The following articles were authored by DragonLady

Dumping the junk

I don’t know if any other denomination holds confession like the Catholic church. A Google search could probably answer that, but it really doesn’t matter. I know it is a sacrament for Catholics to go to confession and confess their sins to the priest. We Protestants don’t do that because Jesus is our high priest and we can go straight and boldly to God the Father.

Having grown up in a non-confessional environment, I had no concept whatsoever of the healing nature of telling my “junk” to another person.

“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another person the exact nature of our wrongs.” – Step 5, page 59, Alcoholics Anonymous

That was a hard step for me. Granted Step 4 was hard enough writing all that crap down. But it was another matter to say it out loud to another person. Things that I had never ever EVER said out loud to ANYONE. Actually, there was only one thing that nobody else knew because I never told anyone. But now, both my sponsor and my therapist know about that. Since I’ve vomited all my secrets out (that I could remember up to that point), I don’t feel such a need to keep things hidden.

The saying, “You’re only as sick as your secrets,” is, at least for me, absolutely true. It was no wonder I turned to alcohol to numb. Of course, now I am dealing with the feelings from all that crap that I didn’t deal with at the time, so I am still pretty sick. But I’m getting better as I learn that feeling the anger and the hurt feelings is actually what emotionally healthy people do. They don’t stuff, suppress, and numb. They feel, work it out, let it go, and move on.

I wouldn’t dare suggest mandatory confession. For one thing, there is no way to enforce it that would even be remotely healthy. But I think within the context of a local church, confession to another person would be transforming because confession tears down facades, and confession frees us from darkness.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

We don’t want to indiscriminately confess our junk because there are “tares among the wheat” inside and outside of church, and you need to be able to talk to someone you can trust is not going to harm you. You need someone who will pray with you and for you without judging you from self-righteousness, but yet will lovingly call you out when you need it. We all have blind spots. I think that is part of true confession to another person – being willing to have your blind spots pointed out to you, and admitting them for what they are. It won’t feel good, but it’s how we grow – by humbling ourselves.

“Do you want to be healed?”

“Drop the rock. Just drop the freakin’ rock, and quit picking it back up!”

I had a little meltdown in church today. It started near the end of the sermon and lasted until a couple minutes after we were dismissed. It wasn’t one of those meltdowns like a couple of weeks ago where I heavy sobbed for an hour in the fetal position, but it was enough that I had to grab a tissue – and soaked it.

“Do you want to get well?”

The sermon text was from John 5:1-5 which is the account John gives of the healing of the man at the pool at Bethesda. The man there had been ill for 38 years. That’s a long time to be sick. Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed, but the man answered with the reason he hadn’t been healed as if he had given up all hope of ever being healed. Someone always beat him into the pool. As Pastor Jared put it, the man answered the question with an excuse. Jesus still healed him.

I sat there thinking, “Do I want to be healed? Do I REALLY want to be healed?” Then the tears started welling up. Pastor Jared said, “Remember who you are!” I grab a tissue because they are spilling now. I write on my teaching notes, “I am not my childhood.” As Pastor Nate wrapped up after the service, I completely soaked the tissue. I remember him praying, but not really what he prayed because I was praying about that rock I keep picking up and carrying.

With every meltdown, there is release of a little bit of the pain. It is part of the healing. But it’s not all of it. When I first got a sponsor, I am pretty sure she asked me if I was willing to do whatever it took to stay sober. I said, “Yes,” having no idea what that was going to mean other than completely changing the way I think about everything. I had no idea the can of worms that would open. Last week, Pastor Nate posed a question in his sermon, “When tests come, am I willing to go the distance with Jesus to experience a miracle?”

Today Pastor Jared said this:

“If you’ve never been broken/had a need, you can’t really know Jehovah Jireh – the Lord who provides.
If you’ve never been lonely, you can’t really know El Roi – the God who sees me.”

Am I willing to pick up my mat and walk? Can I drop that rock and walk away from it?

What makes a whitewashed tomb? Part 2

I remember the 80s quite well. I was a teenager for most of the 80s and was completely enamored with the 80s culture of music, fashion, and television. There is still a special place in my heart for shoulder pads despite the fact that I have shoulders that do not need any padding. My favorite running shirts are neon yellow which hearken back to the florescent colors of the mid-80s. I don’t miss the big hair, though. That’s just too much work now.

