Sunday, September 21, 2014

When We Let Go We See God

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength …the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show compassion…Blessed are all those who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:15a and 18

For nearly seven years now I've been at a keyboard typing about the sufficiency of God---His power to fill us and complete us, even heal our brokenness. 

But only this year have I come to terms with my own brokenness. 

For years I said my mother was a "problem drinker", if I said anything at all. Alcoholism was too shameful to admit about one's family--so I never even admitted it to myself. She never drank every day and I guessed that was part of the definition--someone who was perpetually drunk. 

My denial kept me in the dark about my own brokenness--and my whole growing-up nuclear-family dynamic and the brokenness surrounding it. 

If only.

If only.

If only I had known. If only I had known and had gotten counseling as a young single girl just out of the house.

I had so much emptiness and so much hurt and so much crying out for love, and I never knew it wasn't normal. I never knew what normal was and I still don't.

The children's director at our new church--the one who got me to teach the four year olds every other week, which is too much--invited me to the Monday Night Ladies Bible Study. She said we could sit together there and maybe have coffee--reaching out in love maybe because we're both about the same age in a church full of young women, and we both have four children, though her youngest is 13. 

But I don't know how to relate to anyone anymore. My situation is hard to explain and I don't want to let people into it in case they might pity me, and yet I wouldn't feel right listening and being stingy with sharing back either--that isn't true friendship, but more condescending. 

Being gone every Monday night would be a big stretch and would probably just add stress anyway, since the kids' anxiety is worse at night. It's hard to tell people that you don't have any time because your kids have so many mental problems that you're overwhelmed coaching them, and overwhelmed by their doctor's appointments and their learning disabilities and your husband's and son's ADHD and your headaches and brokenness and money troubles.

My husband ran into an old pastor of ours who shared that his twenty-something daughter is living at home temporarily and she's a serious alcoholic. The whole family is trying very hard to keep her away from alcohol until she can get into a treatment center soon, but somehow she keeps finding alcohol. She married young to someone addicted to drugs, and it ended badly, with her addicted to alcohol. He was nearly crying as he told my husband his burden. He said he was always busy with the ministry and wasn't the best dad. He partly blames himself for her situation. 

When husband came home and told me this story, I was devastated for this pastor. It struck an arrow through my heart, this man thinking he was choosing something good but all along, the enemy was attacking his home. It saddened me for quite a while, and I don't want to sadden someone else with my own brand of heaviness, so I feel like I have to keep it all in and avoid getting into new friendships--because who could understand anyway and so many might judge and just say, "Why don't you just go to work and put the kids in school to ease the financial burden?"

We are praying for the pastor and his family and I am glad he shared, don't get me wrong, even though it felt so heavy. We should collectively try to share the sin curse and hold one another up in the Lord.

The bottom line is, relating to people and sustaining intimate relationships, having normal self-esteem, and even having fun, is hard for people from alcoholic families. Normalcy is a mystery. I'm broken and alone and it feels safer and easier to be alone. Staying alone has been my modus operandi for years.

And yet that isn't what God designed for the Body of Christ. I finally get that I'm not living out my faith properly. My safe way is the wrong way.

I read some Ann Voskamp today. A man, Gordon, sat down to lunch with her and asked her how she sees God. She had trouble answering and told him she really doesn't have any answers, just questions, herself.

She thought about his question for days, and an answer came to her out in nature, as she and her daughter picked Chinese lanterns out in a field. She wrote:

I am not thinking of how to see God when I untangle the vines, snapping off a long string of dangling brilliance. I am not thinking of revelation as I peel back the orange sheath to the blazing seed sphere inside. The seed is soft.

It’s when I pick up a vine of browning lanterns and the flaming bead of orange inside a necklace of lanterns rattle. That’s when I think of it. That’s when I think of it only. That’s when I want to stammer out something to Gordon, something about this here.

I kneel down into the grass. The ground is cold. I finger one lantern hanging. It’s this: a delicate skeleton. It’s this: I can see right into the lantern.

It’s in the filigree of fracturing that I can see His flame. That I can see the light.

I remember Guatemala. I remember kids scrapping at the table. I remember, know, all my ugliness.

We see God when we let go. When we let go of the visible, papery skin that surrounds our moments, then we see the sacred jewel gleaming just underneath everything. I want to tell Gordon this.

We see God when we let go. So will I see God redeem my brokenness when I let go of my shame? When, like the broken pastor, I can talk about my burdens whenever they feel heavy--and not just anonymously here? When I stop denying that I'm such a mess and that I need a Redeemer and friend?

Fear stops me. Pride stops me. I want to hide, like Adam and Eve with their fig leaves in the Garden of Eden. Vulnerability is too scary and who can I trust and what if they judge me and their judgement hurts for days and weeks and just adds to my burdens?

Seven years I've written it...that God redeems our brokenness, that he heals and makes us whole. Can he make me the same as an adult who grew up in a home where no addiction existed? Can he give me the ability to have fun, grow a fulfilling friendship, and not be ashamed of my life in all its messiness?

He makes all things new. I must trust that and give him my newly acknowledged brokenness on a platter, served up with humility and hope.

My goal in wanting wholeness is to pass it on to my children. For I fear I'm passing on, without any addiction being present, the brokenness of my upbringing. The alienation, the shame, the extreme seriousness. 

I'm fairly certain my children will leave us knowing the Lord Jesus. Hallelujah. That is enough in itself. That is a triumph over previous generations. But dare I ask even more for them? I want personal wholeness for them as well. The ability to laugh often and well, the ability to trust and experience intimacy without shame, the wisdom to draw boundaries, the courage to take risks---the fullness that allows them to change the world for Christ.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength …the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show compassion…Blessed are all those who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:15a and 18


Anonymous said...

'My goal in wanting wholeness is to pass it on to my children. For I fear I'm passing on... the brokenness...'

I could have written this! I have the same feelings. I desperately want my children to experience wholeness and the love of Christ - more than anything this is my prayer for them. I feel so guilty for the past. I will keep praying for you all.

Sandy x

Beth said...

There are so many promises from God. He will heal our brokenness. Thank you for sharing. So did you go on Monday night?

Christine said...

Sandy, praying the same prayer for yours. Thank you!

Beth, initially I said I couldn't manage it, but I have changed my mind and will go a couple times a month. Thank you for taking the time to comment here, Beth. Appreciate your input and friendship!

Beth said...

I am glad that you are going to try at least a few times to go.