Tag Archives: relationships

Fifty Darker Shades of Sin… Sexual Abuse is not a “grey area”

By Angela Royse Pelleman

Formerly published as “God’s Scriptures on Sexual Abuse are Written in Black and White… Not Grey”

Confusion and Lies  

As if it wasn’t bad enough to be exposed to unwelcome previews for the pornographic movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, right before Valentine’s Day, it’s déjà vu, two years later, with Fifty Shades Darker.  Though pain, abuse, and trauma are weaved through this vile book and movie, which sadistically glamorize a sexually abusive relationship, the devil has managed to convince readers, movie viewers, actors, and producers, that they need another dose of more sin and darkness. I cringe just typing out the titles, which were aptly chosen for material so “grey” without love, and  so “dark” with evil. 
I pray my words will honor God, and convict the hearts of many: male and female, young and old, Christian and non-Christian; from making the shameful sinful, regretful mistake of viewing what should actually be an X-rated movie, which can do x-amount of damage in too many ways to count.

Original, complete article below:

As God quickly gave me words and verses to share, I started wondering: Do they really know that’s it’s wrong, and why it’s wrong? To me, it’s obvious, but it may not be obvious to those who are lost or confused, or to those who have been taught to believe lies. Even Christians can be blinded by the lies of the world. “And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf” (Isa. 35:5 New Living Translation).
This may be a “gray” area in the minds of some people, but God speaks to us, in scriptures, from pages that are black and white. The words of Jesus can be found in red. God hates sexual abuse. His word says, “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure” (Prov. 15:26 English Standard Version). If God’s word says NO on a particular issue, then God doesn’t want His children involved in any way, shape, or form. That includes reading books and watching movies about it. Walking down an ungodly path, leads people into temptation. “But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires” (James 1:14 Holman Christian Standard Bible).

“No! Sexual abuse is not okay!” I want to scream it. Neither is emotional, verbal, physical, or spiritual abuse. Usually, several of them are tied together, as they are in this movie. My hope is that people will not change their minds because of what I have to say about violence and porn, but what God has to say about it. Maybe lives will be changed for the better. Maybe lives will be…saved. 

Sin and Sensationalism

Is our world so broken, that the newest form of sensationalism is the sexually abusive relationship? Yes; God already knew it would happen: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Tim. 3:2-4 New International Version).

A sin is a sin, and the devil is a deceiver. He knows that people will think it’s okay to watch a pornographic movie, if it has an acceptable R rating and is being shown at a public movie theater. The devil also knows that people get their ideas about love from the fallen world around them. Lies can be found in books, movies, commercials, and magazines. They all shout out the lie that sex is love.

God says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28 NIV). When people view pornographic material, they are inviting sinful thoughts to surface. This can lead to further sin. Why jeopardize the chance to have a fulfilling, godly relationship, based on love? “Do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:27 NET Bible).

Sex and Abuse

When sexual abuse gets added into the mix, and it causes even more chaos and confusion. Sexual abuse is not love. It is the opposite. Sexual abuse is hatred. It is a sin. Sexual abuse is unhealthy, damaging, and evil. It is a lie to believe that it’s romantic to dole it out. It’s a lie to believe one must take it, in order to prove love. It’s a bold-faced like to believe love can be found in a sexually abusive relationship.

Sex without marriage already causes damage. God’s laws are in place to protect us. God intended sex to be an intimate act of love, within the confines of marriage only. The marriage bond is sacred. God says this: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb. 13:4 English Standard Version). Sex forms an intimate bond between a husband and wife, and it’s one way for them to express their love toward each other. In fact, it is so special, that the couple can create a baby together. 

If God does not approve of sex outside of marriage, then He certainly does not approve of an abusive sexual relationship. God also does not approve of sexual abuse within a marriage. He gives clear instructions about how men should treat their wives: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Eph. 5: 25-28 NIV).

Temptation and Thievery

Anything in opposition to God’s commandments, is sin. The devil is at work, enticing people to sin. He does this subtly, through entertainment. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and also have it to the full” (John 10: 10 NIV). These are the words of Jesus. The thief is the devil. The devil steals virginity, innocence, childhood, and peace. He kills by inflicting pain, turning people against each other, and he will do whatever he can to kill hope, faith, and joy. He destroys purity, marriages, families, and lives. He is a tempter. One vile way the devil does this, is through sexual abuse. He also seeks to deceive people into thinking that certain situations aren’t so bad. The devil is a deceiver and a liar. Only Jesus can redeem and restore the beauty that is lost, and bring new life.

