Monday, December 13, 2010

The unceasing call of Love - Part I

All my life, since as far back as I can remember, I have wanted one thing;  to love something with all my heart and soul and not have it betrayed, manipulated, used, misunderstood, rejected or flat out ignored.   I just wanted to love.  And to have someone be pleased with that love with a smile and a hug. To be told I could love them all I wanted and it wouldn’t be too much.

I remember as a little girl, sitting on this hill behind our house, there was a tree that I loved to go sit under and pretend it was alive like a person. I called it my "puff the magic dragon" tree. (no idea why! lol!)   I would talk and talk and run around the tree and say  “I love you!  I love you!  I love you!” and hug the tree.  I could just love it and love it...and it would stay right there, smiling, and hugging me back and never telling me to stop.  I could do this all day long and it would stay right there, always smiling.

 At this same time, I was going to this Southern Baptist Church that would send out a little red bus to pick up all the kids from their houses so they could still go to church even if their parents didn't go.  My parents were not church goers so I rode that little bus every week.  It was in that church that I was "scared saved."  What I mean by that is, the Sunday school teacher(s) used the fear of hell to get us to ask for salvation rather than the Love of God.  One of the things they always said was “you do not want to be standing before God someday and have Him judge you.  He will show you all the ways you were bad and He will not be pleased, and if you do not get saved, He will then turn you away and send you straight to hell FOREVER.”
I tell you I prayed that prayer to Jesus more times than there are grains of sand on a beach and I still felt I could not possibly be saved.  I have always carried that image of God standing with crossed arms, scowling at me in disappointment....and that fear of hell.....I cannot tell you the terror I went through at night as a little girl, alone in my bed, thinking about that, hearing that word “forever....” just echo and echo in my head over and over.  It was sheer terror, because, I knew that I was “bad.” Many of the experiences I had had up to that point in life told me I was.
So it never dawned on me to think of Jesus as that "somebody I could love and love and never be turned away."  No, my puff the magic dragon tree was far more real and loving than this Jesus that the church was portraying to me.

One day, when I was 6 1/2, I was lying out on the grass near my tree and watching the clouds go by.  I asked the tree if it could change the shapes of the clouds (me and tree had a pretty good rapport by this time....:smile:).  I thought of a shape and suddenly the cloud would change to that shape.  I thought of another and it changed again.  Well, as I child, I was so impressed with this, it filled me with awe.  And then I "heard" a voice say (paraphrased) "let Me show you something even more wonderful...."  I can't tell you how I "knew" this as a child, but I knew that whatever had made those clouds change, had now come out of the clouds, and had begun to blow the wind....the wind blew the leaves on my beloved tree, and then It moved down the branches of the tree and into the trunk.  Then it gently moved the blades of grass near the trunk in a ripple that moved to where I was laying.  The blades of grass all around me were moving and tickling me, making me giggle.  My little heart was so full of happiness and love. It felt like the blades of grass were hugging me and somehow this Love was going inside of me.  It felt very real.  Other than what occurred recently, this experience remains one of the most special, beautiful, poignant, joyful things I have ever experienced.

 Not long after this, we moved to a new home and I was SO sad to leave my tree behind.  We moved to a trailer court that had a small hill out behind it and I tried to find another tree but it just wasn't the same.  I also never had another visit like the one with the clouds.   So I began searching for that “imaginary friend” in people and things instead.

Throughout the rest of my childhood and into early adulthood, I put people on pedestals and gave my trust to them which would inevitably end in betrayal or manipulation of my desire to love, including from those who were "supposed to" be trustworthy.   Over time, I became bitter and my heart started to callous.  Interspersed with this unrequited desire to love, I also started demanding that I BE loved.  And I had high expectations about what that meant.  I expected perfection from people, which of course, is not possible so I was continuously disappointed.  I started becoming hypervigilent to any perceived hint that someone was misunderstanding me, ignoring me or using me which would bring on my wrath or put me into deep depressions.  It was mostly these depressions that plagued me throughout my teen years and early 20's.  I remember when I was 17 I drew a picture of a big brick wall with a small figure of a young lady crumpled up at the bottom of it.  The title was : "What hurts is love cries out on the other side of a wall I don't know how to climb."  And it was true.
By the time I entered college though, I no longer believed I would find this Love that had eluded me all my life.  And I no longer cared.  My world became very dark.  My favorite movie was Pink Floyd-The Wall.  I would sit for hours watching it or listening to Pink Floyd's music and sink into the darkness that I believed was my soul. That wall now became my protection...keeping out the "cold cruel world" and allowing me to remain "Comfortably Numb" (one of Pink Floyd's signature songs).   I entertained thoughts of suicide constantly and actually made a couple of attempts.  I was convinced that there was just too much bad in me for anyone to love,  let alone for me to love anyone else. Like those church ladies had said so many times, I believed would have to stand before God one day while He judged me for my badness and then send me to hell forever, and ever and ever........

The unceasing call of Love - Part 2

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