Running in circles and set on a rock

After almost a week of slogging through life as though partially immersed in a quagmire, this picture went through my mind when I lay in bed reflecting on the day.  I was running on a small, oval dirt track set in small, slightly unkempt grassy field.  Directly across from and facing each other on opposite long sides of the oval stood my Grandmother and my Mom; my racing feet were carving the elliptical pathway as I frantically sped round and round from one to the other.  Along with that image came interpretation.  I was surprised to find I was still living life trying to please them, torn by each one’s demand for loyalty, their extreme dislike of each other and the fear of losing either if I did not conform to their needs.  It was clear I would never reach my goals while continuing my hopeless circular journey.  I needed to break away from the gravitational pull that kept me in their orbit; then I would fly on a straight trajectory toward the dreams of my choice.

That visual then morphed into a slightly different take on the same theme.  The track changed to an old fashioned firefighter’s life net with my grandmother and mom holding either side.  As I sat in the middle, they jerked the rigid oval frame up and down making the inside canvas behave like a trampoline.  There I flopped and bounced at their whim, completely under their influence; the only thing I could do was feel nauseated, disoriented and miserable.  Again, understanding came.  At alternate times in my young life I experienced each as my safety net.  This was essential for me when they separately functioned as my care givers, but I no longer needed them in that capacity.  Now God is my safety net.  After this realization, I saw God reach for me and lift me from my unhealthy status and draw me to Himself.  Holding me close in an upright position, my feet and legs dangling, He hugged me and as though assimilated through osmosis, His power calmed me.  Gently and slowly He set my feet on the rock on which He stood.  My weak legs wanted to collapse, so He supported me, but I was sure the longer I stayed the stronger I would become.

I was reminded of Psalm 40:1-2:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

I have long considered these my life verses (except for the waiting patiently part; that I have not done well).  Time and again I have experienced God lifting me “out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire”; always I assumed I was placed on the Rock.  I may have been.  But, I have never before been given a clear indication that it actually happened.  Now I know; it is done.  I am on the Rock.  And, I will learn how to stand.

A dream

Little did I know how quickly the future would come. 

In my last post, I stated positively that I knew there would be more battles to be fought and changes to be made, but no matter what the future held my God would work it for my good….so onward and upward, I declared, into whatever God had for me!  The day after I did my first edit of that post, a new fight began, following only a week of R & R.  Sigh.  But, I have given God permission to do what is necessary to shape me into wholeness, so who am I to complain?  (Even though I did…)

I had a dream.  I was in a house; its outside was exactly like the second home we lived in after my mother returned from her final stint in the mental institution.  Unlike the exterior, the inside was very dissimilar in its physical appearance, although what was there represented well the chaos of our family patterns.  The right side of the interior was like a vertical maze of floors and walls placed at haphazard heights and positions; there was no back wall, so light shone through from back to front.  The left side had no walls, floors or ceilings, as if a bomb had exploded or a natural disaster had swept through and left emptiness in its wake.  The house’s rear section seemed to be completely open to the back yard, but closer examination revealed a clear plastic casing stretching all the way to the back fence, similar to a tall rectangular green house.  Inside this structure there were hanging ropes which were used as zip lines by aliens who were rapidly sliding into the house to attack and annihilate.  My energy and time were given to counter attacks, vaporizing, demolishing and casting out those beings which were bent on destroying me and ending my freedom.  I was in my element, enjoying the fight; periodically I was joined by friends when the battle became too complex and reinforcements were needed.  Like characters in Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger we leaped, swooped, soared, and fought with deep satisfaction and focused strength.

I was a different person outside that environment, as shown by the second half of this dream.  In it, a new neighbor came to our backyard with a battalion of her friends to “help” plant flowers.  She was over bearing, controlling, very effusive and looked remarkably like Kim Kardashian.  (Since I barely know who she is and couldn’t even remember her name, I really don’t know how her image came to be part of this story…dreams are strange entities.)  Her idea of “help” was to do things her way without any consideration for others’ thoughts and desires.  I immediately abandoned my station inside and dashed to intervene.  She was deeply offended by my objections and began to stalk off in a huff, indignantly proclaiming she thought we had an agreement to help each other with our outdoor work.  (Of course, assisting in her yard also meant doing things only as she wished.)  Following and attempting to smooth her ruffled feathers, I entreated her to try to understand that we just had a break down in communication about what it meant to “help each other”.  Somewhat mollified, she and her friends left.

I watched as she crossed the street to her home, and I realized I should have been firm about who I was and what I wanted when we first met.  Doing so would have avoided that conflict and the turmoil tumbling about inside me.  Truthfully, I wouldn’t have wanted such a friend, yet my behavior exhibited the opposite.

Upon waking the next morning, I asked myself and God what the dream meant.  Some questions which ran through my mind were:  Can I perceive truth inside the house but not outside?  Can I exercise discernment for my family of origin but not for myself?  Am I still trapped within my old family structure and have difficulty functioning outside their mode of operation?  Do I lose my ability to discern and be myself outside of their sphere of influence?           

