So Long Flying Monkeys

15 Mar

Who doesn’t like a monkey–unless it’s a flying monkey. I don’t know about you, but I love to go to the zoo and I could watch the monkeys for hours. Monkeys see and monkeys do. They love to imitate and respond to facial expressions. A few years ago, one of my nephews (who shall remain unnamed) went to a zoo with us where you could get in close to the monkeys. He began to make faces at this monkey and the monkey was sick of people making faces at him I guess, because he threw his poop at my nephew. It was sad and funny at the same time. Sad for my nephew, but also a good example of how monkeys behave. Someone in the family joked, “Monkeys see and monkeys doo-doo!” And that’s why we have issues with flying monkeys–they like to throw crap around.

This could be due in part to their choices to act before thinking. Acting without thinking causes bad habits like imitating others and responding with a defensive attack. Many a flying monkey has had a self-righteous attitude when they come over to tell you that you should be nicer to the narcissist. Sometimes they even use Jesus. Yes, I mean they actually use Jesus, because there is a huge difference between following Jesus and using Him and some Christians have it mixed up.

Flying Monkey Cards, Cherilyn Clough,

Cards Available Here

Here are three tips on how to disable those flying monkeys and send them on their way.

1. Run All Flying Monkey Comments Through a Filter
Okay, sometimes you are still connected to someone who is connected to someone else who has been damaging to you. It’s a tricky situation because you love this flying monkey and they really don’t mean any harm they literally can’t see what you have experienced and because you love them and their children you don’t want to shut them out.

This is often the case with siblings who grew up with completely different childhoods under the same parent due to favoritism or different expectations due to age differences. One might have been the golden child who could do no wrong or one could have been the irresponsible child that the irresponsible narc parent is most like so they have this bond. You cannot mess with the bond. And you would not want to have that bond either–this is how the filter can help you. Do you really want that same type of relationship? No, I don’t think so.

It’s like different witnesses seeing different things at an accident. So what to do? Filter, filter, filter. If she says the narc was super nice to her, but you had a different experience, then you can allow her grace to live in that world. It’s not hurting you to let her have her happy thoughts. It’s really okay to disagree with others, but it is NOT okay to let them shame you or guilt you for having your own feelings and memories, so keep that in mind. Change the subject. Or agree to disagree.

2. Educate Your Monkeys
Yeah, easier said than done, I know. But if it is in any way possible to educate a monkey, you might take away their venom. Sometimes flying monkeys know less about the truth and are just saying whatever they’ve been coached to say. This might be an uninformed aunt or church lady who thinks your narc mother is a jewel. Well she wasn’t there when you were pinched and belted by her, so in this case let her off easy, but inform her.

This is the tricky part because growing up in a narc family you were told to keep the family secrets, but don’t–just don’t keep the secrets any more. You are now grown up enough to own your childhood and your choices so educate, educate, educate. Tell your story–just remember that the narc has lied about you over and over to others and you may not be able to educate all flying monkeys–some flying monkeys are just plain bullies.

Don’t try to win over the haters,
you are not a jackass whisperer.
-Brené Brown

3. Refuse to Play With the Flying Monkeys
It seems harsh. It feels awkward at first because you are an empathetic person, but when it comes to triangulation therapists from the dawn of time have been warning us to stop talking about other people with other people. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 18 said to go directly to the person you have a problem with.

The flying monkey somehow imagines he is the only person not to blame because he listens to everyone–that’s why he is such a big part of the problem. Listening to everyone does not make you empathetic–it only makes you a part of the gossip chain. The flying monkey is really an apathetic person because they are not concerned with what hurts others as much as positioning themselves politically on the right side.

At the heart of every dysfunctional family lies triangulation and boundary violations. Boundary violations come when someone thinks someone else does not have a right to their story or feelings. Triangulation furthers the abuse because nobody can know what’s really being said behind their back when no one will be honest to their face. Flying Monkeys contribute to both.

The best way to get rid of a flying monkey is to stand up for your boundaries and tell them that you will not have a conversation about anyone else. By the way, I did this a few years ago and you will not believe the peace and silence that followed. I highly recommend it.

