Captured by Pam

words and images by pam wright

Tag: Heartbreak

Captured: Aftermath

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No one goes through a time of trial and heartbreak without being changed…

…and I’m no different.

The past months have been difficult, beyond difficult, and now that I’m on the flip-side of pain, I can take a moment and look back at that time and look towards the future with new insight.

Some of the insights are wonderful.

I’ve learned that I am resilient, that I overcome obstacles and that nothing can destroy me completely. I’ve learned that I am loved, that I have God-given gifts and talents, and that the only voice I really need ever listen to is God’s, because no one knows me like he.

I’ve learned to be content within the moment. I’ve learned to appreciate those I love and who love me, and to stop what I’m doing to spend a moment basking in the love of family and friends.

I’ve learned just how blessed I am and that I don’t need a significant other to be complete… something that has taken me my whole life to figure out. I am happy just being…

I’ve learned that it’s not when or if, but here and now… this moment is all I will ever need to be happy.

Being without a job and home for these months taught me to be humble, to rely on others when I prided myself on being self-sufficient, and to give God control of my life.

I’m grateful that, despite the stress, I always knew that God had me… that I would be alright. My faith and hope got me through, and got me through far better than I ever imagined or anticipated.

Yes, there are some changes that bother me.

I’ve lost trust in people, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or if it’s just temporary. I have given my heart so completely in the past and I’ve been burned. I always used to cherish that part of me… that I could trust and love so quickly without ‘guarding my heart’ as so many warned me against.

I don’t really want to trust so readily anymore and I want to guard my heart above all. Yes, I want to love others, but I don’t want to lay my life into anyone’s hands but God’s. That is where disappointments lay and where hurt resides. I put too much faith in others when they are only doing the best they can.

We are all doing the best we can and we fall so, so short.

I know that I can trust God completely and that’s it. Oftentimes I’m hurt by those who don’t mean to hurt me, but as part of the human experience, we just hurt each other. I hurt people… they hurt me. It’s a sad part of living in this fallen world.

So, yes I am changed.

I am happier just being…

I am excited for the future…

I have learned to guard my heart…

I have learned to relax and let God do his thing… because when I do, he provides wonderful, unexpected surprises!!

I love my new career and community…

I am loved and cherished…

Yep, It’s all good!

Captured: Just Some (deep) Thoughts…

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God and I have been in deep, deep in discussion over the past few months… He has been revealing so much to me through His word, prayer, music, nature, books, and through sermons. I say ‘revealing’ because I’m realizing that God does not teach us anything, it is revealed because being ‘created in His image’ means that truth is already a part of our being, but has been ‘hidden’ from us because of sin. That’s why most people are born with a sense  of justice, why we love , and why we are appalled by violence and hate. We WERE ALL created in the image of God with all of His/Their (Father, Son and Spirit) qualities. But we turned from it and the full glory of who and what we were created to be is gone. What is left is so evil, we can’t even be in the presence of our good and sovereign God apart from Jesus

There is one particular series of sermons that has made a great impact on me … the ‘Doctrine Series’ by Mark Driscoll. He really helped me to understand the concept of what being ‘created in the image of God’ means and its implications for our lives today. As image bearers of God, we were meant to live in a ‘shalom’ relationship in 4 areas: with God, with others, with the environment and with our selves. But, because of the fall, all those relationships were severed.

We suffer greatly from our separation from God and many don’t even realize that this is why they suffer.  Most of our relationships with friends, peers and family are accompanied by problems and misunderstanding and often times, with heartbreak, bitterness and pain. When God made Eve from Adam’s rib, he sang about the joy of having Eve by his side… but when Eve sinned because of the lie she believed… that God was holding something, some pleasure from her – which is why we all, still to this day, try to control our lives rather than trust and rely on God with the leading and direction of our lives. Because of Eve’s sin, Adam immediately assumed the posture of a victim and pointed his finger first at Eve, then at God for giving her to him in the first place. Many of us are very guilty of blaming others for all the hardships, sin and pain in our lives, instead of accepting responsibility for our sin. They are ours and ours alone.

