Love’s relationship with Liberty

Love requires:

Liberation

Equality

Growth

Humility

Empathy

Courage

Fearlessness

Justice

Compassion

Self-control

I write about Deconstruction

A lot. Because I believe that it is necessary for individuals to deconstruct in order to grow.

Deconstruction in its simplest form means “to take something apart”.

A larger definition here from google,

Deconstruction:

. a method of critical analysis of philosophical and literary language that emphasizes the internal workings of language and conceptual systems, the relational quality of meaning, and the assumptions implicit in forms of expression.

When I began to take apart my thinking bit by bit it enabled me to grow into “newness of life”.

It allowed me to break chains of thought that oppressed me. Deconstruction gave me room to grow.

It gave me freedom to intentionally cast out fear and walk INTO love.

A new understanding of Love was introduced, and it demanded things of me.

If this perfect love was not present, the things it demanded of me would have been terrifying.

But perfect love drives out fear, does NOT punish, But rather gifts me something instead-

It gifted me courage.

Courage allows me to face questions I’ve never been free to pursue, which required me to take responsibility of my own learning, and thinking, and actions.

This was scary for me,

Who had been formerly oppressed and *told* what to believe how to believe, and even how to learn.

It was new territory.

In the age of the internet we are blessed to have tons of ways to teach ourselves new things! So be courageous in your search for the things you need for your regrowth!

When you find yourself in the stage of regrowth via Love, oftentimes it is overwhelming.

I’ve heard it described by many people as a torrent of new information, it’s happening at the speed of light, there is so much to seek and search and know, it’s endless and can be exhausting.

If this is speaking to you,

I encourage you to take heart, the overwhelming sense and exhaustion won’t last forever.

You will learn to steady yourself on this new bike,

And you will progress into moving mountains 😉

Love, liberation and equality ignites deep rooted change.

It is literally transforming.

You will hunger, and thirst like never before to transform yourself and encourage change in others.

We become intentionally involved with love and therefore others.

You will be intentional in casting aside fear, grasping hold of each other as equals to become allies, cheer leaders, teammates, to become SIBLINGS!

The growth is ongoing within your own heart, and you grow alongside your siblings, you are humbled by your own misgivings and humbled by others hardships.

You are empathetic because you feel Christ’s love for each other.

The desire to engage with each other in newer deeper ways is such a blessing. Compassion drives you to serve others, which breeds more fearlessness as you realize you are not alone!

You discover a new thirst for justice for those suffering, and you desire to come alongside them, sit with them, lay with them, suffer with them until they are uplifted and liberated!

Oppression causes righteous anger within our new love filled hearts, because oppression hinders liberation, it hinders LOVE.

This recognition will require self-control.

I recommend pouring yourself into the parts of love that will quench the harshness of anger and rather allow it to grow more compassion within you.

I am learning to focus my anger into fuel that I can use to create peace in new ways. This fuel can also help me recognize and meet needs around me!

Live within love in such a way that even those oppressing others can feel and experience the healing power Christ.

The anger and sorrow is where we really meet Christ.

As we follow Him into taking up our cross.

The cross to me became the burden of being awoken into love and SEEING what fear and oppression does to others. It breeds fear, division and hate.

That sight is my cross.

Take up the cross, and remember my brothers,

My sisters, that the oppressors, are also our equals, and they are also being oppressed by fear, hate, and evil.

I realize through love that I must repent of my pride and I must walk in such a way that makes healing possible for everyone. Love can be a beacon that shines a light upon injustice.

Love remains in humility, which demands that I recognize that I have also been complacent,

I have also given to the cause of the oppressor,

I have BEEN the oppressor.

Walk in the light of that humility.

And continue to grow in other aspects of love, be agents and ambassadors of change.

It is a new circulatory system so to speak.

It rejuvenates itself daily through the Holy Spirit, with the help of our siblings, and through our own intention.

We have great power…

do not squander it.

Regrow dear siblings through love.

Grow in ,

Liberation

Equality

Growth

Humility

Empathy

Courage

Fearlessness

Justice

Compassion

Self-control

I pray for strength and Blessings upon you dear family

~Charissa Garver

Advertisements

Taking Notes

I’ve been taking notes, and this is what I’ve been hearing and what I’ve been seeing about NFL players kneeling during the American National anthem.

