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Running Up The Stairs

Family, House of HopeDeane Watters1 Comment

Written for and posted on the blog at  houseofhopecr.org 1/18/17 blog post-3

 

Over fifty years ago my dad died in a road construction accident. Somehow the pay loader he was driving swerved off the road and into the ditch. As it fell, the bucket swung and he died immediately.

I was 12 years old.

Thinking about him takes me back to one of my first memories. Three years old, I found myself awake in the middle of the night. Not in my own room, I wanted to leave. But after walking around and around the room, searching with my little arms outstretched, the door just couldn’t be found! So I cried out. Immediately the hallway light came on and as I hurried to the top of the stairs, I discovered my dad running up the stairs to rescue me from the darkness.

These many years later I wonder about that story and why it is lodged in my memory, perhaps in a hopeful place.

Listening to the life stories of many women I often find that a profuse number of dads have not understood their role in the lives of their daughters. They don’t know how fragile their little girls are, how much they desire attention and love that can only come from their fathers.  Inside the heart of all little girls is a place where only the love of a dad can settle.  This spot can either be filled with dad love or it can require a life time of trying to fill itself with the kind of love that only dad’s are designed to give. I’ve often said that I think little girls should come with a little tag tied to their big toe that says, “DAD, express your love for this little daughter of yours. What she thinks you think about her will affect her entire life. The kind of love is she needs is given by spending time with her, showing that she is smart, pretty and worthy of love. She needs you to love her mother, to be protective, safe and reliable. I think most of all she needs to know that you know her and you are proud of what you see.  This kind of knowing frees her to love herself. Confidence grows out of such awareness.”

I didn’t know my dad very well. I’m pretty sure he didn’t know much about me, my favorite color, my dreams, fears or my latest crush. My heart was unknown, un-pursued. As a result I think I lost sight of myself in those years.

Of course, as an adult, I can articulate and understand the reasons.

Thankfully I had another Father, God whose eyes never left me, came after me, loved me and healed my heart. He and I have spent a lifetime running up the stairs to find my lost little self and to say, “You’re going to be just fine. I’m here now. Father God and I will always be near. ”

But on a dark evening fifty-two years ago, my dad lost his chance to father well. He missed the opportunity to show me that I was worth rescuing, even if it was only from a darkened room upstairs in a rickety old farmhouse in northwest Iowa. I often wonder if that first memory of mine was real. Or was it only a dream embedded in the heart of a lost little girl who longed for a daddy to love her.

Wouldn't It Be Better to Just Hide?

House of HopeDeane Watters1 Comment

One afternoon while scrubbing in the bathroom, just doing my routine household duties, an image suddenly popped into my mind. With the image came a memory. The story with this image was familiar because it was told to me years ago while facilitating a class at House of Hope.

2016-04-30_0008The description was short but graphic and horrific. In the years since I heard it, it hasn’t gone away from me. I haven’t forgotten it. Tucked away in my memory, it stayed hidden, until an unguarded, innocent moment.

Another thought followed. Why do I open myself to the pain of others when there is the danger of keeping some of it stashed in the dark corners of my own mind? Wouldn’t it be better to just hide in my own little “safe” life?

This story was not mine. But the described image comes back every now and then. I see the scenario, hear the noises and imagine the pain. I wonder at unthinkable selfishness; the kind that heaps shame on innocent people.

I’ve come to call these flashbacks to a sister’s story - battle wounds. They are the cost of fighting for women’s hearts and souls. Fighting for freedom from shame and worthlessness requires heavy weapons, ones that present the possibility of wounding or scarring. Listening to the stories, Identifying lies, seeking truth, encouraging feelings, digging deeper and asking insightful questions requires insight, wisdom, prayer and diligence…and sometimes tears along with agonizing sadness.

2016-04-30_0007When I help others process what happened to them, I work hard. I seek connections and concentrate on details. I watch body language and pray as I go, desperately asking God to lead and guide me to His truth and wisdom.

But along the way, sometimes, I get hit with something I didn’t see coming; a story leaves an image that stays and once in a while, pops up unexpectedly.

Does that mean the work is too dangerous? Does it suggest that keeping myself safe is more important than getting out there and fighting! Should I have stopped long ago?

My answer is, "No!" I count it a privilege to suffer this flashback in honor of the women I walk with; the ones who bravely sift through the details and feelings of the life they have lived, step by step right through the lies and into the freedom of light and truth. For many, this process is life changing.

Amy Tan writes, “In the telling of stories something happens, your whole perception and memory of things begins to change and you can let go of what you have just told - you give it away.” In letting go, we begin the healing process.

And those of us who carefully and seriously walk along side, sometimes get hit in the process. But I can only count it an honor and remind myself:

  • I can keep an image that pops up in my mind or I can refuse to “savor” it by remembering Paul’s encouragement to think on whatever is true, pure, lovely and excellent. (Philippians 4:8) If it presents itself, I can reject it.
  • I can understand that this kind of work needs to be covered in protective prayer. I am not on my own here. I have powerful resources, God himself, who is with me to fight the battle.
  • God’s Word is here to help me also. It is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword and I can use it for this protection. Psalm 5:12 tells me that the LORD surrounds those he loves with his favor, as with a shield. I can visualize this shield of protective love surrounding me as I do battle with evil in the stories I hear. This is not my fight. But it is outright war on horrible memories that seek to ruin people’s lives.
  • I can be self-controlled and alert, knowing that my enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. I am called to resist him, standing firm in the faith.
  • I can stand in the Light. In Him, no darkness can remain.

2016-05-09_0001Yes, it would be easier to just hide from all this sister-pain. But I know from which I, myself have been delivered and so I remain firm in my determination to walk in the truth of God’s complete grace-filled love. Often we just need some healing in order to actually be free to experience that beautiful love. So I stand with the sword in my hand and declare: “You are not defined by what happened to you!” Come along and let me tell you some things about our great God’s amazing love and the truth He declares about you.

in the light

Deane Watters3 Comments

2016-01-20_0008 Glancing out my kitchen window this morning, I found the morning sun highlighting our sedum, the last flowering plant in our garden. Little white stars line the blossom, glimmer quietly and respond to the warmth and brightness of the early pure light. Such an inviting way to welcome the new day and to remember the One who has given such simple gifts!

God, you are resplendent with light. (Psalm 76:4)

may i squint in the glow

Deane Watters1 Comment

2016-01-20_0011 At the end our our early walk today, my friend and I rambled down the alley a ways, beyond the spot where we usually depart. Signs of the approaching season's change showed in an understated display. Flattened foliage, dry leaves and plants still pretty with enduring white flowers glowed quietly in the fresh light. As I turned to go home I caught the sun beaming in my eyes, illuminating the alley in a fresh wash of warm light.

In Psalm 112 David writes about the person who fears the LORD. "He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is secure, he will have no fear."

Even though winter may be close by and bad news may be around the corner, we can remain rooted and solid, never shaken, secure. Having faith in our living Hope, our circumstances do not overwhelm us. Quiet confidence rises in the warm glow of His comforting presence.

Like flowers still blooming with frost just around the corner, I will love this day.  I plan to find joy in unexpected places and savor it as a gift. Tomorrow will have worries of its own. I have a God who loves me and who will be with me through whatever comes my way. May I squint in the gleam of his nearness!