How to Stop Feeling Like a Victim

10 Mar

Once upon a time we were all victims. We were helpless children who could not feed ourselves or dress ourselves. We were not strong enough to fight the violence or emotional abuse. We had not control over what happened to us. We didn’t ask to be born into a dysfunctional family. We were blown about by the narc’s whims. Today we might bear the scars of the past, sometimes we still feel like victims, but we are the grownups now and the best way to celebrate NOT being a victim is to let our voices be heard.

Part of being a grown up is taking responsibility now–not responsibility for what others do or how they feel, but responsibility for our own choices today. We get to choose what we want to remember. We get to choose our support family and we get to choose when and who we share our stories with.

Write the Truth,

Print Available Here

Ironically, when we choose to talk about our pain and seek healing, the narc will start playing the victim. They might say how much we are hurting them because we remember. They will deny the past and call us liars. They will do everything they can to ruin our reputations by getting our relatives and friends to feel sorry for them.

They will claim we are bitter and ruining the family peace because we won’t just forgive and forget but continue to talk about what happened. It’s a form of emotional abuse to ask us to ignore our past. We own all the years of our lives and we each have the right to our memories.

Remember our abusers are not victims. They are not helpless. They have options. They could own the past and admit what they have done. They could apologize. They could stop talking and lying about us. They could allow us to grieve the past and heal without trying to control us, but none of these things will happen if we are dealing with a true narc.

Healing comes when we own our past and claim what we need. One of the best ways to stop being a victim is to let our voices be heard. We can do this through therapy, support groups and reaching out to other former victims.

Healing comes as we share our stories with other people who have gone through similar experiences. Finding others who understand brings profound healing because healing comes when we realize we are not alone.

When it’s your time to speak, don’t let anyone silence your voice.

Owning our story
and loving ourselves through that process
is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.
-Brené Brown

You own everything that happened to you.
Tell your stories.
If people wanted you to write warmly about them,
they should have behaved better.
-Anne Lamott

God Always Takes You In

6 Mar

There are many ways to be abandoned by a parent. A friend of mine lost both of his parents when he was seventeen in a car accident. They died immediately, while he ended up in a coma for days with a head injury only to wake up and discover they were gone. Life as he knew it no longer existed. I am not sure how people find strength to live through such tragic events, but he shared Psalm 27 with me one day and told me it had helped him.

Perhaps it is even sadder to lose your parents while they are still alive. When Jenny was 43, she hung up the phone and told her husband that her father had no interest in her unless she gave him money. She had spent decades trying to have a relationship with him, but he only wanted her money.  Her mother didn’t have time for a relationship either–unless she agreed with everything she said. When her sister got married Jenny wasn’t invited because her parents had decided she was no longer in the family. I didn’t ask if they were Christians, but what a sad example of how NOT to love your daughter.

These stories are not rare, everyone you meet can tell you similar stories. In ACON* support groups the stories are universal. Parents who discover their adult children are no longer meeting their needs often discard them like yesterday’s trash. But we aren’t trash: we are loving and empathetic human beings who have a lot to give to the world. Narc parents just have such narrow vision; they can’t recognize the value of the children they have thrown away–partially because they don’t want their adult children to give their resources to anyone but them.

God Took Me In, Cherilyn Clough,

Print and Accessories Available Here

One of the obvious issues when dealing with a narcissistic parent is the lack of relationship. Most narcs only care about us when we give them their currency–otherwise known as narcissistic feed. Currency is what makes people tick or motivates them–this could be quality time, money, praise or work. Some people’s currency is all about them being right all the time. For others, it’s using the time, energy and resources of other people. Everyone has a currency of some kind. Healthy people consider the currency of others in the relationship and they don’t just take without giving back. The narcissist only cares about people when they meet her needs.

It hurts to be used, it’s hard to stand up when you realize what is happening and then it hurts to be abandoned when the narcissist discards you. However you look at it it hurts, but then you have to consider if you really wanted a relationship with someone who only uses you. Whether it’s your parent or a friend, being used is not love and it has no place in a relationship. Many ACONs have walked away from their parents when they discovered all they wanted to do was control them. Those who go no contact have discovered it is better to be an orphan than a slave. They are accused of shutting out their parents, but the truth is the parent abandoned their child emotionally years ago.