As the day progressed, clarity came with an answer somewhat different from what my enquiries implied but pertained to elements within each.  I have learned confidence and discernment when warring against the forces of evil emanating from within my family of origin, yet I lack those same attributes when life takes me away from that venue.  Allowing myself to be snowballed and steamrolled by external forces, people, and cultures, I don’t express my internal personality or stand firm in who I am or what I believe.  (This is somewhat relative and depends on the situations in which I find myself.)  Thus, I conform in subtle ways and allow myself to be carried along by the culture or personality dominating the moment.  (Not so much compromising standard moral truths, but compromising my very essence.)

Reflection has verified this truth.  Throughout the years, there are many times when I have jeopardized my integrity.  These vary from blatant lies when I was much younger (the words seemed to be powered by forces beyond my control) to more recent, less obvious, but still internally damaging, denials of who I am created to be.

I’m sure there are numerous reasons for this behavior, such as old patterns engrained in my psyche, the human drive for self preservation and everyone’s desire to be accepted and loved.  Most likely my introversion has also played a part in this equation.  But, no matter what the cause, I do not want to continue to relate to the outside world in such a subservient way.  And, I know my God longs for me to be whole, complete and strong, so I may live in the truth of who I am no matter what the circumstance.  That is why He gave me this dream…to show the reason for and to open the door to the next leg of my healing journey.

The terror – onward in victory – part 11

The day after being freed from the leech of fear, memories of my dad’s sexual abuse began to come to the forefront of my mind.  These did not come as previous memories had; I was not observing theatrical vignettes from afar, detached from events with little emotion and sense of experience.  This time I was there, the suffering of my two-six year old child, the assault on her senses, the violence …her fear…were all mine.   That is all you need to know, dear reader, except that God protected me through it.  As a muffler protects our ears from the raw explosions of a running car’s engine, so my God absorbed much of the unbridled physical force and suffocating weight of my dad’s unmitigated, self-absorbed, maltreatment of his daughter.

What purpose was served by reliving such horror?  Again, I found the purpose was to forgive.  (Forgiveness seems to be one of the objectives of this tunnel journey.)   Because my experiences were beyond that which I could bear, my battered child coped by disassociating and forgetting…my first eight years were a blank in my mind; what I knew was information given to me by others…people who had their own biases, their own interpretations, their own agendas for the past.  I needed to rediscover my experiences, my reactions and how it all affected me to expose those unknowns from long ago which still controlled my present.  To recognize my own pain and hatred was the only way to reach the point of being able to truly forgive.  .

After these difficult days passed and I reached the end of this leg of my journey (which was the place of forgiveness), I awoke the next morning noticeably more relaxed with my arms and legs feeling a bit like cooked spaghetti (al dente, of course…).  Bodily tension has generally been part of my mode for sleep; my arms are tightly curled with my legs and back taut as though anticipating the night’s suffering.  Tension still is with me in the morning; my short, quick anxious breaths give lie to an inner turmoil.  Surprised enjoyment followed that morning’s waking freedom…what luxurious relief for my stressed body!  Light and peace also came to my soul and spirit providing re-creation for my being, a mini vacation from the strain of my internal travels.  Two nights and a day of tranquility undisturbed by stirred memories…two nights and a day of blue skies with no heavy clouds…ah, bliss!  Thank You God for R & R in the battle for healing…thank You for a time of restoration and revitalization.  Thank You God for the pause that refreshes, for bringing me to a bright spacious place before I again enter the dark, narrow valley.  You are so good…all of the time…You are good.

Out on a limb

Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I have waited.  In part two of Will she sleep or won’t she sleep, that is the question, I spoke of God working in me that night, expanding the boundaries of my soul and causing the skewer of fear to retreat from my gut to my heart.  But, I had questions as the next day unfolded….did it really happen…would it be lasting…if it was real, how would it affect (or not affect) those sleeping hours….would other fears rear their ugly heads in the dark….and, the question that haunts many of us, WHAT WOULD PEOPLE THINK if nothing changed after I proclaimed my Maker’s healing work?  Would the limb of faith on which I had gone out hold?  Knowing you were concerned, I still waited.  I wanted to have at least a week’s worth of nights under my belt (or under my pillows) before (hopefully) affirming that God does indeed work in miraculous ways His wonders to perform.

The first night following I approached the open door with trepidation.  Would that room still be filled with unseen darkness from the past in spite of Edison’s glowing invention?  (Like shining a flashlight at the mouth of a cave…little is done to dissipate the lurking shadows.)  I stepped in.  Something was different.  My heart ached, yet the air felt lighter; oppression seemed to have lifted.  Tentatively I lay there, thoughts flitting about, periodic fear darts again trying to penetrate my soul.  With my new inner boundaries I pushed back…Oh!….the flaming arrows bounced off.  Really.  Hmmmm…that was interesting.  There seemed to be a strength and largeness in the core of my being which had not been there before; something indeed was different.  Night followed night repeating the same pattern…fear darts became fewer.  And, I slept well.  

After this past week, I will go further out on the limb of faith (which sometimes feels as though it will break, and I will fall just like Wile E. Coyote of Road Runner fame) and declare again that my God is real, He does indeed work healing with great compassion and mercy and when He acts, who can reverse it?  No one….no force on earth and no force in the spiritual realm.  The step is done; it is finished.  Will there be more steps to take, more battles to be fought, more yielding to be done, more healing from the inside out?  Oh, yes.  My God loves me too deeply to let me stay the same.  He has promised to carry on to completion the good work He has begun in me. (Philippians 1:6)  And, I have given Him permission to do so.