Everyone on this planet that breathes air has a need to feel some kind of value or purpose for their existence. Even our pets crave that all important ‘pat-on-the-head’ with an ‘atta boy’ whispered in tandem.
When someone starts to view themselves as ‘damaged goods’ – some sort of anesthetic is required to numb the ill feeling or dark cloud that seems to envelope one’s sense of worth. That ‘not-quite-good-enough’ feeling can be the result of an uncaring school teacher, a crabby neighbor or misguided parent that developed their child training skills from the far-from-perfect tools handed down from their own inept parents a generation ago. Whatever the cause, when this message knocks at the back door of someone’s psyche; they’ll reach out for a band-aid to cover perceived inadequacies.
There’s a myriad of ‘redemption rituals’ people can build for themselves. I know someone that collects Teddy Bears – but not the pristine, soft Teddy Bears one finds on the shelf at the store. This person collects broken Teddy Bears. Bears found at garage sales or trash piles people leave when moving out of a house. Bears missing an arm, an eye or ones just needing the stuffing poked back in and the tear mended. After the damaged bear has been repaired, it then takes its place on display as a trophy, along with other restored counter parts.
In this particular case, every bear that is mended is its new owner’s surrogate. You see, every time she fixes a bear, she is renovating places in her own dire past that were filled with cruelty – her friends understand why she does it and she earns all the respect and honor her friends can muster for her.
As a minister’s wife involved in the ‘outlaw biker culture’ one can usually spot such ‘ceremonies of liberation’ this close knit society of brothers and sisters have built. One such couple that ‘showcases’ this principal is Dallas’ own, Zig Zag and Susan Owens.
Donnie Owen (aka Zig Zag) grew up the son of a Baptist preacher in East Texas – ran from the constraints of ‘religion and found himself entrenched in an outlaw biker organization.
Susan, born in the early ‘60’s had a father that was a survivor of the Holocaust and attended Synagogue and a straight laced, Pentecostal mother. With Susan’s upbringing, finding middle ground between the two parents she loved was not only difficult, but impossible. There were no ‘absolute, united messages’ that cemented the family together so Susan began to gravitate to peers for common ground and approval.
Of course, the message of America’s youth of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s was ‘free love and lots of feel good drugs’ where one could escape. When pressure is high – anxiety is high and sometimes the only escape is to ‘get high’. Let’s face it – when angst, apprehension and fretfulness ties every muscle in your body into knots, the release that pot or other drugs gives a person, with its warm glow washing over an otherwise tormented soul is a pseudo salvation – albeit, temporary.
This much too common ‘fix’ (why do you think they call it a ‘fix’) not only is brief, but your body builds up a tolerance to the chemicals and the trip to the band-aid box becomes more and more frequent. At that point, every area of a person’s existence is placed in jeopardy because instead of you doing the drugs, the drugs are doing you.
Susan’s journey through her simulated salvation was as follows:
Smoking cigarettes at 11 years old
Parents divorced when she was 12
Began smoking pot at 13
Added pills to her medicine cabinet at 14
Pregnant and selling drugs at 15 (she had a son, Tim)
Arrested at 17
Was shooting dope and selling drugs at 19
Within a few more months, Susan was entrenched in a corrupt group called ‘The Family’ doing Quaaludes and Meth. Hmmm. The Family? That’s what every young person was looking for.
Susan ended up in a common law marriage with a meth cook when she was 27. It seemed to offer a constant domicile for her son and lightened the load of responsibility. Unfortunately, every coin has two sides, as did the new husband. Dale was a brutal abuser and as with every woman that allows abuse, there are always trade-offs.
There are good times; cycles of reward when the abuser is penitent, then when the pendulum swings the other way – sometimes a few whacks seem to be worth it. Each abused woman decides for herself which one outweighs the other – the abuse or the reward. She will only leave when the abuse outweighs the reward and most of the time; the abuser never sees the need for change as long as she keeps coming back for more.
By the time Susan was 35 – the years had eventually given her the privilege of visiting every jail and rehab in Dallas. When you combine this with the soul shattering experience of losing parental rights to her newly born infant daughter – Susan was ready to seek a permanent solution for her broken life and not just a long list of temporary ‘counterfeit fixes’.
A few years later, Susan had another daughter and with a new resolve, she found ‘Oxford House’ in the Dallas area that offered counseling, community and a way out of her brokenness. She got a job and excelled at it – things were beginning to jell, but there was still that one room in her heart that she wouldn’t even allow herself to visit. It was the room where she had shoved all the ugly, shameful things in her life and closed the door – TIGHT.
A while later, Susan found a church called First Family Church – a non-denominational body of believers from every ethnicity and walk of life. Their common denominator was the knowledge that everyone comes into this world as ‘damaged goods’. No one makes it through unscathed by making all the right choices and those that think they have made all the right choices are already warped with a heart of pride.
Susan discovered God wasn’t the angry, judgmental God she had been running from – He was just waiting for her to give Him the keys to the room in her heart she had hidden from everyone. Finally – at long last, she handed Him the keys – He walked in and when he came back out, her secret room was clean, bright and nothing to be ashamed of.
Susan didn’t stop there – she married Zig Zag, the born again Chaplain of Scorpions Motorcycle Club. Around the same time, Susan became the heir to enough finances to start the first of 13 Recovery homes in Dallas.
Zig Zag and Susan pastor a Dallas church that garners bikers and recovering people from all over the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Together, they complement one another – Zig Zag with his ability to ‘Take Care of Business’ and Susan with her big blue eyes that can always temper Zig Zag’s occasional hard-charging personality. One thing for sure, no one gripes about having to sit next to leather clad, bikers at church.
The Secret Place
My heart is like a house
One day I let the Savior in
And there were many rooms
Where we would visit now and then
But then one day He saw that door
I knew the day had come too soon
I said “Jesus, I’m not ready
For us to visit in that room.”
‘Cause that’s a place in my heart where even I don’t go
I have some things hidden there I don’t want no one to know.
But He handed me the keys with tears of love on His face
He said, “I want to make you clean, let me go in your secret place.”
So I opened up the door
And as the two of us walked in
I was so ashamed
His light revealed my hidden sin
But when I think about that room now
I’m not afraid anymore
‘Cause I know my hidden sin
No longer hides behind that door
There was a place in my heart where even I wouldn’t go
I had some things hidden there I didn’t want no one to know
But He handed me the keys with tears of love on His face
He made me clean, I let Him in my secret place
Is there a place in your heart where even you don’t go?
Words & Music by Steve Chapman
Dawn Treader Music
A Division of Jubilee Communications, Inc, (SESAC) 1980
The Secret Place as sung by Steve and Annie Chapman