There is one person who will never abandon you and that’s Jesus. Whether you believe in Him or not, He has promised He will never leave you. If you think God doesn’t care about your problems, or maybe He can’t take your tears and despair, just read a few Psalms and you will see that even when all he had to do was find food and water for the sheep, David was carrying a lot of pain inside his heart. Apparently his mother and father walked out on him–maybe he had narcissistic parents too. Or maybe they just died–either way, David realized he was not alone and cried out to God to re-parent him and we can too.

And David was not the only Bible writer who shows us this side of God, Isaiah speaking for God says–

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you.
-Isaiah 49:15

Wherever you are on the relationship merry go round–whether you are still trying to please a narc parent so you can feel good enough, whether you are still trying to find your voice so you can stand up for yourself or whether you have been shunned as the black sheep for not meeting the narc’s needs, just remember that God loves you with an everlasting love. Even when your own parents lie about you and shun you, God will always take you in.

*ACON-Adult Children of Narcissists

2. The Valley of the Shadow–Little Red 23rd

27 Feb

The Valley of the Shadow seems like a very dangerous place. I remember camping in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming as a newly wed. There was not another soul for miles around. We found a little valley way high up in the mountains and at night you could hear a cougar scream or at least my mind kept playing cougar tapes–so much that I required my husband to hold the outhouse door open. As I tried to sleep that night all I could do was repeat Psalm 23 and I kept thinking about the Valley of the Shadow of Death and I wondered why I was camping in it.

Little Red 23rd Montage,

Print Available Here

Most of us go up and down with our emotions all the time and if you have lived a few decades on this earth you know what it is to “be in the Valley.” When I was a kid and I read the 23rd Psalm, the “Valley of the Shadow of Death was such an ominous and scary thought that I wondered to myself who wants to repeat a Psalm about dying? Many people find comfort in Psalm 23 when someone dies, so I am not saying it’s inappropriate–just that there is more to dying than giving up physical life–for starters there is dying spiritually.

Dying spiritually and being spiritually dead are two different things. Spiritual death is when we lose all desire to love. Dying spiritually, on the other hand, actually brings resurrection and new life. It matters what we die to–dying to love kills us spiritually, while dying to self allows the Shepherd to heal us. Now I realize there are a thousand ways to die–or imagine you are dying and many of them happen while you are still alive. This is why we need the Shepherd–we need Him to guide us through all of our dark valleys.

So what does it mean for Little Red to go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and be rescued by the Shepherd?

She’s been neglected, but the Shepherd supplies her needs (Philippians 4:19).

She’s been used and abused until the Shepherd shows her He invented boundaries (Genesis 1:4).

She’s been called hurtful names, but the Shepherd calls her “the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

She’s been lied to and cruelly gaslighted, but the Shepherd says He is the Truth and honors all truth (John 14:6).

She’s been judged for her mistakes, but the Shepherd says neither do I condemn you (John 8:11).

She’s been excluded and ostracized from others, but the Shepherd says He will never leave her alone (Hebrews 13:5).

She’s wondered if her enemies will prevail, but the Shepherd serves her a meal in front of her enemies (Psalm 23:5).

The Valley might seem dark and scary, but when we are traveling with the Good Shepherd we have nothing to fear–not from spiritually dying or physically dying. We have a Shepherd whose love is stronger than even physical death (Romans 8:38).

Child's Starry Night,

Print Available Here

The love of the Good Shepherd takes away our fears (1 John 4:8). No weapon formed against you will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). And because the Good Shepherd is also the Light (John 8:12), darkness isn’t dark to Him, so we never need to feel scared or alone again.

Rest well Little Reds, the Good Shepherd is watching over you.

1. Supplies All My Needs–Little Red 23rd

19 Feb

Last summer while I was trying to make a piece of art every day, I began a series with Little Red Riding Hood in the setting of Psalm 23. I realize some people thought I was losing my spirituality by mixing the revered and sacred Psalm 23 with a fairy tale. If they thought this, they probably haven’t read why I use Little Red for a symbol of all who were used and abused in the name of love.

