Just Don’t Leave Me

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from Creative Commons

I sat in the bathroom last Sunday sobbing. The words I feel so alone and abandoned throbbed in my heart.

Buc was leaving that morning. I’d known it was coming, but it wasn’t supposed to happen so soon. He was supposed to stay with me for at least half the day before leaving for his eight-day trip to Texas. Instead, he’d woken up worried about a rumored buyout in his company, saying he had to get on the road by 8 a.m.

Don’t leave me! My mind screamed, and I’d frowned at him and wrung my hands and then run to the bathroom. Don’t leave me all alone with our two small children.

It felt, at that moment, like the worst thing in the world to be left alone, although I didn’t know why I was reacting so strongly to this planned business trip.

Maybe it was because, for the past week, worried about the buyout, he’d already been gone—mentally. Maybe it was because I already felt like I was failing as a mother, even with him here. What was I going to do with him gone?

Maybe it’s because I have a negative root* in my heart, I finally thought, and asked God to talk to me about it.

Roots of Abandonment

No doubt my reaction of abandonment stems from roots laid early in life, when my mom left our family to start another, and when my shattered family left me without a safe place to call home. Those roots don’t go away very easily, I’m finding, as I tie other behaviors in my current life to fears of abandonment and aloneness. (Who knew I drank coffee because I don’t want to be alone? Because I just want to have a tangible comfort available to me at all times?)

Silly as it may sound, it came as news to me that I—an authority on “ending pain”—still suffer from a fear of abandonment.

It is humbling, being attacked head-on by an old fear I thought was gone. It is a call to pay attention: pay attention to the beliefs in my heart, and pay attention to the Author of my soul, who can right any wrong beliefs.

Never Alone

Over the last five years, I have learned that I am never alone; God is with me, and he even provides the human support and support systems to help me where I lack. I believe this with every breath of my body. And I am so relieved to have met my Lord and Suffering Messiah, Jesus, who also suffered being alone and abandoned in his time of need so he could identify with me. Now that I have re-realized the roots of some of my behaviors (fear of abandonment and being alone), I can pray through them, and I can connect my story to Jesus’ story, and ask him for his strength when I feel alone and abandoned.

This doesn’t mean the sense of aloneness and abandonment will ever, completely, go away on this earth. It does mean I can trust Jesus to comfort me in my heart, and I can also ask him for wisdom to get help in the physical world when I need it.

Seeking and Accepting Help

So I poured out my heart to Jesus sitting on my toilet last Sunday, telling him I didn’t want to be alone for the next week, that it felt like more than I could bear.

I sat and cried and prayed a good while, until Buc knocked on the door. “Are you alright?”

“No,” I sobbed. Not yet. “But don’t come in, I’m using the bathroom.” (With two little kids, you have to use every available opportunity.) Still waiting on you, Lord.

Then, a crazy idea sprang up. What if I went with him? This, despite my vow four months ago, the last time we did a family business trip, that I would not subject my kids and myself to the craziness of traveling so far away, for so long, again, if I didn’t have to.

If I went, sure, we might mess up the kids’ sleep schedules again. There might be hours of crying in the car. I’d lose a week of writing time to travel. These things were certain. And I might go a little nuts at my in-laws’ house for a week.

But then again, I might not.

And if I went, I wouldn’t have to be alone.

I wouldn’t have to be alone.

That settled it.

My writing and house projects could wait, as could our week’s planned menu and errands. As long as I could have help with the most difficult part of  my life (my parenting), I would forgo my happy writing plans and comfortable kid setup at home.

I was a little annoyed remembering how many times my plans had been stalled over the past two years for these family business trips; but the state of my mental health told me that going with my husband was the most important thing right now. And so I write this blog post from a hotel room after our life’s latest interruption.

Tomorrow I will head back home to resume my Writer plans and projects, namely preparing four talks for a women’s retreat this month and a new book I am co-writing (more on that later)– AKA, the professional parts of my life, or the parts of my life where I feel most comfortable and polished and put-together. Strangely, I haven’t written anything about these projects on this blog since beginning them because it has taken every ounce of energy I have, after mothering and wifing, to do them. It has been hard juggling all of these parts of life–so hard that I don’t know what I have left to offer blog readers.

