Child

“He is known in the wild as Strider. His true name you must discover for yourself.”

That line is from a scene toward the end of The Battle of Five Armies, the third film in the somewhat bloated Hobbit series. I didn’t expect any great or profound truths to come to me while watching a fantasy movie–I was just simply trying to keep to my night shift sleep pattern while on sick watch over the family.

But. It was exactly 0105 when that elf-to-elf line was uttered, and then something occurred to me.

We don’t learn our true names until we pass from this world and stand before the throne of Christ. I think on that day, he will welcome us, and whisper our true names into our ears and hearts.

Clearly, that is no accident.

We go through our lives with some inkling of who we are. We know our given names, of course. Typically, they’re carefully considered by our parents. My first name, for instance, is after a friend of my father’s. It’s Thomas, as was his, but people called him Tommy. That’s what everyone called me as well, until I was old enough to decide I wanted to be called something else–which I thought sounded more mature (I don’t really care anymore, and nobody calls me Tommy anyway, except my siblings and a few ancient friends online).

But that isn’t my true name. It’s who I am here, not who I am in eternity.

Scripture assures me that I will be one day welcomed into Heaven, provided my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. I don’t think that name will be Thomas Eugene Wilkins. I have no idea what it is, and in my opinion that doesn’t really matter anyway.

One thing I do know–one thing that matters to me a great deal–is WHO I am to God. Who I have been since that day in March back in 2000.

Until I get to Heaven–until angels carry me to Abraham’s bosom, that is the name I quietly speak to myself in my heart when I want to know who I am to God.

Child.

Hallelujah.

Listen to the words of this amazing song by Todd Agnew–it says close to what I’m trying to, but in a better way than I ever could.

Glenn Beck Was Right

I read an article today that really struck me in the heart. It was from Glenn Beck, which kind of surprised me, and the title was “Loving the Right Woman Makes You a Better Man.” I could not agree more, and in the article, Beck says something else that I believe is also true for my own situation with my wife. Words to the effect of committing to his wife and committing to God were the two best decisions he ever made. He also mentioned that if he hadn’t done the former, he doesn’t know if the latter would have happened.

Beck has been married for 15 years, and I have only been married for a little less than 6, but I will say the same thing right now.

Committing to Jen is the best and smartest decision I ever made. Had I not done that, I do not believe I would be in the same place “spiritually” I am today. Had I not stood on that altar and made that vow to her and to God—before God—I would not be the man I am today, both literally and figuratively.

I believe now as then that God called me to this place, and this life. I didn’t expect it and I sure as heck wasn’t looking for it.

It happened because of my wife’s God-given Whitson boldness. I needed that, and if she hadn’t been the person she was, well. We would have screeched to a halt because I had made a vow to myself I fully intended to keep.

I wasn’t going to look anymore. I wasn’t going to try anymore. Not after the last time.

Am I good man, though? A good husband and father? I don’t know, but I sure want to be. If I am, it’s because of the love this bold and beautiful woman showed me. Take last Valentine’s Day, for instance. I had emergency gall bladder surgery, and she spent two days sleeping sitting up in a chair next to my hospital bed.

When this current thing with the Bell’s Palsy happened, I said something to her like when she said “in sickness and in health, she sure got more than she bargained for.”

She told me that was what she signed up for. For me. Sick, healthy. Me.

It’s being with her that made me realize just a little how God probably sees me. She just loves me, and never mind that I don’t come in the traditional packaging for a Ward Cleaver type of husband. She doesn’t see any of that stuff.

She sees me.

For who I am, not who I should be, or maybe would like to be. That’s enough for her. It makes me want to do better. Be better. She makes me see people differently, and think differently.

She prays for me constantly, as I do for her.

Sometimes we sit on the couch and we watch TV with the kids, sometimes by ourselves. I like to hold her hand, and look over at her every once in a while.

