And the beat goes on...

Five years ago, I left the father of my children. The kids were ages 18, 15 and 12. It was very hard on everyone, but especially them. They were confused and angry and have wrestled with the many aspects of recovering from a broken home. Strangely, it was easiest on the youngest, hardest on the oldest… and right in the middle, is the girl. She felt the strong pangs of grief and upheaval the most acutely, but had the capability of working through the emotions a little better (with a lot of help from a supportive network of friends and family). She now feels like a stronger and greater person because of the adversity. All three kids have excellent spirits and solid characters. I’m sure they’ll bear the scars for life. But scars are things we all have to live with. The phrase, “He (or she) is a survivor,” is often heard. That’s no big accomplishment… because it’s true of just about everyone. We are created to survive, naturally. It’s surviving WELL that we’re after… that’s the gift that we admire. And, although I know my children to be overcomers, I’ve often thought perhaps I should have stuck it out in the marriage for their sakes. In fact, it was for their sakes that I stayed in it for eighteen years. And it was upon realizing that it was not helping anyone, least of all them, that I chose not to continue in it. So this thought keeps me from the large part of regret. But still, no one wants to know they are responsible for the pain their children feel. I knew it would be hard on everyone. All three of them knew that living with their father was killing me. They all understood that it was a no win situation. I have never sensed any resentment toward me from them… except from the oldest. He had decided to deal with the situation by calling his childhood “a lie.” You can imagine what that would do to a person. He has only spoken ill words to me a couple of times. But I’ve heard a few things here and there of things he’s said about me. Not to mention the things others have said about me. It’s been a long and terrible road. But it’s been a necessary one. And one that has brought immeasurable insight and freedom to us all. This we only know by the little glimpses of hope we see on the journey. You see, this oldest son is the one who recently had the privilege of becoming a father. He lives very close by, so I’ve been able to be actively involved in the whole experience. And, as luck would have it, he and the momma have been staying with me while their house is getting some improvements done. They’ve been with me for almost a month. It has been nothing but a pleasure. Last night, he said the smallest little statement to me… but it meant the whole world. We were discussing identity theft, or something to that effect. I mentioned that someone may have used my social security number but it was no big deal, because it’s not like I have a good name that they could ruin. And he looked squarely at me and said, “To me, you have a good name. To your children, you will always have a good name.” The moment passed quietly… uneventfully… but our hearts were stronger for the greatness of it. I know many have misunderstood and questioned and judged my actions, regarding the demise of that union. There really are no words that can justify such decisions. I can only say that, at the time, I knew my children to be like little birds that I had taught to fly. And now they were going to have to do that very thing. And I’d be here for them, if they ever wanted to know less about the earth and more about the sky. And they’d be here for me… as they were last night… in the loving words of that one man.

Post Script:
I shared the above composition with Jake, my oldest. He said he was quite touched and wanted to take me to dinner and talk about it. We went out saturday night and talked about many things, but the main thing he wanted to let me know is that he didn't mean those things he said... and that he doesn't feel like his childhood was "a lie." He said, "Mom, I had a good childhood, and the only reason it was good was because you were in it. You have been the good part of my life."

At the risk of becoming a theological forum...

Trotting Paul...

While driving to work today, I was thinking about the apostle Paul. I spent a number of years under the influence of religion. Some of it mainstream… some of it not-so-mainstream. The doctrines varied, but there was a common theme. They often used Paul as a crutch to back up their destructive teachings. Effectively doing harm to men, women and children alike. His name is sometimes used to browbeat women into submission, to force men into positions of authority or action (in the name of GOD) which they have no business in and to give children a skewed view of the family structure. These being all well-meaning souls who have just picked up these ideas from the traditions of their chosen sects (one of the most famous sects being “Americanization”). As I would hope most of us have already discovered (along with Tevye), tradition consistently has nothing to do with truth. And as a result, we reject Paul, labeling him a controlling, judgmental, self-righteous ass… a man who couldn’t possibly know anything about women or families, having lived his entire life as a single man. Well, I’ve come to find out that in order to receive his teachings properly, a couple of things have to be in order. First, realizing that it is God’s words you are studying, not Paul’s. God may have chosen Paul to deliver the words, but that doesn’t make them any less His. Secondly, study what is being said in light of the entirety of the Bible, WITHOUT any extra biblical instruction, going back to the original Greek, if possible. In fact, you will find Paul to be probably the most humble and gracious man (apart from Christ himself) to have ever walked this earth. He had a lot to be humble about. He was in no position to feel superior to anyone, considering his history. He had previously been all of those things listed above. He had even gone to the point of standing by and holding the coats of the Pharisees who were stoning a man to death for the crime of preaching Christ. He had committed the greatest crimes against Christ that were possible to commit. When Paul’s eyes were opened, he saw some terrible, terrible things about himself and all the foundations on which he stood crumbled in a moment. For me, it is one of the most ill things I’ve had to encounter (and continue to encounter), to see this man used to validate ideas about patriotism, sectarianism and submission. Those being the very things he was trying to clarify! If you do get a chance to study the topics that Paul wrote about (which he wrote usually from prison) please do not be swayed by the prejudices of your background or the oppressive slants of your society. His words are truly full of life and health and light. I would not be able to do without them.

In Response to Charles, as follows:

Believe me... I know the feeling...

Being a Christian in these times... it ain’t easy. Of course, it never was… and never was meant to be. It was meant to be simple and full of peace… but not easy.

Likely one of the most misapplied aspects of Christianity is prayer. The use and abuse of it abounds. And it is nearly impossible to force oneself to pray for those you despise. It feels as if you are asking God to bless their horrific actions. But in fact, God never does instruct us to pray for their prosperity. It’s really a change in us that he is after. (and out trots Paul)

[1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
[2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

The act of praying for all men, including those that are in positions of authority (which includes the entire world, not just OUR leaders) gives us that quiet and peaceable spirit, regardless of what it gives those for whom we are praying. In other words, prayer changes us. When I stop clinging to my country’s boundaries and claim all mankind in my view, it changes entirely the way I see the big picture. The scene changes to an eternal one. Where I am realizing my prayer is for those that are poor in spirit, just as some are praying for me when I am poor in spirit. And in all honesty, I can’t think of anyone in the world who is poorer in spirit than the world’s leaders. Giving of thanks for such creatures does seem to be a call to pure torture, but when I’m on my knees, it’s hard to look down on anyone.

Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3

(Had to hang up my spurs a minute for that one.) *wink*