"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Knowing the Lingo Isn't the Same As Letting Sin Go

The following is a letter I received from a woman that goes by Hupomone when she comments. She listens regularly to our podcasts from overseas, and she also reads Istoria's Blog. The past year has been a difficult one for her. In an effort to process some of the things that transpired, she decided to write the equivalent of a "blog post." She doesn't have a blog and or even Facebook, so the letter was really initially intended for immediate family/friends. She's given me permission to publish it on Istoria. I believe it illustrates beautifully how principles of the Scripture are either applied - or not applied - in the lives of Christ's people.

"I remember my childhood home well. I grew up with my brother, sister and my parents. "My mom always tried to do such a great job making it feel like not just a house, but a home. She tried to decorate in a way that would be nice, but economical. Most vividly, I remember her hanging up pictures all over our upstairs hallway to cover the holes in the wall punched through by my father. It saddens me that those pictures stand out the most. You see, my dad didn’t just punch holes through the drywall in our family home; he managed to punch holes through our family itself.

I grew up knowing my parents didn’t have a perfect marriage. In fact, I often wondered if they even loved each other. I think they once did, a long time ago… but after three kids, full time jobs and “life” set in, their relationship devolved drastically. They both started to look outside each other for fulfillment. My mom poured everything into her kids. My dad took to another woman. It wasn’t just a fling, either. He told her he wasn’t married and she fell in love with him. He wanted a life different than what he had. He would eventually get that, just not in the way he would expect.

 I am not sure why my mom took him back. She certainly never seemed happy with him since she found out about the affair. I remember countless threats of divorce, yelling, screaming, fighting… My dad even ended up in jail when my mom finally called the police after he hit her.
               
The thing is, my dad was one of the most outwardly professing Christians I knew. He spoke openly of his love for Christ and the forgiveness he knew through Him. He knew what to say and when to say it and it often left everyone feeling that if they disagreed with him, they were directly disagreeing with God. After all, how can a professing Christian argue with how forgiven another believer is?
                
My mom understood this dichotomy better than anyone. She lived with an outwardly professing Christian man who wanted very little to do with her. She could never understand the vast expanse between his words and his actions. I imagine that after a while, she felt like she was going a little out of her mind. The problems surrounding their marriage were placed on her shoulders: she hadn’t forgiven him completely, she didn’t understand him, she couldn’t get over the past, she… she… she.
                
I think time took its toll. As the years went by and her children grew up, her depression became even more evident. She sought professional help, tried various medications, and did her best on a human level to overcome the darkness that enveloped her.
            
Meanwhile, my father grew in his spirituality. He concentrated on daily devotions, blogging, even writing books and plays. His attention was anywhere but on my mother. And because his pursuits were “godly”, he was beyond reproach.
               
The breaking point came one August afternoon when my father called and said my mother was in the hospital. He told me that she had tried to kill herself with an overdose of pills. 911 was called and the ambulance took her to the emergency room. Doctors anticipated she would be able to “sleep it off”. Within 24 hours she was moved to the ICU and put on life support. I took the next flight out with my two young daughters in tow. By the time we arrived, she had coded blue twice and they were able to revive her, but it wasn’t looking good.  She lived another 36 hours, never to wake out of her coma, and then passed away. An autopsy would later show she had over seven different medications in her system, all at high doses. She never really stood a chance.
                
She left a 3-page letter behind, as to why she did what she did. I am not exaggerating when I say that over 2/3 of this letter was an indictment of my father. She clearly communicated that his behavior and the way he treated her were what contributed to her decision to end her life. I have no doubt that she meant every word she wrote.
                
One of the many things that saddened me about this, was actually culminated in a blog I read two months prior to her death. A former pastor of mine, Wade Burleson, of Emmanuel, Enid, Oklahoma, wrote an article on his “Istoria Ministries” website about marriage. Specifically, he wrote about 15 words that can save a broken marriage: “You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me.”
               
