Images speak to me in metaphors that cannot always be conveyed with words.
This is my story.
This is my journey, depicted through images and words.
I was a manipulator. It’s true. I was devious and controlling and very very mean.
I lived in constant fear of rejection.
I feared failure so much that my perfectionism became a defense mechanism.
I found myself shutting others out of my life, even though I desperately longed for closeness and intimacy.
I could not understand or accept it when people said that I was “chosen” by God.
Instead, that single phrase made me dry-heave…and sometimes vomit.
Literally, I vomited at the thought of being chosen. I physically ran out of rooms if I thought someone was approaching me for friendship.
I carried the weight of my own failures well, but I was far greater skilled in holding onto the lies that had been pounded into my mind.
The first time that I was sexually assaulted, I carried the shame of that night…until I was able to find the grace to forgive my perpetrator. Then, when my close “friend” raped me in college, when I started to piece things together after I miscarried the daughter that I hadn’t known I was pregnant with; my shame and guilt threatened to bury me alive. My sorrow was overwhelming. My grief became my god. My identity was interwoven and entangled in what I had survived. I remember my mentor taking me to a cottage in Michigan for a day, so we could simply sit on the lake shore and soak up the beauty. I started to paint a picture, and effortlessly slipped into the artist’s “zone”. I was surprised that I had painted a prisoner on the floor of their cell, with open shackles at their feet. A light shone down the steps, and the prison gate was opened. I entitled it, “a step of faith”. This photograph is very reminiscent of that painting.
See how the door swings out? See how the light shines in? This is the invitation that I am talking about.
The abuse that I endured and the sorrow that I carried was not my fault. The horrors done to me were not God punishing me! If you have received abuse and horrible things in your life, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
GOD DOES NOT ALLOW ABUSE BECAUSE YOU OR I ARE HORRIBLE PEOPLE.
ABUSE HAPPENS BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A WORLD THAT IS DYSFUNCTIONAL.
HE CREATED THIS WORLD TO BE PERFECT, AND DEVOID OF DYSFUNCTION.
He loved us enough to allow us to choose. God, in his loving understanding and kindness allowed Adam and Eve to make the choice. God knows that “a mind changed by force was never changed at all”. Adam and Eve wanted knowledge of good and evil more than they wanted to know and be known by our loving God. Genesis 3:6, Mechanical Translation by Jeff Benner follows:
|and the woman saw that the function of the tree is for nourishment and that he is a yearning to the eyes, and the tree is a craving for making calculations, and she took from his produce and she ate, and she gave also to her man with her, and he ate,|
“The tree is a craving for making calculations…” that is who I was. I was constantly craving how to make calculations. I thought that if I controlled things, then I was safe from being hurt again.
I was wrong.
I was so desperately lonely and afraid, I felt so isolated. Then, a light broke through my self-inflicted walls of separation.
New Living Translation John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can NEVER extinguish it.
What is that light? I wondered if it was my effort, my attitude, my happiness.
But my best efforts were not enough. Nothing I did was enough.
New Living Translation John 8:12
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
Was I still sad? Sometimes.
Was I still grieving? Absolutely.
Was I still alone?
NO, I was no longer alone and isolated. Jesus Christ reached into my darkness and isolation and drew me into HIS light, love and acceptance.
Holman Christian Standard Bible Zephaniah 3:17
Yahweh your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”
He will rejoice over me?
But, I was abused. I was rejected. I have manipulated and deviously controlled…
New International Version Isaiah 43:4
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.
Precious and honored?
You, the Creator of the universe; you love me?
His answer overwhelmed me.
“Child, just sit here.”
New American Standard Bible Psalm 46:10
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
I am learning that as I fix my gaze on Him, as I admit that I have nothing, no hope, no best effort; nothing without Him…He is slowly transforming me to reflect His love and beauty. I am growing kinder, gentler, more patient as I gaze on Him. When I make Him the Boss of every area of my life, my religion fades away…and His love takes over.
Beloved, I had to be loved so I could be love.
Beloved, you also be loved.
Then be love.