Throwing Away the Remote: A Lesson in Courage

Flipping the page on my Alaska Wildlife calendar to a new month I’m reminded of an encroaching anniversary. 

I’ve lost track of how many years passed since my home break-in but even without a calendar on the wall I internally sense its date.  My first clue?  Something in my spirit hungers for more control.  From serving eight years as a volunteer for women’s crisis centers I learned that need to control is a common denominator among survivors of violence.  Not surprising when you consider that during the commission of many violent episodes/crimes, victims are generally at the mercy of the perpetrator and have no control over the situation or even their own life. 

During my home break-in, I didn’t know if I would live or die.  Wickedness taking the form of a human held me prisoner at gunpoint, my only recourse to endure his abuse or perish.  In those dark hours with control stripped from me, helplessness assailed me.  Even for weeks following I was not in control.  Fear gripped me preventing me from living my life.  Every noise startled me.  I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep without nightmares, couldn’t step outside the shelter of a friend’s home without trembling, couldn’t look people in the eye without crying, couldn’t watch tv newscasts without feeling sick.  Aftermath of violence rendered me helpless in nearly every aspect of life.

A lie took root:  Absence of Control equals Helplessness.   The remedy appeared obvious.  The more I control my world the less helplessness I experience.   In a misdirected attempt to avoid soul agony of helplessness & vulnerability, I convinced myself I must always be in control.  Some control proved helpful like planning where I ventured out to and for how long, making sure to return home before dark.  Other decisions seem random.  I controlled the length of my hair, lopping it boy short for the first time in my life.  I wore unattractive colors & frumpy clothing.  I isolated myself from everyone, including friends.  Many nights when insomnia owned me, I took refuge in television, not for my viewing pleasure but mechanically pressing a remote control every few minutes for hours until I drifted off exhausted.  It seems so ridiculous now but at the time, I felt powerful with control literally at my fingertips.

Problem is my controlling spiraled out of control, ruining relationships, isolating me from people who love me.  Control cost opportunities, rendered me a slave to lists and self-imposed rules of how life must be structured for my protection.   Need to control narrowed my world, prohibiting me from venturing too far beyond the familiar and manageable.  It chained me to routines, limited my circle of support, prevented me from trusting, robbed me of freedom, cheated me of JOY in living and loving.  Ultimately, my quest for control consumed me.

What I needed wasn’t control but courage.  Friends told me how brave I was for living through a violent attack.  There’s nothing courageous about being a victim. Courage can only be found in choosing to move from victim to survivor, choosing to FULLY LIVE as a Survivor.  Control is the antithesis of courage.  Despite my best efforts to appear brave, I realized bravery cannot emerge as long as I control everything because control roots and thrives in fear. 

As long as I knew exact outcomes, hid behind routines, averted vulnerability by limiting my friendships, as long as I buried my heart and surfed through meaningless relationships like channel surfing with a remote control, true courage evaded me.  I was, in fact, cowardly hiding behind a thin veil of false bravado destined to unravel in ugly ways.

True bravery emanates from staring down our fears, especially the fear of losing control.  Courage emerges when everything in me shouts “RUN! HIDE!” but I chose not to, when outcomes are shaky & threatening and I risk anyway, moving forward even in uncertainty but with resolve to conquer.  “Courage”, as my dear friend Marshele Carter puts it, “is running up to the dark and taking one more step.” 

The truth is, the more I tried to control the more I became controlled.  If I honestly believed in the Sovereignty of God, I had to surrender control to Him.  Surely the God who numbers the hairs on my head and watches over lowly sparrows cares about my struggles, right? {Matthew 10:29-30}  But surrender seemed like giving up, admitting defeat, weakness.  I fought until I nearly destroyed myself.  The longer I avoided raising the white flag, the deeper fears bored into my soul and the emptier I became.  No 12-step program delivered me, no magic formula to follow…just a simple prayer of relinquishment, a commitment to reach out to others for love & support and a long journey of intentionality to trust my Creator with details of my life every moment, every breath, every heartbeat.

As I glance again at the calendar on my wall I commit the date August 3rd to the Lord.  I won’t be controlled by fears in this season.  My heart beats a little faster when I think of that night but I recognize fear sooner when it attempts to slip through cracks of my brokenness.   I’m quicker to declare I will not let fear rule, not let it constrain me anew to channel-surfing-type control.  Instead I choose to throw away the remote.  I risk more.  I forgive quicker.  I laugh louder.  I love deeper.  I live freer… I live courageously

{A woman’s magazine invited me to contribute an article about my recovery from violent crime.  I submitted this & it’s now under review by the editor.  I’ll let my readers know if it they accept for publication.  At the risk of sounding self-serving, it probably wouldn’t hurt to get a lot of clicks on this link so please FEEL FREE to share.  Thanks!}


Names Of Jesus

Recently I was blessed to be speaking to a group of women at Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs about the names of Jesus.  What a GREAT time of sharing!  The women are wonderful and eagerly received the Word of God as I shared.  The main topic was Living Water but since they had been studying many different names of Jesus over the course of the past year, I wanted to show them how all the names fit together.


