Childhood was not an easy thing for me. I envied those who seemed to relish in it. If I tell the truth, I don’t ever recall being a child. Having the innocence of a child. I say that I was born into chaos, and that seems to be a cleaned up version of the truth.
I was born to a single mom.. the third of four. She became a parent at 14, and then had one baby after another. Her search for love, took us through one hellish experience to another. Her nightmares, ours. Her abusers, ours. Way to early I knew the brutality of abuse; sexual, mental, emotional and physical.
I learned the reality of parallel universes, living a lie in public and a hellish one behind closed doors. I learned the survival technique of being “pleasing”…the “art” of holding it all in… the “discipline” of self soothing.
My mom was broken, and we born into brokenness. I was masterful at “reading a room”, and navigating the dangers. I became skillful at reading between the lines and hearing the unspoken.
It was a shared experience between my brother and I. Our older sister having escaped to her birth fathers, and our younger sister to a foster family. Billy and I… we had each other. But, even in that… it was off and on. We spent 18 months in an Orphanage when I was really little. At two years old, I already had signs of sexual abuse. According to the legal paperwork, my mom had been arrested for prostitution complicated by leaving us in the car while she “worked.”
By the time I was eight – She was dead. Murdered. I had never really known lonely like that…. Mom was gone and Billy too. The two that knew my experience, ripped from me. Isolated and alone, I was left to navigate new waters.
Adopted into a christian home, I was safe physically and sexually… I had always known God… and his son Jesus. I think that there are those of us that God makes himself known to in a unique way. He knows that he needs to be close by. I know and believe that Jesus WAS there the night my mom died, and took me to a place deep inside, where I was safe and still. It took me years to truly come back from that place. Brave enough to take on the world around me. It was in my teens that I became aware that it wasn’t enough for me to know that God existed. That while God gave himself freely to me, I had to seal our relationship by giving myself back to him.
My experience with the church and the people in it, was mostly positive, through out my teens… and into my early adulthood. People were Jesus to me. Though we never talked about my former life. Never about the abuse, or my mom, or my loss, or…. those were all things seemingly left buried. I struggled later in life when I saw the inconsistencies in people..
It was only when I became a parent, that I began to work things out. I knew my babies needed, deserved, a mom that was less broken, then what I had had. The work was hard, and grueling and relentless. Two steps forward and three steps back… and then two steps forward and two steps back, and then two steps forward and one step back and…. then… I found a rhythm that moved me forward.
My best healing… the thing that moved me the forward faster.. was my ability to forgive those who injured me. Forgive those who judged and misjudged me. To begin to draw boundaries around my life; to give myself permission to state whether someone was “safe” for me or not.
Slowly my life began to sprout hope. I learned that it is not enough to pray ourselves out of such dark places.. we have to be willing to grab a hold of the “lifelines” around us…. Share our pain with trusted hearts.
I found that in the light of my shared story, there was healing. Not just mine, but others. It seems they came in droves to tell me.. “me too.” I have learned that it is in the Son’s Light – that the pain has no more sting. Its in the Son’s light that the things that can hide in the dark places, have no where to go. They cannot grab hold and suffocate hope any more.
The cold hard truth is that life can be hard for some of us. Some of us are born broken while some others get broken and damaged along the way.
Not everyone that should love us.. does. And not everyone we want to love us will, and not everyone that we will choose to trust will turn out to be trust worthy, not everyone that we call friend will value that friendship in the way we would have hoped.
But in truth it isn’t about what others may or may not do. For we cannot count on others for our own peace… It has to come from a place of confidence that no matter what happens to us in this life.. with God all things are possible. Forgiveness is possible. Hope is possible. Healing is possible. Love is possible. Acceptance is possible. It has to be known that it isn’t about other people capacity to love us, or to like us, or to accept us, or to value us, or to “get” us.. it is about our ability to do those things for ourselves.
I came from a place of brokenness. I was in every way one of the “least of these.” And I still have a brokenness in me. I am glad that I do. For it is in those cracks that God’s love can shine the brightest. It is through those heartaches that God can use me to offer light and hope to those trapped in darkness.
Life is hard for some. I wish we all started with the same clean slate – but we don’t.. Maybe we had a drug abusing mom while we were in the womb. Or perhaps we weren’t wanted. Or a million other things that should never ever be in a perfect world.
But the truth is – we have a choice as to what those scars become. After Jesus hung on the cross (for man’s sins)… after his resurrection.. he said, “they will know me by my scars.” I want my scars to be an identifier of Hope..Whether your scars are caused at the hand of others, or are self inflected, it doesn’t matter. They can all be used to identify ourselves with others who walk a similar walk.
I look over my life now.. and I see my kids, my daughter-in-laws, my grand-baby and I thank God for all the roads that got me to here. I see my friends who bare similar scars… and we don’t have to hide them from one another.
I have always been open with my peers about my journey… yet it is with a broken-heart I am aware that I have failed to be so with the younger generation. This week I have had the opportunity to talk to a couple young girls and asked them how they saw me… They used words like strong, independent, right-fighter, trailblazer, (one said ball-buster…LOL). I am proud of those descriptions, for I know the journey it has taken to get me here.
They were shocked to hear my whole story, and for that I am sad. I want the younger generation to know that there is hope in the journey. I can recall countless times in my early life when my little self could not take any more, and God swept in and put me on higher ground…. the orphanage being just one…. faith isn’t just a clique.. it is the one thing that offers a firm foundation when the storms crash around you.
None of us are just one thing… we are not just strong… or weak… we are not just our failures or our successes….we are the accumulation of all the things, all the experiences, all the people that we encounter in our lives…. So hold on.. a new experience is coming. God will not leave you where you are.
It is okay to be you… to share the whole of who you are.. it is okay to ask for help, talk about to failures, tell your whole story. It begins with… Hello World!!!