My earliest memory is watching myself from above, separated from my body, apart from what was happening to me. I have used that strategy all of my life, breaking away from emotions, disinhabiting my physical being, creating compartments for good and bad and scary as well as events and relationships. Knowing I am broken, knowing I crave restoration means finding the courage to stay present, to be in the moment. I don’t always have the correct affect, I may not smile or cry when everyone else is merely because I don’t experience the same event until much later, in the safety of my solitude. There my emotions run freely, as I reexperience and find a connection. Sadly, because those moments are solitary, I have been described as cold and aloof. Each time either of those two words have been hurled at me, I have wondered how my true self could be perceived so inaccurately, why are they missing who I am? Yet the sheer number of times they have been applied lend credence to what I have shown to the world. Today I found a way back in, to me, to relationships, to wholeness.
Children who are sexually abused believe they are dirty, unwanted, unloveable. Unlearning those devastating messages about ourselves is a life long endeavor, at least for me. Connecting my faith, all the promises of God that just don’t seem to apply to me, with the truth of who God is, has seemed an insurmountable hurdle. How can God love me, as defiled as I am? Why didn’t God make it stop? If God doesn’t love me, how can I ever believe in the love of anyone else? At my very core, my broken relationship to God means broken unstable distrusting relationships with those around me. I heard God’s love explained differently today and my world exploded.
As infants we learn what the world means, who we can trust through our earliest relationships. When safety and love and nurturance are reflected to us, we gain strength and courage and explore more of our world. Infants who do not experience this constant consistent love, shut down, minimize the amount of stimulation they allow in, lose the brightness in their eyes as they shutter their expectations. They learn to distrust. God has put us in relationship immediately upon our entrance into this broken world so that we can begin to learn who He is, so that we can have God reflected to us. Our healthiest relationships reflect God, reflect that we are cherished and adored and valued and loved. That is how we learn the nature of God, through relationship. Thus abused children struggle and push and fight against relationships and ultimately distrust God.
My earliest memories of relationship include the deepest violation of my self. I learned that those around me would take without asking, would use me without care for my needs, would offer me to others as a commodity. I learned I am disposable and unworthy of adoration or respect. I learned to expect those around me to take my body, my heart, my mind and do so with force and with manipulation and with conditions and finally, with judgement. I did not learn to trust God, to believe that He cherishes me. Yet what if God is different, if those relationships have not reflected the true nature of God? I have looked for Him to bust through my emotional walls, to take my soul and let me know He is with me my whole life. I expected God to violate me as well, to break down my boundaries.
Because I have experienced a quiet God who continues to show who He is all around me, I misinterpreted his patience. Rather than saying I am unworthy, He was surrounding me with His constant, consistent presence. I knew Him in the love of my grandson, in the giggles of my children. I knew Him in the flowers and the birds and the praying mantises, yet I never realized He was there for me too. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20 With the force of an earthquake, my soul opened up as I realized that God is knocking and waiting for me to invite Him in, that He will never push and hurt and take. He is love. He has been with me all along.
Maybe you already knew this, maybe you are wondering why it took me so long, yet this message has changed my life, I have cried most of the last 24 hours. God does find me worthy and is waiting for my invitation. The respect I have sought my entire life, that my gifts should be offered and not exploited, God has shown Himself to understand. His patience in waiting for my invitation, who else but God can wait 53 years to have relationship? I am that worth it to Him, that He has waited. My world is rocked today as I fall into this love relationship, as I shift what I have known as true into the lie category and begin to open the door of my soul to the One who made me. My far away look, my distractedness today has nothing to do with being aloof, I am busy getting to know my God. I finally joined the party, friends, the one that includes acceptance and joy and the beginnings of self-worth. It truly is Christmas, receiving of the greatest gift ever.