It’s Calvinism Free-For-All: Off the Top of Your Head, Part 2

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One of the most popular debates on this blog is the Calvinism vs Arminianism debate that spontaneously shows up in threads.  I have set up this blog post so the Calvinism/Arminian discussion can continue here, but not “overtake” other important articles.  Part 1 had so many comments, over 1,000, the page was taking a long time to load, hence, Part 2.

I’ll use Ed’s  post to start it off.  Feel free to join in:

Hannah,

I hope you came over here:

You had said:
Hmmmm….well if there is no one there to preach the Word says they are without excuse… Romans 1 says he will reveal Himself to them…

My response:
Romans 10:13-15

King James Version (KJV)

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Ed

1,084 comments on “It’s Calvinism Free-For-All: Off the Top of Your Head, Part 2

  1. Mark–

    Somebody rediscovered their long forgotten stash of cheap rot gut and imbibed a bit too much, I’m afraid. Hopefully, they’ll be feeling better in a couple of days. Wouldn’t count on it though….

    Like

  2. Hans,

    Yeah things can get a little cloudy sometimes. Our last dialogue we had you were in the middle of an exchange with others at the same time and you never did respond to my September 15, 4:38 pm comment. (in particular my Free Will comment)

    Like

  3. Mark–

    If you are so intent on keeping out of your adult children’s business to ensure their right to “free will” loving relationships, then why are you in my business? You don’t want me to nudge them, but you can nudge me?

    Influencing others for good in no way disrupts their free rights. Where did you ever get such a notion?

    Like

  4. Hans,

    When you make a statement that isolates my opinion even though you are equally nudging your views on me and than assert that I’m the one doing the nudging and then fail to recognize it, makes my question your relevance.

    In my previous dialogues with you, I actually thought you were more sincere than this.

    I have accepted correction when I have put myself in gotcha situations, very humbling experience,

    Like

  5. (part 1)
    There has been at least one person on Spiritual Sounding Board who said after they had been abused (perhaps sexually assaulted, I think they said), they had Calvinist preachers or persons tell them things like God foreordained their abuse for their own good or for whatever purpose.

    This person said this was a very troubling view (I don’t blame them, I find this perverse as well), and that this view almost caused them to give up belief in God altogether.

    Someone at WW blog recommended a book to me about 2 or 3 weeks ago, which I got in the mail a few days ago and finished reading, and I thought it might benefit some of the readers here.

    The book is mainly about shame, and how some Christians, families or churches will shame you and urge you to repress your feelings and needs, and how they will pressure you to pretend as though you don’t have any pains or problems, even though you do.

    There is at least one chapter pertaining to the topic of spiritual abuse in particular, and the book, in parts, briefly discusses domestic abuse, as well as the issue of boundaries.

    I thought the person who posted many months ago (I do not remember the exact thread, sorry) that Calvinists told her that God foreordained her abuse might find this book useful.

    The book: Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen (Christian counselor)

    I’ll type up part of it here, page 185:

    (by Jeff VanVonderen)

    I’ve talked to many Christians who have been told that the terrible things that happened to them were God’s way of teaching them some spiritual lesson or truth.

    He’s made them sick, or allowed them to be raped, or put them in an abusive family to draw them closer to himself.

    This is a lie, and it is extremely damaging to a person. It is merely a way to put a spiritual twist to a perverted message. (“You are defective – and God allowed people to sin against you for some higher purpose that you cannot comprehend.”)

    God can and does rescue us from terrible situations.

    Satan’s job is to lie, steal, accuse, bind up, or weigh people down any way he can.

    Don’t make the mistake of blaming God for what people have done against you, or for the lies that Satan promotes.

    (end of part 1, I’d like to add more thoughts about the book in a part 2 below).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. (part 2, Regarding the book: “Tired of Trying to Measure Up” by a Christian counselor)

    The author also goes on to explain that while God can instantly cure someone of pain (emotional pain) and shame (which he claims he’s seen a time or two), that more often than not, the healing is done via counseling, or talking with concerned friends, and it is a PROCESS. It can take weeks, months, or years before someone is healed.

