Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hope Deferred - A Heart Flat Lined


When I began this blog in June of 2007, I began to write primarily for one purpose - that was to help anyone else out there who has left behind a group similar to mine. The stories of others were a lifeline to me as I exited and began my life apart from my former church. Their stories still help me as I find keys to understand where I was and what I was dealing with. So in that vein, here is something I realized about myself this week - this one much to my shame and chagrin.

(I talked the other day of feeling like every color that I once experienced seems to be all shades of gray now. This is related to that.)

I noticed when my daughter asked me to go to a movie a week ago that I had no desire to go. In fact, as I looked at myself, I saw that actually I had no desire to do anything. Nothing seemed to "spark" my interest at all. I have found no interest in reading (a favored pastime of former years), no interest in a movie, food, friends, traveling or anything. It is like my emotions and zest for life had flat lined. Even a potential trip to see my sister in Mexico - something that I knew I would love and enjoy - seemed to be insurmountable to actually just sit down and book the tickets.

I pondered this over the next few days. Then something hit me. I was reading another 'prophecy' from a former prophetic type person that I had followed in years past. They had released a prophecy for 2009. In it, they talked about the inevitable "transfer of wealth" that the Christians could expect in the year 2009. I remembered this being prophesied over our body for the past 12 years at least. Marsh and I had received several "words" personally.

Now, if asked, we would have said that the wealth that was supposedly to be dumped in our laps was to be used on missions type projects. It would be used for the "Kingdom of God." But the other day it occurred to me that my heart had been twisted up in this promise of future wealth - and to my dismay, I realized that I was hoping for the wealth primarily for.... ME.

See, if I had wealth enough to build a home for orphans in Belize, I could imagine that I would oversee the project flying first class instead of coach and staying at a nice resort while I was there. If I could afford to build the body a new worship center, I would certainly be wealthy enough to afford that new Mercedes that always caught my eye. If I gave a million away to charity in a year, staying at a 5 star resort in the Bahamas for our family vacation was not out of reach, right?

So to my embarrassment, I had to admit that each year as I looked forward to the 'new thing' that God was going to do, I had my dreams and hopes for a financially prosperous lifestyle hanging on that expectation. It was always like standing on tip toe, constantly waiting for the next huge surprise to come your way. You can put up with a lot of crap now if you think that you will be a millionaire next year. Hope is a wonderful thing. Excitement is fun to feel.

But now that I realize that all those prophecies were wrong, that all those promises of wealth were empty and that the scriptures used to support them are bogus for us today, I am left with the realization that this year will probably look a lot like last year and the year before it. We will work hard, pay our bills, hope for less breakdowns in our stuff and maybe experience some success in our savings accounts.

Folks that looks bleak compared to maybe becoming a millionaire this next year complete with the BMW and Bahama vacation. And without that....with that hope (rightly) taken away....my emotions have flat lined. What do I have to look forward to today, this week, this month or this year? What can compare to the former dreams and hopes? What will give me a new excitement and hope like that one did?

I have repented of my selfish, greedy heart. Father had already forgiven me. He wasn't surprised by the revelation. He saw it all along.

I ask Him today to return sanity to my life. Spending time with my daughter while we enjoy a movie together is supposed to be a good thing. It is supposed to give me something to look forward to. Normal people enjoy this. I need to enjoy it too.

No, it is not as exciting as becoming the next millionaire but this, at least, is based in reality and I am determined to live there now instead of the fantasy land of yesteryear.

It is said that, "hope deferred makes the heart sick." I think even false hopes can do this. I need the Healer of hearts to come and return mine to normal again. I'm ready for my emotions to have the normal highs and lows and to be able to look foward to something again.

19 comments:

Alex Blanton said...

As I read your words here today, I felt I need to pass along a couple of things.

First, a link to something I wrote about how Father has transformed my mind to see the kind of work He is actually up to in me. Hopefully, you find this helpful in your journey to knowing Him deeper: http://oikosnwa.blogspot.com/2009/01/new-year-of-brokenness-healing.html

Second, I know exactly the kind of feeling you are experiencing, and I feel I need to tell any who are there and may feel somehow condemned in their own heart by the apparent lack of fervor and passion in their hearts to "cut it out!!!" Father spoke to me very clearly that this was a part of His process of replacing our hearts by showing our true deadness and misplaced passions, in order to prepare us for the new heart that He wants to give us. But it is a process - He reveals to us our deadness so that we release our brokeness to Him and say - "Father, I am ready for you to cut this part of me out, I know it will hurt, but I want the real thing - I WANT YOU, and You alone!"

You see, disillusionment is actually a good thing! He is removing our illusions about ministry, ourselves, and most of all about Him!