The comments in favor of this book and movie, are excuses to sin. Erotica is not valuable literature. It’s a fancy word for “porn.” It’s sexual fantasy. When the graphic sex and violence are removed, there is nothing left. When a man degrades a woman, he is saying she’s worthless. This is a lie from Hell. God created women to be loved and cherished. In a sexually abusive relationship, lost souls are being led down a dangerous path full of manipulative lies. These souls are being damaged.

Reality and Redemption

Why on earth would it be okay, then, to watch a movie with a selfish, sadistic, narcissistic, sexual abuser as the star? What is entertaining about watching women be demeaned, mistreated, battered and abused? How does this give glory and honor to God? It doesn’t. Death would be a better alternative for the character from Shades of Grey. “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6 NIV). These are the words of Jesus, in red. If someone thinks that is harsh judgment, it can be discussed him. Jesus is real man, a man without sin, and he can take it. In fact, he already did. He took it all, for you and for me, when he died on the cross. He died for girls and boys who are, and have been, sexually abused. He even died for the abusers.

God’s people can be forgiven their sins. Even sexual abusers can be forgiven for atrocities that would otherwise land them into the pit of hell. Why does a sexual abuser, get a chance to go to Heaven? If an abuser asks Jesus into His heart, God lets him in. Why? It’s because Jesus already paid for the sin! He took the punishment for you and me! It’s a gift! God loved us all enough to send His own son, as a living sacrifice, to die for each and every one of us, so that we could live with Him eternally. Hell is not a place anyone wants to go. The devil may buddy up to some people here on earth, but he’s a deceiver. He’s making promises he doesn’t intend to keep. But God does keep his promises, and He has every intention of fulfilling every single one of them for His children.

The Silver Lining

God wants a clean, pure relationship with His children. God forgives all sins, only through His son, Jesus Christ. To receive eternal life, a person must ask Jesus to come into his heart, while acknowledging that he is a sinner, and that Jesus died for him. This is an act of faith, and God calls every man and woman to receive His gift. Since we have to wait until he comes, he offers healing to those who have suffered the pain and agony of physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual abuse. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3 NIV). Jesus understands suffering. He willingly suffered for our sins.

Prayer

Dear God, please forgive your children when they struggle with temptations. Please give them wisdom and discernment. Heal those who are hurting and damaged. Fill your children with your Holy Spirit. Give them eyes to see the truth. Turn your children away from evil, and into the arms of Jesus.

Reflection

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8 NIV). 


Black and white bible page with words of Jesus in red and life-saving verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

A Narcissist’s Damaging Impact…Hope for the Hurting

Narcissist is just a fancy word for an extremely self-centered person. Narcissism is a sin. A narcissist is so focused on self, there’s no room to consider others as separate individuals with their own thoughts and emotions. This spiritual issue has roots in bitterness, jealousy, and denial; which are also sins. Narcissism is so selfishly intent on getting its own way, that it is willing to gossip, lie, and slander its victim to the point of destroying someone’s life, all for the sake of keeping its reputation intact.

Narcissists destroy their victims, causing immense pain, with no empathy or regard for the lives they ruin, in order to keep up false appearances. Those who are not the chosen victims, are still negatively impacted by the narcissists. They are often completely unaware that they are being cruelly used by the narcissist, for the sole purpose of causing further trauma to the victim. Why don’t they realize this? There are many reasons. The narcissist’s helpers have been deceived: lied to, manipulated, fooled, and tricked into thinking the narcissist is someone completely different than he or she claims to be. A conniving narcissist often fools generations, and thousands of people. 

If one grows up in a narcissistic household, the family members are trained to obey the narcissist’s every beck and call. If anyone rocks the boat, they risk a tantrum, and the narcissist will make that person pay. For most, it’s not worth the fear and anxiety. The family members learn to praise and go along with the narcissist, hoping to keep the “peace” and avoid becoming victims themselves. They join the narcissist in finding a scapegoat or two, victims made to look as if they are the problems in the family. But the truth is, the narcissist is projecting, transferring, and placing blame onto the victim in an attempt to hide his or her own inadequacies and ugly, dysfunctional secrets. 

Those who aren’t scapegoats, either learn to stay away from the home, or they join hands with the narcissist, hoping to please them to dodge their wrath, and stay under the radar. Though this seems ideal, in a sense, the other family members are victims too. They aren’t allowed to be themselves either. The entire family’s lives are centered around the narcissist. Family members lose their sense of self and find themselves left alone with broken dreams, wondering where their lost years have gone, and why their vivacious personalities have disappeared. 