Little Red is every ACON* and abused child. When the Psalmist wrote the 23rd, I fully believe he had all of us in mind. Little Red, by invitation from the Shepherd has every right to the benefits of the Psalm regardless of where she has been or how others view her. If you have ever felt like Little Red, them welcome, Psalm 23rd is your invitation to thrive!

I’ll admit as a child growing up with a religious instruction, I memorized the 23rd Psalm and recited it like a chant, but I never applied it to my own situation. Why? I am not sure. For one thing, much of my religious instruction was about defending my denominational faith so I wasn’t encouraged to focus on a relationship with God as much as I was taught to prove the neighbors wrong. All I can say today is such proof-texting might be helpful in a seminary, but for me as a child, it was the antithesis to knowing God.

And when I did try to apply the 23rd in relationship terms, I imagined it was about David. This is because there was one telltale verse that made it NOT about me. I was a girl and everyone knew girls could NOT be pastors and it says in verse five, “You anoint my head with oil.” The only person not nearly dead that I had ever heard of being anointed was a pastor. I imagined the context of this verse was about David being anointed to be king and well that left me out almost as much as being a pastor–except I knew I was a child of the King–it says so in the hymn.

Also as a child who was not encouraged to discuss poverty or our homeless state, I had no hope of the Shepherd supplying my needs. My experience was when I even earned my own money, it would be taken away because my parents needed it for groceries or the next move. No, I was pretty sure Psalm 23 didn’t apply to me.

Little Red 23rd Art  Montage,  Cherliyn Clough, Little Red Survivor Art

Print Available Here

It wasn’t until I was grown up and destitute and feeling unworthy that I began to realize this Psalm was for me. It happened after my husband graduated from college. We had very little money and barely made it across the country to his first job. We had no one to help us. Our parents were not able to help at all. We had no savings and we landed in a town where no one knew us. We were not part of the regular churchy crowd, so it was humiliating to think we would have to go begging to the church to help us make it to my husband’s first paycheck. Even worse, we had just enough money to stay in the hotel where we were for two more weeks then we would be homeless. As a girl growing up living out of tents and trailers and cabins without running water, I began to panic.

We finally found a house to rent with a kind landlord who was willing to wait on the deposit until my husband’s first check, but to stay in the house we were expected to pay the first month’s rent. If we paid the rent we would have a roof over our heads for the next month, but it would leave us with only twenty dollars for food and gas and without any food to put in the cupboards until the first paycheck in three weeks. We decided living in a house with nothing was better than sleeping on the street with food, but once the landlord pulled out of the driveway we sat there for a couple of hours trying to figure out what to do.

Finally we decided to pray. After we prayed I felt thirsty. I wanted grape juice. My husband thought I was crazy. He said I could drink water because it was free. I agreed in my mind, but in my mouth I could almost taste the grape juice. We prayed again–this time for me to be satisfied, but I only craved it more. I said what I really wanted was Welch’s. My husband found this incredulous. He said if we even considered buying some grape juice, then it would have to be the cheapest brand we could find. I argued what difference would a few cents make if all we had was twenty dollars? Then we both fell silent, wondering how we got ourselves into this desperate situation.

Finally my husband told me I could get some grape juice because twenty dollars wasn’t going to cut it anyway and we would have to beg the church for help. At the mention of this I started to cry. I had moved so many times and I knew the best foot forward was not begging for money or food, but what could we do? I asked if we could pray again before we went to the store.

In the store, we split up. My husband went to look for the cheap brand, while I went straight for the Welch’s. We were going to compare prices. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. My heavy heart, my tear swollen eyes, the florescent flicker of the lights and the hum of the freezer case as I looked down into the frozen juices. Then my heart stopped for a second. There lying on top of the frozen Welch’s were two neatly rolled up $100 bills. I looked around the empty store and put that money on my pocket.

As we met in the middle of the store, I held out the Welch’s frozen grape juice to my husband and told him to buy it. Then I opened my hand so he could see what I had found. His eyes grew huge. We told the cashier we had found some money and where we were staying, but we never said how much because as a former cashier I knew the amount is part of the identity of the cash. No one ever claimed that money, but it got us through the next three weeks until we had a paycheck.

