How is it possible? How can a memory hold such power that the thought of it stirs up emotion that causes goosebumps to form on her arm? How could such an insignificant memory have such a profound impact on years of her life? How can a grown woman hold such a small memory inside her for so long only to have it pop up and transform her into a little girl?
A pretty little girl, really. Even though she didn’t think so. Full of so much energy that her daddy called her Ms. Pac Man. (That should shed light on how long the memory sat in the back of her mind.)
She worked and tried and pleased and smiled. Every day.
“Don’t disappoint anyone.”
She tried to love the unlovable, to befriend the lonely, to be fun and kind and smart. Well, to be good. She tried so hard to be liked. To be loved. But there she sat, flat in the mud under the high bar.
The boy dared her. “I bet you can’t reach it.” So she jumped. After all, her brothers would be disappointed if she didn’t take a dare.
But she couldn’t reach. She couldn’t do it. She didn’t impress anyone.
And she landed in a heap only to see every eye on the playground looking and laughing at the perfect little girl in her perfect little dress lying perfectly still and covered in mud.
Time holds no power in a moment like that. Nor does it seem to hold much power decades later. Time just freezes when a small heart is faced with a feeling that is greater than it can bear. But no heart can bear issues such as that at such an early age.
So she sat in the cold, brown mud for what seemed like an eternity hoping that no one noticed.
But, terrified that no one noticed.
Somehow, the brain doesn’t remember if anyone actually helped her up but it does remember the white, sterile, clean hallway that she walked down, alone, to the offices. It does remember the secretary calling her mom. It does remember the eternity of sitting in those wet and dirty clothes, alone on the nurses cot, waiting. It does remember wanting to beg her daddy to move so she would never have to show her face again.
But they didn’t…and that’s where the memory ends.
Someone brought clothes. She changed. Classes resumed. She grew up and no one in all of history would ever remember that moment – but her.
Somehow, that moment relived itself over the years in various forms. Different circumstances. Different faces. Different failures. Some by her own hand, many by the hands of others; but all carrying the same central message.
“You’re a mess and either people will laugh at you or you simply won’t be worth their attention.”
The echo of a little girl’s voice that played over and over and over again in her mind. The voice that made her doubt, or shout, depending on the level of fear. The voice that encouraged the walls that she built. The voice that kept her from attempting…anything. And the voice that caused her to try too much. All in the futile attempt to be seen.
But then there was the dream.
Large wooden doors opened into a huge white room. She froze for what seemed like an eternity but then felt compelled to take a step. Alone. One and then another. Down the long corridor that was warm with light like she had never seen and heavy with a presence that seemed terrifying yet irresistible and somewhat familiar.
Then she saw Him and her eyes quickly fell to his feet. She couldn’t bear to look in his face. The thought that he may see her, completely, was terrifying. But the thought that he wouldn’t see her at all was even worse.
Suddenly, she felt herself surrounded. Cradled. Lifted from the floor and placed in the safest and most perfect place she’d ever known. All around her was white light. Brighter than the sun. No shadow and no distinct features. She couldn’t see his face but knew that she was being held in arms that would never fail. Stronger than any arms she had ever clung to for safety or love. And it all made sense. He had been there all along. Waiting for her to see him. To know his presence in every shame, every circumstance, every heart break, every lonely moment, every hopeless day and in every regret.
“I’ve always seen you. I’ve seen every single moment… and you are beautiful, my dear.”
She knew instantly that, regardless of all He knew about her, she was valuable to Him. That fact made her heart begin to believe that she had worth. That she mattered. So much so that she knew He would have gone to any lengths to call her to this place and she never wanted to leave.
How could a simple dream heal what she didn’t even know had been broken? How could a few words wipe away so much loneliness?
She had no idea, but she knew it had. And she knew that the voice echoing in her mind was no longer that of a little girl. It was the voice of a Savior. The warm, sure voice that wrapped itself around her fears and promised to help her defeat them. It was the voice of love. Love that had fought for her. Love that came for her. Love that had never left her alone.
The purest love that was finally able to do the impossible…transform her.
“I have been wandering to find him and my happiness is so great that it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but as a dog”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle