People. We’re all the same.
We want to be seen.
We want to be known.
We want to matter.
We want to make a difference.
Here I am sharing my experience with just one of the multitudes of ways we can make this happen.
The pay is so often not monetary.
The look in a young mothers eyes when here child can safely live in her room again, without becoming sick.
An American Veteran who has served well, but now must rely on his sister for even the simplest of tasks; bathing or being able reach the sink to brush his teeth.
The elderly woman who the only thing that stands between her and leaving her lifetime home for a nursing home, is bad plumbing.
Or the family whose life is forever changed when daddy has a collision with a deer, and will never walk again.
These are real stories. We tell them again and again. Because WE, can make a difference.
We can help, and I’ve since found out that even the little guys like to help.
You may not have Rebuilding Together near you, but you probably have Meals on Wheels, or some other source of senior resources, or even a shelter of some sort. They can all use your help. Talented or not, it doesn’t matter.
I encourage you to go out and do something for someone today. Believe me, you’ll be helping your own soul as well!
The Men People Trusted.
In the church I grew up in, and in all churches, military, businesses, families etc, there is a hierarchy.
There is always the boss, followed closely by an assistant. There are scribes, and treasurers, and event planners.
Churches have Pastors, Assistant Pastors, Executive Pastors, Teaching Pastors, along with secretaries, treasurers and then Deacon Boards.
All of that being said, one must know that if you are to hold one of those positions, you have proven yourself to be trustworthy and upstanding, as a child might even think; Holy.
After church service, there was a Sunday school class. Adults went to a different part of the building than the kids. I can still see it in my mind, all the people passing in the hall to go to their respective classes.
There, going the opposite direction as me, was a deacon who locked his eyes on me. I was around 12 or so, so I just thought he was being friendly. Each week, as we passed in the hallway, he would lock eyes on me and began to walk a little closer. I had no vocabulary for it, but I knew it felt weird. It felt scary, even creepy. He then proceeded to touch me where he shouldn’t. Every time a bit more aggressively.
My stomach would roil, and my heart would threaten to come out of my throat when I saw him coming. I knew he was a deacon. Someone the other adults looked up to and even trusted. Who would believe the words of this child, who in her wrongness didn’t fit in anywhere?
I never told a soul. Several months and several incidents passed. I made up some story about not wanting to go to class any more, even though I really did want to.
So I wasn’t in the hallway anymore, the terror and the feeling of even more wrongness stayed with me. I will always wonder if I was the only one. Statistically speaking, there were probably many more..
That was “Back in the day”, when secret things were secret things. The problem with secret things is that they tend to tarnish their container. I was tarnished, through no fault of my own, but acted out tarnished for the next several years.
Until much, much later I found out a few things; it was not my fault, God did not see me as faulty, people are people, whether they be in high places or low, even little girls and boys should talk about any secrets that adults make happen, that make them feel awful and anxious and scared.
In a previous post, The Cartography of Our Scars I addressed the fact that our scars, our landscape, makes us who we are.
Sure, I can wish it never happened, but it did, and so much more. But now I have only to use that rutted road to hold on to someone else’s hand, to help them find the way out.
Remember when that woman I barely knew said it wasn’t my fault?
The truth that she spoke to me set me on the twisty road to freedom.
Thou Shalt Not
There was one thing I heard clearer than anything else during those early morning church services.
Thou shalt not.
I heard the words the Pastor was reading from the Holy Bible kept on the pulpit. I heard the Thou shalt nots, and that the payment for sin is death. I believed those words.
I still do. But he was telling me the thou shalt nots, without a word about how not to. Basically, he was telling me what to think, without teaching me how to think. What I never heard was just how to not do the Thou shalt nots, or how to receive forgiveness for my ill doing.
Surely, God didn’t punish little girls with the death penalty, right? But how could I know? Since they never told me (or I never heard) I only knew for sure that I was a wrong-doer.
I heard the words God so loved the world, but to me they were overshadowed by all of my wrongness. How could He love someone who was just so wrong?
Fast forward again, to when I was that young mother, going to that different church with my children, without their daddy.
It was there that I began to understand my Father’s (God’s) love for me. How it extended much farther than I could have ever believed.
The story of my earthly father is for another day. Suffice to say that our relationship made it very difficult for me to understand that “love” could be any other way.
John 1:12 (ESV) but to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. All God wanted was for me to receive Him.
The wrongness of my childhood was nothing in His eyes. It only mattered that I look to Him for guidance.
The choice was mine. Wait. I get to choose? I had never even known that there were options. My wrongness, just was. It was what it was.
I had an encounter with a woman at this time, which I barely knew.
Here is what she said;
“When I see you, I see a chalkboard. This chalkboard says that 2 + 2 = 5. No matter what you do, or how many times you erase it, you cannot get the answer to come out correctly.”
What she told me next, totally floored me.
“God wants you to know that it wasn’t your fault.”
What? I knew at that moment that all my wrongness, was not my fault, I just had not been given all the facts.
On that day I received three things; Freedom from wrongness, choices, and a Father who loved me regardless.
It was then I realized that I would be in a totally different “classroom” being taught in a way that I could learn.
Oh what a glorious day!
Where Do I Fit In?
When I was growing up, we always attended one of the Lutheran churches in town.
Now I have no problem with the Lutheran church, per se. There are different kinds of people with different preferences, I get that.
But as a small child, I only knew that I would be required to sit, for an hour, and not talk. If I could not maintain stillness, I was sure to receive a painful pinch on the shoulder, or an elbow in my side. Even as an adult this sitting “still” is difficult for me. I can always sit, just not still, and I get to choose whether I speak or not.