A few weeks back, I took a picture of her in her dad’s music room practicing for The Rock Christmas Eve service. She was going to be singing “Silent Night” solo, and she wanted to get it down. The picture isn’t a glamor shot–it’s just my wife after a regular day, beautiful as ever. It’s all her and I love it. Her hair is pulled back and laying across her shoulder. She has her head down and she’s looking at a piece of music or a chord sheet or something and she’s listening to the music playing on her dad’s computer, which you can see in the background. She’s just sung the words

Son of God, love’s pure light

And I have tears in my eyes as I take the picture. Because she loves God, and she loves me, in that order. I’m not embarrassed to say it, or feel it. I love her and I love God all the more because of her. She is the right woman, the only one for me. The woman in that picture changed my life, no doubt in my mind.

j

We’ve made a life, and a home.

We get to serve together most Sundays.

We get to pray together.

We get to laugh together (a LOT).

We get to raise our kids together.

We get to lift each other up.

I think Glenn Beck was right.

Loving the right woman makes you a better man.

Thoughts From The Park

I’m sitting here at the park and watching the boys play. They’re playing together for once, and they aren’t fighting. It’s been a pretty good day so far.

I’m thinking that they’re growing up so fast, it’s like a soft rope, slipping through my fingers. I wonder what kind of example I’ve been as a man? As a father? What kind of example will I continue to be?

I think of the example of my own father, who was close to the age I was when I got married and started my family. It wasn’t necessarily bad, I just think that people of his generation were different than they are now. And then he died when I was still young, just 16.

I think I learned more about manhood from my brothers-in-law than I did from my father. Mainly because I spent so much more time with them. Especially my sister Lee Ann’s husband, Phil.

I don’t think I ever thanked him, or my sisters, for being there for me when I was young. They saved my life in so many ways. They taught me how to treat women, and how to be emotionally available. Phil gave me most of my sense of humor. He also taught me how to relate to people in a way that puts them at ease, using the aforementioned sense of humor, mostly. And he taught me how to be a husband.

I’m hoping to give that to my boys. To show them how women should be treated. To be good and godly men, and husbands.

I think I do that by loving their mother, and letting them see. If that embarrasses them sometimes, I can live with that.

They also need to see me love God, and show them what he can do in a life–the changes that can bring. I learned that part from several Godly men and fathers who came into my life every now and then, always right when I needed them.

James Hogan.

Tim Wakefield.

Matt Botkin.

Merrill Roach.

Ray Traynor.

Ken Whitson.

John Whitson.

Zeb Ohland.

Paul Mondragon.

They made me realize how important it is to set an example.

It isn’t easy, and I probably should not expect it to be. Nothing good is.

So I will continue to love their mother, who is truly my better half, and the love of my life.

I will let God be my father, and example. I will love Him through the hard, and the ugly.

I will let him love me.

Brennan Manning said something once, to the effect that when our time comes, Jesus will ask us one question: did you believe that I loved you?

That may be the most important thing I can teach my kids.

God loves them. And when they believe that in their hearts, their lives will change forever.

Mine did.

20150103-142925.jpg

ALL Who Are Weary

My older son hates getting ready for church. Not going to church, or being at church. Getting ready. So much so that occasionally he will throw a giant fit because he doesn’t understand why he needs to get dressed up.

This morning I woke up at 0500 for some reason, and I looked at my phone, of course, because that’s what you do when you wake up. One of my sisters had posted the David Crowder song “Come as You Are” to me on Facebook and mentioned the song being beautiful.

She was right. It is.

That got me thinking about the Gospel, and more importantly, Jesus.

Come as you are.

I think the most beautiful truth about Jesus (in my opinion) that can be found in scripture is that of Matthew 11: 27-28

20141231-061220.jpg

In that passage, Jesus doesn’t make any qualifying statements about when you should come.

He doesn’t mention knotting your tie, or wearing a collar.

He doesn’t say anything about being ready, or in the right mindset.

