Just a Heathen

I am learning that righteousness doesn’t come BEFORE we begin a relationship with Jesus Christ, it comes BECAUSE we begin that relationship. We become convicted, we stand for something, we have boundaries and morals, even if our old life was full of iniquities, we are made new.

I was once filled with sadness and despair. I believed that I was doomed, accursed even. I thought that no one would ever love me, so I sought to try to MAKE someone love me with what I knew how to do. Even if for a moment…
I was so empty. I had this hole that I was filling with depravity, which paradoxically only unearthed more unrighteousness. I always believed that I had to clean up, you know, “get good” before I could “get God”. I was a bad girl trying to get good. I needed the revelation that I was a sick girl who needed spiritual healing to get well. Thank you Doctor! The Almighty Healer. I’ve been sober for almost 6 years, but it has been a daily process for me. Some days I take 2 steps back, but I have yet to take a drink or drug to dizzy up the world. It’s like shaking a snow globe to watch the glitter fly around, but imagine that glitter falling on your arms and in your hair and no matter how hard you try, you can’t get it off. That’s been my struggle with sobriety. I don’t go to meetings any longer. I go to church. Some scoff, some praise. That’s fine. It’s a choice that I have made. I am grateful to AA for giving me the avenue to walk with God again. It began opening those doors that I had boarded up.

I was what I guess you would call an agnostic, but in the deep south, I was affectionately referred to as “just a heathen”. I argued that the Holy Bible was just a book, it was a few men’s account of history, very well written and interesting, boring in parts with the “this one begat that one” and such. I believed that God existed, I just didn’t believe that He really cared about me. I wasn’t worthy of His grace and mercy, and still am not but He bestows it anyway. All I was doing was justifying my own sin and trying to convince you that what I had to say was right. In reality, I was scared to death. I was alone. If I could capture an audience with some quips, then I felt adopted for a moment. I spent more energy trying to argue idiocrasy than I did competing for understanding (which I know now I can only strive for, to minimal avail). I was my own worst enemy. I never felt a part of anything no matter what I became involved in. Any shrink can tell you that was my own insecurities and conscience.

In case you don’t know how to change, you just start over. Ask for God’s help. Confess with your mouth and believe that Jesus Christ is your Saviour, that He died on the cross so that all humanity is reconciled with God. He paid the price for all of humanity’s sins, past, present, and future. Start today and turn away from sin. I believe that God loves this wretch. My relationship with Jesus Christ has restored my esteem. I never feel alone anymore. That, my friends is a miracle. I now belong to a body of believers…I BELONG. No one made me dress up or act right (at first), they just said, “come on, girl”. So what are you waiting on? Your life can change today. Right now, if you want.


The Gravity of Depravity

I understand why you treated me the way you did. My comprehension of your actions does in no way condone them or detract from your depravity. It does, however, ease the pain a little knowing that you were also a recipient and only acting in defense. It would be existentialist of me to believe that nothing influenced you and that you just hated me of your own conclusion. Surely, you jest! It’s sad, really, that one person can destroy so many. We allowed him to infiltrate what could have been beautiful and healthy. The damage is done and there is no repairing, only forgiveness. Time is lost and the need is no longer evident. I needed you. I wanted your love and compassion and hugs and comfort. It wasn’t there, because you didn’t have it to give. You were void of empathy, void of unconditional and thankless caring, void of tenderness and benevolence. The wages of your misdeeds has been paid, thankfully. You have been forgiven, if you asked for it. I have forgiven you without request. It’s not hard to love someone who treats you this way, because my love is unconditional, no matter what the circumstance. I will always love you. I have forgiven you, I have not forgotten, nor have I forgotten my purpose here. I thank you for ALL that you drilled into me as a child. I pray for your salvation. I pray that your prayers are sincere and that your heart is soft, it’s only the exterior that is leathered.

Please don’ t Judge

Friends, I want to remind you who I am to you. To most of you, I am that honor student that always finished her work first in class. I am the clarinet section leader in our high school band. I am in drama, loving being the center of attention because I’m just a cut up whose always smiling, always joking. I am that girl who received a scholarship for playing Emily in the play “Our Town” in the beautiful auditorium that was built our senior year. Many of you may not know it, but I got that part the night before the play because Bernadette didn’t show up for dress rehearsal and I was her under study!!! I hadn’t learned ANY of her lines because I just KNEW that she was gonna be there. I originally had the part of the stage manager (narrator). I am that girl who was in science club, math club, Aeropagus. I am that girl who loved to dance!