I loved Ronald Reagan. He was entertaining, and he was strong. He had a great sense of humor, but he wasn’t going to back down from the Soviet threat. Being a cold war kid, and a good old southern girl, communism was the ultimate enemy, and the Soviet Union was it’s preeminent face. God Bless the USA was the ultimate patriotic theme song, and I fully believed that we were the favored nation of God (second but equal to Israel) which is why we were the greatest nation on earth.

There is a lot more to my hard-core conservatism, but I will attempt to sum it up since it’s not particularly exciting. I dabbled in politics a bit as a kid in the 80s, escaped from reality during the early 90s & gave birth in the late 90s (and therefore have a lot of blank areas), and became a news and political junkie in the 00s when I started blogging. I went all in with conservative politics in the mid to late 00s, and looking back, I was a self-righteous ass. Something happened to me just before the 2008 presidential election that I can’t explain. I knew Barack Obama was going to win the election. I had no doubt. I realized that I was okay with that, and I still am. I disagree with him politically about nearly everything, and so I didn’t vote for him either time. But I have just never had this feeling of certain doom with him as president.

Something changed in me. I can’t take credit for it because I had no intention of changing. I was on the right side (pun mostly intentional); why would I need to change? Now that I look back on it, I can see that my focus was on the wrong thing. My patriotism defined me to a large extent and was driven by a narrowly focused mindset that understood valued freedom only as a means for my own personal prosperity and comfort. The poor and the homeless needed to stop spending their money on drugs and alcohol and get a job in order to stop leeching off the government thereby wasting my tax money. Women (and girls) just needed to keep their legs closed. Illegal aliens needed to be shipped back to their country of origin, and by God speak English! One nation under God! ‘Murica!

That attitude reduces individual people who are (just as I am) created in the image of God to an abstract group without faces or names broad-brushed with caricatures and absent of feelings, dreams, and purpose. It is an attitude absent of empathy. It is an attitude that does not love people. It is an attitude that thinks God needs us, and not the other way around. It is an attitude that does not believe “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It is an attitude of fear. It is an attitude that demands treasure now because I said the sinner’s prayer and was baptized and “America is a Christian nation.” It’s us versus them, and we are right.

It’s another type of whitewashed tomb. There is little compassion for the poor, and none for the addict. There are no gray areas, and no nuance. Right is right. Liberals are wrong. We are reaping what they sowed. “God hates fags!” Westboro is the visual and vocal extreme, but while many conservative Christians would never picket funerals nor say it out loud, they believe it. They will say “Sodom and Gomorrah” whenever gay marriage is passed or a ban is overturned because they are afraid of the same. But really, if you read the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, it wasn’t homosexuality that was the problem, it was the rape culture.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (James 2:8-10 ESV)

Love is action, not a feeling. Real love is messy. It’s so messy because it isn’t self-serving. It isn’t about getting paid back. It sees a need, does it’s best to meet that need, and does not seek out recognition for what it’s done. Whitewashed tombs cannot love because they are just rocks on the outside and dead on the inside. Raising the stars and stripes over it doesn’t bring it to life. Only Jesus can raise the dead and turn a heart of stone to flesh.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 ESV)

What makes a whitewashed tomb? Part 1

Matthew 23:27-28 ESV

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

I love exploring cemeteries. If you follow me on Instagram you can see on my profile that I am a member of the Instagram group Graveyard_Dead. I have no qualms about going out into a cemetery and snapping a shot of a headstone, marker, or statue that I think looks cool. It’s an artistic appreciation, but it does not often go beyond the marble.

In the movie Galaxy Quest, the “Captain”, Jason, gets stranded on an alien planet where he ends up fighting a rock monster. Actually, he’s running from it while talking to the crew members on the ship trying to find a way to get out of his dire predicament. Alexander, the serious actor, asks Jason what is the creature’s motivation. Jason replies, “It’s a rock monster! It doesn’t have motivation!”

A Christian who is just a whitewashed tomb has motivation, but it’s the wrong kind. He or she will look good on the outside, and even serve in various ministries, but the ultimate goal is to look the part so as to not have their character questioned or to have others tell them what a good Christian they are. You probably won’t be able to recognize it unless you get close enough to them to get to know them.

