I hate this crap, I hate having to deal with things I don’t really care about arguing about. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I didn’t love my mom, but it is different. I can’t forget the abuse I went through, but I get tired of family telling me I should never talk about it, that I should never mention it to people. Then there are some of those family members, only a very few who say, “How do you know your experiences aren’t false memories?” I shake my head, I grieve but I know because there are those, like the one last night who told me they were among the chief of sinners and asked me to forgive them. There are those who I was involved in various inappropriate sexual activities with who know and are here to talk to. Memories are not always the most pleasant of things to go through, why doesn’t God take the ones we hate away? Why do we have to continue to be hurt, confused, and try to find ways to be accepted by those who should understand most? I don’t know the answers, I just know.
This morning, I knew it was bound to happen, but my sister and I got into it, I was packing to leave, I just couldn’t deal with it. It was over of all things, picking out pictures of our mother for a photo montage at the funeral. I have put these things together in the past for people and enjoy it, but it is just impossible with the time limitations and expectations that continue. We are going this morning to pick out the cemetery spot, then we have to meet with the people at the funeral home to pick out a casket, (for me, donate my parts to those who can use them, cremate the rest and scatter the ashes across the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, somewhere between FT. Walton Beach and Destin.) My sister went out and purchased a new suit for my mom, she has to go pick out underwear, and I stay confused, can someone tell me why someone who has died needs new clothes and above all, new underwear? Then those pictures; the funeral home wants us to pick out 40 at most, we have a pile of about 120, keep this one, get rid of that one, but we really need this one over here, then there is the one we forgot about in the Bible. Do you get my point? I know I am a strange cookie, again, I loved my mom in the end, I know I have forgiven her, I know she is in Heaven, but I can’t forget the sins. It is a strange place, but to be honest, I don’t really care all that much about the photos, but my sister does, after all she has been here, she has had to deal with everything, and I don’t know if she should have, because she has many of the same memories and heartaches. They have all brought about her pain and this morning, well, all I can say is I hope the neighbors in this apartment complex were in church, (I don’t think they were) because if not, they heard much of the heartache, pain and yes, I believe hurt thrown out by the both of us towards each other. There was a time to make up, but not until after I had packed my bags to go stay with someone else. I can’t explain it, I don’t know how, I just know that neither my sister and I should be doing all of this alone, and I guess we have had some help from my moms union, but there are things we shouldn’t have to be doing. I will have my funeral plans laid out and clear prior to my death; I think I will start making those wishes like the one above about being cremated made clear and plain.
We don’t always think about the grief we or others go through until we are the ones responsible for something like a funeral. I know this morning I needed prayers, not just a generic, general run of the meal prayer, but specific prayer during the moment, and I have to be honest, I didn’t feel them. I have at times, but this morning, nope. Later on, yes, but at a certain moment during a time my sister and I could have really used it, the truth is, again, nope. That doesn’t mean people weren’t praying, I know that, but I also know, I questioned for a glimpse in time, where is God right now?
I know I am working on this documentary regarding my life and the life in part of my mother, I know there are times as a writer, and one who loves film, I would love to have had a camera running, but this is real life, it is not make believe, the hurts, pains and struggles are real, I don’t know how you manipulate that. Maybe with some good acting we can recreate certain things that have happened on my journey, I hope so, not to bring hurt to those involved by having to relive the moments, but to share truth and reality with people who need healing from past pains, understanding of things inflicted on others, but most of all an understanding that although at times difficult and hard, healing does, and can take place. I still believe my story, and ultimately my mothers’ stories are stories of love and forgiveness. Unfortunately, many of those experiencing this want to hold it in, only share the good things with others, much like many Christians do in their faith walk. But for some reason, I believe God expects more from us. He wants us to shout from the mountain tops of the joys that can be there, the reality of salvation and hope for a lost world experiencing many of the same things. There are those shouting those things, sometimes those hearing don’t know the price one has to pay to do that. I have to be honest here, I know many in the church, many over the years, experiencing the benefits of a long reply to an email, a chat on a message board or chat room, a phone call or a face to face visit, don’t always understand the cost to me and my family. I don’t say that for any other reason than to say, I know there have been many others who have had to pay a price. I know there are many others who know and feel the pain of a loved one discouraging you from sharing that “dirty laundry.” I also know that healing comes from release, and sometimes releasing the hurt, pain and disgust is the only healing we can find solace in. I also know this, nothing and I mean nothing, even begins to compare to what it cost my Lord my Savior, my Forgiver, my Leader, to give up and sacrifice himself for me the way he did. To be rejected, and abused, spat on, and beaten because he loved me when he had the full power to stop it all. I wonder sometimes, if those who are so critical of sharing “dirty laundry” understand or know the importance of seeing captives set free in the same way Jesus and many of his followers over the years have?
