It's said that "you can never go home again" but what I think's meant by that is that you can't go back in time. And while that's certainly true, at the same time I've also found that it can seem impossible to move out of your past and into the present, let alone into your future! Despite all of that, earlier this year I did make a move! I moved my family from south-central to a new place in south-west Missouri,back to my hometown!
Not only my hometown,but to the very neighborhood I grew up in...
Even though I consider myself to be a sentimental person who as such is well acquainted with the "slings and arrows"which so often accompany it I'll admit to being caught off guard by my subsequent reactions. It took a while for me to sort out why on a certain level I seemed angry about how so many things I remembered had changed! Like I was caught in the throes of some childlike egocentric fit over not having been "consulted".
I didn't say that the feelings were "right" only that I was having them!
Another thing I wasn't really prepared for was the onslaught of questions that living in such close proximity to my past would move to the front burner of my mind or the rough terrain I'd have to traverse to find the difficult answers they demanded! Questions like...
"What the heck happened to my education?"
Just exactly where and how did my life "Jump the shark" so to speak...
I want to make it really clear that this isn't just some sort of pity party I decided to throw for myself nor am I attempting to fix blame on God or anyone else. Some of the events of my life have been rather unfortunate and apart from my aforementioned personal search for answers my intent or purpose in writing about them here is to encourage others who've had or will have similar experiences.Understanding our own issues of the past can be the key to moving beyond them into a better future! I can hardly express how important it is for me to be able to look back on my life and instead of feeling despair regarding certain aspects of it, to feel hopeful. Hopeful not only because I survived it but because I somehow found the courage to go on and the faith to believe there was something better waiting for me somewhere. lastly,to express my thankfulness to my Father in heaven who did then,and does now hold me in the palm of His loving hand!
I'd like to start with this video clip which was probably taken in the summer of 1971 when I was 10yrs old. As I watched it I remember being taken aback at how happy I appear to be! This video was taken by my father during one of the most difficult periods of my life,within a few months after my parents' divorce.
The surrealistic background music provides a fitting contrast to the seemingly carefree display caught on the clip. It truly is a reality vacuum! Not only had my family recently changed in a not so good way, I'd also been the victim of significant sexual abuse on several occasions by people close to me. I'd recently become involved with a local church and had accepted Christ as my Savior, been baptized,and then when I stopped coming...forgotten.
I watched helplessly as my father who I worshiped became increasingly distant and more invested in his new life and family and less in me. I found out what it was to be hungry and to not have sufficient clothing that fit properly. And so at my lowest point,to then have my mother on whom I had become quite emotionally dependent begin spending a great deal of time away from me further compounded my feelings of insignificance. I was still just a bit too young to roam the streets after dark like my older brother...so I spent a lot of time at home alone.
When I watch this video...
I wonder what in the world I had to dance about!
And then it hit me...
I was playing the best cards I had in front of the one person I loved the most in the whole world! And despite everything wrong that had happened in my life up to that point in that moment,I chose to dance!
To block out everything else and focus on the only thing I felt had the potential to save me...
In my mind I was just doing what I'd always done...performing!
But what I was really doing was sort of the ultimate act of defiance.
I was in effect saying to the circumstances of my life,
You have not defeated me, you've thrown just about everything you could at me.
And guess what? I'm still dancing!
It still inspires me...But what happened after that? You'd think that someone with that sort of "sand" would probably go far in life. I think what happened to me, and what happens to a lot of other people too is that we eventually become convinced that there's nothing in this life worth dancing (or smiling) for!
When the subject of my education comes up what happened is no surprise considering I'd been a dedicated addict for almost six years at the age of 17. What I struggle to understand is why my school counselors and administrative staff chose to ignore what was happening. I attended a vocational course in the mornings which I was bused to and from daily and then spent the afternoons in various classes. As that last semester of my junior year came to a close I believe I was simply overwhelmed by the assignments which were due. Not knowing quite how to handle that I chose to simply skip the last eight days of afternoon classes...and so I flunked the eleventh grade!
I understand that I wasn't the only "problem child" they were dealing with but I wonder could they of made a phone call to my parents? Aren't there policies in place concerning this type of infraction? One last thing,anyone that reads this who attended my high school or any high school in the seventies for that matter knows what it was like as far as drug use on campus is concerned,and so, after they failed as an institution to provide a safe and secure environment for students to learn in and I become a victim of that I'm appalled that they could then decide that the thing to do is throw me out!
This took place during a time when my mother was going through another divorce from her second husband and we ended up moving from an upper class home in an exclusive neighborhood into a small two bedroom apartment. I did enroll the next year at a different school and lasted maybe a month before my principal at vocational school suggested that what would be best for me would be to quit school and get a GED. I did get a GED, and that was basically the end of my formal education although in truth I believe I learned precious little from formal schooling past the age of about 12.
One of the most common, if not the most common things you'll hear Christian ministers say is "God has a plan for your life" and of course I believe that! I also believe that our enemy has a plan for us too...I'm convinced that on the day I made that walk down the isle and knelt down at an altar to accept Christ as my Lord and Savor there was a celebration in heaven! I also believe there was an emergency board meeting in hell! That meeting's purpose was to put the kibosh on the plans my heavenly Father had for me and subvert the role I was designed to play in ushering in His kingdom.My sense is that there must of been no small amount of surprise and disappointment expressed by the attendee's that their earlier efforts on my behalf had had so little present effect on me.
Knowing that my souls redemption was a done deal at this point, their only remaining option was to try and stop me from doing what I had the God given potential to do and be in Gods Kingdom by whatever means available to them! I mentioned at the beginning the feelings I'd been having and what I thought they were related to. However at this point I'd have to say that they're actually directed at the forces of darkness which have for many years stolen so much from me in this life. Who've worked diligently behind the scenes orchestrating circumstances and events in my life to do towards me what's prescribed in the mission statement below...
Obviously there's a disconnect between those two premises...
These are all life verses to me...
They give me hope,encouragement and peace in the midst of my storms!
King David danced before the Lord. Out of joy that the Ark of The Covenant had at last been returned to Jerusalem. David had to go through quite a painful learning process as he endeavored to lay down his will and surrender completely to God. In my life I've been challenged by similar lessons,it seems as though I too was following the example of the Philistines! Learning to trust that God truly does know what He's doing allows me to be able to sit, (or dance) so that He can stand for me! The answers to our problems are still the same for us today as they were for David then! All of us have a God sized hole which can only be filled by drawing closer to Him! By staying focused on The Father, through our Lord who is Love,which is the answer,instead of on our world and it's problems! If we can do that, we can also experience the continual joy of being in the Lords presence!
To me,that's what "learning to dance" means...