Instead of the Garden of Eden, we now live in an environment where people starve, there are tsunamis, accidents happen, tornadoes wreck havoc, and pollution destroys any semblance of the beauty God created in nature.

And above all, we suffer because of the glorification of very selves… we have come to worship the created rather than the creator. Instead of loving God and loving others like God has always loved us, we create idols of ourselves. Our desire now is to glorify ourselves rather than to glorify the image of God in us.

We talk a lot about hypocrisy. I agree that hypocrisy is a particularly painful sin for the person who continues to do the things that brings anything but glory and honor to God, as well as to those around him or her.  At the same time, I’m finding that discussions on hypocrisy are futile because there is not a single person who is not a hypocrite, myself included. I was shown this in a very powerful way this summer when God revealed my own sin like never before. I was shown that every thought, every emotion, every gesture ultimately was about myself, no matter what I did. I realized that I was guilty of spiritual pride… I thought that God had done so much in my life and I was free from so many of the bigger, more obvious sins like my alcoholism. And He has done so much and my life has changed dramatically. I am so very grateful. But I realize, too, that God has only barely touched the surface of my sins. I understand that my sin is deep and all pervasive. This is what the fall has done to all of us. One sin isn’t greater than another… sin is sin. Whether one of us drowns our sorrows in drugs or alcohol, or spending, or porn, or whether we stay at home and glorify ourselves for being so ‘good’’, we are all guilty. When we get disappointed in ourselves or shamed by ourselves or proud of ourselves, it’s because we love ourselves so much. And I agree, guilt is a good thing if it turns us towards God, but it becomes a sin if we turn from God in shame because of it. So many feel like we’re not good enough to be with God… we think we have to wait until we become good… until our behavior is such that God will love us again. That’s so false. God does love us. He just wants us in relationship AT ALL TIMES. And we must remember that God’s unfailing love and Jesus’ gift of salvation is absolutely not a free ticket to sin… we are held even more accountable to our sin because this truth has been revealed to us… that’s why the gift of the Holy Spirit’s conviction can be so painful at times.

When faced this summer with the extent to which I sin on a daily basis, I was heartbroken and began to feel like it was hopeless… how could I contain my thoughts, my actions… how could I begin to love God, the environment and others more than myself? How could I find shalom in all the areas of relationship that God intended for us?? I saw it as insurmountable.

In the weeks since, I have been realizing that I was right… it IS insurmountable of my own devices. I cannot change my heart or my behavior. But, I can give it up to God to do that work in me. Only God can ENABLE me to love in that way, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I am coming to realize that I really do need to let go and let God have everything that is ‘me’… from every thought, every desire, every emotion… everything. My desires MUST be God’s desires. It’s not just the big, obvious sins that I must relinquish. No, I need to relinquish and surrender my very life. The words, ‘my life is not my own’ is becoming very real to me… slowly but surely.

In a sermon about God’s Image, Mark Driscoll referred to something Calvin said about how we are like a mirror intended to reflect the image of God… but that, with sin, the mirror is broken, reflecting a distorted image of God. And that it is only through Jesus that we are able to reflect a more genuine reflection because He Himself is the image of God. I love that.

Our reason for living, our reason for doing anything really is to love others more than self, as Jesus did, and to reflect Jesus. Apart from that, life is wrought with pain, and futility and is entirely unfulfilling.  I had a friend who always used to say, ‘we are here for a purpose, with purpose.’ He’s so right. And our purpose truly is to reflect… to each other, to our friends, our families, and to our foes … a clear image of God, though Jesus Christ.