 I knew as soon as I read these words, that if my mom could grasp them and the power of Christ behind them, her life could change. If she could find her identity in Christ and what he did for her, instead of what my father does or does not do – then she could find peace. I prayed for her often and specifically in this regard. Clearly, despite my prayers, this was not the direction the Lord would lead her in. Her suicide did not surprise my Lord, and I know He remains sovereign despite the outcome.
                
The sovereignty of God was about to take another turn in my life. My mom died on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016. The very next day, Thursday, August 18th, while I was still reeling from everything that had happened, my dad called me downstairs. My daughters and I were staying at the house my parents had owned for the last 18 years. It was the only house my daughters ever knew of their grandparents. It was an important home to me, my siblings and all six grandchildren.  So, my dad had asked that I come downstairs into the office. He seemed… excited. It was not an emotion I expected, so I was eager to see what he wanted to show me. He sat down in front of the computer and proceeded to show me the “Christian Mingle” dating profile he had just set up. He asked about his picture, how everything came across… I was suspended in disbelief. It had been less than 24 hours since my mom died and my dad had already set up a profile on a dating website?  I had no idea how to respond.
                
The memorial and burial services came and went over that next week. Things with my dad were just…. strange. I tried to remind myself that often people aren’t aware of their actions when something like this happens. I tried to put myself in my dads’ position – If a suicide note blamed me for everything, how would I handle it?  I really tried.
                
As I write this, just about 7 months have passed since my mom’s death. In that time, my father joined many online dating sites, started dating, found a girlfriend, and is now talking of marriage. He also sold his house, moved away from his 2 children and four grandchildren who lived within a ten-minute proximity and found a house on the other side of the country. He calls it “Sanctuary.” 
                
The hardest part for me in all of this, is that from the day my mother died, my father has cloaked everything he has done with godly-sounding euphemisms.  All I would hear is, “The Lord has given me a peace that surpasses all understanding…” or, “The Lord has clearly directed my steps in all these endeavors…” As someone who professes Christ, how can I argue with a “peace that surpasses understanding”? How can I dismiss the “sovereignty and will of God” as my dad made these snap decisions? He never even looked behind him, at the destruction left from this storm. He didn’t seem to care that my sister began cutting herself to abate the pain, or that my brother found his solace in the bottom of Vodka bottles. It was all about his “turn” to find happiness.
                
Here is the best of what I can surmise: I know that the heart is deceitful above all things. I know that people can hide behind a fa├žade of Christ. I know that I am not to sit in judgment of my father, but to show him the same love and grace Christ has shown me. But I also look at his actions and see no sign of sacrifice. I see no evidence of him loving his family (or anyone else, for that matter) more than he loves himself. How can I reconcile these things? In many ways, it would be far easier for my mind to comprehend this situation if he was an atheist, or agnostic, or held a belief I knew was outside of biblical doctrine. But for him to justify the very actions that hurt others as “following where the Spirit leads...” is just impossible for me to resolve. Or at least, it was.
                
Pastor Burleson just this week, posted another blog on Istoria Ministries. As God in His providence would dictate, here is the last part of what that blog said:
                                                                                                                                                           
            “…it would be an appropriate time to remind us who follow Jesus that we are to be known for our love and truth - in that order. The Royal Commandment is love (see James 2:8).  People will know I am a follower of Christ by my love, not my truth (see John 13:35). The love I show is more important than truth I know, because in reality my Truth is a Person, and He tells me to love you as He loves me.

Here's the good news about love. You can't fake it. You either have it or you don't (see I Corinthians 13:4-8). 

Love is patient.
Love is kind. 
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love is not proud.  
Love does not dishonor others.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil.
Love rejoices with the truth. 
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
Love never fails

I may tell you I love you, but if I don't show you I love you, then I'm faking love. The good news about true love is that fact checking it is easy for me. Before I condemn those who pass on Fake News as gospel truth, I ought to examine to see if I am attempting to hoodwink you with my fake love. 

I think the latter is worse because it often involves self-delusion. 

At least the Fake News purveyors know they are liars.” 
           
