I called an old friend this morning whom I have not seen in close to 15 years. She and I were raised together, in a way, though in different states. Her family was part of our cult group, so we spent lots of weekends and holiday breaks with one another. We have some funny stories between us.
One of my favorites is of the time she used her art skills to draw bruises and scrapes on me, making it look as though I had been in a fight. Her younger sister—whom I adore, but did not always see eye-to-eye with growing up—and I pretended that an argument had escalated to a new level. We got their mother in on it, who announced to my mother when she arrived to pick me up:
“Well, the girls had a bit of a disagreement today…”
My mom was horrified. “Naomi has never done anything like this before!”
It was so funny. Their mom’s performance was perfect; brava, ladies.
Today, my old friend and I caught up a bit on where we are now and where we’ve been. I found out she has also stepped away from the cult, courageously asserting the truth of Christ and his condemnation of false teaching. She has walked a road I have not had to, since my parents are deceased; she has had to assert her newfound Christianity with her parents, whereas I have not. And I will soon walk a road she has not had to, since many of my siblings are now prominent figures in the group, whereas hers have all separated from it. But this is how it goes: we all have our struggles, our crosses to bear, our stands to take, our hills to be willing to die on. We would both die for the truth of the gospel.
I have not been to the hub location of our group since my dad passed away in January 2007, so I’ve been fairly out-of-the-loop on new happenings and theological discoveries among the members. Though my friend is no longer a trusted individual of those still committed and practicing our previous belief system—and therefore is no longer privy to its inner-workings—she did know things that I did not, such as who has picked up the torch in my dad’s interim.
As I listened, I wasn’t surprised at the information I heard. It all sounded crazy, but I’m used to that. I did feel a familiar twilight zone feeling, though, wondering how all of it could even be real, while having no doubt that indeed it is.
After the call, my heart caught up with my mind and the heavy weight of these broken lives made it hard to stand. The reality of the devastation and repercussions of false teaching being passed down to younger generations is a painful one. I know that my nieces and nephews are being raised to either carry the untruth to their future children or to go through the immensely difficult transition I have gone through.
My heart breaks and goes into mourning.
I could get lost in this place of mourning. I could become immobilized by the damage I see around me. I could be a deeply saddened person who wears black until I die, unable to see past the ruin, like my namesake in the beginning of the book of Ruth (v. 1:20). Many people probably wouldn’t even pass negative judgement on me if I did.
But then I hear this: “...You have stayed long enough at this mountain,” and my spirit immediately stands UPRIGHT (Deuteronomy 1:6b).
In its original context, God is telling Moses and the Israelites that it is time for them to pack up and move on from Mount Horeb, following him to the different place he is leading them to go. In my context, God is telling me that I have spent enough time grieving my losses and the loss of my family, and it’s time to follow him into the next chapter of our life together. I am not to remain at the base of Mt. Loss. While he had led me there, in order to show me the truth of my upbringing, he did not bring me to stay.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the heavens...a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3).
We have torn down and now it is a time to build.
So, as I reflect back on the things and the relationships I have lost throughout the years, in one manner or another, I am convicted to let them be lost, and to instead count them as gain, because in their place I have gained Christ (Philippians 3:8-11).
When I think forward, knowing the next steps before me, I know future losses are coming, and again, I am convicted to let them be lost. Never without love and care, but with acceptance, while standing firm on this directive:
“You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”
Call to Action:
Read each of the above referenced scriptures in the context of their entire associated chapter.
If you have a study Bible, read the notes to ensure you’re understanding the original context as intended by the author. If you do not have a study Bible, I highly encourage investing in this one. If this purchase is not possible for you, email us at email@example.com and we’ll try to help.
Write down one verse that stands out to you, either on paper or in a note on your phone.
Think about it throughout the day, asking God how it applies to your life right where you are at this time.