(10-12 minute read)
Lyrics From Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”
Some people get their kicks / Stompin’ on a dream /
But I don’t let it, let it get me down /
‘Cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin’ around
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet / A pawn and a king / I’ve been up and down and over and out / And I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face / I pick myself up and get back in the race /
That’s life (that’s life)…
Part of this song has been echoing in my head lately from these lines: “I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king; I’ve been up and down and over and out…”
These lyrics describe how many changes I’ve gone through in 59 years of living on this planet. I’ve held many jobs, have a wide variety of interests, gifts, and causes, have been weak and strong, rich and poor, broken and healed. Been all around and up and down and over and out—sometimes it seemed all at the same time.
I’ve worn many hats in both my personal and professional life: Spirit filled Christ follower; webmaster & graphic designer; writer / blogger / poet; sex trafficked teen & stripper; executive assistant to CEOs; online social activist; verbally abused wife; business owner; and an organic food, aromatherapy, and natural healing enthusiast.
Homeschooling single mom blessed by an amazing autistic son (Asperger’s); casualty of church spiritual abuse; song collaborator / lyric writer; daughter of a violent, alcoholic father; home daycare provider; an empath / discerner; and creator and purveyor of natural dog treats, handcrafted jewelry, organic beauty products, and hand-sewn clothing.
Wounded daughter of a mother with malignant NPD (narcissistic personality disorder); prophetic & words of knowledge receiver/giver; an advocate who has held many broken, sobbing people in 25 years of both church-involved and personal ministry; step-daughter of an abusive, corrupt police officer; gardener/landscaper; and former abuser of drugs/alcohol.
Mensa society qualifier; recipient of visions from the Lord (a Seer); political junkie; child of several alcoholics through my parents’ combined seven marriages; ENFP personality type; homeless for a year; and a human outraged by the corporate toxic waste destroying our planet.
The “life list” spans all 59 years, the “working” list 45 years, and everything is quite purposely in no particular order! I’ve been on a wild and wonderful ride for most of my life; I’ve experienced great joy and great despair. I recently realized how strange my years of widely varied experiences must sound as I interact on social media so this post was born.
Listing all my diverse jobs, interests, gifts, problems, blessings, joys, successes & tragedies serves to show that I am multi-faceted — as is every human being. We’re multi-dimensional people with many, many facets; a shining jewel in our heavenly Father’s crown.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made, each handcrafted with love and designed for a purpose. We are not perfectly shaped diamonds but instead unique and beautiful in our asymmetrical complexity.
Our purpose is put inside us by God before we are born, as are our gifts and talents. As infants, we aren’t ‘blank slates’ when we’re born, we arrive pre-programmed by our loving Father for our individual calling and life purpose.
But as babies, we are ‘blank slates’ when it comes to the experiences we will have in life. Our story gets written with each encounter we have with the world. And for a long time, what’s written on our slates—and hearts, minds and souls—is written by those who were charged with raising us.
Which gives those of us from abusive childhood homes an aching hole in our soul. When we hear in church, or read in the Bible, about children being loved; hear about good parents—and how they’re supposed to act—it hurts.
When we hear that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, to prosper us and not to harm us, we whisper to ourselves (hardly daring to whisper to him past the painful lump in our throats.)
“Why did I have such a horrible childhood? God? Can you hear me? Have you EVER heard me? Did you WANT me to suffer? Was my purpose to be a broken, damaged person? Why God? WHY?”
The answer is no, God didn’t want this for us! But the Lord has chosen to allow humankind free will; abusers exercise that free will and God does not stop them. This is possibly the most difficult concept/question to explain in the entire realm of Christendom.
Why does God allow evil?
Why doesn’t He stop it?
Simply put, God does not override free will in humankind and so does not stop anyone from choosing sin. If he did, none of us would escape his righteous judgment because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
But that answer doesn’t erase the pain of a wounded person who has endured horrific acts perpetrated upon us by evil, cruel people.