Over the years, victims of narcissism find themselves shackled in chains of rejection, anger, despair, abandonment, fear, anxiety, self-condemnation, guilt, worthlessness, and the isolation that comes with abuse. In addition, victims are plagued by lies that they are have been taught to believe about themselves. The devil convinces them that the lies are true, because he wants to destroy people and relationships. Though these lies are powerful, they can’t even begin to compare to the power and authority given to us through Jesus Christ. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10 New International Version).

Prayer, bible reading, and knowing who you are in Christ, is the beginning of the painful battle. But it’s a battle worth fighting, and God promises victory. The bible itself is a weapon, and God prepares us for war. We are not fighting flesh and blood. We are fighting a spiritual battle. Ephesians, chapter 6, outlines God’s battle plan. This topic will be covered in a separate blog post, but you can get a head start by reading your bible and praying to Jesus. Prayer is the most powerful weapon on earth; it goes beyond outer space and into the Heavens where God hears your pleas for help! 

I’m just one person, out of many, who has experienced severe pain as if it was a constant, unwanted companion. But, I’m also a child of God who loves Jesus. I have been so blessed to receive the help and validation I so desperately needed. I pursued Jesus, and he pulled me out of the deep dark pit of depression and despair caused by narcissistic abuse. 

Pain’s value, is that it helps us to understand compassion. It gives us the ability to empathize, something a narcissist is unable to do (though he or she may be able to pretend). Pain is also part of suffering with Jesus, but it’s temporary, and we get to share in the joys of eternal life with Jesus too! “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom. 8:17).

Jesus knows and cares about how many tears you’ve shed. He cares about the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain you’ve endured. The silver lining is that he loves you so much he endured far worse, when he allowed himself to be nailed to the cross for our sins. He died for you, me, narcissists, and everyone else in the whole world. All we need to do is believe on his holy name, and invite him into our hearts. He will erase our sins, wipe away our tears, and take away our pain. One day we will live with him eternally, and we will never remember or experience any pain again! 

But what about now? What about the pain we experience on earth? Jesus wants to take care of that too. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Pet. 5:10). Give your pain to Jesus. He wants to take it from you. He already sacrificed his life for you. Let him take you into his loving arms.

  
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”                   Rev. 21:4 New Living Translation

Narcissism: Battling a Self-Centered Sin

Narcissism. It’s the latest overused buzzword. Yet, narcissism is a growing problem, and it’s not about to go away. Narcissism is SIN. A narcissist is extremely self-centered, selfishly promoting oneself at all costs, in order to remain on an imaginary pedestal. 

There are varying levels of narcissism. As someone becomes more selfish, that person becomes more self-centered, and in turn becomes blind to the needs and feelings of others. The self-centered narcissist is then no longer able to have compassion and empathy for other people. Narcissists expect to be the center of attention all the time, every time, believing that others’ lives should revolve around their own. In fact, narcissists get offended if not treated as the special beings they believe themselves to be.  

Narcissists learn to fake the empathy and compassion they lack. They closely watch others, reading their facial expressions and mimicking voice inflections. They react by faking the false emotion which they think best fits the situation. Narcissists manipulate and control people like puppets, in order to keep the spotlight on themselves. They learn how to use self-pity to get others to do their dirty work, and thrive on stirring up drama. They are convincing liars, able to turn on a faucet of tears in order to reach their goal of getting their own way, and gaining more attention. 

A narcissist feeds on “narcissistic supply.” This means they use others in order to get their emotional needs met. They don’t even mind some negative attention, which they would rather have than nothing at all. A narcissist will do whatever is necessary to get “narcissistic supply,” including: working overtime, committing adultery, forging false friendships, and tearing families apart. They jealously set out to destroy relationships, in order to prove that everyone “needs” them in a time of crisis. As the sin grows roots of bitterness, narcissists are willing to take extreme risks, including: placing their children in dangerous situations, taking on extra romantic partners, and falling into dangerous addictions. It’s all about generating narcissistic supply, in order to make other people believe that the narcissist is the personality he or she claims to be.

Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes. Some want to be looked at as powerful authority figures, while others want to be perceived as perfect church leaders. Others may want to be super mom, and still others as bold, fearless, and tough. Whichever role a narcissist chooses, it’s always for self-gratification. Narcissists are willing to lie, cheat, gossip, slander, and steal to make sure the desired facade is not broken. 