I am also an alcoholic and a drug addict. I have been deep into ungodly places and done things that I have never shared with another human being, and never will. I am that person that people shake their head at and go, “She had so much potential. She was going places.”

What none of you knew was the terror and fear I lived with everyday. I didn’t let on that I was being abused or that I hurt so much inside. I hid that pain pretty well, and I tried to fit in to your circles, but I just never quite made it to the middle. But I wore a smile. I was a tough little cookie…wouldn’t back down from anyone. Even in the abuse, I didn’t give in without a fight a lot of times. See, there was more than one person abusing me in that home. The others didn’t know that they were not the only one, as far as I know. I would physically fight these abusers, especially one, off of me. I would come in the house with scratches on my neck or face and bruises on my arms. No one said a word. Just ignored the unignorable. This front I put on for all of you was a considerate ethical rejection of chaos, as if to say in the face of this hostility “You’ll never get me for real.”
What I wanted was a center, a place to be home base, even if I disregarded it most of the time. I needed safety. But I wasn’t going to let YOU know that. You might think I was weak.

I have that now. Don’t pity me, don’t fear for me. I am standing in the Victory. I have a relationship with Jesus Christ that sustains me and grounds me. Thank you God for the suffering. I did more damage to myself in the years of my addictions and alcoholism than any abuse ever could have, so the person responsible for my detriment is me. I was grown and over 18 when I made the decisions that I did. I was a smart girl, according to Smiths Station High School guidance counselors and all those gifted tests they subjected me to. I knew the difference between right and wrong and I chose…

I can never convey what it was like to live there. I can’t compare it to any movie that I’ve seen or any book. I’ve seen glimpses of my experiences in print and film. These things have brought me closer to you. There are so many times that I encounter people who have some sort of experience and I can say, “I’ve been through something like that” , and I can listen with empathy. Whether it is rape, molestation, physical abuse, domestic violence, loss of a parent, addiction, alcoholism, promiscuity…the list goes on. I tell people all the time that no one’s worst tragedy or loss is worse than the next person’s because to each, it is the WORST. It may be that one man’s life was devastated when his parents divorced and that sent him spiraling out of control because he no longer had his father in his life. In my eyes, that is just as bad as my father beating my mother to death in the front yard. It’s the same. We experienced the same emotions. Both of us lost a parent. So, look for the similarities and not the differences when you are walking in this world. Remember that each of us has something. Don’t envy or “hate on” your neighbor. Love them. You just never know…

Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

May God bless you all.

The Crown of Life

I ran this morning and it was invigorating and satisfying, indulgent even. I found myself reminded of some great ideas that I have had, things that I should be doing. I don’t know if any of you do this, but I got this burst of energy that for some reason invokes introspect about all the good things that I could be doing to accompany this ONE good thing.

As I was cooling down sitting on the scratchy beige carpet on our apartment floor, I stared out onto our patio. I was trying to conjure up how I could plant a few veggies -squash, peppers, tomatoes, maybe some green onions. I’ve not done this since I was a kid and was forced into it, but secretly loved it. I’ve talked it over in my brain numerous times. I have simple dreams and desires that don’t really compare much with what I hear others say they want. There’s this issue, though. It would require continued and absolute commitment from me. I would have to tend it, weed it, fertilize it, harvest it, and cook it. So, I haven’t done it. Yes, I’m going somewhere with this: continued and absolute commitment.

I have never really completely finished or truly committed myself to anything. Some people who really know me understand and would agree, others not so much. There have always been such expectations of me- mostly from me. If I lived up to my potential I could be an asset to this civilization. All I focused on was my limitations and weaknesses. In Judges 6:14-16, God tells Gideon that he can overcome and rescue Israel if he will allow God to work through him.

Today, God is working through me, on a much smaller scale than Gideon! My attitude has changed. My outlook has changed. I am learning obedience, humility, responsibility, patience, and discernment. Matthew 7:5-10 reminds me not to tear others down in order to make me look better, don’t debate the Word with unbelievers, be persistent and don’t give up. He believes in me, so why shouldn’t I? He has always been there while I was running zigzags searching for answers in ungodly places.