So, it became quite evident to me that my family has been hoodwinked. I still am not sure what to do with this, but at least I am not trying to reconcile the truth my father purported with his actions. And in the end, it almost seems fitting: his actions were like his punching holes in drywall. His truth? Just pretty pictures he hung in front of the damage done."

23 comments:

RRR said...

Such a heart-wrenching account of the horrific devastation caused by sin and the victims laid in its wake. I know I will be one of many who will pray for Hupomone asking that our Father blesses her with the power of His grace in the coming days/years.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

First of all, I’d appreciate prayers for my twin brother who doctors have in a coma while on a respirator while recovering from a four hour operation to remove blood clots in his leg.

I’ve never read such a sad letter in my life or one that made my blood ‘boil’.

This husband should be taken behind the barn and reminded “Beware of…vicious wolves…you can identify them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7: 15-16) and his fruit is rotten to the core and may burn in hell.

Wade, the daughter thought her mother could find peace if she experienced your blog: “You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me.”

The daughter should have read the comments that agreed IF there was NOT physical abuse involved.

I believe worst than physical abuse her mother endured was the mental and emotional abuse cause by such things as holes punched in sheetrock. What he is doing to his daughter now is the same emotional abuse.

I know this daughter needs prayer, but I believe what would give her relief would happen if she blooded her father’s nose. It also MIGHT wake him up to realize the harm he has done and is doing.

RRR said...

Rex Ray,
Will pray for your brother.

Pege' said...

HUPOMONE...
hupomonē

1) steadfastness, constancy, endurance

1a) in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

1b) patiently, and steadfastly

2) a patient, steadfast waiting for

3) a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

I like the moniquer you selected for yourself.

Thank you for allowing Wade to share your story. I am deeply sorry for the loss of your mother. I hope you are ok. I can understand the depth of her internal pain and loss of hope. I hope you are able to heal. There is deep healing in Christ as he sets us free from the pain and effects of our childhood pain and the sin of our parents. NONE of it is your fault. YOU were the child. I have been able through God's strength and kindness to forgive my mother and father and I pray this for you Hupomone'. Through Christ I was able to change and set a new and stronger example for my children. Christ gave me the ability to be a better mother...not a perfect mother for my own kids. He is there for you too.
Unfortunately, your father is taking the same heart with him into his next relationship, and the greatest predictor of his future behavior is his past behavior. History will repeat itself in his relationships. Pharisees try and make things look prettier than they are. I wonder what his life was like when he was being raised.
Wade is so right when he says that no one else is responsible for my happiness and contentedness. This is some thing Wade has spent years teaching me. It's truth brings freedom to love and to be loved. Free from expectations and manipulation.
May God give us the power to walk and remain in the truth of 1 Corinthisnas 13.

Thank you again for opening your heart and sharing.
It helped me.




thedevilcorp said...

For your consideration.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Praying for your twin brother!

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Many thanks to Hupomone for giving her permission to you to publish the letter. I hope it opens many doors for others in similar situations to "come out" of the place they have been hiding their hurts. So many hide in their pain thinking that they are the only ones who are so afflicted.This is a hidden shame in the church scene, as much as the more recently publicised ones.

I know from experience of years in pastoral ministry that this scenario is much more common than many of us would imagine, pastors wives and families,elders and deacons wives and families, as well as the many others. I mention these leadership positions because the assumption is often that they are above such behaviour.

On a similar note, I have come across a few men who were so afflicted by a spouse pretender!

Rex Ray said...

Thanks for the prayers.

My brother is out of the ‘woods’. He called an hour ago. Said he was ready to switch places with me like we did once before. (He was in the college hospital and wanted to do something. I got in his bed and no one ever knew we did the switch.)

RRR said...

I am thanking God for answering prayers for your brother. God is GOOD!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank Wade and those who have left comments, for their encouragement. Aussie John is right in his observation... there really is nothing new under the sun and I am sure many more families have situations that carry their own burdens. I think transparency is greatly lacking in the Christian church. Having to pretend everything is perfect...

Pege' - It made me smile that you would take the time to look up information about "Hupomone." You are right, it is a word that seems to fit my life quite well.

