which cheek should i turn?

6.17.2018

What happens when someone you think you can trust starts abusing you?

Abuse? How can that even be defined?

Maybe you’re just annoyed, or confused, or wrong. Maybe you’re too easily offended, or simply sensative, or maybe that is just a trigger for you.

Maybe it’s you.

Maybe you are not being abused. Maybe you just have your own issues clouding your mind and thoughts and opinions.

.

Believe me when i say that there is no way on earth, that anyone can travel 11 countries for 11 months and not have something from their past come up to pain them.

In some form or shape, emotional or physical, theres going to be something that triggers memories and emotions from the past.

In some respects, this kind of volunteer trip creates opportunities to face and deal with personal issues that may be affecting ones normal life, outside of ones normal life.

We get new people to break, create, and practice skills and habits with – who we dont have to go home with; so nothing lost, and much to gain.

We get the chance to be who we have said we claim or desire to be and we get the time to try and root ourselves in that lifestyle.

We get the chance to encounter almost any possible experience, sudden unexpectedness, and surprising joys and sorrows we could ever hope to come across. We get to have fresh eyes and opinions encourage and build us up in ways we never have been before, and we get the chance to confront the worst about ourselves without lowering ourselves before those who we want to save face with back home…who, honestly probably already know the worst about us – despite our own ignorance.

So, getting back to the “triggers” that can arise on the race…

I’ve had – and seen different of my squad mates on the race have – moments where old pains, griefs, and fears have arisen. Those have not been the easiest or the prettiest moments of the race, but they’ve been both teaching and growing. (And despite each of our reactions to it, ive also witnessed and experienced Gods grace all over those moments …His presence urging us to go through it with Him into healing…)

.

One of those moments was when a man looked one of my teammates in the face after she’d shared her testimony of suffering and the Lord being with her through that really difficult time of abuse, and without any hessitation told her he believed 90% of people who say they were abused were not, – and that he knew this for a fact.

.

So, i know that each person is at a different stage of spiritual life that only God can know, and convict, and change our hearts about. But at what point do you stand up and say, “No, you’re wrong!”? At what point are we enabling abuse with our silence? At what point do you let God deal with them, and at what point do we deal with them?

…Because there has been many moments in my life where i have allowed people to verbally abuse me, or spiritually abuse me, and that has in the past led me to allow physical abuse at certain times at certain levels because i hadn’t known where my boundaries were…it’s been an ongoing battle for me.

.

This same individual that so unnecessarily and innapropriately stated his opinions about my friends testimony, asked my team another time to explain to him what it meant when God told us to turn the cheek, because he stated, “Jesus certainly didn’t!” which made me question the mans understanding of scripture because the two ideas (of being unoffensible as children of God, and Jesus – the holy and righteous- judge calling the Pharisees and temple sellers out on hypocricy and missuse of Gods people) are not remotely the same thing.

However, the question has been swirling around in my mind: Which cheek should i turn in cases of abuse?

The one that seems enabling?

“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matthew 5:39

Or the one that sets boundaries?

“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Matthew 10:14

.

The World Race seems like this amazing race that is so not normal life.

That’s not true.

It’s normal life.

It’s just normal life in another country. Normal life with normal problems and normal issues both challenging, and blessing.

People are people, no matter where you go in the world.

…Yea, of course there’s little norms i know that are not norms in the country we’re in, and norms they have that i’m not even aware of!…

But people issues don’t change because they’re from a different country or theyre a different ethnicity. And neither do mine – just because im on the World Race. None of my issues dissapeared when i drove away with just a backpack to live from for a year. None of my issues dissapeared when my funding for the world race reached eighteen thousand and seventeen dollars. Nothing changed when i arrived at each new country or changed to a new team. Nothing changed.

So my questions and my triggers remain.

What happens when someone you think you can trust starts abusing you?

What do you do about parents or church authorities or important relationship people that use their authority and power to abuse you in some way?

How can you define abuse done to you? How can you sort out what’s abuse and what’s just you?

I have come to some small conclusions in regard to what ive experience on the World Race:

1. Stay in community. Allow people to experience life with you and in doing so they will have valid opinions so they can speak into your experiences.

This means that if you have community, and you are in  a situation that is not good for you, then you will have people who will help you remove yourself from a situation where you may be enabling or endangered!

2. Talk to God about what you think and feel about things that upset you, and journal a lot. Journal what you felt, feel, and what you feel God is telling you about your feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

Talk to God before talking to others so you can see if God confirms some of the things you think He’s telling you through others.

3. Read Gods Word so you can know what God thinks about things. I’ve met a lot of people on the Race, both in ministry and on my squad, who have very little idea about how God feels about things because they havent read the testimony of what people have done, what God said about that, what He said He feels about it, how He says He made things to be… and then, sometimes i forget myself.

I can’t tell you how many times i have been encouraged and reminded by people on my squad and how humbled ive been as Gods used those – who “dont know” a lot about what Gods said/done/thinks- to speak into me and remind me who He is and who I am.