Maybe this admission is enough (and I guess I felt that it was worth posting): that I am still struggling with bad roots. They still strangle me at times. But I am still trusting God, and by His grace, I continue to take the next breath.

By the next time I post, I will have spoken to a large group of women four times at an inspirational women’s retreat. Please pray for me as I prepare for this exciting, yet intimidating errand for God. I look forward to seeing him show up yet again in my messy life!

 

*On this blog, I use “root” to refer to a negative past event or lie from Satan.

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“I Laughed,” “I Cried,” “I Couldn’t Put It Down”: Reactions to My Book

Book signing
Book Signing for Ending the Pain, June 26 at the Adventist Book Center in Keene, TX

A writer and stay-at-home mom of two very young children, I’m in a growing period of life that is hard, and hard to examine with much distance or perspective right now…hence the dearth of blog posts lately. However, reactions to my book, Ending the Pain—which chronicles another hard growing period—are trickling in, and I am proud to share these with you!

Here is a sampling of the comments, messages, and book reviews I am getting via Facebook and Amazon.com most days of the week now.

I just want to say how much I love your book. I am recommending it to everyone I know; I wish it was required reading for all living humans. I cried. It is a life-changing book for me. Thank you, thank you! –Jodie

I just finished reading your book and I literally couldn’t put it down. I laughed and cried through the whole thing and feel like I know you already. Thank you for opening yourself up and letting God use you to bless others. I can honestly say, your message of depression and forgiveness touched me deeply. I have recently dealt with both of these issues myself and your words brought me healing. Thank you. –April

Your book was absolutely Amazing. What a tremendous story and pathway to healing. I just don’t have words, Lindsey. It was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. –Connie

I finished your book today; I couldn’t put it down! Lots of tears and Identifying with your pain. Thank you. –Grace

I finished Ending the Pain in two days; recommend this book to everyone. Thank you, Lindsey, for writing this. -Janice

Hey! I have stayed up way too late reading your book the last few nights. 😉 (Too bad I can’t tonight, both kids woke up lots last night). I just wanted to say that you are a very talented writer, which is weird to say because it’s so hard to read this about at good friend. –Jess

Ending The Pain is a very well written book. I enjoyed the story of Lindsey’s life. I think many people will relate to her story and enjoy reading this book. It is worth it. God’s Word has power and Lindsey’s life bears witness to that! -Leah

Riveting! I couldn’t put it down. I could identify with Lindsey’s pain. I’m very glad that she found God through Straight2theHeart. I have had considerable healing myself. Jesus really did come to “heal the brokenhearted and set the captive free.” -Amazon Review

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I couldn’t put it down. I would really recommend it! -Amazon Review

Thank you to all who have taken time to reach out to me or review my book. Whether you are a friend, family member, or (previously) a stranger, your words have invigorated me, validated my story, and encouraged me to work (however slowly) on a second book. Please, keep the feedback coming!

When the Gospel Isn’t Enough

IMG_1702The Hidden Half of the Gospel is now in print, which means it’s time for me to sound promotion bells; but how about I just use a recent, personal example, to tell you why so many people (and maybe you) desperately need this message?

The other day I was listening to a radio show hosted by one of my favorite pastors. People call in with Bible questions, and this pastor answers them, usually with lots of scripture and high caller satisfaction. But one caller on the show did not receive a satisfactory answer.

Essentially, this caller wanted to know how he could get free from his past. He was fifty-two, had been abused as a child, and was still living “in bondage,” even though he went to church and prayed for the peace of the Holy Spirit. How, he wanted to know, could he experience the “new life” Christ promised, and the changes he read about when a person gets the Holy Spirit?

My heart broke for the man as the pastor proceeded to give pat answers that blatantly sidestepped the man’s apparent pain. “Let me ask you a question. Have you ever been to a funeral where the deceased sat up and complained about his past?”

“No.”

“Well, we can’t focus on the past. It’s done. As we drive through life, we can’t keep looking in the rearview mirror. We have to focus on what matters for eternity. We need to give the past to Jesus and then look to the future with him. Our pasts won’t matter in heaven. We need to believe that Jesus forgives us of our past sins and our guilt.”