Honestly, there are no easy answers, especially to someone who has had their innocence destroyed, their tiny hearts shattered like glass, over and over again.
For abused children, the grown-ups that God charged to love and protect us were the ones who annihilated us, stole our innocence, our worth, and not only our trust in humanity but also our ability to believe there is a loving “parent” God who loves his children.
Why God? WHY? God knew what we would suffer, knows every thought, every detail of every action by every human being—from the first people he created all the way to the last baby that will be born before he steps back into human history and says, “It is FINALLY finished.”
God is not limited by time because he created time itself. He knows when every sparrow falls from the sky, knows the exact number of hairs on our head, knows every single tear we’ve ever shed, and every one we’ll shed in the future. He was there with us through every dark act foisted upon us by monsters masquerading as humans.
This includes everyone whose abuse did not start in childhood but occurred in adulthood by someone they loved and trusted. No matter who crushed our heart and damaged our soul, GOD knows our pain, knows our shame and wants us to know that we can give it ALL to his beloved son Jesus.
At age 27, I ‘got the concept’ of just how much the Lord loves us; finally understood how much he sacrificed for us—all due to a faithful group of believers from Hollywood Presbyterian, a church I’d visited one time because I’d seen the pastor’s name on the sign one night after I got lost looking for an AA meeting. The pastor was Lloyd John Ogilvie and, as coincidence would have it, I’d been listening to his radio show called “Let God Love You.”
It was the first time I’d been in church for 13 years; the last time hadn’t been much fun since it was with nasty Christian step-siblings who talked of God’s love while treating me like unwelcome trash that had landed on their doorstep…in my own father’s house. When I started trying to walk as a Christian at 21 after my life-altering God experience after a car accident, I hated Christians so it was just me, God and the Bible.
The Hollywood Presbyterian group came to my apartment to follow up on the visitor card I’d filled out. Huddled in my doorway, these friently and enthusiastic strangers asked me if I understood what John 3:16 meant. I had read the scripture but really no clue what it meant so I invited the four of them in.
When they explained it to me, I looked at my then two-year-old son and imagined nailing him to the wall in the hallway; imagined allowing someone to sacrifice him. To die for the sake of OTHER people no less. Nope, no way!
After that, they asked to pray with me and it was during that prayer that the Son of God entered my heart in a way I felt physically…like someone rushing into a cabin during a blizzard and slamming the door shut behind them. In the middle of that prayer, Jesus rushed into my heart, shut the door and was suddenly, simply there.
I gasped, opened my eyes and gazed around the group, wanting to ask if they’d all felt it too. But the four of them were still praying with eyes closed. I knew it was the second, personal experience meant just for me.
You see, I’d already met Father God by breaking my neck in a car accident when I was 21. I had an amazing, supernatural encounter with him in the hospital room after something extremely painful. I heard a quiet voice in my head tell me how to overcome the pain; I followed the advice and the pain stopped. I looked up at the ceiling and saw only tiles and sprinkler heads.
I said: “I HEARD that, it was you, wasn’t it?” Then I asked a tentative question: “God, do you exist? I mean…do you—can you—do you show signs?” God chose to fill me with pure, exquisite love—combined with icy cold yet burning hot fire—that hit me in the belly, raced up through my torso to my neck & then down my arms. It was a resounding “yes!”
I KNOW God is love because he chose to fill me with that love. I also KNOW that had I received more than that one tiny drop of that incredible love, my human frame could not have contained it. I would have exploded and looked like spaghetti on the walls if given more than that single drop. THAT is how great His love is…we only need one drop and we are restored.
That encounter with the living God changed my heart forever. However, it took several more years for my head to catch up. I am aware that some legalists say it has to be Jesus first…they’re wrong. I’m living proof that God won’t fit into our boxes! But it took six more years after that hospital experience until I accepted Jesus and yes, I returned to my familiar sins. Even after having God himself fill me with love in that extraordinary encounter. Living in suffering and sin was all I knew and thus was my normal state…I did not know how to love myself.