He doesn’t even say you have to believe.

He says come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.

I will give you rest.

In my heart, he sounds something like this:

come to me with your doubt. Come with your loneliness and addiction. Come standing in that sin you just can’t seem to shake. Come mired in the filth of the world with your guilt about all the awful things you’ve done and seen hanging around your neck.

Come to me hurting. Come to me with your wounds still bleeding. With missing limbs. With that chasm down the middle of you that only I can fill. You don’t have to be ready.

Just come as you are.

As the year ends, have you been thinking about what’s missing?

Why 2014 blew so hard you don’t even want to know what 2015 will be like?

If I never write another word, or say another word, I think I would say this to you now.

Consider Jesus.

God.

Consider finding rest for your souls.

You may think Christians are full of shit, and many of them are.

Christ isn’t, I promise you.

You may think your life is too messy, that what you’ve done is too terrible for forgiveness.

It isn’t.

Consider Jesus.

Maybe you’re wondering about God, and yourself, and wondering what to do next.

Consider Jesus. Find a bible. You can get them free in the Kindle store if you have a smart phone.

Talk to someone.

Listen, folks. Maybe some of you will happen across this post and wonder who in the blue hell I am to tell you to do anything?

I’m no one special. I’m a man, like every other man. I’m a person just like you.

I doubt sometimes. I hurt and have been hurt. I am far from perfect. I lust. I hate. I mess up all the time.

But in March of 2000, I was able to literally lay my burdens down and it felt wonderful.

If you want to know more about it, scroll through my blog, or ask me in the comments.

If there’s anything you want to know about Jesus and how to know him from a regular person, I would be happy to answer any question I can without judgment.

If you don’t want to comment here, you can look me up on Facebook and message me. My name is on my blog page.

Talk to someone. Talk to God.

Come as you are.

Don’t wait.

Crooked Face Dad

I hate that at my advanced and decrepit age, I both need and crave reassurance of things, but lately I’ve certainly felt that way. More so than in a long time.

The Bell’s Palsy has really sort of made things difficult. The left side of my face is stone paralyzed, including my eye, which I have to tape shut much of the time. The resulting dryness has made it more susceptible to injury, which has already happened once and was incredibly painful.

Can’t drive, so I haven’t been able to work. All of that is bad, and a real pain in the butt. The house is decorated for Christmas and I haven’t felt like enjoying it. The worst part for me has been the inability to kiss my wife and kids.

So I have been getting really good at feeling sorry for myself.

Then a couple things happened yesterday. My younger son and I were sitting around and he said “will you play with me?”

I was about to say I didn’t feel well, and then I thought of a movie line from somewhere (of course). You’ve only got one life to live. You can make it chicken salad, or chicken shit.

Yesterday I made chicken salad. We played cars, and scooters, and ate peanut butter sandwiches. We got mom a Christmas present (I made all right turns going to the store), and when we were done, my little guy kissed me smack on my twisted lips and said “I yuv you crooked face, dad.”

Jen came home and did the same thing. I guess sometimes a kiss is a kiss. It’s the heart behind it, not the lips in front of it.

It’s going to be a good day.

Trying to Get It: Thoughts on Understanding the Ferguson, MO Situation

The media has been teasing all day that the jury in the Ferguson, MO, Michael Brown shooting case has reached a decision, but they haven’t said what it is yet. Will they or won’t they indict the police officer who fired the shots? No one knows yet.

What we do know is that people are mobilizing all over the place, fearing the worst. Why wouldn’t they, considering the riots and demonstrations that already happened? People are pleading for peace, and that’s good. Others from within the community are issuing warnings about how things are going to go should the verdict turn out differently than they would like.

It’s easy to imagine something similar to how the Los Angeles African-American community reacted after the Rodney King verdict—looting, burning, beating.

That’s the part I don’t understand, and I would really like to. What goes on in a person’s mind and heart that sacking their own community seems like an effective demonstration? From an “outside” the community perspective, it seems an adult equivalent of a child holding their breath so they can just die instead of giving in to whatever it is.

