Tag Archives: pain

Working through Wounds (my journey through Psalms 109)

Most days I love being a teacher. I love spending my time guiding and counseling, rebuking and encouraging because let’s face it. My job is about 10% content and 90% building relationships and mentoring teenagers. Sure, theme, plot, and grammar are important, but they mean nothing if students can’t internalize the skills that will help them succeed on an every-day Tuesday in their future lives.

But then there are those days when I am repaid all my kindness with nastiness. Where my “heart is wounded within me” (Psalm 109:22) because “wicked and deceitful mouths are open against me and encircle me with words of hate and attack me without cause” (Psalm 109:2-3). And it hurts, no it wounds me to my core.

Without giving specifics, because that’s unnecessary, I’ll just say that this psalm resonates with me right now because recently this happened. I spent several days after the incident–seriously disrespectful with no hint of apology or acknowledgment of wrong from the student or the parent– reconciling with myself how to forgive and move on rather than letting the soul wound fester.

And let me tell you, the psalmist’s pleas for justice and goldy intervention were fresh in my mind.

But so is another voice. 

A voice that whispers into my conscience that even though this kid intentionally wounded, frustrated and quite frankly ticked me off, it doesn’t negate the good God has done within and through me as a teacher.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see this student as my enemy as David is expressing in this psalm, but I do see the enemy at work against me when I allow these incidents to infect my heart like a festering sore, which is far too easy.

No, instead I will “give great thanks to the Lord.” because he has given me much more than I deserve: a calling, a purpose, and a passion.

Frenemies: My journey through Psalms (54-55)

It’s one thing when an enemy attacks, but when your friends turn on you, it’s a whole new ball game.

You expect the worst from an enemy. You are prepared. There is no element of surprise. Sure, it still hurts, but this kind of rejection doesn’t seep into the soul in the same way.

When a friend turns on you, all the hurt settles deep in one place–your heart. And when this kind of rejection occurs, your initial reaction is not pretty. You want to lash out. Get revenge. Hurt others the way you have been hurt.

But that doesn’t fix the problem. It only multiplies it.

I know this kind of rejection. When my friend turned on me a few years ago, intellectually I knew she didn’t even register what she was doing as a kind of rejection. She was acting out of what she felt was her own need, but in the process of trying to make herself feel better, she hurt me. Someone she was supposed to care for and protect. I won’t go into the details, but there was a nasty fight. Yelling.

And I don’t really yell.

I don’t like conflict.

So I walked away.

It wasn’t until a few months later that God really convicted me about this action. Walking away was not what he wanted from me. It was what I wanted for myself. And, ironically, I hurt this other person in the exact. same. way. No, I didn’t instigate a fight, but I acted out of what I felt was my own need and in the process, I hurt her. This simple act was revenge and I didn’t even realize it.

This psalm speaks to that.

David gives a picture of how we should deal with our hurts and rejections. And it isn’t the way either I or my friend handled things.

David did 3 things.

  1. He called on God (54:1). This sounds pretty Sunday School, but there are several reasons why this should be our first response, not our last. When we event to Go, there is 0% chance of hurting others. When we vent to other people, or hold in our anger and hurt, the % goes up to at least 80, maybe more. God is a comforter and his presence and compassion are limitless. Other people are human. They will react in very human ways. Sure, they may make us feel better in the moment–after all that’s why we chose someone who would agree with us. But there is no real truth there. And there is an increased chance of rumors, or hurt being spread back to the other person or group. And trust me–that’s not pretty.
  2. He was honest with God (Psalm 55:2-6). I think sometimes we try to hide our true feelings from God because, well…or feelings aren’t very godly. But dude–he’s GOD. He already knows. Being honest with him is what he craves, and ultimately is what sets us free from this kind of bondage. If you are angry and hurt, It’s okay to tell God that you are angry and hurt. For that matter, it’s okay to tell him that you are royally pissed off (sorry for anyone who might be offended by that word, but it felt important for me to emphasize that no matter how deep and passionate our feelings are, God still wants you to be honest with him). Being honest with yourself and with God is the first step to healing. And, after all, that’s usually what we want most after a long, hard hurt.
  3. He trusted that God is good (55:16-18) All. The. Time. Not just when things are happy and filled with sunshine and blue skies, but even when the clouds of death and destruction hang over you like a shadow. Trust that God will be there, because he is. ALWAYS. And not only is he there. He. Is. Good.
  4. He gave his cares to the Lord (55:22). It’s easy to vent. It’s a little harder to be honest. It’s really hard to trust. But giving your cares over to the Lord–well, sometimes that can seem impossible. However, not only is it possible, it’s important. This is where the healing actually begins. God will sustain you and it is his holiness that will give you the strength to rise from the ashes of defeat. You can’t do it alone. No matter how hard you try.