Father, you are great and wonderful and all your ways are marvelous!

Ryan Ro said...

Flatline...

It is not for the same reasons but that describes me over the past year or two. Lack of passion, lack of interest in doing much. Sometimes a spark comes, sure. I used to listen to music and it just resonated inside me and moved me and touched me and broke me etc etc. Used to read the bible and *feel* something, used to get excited about things.

Sometimes I still do, and I think some of it is just "maturing" - I'm 28 this year - but in a lot of ways I just feel somewhat dead inside. And a lot of it does come with my faith struggles. When I thought I was right and totally doing things and "living with Jesus", in a charismatic or own or confused way, I had more life, when I found Jesus in everything. The thing that bothers me is so much of it was angst. A lot of feeling "broken" and OH GOD HEAL ME OH GOD I NEED YOU I NEEEED YOUUUUUUUUU.

I hate wrestling with what it means to be christian, who is right, who is wrong, what do we do, this that and the other thing. I look at crap like Todd Bentley and say "I won't say God never showed up there but there's way too much garbage going on." Then I look at something like that EndTimesPropheticWords blog that "exposes" all these charismatic leaders as frauds and read so much damn bitterness and gleeful self-righteousness and think "well... she's right on a lot of points but God she's a bitch." Both sides are screwed up. What's real, what's not? If X is real, how can we live pretending it isn't?

A friend of mine, a younger brother of a good friend, somebody I KNOW personally is at some wacky charismatic school of prophetic or whatever in California. Yet, because I KNOW him and know he's not a liar, no he's not somebody who is going to make a bunch of crap up to feel good... he's just sharing his testimony and story of the past while. Half the time I want to punch him in the face, he sounds so smug "praise God this" and "Blessed" that and "Lord provided abundantly" etc etc. But...

(con't)

Ryan Ro said...

You can delete these if you want, I am right now feeling a great deal if anxiety and stress and frustration and have no idea where else to get any discussion or ideas. My buddy posted on his facebook about his last couple months...

"Throughout the weekend there was many other healings as our team and people in the church prayed..
Two sisters came up for prayer. They both had scoliosis (unnatural curvature of the spine). One of them had one leg longer than the other by over ¼ inch. I prayed and the leg grew out so they were both even. The other girl I prayed and she felt her hips shift. Both felt something when I prayed and noticed a difference in their bodies.
Head aches left.
A man with head, shoulder, back, and neck pain after receiving prayer felt tingling all over his head and the pain diminished.
A couple people had the ringing in their ears stop.
A man received healing in His shoulder that was full of pain, the next day he went and swam 1450 yards pain free. He hadn’t been able to swim without pain for 4 months.
A rough throat was soothed.
Boy with brain tumor received prayer from Kevin in April who is now off all his medication and the tumor has shrunk.
A lady had blurry vision restored to clarity.
A lady forgives doctor for a mistake during surgery that cause problems in her left arm, swelling and other problems. After forgiving the doctor she felt heat all over her arm and it felt better.
A lady had problems with her wrist bones where part of it would stick out unnaturally. After receiving prayer the lump shrunk almost completely in one hand and totally in the other hand.
Praise the Lord for His goodness and Love. Right now I invite you, if you need healing in any part of your body right now as your read this put your hand on that part of the body that needs healing and just say, “Be healed in Jesus name.” Just watch what Jesus does. I also declare healing over your body in Jesus name. Be healed and blessed. Thank you so much for partnering and supporting. Thanks so much for the prayers and I pray that you would encounter the Love of God in a deeper more tangible way. Love be released in Jesus name."


And it's hard to just write off when it's somebody I've hung out with, think well of, just a good person who's not out to find false answers but here he is. So, what? Is he wrong? Is he believing so hard he's seeing things? Are these people really healed or are they hoping so badly for healing that they've mentally changed something at least temporarily? The human brain and body can do crazy things. But if that's what it is, then what leg do more "moderate" christians have to stand on if an athiest or agnostic says that our "feelings of God" are just something powerful our brain created? Is he wrong? Did this happen? If these things ARE happening why doesn't God heal MORE? If GOd's doing this stuff and they're living in that way what's wrong with the REST of us christians who aren't doing that stuff? Why doesn't God heal EVERYBODY who has faith? Why does God save one girl from being raped but not another? Why does God heal one cancer and not another? Maybe these are basic stupid questions but all the pat answers I've received over the past 12 years don't do me any good anymore! This is a friend, this is how he's living, and I can't stand to hear him parroting invitiation and declaring and releasing because I really think it's not right. Like, in all of this, what the hell do we think? How does God actually want us to live?