It’s difficult to imagine the level of frustration a person would have to do to destroy their own homes and businesses.

Certainly, some of it has to be righteous indignation, but I wonder how much more is just people enjoying the carnage, in a manner of speaking?

I don’t know. Is it because I’m white, and haven’t felt the sting of oppression in the same way black people have? Probably many would tell me it was.

People have argued that of course, Officer Wilson was making his story up, and that he killed Mr. Brown out of racism and malice. What if he didn’t, though? What if—as evidence seems to suggest—there is at least some truth to his story? Doesn’t the authorities manufacturing or changing evidence seems just as far-fetched as Wilson actually fighting with Brown and shooting him because he felt his own life was in danger?

Occam’s Razor, folks.

Anyway, there have been witnesses in both “directions,” including several coroner’s reports.

The truth of the situation probably in the end came down to feelings. Wilson felt this, and Brown acted however he did because he felt something else. We may never know.

I certainly don’t have any answers, except to say that everyone has a right to live, and that includes white police officers who fear for their lives. I think it’s unreasonable to tell someone when they should or shouldn’t be afraid, and just because Brown was 18 and unarmed does not mean he was unable to be dangerous.

So I guess we just need to all try and unlearn what we think we already know about people. White or black, we all have much to learn.

I hope this time, things don’t end in more violence. The cycle has to stop eventually, doesn’t it?

Just Walk Away

I went to a smallish party many years ago at a friend’s apartment. There were probably less than ten of us there at the most crowded point, and though pretty much everyone was torn up to some degree, I had the least to drink of the whole crowd because I had to work the next morning at my day job.

I imagine that’s why this girl I didn’t know very well came to me and asked if I could help her friend. I asked where the friend was (who I actually did know a little better, and liked quite a bit), and she led me down a short hallway to a bedroom. She opened the door and then fell flat on the floor, almost like she was trying to “plank.” On a bed in the middle of the room was her friend, obviously also very intoxicated. On each side of her were “men,” and one of them was in the process of removing her shirt.

We exchanged a few words, and then the two men left the room. I got one of the other people at the party to help me to help get the two girls to my car and then after only a single incident of puking (the passenger floor mat was never the same again), we were able to get them home in one piece.

I thought of that night this morning when I read a couple of news stories regarding the former Stanford swimmer who was recently convicted of the rape of an unconscious woman at a party. No one would even know anything about it, had a couple of grad students on bicycles not seen him on top of the woman, and chased him down, tackled him, and held him until police arrived.

He was found guilty on a few of the five counts, and that was good. Then, he was sentenced the other day, and the judge gave him six months, which could actually end up being three, with good behavior. Good behavior. This from a young “man” who, in his own intoxicated state, thought it appropriate to take a woman behind a dumpster so they could “hook up.”

The recent development is that it was discovered a letter was published shortly before the sentencing from the former swimmer’s father, saying how tough things have been on his son because of everything going on. He expressed dismay at the possibility of his son getting several years for “twenty minutes of action.” He tells about the impact the proceedings have had on his son. Never mentioned is the victim.

The son is completely unrepentant, and completely unaccepting of any sort of responsibility for  his actions.

Yet Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky said in handing down the sentence that Turner had no prior criminal history, The San Jose Mercury News reported. Turner, whose character was praised in letters to the judge, plans to start a course for college students on binge drinking culture, and both he and his victim were drunk the night of Jan. 18, 2015, Persky said.

The judge said a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner. Persky doesn’t think Turner’s “lack of complete acquiescence to the verdict should count against him,” he said.”

Turner must register as a sex offender for life and complete three years of probation under the terms of his jail sentence, which as I mentioned before could last just three months.

He is a sex offender. His sentence should have a severe impact.

Here is what I believe the truth to be about that sort of person.