For instance, you might have someone who has seen a need in the community and started a ministry to meet that need. From the outside everything about it looks good and you even help with it. But then you walk up on a conversation by one of that ministry’s leaders. The conversation does not stop but continues in a diatribe about how that ministry was not mentioned during announcements along with attribution of malicious intent rather than giving the benefit of the doubt that it was not intentional. Before long the leader surprises the entire congregation with a diatribe of his own during what was supposed to be a children’s sermon. While both ministries are good ministries and the leaders appeared to be committed to serving, the self-aggrandizing showed their hearts to be more committed to their own recognition and honor from other people than to humbly serve.

In another case, you have a deacon. He’s very intelligent, and an excellent handyman. He’s a good teacher. He takes care of several widows in the community in addition to his sisters. He has a beautiful wife who is also a gifted teacher. They are active in the local church and even in the association. But at home, he is domineering and abusive. He rules his household through fear and shame. Grace is absent. No one really knows because there are no physical marks – only deep emotional wounds. He has become convinced he is always right. Eventually he crosses the line and cannot justify and rationalize his actions to others which now extend beyond his family. But he can’t see his part. Even as he sits in prison, he is a victim and not the perpetrator.

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Take out the sex, sorcery, and drunkenness, and you will see many of the other traits in a whitewashed tomb. They don’t drink, do drugs, smoke, have sex outside of marriage, or cuss. At least you’ll never see it. But they will point out any little infraction they find in you. They lack compassion, grace, and humility. Just like the Pharisees.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

It’s all about your motivation. Either you are working for the sake of performance to show that you are worthy of man’s praise (or seeking personal comfort), or you are working according to the fruit the Holy Spirit is producing in you. Our motives probably aren’t ever completely pure, but if we can keep our mouths in check and don’t sound a trumpet every time we do a good deed, we are most likely using our love for Jesus and compassion for other people as our primary motivation.

Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Real freedom

I’ve been a cultural christian. It’s a miserable life because it is all about worldly benefits in the here and now. It’s about what I think I deserve in this life based on my performance. It’s a modern blueprint for becoming a whitewashed tomb because it’s all about my glory and comfort.

I don’t want self-centered religion.

I don’t want politically labeled religion.

I don’t want to fight a culture war.

I don’t want a religion centered on an unbiblical notion of saving this country for my personal comfort.

The American church has embraced a national salvation by works by assuming the promises to Israel also apply to our nation. We have traded the kingdom of Jesus for kneeling at the alter of the United States. We wrapped our bibles in the American flag so tightly we believe whatever we are told it says by our pastors who seem to be living in the same fear we are of losing the culture war and therefore our “favored” status.

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. (Acts 17:10-12 ESV)

We have gotten so accustomed to parenting and preaching based on fear and shame that we’ve hidden grace as if it’s of little importance when grace is the whole point. Fear and shame do not bring about heart change. Only grace can change hearts.

Following Jesus Christ is not about going to church on Sunday, watching Fox News, listening to conservative/Christian talk radio, and listening to K-Love. It’s about serving. It’s about loving others as you are loved by the creator of the universe. It’s about telling others about the freedom found in Jesus which is so much greater and more beautiful than the American Dream. It’s about peace and joy in the midst of devastating illness, loss, and disappointments. It’s about knowing that we are treasured beyond comprehension and our lives have purpose and meaning by and for the glory of God.

It’s not about checklists and rules and appearances. It’s about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. He kept all the rules. He paid the price. He alone gives us the only real freedom there is. Freedom from our self-centered natures. Freedom to love. Freedom to really live regardless of circumstances.

I don’t want to be a whitewashed tomb.

I am a miracle

We are in a sermon series at church called He Still Moves Stones. It’s an 8 week series on the miracles of Jesus that are unique to the Gospel of John. There was a point in this past Sunday’s message when Pastor Benji had each of us turn to our neighbor and say, “You are a miracle.” It came at a time when I needed to be reminded of that fact.

I had an hour-long meltdown last week. Thankfully I had it at home, but it wasn’t done in isolation because Petra was pressing on an emotional trigger point. An area of denial was brought into my consciousness where I could finally see it for what it was. A lot of pain flowed out with the tears. I think some of it just settled in my neck and shoulder because I’ve had a crick ever since. The next day, one of my co-workers looked at me and said, “You look like hell.” I felt like it, too. That evening I was telling my sponsor about the meltdown, and I told her, “You know, I didn’t want a drink.”

The miracle.