Anyone who becomes a threat to the narcissist, by pulling away the false mask, is at risk of having the narcissist attempt to destroy his or her life. This is why many people choose the cowardly route, and instead side with the narcissist, in assigning the truth sayer a scapegoat role. The scapegoat gets blamed for the problems that actually belong to the narcissist. By projecting, the narcissist is often able to hide dysfunction and convince others that the everything is the scapegoat’s fault. The narcissist’s allies want to save their own hides, because they know that disagreeing with the narcissist will make their lives extremely difficult. A narcissist attempts to turn everyone else against the one person who actually sees the wolf in sheep’s clothing. This abusive, self-centered behavior is insidious, because it is all about pretending to be someone the narcissist is not. It’s about charming others and gaining their trust and dependence; then dropping them like hot coals. 

Though a narcissist may not be able to feel true emotions, they feel something akin to deep depression when their main source of attention, or narcissistic supply, is cut off. They don’t actually care about the person missing from their lives; instead they care about themselves and how they are perceived in the public eye. Because people are normally trusting, a narcissist is able to weave his or her way into the lives of sensitive, empathetic people who never knew what was coming. The narcissist needs these people to survive, and fills up on their attention, like a car needs to fill its tank of gas. When the attention runs out, the narcissist is running on empty, and begins a desperate attempt to fill up his or her tank once again. It’s a never ending cycle, exhausting to those around the narcissist, who are required to meet outrageous expectations. 

Because people have other things going on in their lives, no one has the energy or stamina to continuously cater to a narcissist. When people begin to back away, toxic fumes erupt, because the narcissist is angry and running on empty. The narcissist will stop at nothing to get you back as a source of self-esteem, and if you don’t cooperate, they are bound and determined to make sure you do. If you cross them, they will scapegoat you, and try to damage your reputation with gossip, lies, and slander. They will dump and discard you when you have nothing to give, and then try to win you back when they run out of supply. 

Everything a narcissist does, is done with the intent to cast the narcissist in a positive light. Narcissists are people you know: mothers, fathers, children, bosses, teachers, neighbors, and more. Pay attention. They say and do things to show you how “wonderful” they are. They stop at nothing to keep their reputation intact. They fool many innocent people. This self-centeredness is so extreme that it cannot be fixed, or revealed, except by the grace of God. 

As the world we know crumbles under more and more selfish sin, narcissism will become even more and more commonplace. However, with God, the silver lining is always in sight. There is healing in Jesus for victims of narcissism. Jesus can take away the trauma and pain caused by narcissistic abuse. Jesus can break every chain of depression, rejection, fear, guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, isolation, and abandonment that innocent people battle as they try to cope and pick up the pieces of their lost lives. How wonderful it is to know that you can be set free from believing the lies that a self-centered narcissist led you to believe about yourself. 

Biblical boundaries are necessary when dealing with a narcissist, and in some cases may need to be set indefinitely. There’s another silver lining: As hard is it may be for some to comprehend, God loves narcissists too. Though the world will tell us there’s no hope for a narcissist, there is always hope for a narcissist’s transformation through repentance and forgiveness in Jesus. Nothing is impossible with God. Just as a victim of narcissism can be healed through the power and authority of Jesus Christ, and therefore no longer a victim, narcissists can seek God’s forgiveness through Jesus, and turn from the error of their ways. For God loves everyone, and Jesus died for the sins of us all. 

Live your life having joy in Jesus. God has laid it upon my heart to help others learn how God can spiritually heal people hurting from narcissistic abuse. Jesus is our hope which leads to freedom. If you believe you are in the path of a narcissist, I encourage you to learn about this self-centered sin. Yet, remember to pray and pursue Christ as you do, understanding that God’s ways are not man’s ways. God will protect you, heal you, and be your strength and courage, because God is the one who is really in charge! God will give you wisdom and discernment and lead you to those who believe you and can help you. 

It’s not God’s will for lives to be torn to shreds because of narcissism. Pursue God, and put your trust in Him. He has a much bigger plan, and He will use you to bring it to fruition if you let Him! God will pull you through it, giving you joy through Jesus…and God will get the glory! 

God is the great redeemer. He restores relationships, takes the bad, and turns it into good. God’s timing is always best, so hold His hand on your journey, knowing He will never abandon you or disappoint you! God is love, and God loves you!

“The Silver Lining” will be addressing narcissistic topics more in depth. To find other related blog posts, go to The Silver Lining Blog, click the menu button, and click on the keyword “narcissism.” You can also join The Silver Lining on Facebook. 

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People  be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”                              

2 Tim. 3:1-5 New International Version


“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 

2 Peter 3:9

 Let Jesus fill your tank with love, instead!

The Gossip Track…It’s A Train Wreck!

(from a series related to narcissistic abuse)

Gossip is a long train of lies hitched onto half-truths, sprayed with graffiti, speeding its way down the rough, bumpy track. Who knows where it’s going? It’s dangerous, but it seems like everyone wants to jump on board, and it can cost people their lives. It’s not easy to slow it down, but if you’re willing to be the caboose, you can put an end to it.

