This is Personal, Raw, and Real. I Won’t Apologize

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

I don’t even know how to begin what I am about to write. I guess the only thing I can do is just start and see where I end up. I woke up this morning, and something inside of me just broke open. I am shaking my head right now because life is just so nuts. Before I go any further, I just want to make one thing clear. I am not writing this for attention. I don’t need sympathy, and I don’t want pity. I am writing this post because, at the moment, it is the only way to get this out.

I am writing this post because I am a mother. I brought children into this world, and they are the greatest gift I have ever received. I might not remember what I ate yesterday, but I remember the smiles on the faces of every single one of my babies when they were born. My children are my heartbeat and the greatest gifts I have ever had.

I lost my firstborn child when he was 20. As the oldest of five children, he was the one who helped out when I needed more hands than the two I have. The kids and I were a surviving unit. As a mother of five kids on my own, I truly did not know how I was going to make it, but I did. Unfortunately, I had to give up my son. God took him. How that happened is still pretty much a mystery.

I’m going to get to my point here. I have another son and three daughters. We have all gone on with life, but we have all been hurting inside. The loss of a child or sibling is a severe pain to bear, especially after all we survived together. I still remember my younger son’s face the day of my firstborn’s funeral. He loved his brother so much. They were ten years apart, so my son’s brother was the only other male he could look up to in a house full of females. I will never forget the day my son’s big smile turned into tears. I am not sure what my heart was broken about more; losing a son or watching my other son hurt too much. All of my children have hurt, but I feel like my younger son hurt even more for some reason.

He accepted drugs in response to his pain. I’m sure his pain was numbed for the moment, but a drug and alcohol addiction that evolved out of control occurred. It is hard for a mother to watch her child harm his life, but I know no matter how much I have ever hurt, he has hurt more. His addiction landed him a prison sentence, which he has done most of.

He was placed in a state prison he should never have been in due to the risk of becoming ill with a disease that comes from the soil in that region. He has been very sick. I know he feels like he will never recover. He has fallen in his cell due to weakness, has had pneumonia, has hardly been able to be in sunlight, has been at risk of being hurt by others, and has been subjected to the trickery of those who cost him more prison time.

I want you to know this has all been a helpless feeling; to have a child, who is an adult, go through the things my son has endured. Yes, he has done a lot to himself, but he sure did not lack help in the addiction department. Addiction does not survive alone. It always has its accomplices. I am a minister and a believer of a higher power whom I call God. So, therefore, I have prayed as hard as any mother could possibly pray. My son remains sick, fearful, and not able to even deal with the addiction he went to prison for. People go to prison because of a crime they committed as discipline for that crime. They call it rehabilitation, but that does not happen, at least not from what I have seen. Regardless of what any individual has done, they do not go to prison to become sick with a disease they will never recover from. I have written to the President of the United States. I have written to the governor’s office of the state. I have written to the ombudsman of the prison system. I have written the state’s congressional representative, the state senator for that region, and those I thought might help. I have contacted an advocacy group on my son’s behalf and even the medical department of the prison he is in.

Nothing seems to help. So I keep on praying, sounding like I am alright, and moving on with life, telling myself that faith is going to have to be enough. I have isolated myself personally because of the painful part inside of me just can not take one more person hurting me. Yet life goes on. I tell myself I have to keep on going, and the rest has to be left up to God.

As I said, this morning, I broke. It’s not like I have not cried before because I have. I have cried loudly and out of pain, frustration, and anger. I want to tell you something. I absolutely HATE drugs and addictions. I have watched the people I love the most have their lives destroyed by drugs and alcohol. I don’t know the reasons why, but some can handle them, and some just can not. I think it is all a toss of the genetic wheel, maybe with a little human pain thrown in for good measure.

I dedicated my life to helping others, teaching others, showing what faith is, teaching lessons, and learning more so I can teach, counsel, and do more. We all have a purpose. Right now, at this very moment, I am the one who needs help. I need my son to receive the care he needs and the attention he needs to get out of that dingy prison cell and be helped into a life he can thrive in. I think right here; I might add that I have not been able to hug my son in 8 years. He has been locked up for most of those years, and the time before that, he was addicted. I left the state. My mother’s heart can’t take any more from anyone at any time.

It’s a helpless feeling, having to be strong, moving on in life, and have this painful heartache inside that says life will never be alright again. Grief does not end when we bury our loved ones. I already know that love can not be healed. Love is love. What we do is keep our loved ones close in our hearts, and we come to understand the heart and soul of a human being is where heaven is because that is where we hold our dearest loves of our lives.