    I am so glad this guy mentioned that healing is a process for most people.

    Too often, the Christian TV programs I’ve seen (or blogs) almost always present a story of someone who had some kind of problem (physical health, mental health, relationship, financial) and two seconds after that person prayed, he (or she) was instantly cured or delivered, and supernaturally, with zero effort on this part (i.e, the healing was 100% supernatural, all God). I find that very depressing.

    I personally have prayed many years for two or three things that have still not come to pass. I prayed for months for a sick family member of mine, who ended up dying anyway.

    But this book author acknowledges that healing can take months or years, or may be over a life time. Not everyone gets a supernatural, instant deliverance from whatever their struggle is.
    For me to see a Christian admit that is so very rare, but it is very true and honest and needs to be mentioned far more often than it is.

    This book also gets into analyzing shame-based churches and families. The author talks about how most of these shame-based environs have a “Can’t Talk” rule.

    Describing the “Can’t Talk” rule (how it is thought of by those who enforce it), the author writes:

    “There really aren’t any problems here. If you think there is a problem, you are the problem.”

    …. It’s as if naming a problem out loud caused the problem to exist, which of course, is not true.

    Individuals in this kind of system [and it can be a family, a church, or job] learn not to bring up a problem or question for fear of making waves.

    That sounds like my family.

    My family, especially my father’s side, seem to think it’s shameful or disgraceful to talk about any pain or problems you’re having.

    If you try to approach any of my family (especially my dad’s side) for emotional help, they basically tell you to stuff it down, ignore it, go throw yourself into some busy work (like volunteer work).

    That is not my style of how I handle problems, so I cannot relate to my family on that and find it extremely frustrating.

    As the book says, if you are not allowed to talk about your problems, you’ll never be able to solve your problems. You have to be permitted to talk about what’s wrong and hurting, to ever be able to recover from it.

    I bet for a lot of blog readers here, all that may remind you of your spiritually abusive church. You were probably scolded by preachers or other church leaders or persons for merely mentioning problems you had yourself, or that you saw in your church.

    The book again is
    Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen (Christian counselor),

    And you can preview a few chapters from it on Google Books here:
    _Book Preview: Tired of Trying to Measure Up_

    The book also gets into how trying harder to be a better Christian, or to get over your feelings of shame and pain, is just keeping you on a works-based treadmill that will leave you exhausted and frustrated, it won’t work.

    He offers solutions towards the back of the book on how to recover.

    Even if the book didn’t have proposed solutions, just having this guy acknowledge and describe the myriad ways Christians mess up Christians in pain was worth its weight in gold.

    I found myself nodding in agreement to like, 98% of the book going to myself:

    “Yes, oh yes, my family has done this to me many times…. oh yeah, this part of the book?

    Yeah, I’ve had Christians lecture me to do that too, and some shame me about coming to them, admitting I have problems,

    …and the Christians who shamed me over this stuff made me feel worse, not better…

    ..and this page, yep, been there too. Went to other Christians just wanting empathy over my grief or emotional pain and was instead given a list of stuff to do (read the Bible daily, go volunteer at a soup kitchen, pray more) instead.”

    In my opinion, this is a huge, huge problem among most Christians today.

    They do NOT want to get real and deal with people and their problems as they truly are. Partly because it is messy and time consuming to help people with their problems.
    A lot of those sorts of churches and Christians want to “play” church, not “be” the church.

    People are seriously hurting for many different reasons, but if they go to most churches for help of any sort, they are shamed or pressured into keeping queit about it.

    Hurting people are pressured by churches to put on a fake smile and pretty facade and act like they are fine, when on the inside they feel dead, or are hurting.

    Then they are expected (by church people or certain types of Christians) to volunteer, and to help others get their needs met.

    That last one really burns me up.

    Since my mother passed away, I’ve been running on empty. I’ve needed someone who is in an Okay place in life to help me in my pain, but every time I’ve gone to other Christians (in real life), they scold me and shame me to ignore my own needs and pain and they advise me to run around helping other people.

    The problem with that is that I have had nothing to give the last few years.

