I stood alone behind
My self-made wall of fear and pride.
It kep the world locked out
(Me with my fears, locked up inside).
There were no doors or windows
In this fortress I had made
(I couldn’t take a chance
Someone would see my guilt and shame).
One day, you knocked upon my wall
And old me of a light–
The light of God’s acceptance
That could put my fears to flight.
You said if I surrendered,
Laying down my will, my pride,
That He would be my fortress–
(There’d be no more need to hide).
Carefully, with trembling hands,
I lifted off one brick.
Then I removed another
(Thought I wasn’t moving quick!).
A ray of light came shining
Through the window I had made–
As time went on, I found
I was a little less afraid.
I took more bricks down one by one
Until I built a door.
Then I ventured out
(A risk I couldn’t take before!).
Not only did I tip-toe out–
I let some people in.
They weren’t a threat–
They were a joy!
I found some special friends.
I built an altar from those bricks,
Offered up my fear and pride,
Then found to my amazement–
There was more room for peace inside!
Tearing down my fortress
Was the beginning of hope for me.
Now life is becoming better
Than I ever dreamed it could be
Letting go of what’s behind,
Embracing what’s ahead,
Going through the changes
As I feel I have been led.
To learn and trust and grow.
Believing when I ask His will
He’ll give me grace to know.
Grasping for serenity
And fragile peace of mind
Praying for the power
To do what I may find.
I make now this commitment
(which I know won’t be the last
for it is but a stepping stone
along this winding path)
So now that I have given it
My all, my very best,
I have to LET IT GO
And trust in Him to do the rest.
August 28, 1988
In the Mending the Soul group I was in, the chapter we were on was on deadness – how abuse deadens your soul and how God wants to help you get out of that …. I was like – if I knew how to do this different, I would have done it by now!
Then, one night I dreamed of a coffin laying in the yard with a lid off as we tried to move on. Wondering who died. Had to make a decision what to do with this. Wanted to leave it but knew I couldn’t finish moving until I dealt with the body in the box.
Lazarus, what was it like for you?
You’d been with the Master, knew what He could do….
Did you feel abandoned when He let you die
Instead of coming to save your life?
(Did you cry?)
Your sisters wept in anguish
They hated to see you go-
You were all friends with Jesus-
(Or at least you thought so….)
(Why was He so slow?
Your friends bound you with grave clothes
And wept at your tomb
Comforted your sisters
While you lay in darkness, alone
He came when you’d been dead four days-
(Martha said that you would smell)
He didn’t hold back –this was nothing new….
(He knows broken people so well).
He came and he wept
Told your friends, “Roll back the stone”
He called you out into His light.
Said, “Unbind him and let him go.”
How did you feel when you saw His face?
Did it matter how long it had been?
Or were you just grateful to out of the tomb
To be able to live again?
Dreamed tonight of my cup of sorrow–
Sitting in a garden on a stone table, moonlight reflecting off its surface.
Jesus said it was time to deal with the cup –
I tried to argue saying, “No, right now this cup is too full.
I can’t drink from this without it spilling all over…”
But the Man of Sorrows had seen each sorrow when it came into my life.
He walked with me into the garden as together, we approached the cup….
When I was an innocent child and the monsters came-it was not my fault
He too was hated and rejected by people (Is 53:3)
When they told me never to speak of it again-and I locked myself in silence, gave up my voice
He too was beaten down and punished but he didn’t say a word. (IS 53:7)
When I was raped at school and went home feeling violated and alone
He was wounded for this wrong (Is 53:5)
When others dumped their shame on me, saying “If something bad happened, you deserved it.”
People would not even look at him either (Is 53:3)
When they said I was worthless and everyone I loved would abandon me
He was hated and we didn’t even notice him either (Is 53:3)
When I found the nest of snakes and memories came back of being covered with them
He was wounded and crushed for this evil (Is 53:5)
When I could not carry Dad’s depression for him and wanted to die from the weight of it
He took our suffering on him and felt our pain for us (Is 53:4)
When those I loved suffered and I could not protect them from
We are being healed because of his wounds. (Is 53:5)
Songs that help:
Under My Feet-Zach Williams
The Hidden Face of God-Michael Card …
The Suffering Symbol-Michael Card
Arise My Love-Michael Card
How do you forgive a ghost, a monster, a memory?
