I was on a local track in a park and it was an otherwise beautiful day, aside from the wind whipping my hair around. As I walked I was talking to Jesus, as is my custom when I am alone.
As I was chatting with him I began thinking of my childhood and how hard it was. My left arm was crippled at birth and I was never able to raise it above my head. As a child I ignored it and was pretty oblivious to the handicap. So I would join in with the playground romping at recesses as if I was a fully normal kid. It wasn’t until I began to enter into sports and aerobics and such that I realized I was a handicap to any team that required you to use both arms; such as Volleyball. I learned as I grew, to cover it up and make excuses as to why I didn’t use both arms while playing. I got yelled at a lot by teammates to use both arms. Why I didn’t just say I couldn’t do it, I don’t know. But I do know and remember the feeling of shame that began to rule my life that I wasn’t like the other kids.
But also at around the same time I was being molested by my own father and now I realize it was very much related. I was being steeped in shame. I began to feel like a flawed and ugly kid.
I remember one summer when I was around 8 years old. I took my first swimming lessons at a high school while I was staying with my grandparents for the summer. I loved the lessons and worked hard for the praise of the male instructor as to how well I took to the water. I could do a great sidestroke but when it came to overhead swimming with both arms I looked like a duck with a broken wing. I ignored it and pictured that I was doing it right while my instructor watched along with my grandmother. I think that was part of my unique ability to picture how I wanted things to be versus how they really are. At the end of the summer we had to pass a test to be promoted to the next level. I was so excited as I swam my little heart out and flapped my broken wing with great enthusiasm. But at the end of the day, as I watched from the pool, my instructor walked over to my grandmother and had a conversation and I knew it wasn’t good. I saw her look over at me with a sad look and he walked away with his head down.
Failure now entered my life.
My little heart sank because I already had figured out that I wasn’t good enough of a swimmer to move on.
My heart also died a little that day and it helped to catapult me into a mindset that remained until I was set free years later from my sense of shame and low self esteem… always feeling as If I was different and never good enough for anything.
- A molest survivor goes through life feeling like there is something wrong with them and that is why a trusted authority figure would do such atrocious things to them. A child victim also feels like they are the only one this has happened to.
So, there I was that day contemplating these things as I walked on that track on the windy day.
- And then I had a very vivid memory come to mind of me in a playground swinging from bar to bar with both arms across the jungle gym, high above the ground, (Or so it seemed at the time in my child’s eye view). I actually did swing on those bars before I realized I didn’t do it like other kids. I would have to swing my arm really fast and grab it with my fingers and pull that side of my body up.
I asked Jesus how did I do that. I couldn’t do that on my own!
- All of a sudden I looked to the side of where I was walking and saw a playground. I know I was in the spirit but I was there and it was very real. And there I was at 6 or 7 years old; a happy freckled little girl, toothless, and awkward with my misshapen hair that my mother always insisted on fixing for me. And I was swinging from ring to ring on the jungle gym.
But wait!! Jesus was in the picture too. He was underneath me as I swung, holding me up with His strong arms and great patience and a look of pure love on His face.
Then He spoke to me in the present.
“Dixie, I was there and always held you up as you crossed those bars as a child. That is how you did it. Before you were born I knew you and loved you. I was there when you were swimming too, keeping you above the water and flopping around with you. “
The scene changed to that day of swimming out in the middle of nowhere at a high school swimming pool in the desert. There He was in the water with me, standing on the bottom holding me up! It was the day I looked over at my grandma and the instructor and knew he was telling her I didn’t pass the course because of my arm.
“I was there before you were even aware of your need for me, Dixie. You have survived in your life because of Me. Satan meant to destroy you from birth, but I have always had a plan for you, have always loved you with an everlasting love and have always been holding you up with my gentle and loving arms. You have always belonged to Me.”
This was one of those days that changed me a little for the rest of my life. Again.
He let me see into my past and revisit places of my pain. And He was always there, healing and protecting. Somehow the revelation of these things brought even more healing and amazement of how profoundly He loves us.
Yes, I say “US”…because He is no respecter of persons. He loves you the same as He loves me in all of your uniqueness. I know you will have your own divine encounters with Jesus too as you learn to press into your relationship with Him. He will astound you with the things He has to say to you. But you have to want to hear from Him and wait patiently. He will speak. He has a lot to say.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God? They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” Psalm 139: 13-18 (NLT)
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