Recognition and Celebration of My “Death” … “yet I live” (Galatians 2:20)
This is my testimony of being delivered from my Self and coming to the full realization and understanding that God had been preparing me, not punishing me. He used crisis situations in my life to complete the plan I had given Him permission to accomplish over 20 years ago. My permission … to so work in my life that He might be glorified.
My Natural Identity
Coming from a broken home and hurtful childhood experiences I felt “less-than” and flawed. Then I am rescued!!!! I marry my childhood sweetheart, I have a new identity, a new name, a new family, a safe new home, freedom and the opportunity to make my own decisions. I am a mother and a student, a musician, a Missionary, a teacher, a Pastor’s wife in full-time Christian service. I marry someone who tells me I’m wonderful, who makes me feel safe, someone who will take me away to live forever in a castle of love and joy.
I have arrived!! I am loved!!! I’m special!!! I’m happy!!! I’m secure!!! I’m safe!! Plus, my husband’s a minister … it’s safe being married to a pastor for he will never leave me.
I love my life, I love my family, I love the Lord and I’m thrilled and honored to be in His service, I study and learn at the tutelage of Bible Scholars I love and respect. I’m the epitome of the perfect pastor’s wife, I care for the needs of my husband, I wash, iron and starch his shirts (which must be white, not colored), I make the hospital visits when he cannot. I bathe, dress, feed, do manners training, sing and read to our three precious children. I cook for the visiting missionary or speakers and their families, I’m ready with cake and coffee for the “drop-ins”. I’m an available, listening, compassionate ear, I’m an instructor in our bible institute, I teach the teen girls Sunday school class, assist my husband with the youth program on Friday nights, I’m a soul winner on visitation Thursdays, I’m the church pianist and/or organist, I teach piano/organ lessons to aspiring church musicians, I teach ladies bible study on Tuesday mornings, I form a teen singing group, I visit the sick, feed the hungry and bandage the hurting. I do it all.
I’m on cloud 9, how proud the Lord must be of me. I know I’m proud of me! In 1979, I come to a place in my spiritual life where I totally surrender my life to Him. To use me that He might be glorified. I could recite Galatians 2:20 but I had no idea to what I had just committed. I had agreed to a death sentence. I must die. I must die to Self… In order for a seed to produce fruit it must first die, be put in the ground to live again and bear fruit.
I was doing all the things I was suppose to DO and I felt mighty good about myself. Then shortly after my prayer of surrender my life began to spiral downward and continued spiraling until He in His tender mercy determined I had reached the end of myself and He began the crucifying, grafting, burying, resurrecting, pruning and re-growth of my life.
After spending years establishing new churches and pastoring in New York & New England and with experience under his belt, the decision was made that our family would be moving back home to Tennessee to find a church in the “Bible Belt” for him to pastor, a big one! The “Big One” didn’t materialize….neither did a “small one”, in fact “no pastoral calling at all”. So my husband thought a move to Florida to begin working a construction job would be the best plan–and did things began to change!
He began coming home late and some time not coming home at all for days. His parents showed up at our door one morning totally unannounced or expected informing me they had come down to meet the “new girlfriend” and to help move me and the children to a more affordable residence. What on earth were they talking about??? Girlfriend?? Moving???…I felt and I was betrayed by them all. That evening after taking his parents to dinner to meet his girlfriend, they return to our home and he announces that he no longer loved me, was involved with someone else and was leaving. And leave he did. He left without explanation, without goodbye’s, he did not take his clothes or toiletries for he had a wardrobe of clothing and toiletry supplies “elsewhere”… My husband had a whole new life separate from us, utter disbelief!!! This simply could not be happening!!! It was like he had been “raptured” from our home and presence. He was gone from our lives.
Death would be a blessing! And I tried to die. Pills, knives, found walking in oncoming highway traffic. ABANDONMENT, FEAR, ANGER, DISBELIEF, HURT, ULTIMATE REJECTION, AND BETRAYL… it all set in and I checked out. I checked out big time. The internist said I had a “break with reality”, the psychiatrists said I had “a nervous breakdown” and our pastor had nothing to say… He was totally unequipped to offer help, counsel or relief. I was committed to a mental hospital I was given a protocol of Haldol, private therapy, group sessions and crafts. Meanwhile, my children are at home with my parents who were down for a short period for they had a school-aged child and had to return home. My children trying to function with BOTH parents missing.
My pastor was not equipped to help me, my church friends abandoned me for a woman alone is undesirable, my family was in Tennessee and I in Florida. The saddest thing about this whole time was the HURT and ANGUISH my children suffered. Oh the PAIN, ABANDONMENT, REJECTION, FEAR, ANGER, SADDNESS, ANXIETY, their education suffered, they lost their innocence, their father, their home, their schools, their friends, the childhood happiness & lightheartedness they deserved. Because they lost their safety and security.
This happened over 20 years ago. Additionally, during this time, someone I trusted and love revealed to me that they sexually molested me when I was a teenager. The pain of this revelation was almost more than I could bear, I wanted to die.
