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Saturday, March 22, 2008

He is Risen

Two years ago I sat with my counselor and discussed many things that were hurting me. She gave me some writing exercises to do, empathized with my situation and told me that it was time to give my burden to Christ and allow myself to heal. Quite frankly, I agreed with her, but when I made the attempt to apply the atonement in my life I hit a brick wall.

I made numerous attempts to access the faith that had kept me from falling apart through many years. But each time I knelt to discuss the problem with the Lord, I found myself saying, "I don't know how this works. Help me? Please?"

The answer did not come immediately. I had some hurdles to leap.

The first obstacle came when I admitted to myself that I was still pretty upset that God had watched as I was abused and raped. It distressed me horribly to know that the one who supposedly loved me more than any other, allowed that to happen. And he let me ache with loneliness, pain, and fear when I was too young to understand why a person would hurt me so badly. I was very angry that the premise seemed to be that I was required to endure the emotional and physical pains--but then turn to God Omnipotent to be healed. If he was so omnipotent, why did an innocent little girl have to be hurt in the first place? It took some time for me to work through that anger. I still don't have all the answers, but I emerged, certain that I had been protected more than I understood, that I had never truly been left alone, and that I was loved by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And on some level I believe that my pain reached them and they wept for me. I'm sure I just believe this because a part of me yearns for some measure of sympathy--for now, I need to believe it, regardless of whether or not it's true. I know if I could not take away from my daughter a similar pain, I would cry with her--I would cry for her. It's a human thing, but also a parent thing, and is God not my Father? I need to believe that he was not unaffected when I was hurt.

The second obstacle is something that still bothers me. I felt my own pain--obviously. To know that Christ took upon him that pain seemed appalling. To know that he could know how my body shook because it was being used in a way that was inappropriate, to know he could feel my desperate desire to be held by someone who would not hurt me, my need to be kept safe, my hope that someone--anyone--would save me, made me hurt all over again. I cried with frustration as I realized that in Gethsemane, nearly 2000 years before the event actually happened, Christ, whom I love with all my heart, went through each moment of the things that nearly broke me. It seemed pointless that both of us should have to endure that. And knowing exactly how everything felt, I wept again that he should have to feel those things. I was horrified. And yet, if I believed in the atonement, Christ could not heal me unless he knew exactly what was wrong--and the only way he could know was to feel what I felt. It was very difficult for me to accept this, and I'm certain I'm not explaining what I went through very well because I still have trouble contemplating all that this obstacle represents.

The third obstacle was simply that I wasn't ready. There were more things to sift through, more experiences I needed to understand, more.... It seemed no matter how much crap I uncovered, there was another layer underneath and it was impossible for me to allow healing until I had examined each wound in depth. I had to understand exactly what had happened. I don't know why I felt this compulsion. I've known others who have felt relief simply by allowing themselves to acknowledge in a very general way, that something took place which should not have happened. They don't have to research or ask questions. They just accept reality, work through the sadness, grieve, and find peace. I have to dig about, look at every angle, think for awhile, release all my expectations that I'm magic and can change everything. Even then, sometimes I have to repeat the process a few times. As long as I'm in that mode, allowing someone else access to my problems is impossible.

The fourth obstacle was that I could not accept reality. I wanted to change things. I wanted to have some magic reunion with my mother in which she told me I was the daughter she had always wanted. I wished to somehow make it so my cousin had never raped me. I wanted to make all the bad things go away. When I finally began to realize it wasn't going to happen, I felt that everything I had done was pointless. Nothing seemed to matter--least of all the intervention of Christ's atonement. If I couldn't have what I wanted, nothing else would make me happy.