If you, in the course of partying, become intoxicated, you are still responsible for your actions. If you also come across a woman who is likewise inebriated and decide to “hook up,” and that woman becomes unconscious at any point, and you decide to carry on with your hookup, you are a rapist. It’s that simple. It is rape and you are ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag.

Turns out only one of the two people involved knows exactly what was involved, because the other was unconscious. The conscious person may have had his judgment impaired, but that does not change the severity of the actions he chose, impaired or not.  He knows what he did, and didn’t do. He has to live with that.  Could be the sad state of his life is because of guilt, and/or shame. He should be ashamed.

Listen, this kid had the right to legal representation, and the right to defend himself against allegations, true or not. He did that. He was found guilty. His father has the right to speak in his defense, and to bury his head in the sand. But there comes a point when one needs to stop defending the indefensible. And consider that people also have a right to not be raped when they are unconscious.

That’s not just for Mr. Turner, by the way. That’s for anyone who has ever contemplated using someone for their own ends that is incapacitated in any way. That isn’t manly, that’s rape, and you are a felon if you do it. You haven’t accomplished anything if you get away with it. You’ve changed two lives with your crime—yours, and the person you forced yourself on. It isn’t a good thing. One can only hope you one day are made to pay the penalty for what you’ve done.

It is the same for those who use any influence they may have–any sort of power, implied or otherwise–as a means to some sexual end. You deserve what happens to you, whether it be punitive, or legal. You’re guilty, man. And you are a reprehensible individual. Hollywood producer, scout leader, teacher. Whether the object of your desire is an adult or a child, don’t misunderstand what your actions can do, and what they will hopefully one day bring you. Life may not bring legal or financial recompense.

But in your heart, you know what you are and what you’ve done.

This…issue—for want of a better word—makes me angrier than almost anything I can think of. Part of it is my own issues, but also because over the course of the past decade, I have had the chance to get to know many victims of this wretched crime through a ministry I was part of. I know what being victimized does to people, and no one, no one deserves that.

Something that I will probably always struggle with as well–I’m human, with a very flawed human nature–is reconciling the knowledge that Jesus came for unrepentant people as well as repentant ones, and longs for their salvation and redemption as much as anyone else’s. It doesn’t excuse or explain what they’ve done, it just speaks to God’s perfection and our imperfection. No one deserves forgiveness for things like rape, or anything else they’ve done that hurts or victimizes others

Yet it is still available for all.

The college culture of drinking, partying, and hooking up I will save for another post.  For now, let me leave you with a comprehensive list of things that cause rape:

  1. Rapists.

So think about what you’re doing before you do it. You can’t go back, and you can destroy a person just…like…that.

Don’t do it. Be a man and walk away.

Fighting Dirty

I saw two girls get in a fight one time when I was a teenager. The school bus let us off right in front of my house, and I remember they started going at it the second they stepped off. I had never seen anything like it. They didn’t fight like guys did. One took the other down almost instantly (on my front lawn, no less), and they immediately started punching, kicking, pulling hair and ripping at clothes. It seemed the desired outcome was less about fighting and more about simply embarrassing or humiliating the other person. At the end of it, the “losing” girl had her shirt ripped completely off. The fight ended with that.

We had election results on last night, and I thought how much like that fight political campaigns seem to be—at least as far as ads and commercials go. They so very often seem to have nothing at all to do with the merits of the candidate paying for the commercial, and focus on what a crappy _____ the other candidate is. Seldom is a campaign run any other way.

We question the opposing candidate’s intelligence, political loyalty, fealty to the United States, patriotism, and even sexuality at times.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather hear what the candidate I am considering voting for actually supports, and how they’re going to achieve it.

It’s on all sides of an issue, office, or candidate as well. People are so crappy to each other. And they fight so dirty.

I hate politics. At least this election is over. I can go back to watching commercials.

