A Reminiscing, Hope-filled Celebration of My Journey to Life!
Birthdays. An individual's “New Year's Day” - when one celebrates the gift of life, and tries not to think about the erosion of time that is unavoidably connected to the whole concept. On the better times, when one has the presence of mind to be properly grateful, they are days of great blessing. But there are also those other times...
Today, however, I am properly grateful! First of all, for the mere fact that I have made it to 56 (I have now exceeded the speed limit, in more ways than one!) - which is a monumental miracle tantamount to the Parting of the Red Sea! Then, for me to have made it - AND - be anywhere near functional – especially mentally and emotionally – is even more astounding! Because, there were many things sent to thwart the possibility of me growing up at all – beginning in the womb!
The womb in which I was formed was vastly darker than some! Being that my mother – who had many different, severe, mental and physical afflictions - did not enjoy motherhood. That is a monumental understatement! And so, since I was number four, she really “tried to lose” me, as she had successfully done with the three before me (between me and number three, according to what she and my older siblings have told me)! But, for reasons which I will never completely understand, I made it – all five pounds and two ounces of me – with the added burden of a birth defect! That's what she gets for trying to starve me out I guess!
I was born “club-foot” on the right foot, and did not walk until I was four, and then only with great difficulty. It was only after a second operation at 12 years of age, paid for by the Cripple Children's Foundation, and years of successive therapy, that my walking began to normalize. There are still some things which are off limits for me – running for exercise, skating and wearing of those beautiful but treacherous stilettos, etc.! Shoe shopping is still somewhat challenging, since my feet are two different sizes, but coping has not been all that hard! I am thankful I can walk! And pretty darn good too! I can walk miles in minutes (especially if angry) and even dance in praise to God! No one saw that coming!
Then due to chronic abuse (sexual and otherwise), from infancy until Mother died when I was 20, I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; it was so intense that it caused Multiple Personality Disorder – from suppressed memories – and – needless to say – all of that “disorder” was accompanied by profound depression issues! Nightmares and sleep deprivation were only a couple of the “fun” side-effects of this unfortunate happenstance, which I suffered in excess of 40 years! Also, as a young woman, being an unconscious victim of that abuse, I was tragically bound to sexually perverse tendencies which I could not seem to shake (homosexuality included – one of the three distinct “personalities” that I would slip into was a hyper-bitter, ultra women's-lib, Dyke!). And since I had buried the memories of why sin seemed so hard to avoid, it caused a self-loathing that was excruciatingly painful! Not to mention the loads of condemnation which was heaped on me by well-meaning, but undiscerning, “Pastors”, and fellow church-goers who had even less of a clue!
Some relief came immediately when mother died, (I was 20) and the abuse died with her. Then, miraculously, a few months after, I received the infilling of the Holy Spirit – which rendered the MPD dormant until I could be completely delivered of it (almost 25 years later). And for the first time in my rather ragged, mostly unfruitful, war-torn, “Christian” experience I could hear God! For the first time His Word made sense to me, and obedience to that Word became a doable thing! The relief and joy were beyond expression! For the first time spiritual growth was not only possible, it became quickly visible!
I had been “saved” at a very young age – three to be exact – out of sheer desperation I think! To those who question the validity of such a decision at that age - it was definitely genuine! So much so that I won a friend to the LORD at the age of five, and continued to influence classmates toward “making a decision for Jesus”! I clung to “Jesus”, whom I now know to be Named Yeshua - with all my might! Most times He was all I had! But needless to say that living the Christian life in a state of avoidance and MPD was more than a challenge! It was daily defeat - which worked to fuel the depression, until it became a daily fight against a suicidal longing for “peace”, meaning the cessation of that unfathomable pain, at any cost!
But then the Ruach Ha Kodesh came into me in Power – and for the first time I actually experienced the JOY of my Salvation! What a relief it was to know that I wasn't a cast off! That God had not, as some had said, rejected me because I was defective – like He had rejected the sacrificial lambs who had defects! What a joy to find that He really did hear me, and actually cared for me! How refreshing it was to be able to make hard decisions – like the termination of all dating relationships – and be able to really make it stick – even though I was desperately lonely! But I was suddenly able to understand that it was necessary to stop dating, so that God could begin the process of healing things – which I had buried so deeply I wasn't even aware of them! When God said He wanted to “heal” me, I had NO idea of the ramifications of that word! Though I did have some faint clues dysfunctions – annoyingly stubborn, non-productive to utterly destructive habit patterns – that seemed woefully unconquerable!
