Selah…

the beginning of my story is a mystery to me.  a tale of photographs and works of art, an assortment of stories i’ve overheard and a few dreams of what may or may not be real.  picture with me a precocious little girl, curly brown hair and big green eyes, dancing and singing, twirling in ruffled dresses and making conversation with anyone that would listen. i remember loving people and then i remember fearing people. i’ve had dreams of this little girl running happily through the grass and then sitting quietly, afraid and unable to speak.  i’ve seen faces and revisited some emotion, but the story is a mystery.  my childhood is somewhat of a mystery.

so when i look back, the recollection of my pain begins with my teen years.  the pain i remember is from the one that saw a bruised little girl and decided to take advantage of her vulnerability, simultaneously offering healing and violating her all the more.  this was a system that wouldn’t bend to her circumstance, a business too busy to recognize the depth of her pain, an institution more concerned with their sacrosanct policies than the young soul placed in their care. this is where the story of my struggle begins.

within my home, there was a divide.  my mother struggled with the system of the Church, but served God and the people and bit her lip when in the presence of the leaders.  perhaps she was there for similar reasons as me.  her pain was promised a remedy.  her purpose was promised a position.  my father fought for standards within the Church and had a heart for the overlooked and needy.  he seemed to me to love rules.  he was to me then, just like the Church, unmoved by tears or circumstance, oblivious to my soul and deep desire to please. this is my perception.  this is what i saw.  as a ministry kid, this story isn’t very unique, but then there was an adjustment.

there came a day when the words began to shift, when i began to feel as though my parents were protecting me from the Church and steering me towards taking on a struggle with the system they had embraced.  my parents had given up on weightless words and meaningless deeds.  my father gave in to his internal prompting and the voice of God became once again louder than the voice of the Church, just like when he was a child, filled with hope and belief.  a few years after the shift, we left the church of my childhood.  some said we moved to Africa to continue missions work, others claimed more sinful scenarios.  no one rumored the truth, we had been rescued.

from then on, each member of my family began their own path to reconciliation with the Church.  i hadn’t recognized the harm or diagnosed yet the effects of the system, so i continued to seek more of the same and even perhaps worse.  i was taken in and embraced by a small community that highlighted good deeds, but also preached a heavy-handed gospel.  i gave up the struggle, since i was convinced it was rebellious.  struggling just made me an outsider amongst a church of 70 and i desperately wanted to belong.  the pastor became my “father” and the church became my family.  i walked away from my God-given family.  i walked away from myself.  i surrendered my talent, my time, my finances, my mind, my entire life to be in their good grace.  but then there was an adjustment, a day when i spoke against their system and recognized truth.

but truth was stifled and i was a guilty woman, a “jezebel”.  i was operating under a “rebellious spirit”.  i shut my mouth and began the struggle once again.  the fight grew wild and uncontrollable.  as my mind grew stronger, my heart grew weaker.  7 years of “discipline” left me questioning my sanity.  there was an evening, one simple evening, when my mind was at its strongest and my heart was barely hanging on.  i was prepared that evening to end this life.  i didn’t want to struggle.  they said i was evil, but the God in my head, the God of my heart, called me precious. He would share truth and i would slam the book shut.  the more i read, the more i saw.  the closer i got to Him, the more divisive i’d appear.  He obviously wasn’t real.  He was just some version of God i had created to feel better about myself.   so i planned it all out.  that would have been my last evening here.  perhaps after i had gone, i’d meet the God i had envisioned, just maybe He was real.  i fell asleep crying silently, but ready for what the next day held.

and then He came, the God that i thought i knew… i had a dream of my funeral, where my mother was sobbing uncontrollably.  she was angry and no one even dared to console her.  she wrapped herself around my coffin and yelled out to God.  she spoke no understandable words, but  just roared out of her pain and then silence fell.  i awoke in the morning with peace of mind and strength of heart.  i left the church and returned home.  some said i just wasn’t strong enough to stick it out, others claimed more sinful scenarios.  no one rumored the truth, i had been rescued.

