With my nightmares boxed up and locked up securely in the attic of my psyche, I was able to move forward. I don’t have very many memories of from my early childhood, but I do have some that stand out and are pleasant to revisit. These are the memories I carried with me into my teens and early adult life, they are the construct for my (not so) typical (not so) all-American “middle class life”.
- Family camping trips, usually lakeside. Sometimes just us, sometimes with extended family on my mom’s side. Floating in old automotive tubes, playing with my cousins, listening to the muffled sounds of grownups talking late into the night.
- Fishing. I learned to fish young and we always fished on our camping trips. When we weren’t camping, my dad often took me lake fishing with him in our hometown… until he suddenly stopped. I always thought that was somehow my fault.
- I remember attending Sunday School as a wee girl, inviting ‘felt board Jesus’ into my heart, and going home with “Fish Wrappers” that recapped that week’s lessons. There was a lot I didn’t understand about God, but this I heard loud and clear – Jesus loves me!
- The walk to my elementary school, and the grocery story just a ¼ mile farther. The walk to my Jr. High. The walk to my High School. And I mean I “really” remember them … in detail. Weird, huh?
By the time I hit the 6th grade, I had discovered choir and I was hooked. In my Freshman year of High School, I joined the backpacking club – that was fun until I had to sleep in a wet sleeping bag after falling in a creek. Around age 15 I secured a place in a small music ensemble called “The Sounds of Praise”. I sang in that ensemble for almost 3 years, mostly at churches up/down the west coast but there was one year we flew to Hawaii to sing at a Christian camp! This was back in the mid-late ‘70’s when The Imperials and Gaither’s were reinventing Christian music. It was such a privilege to be able to use my voice to glorify God in song, and I deeply treasure the remembrance of those days and the enduring friendships made with my fellow SoP members.
“Sail On” by The Imperials
“Rise Again” by Bill & Gloria Gaither
I’m not the first one to have experienced trauma (be it abuse, emotional abandonment, loss or other tragedy). This is a broken world we live in, and it (at least for a while longer) does not operate according to God’s original design. Thanks a lot Adam and Eve!
Because of the effects of sin, darkness encircles, the chords of death entangle and bind.
But sin is not the only power at work on this earth – the love of the Father is also at work.
His Light seeks out and finds points of entrance through the darkness of fear, shame, loss and evil. Streaks of light break through the barrier of trunks, branches, leaves and overgrowth. The illumination of His love provides a roadmap for a way out.
“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 (NKJV)
This is a tender subject, I know, but while God is all powerful and all sovereign it is a mistake to believe that He has complete rule over everything that happens on this earth. If that were so, every person would immediately accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and choose to live obediently to the rule of the Holy Spirit. And we know that’s not happening.
From the vantage point of age 50-something, I can now see that God was not absent during my childhood as some might think. He did not turn me over to the Stickman, or a turn blind eye when my innocence was being violated. Instead, He was working a means of protection for me, a way of rescue. While the enemy of my soul was weaving dark threads into the tapestry of my life, God was at work weaving in threads of Light.
“Fear Not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” Isaiah 43:1-2 (NKJV)
I now see that the dissociative amnesia I had as a small child was rather like the hands of my Heavenly Father “covering my eyes and ears” so that I didn’t fully take in all that was going on around me. He sheltered me in the Secret Place, taking those shadowed memories onto His own shoulders to bear until years later when I was old enough to confront them in a healthy way. And while my eyes were safely covered by His love, He carefully wove threads of purple, orange and gold into my life which would later be revealed in the artistic tapestry of a redeemed life.
Heart trusts you for certain
Head says it’s not working
I’m stuck here still hurting
But you tell me
You’re making a masterpiece
You shaping the soul in me
You’re moving where I can’t see
And all I am is in your hands
You’re taking me all apart
Like it was your plan from the start
To finish your work of art for all to see you’re making a masterpiece
Masterpiece by Danny Gokey (excerpt only)
Friend, if you are reading this and recognizing similarities of your own story in mine
Perhaps that’s why I find Isaiah 43:1-2 so comforting. I’ll share more about this particular passage in the coming weeks, but for now I invite you to consider what it would look like if the Risen Lord Jesus stood right next to you and walked with you through the waters, and escorted you through the rivers. That when the fires of hell encircled to harm you, He surrounded you like a shield so that you were able to walk through them without even the smell of smoke.
This is your Father. This is the One who calls you by your name. The One who says “You are mine.” And if you will allow Him, He is well able to transform your brokenness into a Masterpiece.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.