As we give our lives over to God, as we study His word and as we come to love Him more each day, He enables us to love like He loves us, which, in turn, affects our behavior. We tend to try to control our behavior, which, in my case often leads to a loss of control… in my actions, in my words, in my thoughts… Instead, we should allow God to work in us, returning the broken shards of our broken mirror into one of clarity and perfection. He alone gives us the capacity to love outside of ourselves. If we allow Him in, He fills us with love, which then overflows to those around us. But, we must, at all times, stay close… without being close to Him through prayer, worship, study and fellowship, we are not ‘softened’ enough to allow Him in to make the change in us.

We are responsible for this… it doesn’t just happen. It is a RELATIONSHIP… a relationship cannot happen without communication, discussion, love and caring… we must engage in the relationship in order to be changed!! And one of the more wonderful benefits that I am coming to appreciate and enjoy is that it makes the hard parts of life so much easier to bear… because, every once in a while, there is less of me and more of Him. And in those moments, when my heart is breaking, God finds a way to express His comfort and love and grace to me, and I am filled with hope and awe and wonder and joy. It’s a very different experience from the days when my relationship with God was pretty much non-existent…

I really believe our joy is rooted, not in the job or the spouse or the children we have or the ‘good works’ we accomplish, although these are blessings that God provides and loves to offer… he does love to give us presents… but real joy lies in our willingness to mirror Jesus, to be in relationship with God and to love others more than self.

Nothing else can even touch that!

Captured: 49 Days – 49 Days

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I’ve often heard the expression… ‘What will you do with the dash of your life?’ … referring to the dash between your date of birth and your date of death. For example, if I were to die this year, mine would be 1963 – 2013… in other words, what did I do with my life between those dates… what did my dash represent…??

I’m kind of doing the same with the dash in between the birth and death of my ‘love story’ … 49 Days – 49 Days. What happened in that dash? Still trying to figure that out!!!

Let me explain… I met ‘my love’ on an internet dating site. Yea, I know, but I was was cautious… oh, I was cautious. I met a man who was so like me… we loved to write, we loved God, we loved sports, we loved to be punctual (and in a world where everyone around me always seems to be late that’s a big one for me!!)…

We made plans to devote our lives to God, to each other, to our families, to work as a team for missions in Guinea and Guatemala… and to follow God’s purpose for our lives…

…we were a ‘match made in heaven’… I believe this because all we did from the time we met on-line, until the moment we met in person, 49 days later, was to write and share our souls. We never spoke on the phone, no skyping… we decided we would only write to each other until the day he would come to see me for the first time. Oh my… I couldn’t have met a man more perfect for me… a man who wanted to get to know my soul, above all, through letter writing… ??? Are you serious??

We wrote volumes… I mean volumes… so much so that on my 50th birthday, ‘my love’ offered me a book that he made for me… the best gift I have EVER received… compiling all of our correspondence those first 49 days… the cover of which you can see above.

The significance of the ducks in the photo … a photo I took on the day he proposed to me under a lighthouse (one of my favorite things and how he found a lighthouse in Texas is remarkable, but he managed to find one) … is that, in Korea, where I lived for many years, couples are offered wedding ducks as a symbol of fidelity for life. ‘My love’ knew this, which is why he used my photo on the cover of the book he offered.  Actually, I had a pair of Korean ducks that I bought myself in the hope of someday meeting someone, and I gave him one of them to keep until we were married… uniting the ducks as we became united. He still has that duck…

Tomorrow is significant for me because I will mark 49 days since the day I said goodbye to him… 49 days ago, he held me in his arms, told me it wasn’t over, that he had to follow God, with the parting words, ‘I love you too, honey’…

49 Days – 49 Days

What happened in the dash??? How did we get from A to B?? Of course, it’s a two-way street… YES, I made mistakes… but, I still don’t understand… we all make mistakes! I fail… he fails…

… we all fail. God is Bigger than failure, right???