4. Wait.

Sometimes people who are abusing people need grace. Sometimes you know when it’s time to shake off the dust. Sometimes you know when its time to let them take another strike and show their true colors or be self convicted with shame.

But sometimes…you dont.

Sometimes you just need to wait. While you wait, invite community into those spaces and places, pray, and read God’s Word.

Sometimes because you wait and do those 3 things God reveals the answer to you. And sometimes the person comes and appologizes. Sometimes waiting gives God time to work. And puts you there to extend forgiveness on His behalf.

.

.

.

The World Race is nothing more than life experience. A way to experience life and carry some new perspectives with you “after” the race.

And for this i am grateful.

Thanks for being part of my community this year! Thanks to each one of you that have responded to my blogs, continued to support me in prayers and financial gifts, letters, and private emails! You cannot know how you have encouraged, taught, and brought healing to me!

Please pray for me that i will continue to invite in community, find peace in prayer, have my eyes opened to more of who God is in scripture, and that i would patiently wait with grace.

Please pray that i would be a person of forgiveness, and that any roots of abuse that have found their way into my own tendencies would be dug out and abandoned for grace.

Advertisements

who the h*** am i to be?

Ethiopia: 6.1.18, month 9

To be or not to be, that is the question.

…and then psalm 23 answers me:

I shall not be.”

.

i have been writing “the psalms project” – dedicated to my dear squad leader: HanaBeth – who challenged me to take on this assignment.

The other day i got to Psalm 23.

Sometimes i pray or meditate on psalm 23 because i know it really well, and have been reciting it since i was very young.

I had this little book my Aunt had given me that id carry around with psalm 23 in it…

And the other week i started thinking about the way it phrases itself: “i shall not be”, and God’s name, “I Am”.

He is, and i shall not be.

“The Lord is”, it starts. And then, “I shall not be”.

So who am i to be?

I am to stop, and realize who He is, and then from that foundation, realize who i am not. And how He, being who He is, makes me ….

I am provided for.

I am resting.

I am lead.

I am restored.

I am guided.

I am protected.

I am comforted.

I eat in company.

I am annointed, chosen, bestowed upon.

I have more than enough.

I am pursued by goodness, by mercy, by faithfulness.

I have a final destination WITH Him.

I am to dwell & abide now, and then, in His presence.

I am not alone.

.

I just arrived to Ethiopia in the wee hours of thursday morning: 130am…

We finally dragged our stuff outside the airport into the parking lot where buses with racks on top awaited us.

My whole body was tingling with exhaustion.

We’d gone to bed in the wee hours of wednesday morning and woken an hour and a half later, stumbled into the empty streets at 4am and taken taxis to the Sophia airport. Then all day plane rides and layovers, airport talks with teammates and 5 movies later stumbled off the plane into Ethiopia with 3 total hours of sleep in two days…

Our bags were slung attop the buses and then we left, and i slept until we arrived at our beds for the night, where i dizzily dragged my bag up a flight of stairs and fell into the first open door – onto an empty bed and woke there in the morning still fully dressed.

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

And then i spent a day – probably the most restful day of my life on the race – and the sickest (woman wise) – laying in bed and lazily wandering the halls…

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

I stared out windows into a new world and wondered, what does God have for me?

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

Facts about me:

– i have sworn more in the past four months than i have my entire life

– i realize i verbalize too many facts that ive noticed, which ends up just sounding like complaining or people bashing

– i am less mature that i want to be when i am not conscious about how i am speaking, living, acting around and with people

– i often choose not to be as kind as i can be, because i dont want to try more than i already am – aka, i am lazy

– i am a real christian : sinner in need of grace, every moment, every day, even while sleeping…and Christ is thee only one that could possibly save me. Ive tried and i just cant be enough: good enough, self controlled enough, kind enough, forgiving enough…enough of anything. Im constantly messing up even as i attempt to do rightly…

– i have very little self regulation: basically no good daily habits or motivations…

and

– i have no inkling what-so-ever of what i am going to do after the race.

.

All around me people are excitedly finding confirmation of going back to what they left, or being invited into a new thing with God. And over here i am clueless.

I told God that when i finished paying off my university debts my life was His. And here i am on a year long volunteering trip attempting to give God space to speak…, and yet how much time have i actually sat and listened?

If im honest, not much.

And again at Awakening, an event i attended with 4 other WorldRace Squads in Cambodia, i stepped forward and told God, my life is irrevokably yours, do with me what you want. A dangerous invitation…and yet….?

And my word God gave me at the beginning of Cambodia, while water painting on the floor of our hostel: invited. I am invited this year by God…

what does that mean, God?

And desires.

And dreams…

I just havent found them.

So what now?

.

Outside the rain pounds down on the street causing rivers and lakes…cars speed by eachother, people skuttling along with or without umbrellas. The rain pings off the corragated metal roofs of little places clumped together across the street…the water brown on the street: chocolate milk.

I sit in a velvet throne like chair behind two story glass with a small little cup of expresso that cost me a dollar.

