Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reclaiming What Was Lost - The Little Girl In Me

The thoughts and emotions flood at just one word.  
Childhood rings of freedom, exploring, creativity, safety.  
For me, childhood also echoes with unmet expectations, unthinkable loss, unimaginable fear, horrible grief and lasting pain.  
The imprint of damage overshadows the archetype of carefree images and nestling into what is safe and true.

The little girl in me longed for provision, protection, affirmation, acceptance.  
I lived in precarious stability, like one on a balance beam, never leaning too far to the left or right so as not to fall and receive what would inevitably come anyway -- the fall and the accompanying pain.  

I learned.  I learned to cover that little girl -- to self-protect and suffocate.  
I learned.  I learned to distrust people because they turn on a dime. 
I learned.  I learned that nothing is as good as it seems.  
The locusts ate year after year.  There were burnt places devastated by flames of adult rage and immaturity and then such loss that words can't contain the reality. 
And in burnt places there is no welcome for new life.  Barren, I tried to bear fruit.  I longed for the green springs of living and yet I was one scarred from the burning. 

I carried that lost little girl, the one grown too old too soon, the one robbed of carefree childhood.  I carried her like a corpse, unwanted and unacceptable in my heart.  I carried that girl and I carried her burdens.  I walked into the world hiding her the best I could.  If you saw her, you wouldn't want me -- because she and I are one.  I became good.  I became good at what you needed and wanted.  I filled your cup while mine was empty -- how that drains an already parched soul.  

The little girl in me needed love and safety.  I could have extended that to my own self, but I was incapable of raising someone in a way I hadn't been raised.  I emulated what I experienced and I perpetuated the damage with self-hate and by dragging that little girl into loathsome places.  You would never have known.  The girl burrowed down like a waif in a Dickens novel, used to the life she had known -- unaware of the possibilities.  She stayed hunkered within for years, behind a facade of "all is well."  

But, God, Who broke into humanity on every possible instance -- God, Who made and loved this child from the beginning, before I was even born -- He wasn't going to leave me hunkered, parched and wanting.  It is for freedom that He sets us free and He will never settle for less than that freedom, even though we are prone to settle and lose hope.  He is the God of hope, the God of reclamation, the God of restoration, and when He touches a life -- really touches -- nothing remains the same.  

And just as black is a world away from white, my release has had every shade of grey in the growing.  I, the prodigal, the damaged, the distrusting one, allowed one pin prick of His light to enter.  I said the prayer, "I just want to know You as You are.  I don't care if I like the answer."  I had read the Bible before: five times cover to cover.  I had been in and out of churches even though my family never attended one during my childhood.  I was familiar with God, but I hadn't allowed Him in.  What if God were like the others?  What if He hurt this little girl in me like all the rest?  I couldn't risk the harm.  I read about His wrath and I just knew He was another perpetrator.  I knew He would devastate me and His power would wreck me once and for all.  

God knows.

He isn't a stranger to our inner thoughts and our past.  He was there, seeing every act of evil committed against innocent childhood.  He was there and He knows.  He walked through the valley of the shadows with me and, though I didn't always know His presence, He knew mine.  Sin grieves His heart.  He saw the sins against me and He saw the sins I committed.  He knows.  

So, God sent a soul-journer: one familiar with darkness and light.  He sent a woman who held out her hand and whose presence said, "Let's walk into what is there in you.  Let's love this little girl."  She held out her hand and she held out hope.  She held the space for healing wide open.  I danced around, performing in my life, but with her, I drew back the curtain and I felt.  Oh, I felt.  We revisited the burnt places.  Together.  She took the little girl in me by the hand and called her precious, though broken.  And we went into ugly, dark and vile places together.  

When I drive to her, I go two hours down the freeway.  There have been fires on the roadside.  The ground is blackened, the bushes bare and all but dead.  All but dead.  When I drive by the same spot a season later, it is fully green with growth.  Verdant hope springs where life had all but killed the goodness.  God revisits the burnt places and they are renewed, but not just renewed, they are greener than any other spot on that drive.  His restoration is not just back to what was before the damage.  He restores beyond and increases and multiplies.  

This little girl in me, she trusted that woman and that woman walked long and deep with me into history and memory.  We touched the pain and I cringed but did not recoil.  God was with us -- our Emmanuel.  He did His will and called out that little girl bit by bit from her crouching and fearing.  The woman was my bridge.  He knew I needed one.  Through our time He called and I let Him come near.  He was not the God like my father.  He was not the God like my mother.  He is the God whose very name is LOVE.  
He tends his flock like a shepherd: 
 He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; 

 He gently leads those that have young. {Is 40:11}

This little girl in me has felt this gentle gathering.  I have heard His heart beat as He lifted me and carried me close to His bosom where there is safety and everything good and healing.  I have not always cleaved to Him, though He proves Himself more and more.  The old fears resurge.  Doubts come in and threaten my faith.  God remains faithful through all of this undulation of humanity.  God knows.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  He waits for me when I wander.  We are all prone to wander.  He woos me back.  He lets me go.  He knows how to heal this broken heart.  

I don't have to perform anymore.  I can just be.  
He has fulfilled His promises of love:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm
my great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you; 
never again will my people be shamed. {Joel 2:25-26}

And this little girl, never again to be shamed, lives to praise His name -- the Lord, my God, who has worked wonders for me. 


Rachael said...

What a beautiful and amazing but very familiar testimony of God's goodness and His healing. Thank you for sharing. Not many have the courage to enter into this process but when courage comes so does God's amazing work. I have seen and experienced it over and over. He is so good and I am thankful that He gathers us to Himself like lambs. With my name being Rachael, female ewe, I am so drawn to the Lord as my Shepherd drawing me near and His voice becoming familiar and His presence a place of safely. Blessings to you! Love, Rachael @ Inking the Heart.

Karin Deaver said...

Your retelling of this miracle stirs my heart. It is so much like the story of this last year for me: the barrenness, the tender heart who "held the space for healing wide open," the revisiting of dark places, the emotions... the new life... It is a sacred thing, is it not. I enter into the memory of this last year for me and I feel the need to kneel and hush my voice for the glory that resides in that memory, then rising I long to dance for joy, for freedom newly found. May your little girl continue to find healing and new life and love. May you find new strength as vulnerability leads to authenticity and resiliency.

HeartsHomeward said...

Thank you, Racheal! You are right. This is Him -- THIS is what He does -- He comes to seek and save the lost and to pour out His love and teach us to love Him. I am so glad you came by (again) and that you left this comment. He is our Good Shepherd. Living in the Central Valley we can really relate to shepherding and I always think of God when I see sheep wandering around in pastures here -- oh, how we need a shepherd! Bless you, Rachael.

HeartsHomeward said...

Thank you, Karin. Thanks for even this -- what you shared here. We are kindreds, I can tell. You have braved the hard things and traded ashes for dancing! I am so glad to hear it. It is a rocking horse ride, not a straight shot upward, but we do head forward always as we heal. I thank you, too, for encouraging me so sweetly. God is good and greatly to be praised. I praise Him for touching you and bringing new life.

HisFireFly said...

Here on the prairies, after harvest, the farmers burn the fields. It never made sense to me until my husband explained that it prepares the way for mre lush regrowth. As you have so well written -- God brings beauty from ashes!

HeartsHomeward said...

Thank you for this sweet affirmation of what is true in nature and in human nature. He restores and then some! I am grateful you popped in and shared your encouragement.