As I sit here on my couch, I find myself reflecting on my past. A lot of things people normally experience in their youth were lost to me: happiness, security, a sense of purpose, and so on. It wasn’t until I became acquainted with Jesus that I got on the true path to recovery. He usually sends me on an unusual path, unusual even in Christian circles, to find healing and wholeness. Like a surprise laid out long ago for me to find at the right time and place.
My path to the martial arts is an example of an unusual journey I was sent on. In November of 2015 an idea sparked in my thoughts, that I should talk to my friend (and now sensei) about the martial art he was involved in. We chatted for a bit, but he recommended talking with his sensei, Mark Bramble (Renshi), so I did. I came out to the dojo to observe a class and see what I thought. I was immediately hooked and terrified. I had done a little kung fu at age 20, and was really fascinated by martial arts in general, but I hadn’t taken any steps to join any schools. Mostly because I was concerned about what I would be bowing to, and any spiritual influences I would likely encounter. The thought of joining an intense martial at my age (45 at the time) and my physical shape (I’m considered obese) was making brain go nuts with all kinds of anxiety.
Knowing that God was sending me there got me through the door again and again despite the panic attacks every time I had to leave for class. After all, I didn’t want to disappoint my Heavenly Father. This went on for over a year. I finally settled down after my fourth test to obtain my stripe for my third level (8th kyu). I knew the whole time I was there because I was sent, what I didn’t know was why I was sent there. That became obvious in the second quarter of 2017. Things about my past started popping up in my mind about abuse I had suffered as a child on into adulthood. I count the first 23 years of my life as one continuous string of abuse, by various people with various methods. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve experienced almost every kind of abuse possible. It’s not unusual for me to be working on some aspect of my experiences. Starting at age 20 I had been in counseling for 26 1/2 years by the spring of 2017. But, the unusual way God was healing me expedited some things I never expected to be a “thing” I had to deal with this far advanced into healing.
It’s fairly common for people who suffered childhood abuse to consistently see themselves as victims in pretty much every aspect of life. Watching life through the victim’s lens sways and colors my perception of what is happening to me. Generally, I thought that I had no choices and was powerless to stop what people would do or say to me. I tended to believe I was helpless and thereby hopeless. I didn’t have the will or strength to stand up to people or to withstand judgement or rejection. I suffered endlessly, and needlessly.
In my mind, I had no value beyond my usefulness to others. I looked for ways to exist and be counted as important in other’s minds. When I was ultimately rejected in my attempts, I would spiral downward into sorrow and more suffering at my uselessness. I was caught in a self-defeating cycle of wanting to be needed and dying inside a little more each time I was rejected, which was every time. People don’t want to feed into another’s victimhood and don’t want to be a part of their neurosis.
From April 2017 to December 2017, I was on this intense path of self-discovery that would release me from victimhood into victory. Many of the epiphanies I experienced came directly from my training. Ninpo is not an easy art to master. Even if you aren’t an abuse survivor on the path to healing, it takes a certain amount of grit to push past the fears associated with practicing any worthwhile art. Ninpo can be scary and intense, especially for females. More than once, I had to take a big gulp and shove down my fear to receive, and to give, a certain amount of pain or learn how to land safely, or put up with the burning in my legs from repeated calisthenics. However, by staying the course in my training I learned incalculably valuable lessons on becoming a victor while on the mats.
The next couple of posts will be specific examples of epiphanies I received and how my training was used to teach me truth.
Stay tuned for more…