One day, not too long ago, I took a step back and began to count my miracles:
1. My mother is still in my life. She loves me. She doesn't feel a mother/daughter bond, but we're friends. She shows me concern and support. She tries to bridge the gap between us, even as I do. Our goals are different--but still, we're trying. And I know she holds me in high esteem. She has often expressed that.
2. I met Darrin. He loved me in spite of all that was wrong with me. He saw the things that were right with me. He has never gone away from me physically, or emotionally. He has been at my side for more than half my life. I have never doubted his love for me. I thought that one day he'd get tired of me and leave--but I still believed he loved me, and I don't think anymore, that he's planning an exit. I think he wants to stay with me. Maybe it's because I'm cute and funny. Or maybe it's because he can somehow see the person I wish I could be--and he has faith that I'll get there someday.
3. I lived. There were many, many times as a teenager that I wished to die. There were moments when I planned my death and tried to bring it to pass. Each time I walked away. There was a greater need to continue my life--I was just too stubborn to die. And I suppose I have to acknowledge that somewhere inside me I was sure that if I kept searching for answers I would find them, and that someday someone would love me--perhaps even save me.
4. I spent years being strengthened by my Heavenly Father. He led me step by step to the places where I could learn and grow. He blessed me with children who have taught me many things. He helped me find faith. He let me know how very much he loved me.
5. When the time was right, I sought help to deal with the things that I had buried. I was led, not immediately, but through trial and error, to Therapist, who has been astute enough to know exactly how to help me proceed. And even when he left, a way was made for me to continue seeing him until such time as I no longer had a need.
6. I have never been alone. I have been blessed with countless friends, well-wishers, interested parties--whatever. Some have been extremely close to me, offering me daily love, sometimes a much needed hug, or just a listening ear. I've had opportunity to realize that I can be of importance in the lives of others. I can't begin to count the hours given by people who are concerned about me. I have no way to thank them, but I will always be grateful.

There are so many more miracles. I could never list them all. But in the midst of understanding how God has worked in my life, I have also realized something else. More than once people who love me have commented how they wished I had not had to endure what happened to me. They have expressed a desire to ease my pain. On that subject I once had this conversation:

me: In the past, when I've been next to you, my insides feel as though they just relax.
TB: How did it feel?
me: Glorious. It feels as though I'm loved and protected, with nothing expected in return. Does that make sense? This is making me cry. Yuck.
TB: It makes sense. And it's all right to cry.
me: Tolkien Boy, I don't want to need that. I want to be strong--to be able to protect myself without anyone helping. And deep inside I also know there's a part of me that will always want to feel that someone else cares and is watching out for me--even if that feeling isn't authentic in the one from whom I've receiving it.
TB: Sam, you are perfectly capable of being strong. What you need is to allow yourself the ability to feel that it's all right to let go of being strong for a while.
me: That's what I'm doing, isn't it? When everything relaxes? I'm pretending someone else (you) is taking care of me for a moment while I rest?
TB: You're not pretending, though. You're letting it happen.
me: It's real?
TB: Yes, it's real.
me: Thank you. That's something I've been trying to understand.

In moments such as these I understand on the most basic level that Christ felt what I felt because if all people were to be allowed agency, he could not interfere. Even if it was possible to stop what happened to me, he would not because he loves each person enough to allow them to choose whatever they will. And so, because the bad things happen, Christ endured the agony along with us, so that when we were ready, we could turn to him and allow him to hold us, let all the tension and anger relax, and just for a moment, let him take care of us while we rest. Sometimes it takes a human representation of that for me to understand. But the bottom line is that Jesus Christ loves me. I'm certain that if he could have chosen the events of my life, it would have played out differently--but he couldn't, so he does what he can to help me through. And in the process I learn to trust him, to believe that one day all will be put right, to have faith that I can allow the things that have hurt me to come to rest.

Today is Easter. The events celebrated on this day are deeply significant to me. Because my Savior chose to accept the responsibility of the atonement, I have hope that I can one day understand how to allow that act to work a miracle in my heart. I have faith that soon I will allow him to hold me close, to let the things that have worried my spirit relax, to trust that he will love and protect me in any way possible.

Jesus Christ died that we might live--temporally and spiritually. As I learn more, and I experience love from others, as I recognize the strength inside me, I see his hand in my life and I am overwhelmed. He has asked me to come--step by step, I am trying. He has asked me to follow him--after treading many different paths I have come to realize that his is the only one which brings me peace. He has asked me to learn of him--I intend to continue doing that for the rest of my life.

Happy Easter. On this day, I wish you peace.

5 comments:

  1. Today reading your post was beautiful. I love you. He loves you, He loves us all.

    :-)

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  2. Thanks for this post. Some things you said went right to my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

    Jay

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  3. I've so much to say and no way to express it, or whether I should....just, hang in there.

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  4. This is a wonderful post. You hit on something that I had never thought about before---that Christ must feel some frustration that even as God Almighty, He cannot protect all those who love Him. He must allow people to make choices, good or bad (this has hit our family hard very recently, as some people's bad choices have severely hurt one we love very much). Otherwise, the Plan would be frustrated. But even as He allows people to make bad choices that hurts others, He does what still is in His power---He takes that pain upon Himself so that those victims of others' bad choices can turn to Him, so they need not bear it themselves. And He also paves the way for those who have made the bad choices (haven't we all) to turn back to Him too.

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