In a growing desperation I had gone to a “Mental Health Clinic” months before the “infilling” experience had occurred. Initially I went to deal with out breaks of terrifying dreams that began when mother died in July of that year. And then I had begun to “come to” in places, not knowing how I had gotten there, or how to get home again, etc. It seemed the disorders were pressing to the surface! But of course the folks at the Clinic could only try to help manage the damage! At that time, which was decades before I had retrieved the memories, I could not even tell them what had happened to me that would have caused that kind of far reaching damage! Avoidance was such that I was only beginning to suspect that something rather severe had occurred - that something I couldn't quite pin down was badly wrong!
This sad circumstance was complicated by the unfortunate fact that I couldn't afford real Psychologists who might have been able to diagnose the severity of my emotional damage. The facility I could access was established to deal with Low Income clients. Unfortunately, when it comes to Psychological help one really does get what one is able to pay for. So all I got was a lot of amateur - “student” assistants, who were quick to prescribe one “anti-depressant” drug after another - with which I could have easily fulfilled the ever growing urge for suicidal “relief”! Thankfully I had been raised Baptist, so the fear of an eternal hell out-weighed the miserable thoughts of ending the pain! And thankfully I had the presence of mind to just get rid of the meds, before I gave way to an urge to use them for an out! Another intervention of the Holy Spirit I think!
Avoidance may be a handy, even life-saving, self-defense mechanism of childhood – but it can be life-threatening to adults! It was years before I found real help – that is - people with enough discernment, and The Anointing – who could spiritually deal with the deepest roots of my soul's inward agony! I was forty-something before I began retrieving the awful memories, with the help of the Spirit, and His Anointed counselors. And I was 50 before I got a whole, uninterrupted night's sleep of more than four straight hours! Seriously. “Sleep Deprivation” is another huge understatement that could be used to describe only part of what has been “wrong with me” all these years! In case anyone else was wondering! And even with all of that misery going on I helped others, raised kids, Home schooled them and kept a fairly orderly home!
When help finally came, it turned into more than ten years of “Remember, grieve, forgive - repeat” - before I was free of the nearly crippling emotional effects of those early years! But today – Praise the Living God – And His Anointed Yeshua - I am free! At 49 I began declaring “Jubilee” over my life, over myself, by faith. Now I walk in that place of ultimate freedom – emotionally/spiritually - now I am learning to walk there even physically. Much like the story of Nehemiah, wherein the city walls were destroyed – my boundaries were practically non-existent - leaving the inhabitant (me in this instance) vulnerable to the attack of any enemy – any other broken humanity (whose motives may or may not have been questionable) had full access to my broken down, unprotected soul! Slowly, over time, with the help of the Ruach Ha Kodesh – and His faithful anointed ones - the walls were rebuilt. Some rejected the walls and walked away. Some fought the building of them, and I was forced to walk away from them! Nonetheless, regardless of the Sanballats in my life, which the enemy sent to discourage me from the work, I stand today, a miraculously walled and gated city. I now know where I stop and others start. I now know what is my responsibility, and what is not! I can let in good, and let out bad! I am protected, not imprisoned!
But again, The God of the Universe had sent a Champion on my behalf, and He came to rescue me from the dungeon of suppression and depression! (I didn't just have “skeletons in my closet”; I had an entire Oubliette of death – full of ghosts of memories that would not die – an odd assortment of bones, comparable to the valley of dry bones – all disconnected and parched. They seemed to rise up all at once, a great army, like the cursed ones in "Return of the King", and the Spirit gave them their final rest!) Today I stand free of the debilitating effects of the emotional devastation that once defined my life. I walk and run (if somewhat lop-sided and limited) and dance - gratefully freed of all the dark clouds of bitterness that typically attend those who have endured those sorts of horrific beginnings!