Here I thought to myself, He totally didn’t address the man’s question: “How do you help someone who is trying, but is not experiencing, the Holy Spirit?” I wished I could contact this man and offer Paul’s and my book, The Hidden Half of the Gospel: How His Suffering Can Heal Yours. I wished I could talk to that pastor and give him our book, too, so next time he got a call like that, he could offer some real help: a complete picture of the gospel that not only addresses healing sin, but also healing suffering.

The Traditional Gospel Doesn’t Help Everyone

Sadly, this pastor was merely presenting the “status quo” gospel that so many Christian pastors, and Christians, promote. That is, “Christ died for our sins and rose again to forgive us and give us a new life.” Sounds nice. It is nice. This gospel has changed millions of lives. But what about those people who have already tried this gospel, who go to church and pray regularly, and who have even accepted Jesus’ forgiveness, and still live in bondage?

Today Christians and non-Christians alike live in bondage to things like divorce, abuse, addiction, depression, and cutting/self-harm (to name a few). More tragically, many Christians live in bondage to the negative thoughts and lies Satan slams us with in the aftermath and in the midst of these problems. Which means we end up living out false identities long after the initial pain of, say, childhood abuse.

I was one of those desperate people only a few years ago (see my seven-part series “My Ugly, Messy Rebirth Story“). But then God taught me what it really means to live a new life. Over a period of several years, I learned about Satan’s lies and how they take root in our minds and handicap our lives.

It’s insulting, and discouraging, when pastors or Christians tell us we should be “over it” just like that. It doesn’t work. And that’s why we need a better gospel, a complete gospel—the gospel that Paul Coneff unearthed as a young pastor in his search to minister to hurting individuals like that fifty-two-year-old Christian caller.

Jesus Preached a Better Gospel

When Jesus said He came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free, He didn’t just mean He would heal us when He came back again at His second coming, or set us free from our prisons of darkness when we get to heaven. His promise was for here and now. And that means it includes more than the gospel of forgiveness of sins. It has something for those of us who have been sinned against.

Our book, The Hidden Half of the Gospel, starts right where you are: in the midst of your misery. It doesn’t ask you to deny it or forget it, because that’s stupid; it’s impossible. Correction: by ourselves it’s impossible, but with God all things are possible. Specifically, for those of us who are suffering, healing begins with Jesus Christ’s life of suffering, and the promise that “He suffered in every way we did” so He could offer us his mercy and grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:14-16). In our book, Paul and I flesh out the implications of these promises through stories of real individuals (like myself) who needed a Savior in the midst of suffering, and who found one who understands our pain exactly, because He has been through it.

Jesus was abandoned, betrayed, and abused; He was unfairly tried, convicted, and crucified; and in the midst of all this, he felt forsaken by his Father. As a “man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief,” He knows that we need time to heal, and He doesn’t expect us to do it overnight. He only asks that we look to Him and the victory He accomplished at the cross. As we look to Jesus and allow Him to tell us about the lies and wounds in our hearts, He can uproot them and replace them with a new identity. If this sounds like a message you could use, or one that you’d like to share with others, please visit hiddenhalf.org. There, you can read sample chapters, and if you like what you see, you can order the book. Happy reading!

Get a Discount on the book: When you click “buy the book,” the next page offers a discount box. Type in “HIS-story” to receive a 20% discount through October 31.

Goodbye for July, and What’s Next for this Writer (Including a Thirtieth Birthday)

This pic doesn't really go with this post, but why not? A cute baby is always in season, right?
This pic doesn’t really go with this post, but why not? A cute baby is always in season, right?

This post may be my last for the rest of July. I need to take care of those neglected areas of life that I referenced in my last post. But I wanted to say goodbye; I will miss connecting with my readers until I get back. Here’s what I’ll be doing the rest of the month.

Facing my Fears of Technology

I’ve put off two things I need to do, just because I don’t really know how to do them: making prints of Sam’s first six months so I can start photo albums and give relatives baby pictures, and turning this blog into a website. The longer I wait, the bigger, hairier, and scarier these things seem, and it’s ridiculous.

I’m a bit embarrassed, especially of my failure to print baby pictures. Shouldn’t I know how to do this? (The issue is getting them from my iphone—which I don’t know how to use very well—to the computer, to Wal-mart’s printing center, then deciding which ones I want to frame and give away. It would have been a lot easier with only one or two months of photos—six months is burying me). I’ve often said I would have fit in a lot better in Victorian culture—you know, the Jane Austen picture of women sitting around reading books, playing piano, writing letters. I would be awesome at this life! But alas, I live in the twenty-first century, and I must adapt.