Thank you also for the prayers. I have no doubt the Lord continues in His faithfulness and will use His people to encourage each other along the way.

I am grateful for this blog/forum.

Hupomone

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Anonymous said...

Hupomone,

Thank you for sharing. This was a real eye-opener to me, as I relate very well with your father. Not the same situation, but the same facade. I often don't realize how much I affect others by it. May God change me.

L. Lee said...

Curiously I read this blog post right before reading this one:

http://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/04/05/looking-further-at-iain-campbell-and-others-what-is-a-dishonest-hypocrite/

Rex Ray said...


RRR,
Yes! God is good.

Hupomone,

My heart goes out for you, and I think back to my second cousin. While growing up, my brother and I used Frank (two years younger) as a ‘measuring stick’. We’d say, “That guy is about half as mean as Frank.” He was diagnosed as ‘amoral’ (no concern of right or wrong).

When he was 24, the police of Fairbanks, Alaska released him under my custody. He helped me work. He lived with us and prayed nice prayers before we ate. He denied stealing money from my wife’s purse, but proof showed he was lying. I was so angry I told him we were going to have a fight.

“You can hit me but I won’t hit you back because I love you.”

“OK, if you are going to act like a kid, I’ll treat you like a kid. You get 10 licks, bend over.” (Close by was a thin board.)

“I’m not crying because it hurts; it’s just the dignity.” (I had a hard time not to laugh.)

With that done, my anger was gone, but my wife was still angry.

A short time later he was caught searching a man’s house for money. The police took him.

Hupomone, I’m thinking your father may be amoral and you’d feel better if he wasn’t around you. I mean he’s a constant reminder of what he did to your mother and other emotional stress. Keeping him away may take a restraining order.

Anonymous said...

Rex- I appreciate your story and the empathy you show. If only resolution was truly as easy as a bloodied nose. :)

L.Lee- Thank you for mentioning the Wartburg Watch link. I found that story fascinating and it gave me much to think about- Like PopTarts! Let me explain:

I currently live in the Middle East, in a predominantly Muslim country. Most of the grocery stores here have what my husband affectionately calls, "The Sin Room." It is an area of the grocery store with opaque or completely blacked out windows and doors, and is rarely noticed unless you are looking for it. I wouldn't have even known about it unless my husband pointed it out. Inside this room are all the pork products available for non-muslims to buy. (After all, even touching pork is a sin to a Muslim) There are things inside this room I would have never associated with pork...like PopTarts and Lucky Charms. Apparently the gelatin used is from pig bone marrow.
It is an awkward feeling to be in there and I will often forget about it entirely unless my kids happen to ask for something like jello or PopTarts.
My point, is that I think people become very gifted in keeping their "Sin Rooms" both contained and obscure. No one notices these areas for most of the time. It is only after we become aware of these hidden places, that we are surprised to find what is in there.

- Hupomone

Rex Ray said...

Hupomone,

Ahhhhhhh…! At last I perceive our friend, Wade Burleson, has played a trick on us. YOU LIVE IN A MUSLIM COUNTRY.

That’s a new ballgame. I guess Wade wanted us to see the difference between Muslim thinking and Christian thinking.

My son, Joe, was a missionary for several years in a Muslim country. His neighbor was dumbfounded that he and I didn’t have but one wife since it was obvious we had enough money.

He stated his belief as we were eating in his home. I remember the LOOK our wives gave us. :)

I asked Joe why his wife wore so much jewelry. He explained if her husband told her “I divorce you”, she would have to leave immediately with nothing but what she was wearing. (He had already divorced one wife.)

A Muslim that lives in America will not believe the same as one in a Muslim country. The higher percentage of Muslims in a country, the more their ‘rules’ become their God.

My son lived about 15 miles from Beersheba. All Muslims go to the same school. Before he got there it was reported to a man that his daughter had been seen talking to a Muslim boy in the street that was NOT in her tribe. Her father restored honor to his family by locking her in a woodshed and burning it.