Early in my sobriety I was told to wait for the miracle. Of course, also in my early sobriety I did a whole lot of wondering what the heck these people were talking about. I could not fathom being able to function and live consistently sober. My sponsor would say to me, “I promise! It gets better!” Part of me thought that was bullshit. But another part of my hung on to her words for dear life, hoping beyond hope it was true for me like it was for her. Little by little, I began to believe, and I began to see the miracle I was told to wait for.

“The miracles of God are often time-delayed and require patience.” – Benji Kelley

I longed for deliverance throughout my childhood when I learned to shut down and dissociate. I longed for deliverance while I was numbing the pain I didn’t know I needed to face. I longed for a quick-fix, pain-free deliverance. That’s not what I’m getting, but it doesn’t make it any less of a miracle.

It was a miracle that I survived my childhood. I wasn’t in physical danger, although that was questionable during my appendix saga. But what I mean is, it was a miracle that I did not ever become suicidal. It was a miracle as an adult that I was a functioning alcoholic who could hold down a job and appear to have it all together. Now, it is a miracle that I don’t have the compulsion to continue to numb. It is an even greater miracle that I am willing and able to face facts and admit that I suffered abuse, allow myself to process the emotions, and find the deliverance I wanted so badly for so long.

I believe in miracles. I am a miracle.

I am a writer

We’ll just go ahead and call this my official coming out. Since I’ve been blogging since 2004, it’s time to make it official. I have said so many times in the past year or 2, “I can write what I can’t say.” I also have a lot of stuff to get out because I have also been saying for a while, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”

I was told a few years ago that I have a gift for writing. And I was told that again by a different friend within the last year. I suppose I should believe it given the way I managed to BS my way through AP English in high school. Part of that credit goes to Kim Dixon for actually doing the reading assignments and telling Kelly what the book was about. I listened very intently to her summaries. So on that note, thank you Kim for getting me through AP English, and for being one of my few regular readers. :)

I’ve done a lot of questioning of myself. Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? I’m doing a lot of figuring out what I like to do and what I’m good at and matching those up. Also I have been looking at how I have been mentored and directed throughout my life. Too long I have lived my life doing what I thought was expected of me without giving enough thought to what I want and like and am good at. Heck, it’s taken a lot just to accept that I am good at something.

The gift of sobriety has given me a chance to live. Really live. Not the going-through-the-motions life I’ve always done, but a life lived among other people. A life of sharing of experience, strength, and hope to quote a few 12 step programs. I have been given an immeasurable amount of grace, and I want to share that journey with others. Other people who are scared of feeling, scared of taking action, scared of facing the past, and scared of what the future holds.

I’ve wanted to write a book for a while. I have several ideas, so maybe I’ll write several books. Who knows what the future holds.

On with the show

The DragonLady doesn’t like crowds. That’s why she doesn’t do concerts. Crowds freak her out. Also, she doesn’t like to pay the price concert tickets cost these days. But you know what? I went to see Fleetwood Mac last month paying way more than I wanted to pay for tickets in the rafters.

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Prior to the beginning of the show, I would look at that and get that feeling in my stomach as if I was going to pitch forward and fall to my death. Because I also don’t do heights.

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That’s my “this is too high” face. Note that we weren’t all the way at the top but close.

Once they came out and started playing, though, I did not notice the height at all. It was a heck of a good show! I sat there singing along with every single song as only someone who has spent a LOT of time listening to Fleetwood Mac can do. I screamed. I yelled. I was surprised I could talk the next day.

Dreams unwind. Love's a state of mind.

Dreams unwind. Love’s a state of mind.

Tusk

Tusk

They were so fantastic! Lindsey Buckingham didn’t leave the stage until just before the encore, and then just during the drum solo in World Turning. I know he is the youngest member of the band, but he is still mid-60’s rocking a 2.5 hour show.

IMG_3719

This was the finale, which I obviously didn’t take from the rafters. Someone with much better seats than I took this. Also, I used up my free space recording Gold Dust Woman. Which I haven’t uploaded.

But for the grace of God…

Dear fellow Christian,

You’re scared. I understand. Not being in control is very scary. And that is why you are afraid. You forget that God is in control. That He is sovereign over all. You grew up singing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Onward Christian Soldiers” and believe deep down that you deserve to enjoy the privilege of being an American. You are going to eat, drink, and be merry and no sinner is going to screw that up for you. You have been taught your whole life that the United States is a Christian nation highly favored by God unlike any other nation before it. You believe we are the modern day Israel.

