(Originally Posted 1-16-2018)
Let freedom ring. We live in a free country, right? It’s our body so we have the right to choose. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Whom the sun sets free is free indeed. I have the right to live in peace. I have the right to protect myself. One of my personal favorites is, “I have the right to come into my own home and find peace in the midst of chaos, strife and unrest in the world around us.” These statements and more I grew up hearing. I’m reminded of the song, “This land is my land, this land is your land, from California to the New York Island, From the Redwood Forrest, to the gulf stream waters, this land was made for you and me.” This land was made for you and me.
So many people. So many opinions. So many beliefs. So many backgrounds. So many interpretations. With justice and liberty for all. Yes, indeed. I remember a time not too long ago when my son became very interested in the world around him. He would listen to every news feed he could get his hands on. Unfortunately, he was basing his opinion on other’s beliefs without weighing these beliefs on any standard measurement of truth. This, I believe, is why we have so many different thinkologies today. At one point, my son’s view of this great nation we live in became so tainted, he wanted us to move to another country. (Yes, even with all the problems we may have, I still believe we live in the greatest nation in the world today.) He has since grown past this. It took him being willing to listen to all sides and weighing against the common thread of what is right versus wrong in God’s eyes. But I must say, I am so very proud of him for taking the time to see past himself to learn about the world around him.
Perhaps, there are lessons for us all to learn about the world around us. Learning and seeking understanding does not have to mean we must subscribe to each other’s beliefs or standard of living. I do believe it is a necessary step in bringing unity and peace into our nation and the nations around the world.
Our Declaration states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This one statement has been the backdrop of seemingly every human rights argument and protest around the world. Human rights are the moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behavior that are protected as legal rights in municipal and international law. I am not going to get into a political debate here. My ministry and message is of love. Rights…life…liberty…pursuit of happiness.
I believe we are responsible for our choices. I believe it does matter that we do not force our beliefs on someone else. At the same time, I do believe we have the right to voice our opinion without fear of retribution. I believe that is a freedom given to us in this great nation we live in. Without it, we are certain to be diminished into a nation of control by a few instead of a democratic government, a nation governed for the people, by the people. What so many people seem to be unaware of is how much of a prison we each live in, really, without God’s love that sets our souls free.
I’ve pondered many things in the last 20 or so years of my life. I come from a long heritage of men and women who were willing to work hard and fight for what they believed in and they gave to us a strong sense of never giving up and keep on keepin’ on to overcome setbacks. I remember putting a self-made picture of “Thou shalt not whine” on a wall in my house, and made it a point to refer to it anytime my children decided they didn’t like the results of appropriate action taken against inappropriate choices and behaviors. I have heard “I feel like I’m living in a prison. You won’t let me go anywhere!” I hope they never know what living in a prison in your home, in your mind, or in your circumstance can really be like.
Storms of oppression can take a person unawares. But of course, that’s the plan of the oppressor. It makes my head swim sometimes wondering what happens to a person to take them from seemingly a normal, ordinary thought process to one of paranoia and sense of being without the ability to have any control in a situation to the point a person takes excessive measures trying to ensure they are protected.
I grew up in a family full of military servicemen and women and avid hunters. We come from the south where it is common for people to hunt and fish for their food. So, growing up around guns never bothered me. I understood their intended purpose. At one point while in college several years ago, I myself was in ROTC with the intention of becoming an officer in the United States Army. We grew up with a sense of being safe and protected, because my family stood strong and proud on the principals that were established for us to live a life of peace in our home and our surroundings.
So, when I got married, I expected these same principals would be in place for me and my new family. I’m really not sure what happened, exactly. I can’t put my finger on a decisive moment or event that took place to trigger what caused things so very wrong.
It was over 20 years ago when a new law came forth that required background checks on firearms—the Brady Bill. The next thing I knew, letters were written and plans to protect what was his began to surface. Statements such as “We’re going to have a racial civil war next year and the police are only good for drinking coffee and eating donuts.” “I’m going to protect my property, and that includes the two of you.” You heard me right. In that moment, what he said only confirmed what we already felt—my daughter and I had become like property in his mind. Suddenly, a mission ensued that catapulted our personal firearm inventory to 20 weapons, three of which were assault weapons with all the accessories to make them fully automatic, including two laser sites with over 10,000 rounds of live ammunition and enough reloading equipment and supplies to make over 10,000 rounds more. He wanted to put up a 10-foot fence with razor wire across the top of it around our property and put video surveillance equipment at the end of the driveway to monitor who came and who left. How do I know there were that many rounds of ammo in our supply of stock? Because I inventoried them. Every. One. I had possession of the house, and when he was forced to leave, he could only take personal items. So, for the property settlement, I had to inventory everything we possessed to show him that I had not “taken” anything he thought belonged solely to him. Even so, he still accused me of withholding items of value. Good. Grief.
At one point, we even looked at property that sat high on a mountain that required a code for passage. Now, I might interject here that this and of itself did not alarm me. He became obsessed and the more time that went on, the darker the atmosphere at our house became. It was everything else added to it that was sending signals of “You’d better get out and get out soon.” Paranoia loomed and I felt I was running out of time to bring me and my daughter to a place of safety. But God…
God put the right people in the right place at the right time and we were able to get out with a protective order. After he was removed from the home, we were eventually able to come back until such a time we were able to finish the property settlement and move for good.
I took everything firearm-related we had accumulated to local law enforcement. They were stunned. He called the judge and ultimately, the judge had no choice but to return them to him because he never actually “did” anything to show cause for concern. Such as was the case for us. Without broken bones, bruises, and DNA, abuse and paranoia is very, very hard to prove and at that moment in time, I lived in such a state of fear and brokenness I could not verbalize everything we had gone through. I now know it was God and only God who carried me through that time. And God…
God knew long before we would find ourselves in this place how he would get us out of it. Two years prior to this, by God’s divine intervention, my daughter and I found our way to a local church. After a while, I was finally able to confide in our pastors “something wasn’t good” in our home. At that time, I was not able to be specific and they offered to talk to him, but I knew if they did, it would only make things worse for us. So…they prayed. They prayed for us regularly. Me and my daughter found solace and safety in this new home environment God provided for us. This became our safe place and I made sure we spent as much time there as we could.
At one point, I was given a glimmer of hope. Even though he resisted at first, he finally began to attend with us. His exact words were, “Are you sure the walls aren’t going to fall in on top of me?” This was short-lived. Something changed—quickly and it seemed the more time we spent at church, the worse things got at home. It would take all the faith and courage I could muster just to call an attorney and start the process of leaving this prison we called home. Fear had gripped every part of my being to the point I could not keep my body from shaking, nor could I keep a strong tone of voice. The fear was real. And it had its clutches in me deep.
It seems my life has the makings of a Lifetime movie. I suppose it does. So, why have I even bothered to tell my story after 23 years? Simple. This is my story. My redemption story. My story of how great God is. My story of how God will move heaven and earth for his children and judge righteously in favor of his children when his children cry out to him night and day. My story of God’s power working in our lives for our salvation to fulfill his plan and purpose. My story of how miraculously God worked everything together in our favor for our good. My. God. Is. Real. And. My. God. Is. Good.
God intervened. From that time, it would be two years before I realized how close to irreversible disaster we were. As I was praying and interceding for him and our church one morning, the Lord spoke to me. He said, “If it weren’t for the prayers of the people in this church, paranoia would have taken him over and you both (my daughter) would have been killed.” Wow. I found myself without the ability to comprehend how purposefully and precisely God will reach down from heaven and rescue us out of every pit of destruction. Never. Underestimate. The. Power. Of. Prayer. Had it not been for the prayers of the people in that church, my daughter and I would have become a statistic. Humble silence.
Now for the million dollar question. Am I an advocate for gun control? No. Without a doubt, no. I believe very strongly in our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. I am, however, of the very firm belief with freedom comes great responsibility. Do I have a problem with anyone obtaining and owning many firearms and ammunition? No. Not really. Again, it is the person that makes the weapon injure and kill. I have never seen a gun fire one round while handing on a wall, or sitting on a shelf or table. Not one. Responsibility lies with the one whose finger rests on the trigger. Is there an epidemic in our world today of control through the use of force due to the lack of self-control of an individual? Yes. However, I maintain, getting rid of our guns and right to protect ourselves is NOT answer.
I will give him this much, some of his perceptions had some validity into our future. However, it is the innocent who gets caught in the cross-fire and a person’s state of mind and heart reveals the true root of the problems we face in the world today. In our case, that was at the root of our demise. So, what’s the answer? To be bluntly honest, I believe God is the only one who really has the answer to our dilemma, and we live in a country where many people simply do not want to listen. I don’t have the answers. I have only what I know we lived through. Even so, having lived through all we have lived through, I have what I know God is able to do.
We must become a people who are willing to love one another and pray without ceasing. While doing so, keep your eyes wide open and be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Some would say, this is only euphoria and we will never see this happen for us. Perhaps, but we have a choice. We can join together and listen to the one who made all of creation or we can simply keep doing what has gotten us into such a mess to begin with. As long as evil exists in this world, evil will happen—even to good people who have done absolutely nothing to bring it to their doorstep and into their lives. Again, the innocent are caught in the cross-fire. With justice and liberty for all. Indeed. I rather believe we need to cry out for justice and mercy for all.
There are many battles to be fought and won to see unity and peace in our land. I choose to believe God is the one who is able to make grace abound and bring us into wholeness. Only God is able. And only if we allow him to do so. My prayer is that my ex will truly find cleansing and healing for his soul through a real relationship with God. In truth, only God knows our heart.
In my opinion, we do not need more gun control and more censorship of public opinion that sets itself against the mainstream media. We need more people to stand up make a positive difference in the area of influence God has given them. Do I believe we have the right to defend ourselves? Yes. Do I believe we have the right to live in peace? Yes. Your opinion may likely differ from mine. That’s okay. We don’t have to agree on everything to get along with each other. I firmly believe that. I’ll pray for you. You pray for me. With God, all things are possible.
This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior, all the day long. Peace.