operation: rescue me

My family didn’t take tons of vacations growing up.

It’s quite likely that’s why my husband and I try to take a week for spring break and a week for summer vacation to give our kids that time away from home and those day-to-day surroundings to spend time with them without the hassle of our “regular” jobs interfering. (Plus, those times are *great* bonding times . . . uh huh–ok, seriously, our vacations are always wrought with detailed stories of what went wrong so we can share with our friends and family back home. Makes for great sit-com material!)

But I digress. As a young girl, I recall several small trips to amusement parks and stays in hotels, and while those memories are hazy at times, there was one particular trip I have remembered this week over others.

I don’t recall how old I was, although I asked my family and their best guess is 8 or 9 (oh, the connection there and why I recall this vacation . . . later on that). I don’t know why my parents chose this spot for our family get-away that year, but off to Kentucky we went. Traveling with my younger brother (our youngest sibling wasn’t born yet), and our parents, we were off on an adventure that honestly, I think I was curious about, but not really excited about.

What? Not excited about a vacation? Why, you may ask?

Have you ever been to the national park known as Mammoth Cave? Yeah, I know, it’s a cool place to explore and enjoy and appreciate natural beauty. And yes, I do remember a bit about the stalactites and stalagmites. (It’s likely the first time I heard, “Stalactites hold TIGHT to the ceiling; stalagmites MIGHT reach the top”.) I recall walking down a set of stairs, holding tightly to the provided rail, rickety as it appeared. My dad was likely leading the tribe of four; my mother, holding my brother’s hand, keeping him safe from the potential falls and trips the cracks and steps tempted.

cave.jpgMuch of the tour, I don’t have a memory of, but I do know at the furthest point into the cave, the guide stopped us to tell us some interesting fact about cave structure or something. There was no way out except the way we came, and that way was so far gone that we would need the guide to show us the path back to the light. But the one thing I know for certain? I know that guide did something that has haunted me these decades later.

He had the lights shut off!

And darkness surrounded us–me–like no other feeling. Yes, darkness–a feeling.

Such hopelessness.

Such helplessness.

Such longing for rescue.

Such desire to reach out for something. For someone. Anyone.

And that darkness–that feeling of despair–I had felt before, and have felt since.

And I could “hear” another door lock, trapping me inside my nightmare.

**TRIGGER WARNING**

If you’ve read anything of mine before this, you know I am an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. And the boy who was involved, made me keep it a secret for all the times he did wrong acts, letting me believe that I would be the one who would be in trouble. And I have never been one to embrace getting in trouble.

So the connection to Mammoth Cave? Can I be real with you? I can’t and won’t go into details, but I know for a fact that the boy had made sure we were locked inside a structure so we wouldn’t get caught and only he could get out once we were done “playing”. And the minute doors closed and the heat rose, I knew what would happen. Even though there was a small window at the top, I could feel the darkness close in on me, literally and figuratively.

And all I wanted to do was escape.  To get out.

The feeling of being trapped is like none other. The feeling you can’t breathe, can’t move, can’t see a way into the light . . . all too real for this survivor.That feeling has never really vanished from my presence. I find my anxiety heighten when I feel enclosed in spaces, or feel I can’t find an easy accessible path to the light, away from potential danger or harm.

Even writing this memory this week has been difficult, but I feel God has some amazing and powerful words He wants to give to me/us to heal from such trauma.

I originally thought I wanted to use the memory as a springboard for me to address how dark our world is and how God is the light of the world.

I then considered a comparison between the darkness surrounding us in the world of depression.

But, as I’ve had to face the haunting memory of this vacation, I see that God wants to teach me something a bit deeper. Remember how old I was when we went to Mammoth Cave? 8 or maybe 9? That is significant because, although I don’t recall the exact age of my abuse, that’s about where I can round-about figure much of it took place. No wonder that image of the darkness in the cave was such a traumatic event in my young life, and now has triggered me to the point of flashback to the sounds of the door latching and locking from childhood. (Up until this week, I had never really had a sound association of the past).

So, while I don’t have all the answers (I don’t have many answers), here’s what I MUST claim to believe:darkness

  • Depression is like that cave, like the place I was taken advantage of: dark, lonely, scary, and desperate.  BUT with the right guide to rescue us from the dark places, we can and will see victory.
  • The trauma I endured and survived were very dark places, physically, mentally, emotionally, but they were NOT MY FAULTSomeone else turned out the lights and created a darkness.
  • Triggers from the past may never truly go away. But the way, time, and manner in which I recover can and will get better. It takes support from a safe community and safe set of trusted friends and family.
  • The darkness can always lead to a light . . . THE LIGHT. I need to find the ONLY ONE who can lead me out and guide me with His hand.
  • There is ONLY ONE who can do the guiding. No one else can take my hand and safely lead me to freedom.

Once again, I’m reminded how much I love the group All Sons and Daughters and their song “I am Set Free”.  Here are the lyrics and the track. I hope you take time to listen and allow the words and the music to wash over you and you are able to see the light in the midst of darkness. Jesus can and will lead you out of any darkness you feel covered by.

“I Am Set Free”chains

You broke my chains of sin and shame
And You covered me with grace
And You mend my life with Your holy fire
You cover me with graceAnd You are the hand that reaches out to save

And I am set free, oh oh oh
I am set free, oh oh oh
It is for freedom that I am set free
[x2]

And yes Lord
We are grateful
For Your grace
And for Your love

Yes Lord
We are grateful
For Your grace
And for Your love
[x3]

‘Cause You are the hand that reaches out to save

I am set free, oh oh oh
I am set free, oh oh oh
It is for freedom that I am set free

And I am set free, oh oh oh
I am set free, oh oh oh
It is for freedom that I am set free

As difficult as this post was for me to write and share (it literally sent me into a darkness myself), I am holding tightly to the hand of God that reaches out to save me. I believe JESUS CHRIST is the guide I need to guide me from darkness, shame, and captivity.  In Him, there is freedom.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5)

1003156_10201726984241357_35129205_n*Author’s note:  My name is Phoenix. I’m just a simple gal living a simple life for God. I’m a wife, mom, teacher, and writer/blogger. I want to let you know how humbled I am that you found my blog and chose to read the words God has given me this day. If you find this, or any other of these writings helpful or encouraging to you or someone you know, please feel free to share with your community/social media/e-mail, etc. I am willing to be used by God and welcome your extension of grace and encouragement.

Blessings to you all. I will rise . . .

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