Friday, June 19, 2009

Unrest and Freedom

And where in your spirit have you found such unrest?
Spirit? What is that? Is it that place of pain, that horrible memory that so long ago died? I believe it must be, for I know not what you speak of.
And yet, I am getting a glimpse.
Something strange has been happening to me lately, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t God and I didn’t love it.
for years, I’ve been bound by brokenness. Brokenness on all levels of my being – emotional, spiritual, physical.
At the emotional level, severe abuse chipped away my core for so many years (and in some ways, still tries to do so) that I could look in the mirror and no longer see anything – no girl, no woman, no face. I didn’t even know myself, more than to know I was unloved, unwanted, a monster. It didn’t really hurt so bad, not back then. What really hurt was love, and there were many who loved me well. From teachers to ministers to everyone in between, it pained my heart (physically, most often) to see them smile, to watch them seek for me, to know their labors to save me. That is what hurt. Everything else, everything I knew and understood, was simple confirmation of the programming.
The physical level of brokenness has been somewhat obvious, but it also has been hidden. From years of injury, my body died. No longer could I feel anything – no pain, no sensation. I often burned myself in the shower, simply because I could not feel the heat and did not know any better. In my mind, I became somewhat of a puppet – I knew my legs existed, but it was as if some other entity moved them for me. I could not do it myself; they were detached.
And how do you love and serve a God who you cannot understand, who has never been real to you, and who has yet to prove Himself? How do you listen when you don’t know His voice? How do you follow when you can’t see His path? This was the blindness I lived in, a blindness I now recognize as being caused by abusers, by a fragile young mind, body, and soul in the hands of Evil.
Some know my story; others do not. Dad said he always wanted a little girl, someone to love and to cherish, someone special. But he did not know how to love a little girl; he only knew how to love the big ones. And so I found myself often sexually at his hands, violated in ways I cannot begin to describe for you. He was sadistic, at best, and very violent. And oh, what a temper both of my parents had! I could earn a beating just by breathing wrong. Late one night, dad even stripped the skin off my legs with his bare hands, and all mom could say was “You know better than to piss him off.” I did all of the cooking, the cleaning, the washing, the care. If one speck of anything lay on the floor of my brother’s closet, that earned me reprimand, usually violent. There was no such thing as “going out to play” or “leaving the house.” No, they hovered over me like hawks. Dad even went to school with me everyday for awhile, in the fifth grade, when I got old enough to speak and he became afraid that I would. The phones were tapped, all calls recorded. My bedroom door locked from the outside, so I could be locked in but could keep no one out. And I have a photo still today as proof of the cameras that guarded me. This is only a glimpse.
Yet for so many years, I could not see my brokenness. I turned it all off, and I died. Never thought I could live again. Never thought I wanted to.
Today, my heart beats. It is alive! God has come into this sacred place of pain and has transformed it. Am I all the things little girls dream of? Nope. I never could have dreamed of this. I am finding passion simply in living, and it’s drawing me out to do more with myself.
I am searching for ways to give of myself, ways to reach out and help. And yet, I am also reaching in. There is the most beautiful, lovely young woman inside this shell that is going to do wonderful things in this world, more wonderful than even she knows. I’ve come to love the gifts that God has given me, and the ones He has cultivated through my experiences.
The best way to say it is this: my heart is melting. My core is becoming flexible as I step further into the love of God, into the roles He’s planned for me. I love to love. I seek out now to have relationships; honest, two-way relationships instead of the shallow “pay attention to me” attitude I once held. I love to live. I’m getting out of the house instead of shielding myself off. I am holding those I love close…then closer. And I am understanding the depth of the pain.
I still must grieve. There is so much here that is lost, so much that could have been but isn’t. But I am happy. Happier than I ever thought I would be. And I cannot get so lost in grief that I forget to celebrate what God is doing.
I guess you could sum it all up in just one word: I finally, after 24 years, finally feel FREE.
It is an unrest in the Spirit that drives us to grow, to learn, and to love. It is the unrest, the discontent with our situation, that sets us FREE.