We packed and threw our luggage into the car. All five of us loaded into our ’89 Ford Taurus and headed to Florida. At eight years old, I was so excited. This was the first family vacation we'd ever been on. After a forever long drive, we finally got to the beach.
We had barely exited the car when I was in awe to see the white sand for the first time in my life. We excitedly unpacked the car and took our belongings up to the time-share room the we had been gifted for the week. After unloading, we headed back to the car to go out to eat.
As I got back in the car, I began to imagine my first sea-food meal at the beach, pop-corn shrimp, of course. Knowing shrimp was going to be way different by the ocean. My dad drove with mom alongside. We pulled out of the parking lot and onto the main road, and wow... we stopped immediately to sit in traffic.
Evidently, this was going to be normal. This is not how I imagined vacation. Bored in the back seat, sitting in traffic, my brother and I just looked around at everything we could see. The next thing you know, my eyes caught two women walking down the sidewalk in bikinis. Just like dad would do at home when we were out, I immediately whistled to let them know that I approved. In an instant, dad rolled up the windows in the car, turned around to me and my brothers and yelled, "You are to NEVER whistle at the beach again!" I cowered in the backseat, ashamed and confused. It was never spoken of again and I just wished I could go back home.
Through Story Group Exploration:
I came to see that there is good in this story, 'I was a kid who longed for family time and adventure. Even simple things like popcorn shrimp brought excitement.' However, even before the vacation began, evil set out to marr and destroy. These are a few of the lies:
- You are an embarrassment, unwanted and alone
- You need to grow up. You should know better
- It is shameful and wrong to notice a beautiful woman
- When with just guys you can act different than with your wife
I couldn't believe that at the retreat, from all of the stories God could have given me to write, it was this one. It has been a memory I haven't been able to shake. However, it seems like by looking at my journey, I just got more and more confused after that and lost in trying to figure out things on my own. I'm over the age of thirty now, divorced and still regularly left with confusion regarding women, beauty, sexuality and marriage.
The Truth: My dad did not set a good example during those years. Nor did I ever get any sit down, talk or lessons on sexuality. Let alone, God's plans or purposes of sexuality for men and women. I have blamed and hated myself for so long in feeling inadequate. I have found that many others have experienced the same type of sexuality abandonment growing up. Just naming that I never learned anything good, kind, honorable or true about my sexuality when I needed to know, gives me a multitude of grace for myself. I am in the middle of finding and experiencing healing in many areas of my life. This is one that is critical for me and I am hopeful about God continuing to redeem what was lost.
The 4 Story Types
There are four types of stories that will be shared in a rotation: Social Harm - an event that unfolded at school, on the playground, church choir practice, in class, at camp etc. Personal Trauma - loss of a loved one, first love, betrayal of a friend, physical or emotional harm. Family of Origin - a family trip, night around the dinner table... a story that exemplifies how you fit into your family and the role you played. Sexuality - events that shaped your sexual identity and understanding or your sense of what it means to be a man or a woman. It is our hope that these stories will stir your desire to engage your own story that is part of God's epic story.