It is so strong my throat almost doesnt swallow.

i cant explain the way it has its own ethnic taste.

Tastes of a thousand shots – the blood of berries black with fire.

Like youve burnt your tongue – yet you still retain your tastebuds…like youre tasting all the suffering that ever hit this red soiled land.

A fist squeezes the beans until they yeild

The tears of a thousand fields

The rocks cry out

Coffee.

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

My team and i will be doing UnsungHeros (again for me) this month: searching for people for Adventures in Missions to partner with in the future.

My team came to this coffee shop down the street this morning and spent several hours researching potential hosts.

We left our first housing yesterday and came here to Addis Ababa, found an AirBnB 7 stories up (without wifi), walked 4 miles to find a grocery store, and spent our first evening alone as a team getting to know eachother better…

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

And now, i sit alone in the coffee shop, wondering again, “Who shall i be? Who the h*** shall i be?

.

.

.

Prayer requests for this month:

– good churches to attend

– miraculous amazing future partner connections stories

– good bonding and teamwork with my new team

– safety and health

– cheaper accomodations

– focus in my spiritual life

– direction comprehension

– abiding in the Lord

– better daily routines

.

also, when we left bulgaria, our dear little neighbor was beaten by her husband after hanging out with us. We wanted to bless her and encourage her in the Lord, but it resulted in her being violently assaulted by her husband.

please pray for her and her little son to be able to escape that situation…

i cant get her beaten defeated face out of my mind…nor the sadness that we couldnt thank her or say goodbye out of my heart.

Please pray for our last host (our host in Bulgaria) too.

Pray for God to bless him and his ministries and to heal his heart over whatever made him glad to see us leave. It grieves my heart that there was never any mutual ground between us.

aye’ aye’ Captain!

Bulgaria: 5. 18.18, month 8, goodbye second team …

When we – Groovy Crew – first became a team, this is literally what came into my mind as we prayed together for the first time:

At the time, i had an inclination that our team would be wholey bound together through a time of trials while at some points wishing we werent so bound.

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

And while my inclinations happened to be right, there have been both things ive wished id been better at and things that came along that surprised me.

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

At this point in the Race i find myself faced with team change once again.

Change.

A word that twists my gut when it comes to anything thats a stable thing in my life.

so.

Here are my thanks to each member of Groovy Crew:

Dear Groovy Crew, while we lived together thanks for always forgiving every conversation i interuppted, every suggestive joke, every grumpy moment.

Thanks for letting me take showers as many or as few times as i wanted, and for letting me be when i said i wanted to be left alone.

Thanks for your feedback and giving me the benefit of the doubt. And for everytime you let me ramble when you really just didnt want to hear all i was saying.

Thanks to Wendy for deep conversation coffee dates and parts of herself she rarely shares, Cristina for tight honest hugs and advice and spontaneous kindness and generosity and sincerity that cannot easily be obtained in this world, Jenny for laughter and being crazy enough to dance with me and some of the best food ive eaten in my life, Tori for poetry and passion and pure hillarity, and Jax for always always always talking with me no matter what – and being there when i cried.

Amy, thanks for your spontaneous, unrelenting kidlike heart :’) thanks for coming as a friend and just being part of us and letting us be us.

 

Here is my tribute to Groovy Crew (this includes me and honorary Amy), guess your meme:

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.orgFrom carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

….

i have some very crazy amazing special memories from you beautiful, unique, amazingly gifted individuals.

..i wont forget christmas eve in march, our snowball fights in the house, or our gingerbread houses…our poetry, or our monkey business..

i wont forget your stories, your tears, your sweat as we mixed, and dug, and passed buckets of gravel and sand..

i wont forget dinner in the bed of a truck –

i wont forget our prayers together – your prayer for me, nor my prayers for you..

We have walked through some of our lowest race moments together. Thanks for making it through and still showing me and yourself and eachother grace.

things that made me sad:

As Tori so eloquently stated, there was rarely a moment when one of us wasnt in a “mood”.

so here is a reminder for us all for the last 3 months:

We are all so servant hearted and dont like to burden other people, and in doing so… cast a burden on eachother….

Lets be better at advocating for ourselves when we need someone to just scratch our back, watch a movie with us, or make us dinner, etc…that we have cared for ourselves enough so that we can in turn have space and energy to care for others well.

Also…if you have annoyances or triggers that are causing you to dislike your teammates talk about it! Let it be known! Speak up, give the feedback, and ask people to care for you by keeping those jokes to themselves, drinking in another room, not touching you or your stuff without asking…

Lets share our struggles, lets cry it out, lets pray, lets journal, lets take more walks, and always: coffee, icecream, peanut butter, chocolate or whatever else we may need to “taste and see that God is good” and chill out.

i cant wait to see what God will do in and through us these last 3 months!

…make and keep Him as your anchor….

i will miss you 😥

and look forward to hanging out with you in america –

From carolynrmiller.theworldrace.org

With that, i walk the plank.

farewell –