Tag Archives: divorce

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 28)

By the grand old age of 20, and after less than two years of marriage, I was on my way to becoming a divorcee. Having married right out of high school, I was making a very modest hourly wage – certainly not enough to live on my own. My parents graciously received me back into their home while I got back on my feet again, and while I’m grateful for their kindness, it was uncomfortable for all of us.

Soon after I filed for divorce, I left my data-processing job at a semiconductor company and I started anew as Receptionist at a small manufacturing company. This was an exciting new environment for me and my strong administrative skills were quickly noted by the President and Sales Manager, affording me several opportunities for advancement within the company. It was also while at this company that I started dating again.

Why is it that after a divorce (or break up of any long-term relationship) we are so quick to “get back in the game”? Under what reasoning do we think that we can process the searing pain, relational loss and likely also some sense of betrayal in a matter of 3-9 months? Where were the counselors to caution me about dating again so quickly? Certainly not at home, for my mom was in full support of my return to the dating world. After all, I’d already “tasted the forbidden fruit” and so naturally I would have desires that demanded to be satisfied again. And isn’t self-gratification more important than taking the time to process your emotions, evaluate the mistakes made, and experience at least some level of spiritual and emotional healing?

I didn’t even wait until AFTER my divorce, I started dating DURING my divorce! Lord almighty! But this is what the world tells us to do … to “Get back up on that horse!”

Try
Colbie Caillat

Put your make-up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?

It was 1980 and I was a young blue-eyed, blond-haired woman-child in the age of “Enjoli” commercials telling me that I could and should have it all; love, career, and financial success. I quickly captured the attention of the two single engineers that worked on the other side of the reception area. They regularly flirted with me and I ate it up. “J” took me on a few dates, but it quickly became obvious that he was only interested in one thing, which by the way he was already getting from his on/off girlfriend. And while tempting, I didn’t want to be used in that way. I’d already had a taste of that … I knew better (or so I told myself) than to go that path again, and so I refused any further invitations from him.

“T” however. Well, “T” was another species the likes of which I’d never encountered before. He was from South America and literally oozed sensuality. He was a smooth operator, but in the most charming of ways. At first he flirted with me from a distance while his buddy “J” had a run at me. He was sizing me up, laying the groundwork.

The women in the office talked about “T”. They said he was a womanizer. They said he had kids in South America and was looking for a ticket to bring them to the US. They said to steer clear of him.

But “T” made me feel attractive and desirable. He admitted he had kids in South America that he wanted to bring to the US. But he also said he had “sown all his wild oats” and that he now wanted to settle down and have a family with a special woman … a woman like me. He told me everything I wanted to hear … everything I needed to hear … and I agreed to go on a date with him.

As I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been listening to Andy Stanley’s message “Three Myths, Part 1, ‘How to make sure next time is better than last time.’” We all experience unpleasant endings in life … job endings, relationship endings, etc. And if we will take the time to evaluate our experiences that led to those unpleasant endings, we just might successfully course correct so that our next time is better than our last time. But that takes energy, honesty and personal responsibility. It also takes time – time to process, time to heal. And when you’re young, who has time for that.

While tempted by “J’s” smooth talking ways, the remembrance of my upbringing and desire to be a “good Christian” helped me to exercise some modicum of self-control. But all that went completely out the window with “T”. I am utterly ashamed of the way I behaved during our first date. Thankfully, mobile phones with cameras hadn’t been invented yet and so no one was able to document our scandalous behavior as I gave way to the torrent of desire that he (12+ years my senior) so artfully stirred up in me. It is by the sheer grace of God that despite his persistent and seductive invitations, I managed to get myself into my car after he brought me back to his place (a small house which he rented with 2 other guys, one who just happened to be “J”). * Sigh *

I clearly remember the image of him in the rearview mirror, wearing a red sweater over a white shirt tucked into well-fitted jeans as he watched me drive away. I said to myself “that man is the devil himself” and then I drove off before I behaved even more atrociously than I already had. I had no idea how true those words would prove true over the course of the next 10 years.

What kind of lies do you tell yourself? What won’t you see because if you saw it, it would derail the fantasy you are trying so hard to live out?

Date number two didn’t end “T” in the rearview mirror. I stayed that night, and a few other nights after that. He asked me to move in with him, and told me he loved me. It was music to my ears, and when I was with him I felt like the most beautiful woman-girl on the planet.

Whereas “M” left me feeling used, betrayed and undesirable, “T” adored me, hungered for me, and promised me the very thing that I wanted more than anything else. A family! He wanted to live with me, for me to be mother to his children (once we brought them up from South America), and he promised to marry me as soon as my divorce finalized.

Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?
Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try

With our pitiful combined incomes we somehow managed to find a 3 bedroom house to rent and moved in together while my divorce was being processed. I sold my custom made diamond wedding set (to one of my sisters to wear as a stunning pinky ring) and with the funds we purchased airline tickets and flew his kids up. And in preparation for their arrival, my sisters helped me sew curtains out of decorative bedding and turn the little dump we rented into something modestly welcoming and homey. Before the kids arrived, I had made a “welcome home banner” for them, and had their rooms staged with gently used stuffed animals and other yard-sale finds appropriate for their ages. We were going to be a family and I was finally going to be seen, heard, and loved unconditionally.

“KNOWING better doesn’t mean you have the strength, or power, or self control to DO better.” ~Andy Stanley

I had married “T” on my 21st birthday just two weeks after my divorce finalized. Red flags started going off almost immediately, but I ignored them. I had to. Acknowledging that I might have made a mistake would have meant that I’d be alone again, that I’d be a failure again. And my battered psyche just couldn’t handle that. I needed him, because I needed to be needed and he made me feel needed. So when he started disappearing for long periods of time on Saturday mornings, I quickly accepted his explanations that he was just handing out with friends after Karate practice. Sure it bothered me that one of those friends was a woman, but he promised me they were just friends. He loved me!

True, it infuriated me when I saw him knock the legs out from under his 10-year old daughter because she didn’t wash the dishes right … layed her flat out on the floor with a sweeping leg kick. But I yelled at him – told him I’d not put up with that, and he promised not to do it again.

And I was uncomfortable with some of the things that happened between us behind closed doors – but the Bible says that happens ‘in the marriage bed’ is OK, right?

Besides, by this time we had already moved his son and daughter (ages 13 and 10) up, and I had a family to call my own. The voice of shame spoke to me and said “You made your bed, now lie in it.” I obliged.

His Saturday morning delays grew longer, much longer, and eventually he told me about a 3rd child. He had also been spending Saturdays visiting his youngest son who lived with his ex-wife just a few towns over. Well I wanted a family, right? Imagine this … before my 22nd birthday, I was on my second marriage and was now raising a 13 year old stepson, a 10 year old stepdaughter, and a 2 year old stepson on the weekends.

Over the next few years we both experienced some professional success. We managed to buy our first house in 1983, a tiny little 2 bedroom place that was just big enough. And then I got pregnant, a dream come true!! With tremendous excitement for the life growing within me, we flipped that tiny house and moved a little farther out towards the east side of town and into a 3BR 2 BA split level ranch that had a large partially finished lower floor that could be finished off to add 2 more bedrooms. We were in love. We were a family. And we were having a baby. Everything was falling into place, and I was finally going to be happy.

Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
‘Cause I like you

Before I continue with my story I want to share this beautiful song by Colbie Caillat called “TRY”, which has an even more powerful video. I’ve listened/watched to it about 10 times while writing this post.

Friends, are you TRYing? Are you TRYing to be what someone else wants you to be, or what you think you should/need to be in to be loved and accepted? Are you TRYing to please your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife? Are you TRYing to please a boss or seeking the approval of a parent? Man or woman, young or old, gay or straight, pause a moment and please hear this. You don’t have to TRY.

You are beautiful.
You are loved.
You are valuable.
You, today, now … just where you are, and just the way you are.
Because Jesus loves you!
Just where you are, and just the way you are.
He doesn’t need you to clean-up, pretty-up, dress-up, or fake-up in order to love you.
He just loves you. And try as you might, you can’t come up with a reason for Him not to love you.
He loves you with a perfect and all-consuming love, today and right now.
In your messiness. In your imperfection.
His arms are open to you, and He is inviting you in.
And as you draw near, if you listen … you will hear Him say this:
“I’ve already paid the price for you, son/daughter. Rest in me. You don’t have to try anymore.”

Two final notes. Last week I shared a preview of my next painting, intended for this weeks post. But it is really more appropriate for next weeks’ post, because it’s in 1984 when things really started to unravel and “The Nightmare that was Mr T” began.

Secondly, while I’m trying to write my testimony in a (relatively) chronological order, I may not have all the timing right and perhaps even misremember some of the details. In truth, I have spent the last 25 years trying to distance myself from this part of my life and so if you notice some inconsistencies between these posts and perhaps something written back in 2014 or 2015, please know that it is not intentional. I’m being as truthful as I can with the details as best as I can remember them.

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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.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 27)

 

Please excuse the delay in posting.  With the mid-week celebration of Independence Day, I got a little off track and off schedule.