After my friend and I went our separate ways, I didn’t want to admit it, but a heavy cloud hovered over me for months. I don’t think it was because of this friendship specifically, but because I wasn’t acting in the way thahttp-www-pixteller-com-pdata-t-l-565043t God had called me to act with other people and my soul could feel that even if I chose not to. Because this was also a time where I was deeply depressed, I didn’t see right away what was wrong. I just kept trudging through life. Alone.

I wasn’t alone because I’d lost this friendship. I had other friends. I was alone because I had also shut God out.

I spent a long time in the pit. I allowed hurt and rejection to keep me down out of the light of truth. I not only let her rejection weigh on me, but every other rejection from my past haunted me because I just couldn’t let it go. I prayed, but in my heart I didn’t actually believe God would hear me and that doubt is what kept me a prisoner longer.

Then one day, it’s like I woke up from a dream. I really feel for Sleeping Beauty because when reality falls on you in that moment, it falls hard–and sometimes you just aren’t prepared for what assaults you. But when the rubble cleared, I saw in the dust what hanging onto my hurts had caused.

A wall.

At least 40 feet high…maybe higher.

And this wall kept me from being who God had called me to be.

When that wall came down, it’d didn’t crumble into dust. There is still a lot of rubble that I sift through every day, but when I lay it at my God’s feet…I move forward–one giant rock at a time.

You don’t have to move forward quickly. You go at your pace. But moving forward is when life actually happens. And life, after all, is what it’s all about.

Why I used a couple curse words in my Christian Fiction novel

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Last week I released my first book, and there are many reasons why this is exciting for me, but it also makes me nervous. I’m anxious about how it will be received, and even more so, how I will be judged for some of the choices I made about the content of the novel.

 But that’s okay.

As a writer, well, as a human, I have to make hard choices every day about what I think, feel and believe and when that is put into the context of writing I make those choices for my characters as well.  

By going with a small publisher I was able to maintain a lot of control over the content of my novel. As a result, though, I know there will be a lot of questions. Not the least of which will be: but this this is a CHRISTIAN novel—why are there curse words? Let me set the record straight first—the novel isn’t filled with profanity. In fact, I think there may be 5 curse words in the whole novel, but people—especially the target audience—will notice and I want to make sure I go on record with my reasons why.

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1) I want to make the characters and situations real.


 

Many of the situations and people that the main character, Valerie, meets are not Christian. She is put into the ‘real world’ in some pretty amazing ways. For example, at one point she is in a biker bar. To make that setting seem realistic, the dialogue has to match that which she might encounter. Just because a Christian character goes into an un-Christian place, that doesn’t immediately corrupt the character nor does it ‘cleanse’ the place. For a Christian novel to be real, some of that has to be exposed. God told us to be in the world (not of it). I wanted my characters to reflect that. As Christians, we can’t deny being in the world and these are places that we are a part of every day.


 

2) I want people to empathize with the character’s grief and pain.


 

Valerie is processing the death of a close friend—someone who had been a soul sister to her. She experiences deep, soul crushing grief and pain. The anger manifests in her dialogue and interactions with other people. I would love to say that as a Christian I have never used foul language in my grief and pain, but that would be a lie. Again, to connect to the character I added to her humanity. She makes mistakes—including some of her language.


 

3) I want people to understand that just because something is “Christian” doesn’t mean that it is “perfect”—that goes for people, setting, situations, and language.


 

The themes and lessons in the novel are distinctly Christian, which is what makes this “Christian Fiction”, an interesting phenomenal genre that has really only developed in the last fifty years or so (I mean think about it. Charles Dickens had many Christian themes—yet he is not a “Christian Fiction” writer…). I don’t want to alienate the Christian reader by using curse words, but I also don’t want to lie to them either. My story called for them, so I used them.


 

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The funny thing about it is, I worry—not about using them, but about being judged for that decision. Hopefully, my readers will understand and accept the choices that I made, but if not I hope they can at least present some counterarguments to me that are logical and well-thought out enough so that as I continue to write I can keep them in mind for my future endeavors.

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Buy my novel at any of these locations: 

Amazon: 

http://www.amazon.com/Valeries-Vow-Ashley-M-Carmichael-ebook/dp/B00MV36X32/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409596752&sr=8-1&keywords=valerie%27s+vow

http://www.amazon.com/Valeries-Vows-Ashley-M-Carmichael/dp/163066040X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1409596752&sr=8-2&keywords=valerie%27s+vow

Barnes and Noble: 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/valeries-vow?store=allproducts&keyword=valeries+vow

Second Wind Publishing:

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!product/prd15/2506087281/valerie’s-vow

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/468297