    If we were cars, I would say I have no fuel in my tank, but I’m being asked by Christians to drive around giving other cars fuel. I don’t have any to give! I’ve been running on empty myself.

    This book kind of gets into that, too.

    It’s very, very refreshing to see a Christian author bring these subjects up, because in most Christians / churches, this stuff is unspoken, and you will be chewed out or shamed for bringing it up, that you have problems, or that most Christians suck dirt clods at really, truly helping hurting people in a meaningful way.

    One thing that is kind of sad. Unless my eyes deceive me, the inside cover of my copy of this book says the book was first published around 1989.

    We’re in 2015 now. Every Christian in America should read this guy’s book.

    It’s sad how things are still humming along the same way now that they were when this guy wrote this book in 1989. Churches and Christian families in 89 were shaming people for having pain, and they are STILL doing so now in 2015.

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  7. You’re welcome, Julie Anne.

    That book covers so many subjects that trouble so many Christians today.

    You could probably get weeks’ worth of blog posts out of it, that many would find helpful.

    There is a guy over at the other blog, a Christian guy, who disdains the idea of Christians using psychology or psychiatry, even the Christian versions of that stuff.

    Now, I’m not a supporter of Christian counseling like Nouthetic Counseling, which basically just victim-blames hurting people and tells them to go read their Bible some more.

    However, some Christian counselors, like the guy who wrote this book, and a few others I’ve seen, knows his stuff.

    But like that guy at the other blog who shames, scolds, or warns abuse victims or other hurting Christians from seeing or using (qualified, not quacks, like Nouthetic counselors) Christian therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc, there are many other Christians who do the same thing as that guy.
    They shame or lecture hurting Christians into staying away from therapy or psychiatry, things that could actually help them get past the pain once for all, or help them cope way better and live happier lives.

    I have found books like this one by VanVonderen (or books by Christians such as Cloud and Townsend) a billion times more liberating and helpful than the Christian scolds out there who just tell you for the billionth time on these blogs or Christian shows to “go read your Bible, trust in God, and go to church regularly!”

    I’m convinced this is a very, very big problem in Christianity, that so many hurting Christians are not getting very real, useful help, due to other Christians who are paranoid against any and all (or most) Christian or Non-Christian counseling.

    I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was a kid, and I’ve had anxiety since I was a kid, and that started back in the 1980s.

    Even as far back as back then, I was hearing, reading, or seeing Christians I knew personally, or authors in books I read, or preachers on TV, shaming people like me, saying the depression or anxiety was my own fault, that if I wanted it to go away, to just read the Bible more, pray daily, do not use psychologists, do not take medication for anxiety but trust in God, etc.

    I’m still seeing this same unhelpful, terrible advice being given today to hurting Christians, whether they are Christians who have depression, anxiety, women who are in (or who left) abusive marriages, people who have been spiritually abused by churches, or what have you, that I’ve been seeing from Christians since the 1980s.

    Christians who are hurting need to hear it’s okay to see a good, qualified counselor and/or take medications, or to talk over their problems with an empathetic friend.

    You can pray and read the Bible and stuff, but healing is really going to come primarily through having your pain validated by other (empathetic) people which may just be an understanding friend who won’t judge you when you get vulnerable, or it may mean seeing a qualified psychologist or therapist.

    Authors Cloud and Townsend actually expend a lot of time explaining why that is so in one of their books – I’ve read 2 or 3 of their books.

    They say you really need to be around other people and talk to them about your problems (people who you can trust!) to really work your way through or over problems in your life, that dealing with the pain alone, or only on God (as most anti- counseling Christians advise – by just praying or reading your Bible), is not going to help.

    It’s bad enough people are hurting, and are being hurt, by abusive churches, spouses, bosses, or from whomever or whatever (maybe they have depression like I did), but IMO, it’s ten times worse when they go to another Christian or a church for help with these issues and are then basically scolded, lectured, or shamed, for even admitting they have a problem or pain to start with.