They have no name – just the devastation they left in their path–
Like an oozy-sticky-gooey sucking trail of toxic waste
It still runs down the mountain like volcanic lava
Burning generations left in its wake…
How do you stop it?
One of my childhood monsters reappeared in a dream
when my children were young.
He said, “You can’t protect them from me.”
I was afraid, but I thought surely this was from the Liar –
The monster I knew was gone –
Fled the country.
Surely those I loved were out of his reach.
But monsters can reach through time,
Slipping under the radar like stealth bombers
Sneaking in to drop their payload
in the depth of a starless night.
I cannot control other people’s actions.
I can only seek recovery and lay down the fear.
How do I forgive a monster?
(Or am I the monster I need to forgive?)
Each generation seeks an answer.
For those who follow us
We’ve got to make this end.
April 27, 2020
The road looks so uncertain
Although you’re really hurtin’ –
You wonder ’bout the choice that you have made
To commit to real life changing
And permanent rearanging
Is enough to make us all a bit afraid.
But on the path you’re moving
There’s sure to be improving
And with each step comes strength to carry on.
For one day at a time
By God’s grace we shall find
That in our weakness we can be made strong.
So don’t look back, my brother.
Take one step then another
And the strength you need will surely be revealed.
As you choose to walk this pathway,
Please know you chose the right way
And in your life His grace will be revealed.
(written for a friend, August 12, 1988, as he was on his way to treatment….
he died this week clean and sober, restored to his kids, grandkids and great grandkids, and loved by a lot of folks in his community who had been encouraged by his gentleness and kindness and helped out by his practical assistance in so many ways….gonna miss you, Tim).
Trembling inside, I walked through that door
Unsure just what I was looking for
But hoping that somehow there’d be a way
To find the strength for another day.
I hid in a chair in the back of the place
Averting my eyes from each friendly face.
Afraid of being rejected again
And not expecting to find a friend.
Experience shared gave me strength to hope
As I heard how the others have coped
With the things that threatened to do them in-
How they’re learning to trust and starting to mend.
But as the meeting neared its close
I heard these words and my heart froze–
“Anyone else? How ’bout the blond?”
(Oh LORD, how I wished that I was gone!)
I couldn’t run – made a quick reply,
Curled up inside and wanted to cry.
As soon as I could I headed for home
Too scared to reach out, staying safe but alone.
As I went down the highway I started to see
The wonderful gift that had been given to me.
Acceptance had been there when I walked in the door
‘Cause each of those present walked in these shoes before.
The fear and the pain to them were nothing new.
They didn’t crowd my space ’cause they’d been through it too.
Now by that acceptance I’m drawn back again
To experience the strength and the hope of these friends.
She’s looking back
to the nowhere track
That self-made hell
where drunks and addicts dwell.
Torment inside —
Emotional downhill slide.
Didn’t think to make a call.
Set herself up to fall.
What a fearful place
Alone again to face
That choosing the easier way
Means with her life she’d pay.
Thank God, she can’t forget–
(The memories haunt her yet)
As to her knees she falls
And for deliverance calls:
God of my sanity,
Quick! Calm the storm in me!
The waves are oh so high.
I cannot see the sky.
The boat is shakin, Lord.
I cannot find the oars.
Help me choose life again,
Let go and let you in.
I surrender, Lord,
‘Cause I can’t afford
To do it any other way.
Little girl, quiet and shy,
Afraid of the secrets
That are buried inside.
She’s got lots of questions
But no one to ask
How she can be free at last.
But in the arms of Jesus
She is finally free
To tell her story
And be believed.
He gives her His comfort,
She can rest in His care.
God’s loved little lamb
Is protected there.
In the still of the nighttime
She cries in her room
As the memories close in-
Make her heart like a tomb.
Here brutal oppressors
Once had their way,
But Christ the Good Shepherd
Is her comfort today.
Singer and Shepherd,
Savior and Lord-
What some came to steal
He has come to restore.
With tender compassion
A broken heart mends.
Where once lived despair,
There is laughter again.
The room is empty
My heart is full
Sing redemption’s song
Child of God
Not trash, thrown away
I rejoice in His love
It is a new day
My heart like a tomb
Was locked and closed
But the stone’s rolled away
From that empty room
With all the witnesses surrounding us-
(Those who provided wisdom, comfort and courage)
Who show overcoming is possible,
(because they have done it!),
We let go of the wounds that pierced us.