I have to be reminded that I won’t understand everything. I am not omniscient. All the good that has come to me is because of God. I have found myself in a desperate place many times throughout my life asking “Why won’t you let me die?!” He’s been patient and waited on my commitment and undivided attention. He’s answering my questions. I can hear Him now. Sometimes He says, “Just wait, child. Just wait.”

James 1:5 tells me “If you need wisdom, ask our GENEROUS God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

James 1:12 says “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.”

Have a great weekend, friends!

Real Men Pray on their Knees!

Have you ever been in the midst of some one’s plight that made any trivial complaint you may have about anything seem utterly ridiculous? Where your issues become insignificant in comparison? This is how I feel today about my friend and her family. Such is also the case when my brother was sent to a residential treatment facility.

After I left the Morgan’s house, my siblings were disrupted and “farmed” out to various state entities. My sister and brother went to Lee County Youth Detention Facility first, as though they had committed some wrong. They didn’t understand and they didn’t deserve it, but that aside, they had now set sail on a new and different journey. My youngest sister remained in Mrs. Morgan’s custody – I’m still unsure exactly why, but it’s irrelevant now. I can’t recall all events but I know that something transpired and my brother was sent to the Bradley Center in Columbus, Georgia. He was 15 years old. The memory of events leading up to it are vague, but I remember how I felt. My brother was my “twin”. He and I shared a soul, a heart, a mind. We had a language that was unspoken. Knowing that his expression was caged and medicated crushed me. I know that the suffering we endured in that home battered him and sent him into an overwhelming state of despair.

The first time I visited, my anger engulfed me. I hated seeing him blunted like that – staring into nothing, speaking like a warped record. I believed that what he was experiencing did not need medication or treatment because it was a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, that his mental outbursts and violent flings were necessary. I had the same feelings that he was feeling, but my intellect battled my psyche and somehow defeated the mania brimming, at least momentarily. I had appearances and expectations to preserve, as if I was “just fine”.

My brother had reached a place where “his” world and “the” world had parted ways. The Thorazine and Tofranil had taken his words, mumbled his intellect – it was a dose of brain chemo, as if it would eradicate the psychosis and put it in remission for a period. I had a seething envy that I was ashamed of and it presented itself as a misguided anger. I secretly wanted this cocktail of no accountability, even if it meant giving up my dissimilarity. I wanted to stare into nothingness and feel void and do absolutely nothing with no obligation to anyone. I was jealous of the attention he was being afforded. I wanted someone to dote on me like they did him – we had the same experience! Why is it that I was expected to be solid and steadfast? And yet when I looked at him, I wanted to steal him away and make it all better. I had this empathetic ache for him that WAS sincere, beyond the resentment, I would have done anything to relieve that pain. No amount of Thorazine or Tofranil could do that. Being in the Bradley Center for a year and a half impacted him negatively. It stunted his growth as a man. It was like he had been in prison. These are the same feelings (codependent) that I have felt in dealing with an addicted husband. The correlation is embarrassing, but an honest deduction. No one likes to admit it.

My brother now works for a ministry called Wings of Life in the streets of Mobile, Alabama, ministering to the people who are sometimes forgotten and lost. He has struggled with mental illness, addiction, and alcoholism and now he uses his suffering and testimony to bring people to Christ. My brother is highly intelligent and intuitive. I am so pleased with his accomplishments. It is indescribable. You have to understand the severity of his downward spiral – at one point not too long ago he was living in a bus behind some one’s house and I was taking him left over food from lunches that pharmaceutical reps brought to my job. He had lived with me off and on for years, but once I got sober, our relationship changed. A counselor once told us we were too close – like a married couple instead of siblings. I jumped at her over her desk and threatened her. She must have hit a nerve with me, but considering the sexual abuse and other traumas we had endured at the hands of our caretakers, I didn’t take kindly to incestuous insinuations. Regardless, she was right. We shared so much and I took care of him and he tried to take care of me, and when all of this came out – he felt like less of a man because he was supposed to be able to protect me. He thought that the emasculation that Mr. Morgan had so intentionally committed was permanent. Well, little brother, you have come full circle, sir. Real men pray on their knees. YOU are not ashamed to humble yourself and do God’s work and that is the most CoURAGEOUS thing a man can do. YOU, my dear brother, are and always have been an inspiration to me. I love you.

Suffering with Purpose

I have a friend that is very dear to me who is hurting right now. I ache for her with such empathy, I just can’t express it. It’s like all of my scars itch. I can absolutely feel her pain. I have no words for her. Only emotion that can not be spoken. I’m so glad that she has support from her family, but even with that I’m sure she feels alone. The shame is expulsive.