It’s a helpless feeling to have a son, a grown man now, locked in a cage where no one will help him. It appears that all that happens in our prison systems is to put drug addicts away until they become hard just to survive. Addiction is a disease that is passed down through genetics, and it is one that is systematically reinforced by others who are addicted or sell drugs. It’s a vicious cycle.

Of course, I have blamed myself. I know deep inside it is beyond my control, but I still blame myself. It does not help that others have blamed me too. It’s sickening; all of it. Our country needs more addiction recovery programs. We need to stop condemning those who are addicted by locking them up and throwing away the key and start teaching them how to live with an illness they did not ask for and yet have to live with. We all live with it. Sometimes we die with it.

I smile, I laugh, I have good things that happen in life. I have moved forward, but a massive part of me feels stuck and broken. I know this is how every mother feels when their child has struggled with an illness they can not control. It controls them. It controls everyone it touches. Believe me; it’s hell.

Thank you for putting up with my long written broken vomit. Excuse me here, but there is no other way I can describe it. For those of you who have gone through the same, I am sorry. I wish you the best solution possible and for healing. For those of you who have received my letters and cries and yet have done nothing, I am sorry for you.

Today, just Jenine

Feeling Saddened and Just Being Open

afterglow art backlit bokeh
Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

As I thought about writing this blog post I wondered what it really would accomplish. I actually was going to get some sleep but suddenly I felt the desire to write this. This is a different blog post than what I usually write. I’ve always been somewhat of a teacher. I’ve been a Pastor, mentor, friend, and sometimes a challenge. Over the years I know I probably have had more hardships and heart aches than one woman should have to endure in one lifetime. I’ve also done some pretty amazing things too, and that makes the other things seem less painful.

All in all I think I’ve done well. I’ve made mistakes but I do know the intentions of my heart have always been good. That I am certain I can be proud of. Opposition always comes in life. We would never grow if there was not a force to come against us to make us stronger. Although opposition breaks me down, it also builds me up, just like when a body builder works on muscle tone. Every muscle breaks down first and then the scar tissue it creates makes it bigger and stronger. That’s why I know I should write this. I’m being made stronger.

Recently, I witnessed some mockery of me. I think I should be more flattered than upset. After all, I’ve been down this road before. It’s always the same. Someone sees something that they wish they had or could do and they decide to create some sort of circus act out of what is supposed to be the good parts of us. It doesn’t mean it feels good. It always hurts. If I have a heart it will hurt no matter how many times it happens or who it comes from. I have decided it’s alright, because if it did not hurt it would mean I am hardened in my heart and I don’t want to be that way. I just have considered the gross immaturity of those who just have not grown up enough to understand until it happens to them. Believe me, it will. We do live in a spiritual state of sowing and reaping. We can call it Karma if we like. It’s the same no matter what we call it. What goes around always comes back around.

When I look back into history, I think of all of the people who have gone through so much. They are those who were mocked, talked about, endured attempts at deception, and lied about. I think some of that behavior comes from envy but most of it from gross immaturity. There were cases where it was just plain evil and hatred. There have been amazing people who have gone through so much while working toward doing such great things. There was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who lost his human life while doing passionately what he believed in. Of course there have been countless military men and women who have sacrificed their earthly lives over decades and even centuries for what they believe in. We can also squeeze in John the Baptist and Jesus in the group, along with every prophet biblical stories are about over many years. Jesus’ life was probably the most profound on this earth. He made such an impact we even divide time before His birth, during His ministry, and after His death.

I always marveled at the stories of the wonderful healings Jesus did and still does. I marvel at His words because they are filled with such wisdom and love. Yet, he hung on a cross, crucified, beaten, and torn, while everyone watched. People had no idea those days Jesus suffered that all of humanity was broken open as well. Just like Adam and Eve were stripped naked in their lies, humanities hatred was laid open naked for all of history to see in one crucifixion moment. The story is always the same. Goodness is challenged by hatred in any form someone can come up with. Deception, lies, mockery, and emotional crucifixion still are alive in this world because we are humans who suffer from forgetfulness of who we really are and who created us for divine purpose.

In moments of immaturity our sisters and brothers slam one another in fits of human amnesia. I guess you can tell my heart feels saddened tonight. I have for some time. I’m not sad for myself, although I do feel hurt. I am more sad for those who just don’t get it. When I created a video today I spoke about a message left behind from my dear heavenly son. He said, “We can’t live without love.” I have to echo his thoughts. We can’t.

