Posts Tagged ‘god’

Ever Widening Circles >> Finding a Voice After Sexual Assault

“I thought I could fly…well, at least until my wings were clipped at the age of 4 when I first lost my innocence to my grandfather.”

In my last blog, I told a little bit of her story…

She was four years old when her grandfather molested her for the first time.
She was five when he raped her to the fullest extent of the word.
She was eleven before he quit, presumably because she’d soon begin menstruating.
Soon after, another family member began molesting her.
When told, a trusted youth pastor brought it to her parents rather than the police.
They not only deemed her a liar, refusing to believe her, but threatened her with shunning and worse if she didn’t remain silent and protect family secrets.
And in the decades since, she’s sunk deeper into their grave of lies, afraid to speak, afraid she doesn’t matter, afraid what they said about her worth, her belovedness, her value – or lack of all – is true.

Now, at 32 years old, she is beginning to find her voice.
It’s my honor to share her story in her words.

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I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it…

waterdrop Funny the way life circles out and then back and then further still again. Often the journey is conceived geographically, but it’s the circumnavigation of waypoints deep within that map who we are as the circles widen.

My roots are nestled deep in the rural South of the US. There’s a friendly politeness to the people even if it lacks any genuine concern and a certain brand of Christian religion weaves through-out the culture. God often seems not one of compassion for those of us who doubt, question, are gay, or live in the grayer areas of life, but a God who casts off any who struggle to walk the straight and narrow.

For a precocious child who found turmoil way too early in life, I’ve found that such beginnings reverberate for years even as our small circles widen until we return again only to reach out further still. It’s hard to hold hope in such a God, especially when life curves.

Innately, I was always a bit of a risk taker, I pushed the envelope, I questioned everything, I thought I could fly…well, at least until my wings were clipped at the age of 4 when I first lost my innocence to my grandfather. For a while, I fought as best as a child could. I became insolent and angry, and in the midst, tried to reach out to the Church and my family, all who labeled me the problem. To them, it became more important to protect those who hurt me than how I felt. I lost all trust. As the next several years wore on with no relief, I slowly lost the rest of myself. In 9th grade, alone and with not much hope to cling to, I tried to kill myself.

In the hospital I found that tumultuous anger got me nowhere. So, I numbed to the pain and instead sought comfort in food and cutting. AND as my circles widened further into college, grad school, and finally, divinity school all of which I ran away to, to make sense of life…like my hidden scars, my weight increased proportionally through the years.

I’ve been to Burma and back, Appalachia and back, San Francisco and back, and a number of other places…and if any answers were found, it only lead to more questions.

AND then my life circled back to where I swore I’d never return when I left at the age of 17. BUT see the roots of my present journey started in the previous circle while I was in Nashville. The place I came to know as home. It was there that seeds of hope were first planted quietly in music, which has always been my life-blood, and then friendship, my saving grace and anchoring; whose beginnings were unknowingly fertilized in the circle of my high school days.

Now in my 30s and somehow back in the hauntings of where it all began; I couldn’t just sit still and languish. I found the courage to return to one of my first loves…horses. AND in the span of a year, as I’ve fought to find myself again, I’ve loved and lost and gained in so many ways: Friendship that challenges and teaches much about love, trust, and family. A beloved pony who began to teach me how to fly again even when I fell and had to get back up again…and again. I’m no longer carrying over 100 lbs that I had before… AND because I think it has something to teach me and a couple of good friends have encouraged me, I am training to run a half-marathon in February despite the fact that I’ve never ran more than 2.5 miles up to this point.

I’ve found that you CAN’T run from the things that are killing you…instead they must be faced. AND that’s why we circle back. How else can we heal? Only then can we make another revolution, wider still, and bring life and love to those encountered along the way.

The process is painful, excruciatingly so…and I DON’T know if I will complete this one. BUT maybe I’ll FINALLY begin to live into myself.

…I circle around God, the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

*The poem bookending this piece is from the Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke.

<<<<< If you or someone you know has been or is being sexually assaulted, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE

*Unless

unless1Today, I read some people talking about how absolutely certain they are that Jesus would never ever hire a homosexual, and how appalling is the very thought.

And I got confused.

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Running and Other Impossible Feats

 

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It started as a weight loss obsession; my utterly unhealthy have-to-get-skinny response to my sister dropping major weight after having two babies. I’d always felt inferior and ugly. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had what’s now called “body dysmorphic disorder” – that awesome head condition where what you see in the mirror is totally unreal, but which motivates you to do whatever it takes to see what you really want to see (which will never, ever happen, because the problem isn’t what you’re looking at, but the eyes with which you’re looking). 

But, thanks to my hyper-competitive nature, her weight loss rocketed me to new levels of self-loathing. I felt fat. I felt disgusting. And so when I began running, it was from a place of self-hate. I ran to burn calories. I ran to see how many calories I could burn while consuming as few as possible. I’d placed myself on a 600-calorie-per-day diet – and was terrified of maxing my daily calorie budget – while running daily to burn 500 at minimum. 

I was full-on anorexic. 

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Dreams and Deliverance

All rights reserved by Ryan Montgomery [source: flickr]

“underwater 1” | All rights reserved by Ryan Montgomery [source: flickr]

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had one superpower in my dreams. I don’t fly. Flying terrifies me. Even if I’m riding on a particularly strong and sure dragon, I lack the confidence to remain peaceably in the air. And more often than not, the dragon gets very angry with me because I’m clinging so tightly to its scales as to cause pain. To a dragon. But water? I can do water. When I swim in my sleep, I’m afraid for about three seconds until I realize I can breathe under water. And it’s amazing. Exhilarating. Magical. 

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May The Words Of My Mouth…

source: googleimages
source: googleimages

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matt. 5:21-22, Msg) 

“Quick, God, I need your helping hand! …Everyone talks in lie language; lies slip off their oily lips. …Into the hovels of the poor, Into the dark streets where the homeless groan, God speaks: ‘I’ve had enough; I’m on my way to heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.’ God’s words are pure words, pure silver refined seven times… God, keep us safe from their lies, from the wicked who stalk us with their lies…” (Psalm 12, Msg)

One of my New Years Resolutions for 2013 is to read – and complete – one of those Bible in a Year plans. So here I am, on Day 15, and it seems much of what I read was about words. The power of words. The gravity of the things we say. 

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