I am aware that many in my family read these things, some even get upset that I say the things I do, let me make clear, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you, it doesn’t mean I haven’t forgiven you! If that were the case, I would have no hesitation using names, but I will say this, there comes a point in time, that I long for, I cherish you to come beside me, to admit the sins of our past, let’s shout from the mountain tops, in honesty and truth, just like the Apostle Paul who openly and frequently spoke of his past as to the ability of God through the blood of his son Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives. It is one of the ways we can confess to the world as to the real power of God. I know I have my own sins which I have written about and spoken about that are quite frankly, embarrassing. But I have seen the captives set free, I have cried with a person going through abuse, I have rebuked the individual who would hide and deny the pain of an innocent. In all of this, I know God has worked, and I know my God will welcome me into his kingdom with open arms and a word of encouragement and love. To forgive the sin is one thing, to deny the sin, to deny the work of the Holy Spirit and to allow your story to be used is quite something else. Our world is filled with innocent children who struggle, whether a child in age, or a child in spiritual things. Jesus meant exactly what he said when he stated it is better to have a heavy stone tied around your neck and you be thrown into the sea than to cause a little one to stumble. To not provide the tools and methods needed to provide salvation and hope to a person going through struggles is no different. If we have been set free by the embrace of Christ arms which was stretched across a cross, and his blood that poured down that cross, then let us be willing to be totally honest, and share in all things of the work Christ has done in our lives. Is their pain and difficulty if we do this? You be there are, but is it of value to carry on the work of Jesus in reaching those he loves and wants to touch through us? You bet there is, the question then becomes, what is more important, maintaining our pride and integrity, or doing the work of Jesus by showing his ability to change the life of a sinner just like us.
In the last few days I have had to accept something that quite frankly is hard to accept. In some ways, I am a lot like my mother. After all of the years of not living at home, not being around, I know it was a measure of escape for me. I also know though, that I didn’t want to think about being like her in anyway. While I have learned and heard many things about my mom I admire, I have to admit, I focused on the ugly instead of the beautiful. I know why that is, and I am not denying the reality or need in some ways to do that. But I have also learned there has to come a time, in real forgiveness that we focus on the beauty, we have to throw the stones down, even against the ones who would do us the most harm if we are to be like Jesus, after all, isn’t that exactly what Jesus did when he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” when he was being nailed to the cross. That doesn’t mean that the circumstances changed, it doesn’t mean that the nail scars went away, in fact we know they didn’t, they remained and they were there for all to see. We even have indication to believe that we will see those scars on Jesus when we see him in Heaven, for those who will see him in Heaven. The scars remain, and sometimes they are used as reminders.
One of the things I have learned I am a lot like my mom in is her desire to stand up for the oppressed. Her story here has been amazing, to hear of her attitude, she really was a woman who deserves a movie made about her. Her stand in the face of personal, and physical pain to stand for justice and equality are among the things of legend, especially when considering where she came from. I could say a lot more here, but will say, nationally my mother had a reputation to stand for equality and justice, to stand in your face, and tell you exactly what she thought. She wanted to be at the front of protests when dogs were being released, rubber bullets being shot and teargas flying. She would tell people right to their face in management to kiss her ass, she was standing up for the people she represented. She would call a woman a whore to her face who was trying to pick up a co-worker who was married with a good wife back home. She could get violent at times as well, she would threaten to tell a woman twice her size that she needed to shut up or she would pick her up and throw her ass out the window of a 12 story motel room they were staying in. During this Fourth of July week, I realize my mother was a firecracker willing to explode at the voice of freedom and justice at any point in time. She didn’t care what people thought of her but she would speak her mind and stand up for what was right. I know a big reason for that, it is because as beautiful as my mom was when she was young, as hard as she worked, she had difficulty finding those things in her own life. She was in fact, I believe driven to do good by God. Along the way, she had some terrible mishaps, but she did what she did and eventually in the last 3 years of her life found Jesus on her knees. I didn’t know that story until yesterday, it throws a rock in the face of many who knew her, including family who thought she was already saved, but she knew she wasn’t she knew she hadn’t trusted Jesus yet. She still had a long ways to go, and although she was older, and had trouble getting through some things like alcohol, she still surrendered, knew of her weaknesses, and had others there to help. She wanted to confess and admit her sins to her children, I know she did that for me, I know because she told me on my last journey at Christmas with her on words, it was the second time she had done that, but the last time was not because I needed to let her k now that I forgave her.
I am sorry to write this way, but I firmly believe I must use the words that best fit the situation and I have to speak the truth of my heart here, but I have often wondered, “why has all of this shit had to happen to me and those around me?” I have to admit, there are times I get pissed at God, but you know what, I think God can deal with it. I have also found this that honest with God has led to, at least for me in all of my imperfections, a close relationship with God. Not a religious experience where I am the focus or what I want is the most important thing. Instead I want in all things, in all ways for Jesus to get all the recognition, praise and glory for the work he has done. I want those who God loves so much who has been hurt and rejected, who has felt real pain, neglect, abuse and more to feel the loving touch of a God who would love them without condition, just as they are, sin, dirt, garbage and all. Yes Jesus confronted sin and had a lot of things to say about it, to the very religious people who would stop him from disgracing their beliefs and personalities, after all, Jesus came for the lost, he came to draw them to him, not chase them away. This ministry is growing in service, I see that every day, I see that again in my own life and my own needs. I know there is the need for more people to be on the forefront doing these things, I know because I have so many to share and be with that need to feel the touch of this Jesus who loves them so much. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. Who do we want to control the paths those feet go on, or the work of the hands?
I know I kind of rambled on today, but these are things I had to reflect on, they are experiences I had to share, I know more so for me in all likelihood than for those others out there. Maybe God will use it, I don’t know. I have work to do yet so I have to go. Thanks for listening, and continued prayers, not just for me, but the multitudes of those going through similar experiences.
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