When trying to survive the battle from your own traumatic existence, rest in it’s rare existent form becomes a reward. A treat for the unworthy. A walk in the yard for the prisoner shackled and chained. It is not recognized as a necessity or a thing that is readily available at your whim. My mother would call me inside from my playing everyday to lie down and take a nap. I remember the warm summer days outside playing music on my pink and blue boom box and laughing with my friends as we tried to record our favorite tunes from the radio station while simultaneously swapping flavors of Now & Later, Boston Baked Beans and Alexander The Grape candies. She would call me in a way that would not embarrass me in front of my friends, but using a tone that southern children knew all to well as come on home. I was indeed 10 years old, still having to take midday naps. Somedays I would complain, because I was having so much fun or I just didn’t feel tired. What I have come to understand now is that, when I rested, my mother did also. My stepdad was probably at work and for her, this may have been her only time to recharge and have some peace. I would lie down on my bed and stare from two of the four large open windows, framed with lavender flower decorated curtains, that adorned the worn pink, back wall of my bedroom. Thinking of new ways to climb the grand pecan tree that stood tall in the midst of our large stone patio island, in the middle of our backyard. The house would be so still and so quiet. I could hear birds chirping. The smell of the honeysuckle from the bushes that presented themselves as guards along our driveway intoxicated my senses and I was lulled into a deep penetrating trance of nothingness. In that instant, that moment between being fully aware and drifting off to sleep, is where rest begins.
Looking back now as an adult, my mother was also at peace. I never had nightmares during my naps. There were no demons violating me in my slumber. It was a few moments in time that my mind and my body were completely at ease with the natural world and at ease in the spiritual realm. I have learned as a Christian to operate in the rest that God has provided for me through His son Jesus. I have carried the weight of my world on my shoulders for most of my life and I had no idea how tired I was. I needed rest. I was always busy trying to cover my damage and made no time to rest from it. I saw myself as if everyone could see the me that was crushed from my traumatic childhood. This led to me trying to control the narrative in short term relationships. It led to poor choices made where my children were concerned. I was always so afraid that what happened to me, would happen to them. It made me overprotective. It made me holler and scream at them when they did something wrong or wanted to wear something that in my mind was inappropriate. My response to them was also a direct result of being raised in a religious home when I lived with my dad and stepmom in Charleston SC. My unrest led me down the aisle to marry my best friend and love of my life under the assumption that if it didn’t work out I could always get a divorce. I saw my mother divorced twice. Her first marriage to my dad, she said they had married to young. Her second divorce to my stepdad, she said and I witnessed that he was physically abusive. I mirrored everything dark that I had encountered in my lifetime as a young adult. I gave my body away, because I didn’t know that I also mirrored my grandmother. I gave into drugs and alcohol to lose sight of the unrest. Passing out and not remembering was the only thing that got me through.
I had no idea that the horrors I witnessed and participated in would lead me into a rest. While I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death, God was preparing my resting place in His green pastures. He often whispered to me along my journey about the still waters in my life. My grandmother taught me how to pray and how to love. She showed me that marriage is what you make it. She taught me that giving children a voice and loving them was a gift not a chore. She taught me that I was beautiful and worthy of the world’s best on my own merit. The memories of my time with her and my grandfather are still coming to play in my mind. Memories I had forgotten, seeds I never knew were planted. God watered them and the fruit is being released in my healing.
Jesus said, “in this life you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. I now know that this world is an evil and cruel place, and even though I have experienced and done horrible things in my life, I must take heart and use it to put some good back into it. That is what Christianity is. The very essence of my creation is being a servant. I cannot allow my trauma to overtake me. I must tell my story from the rooftops. There are people who did not have any love at all in their lives and they need the rest of Jesus. When you accept Jesus, you accept His rest.
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message Bible
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
What Jesus is saying here is I have done all the work, all our sins, our hurts our pains and our griefs. I can rest from my shame. I can rest from my addictions. I can rest from all the violations and trauma inflicted on me as a child and as a young adult. This takes work. The bible says that faith without works is dead. So if I continue to grieve my past and all the people who were involved in my life to destroy me, I have no faith. I have forgiven my parents. I have forgiven my molesters and sex offenders. I have forgiven myself for the drugs, the alcohol, the unholy sex. I have forgiven myself for not being the parent I saw mirrored in my grandmother and sometimes my mother and still again, sometimes in my stepmom. That is a lot of work right there and it has taken years, this didn’t happen overnight. And yet the work is still not done. This pouring out of myself to the world in hopes that it will reach someone who really needs to hear it, is the greatest work ever. I labor in my Faith in Jesus, that He will protect me from the nay Sayers and the family members who will try to gaslight me, if they ever read these words, or stumble across my second book when it’s published. My Faith in His presence that lives on the inside of me and the peace I gained once I finally got to know Him sustains me.
I tried it all the other ways. Nothing worked. But once I stepped into the spiritual realm, where He resides, I saw Him and I saw through each facet of my life He was always there. The tribulation I went through was designed by the devil to kill me. But God wouldn’t let him. He protected me through all of that so I could be a help to others to show His glory. I am set a part as a vessel of God’s infinite plan to take all of His creation back from this fallen world that all started in a garden. That all started before I was placed in creation.
If you are consuming this word, you are loved. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I know it appears really grim right now, but there is a way of escape. This is a process. The trauma you experienced has taken up residence in your mind. It is for this reason that I am beginning this journey 48 years after my first traumatic experience. I thought that I was ok, but in truth, my trauma masked itself to fit into my life. The reality is, yes I am free, yes I escaped, yes I survived, but if I don’t share it with the broken, no matter the cost of losing loved ones and family who may be in denial, then I am still carrying the shame. I am still allowing my offenders to have control over my life. I am not trusting that Jesus is my portion and not death. I cannot be the Warrior, Servant, Vessel that I was created to be. Journey with me, let’s heal together.