The bible says, “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines” (Prov. 18:17 New International Version). It’s astonishing how many people are willing to believe lies and settle for a one-sided story, without asking any questions of the other party. Why? It’s because gossip is a selfish sin. The listener wants to be perceived as loyal and is expecting something in return. It may be attention, money, status, job ranking, or the love and friendship from a relationship based on insecurity.

It’s just as sinful to eat up gossip, as it is to spread it. Participating in gossip is tempting, but it becomes deeply ingrained, skewing thoughts, and blinding the listener to truth. Gossip festers, causing people to believe lies for a long, long time. It destroys families and friendships, while eating away at your spiritual life. It may be years later that the truth comes out, causing righteous anger and sadness. People will grieve over the lost relationships that God had intended for us to enjoy.

Many people believe they have a “safety net” around them if they have a close friendship with a gossip, but they are in more danger of being betrayed, because they believe they are safe to share secrets. No one is immune from gossip, and those who participate will eventually get burned. If someone gossips to you, she or he will gossip about you. If we hear negative information, out of line with someone’s character, do we accept it, or ask the gossip why we’re being given the information? Do we ask for the other person’s version of the story, or sit back and enjoy the gossip as a sweet dessert? After all, the bible says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” ( Prov. 18:8). 

Are we willing to give up valuable friendships because of a story that may not even be true? Do we question why we keep a gossip as a friend? Some people feel powerful when they have access to inside information. Yet, the listeners are being used as fuel to make the gossip feel important. The gossip basks in the attention. Of course, the gossip also omits any crucial pieces of truthful information that would place him or her in a negative light. In extreme cases, a gossip is found to be a narcissist: entirely self-centered, self-absorbed, and selfish, purposefully using gossip as a vicious weapon to manipulate and control people. This allows a narcissist to turn friends and family against each other, so they will all depend on the narcissist as the most important person in their lives.

There’s a difference between someone warning us about an ungodly person who could cause us harm, versus downright gossip which causes us to lose our positive view of a good and godly person. Or, maybe we’ve been given a first impression of someone we haven’t yet met. When given information, we should ask God for discernment about the situation, and pray about it. We should ask why the information is being shared with us. It may feel uncomfortable at first, because people expect us to participate in gossip. We can be bold, without being rude, by asking precise questions: “Why are you telling me this? Where did you get your information? Do you agree with what you are telling me? Why don’t we go together and ask this person for his or her side of the story?”

Even Christians can get weak, and fall into the trap of “subtle gossip.” An example of this is when just enough details are given about a situation, but the name of the offender is purposely left out, so as to avoid “gossiping.” Sometimes the name is mentioned, because So-And-So “needs prayer” (or someone needs prayer because of something So-And-So did). Self-pity comes into play and subtly works hand in hand with gossip. People’s sympathies naturally lie with the person voicing sadness, so they miss the fact that the offender is probably hurting too, maybe even more. The offender may have even been forced to create boundaries for a situation others don’t see. This is further isolation for the person being gossiped about. Wise people remove themselves from gossip.

Christians can especially be deceived when gossip comes disguised as “concern” for a brother or sister in Christ. Gossip is actually concern for oneself and one’s own reputation. Upholding one’s false self, becomes more important than keeping the confidence of a fellow Christian, or making the necessary amends to improve the relationship. An example is when someone visits other family members, stating “concern” for an adult child or a sibling. Even real concern is not a free license to gossip. Is this person’s life in danger? Or, is it just someone with whom the gossip has a rift? Gossip is a big, red flag. If you find yourself in between two friends or family members, and only one of them is repeating negative, “concerning” things, while the other says nothing, you’ve been given a huge clue as to whom to really be concerned about…the gossip.

People also deceive themselves by believing they are only telling “one or two people.” This is damaging, because those two close people each tell their two close people, and then those six people each tell other people. Even if, like me, you’re not a math genius, you can tally up the large number of people who shouldn’t have access, and who are likely misinformed. Just as in the childhood game Telephone, the gossip’s story has sifted through several sources, with facts added onto, twisted, and turned around, and even omitted. How can this be okay with God?