That's all I want to know. I just want to know what's true and what's not in all this crap and I'm so sick of it I'm honestly about to give up on faith. If what he believes is real then what the hell am I doing? If what he believes isn't really happening then what the hell is he doing? And what does happen?

I apologize for the length of this comment. It's roiling around inside of me and all I want to do is punch the walls of space/time until it all makes sense. I used to have faith and believe easily. That left me sometime ago.

Heidi W said...

Ah, exactly how I've been feeling, and I too would love to see more than gray. I realized today that if it weren't for my children, I'd happily stay in my house.

Love ya!

Sarah said...

Barb, wow. I think so many can relate to this.

And how you imagined using your wealth to serve others is exactly the problem we have with first world "development" and the "aid" industry. Those working to "serve" the poor end up utilizing much of the resources for doing so in a first-class lavishness. Most of the money ends up paying the high salaries of the first world consultants and technical experts, supporting an excessive lifestyle even in a third world context. And then we pat ourselves on the back for "helping."

The other thing the post made me think about was: How much the church has absorbed the culture (rather than being a counter-cultural, consecrated people). There is more in common with the American Dream (and social mobility, and consumer culture) in some charismatic circles than there is with the kingdom of God. At least that's my experience.

I'm just so grateful that God is cutting the strings in our hearts that have been tied to the wrong things: empire, Babylon, self, etc, etc. That journey really sucks (because of the withdrawal symptoms you talk about). But, I think we're going to come into something so infinitely more satisfying and beautiful! :) Keep writing! As a post-charismatic, it's so encouraging to know I'm not alone. :)

Paul Fitzgerald said...

Spiritual illusions can be just as addictive as any drug. Going "cold turkey" off the illusions have withdrawal symptoms too. Illusions are ways to avoid facing reality but healthy spirituality equips us to do just that. Thanks for sharing the journey honestly.

hunnybee said...

hey Barb...long time no 'see'. We've met here before,(I used to be 7catz) I fell off the map last year;I went into a cave.
I was glad to see you're still here and as always sharing your heart and being real:)
I can relate to the heart problem you're talking about.. it comes and goes still. Some days I don't feel connected to anything. I think it's a symptom of Post CharisManic Stress Disorder. lol! I thought I'd be all fixed by now, but I'm not. Im trying to learn to accept the place I'm in without giving up, a delicate balance to be sure. I know the money gospel thing you mention..it was very popular where I came from. I just to say, I hope you don't beat yourself up too bad..that kind of teaching spreads like cancer. It's wayyyyy easier to 'catch' than I ever thought. In my case I just felt a lot of shame because; how much sucess$ one had was a sign of God's approval...and I didn't have any lol! wow eh...nutty stuff.
It still blows my mind when I think about the way Jesus lived... and what He said about riches...
k..I'll stop there, I feel a major rant coming on! :)
Bless you tons!

Tracy Simmons said...

Barb, I also went through a very similar time quite awhile back. When I read your post and the comments I realized how sad it is that most of us Christians have never been taught how to live, I mean really LIVE. I had a good cry on Father's shoulder last night over that fact, that most of His children are still wandering around so unbelievably lost and feeling so helpless and hopeless much of the time. It's never what he intended, of course, but it's all we have ever known.

There really is a joy and a peace that are ours to walk in daily. I look back in amazement that I was never taught how to live like this for most of my 25 years of being a Christian. These last 3 months have been the most glorious time of life.

Anyway, your post had me asking Father to bring me to the point where I can one day share the good food I have received with others. Right now I'm in a season of rest, just growing in being a well-loved daughter. It's the most wonderful time. Your post, however, stirred up in me the desire to one day be able to share the good news and good food with others who are stumbling along like I did for so many years.

I love your transparency, Barb. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I have no doubt you will come through this time of darkness into His glorious light.

Rich said...

Barb,

I thought of you thinking on what you shared in your post, "A Sense of Purpose-Painting with a Grey Pallet" and how that Grey seems to have colored you in this eason of living.

"I guess I would have to say I pretty much do what I want since everything is new and My 'wants' aren't attached to the old ... life is fun. I don't mean to say I don't think of others and 'dance' with those around me ... or with whom I work; and I think my own self-respect blossomed out of that 'dark' period in my garden while being sown, rained and snowed on and cultivated to bring forth the perfect combination of Himself as Myself...."

Jules said...

Thankyou for this post.Julie

Barb said...

Alex, thanks so much for your comment and the link. I hope you continue writing about your journey as you have insight that we can all use. It is rare to find someone that not only "gets it" but is able to speak into our heart with wisdom that the Father has obviously given.
Thanks!