    I also find this hypocritical:

    The same legalistic churches that bray and scream about church membership-

    The pastors and churches who shame you into thinking you MUST attend a local church building every Sunday, and they hound you to sign membership agreements, and they complain about “Lone Ranger” Christians who try to live the Christian life alone-

    Are sometimes the very same churches who, if you go to them with a pain or problem, they tell you to deal with it on YOUR OWN.

    Just go back home and pray more and read your Bible, but don’t count on the people at church to help you. Don’t expect the preacher to meet with you, pray with you, don’t expect the church to pay for groceries or mow your lawn while you are sick or unemployed.

    No sir, if you have a problem, these “you must attend a local church regularly and be a member of one” Pharisees are sometimes the same churches that are like, “But if you have a problem in life, you are on your own, pal, don’t look to us to actually do anything to assist you.”

    Those types of churches really want it both ways. They want you to plant your behind in a pew every week and give them money and want you to be a team player, but all that team player stuff flies out the window if you need that church to help you with some problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Daisy@DECEMBER 20, 2015 @ 7:58 AM

    “There has been at least one person on Spiritual Sounding Board who said after they had been abused (perhaps sexually assaulted, I think they said), they had Calvinist preachers or persons tell them things like God foreordained their abuse for their own good or for whatever purpose.
    This person said this was a very troubling view (I don’t blame them, I find this perverse as well), and that this view almost caused them to give up belief in God altogether.”

    O, Daisy! God bless you for taking the time to write and share all this important information. When I read what you wrote in your opening statement about “one person” I immediately thought of someone who use to comment here. I sent her an e-mail with the message: I BELIEVE DAISY IS TALKING ABOUT YOU. I shared what you wrote here, and asked her if I could let you know, that she read what you wrote. She said Wow & Yes and that she will write more to me later. She has become a dear friend over the last year & a half via e-mail. You have made my day, what a memory you have!

    I too was told point blank by my X pastor that I needed to give God thanks for being sexually abused as a child. Hear me, he didn’t say for me to give thanks, for how God might bring some beauty from ashes to another victim of abuse, he said I needed to give thanks for being raped as a child. We had a fight, to say the least.

    Next Sunday he preaches on giving God thanks for everything. (Even after I told him if that is the case, give thanks for everything, then I guess I should be telling the that women I mentored to give thanks for their abortions or affairs.

    He closed his sermon with this: Some of you will refuse to give God thanks for your abuse, and that could be the reason you are not healed yet, those who refuse to give thanks are spitting on the authority of the scriptures, and he actually spit. What a jerk, can’t believe I hung on his every word for years. I am done with church, guilt free today. Thank God. Merry Christmas Daisy. Thanks for remembering my friend and all the other souls who have been told this crap.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. @ gm370
    DECEMBER 20, 2015 @ 4:11 PM

    You’re welcome. I’m glad that you and your friend found that helpful.

    I couldn’t remember exactly who first brought this subject up, of Christians telling them to consider their childhood abuse as having been planned by God. I just remembered a person or two brought it up here about a year or more ago.

    Credit goes to “Victorious” (poster at the other blog) for making me aware of that book, “Tired of Trying to Measure Up”. 🙂

    Your preacher sounds like an insensitive jackass who has totally distorted what the Bible says. I am glad you had the courage to confront him and later leave when he demonstrated he wasn’t going to apologize or change.

    I think he has an incorrect and twisted, demented interpretation of biblical passages. He’s hurting people, not helping them.

    Merry Christmas to you as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, Daisy, I can relate so much to everything you wrote! I will be reading this book, looking forward to it.

    You really put your finger on a core issue – that the church guilts you into being a member and giving your all in its service but when you have needs- yes, you are the selfish one, and you are on your own. Not all churches, but as you say, many do this. And it strikes me that so much of the time all a person really needs is someone to listen. Someone who cares and listens! All it really takes is time and a caring ear and yet that is too much to ask.

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  11. I had a former pastor, who was actually a very good Bible teacher, who believed in this idea that we are supposed to give thanks not just in but “for” everything. I cannot accept that. It is masochistic and just… weird.