And also, to be quite honest, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to write this anymore.  Not the blog in general, just my story – my testimony.  Up ’til now, I’ve shared about the childhood I remembered, the aching need for love and acceptance that had me searching for a husband at age 14, and the consequences of making choices based on emotional need.

And that was OK, a little sad at times, but it’s all in the past and in hindsight I can look back, sigh, and say “Thank you Lord that I’m not that girl anymore”.

Call Me Beautiful
by Ginny Owens

I’ve been waiting
For a hero who’s brave and strong
Someone to love me
Someone to tell me I belong
So I pretend I’m satisfied
And I stand watching from the sidelines
Till You pull me into the light
And say “It’s Your turn now
Welcome to your life!”

And you call me beautiful
And say You’ve loved me all along
And you’ve always held the keys to unlock my soul
Oh you call me beautiful

I’m sure you’ve got parts of your life you’re not all that proud of either.  We all do.  But a trusted friend would understand that’s part of your past and not judge you for it.  They’d see you for who you are now.  I’m hoping you will do the same.

In this next part of my story …. well, there is a lot about it that I am ashamed of.  Ashamed of my behavior, ashamed of what I let happen to me, and of what I let happen to those that I love.    And I wonder what will be the consequence and impact of my being so bold as to uncover these details of my past (or the details that are appropriate to share in this type of setting).   Will it shift how people see me in my day-job?  Will some people close doors because they’re uncomfortable knowing this much about me?  Will my honesty have any negative impact on my loved ones?

I know.  That’s all the voice of fear speaking, and I shouldn’t be listening to him.

But that’s a big part of the reason why I didn’t post on Thursday as scheduled.

Instead I painted.  Here is a preview of the artwork for the next section of my story.

The Nightmare that was Mr T
“The Nightmare that was Mr. T”  http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

 

Now to breath deeply, pray, and start writing about the worst parts of my life with hope that by doing so, someone might recognize themselves in my story … and more importantly recognize the LIFELINE that is Jesus Christ!

 

 

 

(continuation)

There’s a smile on my face
And a brand new light in my eyes
It’s a new day
And I’ve never felt so alive
I feel as if I could conquer anything
Oh that’s what your love has done for me
And now all I want to be
Is everything you want me to be

And you call me beautiful
And say you’ve loved me all along
And you’ve always held the keys
To unlock my soul, but I didn’t know
Now I can finally start to live
Take those chances I have missed
Things will be much different
Now that I know
You call me beautiful

The story is better than I could dream after all
Now this is reality
To know you and to hear you call me beautiful
Call me beautiful
Now I can finally start to live
Take those chances I have missed
Things will be much different
Now that I know
Now that I know
You call me beautiful

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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.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 26)

Emotions are sneaky little buggers! So often they hide behind activities and the general busyness of life, and then when you’re least expecting them – whoosh! They jump out from hiding, completely surprising and overtaking you! It was like that for me this week.

While reflecting on my 14-year old self, my first love, and the heartbreaks of that love I was surprised by a wave of emotion. Or more truthfully, I was surprised by a revelation.

I met “M” at church when I was 14 ½. We were both in the choir, he sang Tenor and I sang 1st Soprano. I can only assume that it was because we met in church and his family was rather well known, that my mother decided it was reasonable and acceptable that I be allowed to date an 18-year-old Senior. What was she thinking?!?!?

While he was technically my second boyfriend, he was really my first (as my “real” first romance only lasted up until the time that he stole a kiss from me during a John Denver concert on TV. I was in love with John Denver and didn’t appreciate the interruption. I broke up with him 2 days later.)

Well if I wasn’t ready for a kiss, I surely wasn’t ready for “M”, nor all the feelings he would awake in me.

I still remember the first time he held my hand. We were riding in the back seat of his parent’s car (I think we were driving to their house for Sunday Supper) and oh so slowly his fingers worked their way closer and closer, until they intertwined with mine on the space of the leather upholstery between us. Fireworks folks!

The first time he took me out on a date, he took me to a French restaurant to impress me. I was impressed alright. I was also hungry as all get out afterwards! I’d never been served such a tiny amount of food for dinner in my life!

He played the saxophone … not as good as Kenny G, but good enough.

In no time at all, he completely captured my heart … and in a slow progression of compromises to my Christian morals, eventually my body.

Now before I go any farther, please understand I’m not writing this post to demonize “M”. There is a natural course of exploration and discovery that every young person will experience, we (he and I) were no different. In hind sight, I do wish my mom had put more of an effort to protect my innocence a bit longer (or at least prepared me for what I would encounter), but hormones would eventually awaken regardless of who I was dating. It is not youthful passion, nor our failure to manage that passion in a way that reflected our professed faith that made us such a mismatch. It was need. Specifically, my desperate need to be loved.

