Saturday, May 11, 2013

Finding Grace when Mother's Day Is Hard

She did love me, in a crippled way. Nevertheless, her fists and words beat me down as I grew up. Mom tried to care for me but those spells of depression that bound her to bed for days on end make it hard to grocery shop or go to work or take a shower or eat. When she swallowed pills with liters of flaming alcohol, demons and despair burnt her right through. She meant to protect me but her highs were high and they welcomed strange men into what was supposed to be a safe place. Sometimes love appeared in a hug, but it fled when spitting, violent hatred moved in for a long stay. Often, writhing in the agony of her decisions, she'd say, "Don't do what I am doing." The showing and telling about what is right and good were eclipsed by flawed choices. She couldn't love me well because she was not well. 

My aunts, my uncles, my estranged dad of 8 years looked on in horror. Failed interventions, lost court cases and botched rescues folded them over in tired defeat. For days, months, years, I was beat down as I grew up. Churches prayed and God was silent. Was this the God who knit me together within the frame of my mother, whose eyes saw my unformed body, who ordained my days before they came to be? How can this God be good? How could he let this unravel before his very eyes?

She held onto her twisted reigns of motherhood, fed me with lies and taught me to call my father unspeakable names. My brain bathed in the soil of sin. As my most influential teacher, Mom scratched a chalkboard full of all that I was to her: stupid, ugly, in the way, everything that was wrong with her life. I believed it. I learned it. And then I lived it. 

By the early age of twelve I was proving a good study in her lessons. The false promise of escape through drugs lured me with the mirage of peace. The lie of love in promiscuity tried to strip me of dignity. I was convinced of my worthlessness. So I beat myself down as I grew up. 

But at just the right time, this mighty Arm reached down into my darkness and carried out the impossible rescue. By fifteen, I was searching the array of options for ending it all and somehow picked the option that was not there: a pay phone at high school. The black receiver requested rescue to the man I'd always thought to be my enemy, my dad. The parent who'd allegedly cared nothing for me, who lived 12 hours away-  he loaded a white truck full of my things and closed a car door to fifteen years of suffocating pain. So desperate for escape, I didn't even know I was old enough to legally decide. So it wasn't a white horseman, it was a dad- with eyes cried dry, in a rusty white pick-up who put miles to the road of my salvation. 

Had God been a moment earlier, I may have followed through to the end with my destructive tendencies. Had it been any later, I would have snuffed out my days in this heinous, burning world because living around horror is not nearly as bad as hate in your veins, as being horrible yourself. 

So the father I'd thought was my enemy would become the protector, provider, teacher and hugger I had longed for. And the God who seemed so silent before, opened his mouth wide and said:  
All these years, I've searched you out and known you.
When you sat (in the corner shaking) and when you rose (in fear),
I knew your (sad and terrified) thoughts from afar.
I discerned your going out (when you ran away) and lying down (ready for death).
I have been familiar with all your ways (your helplessness and destruction).
Even before a word was on your tongue, I knew it completely. 
You see, I hemmed you in, behind and before
And laid this Hand upon you (softened hard blows and cutting words).
My knowledge (why I let this go on), the expanse of it, is too much for you to take in.
You can't go from my Spirit or flee from my presence (I'm your Heavenly Father).
Fly to the heavens and I am there.
Make your bed in the depths and I am there.
Rise on the wings of dawn and settle at the far side of the sea
Even there, my Hand will guide you
Even there, I will hold (protect and sustain) you fast. 
You can think that darkness (behind locked doors) will surely hide you
That light will become night around you-
But with me, night shines like the day
Don't you know darkness is as light to me?
I created you in your inmost being, knit you together in your mother's womb.
Your frame was never hidden from me in the secret place.
I wove you together in the depths of the earth
My eyes saw your unformed body-

Saw the days ordained (and redeemed) before you and wrote them in my book before one of them came to be.
Don't you see that my thoughts toward you are precious?
That I made you, fearfully and wonderfully?
(adapted from Psalm 139)
All these years, I thought I was a mistake. Just something, not even somebody, just in the way. But this mighty Arm reached down far into darkness and lifted me to light. To a place where all the awfulness of before lit the path bound for Glory Himself.