“But God!” A Lesson About Moving Forward After Loss

I spoke at the “Bakersfield Gives Thanks” event on November 4th and the Women’s Club of Bakersfield was full of people from different denominations and cultures.  I made new friends that night but it was a blessing to be reunited with old friends too.

In particular, I saw a mom whose children went to junior high and high school with my children.  Nneka and I have seen each other throughout the years at school functions at our son’s tennis events.  But this time when our eyes met, I had no words.  I was overcome with emotion.

You see this was the first time I’ve seen her since her 15 year old son Nedu went home to be with the Lord last summer.  My friend Nikki happened to capture the moment:

Typically when a friend loses a loved one, WE are the ones consoling, hugging, loving them through the grief.

However, that night I experienced and witnessed true healing.  Nneka was consoling me!!

I remember looking at her and reaching out my arms to her.

I had no words.  My ugly cry face in the photo above communicated how sorry I was for her loss of a son gone too soon.

She looked at me square in the eyes and exclaimed, “I know…I know….BUT GOD!”  As tears filled my eyes, she said, “a year ago I would never think I could be here today….BUT GOD!”  Tears could not stop flowing.  With every breath I took, Nneka kept encouraging me, even saying…”it’s going to be okay…BUT GOD!”

As I sit here typing, I’m filled with emotion again.

What I’m learning on my journey of recovery is our trial isn’t going to last forever.  The sting of hurt, in time, doesn’t affect us like it did on day one. Every story has a beginning, middle and an end.  

Think about the end.

The end is what you’ll be telling your children.  The end is what others who are wounded are most interested in.  The end is what brings glory to our Lord.

I heard this quote from William Vanderbloomen, “Will I be healed up? Or damaged goods?”

We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control our response to said circumstances when: 

  • Churches split.
  • Children reject parents.
  • Spouses betray.
  • Friends move away.
  • Life storms challenge our faith.
  • Relatives misunderstand.
  • We have to say goodbye to loved ones.

Some of us, like Joseph in the Old Testament, are victims of hardship and broken hearts.  In the end, Joseph was found “healed up.”

If you are indeed a victim, my advice is to resist the temptation to have a pity party and welcome sympathetic hugs and words of agreement to your situation.  The world welcomes an attitude of entitlement and culture teaches us to seek vengeance.  

Pray to have a response such as my friend Nneka.  Remember this earth is NOT our home and our response to devastating situations is an important testimony to those watching us live out our Christian walk.

Nnekas’ son, Nedu, left this earth at only 15 years old.  No parent should out live their child.  I know there were times when her weeping became unbearable and her heart literally ached…however her words, “But God!” reminded her and should remind us, God is in every circumstance of our lives.

Genesis 8:1
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

Genesis 50:20
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Matthew 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

2 Timothy 2:9
for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.

That evening left me encouraged.  I too want to be found like Nneka in the middle of life storms. She is living and moving forward in her new normal only via the grace and promises from our Lord.  

Thank you Nneka for inspiring me, being a Godly example and reminding me of God’s undeniable healing power.

Need prayer? kidmin.kelli@gmail.com 


How To Leave a Narcissistic Environment 

This video brought so much clarity to my situation and helped me understand why I didn’t leave my unhealthy environment earlier than I did.  I thought a “meeting” with talking points was the way to get out.  Praise the Lord I left swiftly without setting myself up to fail and without trying to compete with the mastered skill he possesses…MANIPULATION.

Your situation is unique.  Your situation may differ from others who’ve endured abuse.  The main thing is, it’s YOUR story and healing journey.  It matters! It’s your reality and the Lord uses all things to work together for good. 

Gleaning from Author Paul David Tripp’s book “New Morning Mercies,”  he explains that the storms of your life are not in the way of God’s plans…they are a tool of it. 

He asks, 

  • What in the world is God doing right here, right now?
  • How in the world should I respond to what God is doing? 

Tripp answers and directs us to the way James answers in James 1:2-12

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

Tripp reminds us, “He is employing the difficulties of life as tools of grace to produce character in you that would not grow any other way.” 

May you grow as you heal and reflect our Lord and Savior. 

May you continue to experience the gift of clarity to your situation.  All of this is survivable. Stay aligned with Jesus and accept His work of grace in your life. 

Need prayer? Please don’t hesitate to email me KidMin.Kelli@gmail.com 


Surviving Spiritual & Narcissistic Abuse – There’s a Blessing in Closure Video #8

August 19th, 2015 – I fondly remember this day.

If you ever left a job or moved away to another city, the proper thing that usually happens is… you get to say farewell.

Some of you may not have had the opportunity to say goodbye to the church family you served.  Don’t fret, this is the plan of the abuser to keep you from exposing them.  They do not want you talking or answering the loaded question, “Why are you leaving?”