As for my website, I’m going to start by purchasing the domain name “Lindsey Gendke” from WordPress. Beyond that, I have sketched out what I want my website to look like, but I don’t know how to get there yet. This will require some hours spent studying the resources put out by the friendly WordPress staff. It’s a very doable task, judging by the wealth of resources available, and I’m a pretty good student; I just don’t like doing research of this nature. However, as an author, it will be a good investment of my time now to be able to maintain my site later, hopefully when I have a book or two published. On that note…

Wrapping up My Book Projects

In anticipation of the soon release of The Hidden Half of the Gospel: How His Suffering Can Heal Yours, I am helping Paul Coneff write promotional material, like our author bios (for the book website) and a “super article” conveying the book’s thesis. I have been working with this project for two years and am more than eager to see The Hidden Half in its final form—as is Paul. This is definitely a priority right now!

Now that I’ve proposed my own book, my memoir, to a certain publisher God led me to, I want to ready the rest of the manuscript, should they ask to see it. Whether or not this publisher buys the thing, I’m determined to place it somewhere, so it needs to get done one way or the other. I know my husband, for one, wants me to finally get this book out of my bones, because I’ve been “talking his ears off” about it for years! I’m ready to release it, too.

Celebrating Thirty Years

This month I am celebrating thirty years of life, an accomplishment I am pretty proud of, considering I tried to depart this life round about a decade ago. Five years ago I made it a personal goal to do two, maybe three, things before I turned thirty: I wanted to get my master’s degree—check; I wanted to publish a book—my hopes are on the Hidden Half making the cutoff; and I maybe, kinda, sorta, considered having a kid—check! All in all, it has been a successful past half decade, and I am very happy with my life overall. I continue to marvel everyday at the “spacious place” into which God has brought me, and I look forward to telling others about that for the rest of my life.

To celebrate my thirty years, we have planned a birthday party at my church that will include playing volleyball and eating a Dairy Queen cake—two good memories from childhood. Yippee! I also, with mixed emotions, lined up my mother-in-law to babysit Sam for three days while my hubby and I get away to a little cabin in the woods. I will miss the little squirt, but I know I will REALLY enjoy the down time, and the quiet time.

So that’s what’s in the works for me this month. It’s probably enough to do without trying to maintain a blog. Please wish me luck with my technology goals, and please send up a prayer for my book projects if you’re into those sorts of things (prayer and books starring God, I mean). Thanks so much, and happy July!

 

 

My Ugly, Messy Rebirth Story: Conclusion

After giving my life to God, I was always on the lookout for tools to share my faith. I didn’t feel I was particularly good at this part of the Christian life, and I thought it was because I hadn’t yet found the right method. Enter Paul Coneff and The Hidden Half of the Gospel.

Paul  conducted a week of prayer at my church in the spring of 2012, and after just the first night, I knew his message was special: I sensed it might even be the missing link in my life and ministry, this “hidden half” of Jesus’ story. So, what was it? And how, if I’d been in church almost my entire life, had I missed it?

Lindsey HH Cover MasterThe Hidden Half of the Gospel

Paul began his presentation with a question: “What did Jesus do more of while on this earth: Teaching or healing?”

Healing was the obvious answer. Then Paul asked, “Why have we [churches and Christians] reversed Jesus’ model of ministry? Why do we do more teaching than healing, when he did more healing than teaching?”

He continued, “Now let’s say that I am sitting in my office and I am studying for a sermon. Some church member comes in and says, ‘I have been struggling with guilt and shame from an abortion.’ Is it easier to turn to that messiness and brokenness of her life, or is it easier to do a Bible study on the character of God? Give her some scriptures on forgiveness and say, ‘You know God has forgiven you,’ pray with her a thirty-second prayer, and walk away. Which is easier?”