Think hard about this truth. The creator and ruler of the Universe, the one who created human beings, allowed lowly, mortal men to mock, brutally beat and crucify His only, beloved Son. That is love. God IS love. As we allow Him to love us, we learn to love ourselves.
Jesus will heal those of us who have been broken; not all at once, and not always in the ways we think we need to be made whole. Truth is, we will always be severely cracked vessels; the abuse memories cannot be taken from our minds. They are dimmed by time and healing but they remain with us.
God will restore us if we let him. The first choice we have to make is to trust him. The second is to allow the Lord to love us; to believe him when he says we are worth loving. He calls us “treasures in jars of clay.” Shattered clay pots that are broken and repaired by God are precious; strong and useful once remade in His image.
His love and light shines outward to the world from inside us. We draw people to us because they want to know why we’re so different, how we survived, and why we’re happy now despite all the pain we’ve endured.
Once we’re sufficiently healed, we are often called to help others who’ve been shattered too; to comfort those who mourn and offer them beauty for ashes. No one is a perfect clay pot untouched by cracks—not one single human being on the planet. This analogy is a bit difficult to understand.
But then again, so is God.
Human minds cannot ever truly understand our creator; the very concept of a being that is so superior to us frail, limited humans is only vaguely comprehensible. We can’t quite grasp the idea of a being who is that immense, that powerful; who is all knowing and present everywhere; one who knows every thought of every creature on the planet.
We try to understand him but we have no actual capacity to do so—because we are not God. We simply can’t fathom a supernatural being so far above us due to the fact that we are limited by experiencing only human greatness and human weakness.
We struggle to believe the absolutes in the Bible. Take, for example, this one simple idea: God hates ALL sin. He doesn’t consider some sins “lesser or greater” as we humans are prone to do.
Nope, ALL sin. We don’t like that idea so out comes the aforementioned ‘God box’ and we get busy. Humankind has been trying to stuff God into a human-sized box since the first people were created. Does not work, has never worked, will never work. However, we do not like that absolute either, and so we keep trying.
This attempt to stuff God into a human-sized box; to bring God down to our level—or worse, elevate ourselves to his level—is part of why a legalistic, unloving and prideful culture has developed in some churches today. What the Bible calls the “lukewarm church.”
It sooo easy to forget that we’re all sinners saved by grace; that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Doesn’t matter if we grew up teething on church pews, came from horrific abuse, or led lives chock-full-to-the-brim with blatant sin because we thought it was fun.
I’ve come full circle in my life and wear many of my hats simultaneously. My varied experiences—and Spirit-given gifts—qualify me to be exactly the woman I’m supposed to be; the one God loves and cherishes in spite of my many flaws. After all these years, I still struggle in my daily efforts to pray, obey, honor, and love Him—all while trying to grow, understand life, rub away the rough edges, and die to self.
I AM the wretched woman Paul speaks of in Romans but I’m comforted when I remember it’s a life-long process. We never stop pressing on toward the prize. We’re going to meet our Maker full of human flaws, weaknesses and sin but our names are still written in God’s Book of Life.
I’m going to revisit those words from Sinatra’s song: I no longer allow anyone to stomp on my dreams, do not allow anyone to knock me flat on my face, and no longer shrug in resigned compliance and say, “That’s life…”
God is the one who keeps “this fine, old world spinnin’ round” and the one who “picks us up and puts us back in the race.” We don’t have to do this alone. The creator of the universe, our loving Abba Father, doesn’t leave us wounded and alone but loves us, heals us, picks us up and dusts us off. He holds us tight even when we cry, rage, kick, scream and fight him as he comforts us.
The Lord imbues us all with power through the Holy Spirit to fulfill our unique, amazing destiny, achieve our purpose and enjoy hopes and dreams. When we live life the way God intends, it turns out to be a beautiful and challenging life. God’s ways are higher than ours and he has promised us ABUNDANT life if we do our best to walk in his ways, obey him, and love him with all our heart, mind, body and soul.
For me, that’s LIFE!