Be strong.

Be strong, little marshmallow. 

-seen on a bumper sticker


I am often wary after having a prolific week of writing.  Cautious.  A few have said that what I express is too sharp, especially toward my parents.  I should consider keeping it to myself.  And I do wonder about that.  I do.  I am concerned.

I do spend quite a lot of time considering the idea of making my journey private.  And at the moment when my doubt is most profound, if I had an easy OFF button, I would turn it off.

The doubters, they don’t make it easy.

My father used to say “Don’t say anything at all, if you can’t say something nice.”  He was a man of contradictions, that’s certain.  It was one of his MANY ways of controlling us.  And yet, perhaps this medium is too open, or my story too raw, or my experiences too recent?

******************

My father is dead, but my mother lives and I want to respect her life experience.  She’s 72 years old and was so misunderstood and alone much of the time, while my father traveled the world and had many friends and acquaintances.  I only learned recently that he wouldn’t let her share things about their life together, or even her own experiences, not even with her own friends.  He would punish her later (after she confessed of telling).  I won’t give specifics here, because that’s her story not mine.  I am only learning of much of it now, as she very slowly opens herself.

But I grew up in that environment of fear, control and subjugation and I am resolved that I will not be afraid to speak my mind and tell my story.  He is dead and he cannot make me pay.

My parents suffered for their isolation; they were private, lonely, solitary people.  My father blabbed a few times in books and shared some of their stories, many we kids had never even been told.  To this day, my mother remains a private, inward, fearful person.  I know she longs for connections, but she no longer knows how to achieve it.

But let me say this: She is a beautiful, strong person inside, in that really small place where God has kept her safe and whole.

I believe that.  Whether she will have time to bring that person to life, I do not know.  I have told her I would be willing to help her tell her story.  Give her a chance to have a voice, for once.  We will see.

But each  word I write, about my own experiences,  is breaking the generational bondage of shame, isolation, fear and confinement, of emotional LIMBO.

And for each person who is slightly dismayed by my frankness, several more seem to be guided toward some place of truth in their own hearts and for me that is a good thing.

I cannot talk about this whole process without somehow connecting it to my faith, which is something I do not write about that often, at least I do not in an obvious way.

My faith experience is forever fragile and many aspects of it I cannot share, for fear of being misunderstood. My faith. I choose it daily. I don’t know if you will understand that. But I must choose, because, I CAN CHOOSE. (If you were NOT ever given choices as a child, as a young adult, and on, then you would understand that being able to finally do so seems like THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT piece of your existence.)

But more than that today I understand the immensity of what Jesus did in dieing.  For me.  Even if I were the only person that needed redemption. I am complete because of Jesus. I am whole.

Hold on!!! Am I kidding you?  The issue here is that I am so rotten and messed up.  How can I say I am complete??  That’s just it.  Jesus completes me.  That’s my hope. That’s my faith. That’s the choosing.

I am not whole, obviously.  I’m feeble and impoverished.   I am often misguided, extremely confused,  greatly lacking in wisdom, seeking comfort in things that do not satisfy, running away (fleeing) from intimacy,  fashioning my life after fiction, believing in empty ideas and myths. So why don’t I just go slit my wrists or drink myself into a death stupor?  I mean, that would be the obvious response.

Yes, I am the quintessential sinner, in need of grace, which I receive with disbelief and gratitude.  I know that God is good and I am not.  But God is shaping my life into something worthwhile.  Giving me reasons greater than myself, for choosing life.

As I look out at the beauty surrounding me:the autumn flowers, the changing leaves, red luscious tomatoes in my garden, my beautiful family — this life I have — is a reminder of God’s goodness and I am comforted.  For today.  And because of that hope, I write.  I believe that the writing does something positive, even when the words contain anguish.  I have hope for something good.

Be strong little marshmallow.  Be strong.


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