In any case, falling in love with him was one of the most beautiful times of my life … his words were magic… our future seemed secure… he was the first man to get on one knee for me… I’d never been proposed to… he promised to take care of my heart, my health, my kids, my life… I’ve never been happier. We prayed every night together… on Skype, and then, when we were in the same city…. every night before we parted, we prayed…

Which is why the ‘dash’ is so hard to figure out… for me and for my family… we all believed.

Today’s sermon at church was about the ‘voice’ of Jesus, our shepherd… and how a sheep knows his shepherd’s voice and will only respond to that sound. The problem with humans is that we hear other voices that distract us, rather than the voice who most wants to protect us … and so often we only hear our own voice, a voice from within, based on filters of the past, and our own longings and desires, rather than the voice of the one who loves us most. And, so, we wander off from the direction of our shepherd.

What I’ve learned in the past 49 Days is that the only voice I should ever trust is the voice of my shepherd, Jesus… He is the only one who can protect me from the wolves, the thieves, those who might harm me, whether intentionally or just out of the circumstances of life… or perhaps because they themselves are not listening to the voice of their ‘shepherd’…

… instead they wonder off, as well … towards the desires of their own hearts… forgetting the sound of the shepherd’s voice… and his direction…

It’s so confusing, right??? Honestly, I believe discernment is what I struggle with most of all… who am I hearing??? How can I be sure it is God’s voice that I am hearing??? Yes, I’ve heard that if it’s in alignment with Jesus’ life and the Word, then we ARE hearing the voice of our ‘shepherd’… and we are in His will for our lives…

‘My love’ is human… he did the best he could… he failed in my eyes… but that is just ‘the voice’ I am hearing… I am not God, so I cannot know how God sees this other than to know this…

God loves me…

God loves ‘my love’…

And He wants the best for us both…

Each night, I continue what ‘my love’ and I first started the day those first 49 Days were completed … the day we first heard each other’s voice …

I pray for him… and I can still hear his voice praying for me…

I miss his voice… and I miss praying with him each night… not gonna lie about that… after holding someone’s hand and praying as a ‘chord of three’ and then being once again alone isn’t easy…

But, honestly, I feel safe and sound within the hearing distance of my shepherd… the one who calls me ‘my darling, my dear, my child, my beloved… my sweet, hurting girl…’

Yea… I’ll stay close to him… his voice is pure… it’s powerful… will never falter… and will keep me safe! And when I do wander off into treacherous terrain… I know he’ll come after me to lead me back where it is safe… and I love that!

49 Days seems like the perfect time to ‘put a bow’ on the finished gift of my ‘love story’…

… because it was a gift.

49 Days – 49 Days

… for me, the dash was love.

Captured: I Take it Back

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Oh, not a good morning. Last night, out of fear and hurt, I said some things to someone I care about that I wish I could take back.

Why do we continue to be exactly what we hate to be to those we love?? And where do we go when we can’t really take it back?

Well, we repent and we move forward, hoping that we will be offered the same Grace by others that Jesus offered to us. I feel terrible that I reacted the way I did. No excuses. No rationalities.

I behaved badly.

But, as I sat on my balcony, watching the sun rise this morning, I felt that familiar ‘hug’ from God… the one that says, ‘It’s OK, Pam… yes, you said some terrible things that you shouldn’t have and I am letting you know, firmly, that it was WRONG!

But I still, and will always, love you.’

Today, I will be thinking about how I let pain and fear dictate how I behave … and I will be praying that, tomorrow, I will treat others as I would have them treat me.

This life is hard. We fall, and stumble, and find ourselves being exactly what we wish we weren’t. But, there is hope…

The Holy Spirit is in me and I hear about it when I falter… and I know I am being molded into what I’m called to be. Step by step. One moment to the next. There is always a tomorrow… and the chance to be as loving to others as I am loved…

Oh, Lord… may I know that. May I be that! May I hate what you hate and may I love like you have loved me!! In Jesus’ Name…

I’m sorry.

I take it back…

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