The bible says gossiping ruins friendships. It does. It causes division and makes us unable to trust our friends. We feel isolated, abandoned, and rejected. These spiritual strongholds are not of God. Feelings get hurt and hearts get broken.” A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” ( Prov. 16:28)

If you can’t keep a friend’s confidence, do your friend a favor; admit your weakness, and ask her not to share private information with you. If you are trustworthy, appreciate it as a gift from God, and honor Him by keeping the confidence of others. Trust is revealed when people share information that stays between you and God. There are only a few situations in which a trust must be broken. However, situations involving suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or sexual or domestic abuse are still not reasons for gossip. These are situations where wisdom and discernment must be used to involve the fewest number of people possible to gain the greatest amount of spiritual and professional help. One must use proper disclosure by seeking out a trusted spiritual advisor in authority, such as a pastor, or other respected individual, known for caring and keeping the confidence of those they lead towards Christ.

Are you a gossip? The silver lining is in repentance.  You can ask God to forgive you for gossiping. If possible, and if necessary, ask forgiveness of the person you have betrayed. If you participated in gossip (including listening to it) say you’re sorry and ask forgiveness of the person you talked about. It may be scary to admit to someone that you gossiped about him or her. God understands this. Ask Him to remove your fear and cleanse your heart. Take along a trusted friend who cares about both of you. But make sure you are the one to apologize. You may find that the person you gossiped about is actually relieved, and grateful to have a chance to clarify the situation and be heard. Stick with the issue at hand. Even if your friend does not forgive you, God does. God says you are forgiven, and He can make good out of a bad situation; He can heal hurting hearts, and redeem lost souls along the way!

If you are the one hurt by gossip, and your offender does not apologize, you can still forgive him or her in the name of Jesus. This will make you feel lighter, and it will free you from anger and bitterness. Give Jesus your pain. He can take it. He already took it at the cross for you!

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” 

Psalm 63:3

 

(Photography includes model trains exhibit at the Brunswick Heritage Museum in Maryland.)

The Silver Lining: Join us for encouragement, giveaway, and fun!

I will soon be hosting the “The Silver Lining Spring Giveaway!” Also coming up are some fun things to brighten your day, along with another psalm accompanied by gorgeous butterfly photographs taken by a dear friend. Some of my future blog posts will focus on how people can heal and be set free from narcissistic abuse. Narcissism is a sin. It’s a fancy word for extreme selfishness rooted in bitterness and unforgiveness. It is self-centeredness at its worst, the prime focus being oneself. It’s the opposite of everything Jesus has called us to be: sacrificial in picking up our crosses to follow him, rather than following ourselves, or even other people or causes. This sacrifice we offer, can only lead to goodness and salvation for our souls. 

In addition, I will give insight on how we can leave painful, damaging, toxic relationships behind, while forgiving those who have hurt us, and entrusting them to the one and only God who can change their hearts.

I believe God is leading me to minister on these topics to reach even more hurting people who need to understand that Jesus is THE answer for life change. Sometimes we know it’s all about Jesus, but we don’t know how to tap into the power and authority we have in Christ. I’m looking forward to sharing with you what God has taught me. Please invite others to join The Silver Lining, so they can receive the spiritual encouragement that we all need to get through each week. 

You can subscribe to The Silver Lining on my homepage at angelaslittleattic.com or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/angelaslittleattic. I invite you to leave comments, share posts, and invite your friends and family to join us, especially those going through their own storms in life, who could benefit from a reminder to always look for the silver lining. The silver lining is always there, because clouds are only a temporary cover for an ever-present, shining sun! God’s son, Jesus is the same. We can call on his name when we need him: 

God is our refuge and our strength, an  ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1 New International Version).

 

12 Steps to Forgiveness with Boundaries

Have you forgiven someone, only to be accused of harboring unforgiveness, because you’ve had to establish necessary boundaries for healing and protection? If you’re feeling guilty about having less contact because of an unhealthy or abusive relationship, the guilt is not from God. God does not want His children to be doormats. How can we forgive others, while keeping boundaries in place? How can we do both, while continuing to please God, as we daily walk with Christ?

We can recognize that God set boundaries and expected them to remain in place: “Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors” (Prov. 22:28 New International Version). We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus, himself, set boundaries: “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matt. 13:58). We can take godly steps towards forgiving others, by seeking Jesus, as we put boundaries in place:

1. Set aside time to step away from your offender. Even Jesus retreated, and stepped away from the crowds of people in order to spend time with God, and pray. If the offender lives with you, step outside to clear your head, or go visit a friend. Walk away, and give yourself some space. If you need a quiet spot to talk to God, and can’t get away, find ten minutes to pray in the bathroom or your closet. Sit in your car, and read a Psalm. Retreat. Jesus is an example.

2. Pray this simple prayer: “I forgive (name of offender) in the name of Jesus.” We can’t do it alone. That’s why Jesus died for us. He died to forgive us of our sins, and to forgive others. Through Jesus, we can forgive others, grow our relationship with him, and show others the way to salvation. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt. 6:14). Jesus is forgiveness.

