God wanted me to do.

until i found out he was doing the same thing to my sister.

then the hatred defined me. then i realized how twisted he was. we tried to run away, but ended up coming back. and even though i had been promised change, it started all over again. he used me all over again, until he found another outlet, and it was over.

this was love twisted: taking and demanding. using and abusing. based on merit and emotion. if you had shown me love then, i wouldn’t have recognized it. i would have questioned your motives. made fun of you. what i knew about it was based on my experiences. i hated him. i prayed that he would die. that i would die. i would imagine that a hero would come and snatch me away. none of that happened of course, but that chapter did end.

what comes next is real Love. Love as He Defines it. and my struggle to accept it.

and that’s part 2.

altars

i have a word addiction. always have, and always will.  books, articles, lyrics…i love to unpack the meaning behind a writer’s words.

so imagine my wonder when i discovered strong’s concordance. </nerdiness>

one day, i was reading my preschool crew the story of jacob’s ladder. after his vision was over, he erected a pillar. the idea and the symbolism intrigued me, which led me to a word study of altar (the strong’s number is H4196, for those who are cool like that).

some were a place of sacrifice (genesis 8:20, 22:9). some were raised in memorial (genesis 12:7, 13:18, 33:20). they were a place to call upon God (genesis 12:8).  a place to return. to remember. some even had a name.

i have quite a few of those places in my life. altars built with pieces of my broken heart: built so i could lay something down and watch through tearful eyes as it burned; altars in those unexpected moments of romance, when God does something that makes my heart skip a beat; altars built on painful memories of the past to remind me that i wasn’t alone. in each one, i am brought to know who He is in a deeper way. anytime i call out His name, i have erected an altar.

i wonder if abraham ever returned to the altar he almost sacrificed issac on? i imagine his response as he recalled it to mind. as he relived those emotions leading right up until he lay down his son. as he raised his knife, knowing that God’s promises are real. real enough that he believed God would raise his son from the dead (hebrews 11:17-19). it was an altar to remind abraham of God’s faithfulness.  how He provided a ram in replacement of his son: the son of God’s promise. imagine how abraham’s heart must have flooded with thanks and praise and love every time he returned to that place…he knew the word of God was Truth.

i call this blog an altar for all these reasons. every time i look back, every time i reflect…i am either returning to an altar i’ve raised up, or have found opportunity to erect a new one. all for His glory.

it’s a scared opportunity.

sara

do you have any altars?

SMILE!!!

i’ve been told to do it all my life.

i hear it less and less nowadays, but every now and then – when i least expect it –  someone points it out. if i’m not walking around with a grin on my face, i hear, “SMILE!!!” or they ask me what’s wrong. even complete strangers have come up to me in public to assure me that “it can’t be all that bad.” and 9/10 times, it’s a man.

i’m sure people are well-meaning, but it has always annoyed me. i don’t like being told how to feel. and i’d rather look how i feel than pretend i’m something else. pasting a smile on my face isn’t going to fix anything.

i’m totally fine…until someone feels the need to say something. usually i’m just preoccupied, trying to concentrate or just tired. but then i’m left feeling confused, self-conscious and a bit ticked off.

i wonder what people see when they look at me? am i just a somber person? if i don’t look happy enough all the time, is that a bad reflection of Christ? i’m not always “happy, happy!” but i am content. i know i’m loved. when i entered recovery, i thought the days of depression were over. i never thought i’d consider the idea of suicide again. i thought i had cried enough tears. but i was wrong. it only got worse. which didn’t help my demeanor, i suppose. i felt like everyone was noticing, even when i didn’t really intend for them to. i didn’t want to be seen that way. people told me it was all okay, but i was exhausted and frustrated. i didn’t want to always look like i was carrying this burden. so i struggled, i struggled with how i was supposed to “get happy.” because, apparently, it wasn’t going to magically happen.

i was never “happy” enough growing up, either. i was always told how miserable i looked. (and really, considering my life, who could blame me?). it didn’t take much to make me cry, so i was called a “cry baby.” i was told how moody i was, so i was given different names for my different moods (intended to be a knockoff of sybil).

it was enough learning how to pick my head up after all those years. one day i realized i walked everywhere with my eyes down…and when i looked up, i noticed that there was a whole world around me. a strangely obvious thing, but for so long i lived in a world of shame. i wanted to hide. i didn’t want people to know who i was or what my life was like. if i didn’t see them, they didn’t see me.

i’ve gone through so many changes. i’m constantly growing. i’m not who i was, that’s for sure. i praise God for who He is and what He has done in my life. so whenever someone feels the need to point out the fact that i’m not “happy” enough, i get discouraged. i don’t want to be a performer or a people-pleaser. i don’t want to be fake. i want to be who i am in Christ. do you think He smiled all the time? did that make Him any less of who He was?

sara

there’s a time for everything