i’ve been asked why i find it necessary to expose the institutionalized Church and encourage struggle with the system it has embraced.  it is because this system suffocates, stifles, strips, and sabotages truth.  the very truth necessary to live.  and in essence, this system suffocates, stifles, strips, and sabotages the Church.  this system nearly took my life.  how could i not continue the struggle now that i have known what it is to be rescued.  the institution advocates loyalty, dependence, and silence and feeds off of our guilt and vulnerability.  we’ve seen it take out soul after soul, but for the sake of our “sanity” we have diagnosed it differently.  the Church, His Bride is crying out to her God, sobbing uncontrollably, so very angry and no one even dare console her.  she is on her knees yelling out to God.  she speaks no understandable words, she just roars out of her pain until the silence falls and He comes.  some say she is weak and confused, others claim more sinful scenarios.  no one rumors the truth, she  is being rescued.

Selah…

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  • Comments (26)
    • gypsy
    • August 3rd, 2010

    wow. wow. you’ve said what has been roaring in my heart but which i haven’t dared to speak. thank you for your honesty, Julia. so many need to be rescued.

  1. As I journey through these words, written in His spirit, resonating in power and poignancy, I must pause as well and remember. In the posture of humility, I am grateful for God, His amazing rescue and find myself filled with joy – believing in the deepest part of me, that my daughter understands what the “mystery” cannot define – her significance! I love you Julia Kate.

    • Stevo
    • August 3rd, 2010

    Wow. This completely took me back to the days when, as a kid I hated the “church” that completely tore my family apart, took us from the pedestal as the minister’s family to the floor without even batting an eye. Was it our fault that styles became more important than content? When did standing in silence with your arms at your side during worship become a sin and jumping and shouting with your hands raised the only way to worship God? They had no idea the lasting effects that their church politics would have on our family’s life, on my life. I look back and there’s so much hatred and anger but then I look forward and I see hope and change and I can’t help but be grateful for what God’s used to take me where I’m going.

    A lot of people talked about our family too, I said and thought things as a young kid out of misunderstanding that were untrue but “no one rumored the truth, we had been rescued.” It’s taken a long time but I understand that now.

    Good…no, Amazing Stuff Julia. Thanks!

    • JuliaKate
    • August 3rd, 2010

    then He came…Selah
    what a wonderful wonderful wonderful God.
    what a merciful merciful merciful God…
    He’s our peace of mind.
    Selah.

  2. (been staring at the blinking cursor…and just got that DM from you.)

    i don’t have words big enough for the hug i wish i could wrap you in right now. i appreciate and value your honest and raw transparency. i don’t say this phrase flippantly and don’t at all mean it condescendingly, but i’m proud of you. i’m proud of you for getting back in the ring. we’ve spoken just briefly about getting connected again in a new church, but i know now how much of a risk that is for your heart. it says so much about how much you’ve indeed been rescued… how much healing He’s brought to you. He redeems all things, my friend. all things.

    love you, JK.

      • JuliaKate
      • August 4th, 2010

      so very heavy and yet so freeing… that He redeems all things. thank you for adding that wisdom and thank you for being a dear friend even from a distance.

  3. Nishberei Lev – “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

    A.W. Tozer also wrote, “Beware of any Christian leader who does not walk with a limp.”

    Whenever I think about about keeping silent, I am reminded of the thousands of others who remain hurting and broken sitting in the pews, benches and theater seats of today’s church buildings. Not only does our silence justify those who have wrongfully hurt God’s children, but it quenches the hope that can very well recuse those same children.

    Thank you for sharing. You are the best sister a guy could ask for.

      • JuliaKate
      • August 4th, 2010

      some of the silent have been speaking up through DMs, & FB msgs. in preparing to share this portion of my story, i felt it also necessary to prepare for those that would be triggered by it. God is amazing. and you are the best eldest brother a gal could ask for;)

  4. These are tough words to swallow. Honestly, I have been there and as I read your words and the way that you described your move from the church, the healing that you were looking for, and the pain that you went through I could not help but think of myself (pretty selfish right).
    These words brought up pain and anger that I still hold against the church and the way they treated my family.