His point? Many churches, and Christians, don’t know how to handle messy problems like this one (other common examples being pornography addiction, abuse, eating disorders, infidelity, and cutting ), so we don’t–meaning we don’t offer the help so many people need. He went on to prove his point with a concept he calls the “cycle of sin-and-forgiveness.” Many Christians come into the church and get forgiveness for their sins, only to fall back into their patterns of sin. Then they ask for forgiveness, but continue to sin, again and again and again. (In my own experience of praying with women, I’ve also seen a pattern of wallowing in guilt over past sins that the person is no longer committing.) Paul continued. “Why is it that so many Christians who have accepted the ‘good news’ of Christ still are not free?”

family-fighting
Photo Credit: Peacefulparenting.com

I was riveted. Exactly! I said to myself, remembering how my parents had been wooed into the church with lots of good information and had gotten baptized, only to leave our family scattered and scarred by an affair and divorce (see parts 1, 2, and 3).

For the first time, I saw my problems standing stark naked in church, and I was desperate to know: How can the church address these issues?

The Hidden Half of the Gospel is how Paul addressed them. This is a message I would come to know well when Paul later asked me to cowrite his book of the same title.

Two Pillars

There are two pillars to The Hidden Half:

lies
Here is a worksheet that can help you identify the lies Satan may be planting in your mind. I was able to recognize which lies applied to me because they were “thoughts” that ran through my head on a regular basis.

1. The root of our sin and suffering is Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44). This concept of roots is huge in Paul’s ministry. As Paul explained, all our negative behaviors and patterns are merely fruits of deep-seeded roots, or lies, planted by Satan. We cannot fix the fruits unless we first attack the roots. Thus, healing begins by identifying the Satanic lies driving our behavior. Once we know the roots, or the lies, we can take those to Jesus and let him deal with them, which leads to pillar 2.

2. The root of our healing and freedom is Jesus, our Suffering Messiah (Luke 9:22; Rev. 5:5; Col. 2:15; Isa. 53). The suffering of Jesus is the crux of The Hidden Half of the Gospel, and the key to our healing.

As Paul explained, many churches have overlooked this crucial aspect of Jesus’ gospel, instead choosing to focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection. The death and resurrection take care of forgiveness of sins, but often merely believing in and accepting these concepts doesn’t resolve suffering, or the cycle of sin-and-forgiveness. Putting “suffering” back into the definition of the gospel, as Jesus explained it to his disciples (see Luke 9:22), offers hope to those of us stuck in suffering—depression, abuse, addiction, etc.—because it means Jesus didn’t just nail our sins to the cross, but he also nailed our suffering there, as well. The Bible tells us Jesus “suffered and was tempted in every way” that we are tempted, to offer us help when we suffer and are tempted (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:14-16).

Why Jesus Had to Suffer

Photo from http://trutheran.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-burdens-of-sin-and-suffering.html
Photo from http://trutheran.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-burdens-of-sin-and-suffering.html

“Have you ever thought about why Jesus’ story had to be so gory?” Paul asked the audience.

I really hadn’t.

“Well, think about it.” Paul continued. “Jesus was abandoned; betrayed; physically violated; shamed and humiliated; and verbally, mentally, emotionally, and physically abused. Now, do you think He understands the pain that abuse victims feel? Does He understand when a parent abandons a child? Was He ever tempted to numb His pain?

“He suffered all these things and more so He could identify with us. So that he could understand every way we are sinned against, and every form of self-protection we develop in order to numb our pain.

Here is a list of some of the experiences Jesus went through (from the prayer card used during Straight 2 the Heart prayer sessions).
Here is a list of some of the experiences Jesus went through (from the prayer card used during Straight 2 the Heart prayer sessions).

“What’s more, he suffered these temptations  and triumphed over them, which means that when we take time to connect our stories with Jesus, to pray and meditate on what it means that he suffered for us, and became sin for us, we can experience his victory.”

By this time, I was hooked. I wanted this in my life. I wanted a ministry that was relevant to the suffering I’d experienced, and that which I saw all around me.

So I signed on for Paul’s seven-phase, thirteen-week discipleship program. That’s right. A thirteen-week program. This wasn’t any “quick fix.” It was going to be an intense period of praying on a consistent basis, first for myself (to get more healing in my own life before I was expected to pass it on–a requirement of Straight 2 the Heart Ministries) and then for others. I was going to learn at the feet of Jesus (and the seat of Paul Coneff) for an extended period of time, sort of like the first disciples, before I set out to make more disciples.