The United States of America has never been the “My people who are called by My name.” That was only Israel. As I saw it in a blog comment not too long ago, “IS – RA – EL.” It is a covenantal name. God made no covenant with any other nation before or since, and that includes the U.S.
If you think that the current moral state in the U.S. is the worst this nation has ever been, clearly you don’t know the full history of our nation or you are just choosing to overlook it. You think homosexuality is the worst sin to take place here? If so, I have a fraction for you: 3/5.

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.” – From Article 1 Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

That remained in effect until the 14th Amendment passed by congress in 1866 and ratified in 1868. This stands in contrast to a particular line from the Declaration of Independence –

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

– which only applied if you were white. African slaves and indigenous Americans (American Indians, not European colonists) were not endowed with these rights. Human trafficking is not a Christian value. Breaking every single treaty ever made with the indigenous peoples, driving them from their lands, and slaughtering them is not a Christian value. Institutional racism, still to this day observable in many lily-white churches every Sunday, is not a Christian value.

We have played the Christian card to our benefit for centuries without suffering the suffering promised us by Jesus. We have lived a safe and prosperous existence which is neither promised nor deserved. Jesus told us to pick up our cross and follow him, not sit down and kick our feet up while expanding our waistlines.

If you are not willing to give up or lose everything – EVERY SINGLE THING – in this life then you are not really following Christ.

Are you so concerned with your personal comfort and your entitlement to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that you lack compassion for others who are created in God’s image just as you are?

Do you think you are better than Jesus who laid aside his divinity to live and suffer as a poor man and die for you when you hated him?

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)

There are many many people in this country who need to know the love of Christ and they aren’t getting it because they are treated as the enemy. And we as Christians pat ourselves on the back for telling them their place. Then we piss and moan and play the victim when they fight back. We have forgotten that but for the Grace of God, there go we. The Cross is offensive enough. There is no reason to heap on extra offensiveness just to stroke our own egos and make ourselves believe that we are any better. We aren’t. We never will be on our own. And we certainly can’t berate and bully other people into our image. God doesn’t do that. He gave up his Son to atone for our sins as well as theirs.

God doesn’t save and protect countries for the comfort of people. He saves and protects people for His glory. And not good people because before a holy God, there are no good people.

Luke 7:36-50 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

The path unseen

The memories come flooding back,
Fresh as if it just happened.
Guilt, shame, regret; all the pain.
It wasn’t yours then, and it isn’t now.

Anger begins to well up and demand,
“Listen to me! Focus on me!”
But that road’s been well traveled.
The ruts and potholes are bottomless.

Another voice calls out from the distance,
“There is a better way. Follow me!”
I cannot see the path, and yet
The voice continues its beckoning call.

“That road you’ve always picked to walk,
It always appears to be the easier.
You can’t see the ruts or potholes
Until it’s too late, and you’ve fallen.

I know you can’t really see this path.
My path seems overgrown and hard.
It isn’t an easy path to be sure.
Follow my voice. I won’t let you fall.”

I begin walking toward the voice as it leads.
I cannot see a path, and the brush is thick.
Limbs and briars scratch and cut.
All the while the voice continues to beckon.

I want to stop and turn back from the pain.
“Don’t stop. Keep following me.”
I’m frightened because I cannot see the path,
But yet my feet fall on solid ground – rock solid.

I’m tired and thirsty, bruised and bleeding.
I keep trudging with nothing but hope.
I grow to trust the voice that leads,
Because I haven’t fallen and the voice grows clearer.

Suddenly, I break free of the strange forest.
I cannot believe what lies before me.
A clearing with a small, clear stream;
Flowers in abundance and with sweet fragrance.

A blanket is spread on the grass by the stream.
On it I find a basket of food and cup for water.
I eat and drink and nap with warmth of the sun.
I awaken to find my wounds are now just scars.

“You wonder what happened, and how you healed.
The wounds were from the anger.
You worked through it by following Me.
Now you have rested and eaten my provision.

I provided you the healing of your wounds,
And the rest from your struggle.
The scars will remain but will fade with time.
Do not hide them. Remember the journey.”

I feel his presence, but only hear his voice.
It is peaceful and loving and gentle.
The journey to this place was painful.
But forgiveness really was the easier, softer way.