    I am the son of a burnout who fell hard and fast and was kicked out the church because he was separated from his wife (my mom). There is only so many times you can hear someone tell you “I am praying for your family” and not judge their motives or even try to not hold it against them that they go off and talk behind your back.

    Forgiveness is a tough thing, but it is teaching me to also forgive myself for not being perfect and accepting the grace of God. This also helps me see the church through the eyes of God.

    Liberating post you just wrote…thanks

      • JuliaKate
      • August 4th, 2010

      even liberating to me by telling it. Kyle, hearing your story and your pain reminds me that i am not alone and you sharing it here also reminds the many others that neither are they. thank you for sharing.

    • Sara Martinez
    • August 3rd, 2010

    “they said i was evil, but the God in my head, the God of my heart, called me precious.” my absolute favorite!
    You ARE precious!!! I love you my friend!

      • JuliaKate
      • August 4th, 2010

      hmm… and you are what He whispers in your ear. remember that. love you!

    • jacob
    • August 4th, 2010

    hmmm. What words describe how this made me feel? Saddened, guilty, kinda proud (of you), and effen pissed. I know I try to tame your words and actions sometimes. Don’t listen to me, I think I’m one of them sometimes. Jesus detested the religious elite, the self-righteous bastards that imprisoned the weak. Enough is enough. I guess I just wish someone was the solution to this eroding system. I don’t write blogs about how wet water is, it’s the obvious. Hopefully Kingston, Brooklyn, and their colleagues will be part of the solution. Your words have power and energy. Nice…….. (thnx)

      • JuliaKate
      • August 4th, 2010

      brother your passion is evident and i believe that you are part of the solution. we are all welcome to be a part of it. there is grace enough even for the “self-righteous religious bastards” for we were once them, yes? i know this wasn’t an easy blog to stomach as my brother. thank you for reading it. Love you much.

  5. this has left me with so many emotions boiling in my spirit. some ive never felt before.

    i feel crushed for you. and i rejoice for you.

    but i am mostly praising God for His hand of mercy and protection over you.

    breathless…

      • JuliaKate
      • August 4th, 2010

      thank you for reading, sharing your thoughts, and for allowing yourself to feel these words. His mercy and protection covers many and as i share my story, i see that the injured and crushed are present, but just silent. He is a miraculous God and as Alece shared, He redeems all. Selah

  6. Dr Seuss says, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.

    • Rebecca
    • August 4th, 2010

    Tis a brave thing you do… exposing your heart. Dear Julia, serve Him and continue to work it on out… because it is obvious to me that He is working it out in you. You are a true warrior, interceeder and small child with amazing green eyes–you are all of these things and so much more.

    Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV) “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

      • JuliaKate
      • August 4th, 2010

      your encouragement has been like a glass of sweet tea on a scolding hot day… refreshing. thank you Rebecca;)

    • Jesse
    • August 4th, 2010

    Yes

    • Natalie
    • August 4th, 2010

    “…a precocious little girl, curly brown hair and big green eyes, dancing and singing, twirling in ruffled dresses and making conversation with anyone that would listen. i remember loving people…” This is the Julia I know, the free dreamer full of love and life. And I am so glad she is once again found. God’s work of love and redemption is a beautiful thing; His presence, ever residing within us and around us, through the pain, struggle and darkness. So thankful for the grace He gives to heed the truth of His voice beyond the myriad of lies we hear. I appreciate over and over again your vulnerability and courage. Your words make a difference in my life. Love you friend.

      • JuliaKate
      • August 9th, 2010

      thank you friend for your beautiful and wise words.

    • Shelley
    • August 6th, 2010

    We are listening Julia. Your words are connecting the hearts of a lot of us. We hear God speaking these things, too. Your boldness and courage is essential to the Church at this time in history. Thank you!

      • JuliaKate
      • August 9th, 2010

      thank you for your encouragement. we are not alone;)

  7. thank you for sharing your story again. what weighs my heart is that this has become the story of so many. so many have been recused and accused. so many lay in silence…bitter and torn. your story brings hope. not hope in the institution…but hope in the God.

    • Dorienne
    • January 26th, 2012

    A powerful missive, Julia.

    From this point on, however, please allow my silence affirm your passion and perception,

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