Then we don’t fall back into the familiar sins,
(trusting ourselves instead of God,
isolation, deadness and locking everyone out).
Then we can run the marathon He set out for us
With passion and determination,
Journeying to the high places with the Shepherd of love-
The One who loved us even before we knew what love was.
He delights in us, He wanted us, He came for us
And calls us out of our darkness into His light.
He endured the agony of the cross
for the joy of knowing we would be his
And conquered its humiliation.
Because of Him, we can conquer ours.
If we focus on Him,
We will not be overcome
By the evil of those who oppose their own souls
Or be worn down or cave in under life’s pressures.
Thoughts on Hebrew 12:1-3
Paraphrased from the Passion Translation
Last night I dreamed I built an altar on the ashes of the house where my nightmares came from…a place where people who seemed normal, spiritual, responsible and reasonable in their public lives abused and tortured children in the quiet, dark, hidden places.
In an act of divine justice (figuratively speaking in the world of my dreams), the house and barn where these things happened were burned to the ground. Nothing but ashes and a few bricks left. No more hidden places for memories to pop out of-no taunting, intrusive interruptions to the serenity of a reasonable life of gratitude and peace acquired the hard way.
On the altar, I engraved “to the God who didn’t leave me there.”
(A line from this poem “From the Child” I wrote years ago when this journey to healing began…)
…I surrender, God, not to what they did,
But to the need to choose each day to live.
I surrender to the need to grow
And face the things You choose to show.
I surrender to the loving care
Of the God who didn’t leave me there,
Who calls me, one day at a time
To walk with Him and face what I find,
Knowing, as He did before,
That He can lead me through each door
And give me the tools I need to live–
To choose to grow and the grace to forgive.
Too easy to leave the scene on Good Friday
Convinced Hope has died and the story is over …
Even the disciples,
These ones who were chosen
Who had seen water turned to wine,
Loaves and fishes multiplied
Dead people raised
Blind people seeing and lepers cleansed
Still left confused and afraid…thinking they were abandoned.
I am so like them….
When dreams die or hope is buried
When I am dead
In my woundedness
I so easily lose my way-sink back to the pit I came from…
But the finder of lost sheep (and lost disciples)
Does not abandon us on the shores of our desolation
Because He knows our hearts better than we ever will
He will meet us on the shore with fresh fish on the fire
To feed our hungry souls. He knows we are human.
Hope will rise again.
Teresa Norman April 2020
Recently, I dreamed I had on a beautiful white satin dress
And I was standing on a small stool.
There were tears, rips, and messy jagged gashes
Torn in the beautiful garment I was wearing.
It looked like I had been in a fight–
Like some terrible violent thing had happened!
But as I stood on the stool, leaning into strong arms
I saw several sets of gentle, competent hands
Equipped with needle and thread
Skillfully repairing the tears in my beautiful garment.
At first, I couldn’t understand what was happening,
But as I woke up, I understood –
God saw me in my weakness and my trouble
And brought me to this place
Because He loved me.
If I didn’t panic,
Didn’t run from the help being offered,
If I stayed with the process,
(even when I thought I could not)–
These loving repairers of my tattered life
Would be the hands of Jesus to help mend my soul.
Help me to be a soul mender
(not one those who make the tears in the first place).
Help me to be one of those who lift up the broken,
Providing mercy for the memories
And a place of safety for those who need to heal.
Help me never take for granted Your grace.
Only You can make us whole.
Thank you for the soul menders in my life.
Teresa Norman Apr 2020
Lord, I need an undivided heart –
Pieces of mine still lay in the rubble
Of the damage done
By those who came before-
who tortured a little girl
Who, instead of singing songs about a sunrise,
Now cowers from its light.
I know you as a Father-
A loving, gentle Savior
(I’m sure I do-
The evidence of your great faithfulness
Has sustained me this far) …
But a piece of my heart,
(the piece still under the wreckage
In the far corner of my not-quite-outrun past)
Questions if maybe you are a bully….
(Not the kind who does the damage –
Not the kind who cheers on the others,
But the kind who watches and maybe holds their coats…
You don’t speak.
You don’t make them stop.
You stand in silence…)
How can my heart be in two places?
I cannot repair it myself. I have tried.
God, I need you.
Teresa Norman 2020