God gave me an idea for a simple demonstration using a cup full of rocks to help the audience visualize what happens when we fill our cup…symbolizing our heart vessel… with things other than water which represents the Living Water, Christ Jesus.  On each of the rocks I had written a single word of a problem or sin and next to it I wrote the Name of Jesus which applied to that particular issue. 


Many ladies have asked for a copy of this part of the message I shared so here you go:


“Stones take all kinds of shapes and sizes and some of them are even beautiful…like serving at church, teaching Bible study, volunteering for ministry purposes…but none are to take the place of Living Water.  Just as a glass was designed for water, You and I were designed by our Creator to receive Living Water.  Yet we fill our vessels with things that we were never designed for.


“So what happens when we come to Jesus, the Living Water with all our stones?  Jesus longs to fill us with Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit but look at the junk that’s in the way!  The stones are occupying space that belongs to Living Water. 


“What are the stones in your life occupying the place in your heart that was intended for Living Water alone?  How much are you missing out on because there’s just no room for Him?” 


“As I pull out stones, let them be a reminder of who Christ has taught us this year He is…”


A stone of confusion…Jesus told us that He is our Guidepost.  We don’t have to be confused, because He will guide us into all truth.   {Isaiah 58:11; Psalm 119:4-9; Jeremiah 31:21}


A stone called fear…We can get rid of that one in the name of Jesus because He is our PRINCE OF PEACE.  We have nothing to fear.  We walk in peace.  {Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; 26:3; Isaiah 32:17-18; Luke 1:67, 76-79; John 14:27, 16:33}


What about the stone called worry?  Jesus is our Provider, according to His riches in glory.  He knows what we need.  He provides.  {Phil 4:19; Genesis 22: 1-8; Matthew 14:19-20}


A favorite among Christian women, the stone of preoccupation with busyness.  We can loose that one in Jesus name…Jesus is our Good Shepherd who guards our going out and coming in, in Whom we can find rest.  {Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11; John 10:2-3, 10:7-10}


This hideous stone of sinful appetites?  Jesus is our Bread of Life.  He satisfies our hunger and as we feast more & more on Him, we are filled, no room for other appetites.  {John 6:48-51, 53-58; John 6:35; Psalm 103}


The stone of unforgiveness?  He is our Bright, Morning Star that chases away the shadows of woundedness, the Light of the World that allows us to release the darkness of those who have hurt us. {Rev 22:16; Numbers 24:17; II Peter 1:16-19; Psalm 139: 11-12; Isaiah 29:18-19; Luke 1:78-79}


The stone of distrust of others?  Jesus is our Friend, we can trust Him.  {John 15:13; Proverbs 17:17; John 21:4-7; Proverbs 18:24}


The stone of loneliness?  Jesus is our ever present Husband.  {Isaiah 54:5-7; Rev. 19:6-9; Hosea 2:19-20}


The stone of striving?  Jesus is our Victor!  {I Cor. 15:57, I John 4:4; Luke 10:18-20; Matthew 28:18; II Cor. 10: 4-5}


Unhealthy habits?  Jesus is our Deliver.  {Luke 1:68-69; Job 5:19; I Co. 10:13; II Titus 4:18; II Peter 2; 9; Acts 5:18-19, 12:7}


The stone of anger?  Jesus is our Comforter/Helper.  {II Cor. 1:3,6; Psalm 77:2; Psalm 54:4}


Abandonment?  He is Emmanuel, God with us!  {Matthew 1:22-23; Matthew 28:20; Psalm 139:7-10}


The stone of selfishness?  Jesus is our Alpha & Omega…when we realize that it’s ALL about him, from beginning to end, there’s no place for selfishness.  {Isaiah 44:6, 48:12; Rev 1:7-8, 22:13}


Critical spirit, nagging, complaining?  Jesus is our Encourager, our JOY!  {Romans 14:17; John 15:9-16; Psalm 16:11, 43:4; Isaiah 61:7; Galatians 5:22}


And the stones of shame & guilt? Jesus is our High Priest, {Hebrews 4:14-16, 9:11-14; I Peter 2:9-10; Romans 8:31-34} and the Lamb of God who forgives our sin.  {John 1:29; Isaiah 53:7; I Peter 1:18-21; Rev 5:6, 9-10}


Slowly the stones were removed from the cup until eventually the cup was empty and ready to be filled to overflowing with Water.


In the name of Jesus we can loose the heavy stones that weigh us down and occupy our vessels. When Jesus our Living Water comes to fill us as His vessels, we have a constant well springing up in us to give us a heart of worship in spirit and truth.  And in the name of Jesus we have heart vessels that overflow with Living Water, spilling over into the lives of those who count on us…husbands, children, family, friends, co-workers, even strangers at the grocery store…who need us to share this hope in us, the fountain of Living Water. 


There is no name that is stronger, no other name that can free us, no other name but the name of Jesus.  AMEN.