I’ll get over my heartache. I am not a stranger to what humans do to one another. I will forgive the best that I can. Sometimes it’s hard, but what matters is I keep on trying. When I want to be bitter or anger gets the best of me, I remember that we can’t live without love. Love begins inside of us all, so I know it has to live in me first before I can embody whatever God’s character is. God forgives the foolishness of this world and I am so glad for that truth. That means every time I have done something I consider stupid, I know that God understands. I might get some discipline, but in the end I will get love, grace, and forgiveness. That is what I hope for those who do not understand tonight. For those who make a mockery out of the lives of those who are just trying to live the best way they can. Forgiveness comes so much easier when I realize it is their pain they are mirroring to the rest of the world, not mine. Humanities nakedness is still exposed. Not everyone is noticing, but some are. I’m grateful for those who carry with them the maturity God grew in them.

I have a habit of being too hard on myself in cases I just witnessed but not this time. This time is different. We are all hurting little girls and boys until God helps us grow up into mature and powerful individuals we are meant to be. Until then, “Forgive us all, dear God, we don’t always know what we are doing.”

Loving you from here

Dr Jenine Marie Howry

Saddened, but here….

Scapegoat Mentality

pexels-photo-1054422.jpegBack in Biblical times there was a sacrificial animal called the “scapegoat”. When the Levite priests did ceremony to cleanse the people of sins, the sins were symbolically placed into the animal and then it was sent out into the wilderness. It ran off carrying the sins of the people with it.

In modern days, the scapegoat is a person who ends up taking the punishment for the wrongdoings or the sins of others. This hardly seems fair, but it happens all of the time, especially in families. One would think this would be the last place this would happen but it does, and usually behind closed doors. It also happens in places of business, in schools, and other places. I believe I have even watched this happen online as well.

Wherever people gather, there is a tendency to be someone around who has to press down others in order to feel better about themselves. The pressed down one is usually the lonely one who bears the pain that has been placed upon them. It’s a sad situation, and very heartbreaking.

If we were to look at humanity as one that we need to find balance within, this push and shove really does not make a lot of sense. There is only an illusion of one who gets to be the winner of the game and the one who is pressed down. Truthfully, in an unbalanced situation like this, neither of them win.

Fear, creates scapegoats. Someone begins to think or believe they are powerful and out of their fear that they are not, they need someone to press down to relieve that fear. The hard thing is nothing is ever truly relieved so the actions might keep going on. Usually the ones who are the most empathetic are the ones who end up being walked upon. They find themselves pushed down in the pecking order at their jobs. They have no voice because their own fear causes them to stop speaking up for themselves.

When Jesus went to the cross, He took upon Himself the punishment of everyone’s sin and then He left this world carrying our burdens. This grace is meant to release us from the sting of sin and death. We have no bondage in the eyes of God and there is none who is greater than the other.

Do you ever find yourself wishing that people would just see the value in themselves so they don’t feel the need to emotionally, physically, or mentally batter others to try to help them create the illusion they are greater? I pray for this revelation for people all of the time. Every time I hear a broken heart, feel one, or know of one, I know that somewhere out there is a person who is using that brokenness for their freedom. It really should not be so.

If we find ourselves being pressed down or taken advantage of, maybe it is time to create balance and speak the truth and walk away from those who would have them be their scapegoat. There is no one on earth that deserves to take a beating for someone else’s attempt at finding some form of power. Jesus took that beating and we are all free. We don’t need to have faith in the truth to make it true but it does help to have it. It’s still true none the less. It’s history.

I had to dig deep for this one because the idea of the scapegoat is more than someone being a bully over someone else. It is a condition where shame and deep feelings of inadequacy happen over periods of time. I’ve witnessed someone taking a beating for someone else. It’s almost just as painful to be the witness.

Tonight I have a deep sadness in my spirit as I think of those I have known who have been stuck taking the rap for others. They have been beaten down, locked up, emotionally broken, spiritually stricken and soulfully scarred. I can close my eyes and almost feel the painfulness of this type of condition.

If only, if only, there can be a balancing of humanity that makes this impossible to ever happen. It was meant to create the needed balance when Jesus died on the cross. We were meant to find ourselves in the bonds of oneness, in a holy union, sharing the power of the blood He shed on the cross for us all.

Can we ever find that place Jesus prayed for us to find? Can we balance the human scales in life and see one another as equal and not as someone we must be on top of, win over, press down, or beat at the race?

This blog post has a bit of a sadness to it. I apologize for that reality. I can’t help but close my eyes, though, and dream of what it would be like if everyone would just understand. We never make it anywhere without one another. Being on the top of others is only an illusion and eventually that prideful heart will have to fall. So, the beater never prospers and the one who presses down never really hits the top before they fall to the pit.

