When Shame Tears Hope Apart-Part 2

Shame is a prevailing sense of worthlessness that leads to false belief. I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless. – Robert S. McGee

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13).

One February Thursday after lunch, I was called to the headmistress office that I had a visitor. Who could it be, its only dad who visit and I was expecting him the next Saturday. When I get to the office, my aunt and grandmother are there looking sad. Immediately, I sense something is wrong then the headmistress gives me the worst news that dad died after a motor vehicle accident. Dad funeral was a beautiful celebration of his life. I came back to school and the shame that I had overwhelmed me. I was convinced in my thought that I was a mistake. I felt so hopeless and worthless. I could not pray. My thoughts were; God must be punishing me for something, yet I did not know what it was. I felt lonely and life was not worth living. When I talked to some friends or family members, I got responses like ‘Just trust God’ or ‘you are a Christian, with God’s help you will make it’. These responses were hurtful. Whenever any family member would see me cry, I was reminded that I should not because God is in control. To find healing, I had to be honest with my God. It was not easy but studying the life of King David in Psalms was a good encouragement to me.

When the light of honesty shines on thoughts of hopelessness, it is often very painful. God wants us to be honest with Him. For example David expressed anger in Psalms 42:9,I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” and when confused in Psalms 13:1-2How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? God desires honesty and truth at the deepest level and wants us to experience His love, forgiveness and power in all parts of our life. This is when the healing starts taking place. Christians, let us be more listeners than talkers (James 1:19, Proverbs 18:13). In the scriptures, God supplies the essentials for discovering our true worth. Being a Christian does not make one immuned to problems. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

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Finding hope in betrayal

The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies. It comes from friends and loved one. – Unknown

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6: 14-15).

 Just as I was getting out of depression and back to my ‘normal’ self, betrayal knocks in. I was told to pack and leave from where I was living with one of my relatives. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you ( Thessalonians 5:18). I packed my earthly belongings in two boxes and was given a ride back to my grandparents. Living with well-to-do family, I had hope of going to college and becoming ‘someone’ in life. I felt betrayed by this relative because during dad’s funeral, he promised to take care of me. At the same time, I was happy because my prayers were answered. I thanked them for the care and with my first salary; I bought a thank them card. God works in mysteries ways; he answered my prayer of leaving this family. God allows us to struggle and work through setbacks for a simple reason; he wants us to grow and develop the character and competency that ultimately enable us to succeed on our own merits. Betrayal is painful, but if Jesus also felt the pain of betrayal from Judas and Peter. Why shouldn’t I undergo betrayal? I only stayed with grandpa for three days and I was taken by another relative. Doors opened, I got my first job as a sales girl and after one year joined nursing school. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name (Revelation 3:8).

 Judas and Peter betrayed Jesus (Luke 22) but He did not curse them. Neither was He angry with them. He recognized that what happened to him was part of God’s purpose and plan for Him to redeem our sins. The difference between Peter and Judas is that Peter was sorry and chose hope. “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times. And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-62). Judas chose despair and chose death. No betrayal of God can be so great that the God’s mercy could not be greater. The truth is we have sinned and will sin again. It’s only the grace of God that can see us through life. Do yourself a favor and forgive anyone who has betrayed you. Look at the positive side of the situation. The betrayal I experienced was a door to a better life for me. For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith (Galatians 3:26).  Glory to God.

Where is hope when you lose everything?

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient? Job 6:11. When I was just getting used to be a motherless child, my life turns for the worst. I lost my dad at a tender age of seventeen. I had endured harsh treatment from relatives, but I had dad to rely on, my hero, mentor and friend. My dad was ‘my everything’. In school, some of my friends thought he was my big brother. I was truly heartbroken, and I questioned God. I blamed myself for this suffering. I felt like there was no hope for me. I was now an orphan with no one to rely on. We should not question God’s motives. His ways are beyond human comprehension but clearly. He does have a purpose in suffering.  As God tells Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah. 55:9).

During my grieving, I found out that there is no experience that has no good in it. Remember Job in the bible. He lost ‘everything’ yet, he was a blameless and upright man according to God (Job1:18). God promises to take care of the fatherless. I have learnt to appreciate the memories I shared with dad. There are people with both parents yet, do not have a good relationship. They are just like orphans. The time we spent with loved once should be meaningful. It is quality time that counts not quantity. There is hope even when you feel you have lost everything. The Bible refers to orphans over 40 times and it is stated emphatically that the Lord regards himself as a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5) and He has a special place in His heart for children who are orphaned.