White:

“Stop doing this! You are disrespecting the military, and what our men fought for”

POC: “that’s gas-lighting. We have men and women in the military, we are not kneeling out of disrespect for them, they fight for our rights towards free speech, and we are using the rights they have fought for”

White: “then why are you kneeling you SOB?! You should be fired”

POC: “I’m kneeling to bring awareness of some of the struggles we are still facing”

White: “you are just causing division!!!”

POC: “we already feel divided”

White: “you are causing unrest!!!”

POC “we’ve never felt at rest”

White: “you’re just being trouble makers and toddlers ruining sports events”

POC ” we need a platform to be heard, we need to be heard, we are doing this peacefully, we need help to bring change”

White: “there’s nothing wrong with your lives!

Everyone has it hard, you’re just like everyone else! Stop whining and lying!”

POC “we are just like everyone else and we want to be treated like everyone else. But we’re not, that’s why we are kneeling”

White “find another way to speak out! We don’t like this way! We’ll have your jobs! We’ll make you pay for this!”

POC “exactly”

I feel like I keep reading Green Eggs and Ham over and over again. People of color are like Sam, and they are looking for ways to share and speak, And they are being told,

“I do not like it here, I do not like it there, I do not like it ANYWHERE! now you let us be!!”

Some bare truth with all my love and Affirmation for people of all genders, ethnicities, romantic preferences and more –

The last few days have been rough.
There is no particular reason why,
And depression can be like that.
It doesn't always give us a good reason for its attack, it just happens.

Since becoming aware of my depression I spend a lot of time preparing for its arrival,
Sometimes I am good at fighting it back,
Other times….well I just have down days,
Days where I am a bit defeated.
Days where I can make a lot of mistakes, cry a lot, stare at the floor a lot, forget a lot of things, and barely function.

And that's okay.

The last few days I have had some grief, it's origins have been hard to pin point.
But tonight after an enjoyable meal with my husband that included one of my favorite alcoholic beverages and pizza my mind loosened up a bit, and so did my thoughts.
I proceeded to let it alllllllllll out.

I poured out my heart to the one I trust most in this world aside from Jesus, My Ryan.
And my sweet wonderful, loving, supportive husband sat and listened to it all.
I started letting it out at dinner,
Let it out during some precious sexy marital intercourse, Let it out while sitting on the toilet,
Let it out some more in the shower, let it out some more as we lay in bed,
And he tried so hard not to fall asleep, knowing that my heart needed the release.

About 4 months ago I weaned off of my depression meds with my husbands support, and also support from a few close friends- all who agreed to help me during the weaning off process, and to help me through depression without my meds.
My husband and my sweet supportive friends have blessed me greatly as they have all been trustworthy with my heart,
Even while battling depression.
Sometimes it gets messy, and sometimes I am not the best wife or friend-
But they stay here- and they are Jesus to me.

And this is what this post today is for- it is for them

This post is for my husband,
Who is always here trying his utmost to be here for me, he tries to empathize with my pain though he does not understand.
He does his utmost to love me even when I'm a crumpled mess of emotion.
He supports me, challenges me, helps me grow, encourages me to always be true to myself, and has lifted me up more than anyone I know. Ever. He is my equal in every way and I am so honored to be his wife. So blessed.
No matter my issues he always respects me and my thoughts, Cherishes me and my opinions, regards my struggles and he is grateful for my strengths, my independent spirit, and my feisty nature. He loves me- when I am up and when I am down all the same-
Like Jesus does.

This post is for My friends.
My sweet wonderful encouraging, Godly, wise, loving, compassionate friends.

Some have wonderful senses of humor that help me laugh at my own mistakes, and frustrations, which helps me to chin up and keep on keeping on!
Some call me and text me endlessly to make sure I'm alive and well and make me come out of myself to live and LOVE life the way every person should.
Some challenge me in my mind- to keep pushing for answers, keep searching for truth, keep testing and proving my faith until there is no doubt.
They love me for all that I am, good and bad, and everything in between and I have never felt ashamed while in their presence.
Some make me laugh till I cry.
Some make me contemplate everything over and over and over again until I feel like I may have it right, and then begin to contemplate it again!
Some pray for me without ceasing.
I may not even talk to some very often but they are always in my heart.