The Bible tells us this in Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I think back to all of the “Dr. Phil” advice that I have received over the many years that I have dealt with issues and none of it compares to what I have learned in the past year. You know, people always have an answer for you but it never seems to work. Oh, it may for a while, but anything that credits self or humanity as being the answer to life’s problems is heresy. NO MAN CAN SAVE HIMSELF. Colossians 1:20 tells us this: “and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” That’s the only way…the blood of Jesus Christ. I love in Colossians 2:11 where Paul tells us of the “spiritual circumcision – the cutting away of your sinful nature”. That is so poetic. It relieves me to know that I have that reprieve.

I have been told that when you give advice, it should always be backed by Scripture. That way, if a person gets defensive or angry, it’s not your opinion, it’s in the Bible. The Book has every lesson we need. “I am glad that I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.” (Col 1:24) Paul tells us to suffer joyfully (sounds crazy, I know), but the reason is that it can change people’s lives and bring people to God’s Kingdom. You all have told me many times to write this story that I have been sharing, and that is why. Now, my friend, I’m telling you that the suffering will change people’s lives in a good way. I pray that God gives you strength for endurance and patience, to tough it out. I pray that He gives you wisdom and understanding. I pray that He removes this sickness from your husband’s body in the name of Jesus. I pray that all things will be made new and His perfect will be done. Amen.

I love you , my friend. I am with you in spirit and please remember, you are alive!

Quitter or Committer?

I have quit many things in my life. I quit drinking, drugging, overeating, smoking, fornicating, and stealing just to name a few. Some of you might say, “Well, goodness, she’s saved!” What does that mean? To be saved?

As a Christian, salvation is what we seek. We grow closer every day in our walk with Christ. The Word tells us that no amount of good works can merit our salvation. Our righteousness means nothing. Ephesians 2:4, 8-9 “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
Salvation is a gift from God.

All that I have done is quit doing some of the sins that were holding me back, keeping me further away from Christ. I have grown closer to Him in the past six months than I did my entire life. Growing up in the house of horrors, we were in church every time the doors were open. We received attendance pins for never missing a day! And I only knew there is a God. What I did not have was a relationship with Jesus Christ, the One who can save me from this life of sin. I cried out to God many times asking “Why? Why me Lord?”. WHY NOT ME? No one is worthy of salvation. We deserve hell. God is gracious and merciful enough that He sent His own Son in body to be human and suffer on this earth, die by crucifixion, and rise again so that we may have eternal life. The suffering that I have endured is miniscule and insignificant. They have given me a testimony and only drawn me closer to the One that I love today.

Know this: we will always sin. There is no reason to be pessimistic about this or disgruntled. The more we focus on our depravity, the more exalted Christ becomes. The cross becomes more beautiful. Romans 8:7 tells us “For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.” Romans 2:23-25 tells us how we are pardoned and delivered to freedom by Christ’s death. In believing that Jesus sacrificed His life and shed His blood, we are saved and freed fromt he penalty of our sins. Thank You Father!

So, today, I am committed and convicted. I am in covenant with the Lord, not contract. A covenant is non-negotiable whereas a contract is. This covenant is cut in blood, is unchangeable, and is eternal. A contract is temporary. A covenant requires a commitment and that is what God wants. So today, I stand committed.

Humility…Just when you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it!

I have had some things weighing on me lately. You know, you can’t appreciate freedom unless you have ever been convicted. I’ve lived most of my life thus far a prisoner to many different things. I’m fortunate that I never had to spend any significant time in prison, only a few nights here and there in jail. Paul wrote much of the New Testament from prison. When I think on that it is amazing to me all of the selflessness that is in his writing. All he wanted to do was spread the Word and call Christians to faith and freedom in Christ. He writes in Galatians 5:1, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” In Phillipians, he speaks of joy – in suffering, serving, believing, and giving. The man was in prison and he is joyful!? Yes, because he knows that Christ reigns and we should always rejoice in that.

We allow our daily successes and failures to define who we are. We take these privileges that are afforded us and make them inconveniences. We forget the suffering that goes on everyday and we whine of our petty issues. As Americans, we are the brats of the world, so spoiled and pretentious. I am always enamoured to learn of someone’s trip to get here, to America. I have listened intently and in awe as some of my co-workers have told me of riding in a boat eating only rice with her father, a fisherman, just to get to the “land of the free”. Another told me of escaping her country riddled with gangs and guerilla warfare in Central America, where she had to hide out to keep from being raped or killed, just to get to the “land of the free”.

