Welcome to August 2014 “In Word & Image” at The Writer’s Reverie!
Each week I explore monthly themes using Scripture combined with a visual and a devotional thought!
Ruminate with me.
Be inspired in your heart.
Be captivated by His beauty.
Be enriched in the timeless treasury of His gifts.
Be challenged to go forth with purpose and live for Him.
AUGUST THEME: As Little Children
Wounded and Abused . . .
One of the most jarring scenes recreated by Bonnie Gray in Finding Spiritual Whitespaces brought me to a complete stop. She was illustrating, from the inside out, a moment of anguish from her childhood self, describing her gut wrenching sobbing – her mouth gaping open in startled horror at a defining, traumatic moment in her life. My own child within saw the picture so intimately drawn, so raw and real, that I had to look away from the offending paragraph. For a moment, there was no “whitespace” of rest for me on that page as my child had become one with Bonnie’s child in her own loss of rest. I felt the utter helplessness and pain of innocence and comfort zones decimated by the selfish acts of others.
My story is not in the same vein as the traumatizing nature of Bonnie’s story. But, her pain in that moment of rejection was akin to the nature of pain in my own experience, though staged with other players and another plot leading to the wound of the moment. I remember crying like that on more than one occasion.
Frozen in ancient memory.
The reckless nature of an abusive act.
A cruel word.
The actors I played the scene with delivered their lines and hit their mark. Now, the spotlight was on me. It was my turn. How could closure come to such a scene spilling off the stage, abandoned to utter shock and awe? Should I cross down stage left in Disbelief and cower there in Fear? Should I cross up stage right, then turn with a flourish and respond in kind?
Down the center aisle.
Leaving the theatre altogether.
It would be many years before I learned that not a nuance of a performance is missed by God when little children are playacting. In Christ, He has seen everything already. Every lash. Every mocking jeer. Every nail cutting through the flesh of our tiny existence bent on destruction. As though we are not small enough.
Even if it was just a schoolyard tiff at the hands of another child . . . already compromised by the world, distorting their view.
Hurt people hurt.
Abused adults abuse.
Wounded little children . . . wound little children.
And the cycle perpetuates.
In truth – I did endure a degree of bullying in my day. But, back in that day, you were expected to learn how to cope. The world was no place for little children. Grow up and get on with it. Kids duked it out and became stronger for it.
It worked in Mayberry. One of my favorite episodes that moves me to tears every time is Opie and the Bully. Andy knows Opie will have to stand his ground and face his fear even if it means a black eye. He tells a story, father to son, of a similar episode from his own childhood, ministering courage, peace and confidence. Love that guy. In the end, Opie does stand his ground. Andy stands back – aching in his heart. Opie wears his black eye with pride – and becomes the stronger for it.
Looking back, I can see that I did, too. But not without a figurative black eye and a few scars along the way. As an adult, I wear them well, thank you very much. Though, sometimes in the quiet of alone, remembering . . . I need a big Lap and enveloping Arms in which to cuddle. I hear my Father’s heartbeat. He ministers Courage, Peace and Confidence.
My childhood was equal joys and sorrows – as we all might claim. Some live lives with more sorrow than joy. For me, I had my sorrows – but I keep my joys precious, dear and near. There was a “place” where I learned to go as a little child. A place of retreat where healing and perspective were fashioned from the small traumas of childhood scenes in my life. Mending my innocence through creativity and idealism in a place of sanctuary, I preserved a compass that eventually led me to the knowledge of God and salvation as a young adult – He who was my Creator. He who is the Ideal. Wounds in my childhood made me a greater steward OF my childhood – putting me on a collision course with Christ in due season.
Yeah . . . that one’s a toughie.
John repeatedly refers to the believers he writes to in the book of First John as “little children.” In five short chapters he does so seven times. He acknowledges them as little children enduring great trials and subsequent temptations to sin. He admonishes them to forgive those who sin against them. He warns them against being deceived and instructs them in the call to practice righteousness in behavior by word, deed and truth. None of these virtues and directions are mustered in our human nature. They are Divine. John gives the “little children” the Key to overcoming all their wounds, and the abuse of living in a decaying world:
I learned in later years, as I looked back with God’s spectacles filtering the view of my past, that as a little child He called me His own when all I knew of Him was religion. He knew my heart. He allowed the trials and the wounds in those tender times to seal me as His. Even when I did not know it – I had overcome. And, each scar has had purpose going forward.
In most parts of the world today the precious innocence of childhood doesn’t exist in the face of the evil and atrocities being perpetrated against those who have no defenses – the little children. Little children of all ages. We’ve seen the news and heard the harrowing reports of our Christian kin in the Middle East, and the wounds and abuses beyond words they are suffering in the vacuum of evil. Little children, all.
In today’s perverse, power mongering and narcissistic adult world, an innocent childhood is a rare commodity on a planet rife in evil, fleshly pleasures and corrupt desires. It is no wonder the lines have been blurred. In a world that thinks it’s so wise, the parenting model and appropriateness of things has been weighted against innocence. Adults with the responsibility to guide and direct the young no longer can discern right from wrong as is seen in some of the laws, educational reforms and the popular culture being foisted upon children and families that fly in the face of God’s Word. Truly, they know not what they do, leading little children astray. God will not remain silent forever as Jesus warns, recorded by Luke:
It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Luke 17:2 NKJV
This gives me comfort when I find myself struggling with other “little children” still in the throes of growing up . . . just like me. Or, when I read the horrifying headlines of late. God sees every nuance on the stage of our lives. But, it doesn’t necessarily tell me how to play out my response to the scene – until I read the next verses, continuing in Luke, for my stage directions:
Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.
Luke 17:3-4 NKJV
Of course, I should have known. Not so easy to do – that. Unless – you’re cuddled up on His Lap, enveloped in His Arms, as a little child, listening the the heartbeat of He who is in you; He who loves, comforts and gives precise stage directions . . . especially in the wounding scenes.
So, the little children teach us a valuable Kingdom lesson, again. And, a challenging one . . .
Challenge: Make time to bless and nurture the hungry “little child” within. Your grown-up world needs the respite. God has something to minister to you in that place . . .
If you humble yourself as a little child and meet Him there . . .
With eyes to see and ears to hear . . .
And arms open wide for His embrace.
This is the 2nd installment of Word & Image August 2014: As Little Children.
Click below for the other posts in the series:
NEXT WEEK: As little children leading the way . . .
Sharing As Little Children: Wounded & Abused this week with:
Judith at Whole Hearted Wednesdays
Tell His Story with Jennifer Dukes Lee
Lyli at Thought Provoking Thursdays at 3D Lessons 4Life
Laura on Faith Filled Friday at Missional Women
Fellowship Fridays at Christian Mommy Blogger
Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays