Thanks to my dear brother-in-Christ David Ettinger for stirring my heart on the direction to head next here…
A very difficult matter in my soul.
Has been since I can remember.
Being a four-year-old girl and already so unsure of your world you don’t really let anyone in is not the sort of thing one likes to spend a lot of time talking over- though I have written of it in blogs and book past. 🙂 ( Hello, old friends. You might remember some places where I’m going to go. I’ll try to add fresh perspective here.)
I haven’t brought it up in this venture much yet for reasons I’ve alluded to before.
But, today, in participating in a great and challenging discussion about Joseph and his brothers, my heart felt a pull towards discussing a bit more about the issues of trust and forgiveness.
Particularly, how they have manifested in my forty-plus years experience on this earth.
So, for testimony’s sake…back to that little girl. I hope I can make this concise enough. So much to tell…
I can’t quite remember the first time my mother turned on the sudden switch and took out her displeasure on me verbally and physically.
That part of my past is more a patchwork quilt of living, ragged at the edges, wild, screaming colors representative of the tough days, some muted squares for the quieter ones.
All I knew was what the proverbial eggshells felt like to walk on from an early age.
I tried very, very hard to be as good and unobtrusive as I possibly could, tucking myself away with my older brother most of the time, asking for as little as possible.
Dancing lightly around the edges of the days she poured out unexpected affection, taking it as a momentary relief, but being sure to remind myself it wouldn’t last.
In the midst of all this, my dad was on the road working, home some weekends, very much aware of us and yet…not.
They’d take us to church a lot of Sundays, various non-denominational gatherings that leaned heavily on “experiential” services.
Somewhere in there I did hear about Jesus loving me. I prayed a sinner’s prayer once with a Sunday School teacher, a prayer I didn’t fully grasp then, other than that I was full of intense longing for this unconditional love thing they spoke of.
And wondering how it could possibly be real.
There wasn’t much discipleship to assist with that, honestly. Mostly, a confusing jumble of “laying on hands”, urging for the further “baptism in the spirit”, and the occasional Bible story from my dad when he could be home.
I wanted to believe this Jesus was doing a work in me, but, like most of my world, my understanding was just…unsure.
So, that is how I grew up, mostly ducking in the shadows. Not much changed for quite some time. By middle school, church was something fading from our world after a sour experience at our last go-around with attendance.
Sometimes, my dad would play a B.J. Thomas or Sandi Patti record and I’d hear God’s name. I’d remember He was supposed to love me. But, honestly, I struggled to feel it in the midst of the pain.
Thoughts of suicide crept in, though I can’t say courage to carry it out then was there. I really just wanted someone to see me. Anyone.
Then, low and behold, my parents started to go to a new church. Still very much in the charismatic vein, but, they didn’t make my brother and I go this time.
And something in those services resonated with my mom. We never sat down for a big conversation in those days, but, by the time I hit high school, the abuse began to fade away.
It was surprising, to say the least. Yet, I remained wary. The other shoe always, always dropped. If I put my guard down, she could blindside me.
However, my dad did finally persuade me to attend a few services for myself, hoping, I think, that this would help us all heal. My brother, for his part, was having none of it. Felt weird to break from my loyalest friend, but go I did.
Yet, where I so wanted this to be it for me, I couldn’t find my fit. Between the heartfelt worship still came too many unusual practices I could not figure out for the life of me.
Maybe it was doing my mom and dad good, I thought at the time, but not me ( Charismania is a whole other ball of wax for another post, by the way. I’ll delve into it further down the blogging road for any wanting a more detailed perspective.).
So, out of that came my “pinball” years, ricocheting from that bewilderment into the relationship that would become my first marriage, attending a few different types of churches with him, in some still feeling a disconnect, but one in which I can say Jesus did become real to me at last, thanks to some very loving mentors.
Forever grateful for the tender way they took a wounded girl and showed her the grace of the cross in a way no one ever had.
But, still, the man who’d be my first husband and I were prone to drifting and, honestly, dragging each other down. Egos and lack of trust kept getting in the way of growth in the Lord and in our relationship.
Eventually, after a few bounces, we began to give heart and soul into his desire for youth ministry, hoping that would give us much-needed stability.
But, three kids (one still in the womb) and nearly complete studies later, the strains of our all-too-often emotionally stunted existence had collapsed us.
He found comfort in someone else’s arms and the kids and I were left behind.
And a lance stabbed through my ability to trust in love once again.
Suicide’s dark spector revisited in earnest, but, blessedly, not for long. Because, Jesus was there, too. Only a whispered prayer away.
My desperate prayers, yes.
But not mine alone!
My mother and father were on their knees, too.
As well as by my side, scooping up the grandkids and me with more overwhelming love than I had ever known from them.
My wariness took time, but, finally, it began to melt away and forgiveness began to bloom.
Need has a way of threading together healing in broken hearts.
On this point, the story of Joseph and his brothers resonates with me.
“Though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good…” Gen. 50:20
For it was need that circled all the pain of those years back around and knit that family back together, too.
All those thousands of years ago, and God is still the same.
Still about the business of reconciliation-when we give our hurt over to Him.
If you find yourself hurting and just need someone to pray with you, send me an e-mail via the info page.
God bless you!