I pray, and I’ve said it many times, that I NEVER forget where I came from or what it took to get me where I am today. It is the remembering that keeps me humble.

Prayer and Fasting

The following poem was written by me during the fast I did to begin the year with the church. We had 21 days of continuous prayer and fasting. The one thing that I received from this fast was humility and I learned the beginnings of obedience, just going forward and doing what is suggested. There are rewards for obedience and there are consequences for disobedience. Living with consequences will hopefully teach us to think and choose more carefully. True freedom comes from obedience and knowing what not to do. You don’t have to do bad or evil to gain more experience about life.

So, here is the poetry. I hope you like it. It’s simple, but honest.


I am a representation of God’s mercy and grace
With every breath that I take.
I have fallen short many times
And refused to recognize
That He covered me
He favored me
He restored me
He anointed me
And Yet – I still ran.

Like a wayward child demanding independence
I refused to accept my pennance.
Today, here I am, Father.
Your child humbly kisses your feet
And raises her arms to you.
Please, catch me and hold me
Love me – just as you always have.

Pamela Whitehead
January 10, 2010

(In prayer and fasting)


Learning and Living…Not Living and Learning

My attitude has changed. I am no longer a child. My first year of sobriety was a cloud clearing. It took a while for the haze to stop looming over me. I continued to do as I did when I was drinking to some extent. I still suffered from terminal loneliness, but slowly I started listening to what I was hearing in AA and heeding the words of wisdom. Most of my adult life was run on self will. I was in charge and no one else. Nobody was going to tell me what to do or how to do it. All of that changed.
I have learned that everybody submits to someone. We all have to learn this respect. The only one who is in charge of it all is God. In I Corinthians 11:3, Paul tells us “But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” Submission is not giving up, like surrender. It is meant to prevent chaos, to allow harmony and no divide, a unified commitment. It provides a way to work together. It is a choice. If we were forced to worship and submit to God, wouldn’t our commitment be hollow? The same with any relationship. Our pastor says all the time, “We are made to complete, not compete.” Rings true every time.
Roger and I married on March 21, 2005. We have been through a lot together and we will continue to the end. It has not been easy, in addiction or in sobriety. I’ve been sober almost 6 years but he struggles still. I am here. I am in the race and I am leading by example. Many people don’t understand and would quit. I have made that error once in my life and I believe that this marriage is forever. I love this man. He and I breathe on the same rhythm.
So many people give up because life gets too difficult. Remember this…Jesus Christ was beaten, crowned with thorns, and nailed to a cross for OUR salvation…so they WE can have eternal life. Nothing, and I mean nothing that any of us has or will go through will compare to being the sacrifice for the entire human race and their transgressions. “For I was born a sinner – yes, from the moment my mother conceived me!” (Psalms 51:5)
I have tried to give up, but God did not give up on me. He rises for me everyday. The least I can do is join the race. I have left the place where I was captive to my limitations and I am standing in the victory, knowing that I am winning. I am forgetting what has been done to me and I now relish what has been done for me.

In believing that everyone submits to someone, I also believe that you don’t have to succumb to everything. One definition of succumb is “to die”, another is “to give up or give in”. Has God given up on you? If you think He has, check your pulse. I’m sure it’s the other way around, YOU gave up on Him. He is always there waiting, longing for you to turn to Him and say, “I need you. Help me Lord. Show me the way.” Most of the time, He has given us the instructions, we just don’t want to do the work. Nothing of value or substance comes easy. How spoiled we would be if everything was just handed to us and we didn’t have to work or feel or do anything.

This road I have travelled so far has been treacherous. That’s my fault. My life didn’t have to be this difficult. I made choices (as an adult, I’m not talking about as a child) that carved a path for my life. Each choice opened a different door and I didn’t have to walk through, but I did. And I’m here and I’m not ashamed. Life isn’t a bucket of rainbows and lollipops today. There is a difference now. I have a friend in Jesus. Whenever I am alone, scared, anxious, sad,mad, happy, glad, excited, …I can call on Him and He will always be there. I have the Word of God as a play book for the victories and the defeats.

I know the only reason I am here today is God’s grace and mercy.