I have been reading Redeemed by Heather King for a month or so now. Normally I can read books pretty fast but this book took longer to read because so much of it hit me and so much of it validated myself to me. I never understood that I loved to write. I knew that it was something that I loved to do, but to think of myself as someone who could actually ever even dream of writing for my life’s work wasn’t even in my mind as a possibility.
I never understood why so much of my childhood was spent on top of a painter’s scaffold with a radio and a book and a journal. It was my favorite place in the entire world. I would wake up in the morning when the dew was still fresh on the grass, get dressed, grab a book, my bag with my spirals and pens, my boom box and run out the door to the field behind my house.
It was a three acre field that wasn’t really used for anything except my adventures and playground. I used to find horny toads, wild bunnies, lizards and at night it was my hunting ground for lightning bugs. I would put them in jars and watch them light up my little own Bridge to Terabithia which was the spot where my “tree house” (the scaffold) was. I spent so many nights up there with jars of lightning bugs as my only light while I looked up at the sky and wondered who else was looking at those same stars and dreaming.
There are not many times when I think of the good memories when I think of my childhood. For a very long time, the sexual abuse has been the only thing I think of when I think of being little, but the truth is that it was a very small part of my life as a child. It touched everything else in my life and every single relationship in my life, but it was only a drop in time. My days and nights up on that scaffold were the majority of what my childhood consisted of.
I used to think that was because I was weird. Because I didn’t have many friends. I never understood that reading, dreaming, and writing can be normal for some people. I am not really sure what I thought but I know that the people around me thought it was weird and my mom, who is old school Mesican, always told me to get my head out of the clouds. Reading Heather’s book made me realize that it’s pretty normal for someone who longs to write; or more so, someone who God has given the gift to be able to write to be able to be happy to stare at the sky, read a book and then write about the thoughts that flow in their head from those things.
In the fourth grade Mrs. Chestnut read my class The Bridge to Teribithia and it was the best thing to ever happen to me. It opened a whole new world of fiction chapter books. She always let me have extra time in the library to just sit and read and look at books. I still remember her standing at the end of the aisle looking at me laying on the floor with my nose in a book and smiling. She was the only person in my life who thought my imagination and love of reading was a good thing. God bless her.
Everything seemed to change in Jr. High when I discovered boys. Well, when I discovered that having boys “like” me made me feel good about myself. (Later that would be the same feeling that I got from drinking Grey Goose when the pain of how many boys and men had “liked” me got to me.) The trips to the library were less, I read fewer books and I tried harder to fit in with the kids I had grown up with who had never understood me, but for some reason I suddenly cared.
Everything really changed when some girls, who thought it was fun to torment me for being the school slut, decided it would be a ball of fun to lock me in the girls’ restroom in the dark and play “bloody mary” while telling me that a class mate of ours who had just died was going to come to take me with her. I don’t remember all the details or who exactly was a part of it all, but it changed everything. I became so scared of the dark that I never went back to my scaffold to look at the stars at night. (In full disclosure, I did find the courage to sneak out of my house at night to meet the town pervert.)
Looking back it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, when the night sky gave me nightmares instead of helping me to dream of something or someplace beyond where or who I was. It is when I accepted I would never fit in with the cool girls. I also accepted the fact that the boy that I loved was now dating my so-called friend (one of the few that I had) and the only thing that I could hope for was to have the 20 something year old man, that was picking me up after I crawled out of my window at 13 years old, love me for giving him the one thing that technically had already been taken when I was a little girl by the pervert who lived in my house. It was when the invisible mark that told similar boys and men that I was broken enough to allow them to use me as they wanted to if they just said a few nice words to me. It was also when I accepted the fact that Jesus was not concerned with me. Whoever the people are that He touched and saved were, I was not part of that group. I had no idea what group I was in, but I knew that it wasn’t the cool kid group, the happily ever after group or the group that loved a Jesus that was like winning the blessing lottery.
I have often thought that Homer’s death was my rock bottom, until I began to really look back at my life. I now realize that I hit my rock bottom at 13 when I accepted all these things. All these lies. Lies that started with my abuse and with my confusion about what the abuse was. There is so much to say about that now that I can look back and see the child that lived in that house for 10 years with the man who would buy me ponies, rape me and help me catch lightning bugs. This isn’t a post about that though; it is about how Jesus didn’t allow me to go out thinking that He didn’t love me. And why even though all these things happened to me, I can sit here and write with all the love of my heart that Jesus is my rock, my Lord and that I love Him. He makes all things new, including the heart of a girl who was hardened by believing the lies that were said to her by hateful kids, an evil voice in her head and the many men and boys who took advantage of that brokenness that made me vulnerable to them.
People can assume that they know who I am based on a few blog posts or from having spent a little time with me but the truth is that no matter how much I write or tell people about myself, nobody will ever know everything about me except God. The fact that some people try to insult me to hurt me shows that so clear because I’ve been called names and insulted since I was in the first grade and couldn’t speak English, so I have grown a pretty thick skin. But even then, it hurts, and yet I am thankful for that hurt because it reminds me where to turn for healing and that is to Jesus Christ, the name above all names. The One who has always been there to wipe away my tears and tell me that He loves me and that is all that matters. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”, He says to me.
Pain has always been a part me, but so has the healing of Christ. He is why I still stand. Heather King’s book not only helped me see that the desires of my heart are a gift but she also reminded me that there are others like me, who after all the pain, still stand and not only do we stand but we are stronger for those painful times.