Better Questions

I read online today that Tim Cook—CEO of Apple since Steve Jobs passed away—came out as being gay recently. He said something to effect of he was “proud to be gay.”

Good for him. Even with today’s much more relaxed morality and tolerance for most things and lifestyles, that’s still a pretty ballsy move. Privately, people already knew, but being publicly anything is always a big step.

It made me think, though, and some questions came to mind:

Why does it seem the arbiters of political correctness in this day and age only allow people belonging to one minority group or another to be proud of it?

Proud to be gay, or African-American, or Green Party, or Latino, or whatever it happens to be rather than the majority.

So if a person can be proud to be in the minority—any minority—is the converse also true? Must someone else be ashamed to be a majority?

In other words, should I feel as if I cannot be proud to be who I am if that someone happens to be caucasian, middle-class, straight, and Christian?

I don’t know.

It seems like whenever someone comes out as any of those things, or espouses any of the views that seem to go along with membership in any of those groups, there are some who will automatically assume that means they’re hiding a noose under the white bedsheet they’re wearing.

The words “hate speech” have become so ubiquitous they’ve lost all their power.

For my own part, I am caucasian. I am male. I am straight. I am a Christian. Does that mean I am particularly proud of myself for being any of those things? I don’t know that it does, because to my way of thinking, that is just part of who I am, and whether or not I admit it is secondary to the truth I already know, which is that with God came awareness of my identity.

Pride doesn’t really fit with that.

While humility is something any human being probably struggles with, I guess I would say the parts of myself I am proud of are the things I worked at, rather than the things I can’t help being.

I am proud to be a college graduate, even if it took me until middle age. It was hard, and expensive, and I struggled at it. It doesn’t mean I have animosity toward anyone without a degree. It just means I worked my ass off to get mine.

I am proud to be the husband of my wife, and the father of my children. Marriage and parenthood are a grand freaking struggle sometimes, but I have never given up and I never will. It doesn’t mean I hate single people. It just means I love my family—who would not be in my life without God.

I am proud to be an American, because even with the struggles our country goes through on a daily basis—and we all know what they are—the fact that our country remains in the face of all the assaults crashing on her, the freedoms our citizens are allowed are pretty extraordinary. You can fly your flag upside-down, or even burn it. The constitution protects you.

Am I proud of my faith? That’s actually hard to answer. Not because I don’t have it, or because I question it, but because my faith is grounded in humility, and service. Not being served. I guess what I am proud of regarding faith is that he chose me. Who would choose me? I wouldn’t. I would pick my frail and self-serving ass dead freaking last, if at all. While there is some pride there, I am also daily humbled by my savior.

Yet.

I am proud to be chosen, and to have my name written in the book of life. I’m proud I was chosen to share that with people. These are my convictions, and I am certainly not saying I expect yours to be the same. Please do me the same courtesy. In Much Ado About Nothing, the character John the Bastard says something to the effect of “Let me be as I am, and seek not to alter me.”

It doesn’t matter that I’m white, or straight, or any of those other things. While membership in those categories doesn’t necessarily mean I should be proud of them, I also don’t need to be ashamed. Yet political correctness seems to demand I hang my head because of something I had no part in determining. So if you don’t want me to try and alter you, let me be as I am. We need to respect each other more than we do. And it goes “both” ways. All ways.

Yet.

If I cannot or should not be proud of being things I can’t help but be, then why is it different to be proud of different skin tone, or language, or which gender I feel called to be with sexually?

It may not be intentional, but it is without question a double standard. And it confuses me.

Oddly, just now I thought of this:

Earlier in the movie, Eminem loses a battle when he chokes out after being mocked and ridiculed by his opponent for a handful or inarguable truths his opponent throws up in his face to embarrass and humiliate him. It works. In the above scene, he does a couple of different things. One, he grows a thicker skin. Two, he realizes if he admits that which he knows to be true about himself, he takes away the power of that truth to hurt him. Also, he finds out some truth about his opponent which causes him to choke.