Discipleship, Small-Group Style

Paul (right) training Mary to lead Charles through prayer.
Paul Coneff (right) training Mary to lead Charles through prayer.

Paul spent the next four months with five of us, discipling us—praying with us, and training us to pray with others. And not quick, clean, thirty-second prayers. These were deep, messy prayer sessions that first asked Jesus to identify our negative roots, and then helped us connect our stories to Jesus’ story. It didn’t end there. We delved deeper, praying, “Lord, what else do you want me to know about these roots in my life? What blessings or barriers are there in these areas?” The prayers were recursive, connecting our stories to Jesus, then having us stop and listen to the Holy Spirit so he could take us one layer deeper into our negative roots. Always, by the end of the prayer sessions, which dredged up long-buried hurts and often tears, Jesus revealed blessings, too. He always brought to mind His promises to combat the negative roots our praying was churning up.

Our training ended, with the goal being that we would start more small groups in our church, beginning with a few men and women, hopefully to grow as disciples multiplied.

My Gateway to New Life at Home, at Work, and in Ministry

My life intersected with Paul Coneff’s message and ministry, Straight 2 the Heart, when I was at a crossroads in my life. I was coming up against the age of thirty, and was finding that pursuing my “chosen” path, graduate school to become a professor, was leaving me feeling empty. Here’s a summary of how God has since rerouted my plans through this life-changing prayer ministry.

Facing Remaining Negative Roots

tree roots
Photo Credit: “Exposed Tree Roots” by Colin Brough

First, Straight 2 the Heart has helped me to be honest about areas in my life that weren’t all healed yet (some of which are still in progress) such as:

  • Anger at the premature loss of my childhood family and, well, my childhood.
  • Resentment at my husband’s happy family (and any happy family).
  • Disillusionment with my church and religion because it “did not help me” in my time of crisis. Straight 2 the Heart helped me to see that my church didn’t help me because it didn’t know how—also, because I didn’t let them know I needed help in the first place. (It also provided the answer for how churches can help, when they have the right tools.)
  • My pattern of trying to control my life in my own strength so it would never get out of control again (or my attempts to never repeat my past depression, suicide attempts, broken family, etc., through over-planning, becoming over-busy, and more).
  • My avoidance of having kids out of the above need to maintain control.

Gaining Deeper Healing 

Second, Straight 2 the Heart has led to more healing for those negative roots in these ways:

  • The decision to let go of the “safe,” but wrong career path of academia.
  • The decision to finally pursue the identity God has for me, which has translated into sharing my story through writing and even teaching. This blog, my memoir-in-progress, and Paul’s and my forthcoming book, The Hidden Half of the Gospel, are all examples of me sharing my story for God’s glory.
  • The decision to have a baby.DSC_7783
  • The decision to be honest with other women, to reach out and accept relationships I had avoided but desperately needed (See my post “Friends in High Places”)
  • I am gaining more appreciation for my church as I look past its flaws (every church has flaws) and see the human beings there. Since deciding to be vulnerable with my own story, I’ve connected with many of these dear people in meaningful ways.  I am getting the authentic “fellowship of believers” experience I missed as a child, when my family was intent on covering up its problems.

Taking the Next Step in Ministry

S2Hlogo
Photo Credit: Cristina Coneff

Third, Straight 2 the Heart has helped me learn how to have a really relevant ministry, or how to help others who are stuck in negative places and patterns like those I’ve suffered. (It is through making Jesus’ gospel relevant to the everyday struggles of life—boldly connecting our messiness to Jesus Christ’s suffering and his full gospel to “heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free.”)

  • My partner in prayer ministry, Amanda, and I, prayed two new young women (now dear friends) through the thirteen-week prayer process, which helped lead them to lots of healing—and baptisms in our church!
  • Amanda and I also trained women at a neighboring church to facilitate the same thirteen-week prayer and discipleship process in their congregation.
  • With the help of Amanda and Mary, our other cohort from our initial 13-week training, I facilitated a third prayer group, consisting of around ten ladies, in my home for several months last fall. This group resulted in amazing healing for many of these women (for marital, parental, and other common problems) as well as facilitating much needed connection between these lovely, but often isolated church ladies.
  • Now I am working on rendering the miracles we saw in these women willing to be honest with one another and with God into the closing scenes for my memoir. I want my story to testify to how one changed life can ripple out to other lives, and still more lives from there. This is what discipleship is all about.

