Dancing with the Scars

Dancing with the Scars

None of us escape problems in life. I know I haven’t. I’ve had hardships throughout my life, up to and including now. And while I’d much rather focus on the absence of trouble and the things that make me happy, I write about troubled times, because I know that it’s in and through the dark times in my life that I have been made able to trust God. I have learned to trust in His goodness, even in the bad times. I know He’s allowed my struggles and difficulties to mold and make me into the person He wants me to be, and He’s done it according to His plans; His way. He has an eternal perspective and long-term plans in mind when He allows both the good and the bad circumstances in any of our lives.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Vivian Green

I’m not sure how old that quote is, or if that’s even the correct author, but I believe it’s still true today. For my purposes I would simply update it, and shorten it to, “Dancing with the Scars.” While scaring is a natural part of the healing process, dancing is good for the soul, regardless of what scars one may have. Life is a gift.

As I mentioned in my first blog, I was sexually abused when I was young, sometime between the ages of 6 – 8. To those who have not gone through this sort of thing, I understand where you might think, “Get over with it already!” But to those who have, I say, “You’re not alone. It is traumatic. It does affect how you think and feel about yourself and how you relate to people. It affects how you relate to God.”

I never told anyone about the abuse when it was happening; I was afraid; I was a child. Then my mind blocked the memories of it until I was an adult. I have forgiven my abusers, and I will go into more about that later. I choose not to go into any details of my sexual abuse but I will share about another traumatic experience that happened when I was around 11 years old:

While babysitting a toddler and a baby, I was held at knife point over a bloody bowl of dead rabbit that was being cut up. I was forcibly held and made to watch for what seemed like eternity; I was basically scared out of my mind. I also was afraid to tell anyone about it at the time. That experience alone was bad enough but it was made even more tragic when I learned that this same person had murdered a woman and cut-up her body and hid her remains under the floor boards of the very same kitchen where he had traumatized me in. Within a few months of what he did to me, he was caught and convicted of murder and put in prison, where he later died. I was told that he was also suspected of murdering two other women in a similar way, but additional charges weren’t brought against him because they had enough evidence to convict him of the one murder. In retrospect I believe without a doubt and with all of my heart, that God placed His hand of protection over me on that day and protected my life; and this was prior to me coming into faith and trust in Jesus. I believe He had plans for me and my life, even before I was born. His sovereignty and his providence are almost too large for me to even begin to comprehend.

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Romans 5:3-5

Bible verses like these help me know that our hardships have a purpose; they develop our endurance, strengthen our character, they give us hope, and they shape our perspective toward God.

In Genesis 50:20, Joseph told his brothers,

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”

 

“And we know that in all things

God works for the good of those who love him,

who have been called according to his purpose.” 

Romans 8:28

God uses the troubles, sorrows, heartache and trauma in our lives to shape us and ultimately to make us more like Him. While we may not understand why He allows some things in our lives, we are to trust Him, nonetheless.

As I mentioned earlier, I have long ago forgiven my abusers, all of them – and it’s simply because I asked God to help me forgive them and because God’s word tells me to forgive:

“Be kind and compassionate to one another,

forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 

Ephesians 4:32

Regardless of what sins were committed against me, there came a time in my own life where I realized that I too was guilty of sin. It was at that point, that my life began to change; and when I came to understand that:

We’re all born with a sin nature.

We’re all hopeless without Christ.

We’re all sinners in need of a Savior.

Jesus took the penalty that we deserve and offers us a new and eternal life in Him, when we come to Him in repentance and faith.

I also believe it’s wrong to see yourself as a victim. While it’s true you may have been a victim, I’m saying it wrong to see yourself in that way. See yourself in the light of God’s word:

“For all have sinned

and fall short of the glory of God,

being justified freely by His grace

through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”
Romans 3:23-24

“All” includes the most vile person you have ever known – all the way to the sweetest person you have ever known.

“None is righteous, no, not one.”
Romans 3:10

And when you receive God’s free gift of salvation through faith and trust in Christ alone, God sees you and receives you, clothed in the righteousness of Christ. That offer includes you and me, and it includes my abusers.

“For God so loved the world

that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whoever believes in Him

should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

So dance, because:

“Dancing is good for the soul, regardless of what scars one may have. Life is a gift.”

Game, Set, Match.

Game, Set, Match.

I’ve heard it said that friendship is a lot like playing ball; kind of like tennis. It takes two to volley, and the longer the volley, the more the fun. The back and forth of the tennis ball is like the conversations and fun we have in friendships. You both take turns and you can’t play by yourself!  You have to volley the ball back and forth in each other’s court to play; much like the back and forth interaction we have in friendships. I have fond memories of my first friends:

Annette 

Annette was cute and bubbly, the same age as me, and full of mischief! She lived in our neighborhood for a pretty short time; I was so sad when she moved away!  My funniest memory of us was when she convinced me that it’d be fun to put apples in our shirts and then go show her mom. I remember thinking it probably wasn’t a good idea, and I was right; her mom wasn’t too happy with us and I was so embarrassed! And what made it worse, I think Annette told her mom it was my idea! Ha! 

Lynn

Lynn was also a neighbor; she lived two doors down from our house and although Lynn was a couple of years younger than me, we got along well. Her house was warm and inviting, filled with antiques and the tick-tick of an old clock. We almost always played indoors so I guess that’s why I remember her house so much. Lynn was quiet and small for her age and she was super sweet. I remember her mom telling me that Lynn was fragile and couldn’t play outdoors or as often as I wanted to play. As life would have it, and I guess because of our age difference, we didn’t play together much past those initial couple of years. Years later, I was sad to hear she had passed away in the prime of her life.

