During the past couple of months while my mind has healed, I will admit to you now that I have engaged in a battle, one made all the more preposterous with my sluggish wits and dwindling energy, like a slow motion wrestling match only on my side. Still, I have chosen this time either because I have so few other distractions or this time has chosen me because of an unstoppable God who is pursuing me in spite of me, to wrangle with my faith, to note the distance between God and I and to lament my emptiness to the cosmos, with fervor and fever.
My disconnect with God travels back over 50 years if I tell more truth, deep within where a little girl resides, a child who experienced evil at the hands of many and didn’t see the hands of God saving her from any of it. This child like many others who live with early trauma grew up wondering about the character of the God she hears of each Sunday,. Why doesn’t He love her, what must she do to become worthy? It was and somewhat still is contradictory to believe in God’s love and power and experience childhood sexual abuse. Soul snatchers, these predators who violated not only my body but also forever my ability to feel safe and free, unguarded and natural, welcoming of attention and affection, able to express love outside of tasks performed in a kitchen.
Resting on a borrowed faith that has carried me for most of my adult life, I see and know God as an incredible Creator who loves the ones I love, who has brought forth miracles and intervention for those very people my soul aches for in prayer. Yet, my list of personal needs, such a short little request, surely with a snap of the Holy fingers, I too could be shown the direct love of this God I have followed. Alas, not yet, wait more, “Be still and know even longer that you are not God and come to know who I am really.” I whisper, “Hogwash.” I rant no, not this time, now, right now, I have waited my whole life for you to protect me and my body and now my very heart. But I am not God, I cannot snap my fingers and have it be so. Worn out from another wrestling match, I retire to the couch, head aching and cheeks wet from angry fearful tears. Doesn’t God know this is a test, an opportunity for Him to show that I am loved as well? Doesn’t God know that He owes me, I already sacrificed my body on the cross as a child as the men took turns and He was away, while He left me to cry out alone? Bitter tears travel familiar paths, drip drip drip on my blanket, my space on the couch molding to my body, eyes averted from the window where I might catch sight of birds and butterflies and joy.
I have witnessed others at church proclaim their “God is with me” moments in the midst of great darkness, I gaze upon my void after each hurt and disappointment. Layer upon layer create the pile I drag behind in my memory wagon, never entrusting another fully with the wounds, unable to leave them unattended, my evidence that I am God’s step-child, not fully in the family. My pastor spoke of leaving the wilderness, transitioning into freedom, what it costs us to do so. This cart I drag? That is my refusal to be set free, my choice to return to bondage where vegetables I slaved for are preferred to the manna that appears daily. What sweet memories I once carried along in my battered wagon, recollections that are now rot like fresh strawberries left on the counter uneaten, mold spreading across the fruit to destroy what was once delicious delightful. No, hurts and disappointments and aches and pains are not meant to be trotted about with such dedication, I have forgotten that others see not my sweet stories and happiness but the oozing dripping ugliness of what was meant to be left behind when I was freed. But I haven’t accepted freedom, I merely lost the chains. A bag lady who dies on the streets covered in filth clutching her worthless treasures while a bank filled with her wealth awaits, I see my reality is distorted by the aches of my soul. In order for her to enter the bank, she would have to leave her cart outside, to trust someone enough with her treasures of old cans and dirty clothes and a torn sleeping bag. We know she has so much more waiting for her, if only she can let go of the junk, we know it is junk, her treasures, and she can buy all new, if she would just let go. Can any of us let go of our junk filled wagons that we drag along where ever we travel, out hurts from childhood, expectations deeply embedded from a parent, bullying we suffered or participated in, shame and vulnerability, pain-tinged memories that require a hand always reaching back as we hold onto our cart.
Wrestling, wrangling and ranting during my slowwitted season, my inability to respond quickly with arguments, with corresponding evidence, with proof of His lack of care for me, God has stepped in to seize the advantage. This unstoppable God? I saw only the places He was not fulfilling my wishes, I missed how He was speaking in whispers I couldn’t hear like the ringtones the under 30 crowd use because the rest of us can no longer catch that sound, or sending subliminal messages that flash before me and then are masked again so quickly I couldn’t help but miss, yet still I ranted at God “Where are You?” I forgot about the sunflowers and the sun and the flowers and the seeds and the ways in which I see my Creator surrounding me, lifting me, chasing me, awaiting me.
I am a study in God’s patience, evidence of a tender loving Creator who perseveres. This wrestling while my mind is slowed forces me to not quip my way out, emotions find more release, I am stuck seeking a God who surely wishes for me to finally accept freedom and just come home. As a mother who’s heart is broken over the same desire, I think I know that pain. As our praise team sang the words the “Ocean” by Joel Houston / Matt Crocker / Salomon Ligthelm, I felt pulled in by the Holy Spirit, a faith space that was mine, not borrowed from anyone else. A space of tenderness filled with light and grace, with my name inscribed right along with all the others, a message that I am good enough and I am worthy, that I am being drawn away from my wagon into the Promised land of freedom. Just let go and come home.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior (Oceans)
Friends, what are you pulling along with you that no longer looks like a treasure but has become a burden? I’m working on loosening my grip, will you consider doing the same? We are not meant to be slaves begging for our bondage again. What is ahead of us that we could be reaching for if our hands hearts minds were not occupied with our wagons of woes? Let us together call upon His name, for He does know ours.