I have carried GUILT, SHAME, ANGER, REJECTION, ABANDONMENT, BETRAYAL, SADNESS & PAIN for 20 years because I felt I handled the divorce so badly. I lost my mind! What kind of Christian was I? What did the Lord think of me? What did people think of me? How disappointed were my children? I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had been so devastated — thinking I had lost my testimony!
I thought the Lord was not hearing my prayers, I thought the Lord had ABANDONED and REJECTED me. I wondered why if it was His Will for families to remain whole, why he allowed ours to disentegrate. Oh yeah, that free will thing … I remember. But the Lord could have changed his will, He could have brought him home, but HE CHOSE NOT TO! Why? Romans 8:28 “For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
You see, after over 20 years of feeling guilty, rejected, betrayed, humiliated, abandoned, angry and hurt, I found out that this was the answer to my prayer of so long ago. “Lord, do whatever it takes to bring me to the place You want me to be so my life may be used to glorify You.” So He did; He removed the center of my life, my identity, my possessions, my health and sanity. He had to bring me to the place of utter nothingness, to the end of myself so He could begin to rebuild my life according to His will, not mine. When the Holy Spirit revealed to me what had happened … my life was changed in an instant (and 20 years).
My New Identity
I was understanding that all that had happened to me was for my good, according to His purpose. It was taking me to the cross; it was identifying that I was crucified with Christ, buried with Him, and resurrected with Him “to walk in newness of life.” The Lord allowed this to happen; He didn’t cause it to happen by overriding someone’s free will, but in His fore-knowledge and omniscience He knew this would get me to a place to “exchange” the idol in the center of my life. So coming out of the downward spiral I can truly say thank you, Lord. My life is now wonderful, more than I could ever have imagined. He has restored me and blessed my life and the lives of my children. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me…” Galatians 2:20 …the life I now live….
In Dr. Charles Solomon’s book, Handbook to Happiness, I finally learned that what I had experienced was God working in my life, not that I had failed, or was being punished, or was a terrible wife, mother or servant of the Lord. I was being given a privilege– the privilege of suffering, being broken, “dying” so that I might be used.
The following excerpts from the aforementioned book were words of release, healing and power in my life.
“In our spiritual journey, the suffering of the crucifixion precedes the power of the resurrection. Paul gave the assurance that ‘If we suffer, we shall also reign with him’ (2 Tim 2:12). We cannot bypass the Cross and still know its power, nor can we experience the Cross without its suffering. The theology of the Cross cannot substitute for the experience of the Cross in our lives. It is much more romantic to read about the trials and tribulations of great saints as God prepared them for ministry than it is to experience this preparation ourselves.
“As we approach the Cross, we must be brought to the utter end of our own resources. As this happens, there are times when we think we cannot go on – that God doesn’t love us or he couldn’t let us go through these difficult times…Or we may even conclude that God delights in punishing us – perhaps because we do not have enough faith. All of these thoughts and many others may surge through our minds as we near the end of self.
“Many times we try to ‘rescue’ ourselves from this because we dread the pain or humiliation. One by one God eliminates the avenues that offer some temporary relief. When we fear that there is no way out but death, we have arrived at the truth–there isn’t!
“However, suicide isn’t the answer because the problem is not confined to the body. It has invaded the soul. Suicidal feelings are not at all uncommon during this period of time since we feel that our faith is so weak that even God could not possibly do anything in our lives. But in His grace, He made a way by which we can rid ourselves and yet stay here. That way is the Cross.
…”We have been brainwashed to think that we must have greater and greater faith if God is to accomplish anything in and through our lives. In practice, however, we find that our faith becomes progressively weaker and weaker. Occasionally the physical strength is also diminished to the point where a person is all but immobilized. This is necessary so that God can get us out of His way until he can complete the work…Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, He remains faithful to us and will help us, for He cannot disown us who are part of Himself, and He will always carry out His promises to us” (Handbook to Happiness, 76,77).
Although my children suffered, the Lord has given them all “handfuls on purpose”… My son became involved in drugs and experienced many things his young age should never have known. At the time, physical death would have been a blessing! He is now a devoted husband and the father of four precious children is waiting on the Lord for the leadership of his life.
My middle daughter became involved in the Lesbian lifestyle. When I learned of this again, physical death would have been a blessing! The Lord has miraculously delivered her. She is now a wife and mother of two wonderful boys. The Lord has given her a ministry to gay individuals and their families. She speaks at women’s conferences and provides private counseling, sharing the story of hope and change that only God can make.
My oldest daughter, simply could not attend church for several years for her memories, anger and the disappointment in her “pastor” father were too painful. Looking for love and acceptance she married and experienced another betrayal from a man in her life, she went through a most painful divorce. It is devastating to see your child hurting. Today she is a dedicated Christian woman, has a wonderful, loving husband and an adorable son. The Lord is blessing her beyond measure.