I know that when a door closes, it can feel like all doors are closing. A rejection letter can feel like everyone will reject us. But a closed door leads to clarity. It’s really an arrow. Because we cannot go through that door, we will go somewhere else. That somewhere else is your true life.”
Tama J. Kieves

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men. (Lamentation 3:31-33).  Rejection causes emotional wounds. As a motherless child, it felt lonely when other kids talked about their mothers. When I was seven years, my dad remarried. I had mixed emotions of having a step mum. My step mum did not treat me well. I did house chores and never pleased her. My step mum expected dad to dislike me and mistreat me. My step mum would buy for my step sister and brothers’ nice cloths and leave me out. This hurts so much. I missed my mum that I did not have a memory about. She died when I was too young to understand anything. We are told to hold on the good memories, but I did not have any. How was I to move on? Dad made a decision that looked cruel, but it ended up being the best one for my lonely being. I was taken to a boarding school. I was away from home for three months and only one month at home with my step mum. Dad took me to a school near home and I was able to see dad almost daily. Dad told me not to listen to my step mum but rejection hurts.

Rejection is painful. Jesus himself expressed pain over rejection. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”(Luke 13:34). Almost everybody I know has been affected by rejection to some degree. The root of rejection is misplaced identity. Whenever we base our identity on someone other than God’s word, we make ourselves vulnerable to rejection.  When we focus on God’s promises then we can become immune to the hurtful effects of rejections. Turn your focus from whatever or whoever is causing the rejection and turn to God. Learn to accept the emotions you are experiencing to deal with rejections.  There is hope even in rejection. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. (Psalm 25:3).

Is there any hope when our world comes down crashing?

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” Tom Bodett.

As a symbol for hope the dove flying to the horizon reminds us that no matter what is happening in our lives, there are always new possibilities and hope open to us. The dove as symbol of hope is mentioned first in Genesis 8:1; a scene in which a dove was released by Noah after the flood. And the dove came back to him at evening and behold in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off. So Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. Since then the white dove, especially the one with an olive branch in its beak represents the hope for peace. The voice of dove is a rain song bringing us hope of a new beginning. Listen for their call with your soul. Doves carry the energy of promise.

Did my dad have this hope when life was falling apart in front of his eyes? I had lovely parents who loved me so much being their first child.  The unbelievable happened; mum got sick. We lived in a small town, Kitale, Kenya.  In the early seventies, health care in Kenya was not so good and one had to travel a long distance to get health care. Dad took mum to Eldoret town which is 79 kilometers from Kitale town for better health care. Unfortunately, mum health got worse and there was no hope. Dad was worried and questioned why this could happen to him. Somehow mum had this feeling that she was ready to be promoted to glory. She asked dad to let go and requested dad to pray. There was no private place in the ward and therefore dad ended up in the toilet. He had to talk to the Almighty with the hope to get some answers. His best friend was very sick, and it did not make sense to lose a wife after about three years of marriage. Dad does not remember how long he was in that toilet, but he had a good fellowship with God. Unfortunately, mum died peacefully while dad was praying.

Dad was heartbroken to say the least. His only hope was to believe that God who is sovereign. At least dad had me to take care for and love. His hope was in God. On mum’s memorial dad always thanked God for the good memorial he shared with mum and with a hope that they shall meet again. Where do we look for help when life is rough? What is the first thing you do when life does not make sense? Do you call friends or read books before talking to the creator? You can get hope in Jesus Christ. Life is precious, live like a dove; in peace and with hope.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 (NIV).

Pride

Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction. Margaret Thatcher

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Galatians 6:9-10

I wanted to write about pride while in nursing college and this one incident came to mind. As nursing students, we used to fund raise for a mentally handicap school in the city. This was a way of giving back to the community. This happened annually and students in class block were responsible for this task. They had to go into the city center shops in uniform to ask for money donations with tins. Unfortunately, it happened that my class had to do these two years consecutively. As second or third year nursing students, it did not feel cool to go to the city center begging for money and therefore we did not go. Needless to say, our class tutor was not happy and she took money from our monthly allowance that was presented to mentally handicap school that year. Pride had set in: being in the best nursing school, dressed well, ate good food and slept in comfortable beds, laundry done weekly, great food and our rooms were repainted yearly.  Pride is an independent spirit. If you see anything in yourself that may make you proud, look a little further, and you will find enough to make you humble. I had forgotten how far God had brought me. When life is at its best, we tend to forget who brought us thus far.

