When I see beyond me

I was barely five years old and I can still clearly see her standing in that old farm house kitchen. My Mom was all sharp angles and over processed 80’s bleach blonde hair. She was turned towards the wall where the worn out rotary phone hung. One hand with glossy red fingertips worrying the cord stretched and kinked from years of users trying to gain privacy and the other clutching the receiver and the ever present Misty. Even before she glanced over her shoulder with the miserable, apologetic eyes saturated in tears I knew something was wrong. I was already in the process of trying to hustle my four year old sister into the other room. Maybe it was the still clear memories of the past year or so, or maybe it was a carefully honed survival skill but I could usually sense trouble with just enough time to make a swift exit.

Over thirty years ago and I can hear the tinkle of the bell on the door of the local Ben Franklin the next day. In case you didn’t know, Ben Franklins were the Midwest’s small town one stop shop back then. We passed the register, aisles of fabric and yarn, and racks of clothes to the very back of the store. Down a slight incline and past the reaches of sunlight streaming from the front windows, it smelled of musty old carpeting and even older building. But, it housed tall shelves lighted by flickering fluorescent lights and full of toys! Instead of being excited, this made me suspicious. My five year old senses were ben-franklinscreaming that something was wrong. We did not go to a store and buy toys. In fact, I don’t remember even knowing this area, in the bowels of the store, even existed. And not only was my very quiet mother showing us the treasures back here, but she was telling us we could each pick out one thing. My sister immediately latched onto a My Little Pony play set. I already knew I didn’t want anything of what was going on. Whatever it was. But, Mom insisted. So, I gave in to the lure of the Cabbage Patch stuffed horse. I was relatively certain a stuffed animal would prove more useful than a My Little Pony carry along play set for what was coming and I tried to convince my little sister to do the same with no luck. My stomach dropped a little further as Mom pulled the necessary money, which she couldn’t spare, out of her black fringed leather purse.

I was right. My five year old brain struggled to understand what she was saying but I knew I was right. I didn’t want any part of this. We’d be going to live half across the country with our Dad. Just for a little while. While Mom got “better”.

In the main terminal of the airport in Minneapolis there was a large clock and a large plane. Well, at least they seemed enormous to my five year old memory. Clutching my airplane-in-airportstuffed horse, I was trying to figure out the plane inside the terminal, while I caught bits and pieces of the conversation at the ticket counter. Mom grabbed our tickets and we headed to the gate. In my child’s brain, I can hear the echo of her high heels to what seems the ticking of the second hand on that large clock.airport-clock As we approached it, this is when my little sister started to catch on and start to cry. A sympathetic stewardess with bright red lip stick met us. “Unaccompanied minors”. She’d be responsible for seeing us safely from one parent to the other half across the country. A half hour later, in our seats across from the airplane’s galley so they could keep an eye on us, my sister was still hiccupping and trying to catch her breath. I’d given her my stuffed horse and the stewardesses had done their best to distract us. Including telling us they had a couple of extra first class breakfasts they’d get to us as soon as we took off, and would we like to meet the pilot and see the front of the plane? And look here, we’ve even got some pins just like pilots wear! Throughout the flight they gave us the promised breakfast, blankets, pillows, and headphones that plugged into the armrest. Then, took turns trying to entertain the two scared, heart broken, confused little girls holding hands.

I’ve flown out of that same airport, same terminal, a couple dozen times since then. And every. time. I fight panic attacks and nausea. Just the thought of flying out of there would cause me anxiety for weeks beforehand. As soon as I’d come through the doors, I’d fight to see past the blur the crowds of people would become. To hear more than just the clicking of high heels, my head spinning to try to focus on their source. Is it high heels or that dreaded clock? I’d make my way sweating, through security and to the plane where I’d focus on chewing my gum and disappearing into a book.

This last week I had the opportunity to fly to Chicago to attend a Patient Advisory Board meeting with the pharmaceutical company and an organization called Global Genes which provides support and advocacy for rare diseases. As soon as I got my flight information I heaved a sigh. Terminal 1. By the night before I was to fly out I wanted badly to stay in and hide in my blankets for the night. Instead, I decided talking with my sixth grade girls in my youth group about Jesus was preferable to self pity. Instead, I spent the night worshiping and learning alongside young disciples.

The morning of my flight I was packed and ready to go an hour early. I listened to my favorite worship songs on Youtube and went over my flight information, hotel reservation, and meeting times a couple dozen times. Hubby, my mother in law, and Mini Hubby dropped me off. I cried for missing my babies already and made my way through the double doors. I was at the gate before I realized….nothing happened. No panic attack. No nausea. No flashback. No blurring of vision and weird hearing. Instead, my check in kiosk was at the far end of the terminal, right next to security and far away from the dreaded clock. While in line in security, I was entertaining an adorable two year old protesting her confinement to a stroller and listening to a couple dozen students excitedly anticipating their first flight behind me. A beautiful old woman in a wheelchair was wheeled in front of me at the TSA agent and I was wondering if she would have to take off the couple dozens of bracelets, giant earrings, and matching necklace she wore. I wonder if she’s headed to see family. Her bright pink lips and smile says she’s going to see someone special.

So I’m sitting at the gate, in awe of my calm, and pull out my “Show Them Jesus” book I’m committed to finishing while I’m away. I pull out my earbuds and pull up Youtube to the next song on my “suggested” list.

I can’t even make this stuff up! Thank you, Jesus!

 

 

He Gave Me Wings

I spent over thirty years learning how to survive and succeed in a fallen world. How to protect myself from the hurt and disappointment that goes along with living in a world saturated with sin. This world taught me that I’d need a tougher skin. To reach the safety and security I craved, I’d need to find success. And to find success, I’d need to somehow cushion myself from an onslaught of pain and suffering and aggressive, hungry souls seeking to protect themselves as well. Over the years this resulted in creating a cocoon of sorts. Block the hard things. Bury the hurt and disappointment. Don’t cry useless tears. Believe what is being spoon fed in every media outlet and social platform. Protect yourself.

The result was a thirty something woman, wrapped tight in an unraveling cocoon. Desperately trying to control everything that threatened the “safety” of that cocoon. That safe place became a breeding ground for fear and depression. Every story that filtered through, of things uncontrollable, would give birth to a new fear, a new anxiety. Even ensconced in this “haven”, she knew this wasn’t working anymore. From the depths of that cocoon, her heart cried out.

chrysalis

Now, I wonder, did He miss me in there, like we missed “Chris”, or was He excitedly waiting for the transformation?

 

When I first started my journey with Christ, things unseen from that dark place of fabricated protection, written on my heart, became clearer. His light was breaking through. Six rows back, on the left side of the worship center, I’d catch glimpses of light. Hands and hearts in front of me raised in worship, Truth poured out in messages. Drawn to the light, I’d come back. Oh, how I wanted to bottle it, that held, just as I am love, and carry it with me for the next week. Absorb His word and love and wring it out when the fear and darkness were too much. But fear of getting too close, giving too much, held it illusive, confined to the worship center.

I’d come back. Drawn a row closer. So close! How do I hold onto it?

Because the more light I let in, the more I felt again. And though the joy ran deep, the pain did too. But like a moth drawn to light, I drew ever closer to Christ. Slowly unraveling years and layers of insulation, He called me out into the light.

Emerging scared and reborn, He gave me wings. To reach higher than I thought possible, to dive lower than I’d ever ask to go. It’s bright out here. And in contrast, the dark things stand out like never before. Some days, my heart just hurts. Those years of tears not shed seem to be making up for lost time. Most of the time, they’re not for me. But for the palpable suffering of those around me. Both for those who are saved and those who are perishing. And other days, the tears are joy that can’t be contained. Every time I get a glimpse of the light of God’s glory, the beauty and joy run so deep I’m a moth chasing the light again.

butterfly

We waited in anticipation for “Chris” to lose the last remnants of his former life and take flight.

 

Every day, my heart is grateful. Grateful for the wings that brought this woman to a heart wide open. That carried her to the front of the sanctuary, tears streaming, her soul crying out in worship and joy to the One who made her. This woman knows more pain than she ever feared, knows more love than she ever dared give or receive and knows true safety. Not in the artificial safety of her own making, but the true safety in living and walking with Jesus.

So, I’ll continue to take these wings and follow where He leads. I’ll just have to invest in some really good waterproof makeup.

flight

Tentative at first, hanging out on my finger testing his wings, “Chris” soon took flight.

As I was writing this, I was blessed with the chance to see this video at church of another incredibly beautiful transformation. LOVE His timing. If you have the time, it’s absolutely worth the twenty minutes to watch.