Recently one of my daughters stated, “Mom, I would go though it all again to have the life that I have now.”
I have always wanted to help those who have gone through a loss such as mine but I felt totally unworthy and incapable since I failed to handle my “loss” with grace and dignity …Who would I be to advise anyone?! Now, I know that I can be used because the shame of failure has been taken away. Receiving Godly counsel from Dr. Solomon’s writings and his program has provided the answers to years of questions and instability. I have been delivered from all these things because I died. I have been to the cross and I shall be eternally grateful.
I’m grateful for my new identity and the recognition of my death … as Dr. Solomon says, “it’s amazing how many things death will cure.” Thank you Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit for your faithfulness in drawing your child, allowing me to partake in your suffering and performing this act of acceptance and love in my life. Thank you for my new eternal past and total assurance of my future.
Jeremiah 3:33: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”
For years I wanted to die, I asked to die, I even tried to die and He simply answered my prayer: I did die (Gal. 2:20)!
Remember what Joseph stated, “they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
This painful journey of over twenty years, finally ends. I have paid psychiatrists, hospitals and therapists many dollars and devoted hours of my life only to leave with absolutely no understanding. Now, I am free of guilt and shame. Now that I understand what God was allowing, I no longer feel that it was done to me but for me. Gold must be melted by fire to remove impurities so that it can be cleaned, purified and used. Clay must be crushed, broken and molded before the potter can make the vessel ready and fit for his use. The gold and the clay vessel are merely instruments for their creator to use, they are not commanded to perform anything, they are simply to be and do nothing. It is Christ’s life to live through mine.
Our assignment is to “love God and others,” giving Him permission to be the Center of our lives no matter what it may cost us, and He will accomplish His work…”If a man is not willing to leave mother, father, brother and follow me he is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37) … Only God knows what the idol in the center of our lives is, whether it be possessions, family, position, health, pride…and only He knows what must be done to bring us to the end of ourselves so that He might be placed in the center of ourselves and live through us.
I understand now, that I am simply His instrument and without Him I can do nothing, but In Him I have His resurrection power with me twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. All I have to do is daily, go back to the cross and deny my flesh, my will, my plans, my thoughts to let Him live through me.
Dr. Solomon’s poem sums it up:
When we come to the place of full retreat
And our heart cries out for God,
The only person whose heart ours can meet,
Is one who has likewise trod.
Others may offer a word of cheer
To lift us from despair,
But above the rest, the one we hear
Is the whisper, “I’ve been there.”
This poem was in my mother’s Bible and was given to me when I was a single mother
raising three children alone. I trust it will be a blessing others.
Beneath the Blood-Stained Lintel
Beneath the blood-stained lintel, with my children I do stand
A messenger of evil is passing through the land.
There is no other refuge from the destroyer’s face
Beneath the blood-stained lintel shall be our hiding place.
The Lamb of God has suffered, our sins and griefs He bore
By faith the blood is sprinkled above our dwelling’s door.
The foe who seeks to enter doth fear that sacred sign
Tonight the blood-stained lintel shall shelter me and mine.
My Savior, for my dear ones I claim Thy promise true
The Lamb is “for the household,” the children’s Savior too.
On earth the little children once felt Thy touch divine
Beneath the blood-stained lintel Thy blessings give to mine.
O, Thou who gave them,
guard them-those wayward little feet
The wilderness before them, the ills of life to meet.
My mother’s love is helpless, I trust them to Thy care
Beneath the blood-stained lintel, Oh, keep them ever there!
The faith I rest upon Thee, Thou wilt not disappoint
With wisdom Lord, to train them my shrinking heart anoint.
Without my children Father, I cannot see They face;
I plead the blood-stained lintel, Thy covenant of grace.
Oh wonderful Redeemer, who suffered for our sake
When O’er the guilty nations the judgment storm shall break
With joy from that safe shelter may we then meet Thine eye
Beneath the blood-stained lintel, my children, Lord and I.
– Mary DeAnna Kellogg
This breakthrough took place in 2005.
Words of thanks:
Praise the Lord and many thanks to television host Charlotte Bise, host of “Jesus Talk Live” for introducing me to the ministry of Grace Fellowship International. Thank you Dr. Solomon for your life’s work, thank you Dr. Woodward for your teachings and help. Thanks to my parents for loving me, raising me in a Christian home and keeping me in church and doing the very best you could for me. Thank you to my mother’s friend Helen Pardue for her words of encouraging scriptures that “the Lord would be my husband”…”that He was allowing this to happen because he loved me and was going to do something special in my life.” I simply could not comprehend what she was telling me at the time but her words have been brought to my memory over these many years. Thanks to my dearest friend Millicent who allowed me to be the token Gentile at her seders, who treated me like family and who did not judge me nor forsake me during these trying years but loved me and offered true friendship. And thanks especially to my children and my husband: Thanks to my children for still loving me when I was so sick, selfish and unlovely. Thanks to my husband, the Love of My Life for his understanding, love and support.