Back in the day, every one really dressed up for church, but there was nothing finer than attending on a cool Easter morning, men in their suits and women and girls in all their finery. Springy dresses, bonnets, white gloves and the ever present white patent leather shoes.
None of which we had.
We wore the cleanest, not worn out clothing that we owned. I could feel the heat of the stares on my back as we walked up the aisle to our seats. It always seemed that we were less than, imperfect, those without.
Our dad never attended, even on those special days of Christmas or Easter. Often we would be dropped off, and picked up later. His absence was yet another thing that was my fault. My little mind imagined that in my wrongness.
I was often wrong at home. Every day I was wrong at school. Now here at the one place I should be right, I was wrong as well.
My hair was wrong, my clothes were wrong, our family minus our dad was wrong. Every church service simply proved more to me about my wrongness.
Fast forward, to when I was a young mother, going to a different church with my children, but not with my husband, where I felt the same burning heat on my back as we entered into a room with all the “perfect” people, all the “perfect” families all sitting perfectly still, in “perfect” little rows.
What on earth was wrong with me?
Was there anywhere I (and now my children) could fit in?
Last week, a word on “Word of the Day” was cartography.
If you don’t know, cartography is the science or practice of drawing maps.
Hold that thought.
Then in one of my online communities, the topic was “Embracing my scars”.
I took about five minutes to write about it. Here is why they go together;
Our scars are like a road map. One laid out by a expert cartographer.
Our scars show us not only who we are, but where we came from.
The hills, the bumps, the ridges, the pleasant peaceful waters, as well as the water hazards. Straight and curvy roads. Smooth roads, and roads with ruts. All of these make our lives more valuable.
We see that we have come farther than we ever imagined we could, and like a new, snowy landscape, we have before us a place to make a new trail. Fresh new tracks.
What will your map look like? Will the cartographer use straight lines? Or will it be a more adventurous undertaking?
We need both the straight and adventurous to make our lives interesting, and inconceivably valuable.
Valuable in that we can show others that they are not alone in their wanderings. We can show them the way we took to reach where we are now, or, we can help others to find a whole new way of making it all make sense.
Either way, the beauty of that map, will be strictly owned by you.
As Mr. Rogers was fond of saying, “There is no one like you.”
I heard the following quote at a conference in 2007.
I ran across it again while reviewing my journals.
First the quote, then, why it was so important to me.
“David was in a cave with some crazy people and some oil.”
The back story on this (a study I did) comes from years of feeling inadequate, lonely, and unloved, until finally, after my mother’s death, I went inside myself. I slowly took myself away from most forms of social activity. During that time I became increasingly unhealthy in my body. At one point, for a couple of years, it was difficult to even get off the floor to get a drink of water from the kitchen. I only moved when I absolutely had to. I had two engagements each week that expected me to show up, so I did. No more.
The healing part of this story is for another time, but when I began to heal, the Lord put on my heart that I was a cave dweller.
Now cave dwelling is fine. For a season. But it was time to leave the cave for a while.
I argued that He had provided me a pretty cool cave, and that I was comfy here. To which I heard, “Comfy is what you come back to, to rest, but to come back, you first have to leave.”
As the healing was beginning, I had a handful of gals come to my home once a week for coffee and a book study. I had shared with them that I was literally a crazy lady hiding out with my friends in my cave on Wednesdays! (Note, I still wasn’t LEAVING MY CAVE.)
First I looked up CRAZY – full of defects and imperfections. Thanks a lot.
Before actually leaving my comfy cave, I looked up caves in my faithful, old, blue, 400 pound Strong’s Concordance. (No Google or https://www.biblegateway.com/ back then!) I looked up all the cave words I could find. Over 20 references!
I won’t name them all, but here is a short list of things people did in/with caves;
- Lived in caves
- Bought caves for burials
- Some belonged to families so that they could all be buried in the same place
- Some kings hid in caves, then they were executed and placed back there after the fact
- Mighty men and prophets hid in them and were fed there
- They were used to sleep in when travelling
- Eat. Rest. Strengthen.
- Used as shelters and strongholds
- Living places for the homeless
- A place of death (plague)
- A place of prayer
- And even a hiding away from the Lord place
What is the oil for?
- Fresh oil meant prosperity
- Lack of oil meant judgement, curse, agricultural disaster
- Good oil meant stability and prosperity
- Used to anoint and sanctify
- Used to consecrate tabernacles – made the tabernacle “Most Holy”. If anyone “unholy” touched the “Most Holy” item, they would die.
- Sign of the Holy Spirit
Now, here we are. Present day. How does that apply, and why must we leave our caves?
As you can see by the uses for the oil, it can be a pretty powerful thing. It can give stability and prosperity. It has power to give life, and to take it.
The cave, (our homes) are used for many of the things caves were. (Hopefully/fortunately not graves) We eat. We rest. We heal.
We have all this power (oil) in our caves, and we’re not using it.
We need to use our caves to pray, eat, rest, strengthen, then, we need to take our oil and use it for good. We can share it with those no hope.
That power is simply wasted when it is hidden away in a cave.
I have a friend who says that the world needs our words. Could those words possibly be the healing balm/oil that someone needs?
We have it, and we’re hiding.
We find comfort in our caves, but there are others, without hope, who can be helped by a little bit of our oil, if we can just leave our comfort but for a little bit.
So go. Spread your healing oil around and then, you can always come back to your cave to rest.