My point?

Maybe, if we all were just able to be truthful and open about who we are, opposing words would lose the power to hurt us?

I don’t know. I’m just a white, straight, bald, semi-conservative male who likes show tunes AND heavy metal. I’m a big ball of confusion.

And I have better questions than I have answers. So maybe we can figure this out together.

The Pearl

In my prior life in San Diego, I was part of a ministry that saw a fair amount of people who suffered from PTSD due to abuse or sexual trauma of one kind or another, and it surprised me because I had no idea how widespread that kind of ‘thing’ was because outside of that ministry I had heard very few people talk about abuse of any sort, especially men. This is likely for reasons specific to each person, but from what I experienced in my four + years as an intercessor, shame was the chief reason most people kept silent.
Shame.
To varying degrees, many of the people I prayed with and for felt blame for what they’d been made to endure. The beauty of this ministry was that in most cases, those same people were able to find God’s truth about where the blame lie, and encounter Jesus in such a way they were able to find at least a measure of healing. Also the knowledge that healing was a process, and it was OK if it took some time. It certainly did with me.

I became a frequent intercessor for these types of sessions, and it eventually became clear that God had gifted me in such a way, and used me in such a way that I was often able to help these people by protecting them while those leading the session were able to do their own work.

Sometimes, though, I would need to step away a little bit, because I could feel myself moving away from what needed to be done and start thinking about things like how much dental reconstruction that piece of crap would need if I was able to go back in time and get hold of him.

That’s what rapists and molesters and people like them were to me, and what they remain. I need to remind myself constantly every person has worth to the one who made them. It is not up to me to assign value to them, and judge them for whatever they may have done, as appealing as that option might be to the part of me that hates injustice.

Especially when it is directed toward women or girls. When I hear about that stuff, immediate retribution always sounds like the best option, because screw rapists and other assorted creepers.

It isn’t up to me, though. But the man in me—the husband and brother and friend–wishes it was sometimes. The part of me that loves and respects women as beautiful creations of a loving God wants to choke rapists until they turn blue for making so many women think otherwise. For making them think they are unclean, and ruined, and to blame for what happened to them.

A while back I saw this picture:

20130815-102117.jpg

And it made me think about that stuff again.

To rapists: while my personal belief is that you are crap on a cracker, I know in my heart that like the women, men, girls or boys your actions do permanent harm to, you are beloved by God. Deep in your sin, where your heart seems so far away from anything loving, you are loved. You know what you’ve done. Seek forgiveness. It can be yours.

To victims: my heart breaks for you as it always has. Know this, and hold it in your heart like the precious truth it is. You are loved. What you feel makes you unworthy is something you had no control over. What you feel makes you dirty is something you did not ask for, no matter what they tell you. This dirt is created by lies, and truth can set you free of them. God’s truth.

You are loved and loved and loved, in spite of what ‘they’ tell you and in spite of what you might think of yourself. Let those words fall away like broken chains. You are precious to the one who made you. He sees no blemish, or stain.

Try to imagine an oyster, fresh from the sea bottom. The oyster is held in a pair of hands–the sure and strong hands of the carpenter. You can hardly see the pads of scar tissue on his wrists. A small knife with a sharp blade appears in one of his hands and he deftly pops open the shell. With the blade he lifts the connecting tissue and extracts a small, slimy ball.

He begins to wipe away the slime, dirt and sediment that has been accumulated by years. Everything falls away at his touch, and he is eventually left with what was there all along; a shining and perfect pearl.

Know this as well: to Jesus, you are that pearl. You are no longer a victim. You are beautiful, and clean, and made righteous.

I want you to know that you are not alone in your pain. The hands that made you wait to hold you.

I want you to know and believe in your heart that you are not to blame.

I want you to know that it’s ok to let out what you feel.

I want you to know that healing is available—and your heart can be made whole again.

My words are failing me now and I will end with what I said before.

You are loved.

untitled