Carla

Carla and I met in 3rd grade; she was a beautiful girl with a sweet personality. She had the prettiest smile and a flawless tan complexion. Most of my memories of us consisted of playing Barbie dolls together. She moved away sometime during grade school then moved back to town during our high school years, but so many years had passed, we barely seemed to know each other.

Judi

Judi lived next to the grade school and I thought that was so cool! Ha! She was creative, fun to be around, and we had a common love, as so many others girls in 1964: The Beetles! We used to practice cheers, play Four-Square, teatherball, and her mom would drop us off to go shopping downtown Indianapolis, all by ourselves! I felt so grown up! I think we were only 10 or 11 years old at the time and I guess it was considered safe back then! I remember going with her family on a trip to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. I thought that was the coolest place in the world!  We lost touch after 6th grade when we went to different junior high schools for 7th – 9th grade. We ended up going to the same high school but it wasn’t until the end of our sophomore year that I realized who she was! She had grown about 6 inches taller than me and I hadn’t even recognized her. It was sad though, because we both acted like we didn’t even know each other anymore. Four years had passed and I think I was afraid to talk to her; we weren’t little girls anymore.

Donita

I met Donita in 7th grade junior high and we were fast friends! We’d talk on the phone for hours and hours! I remember my dad getting so annoyed because I would be on the phone almost every night with Donita.  This was back when we only had home phones, and they were attached to the wall!  I would lay on the floor in the living room and stretch the cord out of shape, and my dad would complain that nobody could get through to us because I was always on the phone!  Eventually I got a phone installed in my room (which I painted bright orange!) but we still only had one line.  Donita and I loved hanging out together; our common interest was talking about boys. Some of my favorite memories include just spending the nights over at each other’s house and when she went with us on a family vacation to Indiana Beach:

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Then one day Donita told me that they had to move to Georgia because her dad was being transferred.  We cried for hours – both on and off the phone! We kept in touch by writing letters for the first few years of years (which I still have) and when I graduated from high school, I flew down to Florida and met her in Atlanta on a one hour stopover at the airport. As the years went by we lost touch. I thought of her often, and then a few years ago I remembered a picture that she had sent me of her baby girl with her name written on the back of it. I did a Facebook search and found her daughter, who then gave me her email address.  We connected up again and I got to visit with her, again in Atlanta, but this time we met for lunch. It was good to see her and to be back in contact after all those years. That’s one of my favorite reasons I like Facebook. It helps connect you and keep you in contact with old friends!

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Penny

Penny and I met in Junior High and our common interest was shopping, Janis Joplin. rock bands, and boys. We had lots of fun together and I don’t know how, but somehow we managed not to get into too much trouble!  One night we took her brothers car out for a drive (she drove, not me!) and we were probably only 14 or so.  We went to parties together and we loved to dance. We’d dance at the Sherwood Country Club for hours and thought we were so cool because we made friends with some of the band members. We went to rock concerts like Three Dog Night, Chicago, and Iron Butterfly. Here’s we are in 1969 with my brother who had just graduated from Navel training:

Me, Ron and Penny 1969

And some pictures of us at Indiana Beach:

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Me and Penny 1969

I remember Penny always had a beautiful tan (even in the winter!) and I tried so hard to get as tan as her. One day, after laying out for several days in the summer sun, her mom told me, with a serious face, “Elaine, you should get out in the sun more.” 😁 Ha!

1969 Penny and me

Here we are at our 40th high school reunion in 2012:

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The first time I read this verse, I assumed that it referred to friends:

“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Proverbs 18:24b

Later in life, I learned and realized that the “friend” in this verse is referring to Jesus. He, in fact, is my closest friend, far and above all others.

Then, in the late 1980’s I remember hearing this next verse in a sermon and it really caught my attention. It’s funny how you can hear or read a Bible verse several times and then, all of a sudden, it’s as if it’s the first time you’re hearing it. Interestingly, it’s the first half of Proverbs 18:24:

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly,”  Proverbs 18:24a

I’ve thought about that verse a lot over the years, yet throughout most of my adult life, I’ve found it difficult to allow myself the luxury of taking time for friends. First of all, I think it’s easy for us to get “out of the practice” of friendship. We get busy with kids, work, and just the busyness of life.  And second, for as long as I can remember, I always felt different from everybody else; like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.  So for me, it was a lot easier to do “things” rather than “friendships.”  I have no problem with being friendly but I do shy away from making friends.  Even today, I know that my friends are all by the grace of God, and I’m thankful for each one, but I still have a tendency to put family, work, church and simple everyday obligations ahead of friendships.

But, if my older self could go back and talk to my younger self, my best advise would be this:

  • Make time for friends; step out of your comfort zone.
  •  It’s ok to take time to cultivate and maintain friendships; “things” can wait.  
  • Don’t be such a loner; everyone needs a friend.  
  • Don’t be afraid people won’t like you; nobody is perfect.  
  • And most of all, get in the practice of friendship; don’t get so used to being alone that it’s too hard to change.  

So this blog is both about me and for me. I need to be continually reminded to stay in the game; not to drop the ball or quit; to serve; and to return the ball whenever it lands in my court!  But it’s also for anyone who finds themselves described anywhere in this blog.  I’ll close with this quote from C. S. Lewis:

“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”