It’s the one’s who have taken the beating who will arise. It might not be today, or even tomorrow, but it will happen. When it does, their light will shine as brightly as the morning sunshine. At that moment they will realize it has all been an illusion for them as well and that God has always cupped His hands, holding them in place for the moment they understand just how beautiful they have always been.

Loving you from here

Dr. Jenine Marie Howry

 

 

Are You Depressed About the Coming Holidays?

downloadWe are approaching that time of year where the festive commercials come on with the picture of families all together before tables filled with food, laughter, and smiles. We are also entering the Christmas zone when we all will face the bombarding of advertisements tempting us to buy certain gifts for family members and the latest greatest toys available to intrigue our children.

I remember those days when I was younger. The anticipation of food, gifts, tree lights, and new warm slippers. It all paints a pretty picture. Of course this year things are a bit different because a lot of us have been warned that to say “Merry Christmas” violates some human rights. I’m pretty sure that is not true, but for some reason that is what part of our country wants to present this year. I imagine the commercials will take on a new feel as “Happy Holidays” will take over. Unfortunately this will not change much about the holy celebrations that are about to take place. The very word “holiday” means “holy day”.

I want to get to my point before I get off on a tangent about the renaming of Christmas! As a look back upon our annual celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus, there have been amazing times and those which were filled with grief and depression. For instance, the first Christmas after my son went to heaven was one I wish I could have avoided. For many, the upcoming holidays are just reminders of what we are missing instead of what we have. I would love to turn it around for you all and tell you to focus on what you are grateful for. While this is the best practice, I also know there are seasons when we are grateful but there are also circumstances when there can be deep sadness.

Not every elderly person has family around. Not every child looks forward to gifts with a gleam in their eyes. Some service men and women are far away from their loved ones and would give anything for just the gift of a hug this season. Being far from loved ones is  a hard thing to face. Along with the holy part of the holidays we turn our faces to God, the one who made us and keeps us through every day of every year. In the face of sadness, depression, loneliness, and separation, we are confronted with a love that comes from heaven that begs to heal us. There are some pains that all the alcohol, pills, well wishes, far away phone calls, and sparkling gifts will not heal or even appease.

Before I get you into a downer here, I have to say this is hard enough to write let alone know it will come across negative, but it is truth. Not everyone will have a “Happy New Year” celebration. For those who are hurting, its almost like a triple cocktail of unwanted reminders that something is just not right this season. If this is YOU, then my heart reaches for you. I’ve been there, I know that achy feeling deep inside that won’t stop nagging that something hurts beyond anyone’s control. If this is YOU, God’s heart also reaches for you. He understands the feelings of loss and the grief that comes from being alone, lost, angry, hurt, rejected, less than feeling blessed.

I am awake very early in the morning writing this, so I know that God is already concerned for you. His heart is with you and He wants to ease your distress with the comfort of His Holy Spirit. He is called “the comforter” and He completely understands. Remember that baby Jesus was born in a barn, was different than everyone around Him, was scorned by His own family members, was taunted by religious law leaders, was hated by those who feared what He might change, was misrepresented by those who thought He was here to start a revolution, was betrayed by one He dearly loved, was murdered by those who misunderstood Him. Still today, this world begs to push Him away; to keep Him even out of the celebration of His own birth. Maybe they can’t find his birth certificate. (Ok, that one was bad, lol).

If the upcoming holy days are already beginning to tax your heart, I want you to know you are not alone. Not only is Jesus with you, and all, but there are those who care about your difficult struggle during a time that should be a blessed celebration with those we love. Be assured that Jesus has been near you all year long and will remain through any of your days. He will never forsake you and He completely understands your pain and depressive moments.

If you are reading this and already know that you are one who will be needing someone to talk to, please know you have someone you can put a voice to. You can call my toll free number and please leave a message for a call back for a talk and prayer session if there is no immediate answer. I WILL get back to you. Depression and sadness should not have to happen during the holidays, but it is NORMAL when it does. We are human; all of us.

For talk/prayer call 800-421-1765. You don’t even have to wait for the holidays to come. You can start now if you need to. Life is HARD but it is so much harder when faced alone ¬†feeling no one understands. I can tell you this though. It will be ok. Whatever it is you face might be hurtful, might cause depression, might feel lonely, but it will be ok. This too shall pass. I admire your strength, your tenacity, your ability to be resilient, and I honor your pain for whatever reason it might be haunting you.

Don’t forget to call. It WILL help. I love you to heaven and back! (Something I tell my children).

Pastor Jenine Marie Howry

800-421-1765