3. Ask God to remove your pain, and fill you with His Holy Spirit. It hurts when people sin against us, whether directly, or indirectly. Ask God to remove your pain. Then ask Him to go to the empty spot where pain once resided, and fill it with His love for you, until it’s overflowing! Jesus is a healer.

4. Ask God for wisdom in establishing healthy boundaries. God gives wisdom freely to those who ask. Wisdom will help you to discern what kind of boundary you will need to allow for healing: some contact, little contact, or no contact. You can do any of these, while still continuing to walk with Christ. Jesus is a teacher.

5. Ask God to give you strength and courage to keep the boundary. The devil will do everything possible in order to try and make you remove the boundary. He will find people to spread lies, gossip, strife, fear, and chaos. His intent is to plague you with anxiety, so that you will not change. He wants you to settle for staying in your old, familiar rut. If he can keep you ignorant of truth, you won’t go forward and learn about how Jesus can heal you and change your life. Jesus is strength.

6. Ask God to provide you with support. The devil has the goal of isolating you. He will use rejection, depression, doubt, and any other fiery darts he can throw at you, to try and convince you to remove your boundary. He knows the boundary is there for your protection, healing, and growth. He hates that God is going to heal, change, and use you to win others to Christ. God will put people in your life to replace those you’ve lost when you established the boundary. Your support will be comprised of Christians who know your heart, pray for you, and encourage you in your walk with God. They will fill in the missing gaps. Jesus is a friend.

7. Ask God to reveal truth in the hearts of those who come against you. The devil will deceive well-meaning people into believing that they are helping, when they come to you, trying to convince you to break down your boundary. They may not have knowledge about the whole truth of your situation, so they don’t understand. They may accuse you of being unforgiving, cruel, fake, or even anti-Christian. God knows your heart, and that is all that matters. However, God knows our need for love and fellowship, and He will provide everything we need. Don’t be afraid! God knows what He is doing! Jesus is truth.

8. Know that when you’re most tempted to break down your boundary, God is about to give you a big break-through! Keep your boundary. Continue to forgive others who hurt you, disrespect you, or shun you. God has a plan. The enemy wants to destroy you, but God means to use it all for good! Live your life, honoring God, knowing that the boundary is there for good reason. If it needs to come down, GOD will show you, and He will make it obvious. Be ready when God says it’s time. You will have a heart that has already forgiven, and your past pain will be behind you. Jesus is courage.

9. Read or listen to scripture, and pray. Scriptures keep us wrapped in truth. When we are struggling, God’s word lets us know that we are doing the right thing. Knowledge of the bible keeps us ready for the battles that will come our way, when we are doing something against the grain of what everyone else thinks we should be doing. God’s word is living and healing. It helps us to see others through the eyes of God. The bible helps us to see that Jesus loves everyone, even people who hurt us. The bible changes our thoughts. We can begin to develop love and understanding for our enemies, even if we don’t approve of, or accept their behavior. Jesus is comfort.

10. Pray for salvation for those who have hurt you. God says to pray for our enemies. The goal is for others, no matter how much they’ve hurt us, to gain salvation through Jesus Christ. Our prayers, and yes, even our boundaries, can help another person to receive eternal life. Jesus died for everyone. Pray that those who have hurt you will come to know Jesus. If those people are already saved, pray for their walk with The Lord. Realize that many people who profess to be Christians, are not really saved, and do not have a relationship with Jesus. “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers’ ” (Matt. 7:22-23)! Jesus is salvation.

11. Seek your own relationship with God, while the boundary is in place. During a time of separation from someone who has wronged you, allow God do His healing work in you. You will begin to see the damage in the people who hurt you, and realize they are broken just like you. This doesn’t excuse what they’ve done. It does give us insight into what Jesus did for us. Our sins put Jesus on the cross, and he died for us, even though we didn’t deserve it. It’s love beyond measure. “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:22-23). Jesus is love.

12. TRUST GOD. Understand that your boundary may allow time for the offender to draw closer to God. Recognize that the person who hurt you, is also deeply loved by God, and needs a relationship with Him. He or she may need time to dig deep down, and repent of his or her own sins. The boundary may create a void of loneliness and desperation, which only Jesus can fulfill. Your boundary may bring someone to true repentance, and draw that person towards a relationship with Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, your offender can heal, receive forgiveness for sins, and receive eternal life. This allows him or her a chance to live a godly life on earth. Only then, can true reconciliation occur. Jesus is protection.

