I couldn’t hold on. My little hand could not fully grasp the very thing that I knew I must never let go of. I was terrified. Then suddenly I wasn’t holding on anymore, but I was being held. My hand was tiny and it was surrounded by something too big, something too great, too strong. I would be crushed by the power of it, or lost in its greatness. I was terrified.
This was the dream, memory, and feeling that plagued my childhood. I’m not sure when it started or if it was a dream I would remember or a memory I would dream about. But either way it became a nightmare I would run from. I would start to feel how small I was and I would run from the feeling. I couldn’t handle the fear and anxiety it instilled in me. I couldn’t face the shame I felt at not being able to hold on. I couldn’t face the fear of being crushed and lost.
I stood in a sea of yogis at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and felt like a bruised apple stranded on a fruit stand full of bananas. I must have heard God incorrectly. I was not supposed to be here. Everyone here was so beautiful, so strong, so capable; meanwhile I was injured, afraid, tired, and unsure. Why did I think God was calling me to be a Holy Yogi? I was too beaten up, mushy, and broken to teach yoga and lead others to Jesus. No one wants a mealy apple, especially when there are a bazillion perfectly ripe bananas!
My childhood nightmare came back to me, over and over. As I stepped on the shuttle bus, I felt my entire body vibrate with the memory. It had been washing over me for the past month, but it seemed to have lost its power. Ever since I started working through my past sexual abuse with my therapist, I had started to feel it again. But in the weeks leading up to retreat I decided to sit in the feeling, the nightmare, and try to figure it out. I didn’t want anything getting in the way of me and God on this retreat, and I was determined to figure it out. But a couple days before I was to leave I still hadn’t cracked the code and I got sick. I sat at home watching Peter Pan, Hook, and more versions of Peter Pan: my favorite childhood movies and I found myself sobbing in every movie. I felt like a kid again, I remembered trying to run away from the real world, sometimes wanting to be Wendy and sometimes wanting to be Peter. I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to face reality, but I knew I had to. I wanted to go back to the days before…before THOSE days…but I couldn’t.
As a child I often felt like Peter Pan (in Hook) when he remembers his mother. He heard his mother talking about the future she wanted for him and he got scared and “ran away”. Well, really he rolled away in his pram.
His pram fell over and he laid in the rain crying. That’s where Tink found him and took him to Neverland. My parents would talk about me like I was a great kid, my dad would call me “Princess” and my mom would call me her “little helper” and say things like “what would I do without my little girlie to help me out?” and I would feel so undeserving of their affection and love. I felt like a liar, and I knew it was only a matter of time before they realized I wasn’t the perfect kid they thought I was.
But what really got me was when Peter Pan, in the movie Hook, returns home as a small boy to see if his mother remembers him, and he finds his parents snuggling a new baby. Peter believed that his parents had forgotten him.
And I felt like that. Not by my earthly parents, I mean sometimes I felt ignored or forgotten, but that happens when you live in a big family, but I felt ignored and abandoned by God, by my heavenly father. There were so many better people out there for Him to love on. I had run away and I had been forgotten.
And the nightmare came and I sat in it, trying to figure it out.
And then I was at Lost Canyon Camp, once again sitting in this nightmare, which had become more of a confusing feeling, and wondered what the hell I was doing here. I felt like a zombie, walking into the club house, trying to look like someone alive and breathing. Could they all tell I was dead? Could they all smell my rotting corpse? Then Jill Fisk began to lead us in meditation.
13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
I wanted to be a child again and come to Jesus with that blind trust, but I couldn’t get to him. Why couldn’t I get to him?
Then I heard his words of blessing wash over me, “I did not forget you, ignore you, or abandon you.”
He said it, but why didn’t I believe him? I closed my eyes and thought of my childhood, I thought of my abuse and then heard God again, “open your eyes.”
I opened my eyes and saw the words I had written on my paper, “I did not forget you, ignore you, or abandon you.”
And then he spoke, “I DO NOT ignore you, forsake you, or abandon you. Let your child self come to me. Do not stand in her way. Do not shoo her away. Come Elizabeth, come my child and find rest. My heart is open to you.”
I replied, “Jesus, Father, Spirit, I was so scared, I didn’t know what to do.”
“Where were you? Why didn’t you help me? Was it because I didn’t ask you to? That doesn’t seem like you. I felt abandoned and unworthy of your assistance and help. God I know you aren’t ignoring me now, but I can’t hear you. Something is in the way.”
“Yes my dear, you are in the way. Come to me dear child. Don’t just stand there crying for me. Run to me! Run!”
I ran to Him.
Into his loving arms I sobbed, “It was awful.”
“It hurts me even now.”
“I know, but it doesn’t have to anymore. Let me kiss the pain away. Let me dress your wounds and hug you close. Let me soothe you. And then I will sing over you! I will delight in you and nuzzle your neck with kisses and tickles like a father does a child. Will you let me? Do you want to be healed?”
The childhood nightmare came back, and He said, “sit here with me, it’s ok, I’ve got you.” I sat in the feeling and clarity came:
I was a small child, a baby even, I was grasping at the finger of my father, my heavenly father and crying. I must hold on to him, I cannot lose him! But my hand is too small, my hand is too weak, I can’t hold on any longer. And God said, “sure, you were holding on to my finger, just as a baby holds onto a father’s finger, but you were not holding me. I was holding you. When you let go, I was still there, holding you. You didn’t want to let go of me, but it doesn’t matter because I NEVER let go of you.”
And then I felt his hand enclose my own. I felt the greatness and the power of his almighty hand hold my tiny weak and delicate hand within his. Once again I was scared of being crushed and lost. And God said, “It is true, I am strong and great, but do not fear me my child, I have made you precious and delicate and I will always treat you with honor and love. I will never lose you. I will never crush you. I will hold you close and protect you, always.”
He was there the whole time. During my abuse, He was there. I just didn’t recognize it for what it was. He did not forget me, ignore me, or abandon me. Thank you, Jesus!
That was just Day 1. I’ll be posting more about my week at Holy Yoga training and the amazing healing God continued to bring to me!!!