01 May 2012

Pondering Aloud

The trouble with childhood is that adults can't get over it, through it or help but return to it as they age. The gravitational pull toward childhood has to be greater than any black hole Stephen Hawking could conjure. Why? Why would this be such a common affliction?

I could dismiss my own question by reciting a verse in 1 Corinthians, "...no temptation has overcome you except that which is common to man." I could support it by citing Ecclesiastes 1:9, "...there is nothing new under the sun." I think there's something for me to learn in exploring the question a bit further.

Could it be that we all have God given drive to return to the start? He has written His law on our hearts, does that mean an innate desire to return to beginnings? Do we long for the beginning because He is the beginning? Do we do this in error because our sin bastardizes those longings into selfish desires?

None of us gets through childhood without a few scars. Some heal without notice and some are gaping wounds and some exist that only appear healed. One little poke, one little event is likely to elicit a response that exposes the festering wound. Some wounds are so angry that with little or no provocation they explode. These wounds make folks prickly and grumpy from secret places. The are the source of cruel motives, driving clueless people to distraction and beyond. They color the future with the lens of the past but they forget to add a filter of hope.

Recently I had a conversation with my older sister. We were talking about adjusting to being without our parents. Ours is a strange family. We share the same mother but were not raised together. My first memory of our mother and my father being together was my mother holding a bolt action rifle and shooting at him. I was not yet three years old. Shortly after that our mother took my sister and two other siblings, leaving me with my father. She later married a man who adopted my three siblings but could not adopt me as I was still with my father. Just to make things more complicated my father married my mother's sister. That made my siblings from my maternal side and my siblings from paternal side first cousins. Me too for that matter. It made my aunt my mom and my dad my uncle and, well, you get the idea.

In our conversation I was discussing my perspective on how it must have been for two sisters to both mother me. It was always incredibly uncomfortable for me but only because it was a weird situation. To their credit I never heard either one of them say an unkind word about the other. As we discussed it my sister reminded me of what it was like to be at our grandfather's funeral. Extended family came from all around and I was introduced as Billee's daughter and as Shirley's daughter. One woman had a very strange look on her face as we were being introduced for the second time. I shook her hand and said, "Try figuring it out when you're in second grade! What a mess our family is, huh?"

As my sister and I continued I shared with her the one time I felt like I was in a tug-of-war. My mother and step-dad had come to visit. I was overjoyed. While I was basking in the wonder of their presence my step-mom/aunt issued a command telling me to go to take a bath. I was horrified but compliant. I determined to take the world's fastest bath. I will never know now if the parents all needed to confer on something, if there was a problem that adults needed to work out or if it was a power play of some kind.

As I was in the bathroom I could hear my mom and step-dad leaving. The bathroom had a window above the bathtub and that window was by the backdoor. I stood on the narrow side of the tub, clinging to the wall like a spider. With one hand I grabbed the window ledge and with the other I cranked the window open and yelled, "Mom!" I could hear them stop out on the driveway.

Desperately trying to beg her to come back in, I did a pull-up hanging on the window sill. I managed to get my face high enough up in the window to see the top part of Mom's head and my 6'7" step-dad's face. I could see his gold tooth as he smiled at me. My mom told me to be good and that she would write. They got into their 1966 Chevy Super Sport and drove home without me. As I told my sister the story she cried. "You're breaking my heart. I remember the house, I remember what you looked like as a little kid and I can picture you at that window. "

It's no big secret to those who really know me that I am afraid of relationships. I don't know how to do them. I don't know how to be vulnerable. I am terrified of being abandoned. For all the changes the Lord has made in my soul, and believe me there have been many, I appear to be resistant to change in this area. I believe myself to be completely unlovable and valueless except as a tool to achieve some end.

Why? Why does someone with training in biblical counseling insist on being drawn back to the wrong beginnings? Just pondering aloud.

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