Each October, my church shows a movie each Sunday. Some are serious, and some are lighthearted; as I expected this movie (this song made me hysterical, for reasons I will let you in on momentarily) to be of the latter persuasion. My pastor and friend, Jo Anne, attached a sermon to this film, and spoke in between clips. She asked that we look for the parallels between finding out whom you are in Jesus, attaining the power and dreams we know are deep within us, sometimes hidden, often not. I cried throughout the entire display, and I went to her in tears at the service’s closing-not just to thank her for her amazing gift, but to give a soul sister a hug. We are kindred spirits, her and I, and what we have in common makes her even more of a sister than blood could or ever would.
What we share is a childhood of bullying, feeling left out, psychic pain and unfathomable redemption in the blood of Jesus. As I aged, I was full of a desire to please others-I needed affirmation through others’ perception of me-a deadly flaw if there was one. I never outgrew the awkward, chubby child of my youth; physically, yes-emotionally, no. Well into my thirties, I could and would not run past teenagers at a bus stop, or merely a gaggle on the street corner, laughing it up. I was convinced they would bully me, which never made since, as I had long since fallen into the rabbit hole of anorexia, and the idea that they could see me at all, at 73 pounds? The heart wrenching fact is: we believe the stories people tell us. Just eleven years ago I was in so much pain that I drank to oblivion; snorted spoonfulls of self esteem, and popped pills to quiet the voice that screamed, “You blew it, you suck, you don’t deserve to be happy, just look at the mess you have made of your life.”
I won’t tell you that this journey has been easy. I would be remiss. Heartache after heartache, projecting my pain onto others, especially my weary husband-well, I had no choice but to cling to God-and what transpired was a phoenix rising, further and further from the ashes as every single disappointment, every trial I thought I could not bear, and a loneliness that was felt deep down in my gut-even when surrounded by others-was transformed into joy by a God we cannot see.
I have a wonderful husband, (let’s just say he’s come so far, we fought like lions and tigers and bears-but God knew that we would survive the ride, and blessed beyond our wildest dreams-by one another.) Something divine happened to me in New York, as I walked across a swinging, wooden bridge the length of a football field, a blanket of jutting rocks and rapids beneath; after spreading daddy’s ashes fifteen hard years late, and then standing up to my latest bully-(read Pistols at Dawn) my hunching has stopped. I stand tall and confident. I love writing, my gardens, my family, my life. I truly enjoy my volunteer position in the local ER, a job I have dreamed of forever and a day. Our financial worries have diminished, and I won my Social Security disability-something I did not pray about until the week before we received the good news.
“Father Abba, precious Jesus, I cannot ask for more after you have given us so very much. How could I possibly ask for more?”
And in the quiet hours before the dawn He spoke to me: What you could do to help others with this income, give back as graciously as you have been given…….
But what you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do-blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they will receive all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand no what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.