I’ll never forget the time my husband and I were visiting our son at a Military Prep Academy, NMMI, in Roswell New Mexico.  This was about 4 months after I resigned.  Kiani had found a church to attend and we were excited to go with him on a Sunday morning.

We sang 3-4 songs then it was time for announcements.

Well.  The next 15 minutes were dedicated to saying goodbye to the woman’s director that had served there for the past 30 years.

There were gifts given.  Songs sung in her honor.  Heartwarming letters read. And the dreaded video of people sharing personal messages of how her life impacted theirs.  

I snapped a photo of my view: 

With each goodbye I heard, the deeper I sank in my seat.  I felt as if I were the only one in the room.  A wave of sadness came over me and faces of families from my old church overtook my mind.  One by one, by one.  I began to weep.

I tried to hide the fact that I was crying as I reached for the box of tissues on the ground.  My husband noticed my tears.  He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and proceeded to hug me and pat me.

Kiani looked over and for a second I caught his eye.  His look communicated, “Why are you crying?”

That was the longest 15 minutes ever!  I confess, I felt betrayed… again.  I admit that I felt I should have at least gotten the chance to say goodbye to my church family.  I saw the congregation love on this woman on that stage and they were able to say thank you….they were experiencing closure.  I felt ripped off.

On Friday August 15th 2014, we had a staff meeting and the staff was told I gave my 2 week notice and that they will announce to the church that I am leaving.  Then on Sunday, August 17th, I was called into his office 10 minutes before service and basically told to go home.  (I know now, I was too much of a threat to them and the less time anyone on that campus had with me, the better for them.)

So in New Mexico, I endured watching a heartfelt celebration of this woman’s life and I coveted her feelings.  I had wished I could have experienced the blessing of closure.

As Ernie leaned over and said to Kiani, “Mama feels like this should have happened when she left. That’s why the tears.”  Then my son put his hand on my knee and proceeded to say something so poignant, “Mom, it would have been so fake.”

Floored!  He was absolutely right.  My abuser would have had said things about me that he really didn’t mean.  It would not have been genuine nor sincere.  It would have been 15 minutes of going through the motions and fake smiles all around to support a false narrative that I was leaving on good terms.

The Lord spoke through my son that day.  The Lord also gave me the day I speak of in the video.  The Lord knew my needs and He knows yours too.  I experienced the closure I was seeking in God’s timing, not mine.

May you exhale.  May you surrender.  May you never loose hope.  May you rest in the arms of Christ who is in control.  He will never leave you not forsake you.  My blessing came a year later, but to God, it was right on time.  And that’s all that matters.

Here are the steps that helped me survive Spiritual Abuse:

  • Confide in a trusted friend, mentor or counselor.  Simply have a conversation about what has been going on in your life.  They will be able to identify there’s a struggle that’s unhealthy.  They can direct you, pray with you and more importantly become a safe place for you. Talking about it, helps you heal.
  • Make a decision to distance yourself from the abusive environment. Leave. Unfollow people on social media. Take a different route to a destination.  I treat my abuser like an ex-boyfriend. I got rid of all the things that remind me of the relationship. Why traumatize yourself?  Self care is NOT selfish.
  • Follow through with the above decision.
  • Seek help from a reputable Christian counselor or mentor on a regular basis. This breeds healthy accountability.  Now is the time you need to surround yourself with wisdom.  There is so much to UNLEARN.  There’s healing power in knowing how you are doing week to week or month to month.
  • Get educated about Spiritual Abuse and Narcissistic Leaders. The more understanding you have, the less you are influenced and affected by the past. They wanted to keep you in the dark.  You will acquire tools to defeat and unlearn things that cause you pain. There will be some reminders that are out of your control, but at least you’ll understand your situation and will be more equipped to handle them.
  • Keep a journal either video or written.  This helps you document your healing as well as helps you sort out your thoughts. YOU are not the cause of this!
  • Surround yourself with other survivors. Spiritual Abuse has been ignored for decades.  It has been part of Christian vocabulary recently with the Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill controversy.  Not everyone will be able to relate your story.  Others that have experienced what you have experienced are the best sounding boards and can offer you the best advice.
  • Remember vengeance belongs to the Lord I was a mandated reporter and I fulfilled my duty. However, resist posting on social media your distain and anger.  I did not blog for months because I did not want to regret what I wrote.  I knew I my emotions were not at a place that would please the Lord.  What gives me satisfaction is that everyone will stand before the Lord and give an account of their lives.  The Lord knows ALL about our story, the Lord will judge, it’s His battle.

Need prayer or just someone to listen?  Email me at kidmin.kelli@gmail.com