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  12. Daisy, if this goes through: Don’t know for sure, but you might be referring to me, since I used to rant and rave a lot about that terrible, soul-crushing lie, before I left here with my heart feeling utterly spit upon. I don’t read here anymore, and probably won’t check back, but want to thank you personally for bothering to leave that comment, and for what you shared by Jeff VanVonderen. It actually means a whole lot to me that you did! So, thank you, whether you were referring to me or not. I know very little about Jeff, but will be sure to look him up, along with his book.

    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I am deeply humbled at the Body of Christ ministering to one another here, as Daisy says, “being the church.”

    This is exactly what JESUS calls us to do and my spirit is deeply moved as compassion, empathy, and love are shown to the hurting and downtrodden, here on this blog. This is a ministry that I have NEVER witnessed in the 501c. 3 church, NEVER.

    Oasis, please know that you are missed here. I, for one, am at a loss not seeing the valuable wisdom you have offered here in ministering to others who are hurting. You have ministered to me in a very personal way due to the fact that one of my best friends was violently beaten and raped because we chose to make some unwise decisions involving alcohol, leading to a pregnancy, then an abortion. So sorry, so very, very sorry for all of the pain.

    I love you Oasis, from the pit of my broken heart, fully knowing that Jesus loves you/us more. Missing you.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I am weeping, you gals are are precious. Katy, beautiful words to Oasis. Oasis, you are missed and loved. Thanks again Daisy, I haven’t bought anything Christian, especially books in 10 years or so, but I will buy this one. Love, Gail

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oasis, it’s so good to hear from you. I’m very sorry that you were hurt here. Your story opened my eyes to the spiritual abuse I had been dealt because of the “soul-crushing lie.” It was like finding the missing piece of a large jigsaw puzzle. Thank you for speaking out. You have been missed here.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Oasis, I’m glad if the stuff from the book I copied above helped you in any way.

    I hope you reconsider and drop by here from time to time. 🙂

    Sometimes if I have problems with a person (or group of persons) on a blog or forum, I just take a vacation. I stay away from that site for a few days or weeks and come back. That usually helps.

    One other book I have that I’ve read several times in the last few years (you can probably get a used copy on Amazon .com) is by Christian psychiatrists Henry Cloud and John Townsend, and it is called
    12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy: Relief From False Assumptions

    (Shy1 you may like this book too)

    You can read some sample chapters for free on Google books:
    _12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy: Relief From False Assumptions_

    These types of books dispel the Christian myths that it’s wrong or selfish to have needs or hurt feelings, or that you’re supposed to get over pain instantly, or go it alone, and to use only prayer or Bible reading to get by.

    Outside of these few books and maybe a few Christian blogs I’ve seen here and there, I’m not seeing many Christians acknowledge this stuff. Most of them teach the opposite, or they shame people for having problems or needs.

    One of the single most annoying Christian cliches (that I think is totally untrue) that I’ve heard constantly over my life is:
    “You go to church to serve, not be served.”

    I think that is a falsehood. I think it’s a both/and not either/or situation. That expression is another shame-based tactic that conveys you should stuff your own pain and needs down.

    I think if you’re in a healthy place in your life and you can help and serve other people, sure, go ahead. But there are times in your life when you will be too much in pain, or too empty, and you are the one who needs to be ministered to. But a lot of Christians don’t want to admit to that.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Katy, Gail showed me what you said, so I had to run back here and embarrass myself once more! WOW! I had absolutely no idea that anyone would ever think or say anything like what you did…stunned over here.

    Been kicking myself ever since I posted that comment earlier, thinking I didn’t properly thank Daisy, or thank her enough, because I held back at the time, not wanting to overdo it and scare her. But that was a stupid idea. Daisy, thank you for hearing me! To think that at least one person on the planet actually heard me? Remembered my cries? Really?! Then you stop by with that beautiful comment, which was so very timely… I still have to hold back because my thankfulness knows no bounds.

    And now Katy says this? What? I actually ministered to someone? Thanks for letting me know, Katy! So very glad…but for your friend, so steaming angry! The pain never ends for me, but hopefully she will fare much better in life. Thanks for your very kind words. From one broken heart to another, love you right back!

    Julie Anne, very welcome for that.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Yes, Daisy, seeing or hearing the kind of language Jeff is speaking in your comment, is always, always, always helpful and uplifting. Can’t possibly put into words how much I love it.

    “Christian” beliefs that can drive you crazy. Oh, don’t get me started!.. 🙂

    Reconsider and drop by, you say…ah, don’t tempt me, haha…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I believe all who love you Oasis, would help me roll out the red carpet for you to chime in here now & then. No pressure, hehe, your voice is wise, sassy, hilarious and you have been a gift to me from above. I know, you are blushing right now. Sorry, not sorry. ( ;

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Daisy: “Your preacher sounds like an insensitive jackass who has totally distorted what the Bible says. I am glad you had the courage to confront him and later leave when he demonstrated he wasn’t going to apologize or change.
    I think he has an incorrect and twisted, demented interpretation of biblical passages. He’s hurting people, not helping them.”

    I love what you said ^ Daisy, you kinda nailed it here.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Gary W. FWIW, Your voice & words to me, way back in the day, impacted me in a profound way. Along with A. Amos Love.
    Love that you are glad that Oasis checked in. She is the real deal. Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. @ Oasis,

    Been kicking myself ever since I posted that comment earlier, thinking I didn’t properly thank Daisy, or thank her enough, because I held back at the time, not wanting to overdo it and scare her. But that was a stupid idea. Daisy, thank you for hearing me! To think that at least one person on the planet actually heard me? Remembered my cries? Really?! Then you stop by with that beautiful comment, which was so very timely… I still have to hold back because my thankfulness knows no bounds.

    Yes, I remembered. 🙂

    When I was reading that book this past week, and I saw the author mention that, I remembered someone from here had struggled with that view, and I thought maybe that author’s words could help that person, or anyone else who may have faced that.

    I’m sorry I didn’t remember it was you specifically, but I knew if was someone on this blog.

    You are very welcome. Here is a cyber hug for you (((( hug )))) 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Oh, hi, Gary!

    Gail, you are way too kind with the compliments, woman. 🙂

    Daisy, no problem whatsoever. You remembered what matters most, and your hunch about those words from Jeff being helpful was spot on. 🙂 (((( hug back ))))

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Julie Anne, I don’t want to offend anyone with this. Don’t read if you are offended by swear words, or *** Trigger warning, strong language. Sorry for going off thread.

    Dear Daisy, I have appreciated your posts over the years, and want to dedicate this to you. Daisy, I am sick with sorry how you treated by Christians when your mama died, the people that should have rallied around you failed you miserably. Shame on them, the so called Christians. I will remember you in my thoughts on Christmas Eve & Christmas day. I know the holidays increase the ache of missing our loved ones.

    The Tears of Our Love, Bleeding, by Tim Lawerence

    DECEMBER 22, 2015
    Your world has stopped.

    Something has happened. The something that should never happen. They’re gone. They’ve been taken from you.

    No matter how secure you felt in yourself before, you feel alone. Devastated. Helpless.

    The pain. The aching, numbing, pain. Everywhere, so much of it. It’s all around you. People are trying to help, but their interventions are like intrusive mechanisms of control. They need you to be better so that they can stop feeling unpleasant.

    But you know this is not to be. This is not how grief works. Your loved one is gone, and you know that the suppression of your love via the masking of your pains would be catastrophic.

    You see, you already know that you’re not going to find closure. You’re not going to move through the five stages of grief, as if grief were a problem with a linear prescription. You’re not going to let go.

    And, no, you’re not going to live happily ever after. Because that is a delusion perpetuated by those who do not want to be uncomfortable with you in your pain. There is no happily ever after, there is only the ever after. What happens in that ever after is complex, messy, tender, and yes, happy. Our lives are a series of movements. The love and the grace and the pain and the thousands upon thousands of wails, it’s all there. All of it. It could not be any other way.

    Instead, you’re going to live. You’re going to weep and scream and transform and smile in the tenderness of nostalgia. You’re going to give of yourself, and you’re going to live until you die. In that life you’re going to find a plethora of joys, contradictions, longings, and beauties. It won’t all make sense. Some people will rally to your side, while others will abandon you. But as you choose to proceed, you’ll need to remain cognizant of the fact that this is your grief, your pilgrimage, and no one gets to dictate how that will unfold.

    I want to embrace every one of those I’ve lost, and every one I know who’s lost someone. I want to stand with them in solidarity, and do what I am called to do. You probably do as well. But it’s brutally difficult, isn’t it? This is why we cannot do this alone. We need to be broken alongside each other.

    I miss my friends terribly. I want them back. I want to hug their memories and wrap my arms around them. I know I can’t, but I still want to. You probably do too, don’t you? You want to give them shelter. You want to hold them in your arms. You want to see their eyes meet yours. And say the words. The words that only you could say to them.

    I do, so very often. I want to offer my everything to them. I want my world to meet their world such that they can hear my voice again.

    I want to say, to borrow from my friend Esme’s forthcoming book, The Border of Paradise:

    “Sorry, sorry, I am so sorry, in the way that someone newly smitten can only say, I love you, I love you, I love you.”

    I want to say these words not because they will fix anything, but because they will give voice to all that I am. They will abjure the terrible cultural narrative that tells me to move on by desecrating its claims with a thousand exhortations of love. You know what I mean, don’t you?

    I live a disciplined, beautiful life now, in so many ways. Yet my successes are but shadows of the love I still carry for those who are no longer with me. I didn’t realize just how true this was until the successes met me. I said hello, offered my gratitude, and promised to carry the successes into the future for good.

    No matter how fortunate I am, I want to be with the others who’ve suffered this calamity as well. The other dying people who’ve lost the dead. Because we’re all dying. Our running from it exacerbates its trauma in indescribable ways. I cannot stand for that. I’d rather be viewed as a negative downer who chose to acknowledge the reality of the loss that has enveloped so many than as a starry-eyed optimist who used the empty promises of wishful thinking as a means to make others conform to a story in which everything must work out in the end.

    I want to stand with every one of those who has buried their beloveds, recognizing the horrific pains they’ve been conditioned to hide for the entirety of their grieving lives. I want to look every one of them in the eye, and say nothing. I want to rip the fucking paradigm of “victimhood” out of the soul of every rape survivor, every combat veteran, every parent who’s lost a child, and lay it bare.

    I want to “help” by embracing the fact that I’ll never be able to “do anything” except acknowledge the reality of the loss you’ve endured.

    After all, what is life but acknowledgement? How can we not acknowledge that which we have experienced? How can we be such cowards as to avoid the reality of tragedy?

    We can’t. Not really, anyway. We all bleed in our own way. The choice is in how we will bleed. Will we bleed in love, or avoidance? The former is much riskier, but far more honest. The latter is easier, but far more damaging.

    As you long for those you love, you’ll probably notice that many really want you to be better. You’ll feel both implicit and explicit pressures to make yourself better, as quickly as possible. But remember this, please: you don’t have to get better right now. You can be in great pain and full of so much love at the same time. Those who claim that you must “love yourself” in order to love others have no idea what they’re talking about. This claim is a mindless platitude that completely ignores the complexities of the human experience.

    No. Instead just recognize that in the fullness of time, you will give all that you can. Not more than you can, but what you can.

    I don’t want to repair you. I want to bear witness to you, and encourage you to bear witness to others. The gift of silence in presence is so beautiful it hurts. To offer your brokenness into the brokenness of one who is anguished in loss is an act of remarkable bravery.

    You are not a failure if your sorrow has remained with you years after the loss of one you so mightily adored. Do not let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

    There are some I will never see again. I would give all that I am to see him again, and tell him I’m sorry. I would sacrifice everything to hold her, in my arms, and tell her I love her, just one more time.

    I still get afraid, all the time. I still weep for those I have lost. I still want to hide away in the corner, holding onto the ludicrous hope that throwing in the towel would be less painful than having to face myself.