As I shared in a prior post, somehow in the unhappiness of my youth, I had come to the brilliant conclusion that everything that was wrong in my life (the emotional abandonment I felt, the emptiness, the rejection) would be resolved and disappear once I got married.

I would be unconditionally loved … when I got married.
I would be fulfilled … when I got married.
I would be happy … when I got married.

“M’s” strong physical desire for me proved he loved me (right?), and once we married all those sexual “compromises” I had made would somehow be erased from heaven’s record book. Thus marrying “M” became my goal.

Fractured HeartFrom my current vantage point, I can see that the poor guy never really had a chance. For every sexual compromise I made, I extracted a promise from him to make me an honest woman girl by vowing to marry me. And the closer I got to age 18, the more intense the concessions each of us made to secure what we wanted from the other. We married 3 months after my 18th birthday. Unfortunately, all our best days were prior to our marriage. Seems that bullying someone into marrying you (like bullying someone for sex) doesn’t lay a good foundation for a healthy relationship, and we both went into the marriage feeling that we (each of us) were owed some form of restitution from the other for all that we endured on the journey. Disappointments surfaced almost immediately, leading to emotional gameplay. Within a year, he began to confide in a married female friend of ours (obviously more his friend than mine), who graciously offered me some advice on ‘how to please my husband’. Awkward! And of course, I was too clueless (or perhaps just unwilling to acknowledge) the depth of their friendship. I needed to feel loved, he needed sex. Nothing wrong with either of those two desires, and in a healthy relationship they usually complement each other. But our marriage wasn’t built on anything healthy, and I’m certain that had I not badgered him into marriage we never would have married in the first place. We were barely two years into our marriage when he started “working late” with a female colleague. A few months later, I found a Valentines card he’d written to her. Soon thereafter I told him I was going to leave by the end of the month if he didn’t break it off and ask me to stay. Over the course of the next few weeks, he watched me pack, coordinate with family members, and physically walk out the front door of the little house we rented. It was absolutely devastating to me.

Marriage was supposed to fix everything, it was supposed to mean forever and always. And yet there I was, 20 years old and so completely unloved and unwanted that my husband watched me move out without doing a single thing to stop me.

“Off they went to the shores of Loneliness, and Much-Afraid now had to endure a time of dreadful assaults. It is true that her enemies soon discovered that this was not the same Much-afraid with whom they had to deal. They could never get within close reach because she kept so near to Sorrow and Suffering and accepted their assistance so much more willingly than before. However, they kept appearing before her, shouting out their horrid suggestions and mocking her until it really seemed that wherever she went one or another popped up (there are so many hiding-places for them along the rocks) and hurled their darts at her.”
~Hinds Feet On High Places

While considering what to include and what to leave out of the story of my first marriage, I was surprised by the wave of emotion that emerged from hiding to ambush me, revealing that regardless of how many years have passed, not much has changed. I mentioned at the beginning of this post a revelation. Here it is.

My 57-year-old heart isn’t all that much different from my 14 ½ year old heart.

I am still longingly waiting for someone to love me, for my “happily ever after”. And while most days are joy-filled and emotionally grounded in the love I enjoy from friends and family, there are still “hiding places” in my heart where decades old unfulfilled longings cry out in desperation to be satisfied.

The difference is that my name is no longer “Much-Afraid” and I now know that there is only One who can truly satisfy my deepest need to be loved. We have journeyed long and hard together, my Love and I, and I have changed much along the journey. His love has brought healing to the deepest and most desperate places of my soul.

“And now for the promise”, said he, “that when Love flowers in your heart you shall be loved again.” Taking her hand in his, he said, “Behold, I have set my love upon thee and thou art mine. .. yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). After that he said, “Give me the bag of stones of remembrance that you have gathered on your journey..” ~Hinds Feet On High Places

When I was a child, I used to think of myself as being “one half”, that my desired husband would fulfill the role the “other half”, and that together we would make “one”. Now I know that a healthy relationship requires two “whole” people. Sadly, as damaged as I was going into my first marriage, I didn’t become a whole person until long after a second marriage that left me bruised and bloodied. But that’s a story for another week.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love – out of faithfulness I have drawn you close. And so it shall be again, My virgin Israel; I will build you up, and you will be rebuilt. ” (Jeremiah 31:3-4, The Voice translation)

Friends, whatever your marital status … single, married, widowed, divorced … and whatever the condition of your love life, let our prayer be that we would take our deepest need, our most desperate and raw need for unconditional love and acceptance, to our own Good Shepherd, our Abba (Daddy-God). For no matter how wonderful your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife … they are flawed and limited, and it is quite unfair to set that type of burden upon their shoulders. They will disappoint. How can they not?