Gone are the days of demanding that God explain Himself for having allowed me to make it out of the womb – especially when I have witnessed so many who would have been born to good parents that did not make it! Gone are the days of wishing aloud and often that I had not made it; wishing that He had taken me to His eternal home from there – so that I didn't have to face the terrors of my childhood – twice! The first time in my body – and the second time in my mind (since I very effectively buried them the first time – there are both pros and cons to having a higher than normal I.Q.)! I still don't have any totally logical, rational answers to my questions. But this I know – God IS Good. And His decisions are more far reaching than I can grasp. I have learned the art of quiet trust! Another major miracle. For me quiet anything is a major miracle - there was SUCH a violent storm in my soul! Ask any Pastor I've ever had!
Today I am even thankful for my very damaged mother, who gave me life, and in her own brokenness even introduced me to the Savior - whom I would need - to be able to survive her! I am thankful that she got saved, though I am sad that she did not find the deliverance I have found. Today I stand in a Liberty she never dared to even imagine – free of bitterness and depression. And I am thankful for the Grace of God that forgives us, and allows us to forgive others! If I could not have found that grace, the bitterness and unforgiveness would have been my demise as surely as it was hers – at a tormented 52 years of age - only I would have succumbed to it much sooner than that! Suicide was on my door-step every day, demanding entry, at 20 years of age, which is why I was scrambling to find help! One who has never dealt with those harsh demands has no business judging those who have. Self-loathing is a very harsh task master – and religious condemnation does NOT combat it! (f.y.i.) If anything, it merely acts to reinforce its claims, and validate its tormenting accusations! Do NOT judge those caught up in the sticky, threatening web of suicidal thoughts and tendencies! If you have not ever been thoroughly beaten by that bully be very thankful, but do NOT judge!
So today I am here. I am alive. I am healthy – in body, soul and spirit. I am grateful. I am happy. I am blessed. I have a loving family and a great life! And I am planning, with God's gracious help, to spend the next 50 or so years (or whatever He graciously allots to me) making up for lost time – of which the locusts of regret, avoidance, depression, anger, bitterness, and codependency – have robbed me! There is a promised land for me, and like Caleb I am well able to take MY mountain from those who have jealously guarded it! For the duration of this race I plan to chase the devils that once chased me! I plan to be an instrument of rescue to others who are lost in that chasm of regret and self-loathing – whether they put themselves there by stubborn rebellion, or whether, like me, they had lots of help getting there!
If, like the prodigal, we have “come to ourselves” only to find that we have fallen into a pig-sty of fleshly living, where everything stinks, and is as un-Kosher as it gets – and we are sorry and ready to turn from the bad choices that have led us there – we will happily find that there is redemption in the LORD! AND That, folks, is the GOOD NEWS that we are supposed to be preaching! There is a Redeemer! There is a Champion on our side in this fight for Life! There IS an Anointing that moves burdens and destroys yokes! His Name is Yeshua! I can only celebrate MY birth, because I have celebrated HIS! So - “Happy Birthday” - indeed! My real “birthday” was that day when, at the age of three, some kind lady gave me a Sunday School card, on which was a picture of Jesus holding a lap-full of children, and I knew for the first time that someone, somewhere, besides my grandmother, loved me! I don't remember the date of that happening – but I know that for me it was when I was truly born to life. And next to that – was the happy day that I walked into that Full Gospel Business Men's meeting with my good friend Perry C. Doerr, in the late fall of 1978, and got joyously filled with the Ruach Ha Kodesh! The Holy Spirit of the Anointed One, who then stepped up the deliverance process so that even I could detect an upward motion! (Never-mind that it took the next 30 years! It began!)
Those are the days which I will always celebrate! Those are the days when LIFE began to coarse through my veins, and joy began to invade every part of my being! Thanks to Him, today I can celebrate this 56 years of Life, the good, the bad and the ugly! Thanks to Him I can look forward to living those that are left in victory and peace, fully knowing that the Joy of the LORD is MY strength!
Shalom Chavarim! Todah rabah (thank you very much) for the love and well-wishes!
Sandra Carlton Duncan – January 27, 2014