This post is about People.
Because of depression I have come to KNOW without a doubt that people are what matter.
People.
People matter.

People get me through my good days and my bad days.
People make my life full, rich, overwhelming happy and joyous.

Some may go their whole lives trying to obtain a type of righteous living,
Some type of favor with God and man.
Some type of life that excludes things they deem "sinful" or unsavory, unrighteous, or impure.
But this type of life and focus makes ME lose sight of what REALLY MATTERS…

People.

People like my husband. People like my children.
People like my friends.
People like me who battle depression and mental illness.
People like my friend who's brother is gay and perfect in every way.
People like my friends friend who Transgendered into a woman.
People like my friend's friends who are lesbian who love Jesus, and got married and are missionaries.
People like a pastor I know who's son is a drug addict.
On and on and on the list goes.

Because when we are focused on piety,
The focus on humans is lost.

When we are focused on what is "pure and right" and not on the person,
Love is lost.

Jesus did not focus on righteousness,
He focused on people.
And he told us to focus on people.
He told us to love people.
He didn't say anything about hating sin- or lifestyles-
He just said "love"
That's it.

It is not our responsibility to judge.
To condemn. To sneer, to mock, to call out sin,
Our only job is to love.

The scriptures say that the world will know us by our love.

Not by our piety.
Not by our purity
Not by our righteousness
Not by our upstanding morals

But By our love.

What does love look like friend?
Contemplate that!

When you begin to focus on love,
Everything else falls into place.
Jesus promised this,
That all the laws and the prophets are summed up in one commandment-

LOVE

This post is for me to say,
I affirm PEOPLE.
I love PEOPLE.
I am grateful for PEOPLE
God made PEOPLE and he made us all equal and he sent his son for PEOPLE.
I will not reject anyone He died for-
No matter who they are, no matter where they are from, who they love, what they do,
What they wear, how they talk, how they look, how they act, what they chose, where they go,
I don't care-
I affirm their rights to chose and make decisions-
And I affirm MY RIGHT to love them and accept them EXACTLY the way they are, no restrictions, no changes needed-
I love them NOW and forever.
I love you, now and forever- just the way I want to be loved- that's how I chose to love you.

Women; a call to arms 

“Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.””Luke 1:45 CEB
About a year ago I was talking with some friends about women in leadership. 

It was then that I realized I didn’t know many women personally in leadership. 

And I longed to know some.

I realized that it would never be a normal thing unless women began to step up. 
It also became clear to me that stepping up isn’t enough, I tried many times in my younger years to be something more, 

To be a leader, and was often times shut down. 

Sometimes stepping up isn’t enough we have to charge in. 
God has charged women with some of the most radical beginnings, changes, courageous dealings and positions in the Bible. 

More than often it is vastly overlooked. 
It is time to stop overlooking the fearlessness women can possess, their vast capabilities in all things especially in leadership. 
Women lead their families everyday, 

Homemakers, female teachers, Sunday school teachers etc teach and guide children from the moment they are born, 

We teach the very future members of society everyday. 

But for some reason we are made to think less of ourselves at almost every turn. 

I believe that the ways in which women have been made to gravel over the years have made an especially resilient tribe; if you will. 

Women are often times praised for their beauty, and I believe this one thing is very true, 

The beauty of a woman’s strength, honor, dignity, and her ability to laugh in the face of fear, laugh at the dangers the future may hold, her ability to be constant no matter her affliction, it is indeed truly a thing of beauty. 
I write this in the realization that the time is now my sisters, 

It is time that we see in clarity that we ourselves must be the very ones to enter the chambers of the kings like Esther, 

Although uncalled upon, unwelcome, and unbidden- 

We must throw open doors and BE the change.  
The changes start inside us. None of the women I read about in scripture were ready for their leadership, but they were called to it, sometimes under much duress…

we are all called to it like 

Ruth, Sarah, Rebecca, Esther, Mary, Jael, Huldah, Hannah, on and on the women’s names can go.

I believe a very victorious spirit lies in us all, men and women. But women have been silenced, and have become a sleeping giant if you will, and we are trying to rise to the power we also hold claim to in the name of the Lord. 
We must rise to the occasion, and the occasion is now, answer the call, throw open doors, charge through, fight the battles with strength, dignity and honor, laugh in the face of fear of the future for we believe in the promises of God, just like Mary did while she carried Jesus in her womb. 

Realize your worth, claim it, own it, become a leader for future generations… they need you. We need each other. 
“Be strong and courageous for the Lord will be with you always ” Joshua 1:9 

The Simplicity of Love; and its ability to be all that matters.

Matthew 22:35-40 35
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Lately I find myself pondering why the Love of God makes everything else obsolete. and why I believe that statement to be true.

We just need love.
I know, I know, It sounds like a Beetles song, “all you need is love”, It sounds juvenile and naïve.
But I say it out of a need for simplicity. Lately I find simplicity to be the most profound answer there is.
The love of our Maker brings sozo.
It’s the Greek word used over and over translated “salvation” in the Bible.
Here is its definition:
to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction
one (from injury or peril)
to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health
to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue
to save in the technical biblical sense >

The Love of our God brings Deliverance, Healing, and Salvation. When we chose this kind of love in our lives consciously on a daily basis we experience Daily deliverance from sin, healing from sin, and Salvation from the consequences of sin.
We can choose to display, and express this love to those around us so that they will also reap the fruits of love.

Once we really begin to understand how immeasurable Gods love is, how deep it is, how full and all-encompassing it is;
once we experience it in fuller ways, and come to trust in it rather than the law-
Other pleasures of the world seem so much less important so much less
Tempting…. sin feels far off and the matter of your heart becomes close.

We realize that we are past the need for the restraints of the law – because sin looses its savor. We must have faith in the salvation of our Creators LOVE, and leave the need for the Law behind us or we cannot fully experience how Love graduates us in spiritual growth. If the Law is for “children” then love is for “adults”

We graduate past the need for the “School Master” which is the Law, and its restraints, principles, precepts.
The Law is based on the need for control because of a fear of sin, its consequences and effects.
Fear of what man can do. What can we do? All manner of evil.

At one time we(mankind) needed the School Master,
But now mankind has the power of Love, and literally nothing else is needed.
Romans 13:8  “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Once we trust in the love of the Divine, fear dissipates, and the need for restraints are no longer needed,
Safety nets are no longer needed,
Parachutes are no longer needed…
The fear of what man can do with the knowledge of evil is a matter of consequence only when we do not have the love of God to overcome…
Love fulfills the Law. So we no longer need it! it is fulfilled!! So live in the freeness of that!!

There are no buts

There is just Gods love.
And that covers it.
All of it.
There is nothing else.

I no longer see an end of days that constitutes the wrath and judgment of God now that Jesus has come, the time and need for that has passed…
It is an evolution of sorts,  that God is overseeing, and foresaw, like starting school in kindergarten, and moving up through the years learning and growing, and slowly the restraints of being a child dissipates and eventually adulthood is achieved…
this is how I see the world, and its relationship to God, he is walking us through stage by stage, until we completely evolve into the stage of restoration through love.

I see an “End of times” that isn’t full of doom and gloom, darkness, violence, blood and horrors, Wrath and judgment,
But freedom FROM those things!!
When Jesus returns he will bring about the full fruits of the FREEDOM his love brings. It is the knowledge that love IS the only goodness we need, it is the one thing that sets us free from the fruits of the knowledge of evil.

The end of times isn’t really the end, But the very beginning of living in the ultimate embrace and fullness of His love, it is the realization of the goodness He put into us when he breathed into us the breath of life, and that we CAN live in THAT alone for all eternity.

It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

If you would like to read some scriptures that talk about love, see a list of them below! Enjoy!

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

Romans 8:37-39  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 13:8  Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Galatians 5:13  For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

1 Peter 1:22  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Matthew 5:43-48  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

John 15:9-17 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7  Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.
Ephesians 4:2-3 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Philippians 2:2  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Psalm 31:16 Make your face shine on your servant;  save me in your steadfast love!
Psalm 63:3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

*Photo credit @Lindsi Rian Photography 

 

 

Guest Post: A story about Handedness 

A story about handedness. 
There are a lot of metaphors out there for trying to explain the biblical relationship between men and women. One parable that could be used is that of handedness. 
A person (usually) has a left hand and a right hand, and here the complementarians among us might start getting excited because although both are hands, one is dominant over the other, and that would seem to be a good example of natural complements. Let us extend this, though. 
Most people are right-handed. Indeed, the structures in place in society favor right-handedness. Most tools and implements and even buildings and procedures are crafted for the right-handed. 
Left-handedness is also a thing. It has historically been considered an evil and unnatural thing, to the extent that left-handed individuals were sometimes considered witches or satanic. The word “sinister” means “left”. Left-handed children were often punished and forced to write with their right hand. 
Now think of your right hand as the man and your left as the woman. (Although the argument could be made for the opposite, I’m not addressing that here). Patriarchy and its sister, complementarianism, would consider man to be the dominant right hand and woman to be the weaker left hand. Any situation where the left is dominant over the right is considered evil. All of the cultural and social structures are designed with right hand dominance as the assumption. Most people don’t even think about right hand dominance at all because it is considered such a given. Necessarily, the right hand is favored and considered more valuable than the left. 
Me, I’m ambidextrous. Maybe that’s why I look at things differently. When I was in second grade, I broke both bones in my right arm and had to learn to do everything with my non-dominant left. Consequently, I do things differently now. My left hand plays a much bigger role even though my right arm healed just fine. 
You may take that story both literally and figuratively. It is true in the literal sense. But second grade is also when I started getting bullied both verbally and physically by several of the boys in my class. (This lasted through high school). I guess that you could say that the experience broke my trust in the strength of men being used benevolently. 
My arm healed, and my wounds from being bullied also eventually healed, but I was left with the realization that the left hand, when given the opportunity, can do everything that the right hand can do. It only seemed weaker because of lack of practice, lack of training, and disuse. So too are women. 
And why wouldn’t one want ambidexterity in the Church? It is very useful having both a clever left hand and a clever right. They weren’t originally interchangeable, but that was only because I cultivated one and not the other. Why not cultivate both? We were raised to ascribe one kind of role to the right, and lesser, menial, support roles to the left, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can train ourselves to use both fully and effectively. It will require going against the grain, bumping up against ingrained practices and patterns of thinking, but it can be done. 
As members of the same body, no one part has the right to exalt itself over any other part. Let us not over exaggerate distinctions that are cultural rather than inborn. Let us have the courage and cleverness to go against the grain and cultivate ambidexterity in the Church to the glory of God.

Withstanding the Siege: A visitor post from an anonymous beloved sister in Christ- know your worth


I named this page, and my blog withstanding the Siege for many reasons. During my darker days of depression I was thoughtful one early morning from a sleepless night that was very normal in those days, I thought about my struggles. Lots of people use phrases like “fighting depression” “battling depression” and so on. But I felt like it wasn’t just a battle, it wasn’t just one fight, it was like a Siege. Sieges of old could last for months, even years. Sieges on cities were designed to starve out the people within the walls. There are many enemies on this earth, all different kinds, we face a myriad of physical and spiritual enemies, and lots of them seek to starve us in different ways. 

 On Bing I found this on that restless night/early morning-  The Longest siege in history: 

•”The longest siege in recorded history was the siege of Candia (present day Iraklion on Crete). The fortified town was besieged by Ottoman Turks for 22 years, from 1648 to 1669. The fortress was defended by Venetians, supported by allies from Christendom, mainly Knights of Malta, France and Austria”•

22 years friends!!! 

And so I decided that’s what depression can really be like, it’s not one battle or a fight, it’s withstanding a siege, A siege upon the heart, mind, even your very soul. And then I realized how good the name was for a blog or something.  I realized I wasn’t just withstanding depression, I had been withstanding sieges of abuse my whole life, fighting patriarchy and complementarianism and I didn’t even know it. 

But Now I know, and many other women, and men are awakening-  the awakening is being described as “deconstruction” , deconstruction happens to many in lots of different ways, here is one example from a friend, enjoy, and may you be blessed by her words and her heart 💗 

————————————————————————–

I want to talk about blind spots. I want to talk about those ingrained beliefs that we have that we don’t even acknowledge, speak of, or even realize. These are the cultural memes that are so deep inside our head that even if our conscious minds know better, our unconscious will silently sabotage us. Women have a ton of them. And some of the things that I say might have you thinking “I don’t believe that”…but that’s why these beliefs are so pernicious: on some level, most of us do.
First. We women tend to think that we are not worthy of love. There are numerous applications and causes for this. One very important one is the female propensity for people pleasing. We try to be everything for everyone, to always keep everyone happy, and to bend over backwards for the wishes of another because we think secretly that if we are always sweetness and light to those around us, these works might make up in some small part for our unlovability. “I may not be lovable, but at least I’m useful”. We place ourselves last, and sometimes, this can lead to a woman endangering herself in an abusive relationship. Sometimes it makes her remain in a job or a church or a social situation where really, she should probably leave. Sometimes, it just eats her from the inside out until she burns out or snaps…and no one knows why because “she was always so nice”.  
Another reason why women believe themselves unlovable is that they find themselves not beautiful. For example, women almost never look in the mirror and like what they see. No matter how beautiful. We have been cultured to believe that a woman’s beauty is her worth, and we are constantly bombarded with images and messages saying that we are worth little. You may believe yourself to be beautiful. You may even (correctly) believe in your mind that your worth is not determined by your appearance. But you probably also resonate with the statement that, at your lowest, you’ve considered yourself ugly and unworthy of love. We attach this to relationships because, of course, we think that regardless of our other traits, we have to be attractive to earn the love of a man. We come to believe that our worth is in finding a man to accept and marry us, and we are pressed to believe that if we fail in this, we are worthless and weird.  
We as women tend to get caught in the strange doublethink that we are at the same time too much and too little. We think that we are too bold, too smart, too loud, too outgoing, too passionate, too much. We also think that we are not enough: not smart enough, not pretty enough, not experienced enough, not strong enough, not clever enough, not good enough, not parent enough, not wife enough, not dutiful enough. As singles, we think that we scare men off, but we also think that we’re not out there enough. As wives and mothers, we think that we are inadequate at the same time that we think that we are too much.  
As I began to awaken to a true, loving, intimate relationship with God, I was confronted with these lies. And they are lies, straight from the Enemy of our souls. See, I found the lie of my unloveliness standing athwart my ability to receive love from God. I grew up around the idea of God, and I had been told about God’s love, but I could not accept that God loved me in a personal kind of way. I believed that God had a general love of humanity, but I was never able to believe that He loved me individually. My blind spot was that I didn’t think that I was very lovable. I thought that He just tolerated me. I took the world’s rejection of me, and the various and sundry rejections that I had faced from the men in my life and I projected those onto my understanding of God.  
But God brought me out of that. Now I know that the Enemy wants to make us believe that we are unlovable because he doesn’t want us to receive and reciprocate God’s love. The Enemy tells us that we are ugly specifically because God calls His bride beautiful. The Enemy tells us that our flesh is the end-all of our beings, but God says that we are new creations in the Spirit. The Enemy tells us that we are too much because he wants us to back down and be quiet; he tells us we are too little so that we won’t dare raise our eyes to Heaven and see the truth.  
You are beloved of God, and not any less beloved because of your gender or anything else about you. I bring this up as my inaugural post here because this was the turning point in my spiritual walk. This was where I finally came alive to Christ abundantly. I also bring it up because some of you may be in a context where even people who bear Christ’s name are helping to tell these lies to you. People repeat these lies and reinforce them without even realizing it. That’s the nature of deception from Hell. The first step is recognizing it, and the second is rejecting it and replacing it with the Truth: God adores you. God is passionate about you. He pursues you and is not repulsed by you. Never, never, never let anyone convince you otherwise.

Withstanding the siege. An Introduction into my indoctrination and depression.

I don’t know when it started —
the darkness.
It wasn’t like a light switch. It isn’t something you can turn on and off.
It didn’t happen suddenly. It was more like oil leaking slowly into the ocean. It seeped in gradually, until it was the only thing that was there.

I was talking to my friends one afternoon, and after going over struggles I was having, I realized with tears and fear — even more than fear, it was terror —

“Oh my gosh, I think I have depression! What do I do?!”

Depression seemed like an ocean, like a terrible storm that had come to drown me. What do I do? Find help. And so I did. But help is also very unlike a light switch.
The darkness doesn’t switch off and go away just because you seek help. Oh, no. It is layers upon layers of discovery into WHY.

I began to feel as though I were ripping screens off of my forehead that had been nailed there over my eyes, one by one over the years.
Layers of screens from a window pane, or screens such as people use after they have panned for gold. Only the gold never got discovered, only the dirt and grime got past the screens, so that more darkness was added.
Bringing with it layers of confusion, pain, and fear. Layers of dirty screens until everything was dark.
Blindfolded. Darkness. Pain.

The perpetrators varied. An organization. A teacher. Parents when they tried to teach me something that they thought would protect me. Information was sifted by these authorities, according to what they believed.

When I was in the beginning stages of these discoveries I began to deal with many things, like crisis of reality, mental illness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and more. I found lots of anger. Lots of questions.

Why did the Church, and places like ATI/IBLP(a type of cult) put these screens here?! When did this happen to me?!?! I will rip them out one by one no matter how bloody I get!! Get them off of me!! When did these gags get shoved into my mouth so far down that I cannot speak out? I can’t communicate what I feel! When did my brain start to jumble sound like that? Are things too loud or are they too muffled? What is this constant aching pressure in my chest that writhes its way up around my throat threatening to choke me. I can’t feel my body at all, it isn’t there…… No, it is there, I feel it all too well. My legs are so heavy they sink into the bed like it is water. Pressure, pressure is everywhere. Everything hurts. EVERYTHING. I don’t know who I am. But I just want to go to sleep, and never wake up.”

I had to travel through the depths of myself, like exploring the depths of the ocean.
I had to travel through my memories that burned like fire up from my soul
into hot tears that threatened to never end.
And then one day I found myself. After reading old diaries of a poor, beaten down child and teenager, I found all the pain, and I followed it.
I followed the pain, and I allowed it to guide me through its path in my heart, and the patterns it had weaved through my life.

But in doing so, it felt like the pain would never end, so I started screaming one day into a pillow in my room. My fists clenched, body aching from the stress and strain, I kicked, I punched my bed. I yelled at the ones who scared me,

“Get away from me! Get behind me!! SHUT UP!!” GO AWAY!! Get out of my head!!”

Then, suddenly, the stronger older me emerged from the flames, and it was as if my head finally broke the surface of the sea. I stepped forward out of the raging turmoil of my soul,  I tucked that small innocent broken little me into my arms, and I said to her through the wailing tears,

“Do not listen to their lies. Rebuke the shame they place on you.
Don’t you let them hurt you anymore. Don’t let them beat you down!

You were made this way on purpose, and one day, you will be free.”

And so I am. The lies that I am lesser than my ‘authorities’. The lies that I am only made to be one thing because I am a girl. The lies that I am only here to help, to please, to be pretty, to be acceptable, to be subject, to be trampled on, to be spoken over, to be hushed, to be patronized, to be shamed, to be controlled.
All those ‘good’ marriage lies about Love and Respect, Submission and Silence.
Oh the lies, I don’t even know them all, but they controlled me until that day.

Now I am not as broken anymore, and I will not be silent.
I have been reborn from the sea and fire. The two things I thought were my enemies, the two things that I thought would destroy me, were actually the tools that set me free from the real enemy:
the chains of fundamentalism, complementarianism, legalistic Christianity.
That version of religion rears a myriad of terrors, and false love.
It imprisons and oppresses. But it will no longer imprison, terrorize, or oppress me.