But there is One who will never disappoint. His Love is without condition and without measure, and able to reach into the deepest cracks and crevices of your fractured heart. He alone can quiet the noises of unfilled longings, and bring joy and peace in the process of transforming you and I from “one half-ness” to “wholeness”.

He is the One, and His name is Jesus.

 

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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.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 25)

“This is the story of how Much-Afraid escaped from her Fearing relatives and went with the Shepherd to the High Places where “perfect love casts out fear.”

“Hinds Feet on High Places”, Hannah Hurnard

Me

When we are young, we have such a narrowed perspective. As small children we tend to learn and see things as being black or white, right or wrong.

As young adults, we begin to push against the simplicity of that perspective.

We experience betrayal and disappointment.

We recognize the frailty of humanity.

We understand that truth can be manipulated without being completely distorted. We learn the power of nuance, and so on.

Thus begins the long journey of stumbling our way through the various colors, shades, and shadows of life.

“There was, however, another even greater trouble in her life. She was a member of the Family of Fearings, and her relatives were scattered all over the valley, so that she could never really escape them. An orphan, she had been brought up in the home of her aunt, poor Mrs. Dismal Forebodings, with her two cousins Gloomy and Spiteful and their brother Craven Fear, a great bully who habitually tormented and persecuted her in a really dreadful way. ….(Until) one dreadful day they laid before her the family dictum that she must immediately marry her cousin Craven Fear and settle down respectably among her own people. If she refused to do this of her own free will, they threatened to use force and compel her.”

“Hinds Feet on High Places”

1535027_793758830640809_840090382_n

The process of chronicling my testimony has been rather like looking through an old family album of black and white photographs adhered by those little corner stickers used to hold the picture in place. It makes me think of my lineage; of where I came, and from whom I come.

Oh, how I long to better understand the journey made by those who came before me, their lives and struggles and experiences. For just as surely as my experiences have shaped my life and influenced how I parented (and therefore impacted my children), an understanding of the experiences of my grandparents and parents lays the groundwork for empathy, and releases forgiveness to do its work.

“It took me a long time to get to this place of understanding, but I now know that the people who inflicted the most pain on my young soul were each dealing with their own family histories and experiences as best they could. The truth is, when you put broken and wounded people together in a relationship – you usually get a big ol’ mess that often spills out onto others. I should know, because for a long time, I was broken and wounded … a big ol’ mess just waiting for a place to happen.” ~But God

Picking up where I left off at Week 23, I think my teenage years were fairly typical. The dreams had stopped by then, and I had safely tucked all memories of them away. I discovered a passion for music and was active in school and church choir. I started working part time. I got my first car. All pretty normal stuff.

But underneath all this normalcy was a low-boiling anger towards both my parents. By the time I hit my teens, whatever passion they once felt towards each other had degraded to a sort of platonic friendliness. Sadly, I do not recall ever seeing my parents kiss or embrace, and more oft than not there was a very tangible presence of hostility emanating from my mom towards my dad. I think he put up with it as a form of doing penance, and perhaps justifiably so. But it made for a very prickly environment, and the absence of affection in the house left gaping holes in my young heart that begged to be filled.

I was incredibly lonely inside, and for hungry acceptance. And so by the sage old age of 14, I had started to date. [Yipes!! In hindsight, that just makes me cringe. I had absolutely no business dating that young, that naïve -– but of course when you’re 14 you think you have the wisdom of Solomon.]

At 14 ½, I met “M”, who would turn out to be my first husband. I’ll pick up more on that next week but for now invite you to read a little more about the desperation that was driving me..

“I have loved you with an everlasting love – out of faithfulness I have drawn you close. And so it shall be again, My virgin Israel; I will build you up, and you will be rebuilt. ” (Jeremiah 31:3-4, The Voice translation)

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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.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 23)

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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ove-6A9qVD4&index=4&list=PLumJY4t6tnSUDTK5nGzgHK1LeIqyBd42K

“Rise Again” by Bill & Gloria Gaither
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYc2HyFR3uQ

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.

View From The Underside
View from the Underside

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

(that told thus far, as well as what is yet to be told over the course of coming weeks), my prayer is that you will be able to hear the voice of your Heavenly Father calling out to you. In ways that only a loving Parent can, His heart grieves with you for the dark days you experienced. He longs to take the weight of that pain from off your shoulders, and He is able to do it. But you must relinquish it to Him, and I know from experience that letting go can sometimes feel more threatening than the familiarity of remaining captive.

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.

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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.