Pride is a me-oriented spirit that makes people arrogant and they do not give God the credit He deserves. We need to take this issue of pride seriously. Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive to the Lord….” I had an opportunity to serve the community by fundraising but felt it was not cool enough. It was too soon to forget what God had done in my life. God wants us to depend on Him wholly and use the talents or skills we have to serve Him.  Any good thing that happens to us is because our gifts, talents and abilities come from God. John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. John 3:27. It would be foolish to think that it is our doing. To leave a humble life, we must always remember where the gifts and talents came from. When people praise you, accept it but give glory to God. Take this matter serious, pride is one of the seven things God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). In Matthew 11:29 Jesus says, Learn of me for I am humble. He then goes on to describe Himself as gentle, meek and lowly. I just think all of those character traits are so beautiful.  Be cautious when successful, you may become proud. After all, everything is going well and it seems that you can do no wrong. Over time, pride can get the better of you by making you complacent. This is especially so if good times or times of ease follow your success. But bad times follow good times as surely as day follows night.

Serving two masters

Life presents us with moments of decision—crossroads where we either choose a new direction and move on, or cling to what we already have and be miserable.” – Mary BuchanOver it: How to Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself.

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘these people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthews 15:7)

After my dad’s burial, I was not sure what the future held for me. I was confused, frustrated and disappointed. In search of some identity, I made both bad and good decisions. I lived a hypocrite life for a long time. I looked okay on the outside but was lost inside- spiritually. I rebelled against God, I went to church on Sundays but on Monday to Saturday I did not have any relationship with God. I was mad at God for being an orphan. I went to clubs on Saturday night and be in church on Sunday morning singing in choir and active in youth activities. I went for youth camps and was active in youth activities, displaying a spiritual life but lost within. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness (Matthew 23:28). I doubted my relationship with God.  I am grateful that I did not try social drugs, as this was readily available. Dad always told me that I should not be the first to smoke or drink in his family. He would remind me how my grandfather used to behavior when drunk. My home area is well known for smoking weed and it took an extra discipline to avoid smoking. My paternal uncles and aunties never smoked or drunk alcohol; this was my grandmother’s pride in the community.

I did not see any sin in my lifestyle since the religious relatives and friends seem to live the same lifestyle. I saw them live a different life from what they preach. I stopped reading the bible and went to church as an obligation.  I had to prove that I was strong yet I was not sure about God’s love at all. It was sad to hear from the religious people tell me that I should be not worry since I am Christian. It was exhausting to live double life and depression set in. Everyone has a spiritual identity – either a child of God or the devil. Often, men identify themselves with what they do but women by their relationship. I had lost my dad and now losing a relationship with my Maker God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister (1 John 3:10). Relationship with God is a daily thing, our identity in Christ is a treasure but unless it becomes dominant in our thinking, we are stuck in the impossible of living right. Thus, others see us as hypocrites trying to act out the role of Christianity-failing to do what we say.

Depression is painful and sometimes so hard to describe. I refused to hope for anything good in my life because I was afraid to be hurt. I expected people to disappoint me and they did.  Proverb 23:7 says, For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. I was miserable inside but looked strong and composed to my family and friends. I told them what they wanted to hear and even lead bible discussions.  Depression is real and Christians should not think that it happens to non-Christians only. I gave up on life and did not see the need to do extra studies. In school, I encouraged my friends to do extra studying and even woke them up in the morning to study but I would go back to sleep. I did well in my ‘O’ levels but not in ‘A’ levels. I actually think it’s because dad died the year I did my O levels and by then I was still in denial and still had some hope. I did not work hard for good grades in ‘A’ level. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7). I wished for death, but at the same time I was scared to die. I wished the earth would just open up and swallow me. One day while in school, I was feeling so low and crying. I told my girlfriend about wanting to die. She looked at me in the eye and said.

“Mary, if you really want to see your parents again then you must change your thinking. Go back to God”.

“I can’t….” I cried out.

I wondered how I go back to God who has taken my parents from me. No relative is visiting, or writing to me. My friend was really patient with me. She reminded me of the ways dad told me that relatives and friends will let me down but God will not. There were lonely days when friends talked about their parents and siblings but I did not have anyone to talk about. I wished for a sibling and wished my step mum would like me. Once in a while I would look back to what God had done for me and praise Him. What Satan meant for harm, God intended for good.  God can use the bad experiences and turn them into something good. I lived with people who influenced my life. I learnt things like setting a table for a three-course meal, preparing for parties, good grooming, cooking and travelled to different countries, most important I have made friends who have stuck closer than family. There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverb 18:24). All things work together for good for those who love God. I had to change my attitude towards life. I am not always happy but whenever I am down; I count my blessings, I know God will never forsake me. Depression does not have to rule my life. No matter what I am going through, God is ready and willing to help me take my pain and turn it into something fruitful. My hope in found in Christ alone. My friend who helped me through the grieving process is still a true friend. She is my sister and we share our life secrets, happy and mourn together.