That night, for the first time in my life, I felt loved by God. I felt like anything was possible as long as I trusted the Shepherd because now I realized He really did want to supply my needs. I don’t find money in stores or anywhere else these days, but then I am not in financial need like I was that day.

What I have learned since that day twenty years ago, is how the Shepherd supplies ALL of my needs–my needs for strength through pain and disappointment, my needs through love when I am rejected by people I love, my needs for refreshment when life seems dry and rough and hard and my need for meaning through all the trials of my life. Yes, even the anointing is mine to claim–and it’s just as true for you!

Finding Boundaries

18 Feb

Many ACONs* work hard to meet the needs of other people–probably due to the empathy factor. Because ACONs are high in empathy, they often try to rescue their boyfriends, husbands, parents, siblings and grown children. Grown children is a good term for many of the people we try to rescue. It’s not wrong to care or show compassion, but it’s wrong when we do it over and over again to the very people who are abusive to us.

Have you ever had someone rage and yell at you in anger–only to look for a way to calm them down? Has it ever occurred to you that it was never your responsibility to calm them down or pay their bills or make them happy? No matter who this rageaholic is in relationship to you, other people’s emotions and behavior are NOT within your jurisdiction.

Fixing others might be a long term habit and you might even do it without thinking, so it’s important to ask yourself the question, did you grow up feeling responsible for your parent’s feelings? If so, you are not alone. Many ACONs did.

What we didn’t realize while we were growing up is that our narcissistic parents were stealing our boundaries before we were old enough to claim them. Boundaries help us differentiate where we end and our parents begin. And no one–not even a parent owns another person. I was in my forties before I understand boundaries. If you were not taught boundaries, it’s worth reading up on them, so let me say it again:

Boundaries separate what we own from what we don’t.

Boundaries help us differentiate between what we are responsible for and what we are NOT responsible for. If you grew up in a family with messy boundaries, it might be hard as an adult to find your boundaries.

Little Red and Wolf No Contact, Little Red Survivor Art

No Contact accessories available in Etsy Shop. Click on picture.

Sometimes people misuse the term boundaries to issue more control. I heard of a reader whose parents always talked about boundaries and used the term to say they were not going to help him with anything. They were negligent and self-centered parents and his understanding of boundaries was confused because he thought of boundaries as walls that shut other people out. What his parents modeled was not healthy boundaries–but a wall of self-protection.

For years, I avoided reading about boundaries because I too, mistakenly thought of them as a wall. After I read Henry Cloud’s book, I realized boundaries are more like a gate. A gate is a device that either blocks or opens allowing us to decide who and what we let into our lives.

There were times as a young adult that I felt responsible for my family members. I made the mistake of paying their bills before I paid my own. My boundaries were totally confused because I felt responsible for what belonged to others. I wasn’t using the gate to determine where my responsibilities begin and end.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with helping someone, but we first need to take responsibility for our own bills–otherwise we might fail to pay our bills and end up with our money problems affecting someone else’s boundaries. We might even find ourselves out on the street because we were too nice to pay our own bills and paid someone else’s bills. Sometimes being nice is not a virtue–not if you fail to pay your own bills and help someone else. Finding our boundaries helps us utilize our time and resources. The protocol for using an oxygen mask on an airplane demonstrates basic boundaries–if we don’t breathe, we can’t help anyone else.

There is a fallacy called ad misericodiam where a person cries for someone to give him money–not because he is willing to work, but because he needs the money. Most people who need someone else to pay for them or expect others to make them happy are not talking responsibility for their own boundaries.

There is a proverb that says:

A short-tempered man must bear his own penalty;
you can’t do much to help him.
If you try once, you must try a dozen times!
-Proverbs 19:19

In a narcissistic family, the boundaries were scrambled. You were probably taught to feel responsible for your parent’s feelings–while they ignored yours. And you were probably blamed for making them sad, while they didn’t want you to express your own sadness. Sometimes all you had to do to make them sad was tell the truth. Do you realize how unfair this is? If telling the truth made your parents sad, this was not your fault–it was their fault for not living better lives.

