I may be a little unraveled, like a dress caught in the rip tides of the cold Pacific Ocean, weighed down by sand and coming undone, but I survived. And even if the tide comes in again and tries to drag me back to the cold, dark sea, I will survive. I have learned to swim, I have learned to navigate the currents. If I can just reach God’s hand someday, I will learn to dance on top of the water in celebration of finding the joy beyond the horizon of endurance.
There was a time when I spent my nights watching the moon and moving stars, anxiety rolling me over and over. Then I realized, I could travel with fear or faith, the outcome was always better with faith.
When I looked at my life through the lens of fear, the sun never seemed to rise and the day was a chain of storms, and energy spent trying to control an uncontrollable universe.
When I finally let go and swam, I looked up at the Son, and let the mighty waves carry me to shore. I learned that I arrived at the almost the same destination, filled with joy. In the light of hope and faith, I saw the miracles which had been there all along. I was delighted by the blessings laying scattered on the sandy beach. In the watery reflection of each day, I caught a glimpse of Heaven.
New Testament, Matthew 14
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
This is the question everyone asks me when they learn I work with survivors of intimate partner violence.
So to answer the question, I have a question for you. Look around you right now, wherever you are and ask yourself, “Would I be willing to leave my partner, home, job, car, possibly children, extended family, and phone today? Right now?
Survivors wrestle with this question and more. Blaming them is not the answer. Maybe the question should be, why do people abuse each other, hit, assault? Maybe the question should be, “Why doesn’t the abuser leave?”
Announcing an exciting new collaboration to illuminate healing from abuse and capture hearts!
What happens when creatives have an idea and they collide? Vikki Downs, Cedar Fort Marketing Director sparked an idea. What if we combined art and writing to bring awareness and hope to survivors and their loved ones?
And what if you could contribute?
That was all it took!
I called Haley Miller of Haley Miller’s Captures Photography. Haley, a true creative listened, was inspired, packed and here in two days! Driven by the power of an idea and the family van!
Haley had been creating beautiful photographic art like the pieces below.
I have long believed in the power of changing one heart at a time.
Abuse is a difficult subject. It is easy to swipe past it on our screens. One-second glance and it is gone. But that same one second of time can be used to touch a soul.
What if every day we all shared one positive thought, we cared for just a minute and we all encouraged the survivors in our world?
That is why I will also be adding a page to my website for Haley Miller’s Photographic art and for you to share your stories. We want to hear about moments that have changed your heart or acts of service you are doing to touch others.
Haley’s art will be traveling with me to bookstores, book clubs, firesides, and events.
Has an act of kindness captured your heart or changed the way you feel about yourself or a survivor you care about? Have you participated in a service project for others?
Please share your experiences and we will share some of ours.
I hope survivors and the world can walk together towards healing.
My father Jeffrey was in the 5th grade in the 1940s. Christmas was coming and his class prepared to sing carols at the school Christmas concert.
The teacher stood at the front of the class and told all the children to close their eyes and put their heads down on their desks. She said she was going to walk up and down the rows. If she touched their head, they shouldn’t sing or they would ruin the concert.
Jeffrey listened to the teacher walk and then felt a tap on his head. Jeffrey stopped singing. In fact, Jeffrey almost never sang again.
At every church meeting, his children asked why he didn’t sing. He would tell the story of being asked not to sing and assure us he was terrible.
Finally, Jeffrey was the bishop in his church and sat in front of the congregation weekly. His grown children didn’t just encourage him to try singing, they badgered him. Bravely, Jeffrey did something unusual, he took a risk and sang.
Admittedly, when I heard his first attempts, I wanted to say, “You’re right. Please stop Dad!” But somewhere in his wobbly tones, there was a buttery voice and potential, so we smiled and he continued to sing, every note and every song just a little better than the one before.
No one who hears him today would think he had ever felt so much shame about his voice, that he had been silent for over 40 years.
Brene Brown, the author of “Daring Courageously,” said 85% of adults she interviewed remembered experiencing an event in school which was so shaming it changed their lives forever. 50% of those people shared the shame wounds were around creativity. Brene called these wounds, “Art Scars,” in her podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert on “Big Strong Magic.”
My father had a deep and painful Art Scar. But unlike most of us, he chose to risk being creative and sing. In taking the risk he has healed.
Do you have art scars?
We have learned the human heart and brain are beautiful things, able to change and heal. Trauma survivors, wired for anxiety and stress can rewire their own brains by learning healthy “go to” ways to cope involving creativity and movement. But for many victims the thought of sharing their innermost feelings in a tangible way is terrifying and creates a fear of rejection, inflaming old art scars.
Many years ago the person I loved the most told me my writing and painting were foolish wastes of time for a young mother. Overcome with grief, and believing this older man, I put the toys of my youth away. Gradually something inside me began to grow. It was an unmet need, painfully growing until I recognized the importance of self-care and dusted off my paint brushes.
Writing my book was a wonderful, private experience. I enjoyed every minute of it until I decided to take it to the next level and risk ridicule again by publishing.
I remember filling out the online book submission form and staring at the send button. You could have sliced my fear of rejection with a knife. The triumph was hitting the send button. Success or failure, taking the risk was a moment of healing and personal growth.
Is there a dream, a wish, a creation waiting inside your heart?
Some survivors share their art scars or fear when I talk to them about letting go of addictions and filling their lives with healthy coping skills like writing or artwork. Do you doodle all day, but dream of creating a masterpiece?
Brene Brown went on to say she used to believe there were creative and non-creative people. But after her research, she understood there was no such thing as creative people. She said, “There are just people who use their creativity and people who don’t…unused creativity is not benign.”
Find your inner creator!
It never occurred to my father, even after years of repeating his story, that maybe the tap on his head was just a mean boy sitting next to him playing a prank. If you have ancient art scars, speak as kindly to yourself as you speak to others. Take another look at your story and give it a happy ending.
Displaying your creation is not necessary for healing. The process is powerful enough.
It is my belief we are all children of the greatest creator of all time, our Heavenly Father. Everything we do is worthy of a magnet and space on our own personal refrigerator.
Creating can be a spiritual experience in a lifetime of consuming. Creation is our chance to organize our thoughts and share our feelings in a tangible way.
This week, if you have a buried desire to create, take a risk. Don’t compare your first steps to world class musicians or feel pressured to share your beginning work with anyone who isn’t safe. Safe, as in has your back, will laugh with you if you hit a sour note and cheer you on for your courage.