Now, what I’ve left out of my rebirth story (and there’s lots I’ve left out), I am working on telling in my memoir. Why did I call this my “ugly, messy” rebirth story? If you consider a real birth (and I’ve been considering it a lot lately), it’s a messy process. It’s no small thing when a new physical life is created—and the same is true for a new spiritual life. The creation of a life, and the re-creation of a life, are not simple or easy processes. At times they are painful, ugly, and messy—but to get to the birth, or the rebirth, they are necessary. That’s why I have unapologetically included the ugliness and messiness in my story—along with its beauty. Without either, my story would be incomplete.

 Read part 1      Read part 2      Read part 3     Read part 4      Read Part 5    Read Part 6

To read more about The Hidden Half of the Gospel, see the following articles Paul and I wrote on the subject:

“The Fruit and Root of Freedom from Addictions” Part 1

“The Fruit and Root of Freedom from Addictions” Part 2

To schedule Paul to speak at your church or to facilitate a discipleship group, contact him at www.straight2theheart.com.

And if you want to get a copy of our book, The Hidden Half of the Gospel: How His Suffering Can Heal Yours, follow this blog to be notified later this spring when the book is published!

How God Led Me Back to Writing

I think sometimes when a person has a conversion experience, all the old habits become suspect. And if not suspect, they remind you of old times when you lived in darkness. Is it okay to do this? A person wonders. I wondered this about my writing.

Writing—and I mean that personal writing I had done for over a decade with glorious abandon as ink, and often tears, flew across the page—used to bring such relief to me. But sometimes, now, it brought guilt. Maybe I hadn’t realized it before, but I was writing to wallow. Writing in the wrong.

That describes some of my writing history. But not all of it. My reasons were not always wrong, I have to believe. At first, they were just survival reasons, like at age fourteen, when I couldn’t talk to anyone. Or at age nineteen, when the ink substituted for blood. But after that I healed a little. And healed a little more each year, until, in my early twenties, writing was part wallowing, part revenge. By the time I had my conversion in 2010, around age twenty-six, I didn’t know exactly what my writing was. All I knew was that it felt uncomfortable now, didn’t seem to fit the new me, and the thought occurred to me: what if I’m sinning?

For a time I had tried to just forget about it, but early in 2012, I felt the old urge creeping up again. Despite the newly instituted seminar papers and thesis writing for a master’s degree, now it was starting to flow out into magazine articles and opinion pieces for the church newsletter and, of course, as always, my journal. I’m on journal number twenty-five since 1998.

But none of it was enough. None of these outlets was fully satisfying my urge. . . .

Nearing thirty, a realization was starting to sink in: I didn’t have forever to get a PhD, or to have kids, or to finally publish that book I’d always wanted to publish, much less do all three! What was I to make of these conflicting messages, and the confusion in my own heart?

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I was definitely willing to consider that God had planted this recurring dream in me, like a seed that wanted to grow, but I still didn’t know what to do with it. So, God wanted me to write. But what?

As the summer wore on, I desperately wanted to apply to an MFA program [I am choosing not to reveal which one unless I get in!]. But I still felt I needed permission, somehow. I needed some validation that this was what I was supposed to do. I needed to know that writing could be different than it was before, because I was different.

And then, I met Paul Coneff.

To make a long story short, Paul came to my church to facilitate a week of prayer in March, around the time I was feeling desperate [about my career plans]. In five nights, he unfolded a message he calls The Hidden Half of the Gospel, or the message that Christ died not only for our sin—to give us a “happy ever after” in eternity—but that he also died for our suffering—to give us a happy life while on earth. An indispensible part of the message revolves around individuals finding their true, God-intended identities—restoring the identities that Satan strives to pervert, often through traumatic childhood experiences like mine.

Using a plethora of scriptures, Paul unfolded the story of the Suffering Messiah; Jesus had to suffer, die, and rise for our sins to free us. Because he was “tempted in all points like as we are, yet was without sin,” he is able to help us when we are being tempted. Because he has suffered like us—he was mentally, verbally, physically abused, plus he suffered depression and struggled to surrender his will—he can offer us healing for our pain (Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15, 16). Because he was attacked at the very core of his identity, he is able to restore us to our true identities, replacing lies from Satan, the Father of Lies (John 8:44), with his truth.

