Freedom from the past ... at last!

I'm reading more than I'm writing lately. Life has been busy and full. And uneventful in a good way.

Shockingly, I haven't been feeling the need to express myself all that much.

I finished three books I had been juggling in June (Decision Points - GWB, Freedom From Worry - Allen Jackson, and High on Arrival - Mackenzie Phillips). I took a book to the beach that I had not planned to read, but decided I would after a friend offered to send me a copy if I was interested. The friend who offered the book did so cautiously and with the disclaimer that they were not urging me to read it or even suggesting that I read it ... just thinking I might find it interesting since I enjoy reading about real people's lives and the author of this book was once a friend. I mulled over the offer for a few seconds before saying, "Sure. Why not?"

I told John I was going to read it and he looked at me thoughtfully. If I took a wild guess at what he was thinking (since he didn't verbalize his thoughts and I didn't ask), I would imagine he was thinking ... Are you sure you want to do that? I thought he might be concerned that reading this particular book would stir up some emotion in me that had settled. The book is Testimony, by Neal Morse. Neal attends CGT (the church I was raised in and wrote about in my own book, Breaking the Chains).

The book was a fast read for me. I finished it in a couple of days. And I enjoyed it, which did not really surprise me. Prior to the events that choked the life out of our friendship, I had always liked Neal. I stated that in my book (although I did not use his last name in print). Neal married someone who also grew up in CGT; someone I had known all my life. And that is how I came to know him. But I was leaving CGT about the same time he was "coming in" wholeheartedly. And there were some major issues that divided us. I always grieve the loss of a friend. But I have never regretted my stand. My convictions, priorities, and loyalties remain steadfastly the same to this day.

Despite our differences, I'm glad I read it. The book gave me deeper insight into someone I did not have sufficient opportunity to know well. I really enjoyed reading about his early, formative years and his family. Obviously, my memories of growing up in CGT are not compatible with the rosy portrayal he gave it. So I had internal responses in several places where I wanted to say, "You weren't there. You didn't experience it. You don't know what you're talking about."

When Neal wrote about physical healings in his family, I thought about my mom and others who were not healed; and all those who had died tragically and prematurely, in spite of having the fingers of Cornelius Mears laid on their foreheads. But at the same time, I noticed that I did not feel resentment. I felt thankful for those whose physical afflictions God chose to heal.

I don't struggle with issues pertaining to God's sovereignty. Although I don't always understand why some are healed and others are not, I am certain that God knows why. And He has a plan.

I was not surprised that there was no mention of lawsuits, abuse or recent controversy. I think that was a wise decision. I did appreciate that he didn't go anywhere near "defending" CGT in those matters or disputing the validity of victims' suffering. The book was about his life and personal testimony. And although my memories and experiences do not gel with Neal's portrayal of CGT, I acknowledge that not everyone shares my perspective. I have to (mentally and emotionally) grant Neal and others the same freedom to share their perspective that I have claimed for myself.

By the time I finished the book, I didn't feel compelled to challenge his views or his depiction of the past with a list of examples. In fact, that would be redundant. My book already does that.

I went from wanting to respond (while reading specific portions of the book) to thinking maybe I wouldn't mention it on my blog at all ... ever.

And, of course, you're reading my thoughts on the book now. So I obviously changed my mind. But the main reason I did has nothing to do with the book at all -- or challenging it in any way.

I'm sharing all this for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to acknowledge reading the book. I actually gave thought to sending Neal an email telling him I read it and was glad I did for the insight it gave me. I decided against that. But, the truth is, I don't have feelings of personal animosity toward him or any member of his family. Although we disagree strongly on some very important matters, it is glaringly apparent to me that it isn't personal for me anymore. I try to be honest with myself in that I could have something in my heart that I'm not fully aware of. To say that I have never felt a twinge of personal animosity would be unrealistic. I resented plenty of words and attitudes while emotions were overwhelming me. But what I realize after reading Neal's book and reflecting on my lack of emotional response to it is that I don't have those intense emotions anymore. I have been set free.

I'm thankful for the life and the friends God has given me.
I'm at peace with the past.
I can finally reflect without intensity of emotion.
I can disagree without intensity of emotion.
I'm not in this battle anymore.
It's not about me.
I can rest.
I'm free.

That's what I wanted to share.

I spent many years longing to be this free. I'm amazed by how good it feels. There is a part of the healing process that is very painful. And then there is the ultimate healing, in which the pain has faded to the degree that you have forgotten how intense it once was.

God's grace is amazing!


Anonymous said…
Amazing what God can do with us when we allow Him to work.

Glad to see this is where you are on your journey. Now there is energy freed up for you to do what God had planned for you. All that energy? All that people charisma? Girlfriend, He's got BIG plans for you.....

Unknown said…
I agree with your choice. I also want to still eat lunch. Maybe on a Wed. in M'boro or in Nashville on the other days of the week. I saw the younger sister of a girl who would have graduated with us at our 30 year high school reunion, but because her denomination (very similar to this one) she got out into the real world & did not handle it well. She was a good friend of mind & it made the night kind of sad.