Many ACONs were told, “If you would just stop complaining, everything could be fine.” IOW–It doesn’t matter if you were taken out of school and moved for the fifteenth time. If you are crying about it, then you are ruining the family spirit. This concept is a not only a gaslighting technique, but it’s a fallacy. First of all, you were never responsible for the feelings and reactions of your family members and second, you have a right to your feelings and you don’t need to justify why it hurt you to be hit with a belt or say goodbye to your friends every time you moved.

Because the blurred boundaries in an enmeshed family create all kinds of false shame and emotions that were not even yours to begin with, it’s important to understand boundaries to differentiate where your parent ends and you begin. Your parents are not living in your body, so only you can decide how to take care of yourself. They are not earning your money, so only you can spend it. They were not given your vote, that is yours to cast as you believe.

When people blow up or shun you because they are disappointed with your choices, they are asking you to give them something that was never theirs in the first place. Your individuality, your dreams, your beliefs and your vote are your God-given birthright and no one has the right to take them from you. You cannot give these things away and remain whole. You are the only one responsible to God for your choices.

If you just discovered boundaries and have been giving your parents your power, it’s never too late to take it back. A simple rule of thumb is to let others decide for themselves and insist on making your own choices.

In the video below, Dr. Henry Cloud gives a short intro to Boundaries and what they are, if you have never read his books you will be blessed.

*ACON Adult Children of Narcissists

Sharing Love and Hope Because of Maddy

15 Feb

This last week, I woke up saddened by the death of an innocent college student and started writing on my phone from bed and posted it. At the time I felt my feelings were so raw and personal, I almost didn’t post. It’s turned out to be my most read blog ever with over 1222 reads and 168 shares as of this posting! But anyone can write about their thoughts of doubt and pain about death, it must be so much harder to live through such an experience. Even though I don’t know Maddy’s mom personally (I go to church with her Grandma) I am deeply touched by the way she has handled this most devastating event.

Maddy’s service will be held today at 6:00 pm, at the Walla Walla University Church. I’m sure it will be a well attended and well thought out event. If you would like to see how a loving mother deals with her faith in a time of greatest pain, you can follow the progression of her loving care for her daughter’s memory on the Facebook page Share Love for Maddy. (I will included the link below.) Here is an except:

“I look in the mirror I see a different women. One that is strange, altered and a unsure. One that is so brave, strong and loved. One that understands deeply Gods great love and incredible sacrifice. One that is over joyed to have complete assurance that Madison my daughter is safe, free from pain and that she lived her life out loud, wild and free.”

And the post that touched me the most and brought fresh tears to my eyes was this one–

“National Donor Day!! My Maddy gave her heart away…. Happy real Valentines Day!!!”

What faith does it take for a mom to rejoice that her beautiful daughter’s death will give the gift of life to someone else?

It can only be her strong faith in God that is sustaining her.

Someone wrote to me and said, “How beautiful is this mother’s faith throughout her pain! I want to know God and have a faith like that! How precious she and her daughter must be to Jesus!”

I would definitely call her brave.

I heard a speaker once say God has an honor guard–a group of people who will stand for His character though the heavens fall around them and I believe this mother is showing the world what this looks like. The honor guard knows God did not do this–that an enemy exists who causes pain and death. When other people shake their fists at God, there will be a group of people who regardless of what happens to them will continue to say–

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away,
but my heart will choose to say
Blessed be Your name

RIP Maddy! Thank you for sharing your strong faith Maddy’s Mom! The day is coming soon when you will hold your daughter again!

Share Love for Maddy on Facebook

Not Safe, but Good

12 Feb

It’s happened again. Someone beautiful and young has died way too young. A young college student going for a bike ride on a beautiful day was hit by a truck and has died. It was the worst kind of accident because the person who hit her wasn’t drunk or breaking any traffic laws. The sun was in his eyes and there is no person to blame. And when there is no person to blame, I don’t know about you, but I want to blame God.

I want to blame God because He has all power and He could of stopped this horrible event, but He didn’t.

I want to blame God because even after the event happened, He could still have healed her, but He didn’t.