There is a silver lining…God is in Control! Though your offender may continue to try and hurt you emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually, God is your protector. His Son, Jesus, heals our pain. Recognize that people may be struggle with jealousy, anger, or fear, when you place boundaries between them and yourself. Some people lash out in frustration, when they lose access to their ability to manipulate and control you. The devil thrives on ruined relationships, but God is All Powerful! “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). God is the one who is ultimately in control. With God as our protector, strength, and shield, we have already won every battle.

Though reconciliation is the ultimate goal, it’s not always possible. You do not have to allow an abusive person back into your life, to prove your forgiveness toward that person. This could even delay all the work God is doing in your life, and in the life of the abuser. Pray against guilt in the name of Jesus. We need godly relationships in our lives. Often, we need to step out, and let God step in and do His work. Sometimes we need to let others catch up, before we can be in a relationship with them.

It’s difficult to create a boundary, and even more difficult to keep it in place. But God’s silver lining is found in the amazing things He has planned for you during the storm. God will use your experience to make you stronger, healthier, and joyful. He will use your experience to bring glory to His name! God knows your heart. Forgive, leave your boundaries in place, pray, and continue to follow God. God will let you know when, and if, the boundary should be removed. Trust Him! He knows what He is doing! Jesus is Savior!

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Ps. 16:6

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Raising the Bar in Relationships

Are you a child of God? If you’re a child of God, it means you’re saved by grace. It means that you receive eternal life, through Jesus, when you ask him into your heart. It means you take a step of faith, believing he died for you, and asking forgiveness for your sins.

But being a child of God also means that you’ve given your life to Jesus. It means you allow the Holy Spirit to do a good work in you, so you can become more like Jesus. When you follow Jesus, people see change, which draws more people to Christ.

To learn how to live like a Christian, you have to read your bible. It’s like a handbook for how to live the Christian life. But the difference is, the bible is not just a bunch of rules to follow. It’s a way of life; a way of life that has rewards in it for YOU, and for those you love! It will save you a great amount of heartache if you read it, and follow it. The wisdom and advice in the bible is free. It is a LIVING book, breathing out TRUTH! Because the bible is spiritual, many will read it without understanding its power and authority.

As a child of God, you have access to this power and authority in your own life because Jesus lives within you! You have privileges given to you by GOD! When you follow God’s laws, it’s like being underneath the protection of an umbrella. When you wander from God’s laws, and rebel, it’s similar to walking away from the shelter of that nice, big umbrella. What happens then? You get wet!

This morning, when I read my bible, I came across some verses giving relationship advice for both old and new Christians. It is for men, women, teens, children, married, single, old and young. Whatever your relationship, raise your standards. Expect godly behavior, when it’s within your control. We can’t always control who is in authority over us: For example, parents, teachers, bosses, and leaders. We can’t control who our family members are. God’s Word tells us how to handle these situations. They also need to be given to Him, prayed for, and discussed with counselors and people we trust.

However, we do have control over who we invite to be a part of our lives. We have a choice over the friends we hang out with, the romantic relationships we choose to have, and how we choose to behave, ourselves. God has advice for us in the bible. He tells is what is not okay, and He is very clear about it. If he tells YOU not to do it, then He expects the same out of others, and we should too.

Expect to be treated in a godly manner, by those people you let into your life. As you grow and change, throughout your godly walk, you should find yourself no longer comfortable with the same old crowd. If not, you’re probably not growing in Christ. You may even need to find yourself a whole new group of friends! Continue to pray for those people who mistreat you. Don’t give up on them, but realize it is healthy to have boundaries in place. You don’t have to lower your standards and accept poor treatment. God wants good things for you!

Real friends don’t pressure you, cuss at you, make fun of you, gossip about you, or embarrass you. Accept that you may be the ONLY one to take a stand, by telling your group of friends your standards. Have them raise their standards up to your godly standards, rather than lowering your standards to fit in with the crowd. That’s what JESUS did for you! He stood out against the world, refusing to succumb to peer pressure. He suffered for you, and for me. He died for you, and for me! He did it all for you, and for me, so we could live with him in Heaven, eternally! Walk away from darkness, and walk towards Jesus. God will provide everything you need!

Understand that you only have one or two REAL friends among a large group of acquaintences. Most will turn their backs on you when the going gets tough. But you need to know who your real friends are. Ask God to reveal them to you! It’s hard letting go of old patterns, but there’s a silver lining…God has rewards for you along the way! He has placed people in your life to guide you, befriend you, and love you. It’s your choice to either reject the good gifts He gives you, or accept them. God’s bible is full of knowledge. Read it, get wisdom, and find real joy in Jesus!

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a person is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.”
(Ephesians 5:3-7 New International Version)

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