Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My story: Rest for the weary.

“Something amazing happens when we begin to share about our life experiences: it creates a safe venue for other people to become brave. There may be no greater gift to give another than to admit that our journey has not been perfect, as the struggles of our life unite us far more than our successes ever will.” — Lisa Whittle, (W)hole

I open a door and see a long dark hallway.
I step into it, with my eyes wide and curious.
I notice that it is filled with boxes of garbage and junk.
It covers the floor and it climbs up the walls.
I begin to walk down the hallway, smashing the garbage underneath my feet.
I see a door at the far end.
I see the light beaming from behind it.
My heart begins to race with anticipation.
I start to walk faster.
The hallway slowly begins to grow longer, and longer, with every step I take.
The pile of junk grows higher and higher, making it harder for me to muddle through it.
I begin to become weary and tired.
I begin to doubt that I can make it through the rubble all around me.
I notice that I am holding something in my hand.
It's a ticket.
I grow eager to show it to the Man who I know is at the end of the hallway, and standing on the other side of the door.
I try to run with my ticket held tightly in one hand, while I push the garbage down with the other.
My legs are heavy beneath me.
My brow begins to sweat, and my need to reach Him grows stronger with every exhausted breath.
The garbage begins to pull me under.
I struggle and hold my arm high.
With my ticket waving to and fro in my hand,  and trying to push the garbage behind me, I find the strength to mudder words of desperation,
"Here's my ticket, I made it.  I have it.  Please let me in! Please!"
I repeat those words over and over, tired and weary from the race down the long hallway.
I feel the struggle of a lifetime of torment.
I awaken with sweat moistened hair and a fast beating heart.

Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary...and I will give you rest.

 I've been thinking of my mother alot these past few days.
She's with me while I drive, while I read, while I pray, while I cook, and while I sleep.
I've kept her locked away in a secret place within my heart, fearful of the memories that come with her.
My emotions have become raw, and my soul wrestles with each thought.
Maybe because I've removed the "do not open" sign on the Pandora's box that is her life.
My life.

They are different, yet they are one in the same.

The whispers of  "obey thy mother" pierce my ears as I awake from my dream.
The heaviness of  fear and condemnation weigh in on my chest, but I feel His presence strongly as I open one memory at a time.

His voice covers my fear like a warm blanket,
" I'm with you. You're free."

I sigh with relief and think,
after all these years, the need to please her is still a crying voice in the distance.

Our cries to the Lord--are what gives us communion with the Lord. It's the dire distress that drives us into the deep devotion.
~~Ann Voskamp

The echoes and rumors of mental illness began to surface in our home early on.
I don't know when they began, I just know they were always there.

The quiet unspeakable whispers of bipolar, manic depression, alcohol abuse and suicide attempts
would begin to drown our life.

My great-grandmother would visit often and stay for weeks at a time, while Mom "rested" in her bed for days and days. We were told that Mom needed help with all of us, that we were alot for her to handle.

Her legs became heavy beneath her.

There were summer drop-offs to my aunt and uncle's houses, that were just a cover up for Mom needing to "go away" for a while.

We were left with our bags in tow and tears running down our cheeks.
The awkwardness of our new home would linger for weeks.
Even though I was in a new safe place, I would cry myself to sleep each night.
I didn't care why we were there.
I just wanted my Mom, broken or not.

It made it's way throughout our family, and our mother, the infamous black sheep, became darker with every painful dart that was thrown her way.

She was forever tagged the family failure.
We, her children, were doomed to fail as well.
Trying to carry her burdens would be a cross proven hard to bare with time.

As we muddled with her through the dark hallway of her life,
 the years of junk became harder and harder to push through.

Emotional boxes filled with mental, physical and sexual abuse became too much for her.

I never knew what the truth actually was.
I had spent a lifetime hearing "her story" from her own mouth.
Every sickening detail.
I watched her cry.
 I watched her hide away in her bedroom.
I watched her try and take her own life.
I heard her say over and over again how tired and weary she was.
 All because of living.

I watched the pain of her past eat away at her, and fill her life with scabs, on top of scabs, of misery.

The junk piled high around her.

Then I stood quietly... reverantly, as her pain became ours.
The pain would become her ammo towards us.
Every lash ached with years of pain.
Pity would be her driving force.
It was a way to get what she needed from us.
What she had needed her entire life.

Mom was a taker.

She took from us, stripping the life out from underneath us, in some crazy attempt to find her own.

Maybe, it was all she knew how to do.

As we sat in the hospital room a few years ago, and watched as my grandmother slowly took her last breaths, my aunt would break years of heavy silence.

The damn would finally be broken.
As dark secrets dispersed,
the flood of truth would come rushing in.

"Our father was a mean, hard man.  He beat us every day. Every day. He was an abuser. Your mom took more than any of us."

By her tears that fell and the coldness in her voice, I knew it was the truth.

In the same cold broken breath,
she would go on to say how my mother was a "taker" and a "victim" and  how she used it to her advantage to get what she wanted.

Those words would stir up a raging anger within me.
The need to protect and honor her would come running in.
My mind would begin a wrestling match with the new truth.

At the age of three, when your innocence is ripped from you by your own father, do you really have a choice but to become a taker?

Using what was left of the life you have to live, to take back what someone stole from you.
Her innocence lost, and now so was ours.

I had spent many years hating my grandfather for what he had done to her.
I spent more years hating her for what she had done to us.
I struggled with that hatred, with finding compassion, and offering forgiveness.

As she continued to spill their life on the floor of that hospital room, tears burned my eyes as I attempted to hold them back.

As I turned my face to hide my emotions, my thoughts wandered,
"Did she even have a chance in this life?  Did we?"

Were those the same words the enemy hissed at her while each man, one after the other, took from her,
"You don't have a chance in this life."

Were those the words he tried to whisper to me?

Matthew 18:12-13
What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?

And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn't wander away!

My mother found the Lord in her early thirties.
She had been raised in a Catholic home all of her life, and now she was the new Born Again Holy Roller in the family.

Again, she would be chastised.
Her wool now fully blackened.

The garbage continued to swell underneath her feet.

She raised us loving the Lord and instilling His strength within us through Scripture and family Bible studies.
She exclaimed that He was the one True Love of her life,
 and I never saw her without her Bible in her lap.

And yet, she lay depressed, crying, weak, and angry most of the time, questioning God and where He was in her life.
Restless, her cries continued to echo through the night.
Was it years of pain?
Was it her disease?
Was it us?

I was confused and it left me wondering...

Who is this God who creates, loves, saves, breaks down, tears apart, redeems and heals?
Who is He and why hasn't He saved her from her torment?
Why won't she hand her burdens to Him?
Didn't she know He would carry them for her?
Did she not know how deep and wide His love was for her?
Where He would go for her?
Where He had already gone?
Or did she simply refuse to let go of it?

Determined to find rest for my soul, I would begin to run, searching deeper for His light within my life.

I would soon find out,
 to find rest, you must take your hand off the garbage and grab onto the Healer.

I would soon find out, how deep and wide His love truly was for me.

Just give Me a tear-a heart ready to mold,
And I'll give you a mission, a message so bold-
That a fire will be stirred where there was only death,
And your heart will be flamed by My life and My breath.
~~Max Lucado

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