I want to blame God because even after death, He could of brought her back to life, but He didn’t.

Thousands of people shared a picture over a prayer request, so it seems the least God could do was answer all those prayers of faith and heal her, but He didn’t.

Tears in a Bottle, Little Red Survivor Art, Cherilyn Clough

Click on picture to buy print.

Our expectations of God are leaving a lot of broken-hearted people with a question on their minds even if they don’t say it out loud (and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind too) what is up with God?

And more specifically with Jesus–the same Jesus who woke up a little girl already dead, the same Jesus who called Lazarus out of the grave and raised Himself from the tomb.

For me, it’s never been a question of can God heal?–but will God heal?

I was taught to always specify that God’s will would be done, but that has always seemed like an out so we have an excuse to explain to unbelievers when the answer is no.

And I hate no answers. At times like this I to want to scream and pound on God’s chest because it feels like we’ve been snubbed in our darkest hour.

But then I am left with the rest of life in this world where beauty and kindness still exist–although less so when good people die–and people echo back and forth to each other that “God is good all the time.”

And at times like this, I want to pound and cry at heaven’s door, “Show me your goodness once more! Just throw me something, God!”

Well it’s true, part of God’s goodness is that He is not put off by our fears and tears, doubts and shouts and tantrums. He just stands there while we blame Him and He can take it because He realizes our blaming comes from our pain.

I imagine God is hurting too because maybe His hands were tied. What? Does that sound like crazy talk? I just said maybe He couldn’t stop this stupid accident from happening. Well what kind of God is not able to have complete control? The kind of God who gives away power to humans and angels.

Tragic events will never stop stunning me or you–

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.”

Not everything that happens is God’s will–

Jesus said, “Pray for my will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Even when the unspeakable happens–

Jesus says, “An enemy has done this.”

It’s discouraging to realize we are living in a war zone between God and his enemy–an enemy who never plays fair, but we’ve been given a promise that God will work all things together for good despite brutal attacks from God’s enemy.

My dear friend Amelia has had a bad week. Just a couple weeks ago, she found out she had thyroid cancer and then had surgery and now she has been dealing with all kinds of dizziness and sickness due to hormone and calcium imbalances all week. She has young children and I can only imagine how hard it is to want to be up and about doing things for the kids you love but have to be lying in bed. Today she posted:

“Just suggesting, please, all of you, avoid cancer. Drink green tea, rest a lot, and fill your life with happy. And if you do get cancer, you’ll be OK because God stays close by.” Even in her pain and sickness Amelia is saying God is good.

Jesus says, I will never leave you. Even in our sickness and loss and pain, God is for us and not against us.

As we remember the beautiful life of this beautiful, young college girl, I see how it might have happened–full of joy and love and light–a light so bright that God’s enemy wanted to destroy the influence–but all that really happened is that her short life will shine even brighter now.

She will shine brighter because the enemy cannot snuff out her influence on thousands of people who knew her or read about her. And as she gives life to 8-12 other people because she is an organ donor, she will shine even brighter. Through her sacrifice, Jesus will possibly bring other people back from the brink of death to live a little longer so they too, can know the Jesus she loved. Not that God can’t work miracles alone, but because He has given all freedom of choice, He chooses to work through people and their choices. This young women will have the honor of giving along with God—and this is how God wins the war against His enemy.

Her last words were “I can’t believe what a beautiful day it is!” And by the time she wakes up, she’s going to say those words again with even greater emphasis and joy.

By then we will have gone through our own transformations–perhaps the people she gave life to will be there too. Maybe the life she lived will contribute to someone else living forever. When we consider our short lives on this earth compared to eternity we are all just waiting to go home.

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?
Your life is like the morning fog–
It’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
-James 4:14

Scary world we live in, but I love the way C.S. Lewis describes Aslan.

He’s not safe, but he’s good.
-C.S. Lewis

The same can be said of God.

Have courage broken hearts, because eventually we will all say, “God is good all the time.”

Here is a great podcast for those who wonder why God lets bad things happen to good people–

After Collision with Truck, Walla Walla University Student Madison Baird Passes Away

Valentine’s Love Give-Away

8 Feb

Hi ACON Friends!