    Yet I can’t. I must stand. I must allow myself to be broken, pained, wounded, and act anyway. For now, I’m going to rise, and move, knowing that it is ok to not be ok. I’m going to wail, ache, and cry more tears than I can offer, knowing that they will never suffice, without shame. I ask you to do the same.

    These tears are our love, bleeding.

    Give them freely.
    SHARE

    Liked by 1 person

  25. gm370, thank you so much ((( hugs )))

    I actually read your post the other day but wasn’t logged into the account here so couldn’t comment at the time. It was getting late, and I was getting a little sleepy. But I did read the whole thing.

    Thank you for sharing that.

    Thank you also for your own comments. I didn’t realize that you had been following my posts here so closely for the last year or two. This is one of the few online places I go to where I work through my stuff. Goodness knows I’ve tried going to family in real life I know, but that’s not been successful.

    Thank you so much for caring, and empathizing with me about the loss of my mother, and how my family has sort of let me down after the loss.

    Holidays can be a little difficult to get through since Mom has gone, but they’re not as bad now as they were. I’ve sort of gotten into making up new traditions for myself on the holidays.

    Sometimes the TV commercials can be hard to take even now – the ones showing the happy married couple with their mom and dad and the kids around the Christmas tree. Those can make me feel sad sometimes.

    At other times, they make me roll my eyes.

    It’s like advertisers don’t know or care that some of us watching their commercials are single, or may be divorced, widowed, childless.

    The fact that YOU care about my feelings and expressed empathy towards me about all this helps a lot. I really mean that. Thank you, gm370. 🙂

    I might be making some cookies over the next few days – via store bought, pre-made cookie dough, LOL. I used to make cookies from scratch, but the pre-made dough stuff tastes just as good, IMO. I’m trying to watch my weight, but I figure, it’s the holidays, why not treat myself to some cookies? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  26. If this helps anyone:
    Does God Bring About the Abuse of Children for His Own Glory?

    Here are a few snippets from the page to give you an idea:

    I recently came upon this question in my twitter feed. In case it isn’t obvious, my answer to this shocking question is unapologetically, “HELL NO!” And I mean that quite literally.

    Hell, the place were creatures go who “BRING ABOUT” such atrocities, screams what should be the obvious answer: NO! Our perfectly HOLY God does not bring about the sins for which people suffer for in Hell!

    However, as obvious as the answer to this question may seem, John Piper, and other notable Calvinistic scholars, teach a highly controversial perspective
    [blog page then lists some quotes by Calvinists]

    …. Now, to be clear, a Calvinist would not “blame” God for the mistakes of men outright. They would rely on a very complex philosophical explanation of “second and third causes” which has become known as “Compatibilism.”

    Let me forewarn you, this explanation can become as convoluted as the lapsarian controversy and has as many various approaches as it does syllables. Objective observers can see how this leads to much confusion and the endless accusation of misrepresentation against anyone who dares to speak out against the systematic’s questionable conclusions

    …. Compatibilists, while intending to protect their understanding of Divine sovereignty (i.e. complete control), undermine God’s supremely self-glorifying characteristics of holiness and love.

    Like

  27. Meticulous Sovereignty Meets Morality (on the Jesus Creed blog, By Jason Micheli)

    Snippets from the page:

    …I think the Book of Hebrews prohibits our thinking of God in terms of meticulous providence (God being the agent and cause of all things, including tragedies and deaths and birth defects and sexual abuse of children), and I join Roger Olson in arguing that such a view of God fatally crashes against the rocks of God as love …

    It’s hard for me to exaggerate how morally loathsome I find this strain in Calvin’s theology and the manner in which it gets amplified by those who claim his tradition. …

    …If suffering, tragedy, death, and evil were constitutive of God’s ordained plan then they would be constitute God’s very nature, his essence. I can concede that such a god might exist, but I cannot lie and hold that such a god would be in any way worthy of worship, for he may prove loving on occasion or even ultimately but he would not be Love itself.

    …To believe that God is the primary causal agent behind, say, my incurable cancer is to confuse the Christian belief in Providence with Determinism.

    Like

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