 

 

 

 

Do loved ones really love?

I can’t even walk without You holding my hand. The mountain’s too high and the valley’s too wide. Down on my knees, I learned to stay. And I can’t even walk without You holding my hand. -Shirley Caesar

           My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29).

I was lucky and blessed to go to nursing school at the best hospital in Kenya. The feeling was so good; I can remember it even now. Happy I did not have to depend on anyone to pay tuition fees. All I had to do was hard to pass my exams.  This incidence comes to mind when I think of the day I joined nursing school. Years back a family friend told me to stop working hard because I would die soon. I asked God to prove a family friend wrong. There is this myth that people who love each other so much usually die one after the other.  She was so wrong; God was holding my hand all along. God gave Israel instruction in the Law to be responsible toward widows and orphans.  One example“Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.”  Deuteronomy 24:17. The value and protection of widows and orphans should be very simple to grasp, understand and acknowledge.  However, it is not because of the myths people hold for example, if take in an orphan they will take your children’s blessings. Widows and orphans are often times taken advantage of or ignored completely. Widows and orphans out there take God at His promises, He won’t let you down.

Life in Nairobi Hospital was great. We were given allowances and the food was good (British style).  From the allowances, I was able to buy clothing and could go places without having to ask for help.  I made friends who have motivated, and encouraged me through this journey called life.  Nothing in this world is certain. We are notguaranteed our next meal or even our next heartbeat.  Even when we feel secure, we are incredibly fragile and completely dependent on the Lord for every breath.  But when we are particularly tempted about the future it is important for us to meditate on God’s promises.  Nurse training was tough, and there were times I felt like I’d quit but I did not because I did not have alternative. We had all round training which included good grooming, manners and survival tips. I am grateful for the training because I can work anywhere in this planet. God had a good plan for me. Those who know me well can confirm that God is good.  If you let God hold your hand, you will go through difficult situations, climb mountains and enjoy green pastures in the valley. The lyrics for the song- The Promise by the Martins, reminds me of God’s promises. You can look it out on YouTube.

I never said that I would give you silver or gold
Or that you would never feel the fire or shiver in the cold
But I did say you’d never walk through this world alone
And I did say, don’t make this world your home
I never said that fear wouldn’t find you in the night
Or that loneliness was something you’d never have to fight
But I did say I’d be right there by your side
And I did say I’ll always help you fight

‘Cause you know I made a promise that I intend to keep
My grace will be sufficient in every time of need
And my love will be the anchor that you can hold onto
This is the promise, this is the promise I made to you

I never said that friends would never turn their backs on you
Or that the world around you wouldn’t see you as a fool
But I did say like me you’ll surely be despised
And I did say my ways confound the wise
I didn’t say you’d never taste the bitter kiss of death
Or have to walk through chilly Jordan to enter into rest
But I did say I’d be waiting right on the other side
And I did say I’ll dry every tear you cry

 

hope

Depression is Hopelessness

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

Depression is painful and sometimes so hard to describe. I had so much shame that I went into depression. I refused to hope for anything good in my life because I was afraid to be hurt. I expected people to disappoint me and they did. Proverb 23:7says, For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. I was miserable inside but looked strong and composed to my family and friends. I remember in school, I did not do any extra studies. I encouraged my friends to do extra studying and even woke them up in the morning to study but I would go back to sleep. I had no appetite but did not even try to eat with a hope that I could die. This affected my grades, I did not do so well in my A levels, another disappointment yet that is what I worked for. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7). I wished I could die, but at the same time I was scared to die. I wished the earth would just open up and swallow me. One day, my cousin said “Mary, if you really want to see your parents again then you must change your thinking. Go back to God”. With time, I learnt I cannot control all of my circumstances, and I will never be completely free from experiencing disappointment.

Hope is a powerful, spiritual force that is activated through our positive attitude. We are assured and know that all things work together and are for good to and for those who love God and are called according to design and purpose (Romans 8:28). I had reached the end of the road; my only hope was to turn to God. What Satan meant for harm, God intended for good. God can use the bad experiences and turn them into something good. I lived with people who influenced my life. I learnt things like setting a table for a three course meal, preparing for parties, good grooming, cooking and travelled to different countries, most important I have made friends who have stuck closer than family. There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverb 18:24). Since I did not do well in A levels, I could not do veterinary medicine thus did nursing. All things work together for good for those who love God. I had to change my attitude towards life. I am not always happy but whenever I am down; I count my blessings, I know God will never forsake me. Depression does not have to rule your life. No matter what you’re going through, God is ready and willing to help you take your pain and turn it into something fruitful. Our hope in found in Christ alone.