Over the last year my blog readership has quadrupled and I owe it all to my readers. I am just as grateful for every like and comment as I am for each sale in my Etsy shop. THANK YOU!

To say Thank you I have decided to do some giveaways this week for Valentine’s Day, because you all deserve the love!

Every piece of art and product I carry was designed to help you as an ACONs or victim of abuse to celebrate the steps on your healing journey.

When I send you a prize from a giveaway, I’m excited to send it to you because I know these items are a reminder of how far you have come and they will inspire you to keep moving forward from survivor to thriver.

Everything Shapes Us Travel Mug, Little Red Survivor on Etsy

So here is how to play the Valentine’s Feel the Love game–

Share this blog on FB or comment below on which is your favorite item from my Etsy shop and I will enter you into a drawing for an Everything Shapes Us Travel Mug just like the one above. The mug is ceramic on the outside and stainless steel on the inside. It was made at Red Bubble so you know it is a quality mug and it’s also worth $32. I will make a drawing for everyone who shares this post or comments below telling me what their favorite thing is in my etsy shop. To find the shop just click on the picture. You have until 6:00 PM Tuesday, February 10 for this drawing. I also have some flash drawings on FB, so check in on the Little Red Survivor FB page to win cards, a print, a Kitteh tote and some other cool stuff.

Have a great week and remember love is not love until it’s given away. However, at the same time remember love deserves to be reciprocated in a healthy relationship, so don’t pour all your love into someone who refuses to give back–You are worth a reciprocal love relationship!

Happy Love Week!

My Child, My Mirror

7 Feb

When many people hear the word narcissism, they think of the legend of Narcissus who was so vain he worshiped his image in a pond until he fell in and drowned. I once saw a cartoon of a father staring at his own reflection in a lake while his daughter kept calling out, “Daddy?!” The image suggested she was neglected while he adored himself. This cartoonist understood the neglect that comes from a narcissistic parent, but he only got it half right–because for many narcissistic parents, their child is the mirror.

Like many ACONs, you may have been used like a mirror for your narcissistic parent. Such parents are not satisfied unless they can see their own values and choices displayed in their child. Narcissistic parents see their children as an extension of themselves, they use mind control to shape their children at a young age to become mini versions of themselves. If this is true, you may have been robbed of your ability to shine.

Shine, Little Red Survivor, Cherilyn Clough

This mirroring pattern continues into adulthood and is manifested by parents quizzing their adult children on their religious beliefs, politics and spending habits. Appearances are everything to these narcissistic minds. They want all of their children to be in the church and vote as they would vote and eat what they would eat on holiday dinners. They want us to do as they would do so they can feel satisfied they have raised us to reflect them in the way they want to be portrayed in the world.

By refusing to acknowledge their child’s individuality, such parents are selfish to begin with and nothing you can do will fix this. As you pull away to become yourself, they will become more controlling, then disillusioned and bitter when you fail to live up to their expectations. As you begin to vote differently or leave the church or form your own holiday traditions, the war will intensify.

The battles are subtle at first, a glance of disappointment, the suggestion you might be letting down the whole family because you have chosen differently. But as most ACONs know, the failure to reflect our parents–to vote, marry and worship as they would have us live our lives eventually brings on a cascade of narcissistic behavior from gaslighting and scapegoating to the silent treatment.

There is no better time to reclaim your individuality than now. There is no better way to reclaim your boundaries by standing up to let your voice be heard, but beware the narc parent will accuse you of everything from ruining the party to being ungrateful or disloyal or not honoring your parents. They might use everything from scripture and flying monkeys to lawyers to straighten you out.

When this happens it’s important to ground yourself in these truths–

1. No one–not even a parent owns the choices of another human being. Slavery is defined as controlling another person’s choices.

2. God created you to be yourself–not an extension of your parents. Look in the mirror and recognize your own face.

3. You will never feel at peace until you live authentically.

As you listen to your own voice and the voice of your Maker, you will begin to shine. It might seem a little scary at first, but you can forge a new path from your family of origin. When you reach that fork in the road where the sign reads narc parent vs. your own choices, don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled, step into your individuality and shine.


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