It’s now Sunday afternoon. The 28 Day- From invisible to Embraced Series is complete. This is my epilogue. I was away for a brief 24+ hours at a fun retreat on Friday and Saturday in Birmingham, AL. (About 2 hours from here.) It combined a speaker with studios of multiple artists of all varieties. We each had 3 sessions. They included things as mundane as learning to make jams and jellies, and making a salad in a jar to numerous water color painting sessions to flower arranging to creative writing and almost anything in between. All meals were provided and they were both delicious and healthy (or you could easily make healthy choices.)
It was a refreshing, enlightening time for me. But once I arrived home, I was tired! Sadly, I overslept my alarm Sunday morning and spent the day puttering. I mulled over a combination of what I learned from my classes about GOD and myself.
I took a studio on writing my story and delved into some very early childhood memories.
One studio I took was about writing your story. Much of what we did was to write what we could remember of our lives from earliest childhood until now. We wrote it by 15 minute segments. As I thought over some memories from very early in my childhood that I had always thought were irrelevant, I realized why I have had so much difficulty trusting GOD with my concerns and problems.
My natural inclination is to feel I need to take care of them myself. Of course, I’m not unique there. It usually takes me quite awhile to realize that the problem has gotten out of hand and I’m way past the point where I need to give it to Him to handle. It has seemed odd to me that this was difficult for me. Intellectually, I knew better. But as I reviewed some of these memories, I realized why it has been difficult. My earliest memories were of a mother who was sick at night in the dark (in primitive Bolivia.) My response was to feel I needed to take care of her. This was before I even turned 4! (Yes, both she and my one year younger sister were sick often during those years in Bolivia.)So when I talk to those of you who feel invisible, I'm trying to speak to your heart, not your head. #write28days, #embraced Click To Tweet
Other early memories bear that out including some that caused me to feel I was responsible to keep her happy. (She struggled with depression.) What a heavy burden for a child of that age. No one told me I needed to do that. It came from my own personal processing. It was never something I verbalized. An extreme of this was that I was responsible to take care of my own problems. I rarely asked my parents for help unless the problem was too big.
I often prayed for His intervention but if GOD wasn’t going to do it, neither was anyone else. When a child that young has that in their heart from such a young age, they rarely verbalize it. They assume everyone feels the same as they do. A parent has no idea. It’s at a heart level and logic has nothing to do with it. Logically, I would never have thought that was even there. Many of my life decisions stemmed from that life view.
The concept that the outworking of all I knew about GOD was that He truly had embraced me just as I was and adored me, was more than I could process.
My view of GOD on the feeling level was that if I behaved well, He loved me, but if I messed up in any way, He would be very disappointed in me at best.
But as I think back over the years, I realize how often I found it difficult to completely trust that GOD was going to do the best and most wonderful thing for me. I felt it was all up to me, on an emotional level to struggle through. The way my parents lived as missionaries or professional Christian workers (depending on the years) led to being let down particularly in terms of finances. During one year of my childhood, they were not paid at all when promised a salary for one year (I found out later.) At other times, they were paid as little as possible by people who lived well. We were constantly stressed as a family about money.
But on an intellectual level, i would never have verbalized it that way at all! How could I see that GOD would care for us? My parents prayed for GOD to provide for our needs and He did as far as they could see. From my perspective as a child, I didn’t always know about that part of it. I just knew that if I wanted money for anything or we needed anything extra, there was always added stress and it was usually taken out on us. I rarely remember a time when a request for something needed was greeted with “Yes, we can do that.” It was always looked on as a stressful question that i stopped asking early in life.
So when I talk to those of you who feel invisible, I’m trying to speak to your heart, not your head.
This past month when I wrote about some of those Biblical women, my heart was touched as I was moved by their stories. Click day 2, day 3, day 5, day 6.
I was able to see parts of myself in their stories and begin to feel the tenderness of GOD, not only for these women, but for me. His tenderness and embrace, not only of a 70+ year old woman, but of that 3 year old child lying in the dark seeing her mother spitting up blood in a bucket in a rustic home without plumbing in rural Bolivia; or that lonely teenager in a boarding school who didn’t fit in and was being bullied by the girls in her grade for something she had no control over; or that 23 year old woman whose 8 month infant had just died in utero, who was grieving with her husband in a context of people who didn’t talk about such things, much less grieve with others going through that kind of pain.
I don’t bring these things up to ask for sympathy. I bring them up so you will find a point of contact. I may not have experienced the exact things you have, but I have experienced loss, feeling invisible, feeling hopeless, just like you.
I hate fo focus on myself, but sometimes, in order to help others, I need to sort out some of the issues I am dealing with to find healing so I can communicate with others in helpful ways. Granted, the issues you struggle with will be different from mine. Your early memories will be different. Your salvation story is different. For some who came to Christ older and in a more dramatic way, the changes are so dramatic that the early childhood isn’t as big a thing. For others of you, your early memories are huge and you look at mine and think how lame they are.
But underneath it all, we find places where we need GOD’s healing touch. There are nooks and crannies from childhood or our teen years or from earlier in our adult years where the pain comes back to haunt us. It often comes to mind when we are going through suffering and we wonder what the connection is. The Holy Spirit will show us as we ask Him to open our eyes to what is happening. What is going on that needs to change? How do we need to allow the truth we know to intersect with the feelings that are turbulent inside of us?
It often takes time for GOD to bring healing to our souls. It rarely happens in an instant. But His presence and His comfort is real. He cares about our painful experiences as well as our joys. He wants us to bring both to Him in prayer. Nothing is too trivial for Him.
It may take some time, but it will come together. For the past few years GOD has been trying to help me learn to trust Him in the middle of weakness. I am trusting Him more, but it has not been an easy journey! There has been so much garbage along the way that I have become more aware of. But through all of it, I have also come to realize that instead of GOD’s disapproving look at me, He is never surprised by my sin or failure. He knows what I am made of better than I do.
He is more like the parent who sees the two year old who often tries to be independent and flops. He picks me up and wraps me in His arms. He has already forgiven me at the cross, but when I come to Him again to acknowledge my failure or grief, He again picks me up and welcomes me into His arms.
The verses below are written to some of His people who are in bondage to a foreign nation because they disobeyed Him over a long period of time. See how comforting He is to them? He has the same words to speak to us.
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more.
How gracious he will be when you cry for help!
As soon as he hears, he will answer you.
Isaiah 30:18-19 ESV