As a little girl I heard, “there is wisdom in a multitude of counsel.” (Adapted from a verse in Proverbs)” Through the years, however, I’ve grown to believe wisdom and safety can be found, rather, in the RIGHT counsel and community.
I was out of town these past two weeks, but have been able to listen to my priest’s messages online. Late last night as I listened to this past week’s, I was weeping before the 10 minute mark and my attempt to summarize what I heard follows:
When authority figures in our lives, who were supposed to help show us the true heart of God and to be images of who He really is, hurt, betray, even abuse us by satisfying their own agenda, there’s not only a deep wounding that occurs, but it’s as if the puzzle pieces of our identity are put together out of order. It can become so misshapen and chaotic, often with us or those around us trying to force pieces to fit in the wrong places, that we are no longer able to recognize what the image (our identity) was intended to be in the first place. We become unable to truly give, and especially receive, love.
I think when we become willing to face, head on, the ways in which we have been hurt and are able to give voice to the, often very painful, secrets we have carried, the out-of-order and misshapen pieces of our identity are able to detach and break apart, losing their power to confine and define our existence apart from beloved and cherished as we truly are. When the puzzle as we know it is surrendered, and truth gains a seat at the table, a re-creation process can begin as piece by piece our authentic core identity is revealed through a clear lens backed by love and wisdom, instead of agenda or ego. Our past and circumstances are no longer the only voice attempting to define us.
One of the hardest parts of this might be finding those with whom we can be completely transparent so they can help guide and reorganize what was damaged early on. The last thing we need is shame or condemnation on top of a mountain of ache, but it doesn’t mean the truth is always easy or comfortable, as healthy growth is often neither.
Years ago, as a little child, I mastered the art of “faking fine” or retreating to my own personal island in hopes that the storm would just pass quickly. What I’m learning is that the storms have their own path to follow but its a lot less lonely or terrifying when there are others in the boat with you.
My Granny used to sing a song to me that I also sang with my son when thunder and lightning were loud and bright,
“Til the storm passes over,
Til the thunder sounds no more
Til the clouds roll forever from the sky –
Hold me fast, let me stand
In the hollow of Thy hand
Keep me safe, til the storm passes by.”
The chorus doesn’t ask the storm to hurry up, or disappear or to not come to us, but rather to keep us safe during it.
Experiences through the years robbed me of my innocence and left my view of God, man and the church twisted, confused and intertwined in toxic form. My identity, “puzzle” if you will, was severely misshapen, sealed with the cement of baptism and still carries with it a film of disgust at both a physical and heart level.
An extremely tough part of having this identity thwarted by ‘spiritual abusers’ for lack of a better term, is that much of the undoing also comes from those with whom I’ve allowed to have spiritual authority in my life. It’s like having to undergo surgery, to repair damage initially caused by surgery. Learning to trust, sitting with unwanted panic, questioning, risking being fully known and admitting harsh beliefs you carry about yourself and God are all part of allowing another to join your journey. I wasn’t ‘hurt’ alone so what ever convinced me that I would be able to heal alone?
Listening to the message earlier, reminded me that these views I have carried really aren’t mine to carry and it’s equally not my fault for not knowing how to put them down. It’s awakening to be reminded of my potential to also pass down further hurt to another generation, imposing my own bias or control instead of allowing them to grow into their true self.
The anger has been there, but it seems to now have moments of being placed appropriately on those who should’ve fought harder to protect me rather than on an absent, uninterested God or own my own identity as a damaged, broken mistake. For now, moments in safe truth, become the cracks where hope finds its way ever so slightly through, as I long for the re-creation process to bring about full healing and life abundantly.