When I heard this message, I was being attacked with lies. I was hearing messages like I’m trapped; I will never be able to write; I’m not good enough to write; I don’t deserve to get to follow my dreams. I have to be stuck in a graduate program that I hate for five years, and then it will be too late for me.

But when I heard Paul explain how Jesus had died not only for our sins, but our suffering, to restore us to our God-given identities, to enable us to follow and fulfill our God-given dreams, I began to feel hope.

At the end of the week, Paul announced that he would be holding discipleship and prayer training in our church for three men and three women. This three-month-long training would prepare participants to embrace their God-given identities, enabling them to become disciples who could, through personally testifying to God’s restoration, lead others to Christ.

This sounded hopeful to me. At least, I thought, How could it hurt?

After I began discipleship training with Paul, he mentioned he was writing a book. He said it with a grimace. The writing was coming hard; he was no writer. But he had to get this book done. As a prolific public speaker,[1] he needed a resource to offer listeners.

At hearing this, I felt another glimmer of hope. But I waited, taking this home with me, too. Now it was June, and I was struggling more than ever over my future, my graduate school plans, my teaching plans, my parenthood plans. I couldn’t find peace. Where was there room for the desires of my heart? More importantly, were those desires even valid?

Later in June when I received prayer for the first time—in this ministry, a prerequisite to discipling others is receiving prayer and healing in one’s own life, first—the prayer time revealed that I had not fully surrendered my will. Paul sent me home with a sample prayer and scriptures to pray day after day to further unfold this issue.

And so, in June, July, and August, I prayed. I cried. I read my Bible with fresh eyes. And like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, I learned to pray “Lord, not my will, but yours.” I didn’t know exactly where all this praying, crying, and reading was leading, but I did know that, slowly, layers of remaining hurt were melting off. And within months, I had not only experienced peace to the point of deciding, conclusively, that I wanted kids, but also that I could trust God to make clear my career path in his good time.

By receiving Jesus’ victory over his carnal will, in July I was able lay my burdens at the cross, trusting God to work on my behalf, while I, meanwhile, composed my master’s thesis. Later that month, I had an article accepted by Insight Magazine—a piece I’d sent in over two years ago and had all but kissed goodbye. Because the article was embarrassingly autobiographical (it was actually a Guideposts reject from high school, chronicling my first suicide attempt), I kept it from most friends and family. But since I had five review copies, and since Paul deals with this type of thing all the time and was, moreover, still grimacing over the writing of his book, I figured, What the heck. I would give him one.

The day after he received the article, he called me, excited, saying, “This was really great; this really flowed. I want my book to flow like this.” Would I consider helping him write his book, which tells the stories of other wounded, yet healing, adolescents-turned-adults like myself?

The rest is history. As you read this, The Hidden Half of the Gospel: How His Suffering Can Heal Yours, should be going to press, to be published sometime in 2013. And it’s not about me.

Well, it is a little bit. Paul actually asked me to share part of my testimony in one of the chapters. I was a bit leery at first, wondering the same old question: Would I be writing this for the wrong reasons? But the more time I spent in prayer, both on my own and with our small group, the more peace I found about my career plans, my family plans, and my writing.

A few months ago I picked up one of those Bible verse cards with my name and my name’s meaning on it. This one says “Lindsey—Peaceful Isle,” and it has Psalm 37:4 printed below: “Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” This verse, among others I’ve studied recently, has led me to believe that the more I surrender my will to God, the more I actually can “listen to my heart.”

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Anyway, after finding the card, I set it on my desk at home, where I was writing my master’s thesis, and then Paul’s book, for most of the summer. As the weeks went by, as I continued to look at that card and ponder its message, I could only marvel at what God had done for me. Several years ago I had not been a “peaceful isle.” I had been a suicidal basket case with control and intimacy issues. But as I continued to delight myself in the Lord, he was slowly giving me the desires of my heart: chief most being the published book that would soon bear my name.


[1] You can find more information about Paul’s ministry at www.straight2theheart.com.