Have you ever felt like part of you really missed out on something in childhood? Like, maybe you weren’t allowed to jump on the bed, maybe you wanted nothing more than to grow up, or perhaps you had a childhood like mine that was robbed of the carefree wonderment of being a kid way too young.
We spend the majority of our lives as adults, and the idea that childhood is fleeting doesn’t become understood until it’s much too late.
There is such simple joy in the way a child looks at life. Such innocence, joy and glee in the eyes of a child. It’s not surprising that Jesus wants us to be childlike when we approach him!
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18: 2-3
Sometimes, life just speeds by and before we know it, we’ve forgotten what it feels like to stomp puddles in the rain.
Even though our job in life is to mature and grow. I don’t think that we really get what that means. Most of us just put on our pretend clothes and high heels and make the most of life by sneaking in an extra chocolate bar here and there hoping that will curb our desire to be giddy like children. Or perhaps we refuse to “grow up” and spend our lives searching for the next “night we won’t remember” with our friends because we think that “fun” times will keep us forever young.
But maybe, just maybe, “growing up” and “maturing” is not supposed to rob us of our joy, our innocence and our glee.
This year I’ve been on a journey… as I am every year… to get back something that was stolen from me long ago.
I’ve read before that the enemy is always waiting to pounce like a lion... and always wants to steal our joy. And I’ve known it to be true before, but this particular year I’ve seen it play out literally.
You see, a few months ago, I discovered the Land of Oz. The Land of Oz is an abandoned theme park on Beech Mountain here in NC. But in my memory, the Land of Oz was attached to a memory of my uncle molesting me when I was around 5 years old.
Without going all into THAT….. let me just say that because of that one day, I never got to really enjoy the “wonderful wizard of Oz”. This movie was part of my childhood every single year. It always came on the TV once a year and everyone made a big deal out of it coming on. Even me.
I loved the cowardly lion most of all, and each year, when the movie came on, I wanted to be that little girl all over again and JUST WATCH THE MOVIE. I wanted to be able to just enjoy the show.
But every year, I put on my “big girl pants” and pretended that the movie didn’t make me cringe inside. I pretended that I was Dorothy…. singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”… wishing that my own “rainbow” hadn’t been a nightmare.
“Why oh why can’t I” became my life’s theme!
I LOVED how Dorothy would sing. I loved how she escaped the wicked witch. I loved how she made such wonderful friends along the yellow brick road, and I loved how safe she felt when she made it back home to Aunty Em.
But I didn’t escape the wickedness in my own life. I didn’t make many friends along the way… and I didn’t feel safe. ~The enemy was successful in stealing my joy.
“Why oh why can’t I”
Then, years later, (this year as a matter of fact), I got the opportunity to walk on the yellow brick road myself. I purposely went alone. I purposely wanted it to be just me and Jesus making my own trip to Oz. I was hoping it would be another critical step forward in my own recovery from sexual abuse. The morning of my adventure in healing, the Lord showed me a picture. I saw a toddler, just learning to walk. I saw the excitement and eagerness that both the child and the father had as the first steps were being taken. And I saw that child start to squat down as she got tired and decide to sit.
You know what I mean right? Have you ever seen a child’s first few steps? They take 1 or 2, and then plop right down on their butt. Safely sitting, because they KNOW how to do that and it’s much safer than falling!
With this picture, the Lord spoke to me, He told me that I was that child and that when I “sit” -I am no longer trusting Him to catch me. Then He showed me a new picture. This time, the loving Father was walking right with the child. And when the child started that squat position, about to sit on her own… the Father lovingly put his hands down to catch her bottom and push her back up… he encouraged her to keep walking along, and she did.
I totally “got” what He was trying to say to me, and I’m now learning to walk right along with my Father in a spiritual sense. He’s asking me to trust Him, and I’m receiving His “prodding” to keep moving forward, instead of sitting on my own or reverting back to crawling which I’ve already mastered.
So, off we went to find my yellow brick road.
When I found it, I felt like a giddy little girl again. I couldn’t believe how excited I was. There I was, standing on the Yellow Brick Road walking along the forest with the talking apple trees! If anyone else had been there, they probably would have thought I was crazy… I giggled with glee when I saw the first tree face. This tree was “throwing” snowballs at me instead of apples and all I could do was literally laugh out loud at what was happening.
I felt the Lord there with me, enjoying my freedom to be in my very own Dorothy moment.
And then the enemy was there~ ready to pounce like a lion to steal my joy.
He is a clever enemy…. And he likes to use any opportunity to stop us from connecting with the Lord’s will for our lives.
So, the next thing I knew, my feet were slipping out from under me, and I was falling on an icy section of the yellow brick road! I threw my hand back behind me to catch myself, and broke my elbow in the process.
Instantly, this adventure became a little scary. The yellow brick road no longer looked inviting. The whole place felt creepy… and I started to cringe inside again.
I started to question God too. “Um Hello…. I thought you were the loving Father who would CATCH me if I walked instead of sitting!!!”
But something within me rose up and gave me the nerve to continue on and enjoy my plans for the day. (perhaps it was the cowardly lion who stepped up inside me and actually defeated the enemy posing as a lion!)
But, since I did actually break my elbow… the next 6 weeks gave me a chance to decide if I was going to let my joy be robbed or not.
I said “NOT”!
Once I came to terms with that ugly blame question that I silently wrestled with in the aftermath of this situation, I decide to go back. I had come to realize that it wasn’t God letting me down or removing his hand from me… it was an attack by the enemy to make me stop trusting God! A blatant attack, because the enemy doesn’t like it when God’s children start to realize who they are and what they are meant to do. He hates it when our relationship with the Lord becomes close and intimate!
I decided to not let the enemy win. I realized that this journey to Oz was not going to be just another place of wounded-ness that would give me cause to doubt my relationship with God. This journey to Oz was in fact, a step I needed to take to prove that I indeed have a brain~ that receives from the Lord, a heart~ that longs to skip and sing arm in arm with friends, and the nerve~ to overcome any pains the enemy sets out for me.
This time I went with a new friend who also loves adventures. It was still icy and cold, but it was a clear day and I discovered a gift that I didn’t know was mine. The yellow brick road leads to a majestic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that totally blew me away!
The yellow brick road also brought me a new friend to share the curves with, and a new song to sing in my own voice.
There I was, high above the chimney tops, where troubles melt like lemon drops~ and my dreams were really coming true. I, like Dorothy, was realizing that “over the rainbow” is a state of mind. It was a new start, a place to look with fresh eyes at everything around me. A place to face my fears and a place to grab hold of the hand of a friend. Friends that will skip and sing away the dark places and friends that are glad to be together when you’re scared, sad, ashamed AND happy! A place where the winter white washes away the darkness and the mountains sing praises to their creator!
After I got home from my return to childhood…. My heart was full of joy. The whole day was one I will always remember and cherish. I’ve created new memories of Oz that don’t leave me feeling dirty or pained at all. I now have images of majestic beauty covered in snow that I love so much, and this will remain with me forever.
As always, the Lord loves to confirm my journeys with song. I couldn’t help but smile when I listened to the song “Sing Winter” by my favorite worship artists Jonathan and Melissa Helser on the way home.
"Hear the song of beauty, melodies and sounds. Cover you in white love, a joy you lost but now you found."
I have found a joy that once was lost. I think that is exactly what the Lord wants me to do. Walking, skipping, singing, dancing, even twirling like a little girl in a winter wonderland…. All of these things are exactly what He wanted for me all along. This is how I will enter the kingdom of heaven. This is how I choose to grow up and maintain the joys of childhood forever.
And no enemy can stop me!