Ryan Ro. Wow!! I have pondered over what you wrote here for the past few days. I totally get your frustration and questions. I totally don't know what to say. Unfortunately the list of "healings" you gave does not impress me any longer. I want to see those people 2 weeks later. True healing is just that - A HEALING. Doctors can verify it. It does not nullify the headache or sore arm but frankly it drives me crazy at these meetings when the sore arm gets "healed" and the little girl with cerebral palsy goes away wondering why her faith does not work. All the hype and talk like this makes me physically sick. Anyway, I just happened to listen to a podcast from Darin Hufford yesterday while driving. It does not answer our questions but it does give some more to think about. I encourage you to check it out. You can get to it from his web page: http://freebelievers.com/podcasts.php
Listen to the one - When Doctrine Lacks Evidence.
I also encourage you to read his book, The God's Honest Truth. It is through men like him that I have come to what I choose to believe about God.

Barb said...

Heidi, I have picked that up from you lately too. Here's to color in our lives!

Sarah, I hear you! Thanks.

Paul, "Spiritual Illusions can be just as addictive as any drug" I totally agree. I'm sure people coming off a drug have a flat line kind of feel too.

Hunnybee: Welcome back! I'll add your new blog to my reader. I loved our Post CharisManic Stress Disorder. I'm going to add it as one of my taggs! Brilliant. You are always welcome to rant here!

Tracy, I am content to wait till you feel released to write again but am in anticipation for what the Father will have to share through you.

Rich, I can see that this time is forming me. I appreciate the encouragement to be patient and let the Father work all he has for me at this time.

Jules. You are so welcome. Thanks so much for leaving just a short message.

Anonymous said...

"I am left with the realization that this year will probably look a lot like last year and the year before it. We will work hard, pay our bills, hope for less breakdowns in our stuff and maybe experience some success in our savings accounts"

If this is what 2009 holds for you, then you will have been blessed far beyond what many others will have to face in 2009.

Some will work 3 jobs and still not be able to pay their bills. Other's will loose their jobs altogether--and along with it, everything they own.

Savings accounts? If you manage to hold on to your savings in 2009, consider yourself among the wealthy.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous continued (previous comment)...

"Those who face that which is actually before them, unburdened by the past, undistracted by the future, these are they who live, who make the best use of their lives; these are those who have found the secret of contentment."
--Alban Goodier

Sue said...

It really amazes me as I read through a small portion of the blogosphere to see how many of us are being stripped away. It amazes me when I think of how things were, say, 10 years ago. Wow, how painful it is! I haven't experienced anything more painful.

I think of the life that exists out on the other side of our sufferings. Some days that's all I can do so that I don't stay hidden in my cave, learning to be a misogynist.

Wow, how we are loved. It never ceases to amaze me how willing God is to be misrepresented and misunderstood. He just stands there naked in himself while many walk by the glory. Weird.

Life is so weird!!!! :)

(After years of being in the desert, of 6+ years of chronic illness, of a marriage breakdown, of 2 years of feeling pretty much suicidal, I can say past all of that stuff that the colours are starting to shimmer for me in many ways, even as I struggle to just haul myself through the days. Its very strange, this duality that exists in my life, even as the dualities in my mind about God are being laid to rest. I love the paradox that exists in this life in God.

I just wish the process could be a tad less painful.

Carolyn said...

I'm not completely flatlined yet, but I am definitely on life support... Clear!!!

placeofgrace said...

Barb
the shock of realizing that God is not going to bestow on you all these earthly riches is enought to flatline most of us. But after the "resurection" things do improve. Eventually we are even able to joke about our "riches". And going to a movie, or having a MacDonalds icecream with the kids can be a real treat.

Enjoy 2009 and life as it is!!

Fiona said...

Barb, I know this is now an old post. I'm reading bits of your blog randomly. :) But this post did remind me of a time of significant depression I went through. I can still remember the day when after months of grey, I noticed that the sky was blue. Literally looked up, and saw the blue. That was the beginning of emerging out the other side. I hope that you are finding this now.

I think periods of grief or depression are a normal part of exiting these false beliefs that were part of our lives, and they seem to keep cropping up.

God bless you, and I hope you are finding things are improving.

I am finding your blog very encouraging. It's amazing to me that there are so many people out there who have been through a similar experience to the one I've been going through over the last 18 months, and I didn't stumble across it earlier. Thank you for sharing yourself so openly.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barb, i just checked out in your blog and read this post. I do not have given big prophesies but while tithing i have always hope for this promise in Mal 3:10-11 and recently when i started to check its biblicity i saw that i have tithed only bc of my own finances might good....it was shocking discovery.