I believe Wade trick us with the picture we though was you. Any Muslim woman showing that beauty in public of a Muslim country would have her head cut off.

Once, my daughter and husband were touring a Muslim country, They walked into a compound where a wedding was taking place. A group of men started running toward them, and their guide yelled, “Run”. Their sin: both were wearing shorts.

I believe for a Muslim to touch pork is a sin is very true. Once, a Muslim uprising was stopped when they learned every dead Muslim was being buried inside a pig.

I've never heard of everyone's "sin room". Thaat's an interesting topic.

Anonymous said...

Rex,

In all fairness and disclosure, I am not FROM the Middle East. All the events in the letter I wrote transpired in the states. We are only here temporarily with an international contract my husband is on. We will return to our home in the states when his contract expires. I only brought up our location because I think the "hidden" room in grocery stores proved to be an interesting point of symbolism.

-Hupomone

Rex Ray said...

Hupomone,
So sorry I jumped to the wrong conclusion. And I need to apologize to Wade also.

I made words in bold print of Wade’s post that were upsetting and printed it again.

One of the works and wonders of the Holy Spirit is convicting a person of being lost. The most terrible time in my life was at the age of ten. He kept telling me day and night I was lost. Everyone thought I was saved because I’d been baptized. Late one night I could stand it no longer and told mother I wanted to be saved. She told me to pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart. I did and a peace came over me. I’ve felt that peace for 75 years.

With that said, the Holy Spirit also convicts Christians of sin, and when that happens they will feel miserable. If they can live in that sin and be happy then there is no Holy Sprit convicting them.

“Not all who sound religious are really godly people…At the Judgment many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord…But I will reply, you have never been mine. Go away, for your deeds are evil.” (Matthew 7:21-23 Living Bible)

This is hard to say but I believe your father need conviction he is lost.

RRR said...

An "Anonymous" said: " I often don't realize how much I affect others by it. May God change me"
If you are saying that you feel like you have lived a hypocritical life similar to that of Hupomone's Dad, perhaps you are beginning at the right place in humbly acknowledging you are outside of God's will and only He can change your character. I for one will surely pray for you. Of course, if you're like Hupomone's Dad, and the "Mean Frank" that Rex Ray mentioned, it would be impossible for those observing to know if you're sincere until your changed nature is proved over time.

I have some very good friends who really can talk convincingly as to their holiness, but observation shows that there are serious "rot" issues deep in their hearts which frequently surface. I know I also fail to live consistently the holy life that my Father intends, but I don't believe His Spirit in me could allow me to behave like Hupomone's Dad and "mean Frank". I believe born again followers of Christ will indeed have occasional stumbles into sin, but I don't believe they can live amoral lives as portrayed by these two.

Rex Ray said...

RRR.

Well said.


Hupomone,

I believe our “Sin Rooms” that you mentioned is where Christians have to say: “Get behind me Satin”.

The sad part is we seem to always leave a forwarding address.

Rex Ray said...

Hupomone,

I keep thinking about our “Sin Rooms” that you mentioned. I assume that would be a room where we are tempted.

Jesus was tempted as we are. Just as we don’t see the Holy Spirit, we don’t see the devil, and neither did Jesus when he was tempted for 40 days. The devil tempts with ‘thoughts’.

“Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.” (Luke 4:5) If a person was on the moon, they could not physical see all the kingdoms of the world. But Jesus could see them in his mind.

It was the same when the devil took him to the highest point of the Temple and told him to jump off. (Luke 4:9) The thought was only in the mind of Jesus.

I’ll conclude that our “sin room” is when the devil hits us with thoughts.

Rex Ray said...

“When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.” (Luke 4:13 NLT)

An “opportunity” came when Jesus was hungry and the devil tempted him to turn stones into bread.

Did the devil have an opportunity when Jesus was in the Mount of Olives? “Father if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.” (Luke 22:42)

We cannot fathom God’s love for us when he ‘executed’ his Son for our sins.

“MY God, my God, why have you forsaken me” was only answered by God’s tears. Jesus could have called thousands of angles to set him free, but he chose to die with a broken heart.